I have bipolar disorder and am on a certain medication that's helping my mood quite a bit but is causing me to have black out periods where I can't recall what happened. This is affecting my work heavily and I've tried telling my boss but all I get is "I'm not sure what to say."

How should I react to this? Should I quit my job and look for an easier job that doesn't require as much attention to detail? It's starting to affect my mental health because my doctor appointments are about a month out and I don't expect to magically get better.

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    I know we had a question around here from someone dealing with medically-caused memory problems, but I can't seem to find it. – David K Feb 15 '17 at 19:31
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    Why do you expect us to know what to do better than you and your doctors do? If you can work, work. If you can't, see if you can take sick time. If you don't recover quickly, see if you can tap your disability insurance and/or take a leave of absence. If you can't do that, then yes, you may need to find a job you can do or go on long-term disability. Not much else we can say. – keshlam Feb 15 '17 at 19:34
  • What exactly have you talked to your boss about? Rather than just hearing you are having health issues, he is likely more interested in how it will affect your job, what you need to help you day-to-day, and how long the issues are expected to last (a week, a month, forever?). – David K Feb 15 '17 at 19:36

You need to talk to your doctor ASAP. He can advise you on what type of work accommodation you need and what the process is for getting an accommodation in your locality if it has disability laws that require workplace accommodation such as the US has. He can also help you determine if you need to take disability leave or apply for a permanent disability. Do not quit your job without exploring the disability options.

Plus, a side effect that severe is unusual and he would want to know about it.

Once you have consulted with your doctor and gotten the appropriate paperwork, then go to your company's HR and and do what is necessary.

Your boss is not sure what to say because he doesn't know what type of accommodation you are asking for. Some things can be accommodated and some cannot (a blind person can't be a professional truck driver). When you have the illness it is up to you, in conjunction with your doctor, to determine what you need at work to accommodate the issue and then make specific requests not excuses about how you couldn't do your work properly.

In the future, remember it is always better to be proactive about these things before your boss notices a performance issue both from the standpoint of legality and from the standpoint of your relationship with your boss and coworkers.

Hopefully this is a temporary side effect of adjusting to medicine and may only need a short disability leave.


I have bipolar disorder and am on a certain medication that's helping my mood quite a bit but is causing me to have black out periods where I can't recall what happened.

How should I react to this?

In terms of workplace issues, well, I think it's going to be next to impossible to have an employer accommodate your black-out periods. So, the burden is largely going to be on you to minimize the impact on your performance. For example, you can get in the habit of taking notes on everything that is discussed, and periodically checking your notes for things you're supposed to do. Sadly, I know someone who suffers from memory loss due to a stroke and she can't remember that she has notes with herself to help her remember things, so this obviously can't work in general, but it might if your impairment is comparatively mild.

my doctor appointments are about a month out

Is your doctor aware of these black-out periods? If not, you should make another appointment a lot sooner than a month out. This sounds like a very serious side effect. AFAIK, no drug can actually cure bipolar disorder; they're just supposed to help the patient function better, and it doesn't sound like the drug you are taking is actually achieving that for you. You should ask your doctor if you've exhausted all other treatment options before putting up with memory lapses.

  • The original question was about my EEG and MRIs being a month out. I have an appointment on the 1st, where I'll try to get a different medication, as well as Adderall potentially since the neurologist I spoke to last night is fairly certain I'm still affected by it. – FrogPi Feb 15 '17 at 20:52
  • @FrogPi Still affected by what? – DepressedDaniel Feb 15 '17 at 21:03

Leave your job if you can afford to and concentrate on your health.

Otherwise you just need to soldier on making the best that you can of your situation and hope you don't lose your job. Save as much as you can in case something bad happens and try your best to do what you can for yourself.

Your boss is being very accommodating, don't push that any further than necessary.

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