Individuals with Bipolar Disorder are often subjected to discrimination. This can occur in the workplace, relationships, and the application process for a licenses, degrees, or numerous other areas. First and foremost, make sure that you are complying with the suggestions I have made in my June 2011 blog, “Bipolar 911.” If you are healthy and stable, there is no reason why you can not and should not enjoy participation in life's activities, services, and duties that are engaged in by other individuals with disabilities as well as those individuals who have no disabilities.
WORKPLACE: The American's with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Privacy protections of the United States Constitutions protect individuals with Bipolar Disorder from discrimination by government entities or entities that receive government funding. Individuals in the private workforce are protected under some circumstances as well. File a complaint with the Federal entity the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as soon as possible (800.669.4000) if you have been the victim of disability discrimination arising from your Bipolar Disorder. There are strict guidelines and deadlines so visit www.ada.gov/cguide.htm to review your rights and responsibilities.
APPLICATIONS: A university, law school, medical school, or any professional application might pose questions regarding a history of Bipolar Disorder, without posing the same questions for other disabilities. Oftentimes this constitutes illegal discrimination. The most important thing to remember when facing such discrimination is to not lie about your disability, rather, simply refuse to answer the question. Lying can be the equivalent of perjury and can became an independent reason to deny an application. The ADA and the Constitution also protect individuals against disability discrimination in the application process so be mindful of your rights.
RELATIONSHIPS: Due to the prejudices associated with mental illness, it is my recommendation that Bipolars do not tell anyone about your Bipolar Disorder, with the exception of your closest family and friends, unless they ask or unless you are legally required to do so. Bipolar Disorder, like AIDS, or any other private medical condition, is a personal matter that is no one else's business. The longer you can demonstrate stability to a new acquaintance, friend, business associate, or relationship partner, the more likely they will be to accept the truth about your Bipolar Disorder when it is ultimately disclosed.
If you have Bipolar Disorder and you are subjected to discrimination, consult with an attorney to protect your interests before taking action. You can also contact a civil rights organization like the American Civil Liberties Union, but such non-profits generally only accept a small percentage of cases. This might be an expensive and timely process, but it beats the alternative of disclosing private medical records or exposing yourself to perjury. You are welcome to contact my via email if you have any questions: EsquireEvan@aol.com.