bipolar strikes again
September 4, 2012 11:54 AM   Subscribe

What accommodations are available to people with bi-polar 2 in the grad school setting?

Hi all,

I was diagnosed with bi-polar 2 last year, and it had severely affected my work. Turning the end of the semester and into the beginning and middle of summer, I was doing much better, but towards the end of summer and now I am depressed again. Can't concentrate, can't read cause of the cacophony of noise in my head, I have no gusto or passion left. I used to get research ideas 3 or 4 a lecture but now I'm stuck. I drag myself to class and am attentive but it seems like nothing remains with me.

I have an appointment with my p-doc to adjust my medication, and another with a nurse practioner to do the DSS paperwork, but what can I expect them to provide me if they provide me anything at all? I'm not even sure what would be helpful at this point. They can send letters to the faculty, but what would these letters even say? What can I do for myself, too?
posted by lettuchi to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Put yourself in touch with the Office of Disability Services or equivalent unit; they are the people who will help you work through the particulars of your case and figure out the most appropriate accommodations, along with communicating that information to your department/faculty.
posted by drlith at 12:04 PM on September 4, 2012 [2 favorites]

This is an interesting article, that might give you, your caregivers and your teachers some ideas. It's geared toward lower education, and some of the suggestions won't work in a college setting, but many will.
posted by ubiquity at 12:10 PM on September 4, 2012

You might consider seeing if one of your university's deans is designated as a Mental Health Liaison. I would set up an appointment with this dean before officially registering with Student Disability Services (or equivalent). If you are registered with SDS, then they'll work out what your department is required to do in order to accomodate you--most likely, they will ask that your department give you extensions on all assignments.

This has probably already occurred to you, but officially registering with disability services does sort of automatically alert your chair, your DGS, and your professors as to your current mental health. If this is what you want, good. If you are worried about this being stigmatizing (and it can be in many universities--I hope yours isn't one of them), then definitely talk to a dean or trusted professor first, if possible.

As for your general depression: summer is designed to make graduate students miserable. I, personally, deal very poorly with unstructured time (and also struggle with BPII). As you begin to have a heavier workload, you might find that you do start to feel better. While things are getting rolling academically, try to fill in the spare time with other activities. (Running and/or yoga are always good options.)
posted by munyeca at 12:26 PM on September 4, 2012

Check out the Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation's list of frequent accommodations. They have a lot of resources on that site - poke around. This page from the ADA office of the state of Kentucky has similar information presented in a different way. And the federal government has... way too much information available, too.

(Personally, I don't try to do substantive schoolwork in the middle of a major depressive or hypomanic episode. It's asking for trouble, in my opinion.)
posted by Fee Phi Faux Phumb I Smell t'Socks o' a Puppetman! at 3:59 PM on September 4, 2012

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