Business Tip: Can A Person With Bipolar Disorder Be Successfully Self-Employed?
If you suffer from a long-term mental illness, like bipolar disorder, it’s possible that your level of confidence in your ability to successfully start and manage a business of your own has eroded with time. Your efforts in the past may have left you feeling like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole – both in your business pursuits, and in the path of traditional employment.
If not approached correctly, starting a business can be dangerous for a person with bipolar disorder, adding fuel to the fires of both mania and depression. People with bipolar disorder can be subject to manic delusions of grandeur, pursuing unrealistic business ideas, along with having grandiose and unrealistic expectations of themselves. After the period of mania wears off, the depressive mindset will likely set in, and with it, a realistic view of the unrealistic business they had been so excited about. They may feel foolish, and like a failure, and they may have also hurt and let down many people who believed in them.
This cycle of feelings of grandiosity followed by feelings of failure is harmful to the health and stability of the person with bipolar disorder, and may cause them to give up on themselves altogether. After many such let-downs and disappointments, many people with bipolar disorder who have great potential end up on disability, or otherwise dependent on others for their survival.
If you have bipolar disorder, starting your own business can be one of the best things you can do for yourself and your health – as long as you approach it in the right way. It’s important for you to gain perspective and understanding in order to tame the possibility of poor judgment based on manic impulses. You may gain this insight from recognition of your past patterns and mistakes in business, or if you’re lucky enough not to have made any, from awareness of the potential pitfalls of both mania and depression in your business.
Ideally you can find a trusted friend and advisor to help support you with your goals of successful self-employment. This person should be a logical, grounded and rational critical thinker who has an understanding of bipolar disorder. He or she can be the sounding board for your plans, and you will need to rely on this person to help you by telling you when your ideas or judgment is poor. Your advisor can also help motivate you when your mood is depressed.
You’re going to need to train your mind to approach your business in the right way, rather than in the incredible excitement, creativity and grandiosity that may have fueled your past endeavors. Be realistic, and know your weaknesses. You want to keep your stress levels down, so be careful not to do too much. If you find yourself beginning to work unstoppably 12-16 hours a day, it’s time to force yourself to stop. Check in with your advisor to let them know you have to take a break, and do whatever you need to do to take care of your elevating mood, such as calling your psychiatrist and/or therapist.
Have realistic expectations and set small goals. This will prevent you from setting yourself up for disappointment, failure and depression. Don’t start with dreams of becoming an overnight millionaire – simply begin with small steps. Be sure to find a good accountant – many small businesses may start out by making only a hundred or a few hundred dollars a month. By maximizing your tax write-offs, you can make up for this.
A good type of business for someone with bipolar disorder is a small home business. A home business is something you can start small and build up slowly, you won’t need a lot of money to get started. You can set your own hours and limits, taking on only as much as you are capable of without over-stressing yourself. With a home business, you have the flexibility you need in coping with this disorder. You’ll still be able to find the time for all the various tasks you already have throughout the week such as doctor’s appointments, support groups, exercise, therapy, filling prescriptions, and so on.
There are an incredible number of benefits for a person with bipolar disorder starting a home business. You will find something that uses your talents and skills, and your confidence will increase dramatically. Having a regular responsibility that you enjoy will help you to be more healthy and stable. Your business will keep your mind active, and if you’ve been on disability it’s likely you’ll appreciate having something to do.
As your income increases and you take advantage of your tax deductions, you can get better insurance, more easily pay for your medication, and enjoy your increasing quality of life overall. As you take control of your income, you can begin to be relieved of the major stressor of poverty and financial need. Your self-esteem will rise as you become more independent and less dependent. You’ll be able to start paying off your debts. And, being self-employed, you have created your own job security.
There are a great many more benefits to having your own home business if you have a mental illness. Finding a home business that fits and approaching it in the right way is one of the best things a person with bipolar disorder can do for their financial, mental and emotional health.
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