I was training a new hire once and half way through his shift I asked how he was liking the job so far, to which he responded “Honestly, I’m just glad you’re not crazy like my last boss.” I laughed and said “Maybe I am and I’m just better at hiding it”. His response “no, you don’t understand, she had something called Borderline Personality Disorder. She was crazy, and really difficult to work for.”
I realized 2 things that day. First, that I’ll never tell my team or manager my diagnosis. And second, that it is not about the diagnosis, it’s about how you work through it. He worked for me for nearly two years and never thought of me as crazy, or unstable, or difficult to work for. When he left it was because he had to move out of state for personal reasons, and he admitted that if ever returning he would love to work for me again. I had the same disorder as his past manager, so why was the experience under me so different for him?
One thing I’ve learned is that everyone has something they are trying to overcome at work. It’s different for everyone, but we all have something. As an employee I’ve learned to not let it get me down, but fight through. I’m honestly a stubborn bitch and refuse to let any disorder dictate how I live my life. Sometimes being a bitch is good.
As a manager I remember this and look to help my team overcome whatever it is that they are fighting. My disorder does not make me a bad manager, but instead allows me to better understand their struggles. When an employee is struggling with a task I look for the underlying cause and adapt. Maybe I’m using the wrong teaching method, maybe they need to learn a different task first, maybe it’s just not the right timing. I look for that and help them to overcome.
Personally I find it harder to be a good employee than a good manager when it comes to BPD. I can adjust to help others far easier than I can adjust to help myself. I can get highly emotional when my boss and I meet seperatly and it’s something he really just does not understand. This fact has held me back from multiple promotions and that does nothing but increase the stress and frustration that comes with my BPD.
But when things get tough I remind myself of the “key to staffing” that I once learned at a seminar. It’s about putting the right person in the right position. Everyone is the right person, but that does not mean it is the right position. If my BPD is getting in the way of a future position it is not because I am wrong for it, it is because it is wrong for me. My BPD is frustrating and stressful and makes me feel crazy, but it also makes me think fast, plan more long term, and better understand others struggles. So I will focus on my strengths and work positions that fit me.
Here are some little tips to get through the tough days. I hope these help as you fight to find your fit.
- Take breaks. Do not skip them and “power through”, it will aggravate your symptoms, and cause you to loose focus.
- Meditate. I meditate during my lunch break cause there’s no way in hell I’m waking up early enough in the morning to do so before work. But find the schedule that works for you and just be sure to fit it in.
- Wear items that make you feel confident. Maybe it’s heals, or a tie, or your favorite necklace. Whatever it is, make sure it’s ready to be worn on your roughest days to give you that extra boost.
- Schedule an extra therapy appointment during more triggering seasons. I recently started doing this and it has been very effective at helping me not get all the way to my breaking point.
- “Remove” work at the end of the day. Find a symbolic way to remove work so you can set it aside when you get home. For me it’s removing my makeup. I put on my “managers mask” each morning as a mental task of making me feel strong and prepared for the day to come. I take it off each evening allowing the stress of the day and the tasks yet to be accomplished to wipe away with it so I can focus on the natural joy of my family and my home.