Stress Test – Does your Job have a Negative Effect on your Mental Health?

bipolar depression and adult AD/HD


I have had a lot of stress this past week.  I decided to apply for some paralegal jobs.  The thought of making money again was oh, so appealing.  It did not matter that the stress from my former boss reduced me to a wadded up paper towel.  For some reason, I thought this next job would be different.

Then one morning an attorney called me and said he was impressed with my resume.  We talked awhile.  My heart was pounding hard.  We left the conversation with me thinking about it.

I pounced on James the moment he came downstairs to go to work.  At ninety miles an hour, I told him about the conversation.

James said “you’re manic.” 

work stress

Mania from job-hunting-stress

I agreed with him.  He again reiterated what he said before, the money was not worth the stress.  I heard him say that, but as the mania grew within me I felt more invincible.

The Domino Affect

From the time of that phone conversation with the attorney, until this moment I have been experiencing an uptick in my bipolar and anxiety symptoms.  I have tension headaches that last for hours; some upset stomach issues; auditory and visual hallucinations; paranoid delusions (I started believing a dragon lived in our bedroom and was out to turn me extra-crispy); inability to concentrate; and tremors so bad that it is nearly impossible to drive or send a text.

When I saw James at lunch, he told me I did not have to work.  I love that man.  I am sure he is thinking about the person I became when I worked my last paralegal job.  He knows the symptoms are real.  He has really grown in the area of knowing my illness and understanding it.  Then we started talking about the blog and I gave him an update on the remote freelance job-search and the article submissions.

work stress

work stress

Flee Stressful Situations

I believe that people with mental illnesses can work, but the internet and the books on my shelf say to stay away from stress or anything else that may provoke your symptoms.  A law office is very stressful and the job I was looking at, office manager, is extremely stressful because I would be dealing with the firm’s money as well as a lot of people.

Freelance writing is a great job for me.  I can make up my own schedule.  I have narcolepsy and it is great to be able to take a nap mid-day.  And the channeled energy I get from my illness helps me to be more creative.

work stress

Taking a Break from Work

If you have a mental illness (or not), it is okay to work a traditional job or a job from home.  Your household circumstances might dictate which one you eventually chose.  Whatever job you look at for employment, do a stress test.  How much stress will you be up against?  Can you handle it?

Think of these questions to help you decide

  1. What is the environment like? Is it loud and noisy?  Is your desk next to the breakroom?  Are you sitting in a hard chair?  What about the lighting?  Can any of these issues be resolved?
  2. Do you have a lot of deadlines in your job? How good are you at prioritizing all your tasks in order to get the work done?  Do deadlines cause extra stress for you?
  3. What is the attitude of your boss or supervisor? Does he/she talk down to you?  Does he/she talk to you as a person with interests and character?
  4. What is the work of the job like day-to-day? Are you going to get bored?  Will you be challenged?  Are you going to have an issue with one of your tasks because of anxiety? For instance, talking on the phone?

I hope these questions help you with your current job or a future job.  Your health is so much more important than any paycheck.


Tell me about stressful situations in your life.  How well do you rebound?  Write a comment below.  You can also email me at

Going Further (This website is really good!)

Stress and how to Diminish the Symptoms at the Workplace