Tuesday, March 8, 2011

How did I go from sucessful Accountant to being on disability??

In the year 1994, I did graduate from a 4 year college with a degree in Accounting.  Now it was not the medical degree I once wanted but I thought at the time it was a good career path.  I was just thankful that I did graduate with a great G.P.A while still battling some extreme mood swings.  How little did I know at the time that working as an Accountant was going to very stressful and my mood swings would go from one extreme to another because of the pressure I was under at all my jobs.  I had these huge goals at the time and I thought I had it all planned out.  I would work at a fortune 500 company, meet a great man to marry, have two wonderful children, live in a huge house and drive a fancy sport's car.  Wow, it seems so shallow and silly to think back to those days when I just 21 years old and just starting out in the rat race. 

While I have worked at a few high profile companies and climbed the ladder to the top in my field, it did not give me all the happiness that I thought it would.  I did meet a man that I married but he turned out to be the worst nightmare I could ever imagine.  He was very controlling and abusive and he never understood my disorder.  He caused more stress in life than my career did at that time.  Between work and my home life, I had very little to look forward to or much to live for at the time.  I did have a beautiful house and I was driving a nice car and I was making a very nice salary.  But after working just 10 short years in my field I had to make some changes or I was going to die.  You see I wanted to end my life and I was very close to being successful one night. 

I went to work the next morning after my suicide attempt and I literally had close to 15 anxiety attacks that day.  After trying to kill myself the night before I knew something had to give and I checked my own self into the hospital because I had hit rock bottom.  I was started on some new medicine and I switched back to a doctor I had seen years earlier.  It seemed that my Doctor at this time in my life was just treating me as number and throwing pills down my throat and I was no longer in therapy.  My insurance didn't cover my old doctor anymore but at this point I did not care because I just wanted to feel better.  This is one of my complaints with the our health care system.  It treats mental illness differently than other diseases and this is very unfair.

 Well after a lot of therapy and talking to my doctor the team decided it would be best that I apply for disability.  This was a shock to my system.  How on earth would I live without the thing I love the most, my career.  It was my identity.  It was what defined me.  Well after much debate and thought I did apply for disability and received it will little effort.  Now the hardest part was actually going on the disability and accepting this was my new life.  What on earth was I going to do with myself now? I will be honest though there are many days I do miss my career because I miss the challenge.   I do know that this is the best solution for me at this time in my life to keep me balanced and be able to survive.  I went through a messy divorce soon after all this as well.  So there was a lot of stress in my life.  I had to find a new identity that did not involve my career.  I use to think that my career was what defined me but I now know it was just something I did.  It does not help that just about every new person that I meet ask that dreaded question. So what do you do for a living?  Our society is obsessed with associating people's worth with their job and not the true person's soul that is inside.  I  have found many tactics to change the conversation or talk about my vouluteer work or my hobbies.

It's still a struggle everyday but I do know that I am on the right path now.  I dated awhile after my divorce and went through several painful relationships.  Most people that I have dated still have a hard time understanding how tough it can be to live with someone with bipolar disorder.  They say they can handle it in the beginning but they really can't when the hard times or episodes come.  I always tell people upfront when I am dating them about my disorder and I always say that I have to live with this the rest of life but you do not.  But my husband says that living with someone with bipolar disorder can be a wonderful thing as well.  I feel blessed that I finally met a man that does not see my illness and gives me so much support to get through each day.  After dating so many men in my past it has been a long bumpy ride to find that right man for me.   I even gave up on love for a very long time because I didn't think anyone could handle my life.  It just goes to show you that you have to keep hope alive and when you least expect it the right person is standing in front of you.  My husband is a huge key now to keeping my life as stable as possible.   I have had less extreme mood swings since I have married him and he is very involved with my treatment.  Having supportive people in your life is key to surviving with bipolar disorder.

If you are feeling suicidal, depressed, or have no hope please get medical attention immediately.  A great group to seek additional help from is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention at http://www.afsp.org/


  1. I've just found your blog from over the other side of the pond and I ask myself all the questions you do. Days and days and weeks when I don't even want to leave my room or watch tv or go online of even read a book. Reading your blog helped me not to feel so alone

  2. I am so glad you found my blog and it made you feel not alone. That is the main reason I started writing is to help others who go through the same things I do each day. And you have just made me feel not alone and I truly appreciate you leaving a comment to tell me you asked yourself similar questions. That makes me not feel alone in this fight with Bipolar.

  3. Elaine,

    I am a young 27 yr old male, with some severe history of mood-swings. i battle hard and am qualifying as an accounting technician this year. I have a high record of achieving and want to become an accountant,I felt alot of honesty an resiliance in your post,and would love some adcice?

  4. Hi, My best advice to you is to go for your passion of being an accountant. I made it in the industry for 10 years with great success. I enjoyed college and did very well in it. I enjoyed my job and most of the time it was good for me and I was fairly stable. I had to a go on disablitly for many other reasons wtih my health but I did find that being an accountant was very stressful and my mood swings would act up. I found too that I moved swiftly up the corpoarate ladder and mostly worked for the CFO and that was the most stressful. I think looking back now I would have been better staying more on the bottom end of the job. There are a few things you should know about the job market when you have a disorder. I found it best to no disclose my illness to my co-workers or my boss unless it was necessary. The law does not require you to submit this information in the accounting field. I find that people treated me different when they found out I had it. Most were shocked I had it and would have never known. I did have to tell one boss that I had it because I was having trouble. She was great though and let me work from home on my bad days. Sadly she retried and my new boss was not understanding. I found out that at that time it was better for me to go on disablity because I was not having enough stablity to hold down the job anymore. It sounds like you are a go getter and I really believe you should go for your dreams. Never let your mood swings get in the way of your dreams. Just make sure you take care of yourself. Try to get plenty of sleep, take your medication if you are on any, follow your doctor's orders and hopefully you have a good support system. The biggest thing is go for it because you never want to have regrets. Some companies are great at supporting you esp if you are a great worker and some do not want to hear about it or bother with you. It depends on your company and your boss really. And if later you find that it is too stressful for you there are many options for you take then. Accouting is a good field to go into because there are always jobs in it, a good part of the time it is just you and books. My experience as all people with mental illness are different. I find that not working helps me to stay more stable though I still struggle. It is and has been tough giving up my career but it was the right thing for me to do at that time. I hope I have helped some and if you have other questions please send me another comment. It sounds like you have some experiece in the field and being an accountant seems like a good step for you. Just take care of your health and you should be able to make it. I know many people that have bipolar disorder that work and some that can't. The only way you will ever know it to go for it.


  5. Hi Elaine,

    Thanks for advice,and sorry that you had to give up work.
    I originally attended uni in dublin, Ireland,and studied a medical field,but did not graduate.After 3 hospitilastions i underwent a 2 yr diploma in accounting,and have worked in retail and engineering resp.I discovered that if i controlled the swings i could be productive. I have just enrolled to a local university to complete my degree,but am nerveous bout taking on more responsibility as an accountant and the work hours.
    I put alot off effert into regime,no alcohol,lost alot of friends,respect of locals,but gained a few good ones,and would just wish at times that people would realise how much they take for granted,as it can be so tough at times

    I hope that things work out for you.Thanks for your blog p