Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a personality disorder that affects your mood, and the way you interact with people. Poor understanding of BPD in the community can lead to misunderstandings which affect your personal and professional relationships. We talked to our friends with BPD to come up with some tips to help you set yourself up for success in your professional life.
When you are looking for work, it’s important to be realistic about the type of work you can do, the hours you can work, and the environment you will be working in. Part of setting yourself up for success involves identifying potential failures ahead of time and avoiding them. There’s no point applying for a high-pressure sales job if you’re going to be burnt out within the first couple of weeks. Same thing goes for long or irregular shifts. If you know that you can only produce your best work with good sleep and a stable routine, try to look for jobs that allow you to work the same hours every day/week so you know what to expect.
That being said, don’t let your BPD be a limitation to your aspirations! Be mindful of your symptoms when you are making applications, but remember that there is so much more to you as a person.
Pay Attention to Contracts
When you are looking at job listings, or deciding whether to accept a job offer, always remember to check the details of any contract you will be signing up for. Usually, your contract will state a certain minimum number of hours that you are contracted to work in any given week. You can work more than this, but it’s usually considered a breach of contract for your employer to schedule you in for less than your contracted hours.
This is really important for your peace of mind. A set number of hours every week means a guaranteed income, which lets you plan for paying your bills, saving up, going on holiday etc. The extra stress of not knowing how many hours you will be working in a given week can be detrimental to your well-being, so you should be vigilant in checking these details before you sign up.
Prepare Yourself for Rejection
There are loads of different reasons why you might get rejected for a job, and very few of them are any reflection on you personally. Some job ads have hundreds of applicants, and you’ll never know what the sorting process is like for any position, but rest assured that it probably doesn’t involve sitting poring over the finer details of 200 CVs and personal statements! The point is that you should be mindful of the fact that not every application is going to be successful, but it’s not necessarily a reflection on the quality of your application, and definitely not a reflection on you as a person.
It may be tempting to think that you have found “the one”, when all the boxes are ticked and you are applying for a job that you think suits you perfectly, but this can lead to disappointment if you don’t get the position – even if it’s for reasons completely beyond your control. Remind yourself if you get a rejection that you are simply working through a process of elimination, much like these employers are, to find a job that is right for you. Any individual rejection is just a small speed bump along the way.
Use your Support Networks
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against you because of your mental health, and in fact many will be happy to work with you to make sure the necessary support is in place to ensure you can do your job properly. If you are unsure, ask your employer (or potential employer) what their occupational health policy is. You don’t have to reveal your mental health history to a potential employer in order to be considered for a role. Familiarise yourself with what questions employers are allowed to ask you, and at what stage. Unfair discrimination is harmful to everyone, so you should report cases of discrimination if you encounter them. Mind has a good breakdown of what is allowed, and how to report any problems.
Other useful support networks are your friends and family, online resources like Mind, and counselling services provided by your school, college or university.
Remember, above all, that BPD is just a part of who you are. Employment law is set up in such a way that you have equal opportunity access to the job market – it’s just a case of working with your symptoms in a way that sets you up for success.
If you have a story you would like to share with us about BPD or your experience of mental health and job hunting, we would love to hear from you.
Samaritans offer a free listening service for anyone who is struggling to cope. There is no age restriction, and you don't have to give them any personal details if you don't want to. You can call them free in the UK on 116 123.
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