I told my employer…in more detail than necessary. I messaged my boss one day “I have a mental illness that involves mood swings and psychosis. I need to take a week or 2 off.” I had no intention of ever telling him. He doesn’t seem the sympathetic type. But he appeared understanding and told me to take any time I needed. For the month prior I had been manic. I was working like 3 people with 6 arms juggling multiple projects and producing an extraordinary amount. Not sure about the quality, but I thought I was a genius with unlimited capacity at the time. Things inevitably started to get out of control. I played hooky one afternoon because I very suddenly REALLY needed to reorganize my garden. I had a plan. It was going to be amazing. I jumped out of my seat and ran to the store and unwisely spent a ridiculous amount of money on flowers. I don’t know if I slept because I had PLANS. And like the extra workload I was taking on those plans started to pile up. Ideas radiating from everything I saw. My brain moved faster and faster until one day it didn’t.
I’ve had many plans before. At one point I wanted to build a steam engine and I bought a hardware store worth of random objects to get started. I accumulated books about engines and read and read. I lived engines for that brief period. I spent too much money on painting supplies and dove right into that hobby. I remember crying because the world was so beautiful as I frantically tried to paint the incredible scenes from my mind. The violin. That was a month. I was going to be a virtuoso. Beautiful music was going to emanate from my house and my neighbors would be astounded. What happens? What always happens? I crash.
My brain was moving so quickly for so long it simply ran out of gas and very suddenly stuttered to a halt. I couldn’t think. My thoughts were slurred and sluggish. I had to work very hard to produce a sentence. There was a lag when my mind tried to interpret common stimuli in the environment. I physically shook. Let’s not forget the depression. There must be something structurally wrong with my brain. Do I have dementia or Parkinson’s? Surely what I was experiencing was more than misfires and would show like a tumor on an MRI. Nope. I’ve had an MRI and it doesn’t stick out. It’s like that mystery disease someone suffers endlessly without proof. The doctor has only your word to go by. My disability is all in my head.
1 month later with increased medication and I can function. I still have my job. My boss isn’t treating me any differently. Ultimately, I won’t know if this was the right decision for some time, but I felt like I had no choice but to disclose. I couldn’t function, and I didn’t know how long it would last. I could make something up about a relative, but if it didn’t resolve itself, further explanations would be difficult. Don’t ask my advice. I wouldn’t advise either way. There are too many variables to consider. But sometimes, it just comes out.