Bipolar and Business

Relaxed Confident Female Entrepreneur

When someone searches my name in Google or another search engine, they find two very large pieces of information.

  1. I run a mental health blog where I openly talk about my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder.
  2. I am the business owner of AIM Social Media Marketing.

When I started writing my story and sharing the very personal story of my struggle with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, suicidal attempts and self-harm I was warned that this could cause problems with my professional career down the road.

I took the stance that day and I’ve held it ever since.

“If someone won’t hire me because I have a mental illness, I wouldn’t want to work for them anyways.”

Why would I want to work for someone who hasn’t taken the time to break down the stigma of mental illness; someone who isn’t interested in educating themselves on what the word “Bipolar” really means?

It’s been over four years since Defying Shadows started. (Amazing, right???) It’s been almost three years since I started my business. There has never been a time that having Bipolar Disorder was the reason why I didn’t land a client. Sure… Maybe someone ‘googled’ me and decided not to contact me after reading my story. But it hasn’t gotten in the way of my business and professional success.

Having went through the struggles and unfortunate events that I did years ago, have only made me a better business owner. Here’s some of the things that having Bipolar Disorder as a business owner has taught me.

  1. Take care of yourself first. If you’re not healthy, your business will suffer. Set aside time for your body, mind and spirit to relax. Work too much and you’ll burn out. Self-care is VERY important.
  2. Have your affairs in order. This was one of the first things I did starting out. Bipolar Disorder is unpredictable and can have some disadvantages when it comes to making important decisions – especially financial. So I got a Will. I also got a power of attorney who can take care of my business if I am unwell. It offers the ease of mind. I don’t have to stress about this.
  3. Have a support system. It is said that entrepreneurs and business owners often find themselves isolated compared to others who work 9 to 5. We work too much and don’t have as much “social time”. Having Bipolar can also be isolating. Having a strong support system has kept me grounded.
  4. Be cautious. Having Bipolar Disorder causes me to think through decisions very carefully. Especially important ones. I overanalyze everything! I want to ensure my decision is based on reason and logic, not on a manic whim.
  5. Take a leap of faith. Sometimes you have to take that leap. There are moments that I have the “close your eyes and jump off the cliff” feeling. I don’t know what’s going to happen but I jump anyways. Everyone has to do this from time to time. It’s okay to do – and it doesn’t mean you’re manic.
  6. Work hard. I’ll repeat it for the people in the back. WORK HARD. Living with mental illness is hard work. Work hard on yourself. Learn coping mechanisms and management skills. This was great practice for when I started my own business. It’s a TON of work. But I work just as hard on this as I did on myself. And it shows.
  7. You can be successful. The number of articles, tweets, and posts on social networks that I have read stating that if you have Bipolar Disorder (or other mental illnesses) you won’t be able to be as successful in your professional lives is mind-blowing. THEY ARE WRONG. Want proof? Ask me how my business is going.
  8. Prove them wrong. Do you have someone in your life that tells you that you can’t do something because of the symptoms of your mental illness? Here’s what you need to do. 1. Remove the negativity from your life. 2. Set boundaries. 3. PROVE THEM WRONG! It’s a great feeling when you accomplish something you’ve been told you cannot do.
  9. DREAM! I remember when I was a kid and I told my mom that one day I wanted to live in Toronto, work in an office with lots of other professional people, be a successful woman who wore dress pants and heels, and oh, I was going to have a tea cup dog. Well I’m an adult now. I don’t live in Toronto (it’s overrated. Seriously… one word. Traffic!), but I do work in Windsor (which is big enough for this country girl). I do have an office where I am surrounded by successful entrepreneurs just like myself. I do wear dress pants and heels; as for the dog thing….. turns out I’m allergic, but hey! The rest of the dream came true so I’ll take it!

I realize not everyone is in the same situation as I am. But it’s important to know that you can succeed, even with a diagnosis. Believe in yourself. Be kind to your inner self. You’re going to do just fine.


Tell us what success you have had since your diagnosis. We would love to hear from you!

11 thoughts on “Bipolar and Business

  1. Thank you so much for writing this post! I have high-functioning bipolar disorder and I’ve kept it mostly hidden because I feared it affecting my career opportunities also. I’m so glad to hear you’ve found so much success! This post gives me hope and fights my own self-stigma 🙂

  2. I really love this post Nichole! There are heaps of people out there who fear taking those leaps because they distrust their illness. But what they do need to do is to trust themselves by managing their mental illness. It gets better and you get good at what you practice! Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it! Dream and dream big!

  3. This is a fantastice post Nicole. I just started out my own mental health blog. I received a mental healh diagnosis and during Hospitalization I thought my career was over. Well I was back to work in a month and am now the lead online course developer for a higher education institution. A mental illness diagnosis is to be managed not to be the end of life as we knew it. Check out my blog if you get a chance!

  4. Hi, its just perfect that I came across your post. I felt like you cleared the air.

    I am grappling with this right now in a life-changing kind of way. I have been successful in my career largely BECAUSE I rode the energy waves and hid the slides. If I went to hospital, I might come clean with that boss, and then get myself another boss before the next episode. Also, I have been a boss myself for over 20 years, and I know having people in and out of the team due to illness (any illness) can be a burden.

    So now – to get stuck into the next big thing, and if so, do I come clean? Or accept my limitations and take on alternative kind of work? Even when I know I can fly? (and crash and burn)? Oh, and I have kids to support. Gosh, this is a bit of a rant…

    1. Hey! Everyone’s story is different. As much as we work at removing stigma, it still exists. I can’t tell you what to do. But I’ve found for my personal story that being upfront has been a good policy. I didn’t settle for less. I knew I could succeed so I went for it. Sure, there’s a chance I might crash at some point – but I prepared for that ahead of time! I surround myself with a great group of people who will support me through this. I’ve even went so far as to see a lawyer and get a will and power of attorney to cover my bases.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this. I have bipolar 1 disorder which is under control but I suffer with an anxiety disorder and panic attacks around work. This stops me from holding down work outside the home at times and is incredibly challenging, I have lost a lot of jobs because I couldnt get in. So thank you for this and reminding me there is hope 🙂

  6. Thank you for this post. I have bipolar disorder and started my own business and have two clients. I’ve only been in business for two months. I had a long stressful day yesterday. I am taking time this morning to relax and recharge. So far, owning my own business has allowed me a work/life balance for my bipolar disorder I would never have with a employer, working on their schedule.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s