Towards the end of 2019, I found myself working for the perfect job. Or so, I had thought.
I had the perfect bosses. They were encouraging, kind, and there was absolutely no workplace toxicity that I could point out. My colleagues were fun and soon became my friends. To top it all off, I was good at the job, and it paid well.
Sure, there was barely any work-life balance, but I enjoyed what I did. There is always some satisfaction in the kind of jobs where you get results in numbers.
The end of 2019 was also the time of nationwide anti-CAA-NRC protests. I found myself spending my days at work, and my evenings at protest gatherings.
When my bosses found out about how I was spending my time outside of work, they were not too impressed.
Rather, it became a part of my performance review, which was everything about how good I was at what I did, and how, even though they “didn’t care what took place outside of work”, I was supposed to be careful about it.
When the January 2020 attack on the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University, my alma mater, took place, shortly following the brutal attack on the students of Jamia Millia Islamia, my mental health took a turn for the worst.
I was in bed for two days, unable to function. I look back at that time as a defining moment in my life for when my Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) took charge over me.
The next day, I impulsively texted my boss from bed, filed an official email, made a few calls, and quit my job.
Corporate Culture and BPD
In a culture where mental disorders are heavily stigmatized, how difficult is it for people with personality disorders to have stable jobs?
Talking to other people with BPD as well as mental health professionals, I have come to realize that the answer does not lie in individual illness. It lies in the general toxicity of corporate culture.
Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by symptoms that might seem very easy to identify with, all blown into an extraordinary proportion.
Some of these include impulsive decision-making, insecurities about personal relationships, self-destructive behaviour, an unstable self-image and dissociation.
The fact that BPD symptoms fall so closely in contradiction to everything that defines toxic corporate culture makes it especially easy for modern-day jobs to push people with BPD away.
Some of these acute insecurities that those with the disorder face often end up reflecting in workplace relationships.
Which means the slightest remark or a late response can end up triggering a whole “episode” of splitting. With splitting, an institution or a person can become either entirely good or entirely bad for you.
This often leads to people with BPD making the impulsive decision to quit their job. As a result, they end up finding themselves slightly more comfortable in freelance roles.
Does That Imply That You Should Ideally Not Be Hiring Someone With BPD?
The answer lies in the morals and values that your company holds.
If a part of those core beliefs is having a diverse, and consequently, a more creative workforce which is made to feel comfortable about the people they are, then people with BPD might just be lucky hires.
BPD is also characterized by extremely creative minds who make it their passion to complete a task perfectly. The onus here lies on the employer to keep reminding their employees that their work is valued as well as appreciating the benefits of a strong personality.
True, not all jobs can accommodate a creative mind with strong opinions.
But a trusting work relationship where the employee can open up about their mental illness, their workplace insecurities, and a place where they are encouraged to continue treatment can be ideal for those with not just BPD, but many personality disorders.
A key to this is allowing a person at work who might not have a happy-face on at every meeting and takes time to open up to coworkers.
This is a small “cost” to pay for a workforce that strives for perfection at every step and always has a new idea to put across the table.
For those with BPD, it is important to keep in mind the correct career path to choose. There is nothing wrong in identifying your limitations and triggers and working them out during therapy.
Choose a career path that allows you to hold on to your own core beliefs, while giving yourself a creative outlet. The right environment can aid you to bring the best out of yourself as long as you maintain routine and find the right course of treatment.
(Ishita is a freelance editor and writer. When she's not editing or writing, she likes to read and write poetry, and is also a published poet.)