Gift Wrapped Carrots

So you may know that I have a problem with carrots.

For those of you unaware of what that means, here’s a quote from the linked post from October,

“The carrot is the concept of something desirable being placed in front of you (like a carrot being held out in front of a horse), making you strive to attain it.”

These sorts of carrot situations usually arise in places of employment. The boss waves something new and exciting in front of an employee to either increase productivity or to entice the employee to become fully committed to their particular establishment.

One might see the problem there for someone who has bipolar disorder. The biggest trouble I have with this disorder is that my energy levels fluctuate quite wildly, so I am in a constant state of flux.

Sometimes I am an extremely high-functioning individual who (somehow) comes off as being intelligent, competent, level-headed, and hardworking. This is the girl who is usually hired in any given situation, and she is also constantly being pushed to be promoted. I usually hear something along the lines of, “you’re being completely underutilized” -so whatever boss I have is usually looking to use these talents more fully.

But then… there’s the other side of the spectrum. I become extremely lethargic, I have trouble putting thoughts together, and the level-headedness burns off. My actions might suddenly make very little sense to the people around me, and I am quickly reprimanded for not keeping up the pace I originally set for myself.

I have come to despise carrots because I usually do genuinely want them. But somewhere down the line, either in the stretch to achieve or in the moment of glorious achievement, I know I will lose them.

This weekend I was offered a huge carrot, I guess I am in the high-functioning phase again as of late, and it frustrates me to know that I really should not say yes. It is true that half of me is being underutilized, but the other half of me is being over-utilized. Taking the carrot means that if the scales suddenly tip (and they usually do around February) I will undoubtedly lose my job.

So no, getting a real estate license to have a full-time job handed to me is a terrible idea.

I just really miss being high-functioning all the time, but I know better than to think that’ll happen. Unfortunately that is not the nature of my brain. Trust me, it is a really shocking fall to go from constant effortless success to the opposite (unyielding failure?) in the space of a few days or hours. I really do understand the concept, but when it happens it feels so baffling and surreal.

It is like having a gift -say you can play guitar, and sometimes you are amazing at it. When you’re amazing, it is effortless, you just rock out and people admire your talent. Then, suddenly, there are times where you can’t play the guitar at all. You go blank on all the notes, and you can only remember one line at a time of any given song.

Wouldn’t you be upset? Wouldn’t you be frustrated, and think that maybe somehow you were “going crazy”? Would you be bitter toward God, or you genes, or your parents, for potentially instigating this phenomenon?

This is the biggest frustration I’ve had to handle because I have bipolar disorder. My success seems to be based on nothing more than a flip of a coin at this point, and either I will rock out or forget all the cords.

I know that my moods appear to be equally as random, but the problems I have with them are tiny in comparison to the bigger picture. If I could rely on myself to produce the same results over and over again, I would gladly deal with the sporadic moods.

But I do have periods of time when I can be successful, even if they are getting shorter and further apart over the last 10 years. At least I do have moments to look forward to where people think I am intelligent, competent, level-headed, and hardworking. Brief moments where I can pop my head above the surface of the water and take a deep breath before diving back down.

So now is the more difficult part, turning down the carrot. In the past I’ve gotten some seriously rough flack about turning down promotions and things because people honestly just don’t understand where I’m coming from. I was really hoping to keep this work relationship as uncomplicated as possible, but I guess that is an impossible task.

I’m going forward with the plan that I wont even consider a full-time position until February at least when I can get a better idea of where I’ll be (depression wise) at that time.

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2 responses to “Gift Wrapped Carrots

  1. I feel ya. I am in my ‘down’ right now struggling at my current work place yet my boss tells me I am her best employee and that I work the hardest– even though I know it’s due to my ‘manic’ phases. Those darn carrots.

  2. Even non-Dx folks have trouble with the carrot. My husband starts every job with great enthusiasm and overachieves. I’ve warned him against it dozens of times. I used to have trouble with the carrot. I would do the same and burnout really fast. That’s why I usually hang out at the job during that “grace period” where I am absolved of mistakes, because I’m the rookie. This way, I can get a feel for the natural rhythm. If the rhythm is too fast, I know the job isn’t for me. If I’m working too far above the rhythm, I know to chill out.

    It’s not failure. It’s the wrong fit. I have gone through a number of jobs in different industries before I found the right one in the right environment. It’s more laid back than I like where I work, but that’s okay. People are very accepting of other people’s limitations.

    My boss knows I ebb and flow without even approaching me about it. She accepts it, and knows how to handle me during those stages. Cool me down when I’m overachieving by setting a slower pace and encouraging me when I’m down. She’s a wonderful person and a fantastic boss. No micromanagement. We’re all responsible adults.

    You know what’s right for you, and that’s better than the carrot. Hold yourself to your own standards and don’t let anyone tell you different. You know you best.

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