I was born in KY in 1941 on a small farm. 55% of our income was from tobacco, 45% from dairy products production. Both my parents were born in the nineteenth century. I was taught to work as early as I can remember. All my kudos came from working on the farm and academic accomplishments, since my mother had been a schoolteacher before she married my father in her mid twenties. This is one event described here may have contributed my illness. My mother liked to describe her fears in a very excited way.
I did fairy good in school although when I had racing thoughts I could not read with any thoughtfulness. I went to College @ U of KY for six week I cannot tell why I quit, but I had not developed any study habits since my memory got me through High School. I went back to the farm and worked with my father for 15 months. A lot of that decision was made to be with my girlfriend, she was in her last year of High School.
In the spring of that following year, I had my first drink of alcohol. Described here: I drank like that for 15 years and 10 months.
I had an accident in October of that year (no alcohol involved) where a person was killed and I was driving the car. I was charged with involuntary manslaughter but was never indicted. While all that was going on I went into a state of depression. Local physician treated me. (Never hospitalized). I went back to college the next January. However, the alcohol and mental illness kept me from meeting any standards.
I got married the next March and soon after started to work in my first completive workplace. As always I worked very hard and was promoted to a semi-supervisory position. I worked in that position for about 1.5 years then promoted to a low-level industrial engineering position (self taught). This I did and was promoted to an assistant manager of a 150 worker sewing factory. Then in late 1969 my alcohol use and depression (diagnosed as Agitated Depression) caused me to be an in-patient client for 50 days after a run in with my supervisor that included all the anger that a bipolar can express. This was Dec 1969. No way was this supervisor going to let me back on that job. However I was offered a job with the parent company 180 miles away.
My brother-in-law was working for another needle trades company in TN about 220 miles away. He offered me a job as a low level industrial engineer. My anxious condition left me afraid to stay with my old company so I went with my brother-in-law. I worked there from 1970-1973. During that time I got all the material to study the FORTRAN computer language. (Talk later). Pay became an issue, so I went to MN to work with another needle trades company as an industrial engineer. I was on heavy antidepressants and visiting a psychiatrist tri-monthly during the years in TN
I worked at that job for about 16 months and was promoted to a supervisor job. My drinking became worse. I was taken off this job in about two months and put back on the industrial engineer work. Then back into a supervisory position. About 10 months in that position my drinking got so bad I had to go into treatment. I was in treatment for 14 days when my agitated mental (near psychotic) condition got so bad I was taken to a mental hospital. I finished treatment to never drink again, so far. I was diagnosed as depressed. I returned to work in the same position. The needles trades industry was beginning to leave the USA. The company was contracting. They put in charge of developing better individual work methods. I found some MTM method that was written for the needle trades industry. I got this implemented in short order with much praise. However it was not enough for us to save this part of our company. We started to branch to other venture which I headed up. I was put in charge of one project. From past experiences the stress from this endeavor was making me manic. It was a failed effort so I was taken off the project and back to the industrial engineering. The company closed all but one of the factories and I was put in charge of the one left.
I was sober and in good condition and all thing went well. I bought a TRS-80 Computer and with Basic language developed a program for computing the earning for all worker on incentive program and non-incentive earning with a computed total for different earnings. This was with a 4000 byte computer and the use of tapes. I did this at home while managing the 120 workers in daytime. It took two years for the stress to get to me, and then I started off to the hospital to treat my mental condition. 5 days in Oct. 1982. But back to work but never the same as when I was working as an engineer. In Oct 1983 I was back in the hospital for two days both times the psychiatrist wanted me to stay longer. I really got into a shouting match with my supervisors. They did not want to fire me because of my ten years of previous work, but had no choice. (Under today laws it looks like they could have given me a different job with restrictions). They hired a professional to see that I exited peacefully. I found another job in Eastern PA for a small company, which sewed and distributed funeral garments. The first five months I was very depressed, worked hard at my job and in AA, got help from the local mental health. Sleeping habits were bad. I got the manufacturing part of the job off to a good start and left in the hands of very competent people and devoted my time to sales, as they wanted. I reported to a Trustee (A bank employee) the other two trustee were in the family that heard all the flack from the sales people that did not want changes. I took 18 months of this and then, Oct. 10th 1985 I went into a psychotic episode that could be best describe by the narrator in the Tell Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe. I was not in my home area so I was treated very aggressively with psychotic drugs and left the hospital in a total of 18 days. I was working half days on the twentieth day. I was taking heavy doses of Malarial and Elaviral (misspelled). I was not operating very good and under the care of the local mental health. I worked and covered my tracks. May 1986 I was at the mental health unit and a new psychiatrist in charge told me he was sure I was Bipolar II and wanted me to start on lithium immediately. I got the off other meds. and onto the lithium. In ten days I thought I had found the magic cure.
I still had manic episodes that included working up to 16 hours per day. I late 1987 I purchased a Macintosh 11 a little up grade from the TRS-80. In about 6 weeks I put together a Marco on Excel that I could enter the change in price of any material and it would show the increase on any product affected. I noted in late 1987 a big company was buying up many funeral homes and suppliers. This created resentment within many funeral homes that we did not have as customers. I started going after the accounts, working many hours per week. In the fiscal year July 1987-1988 sales of this business increased over 20% while normally the increase would be the increase in death rate and inflation, which at that time would be 3%-5%. This disturbed the sales people and they would go to the other trustees and I got into a shouting match with one of the trustees and they fired me.
I had another job before my severance pay ran out in OH. This was back to managing a sewing plant about 80 employees doing the same type as my first employer in the 60s. I was fired in 22 months for my non-attentive attitude. Depression for sure. I was self-employed for about 4 months as an industrial engineer for a shop that had many tailors at work. I was losing money at this so I quit and started unemployment. I started working with an employment agency and they noted a job in Egypt for a plant manager for a start-up sewing plant. I interview and got the job. This was very dangerous since I was taking 1500 mg of lithium per day in a normal temperature of 113°. I was too depressed to work efficiently and could not understand exactly what they want accomplished. I was fired. I came home with my family broke. Had to live with my mother-in-law. I continue to look for work in the same industry. I found another job in MS in 5 months. I was working for some people I meet while working in TN. However while living with my mother-in-law in KY I had to file for bankruptcy. I had been living on credit cards for almost two years. The job in MS lasted for 7 months. I was fired. I looked for worked for 3 months and then filed for SS Disability. I received in 3 months. This was 1994; I was 53 years of age. I was married and we had 2 children at home age 13, and 16. We had another child age 29. He had finished 4 years of college and married. My wife and I switch positions and I attended to the children’s needs and she went to work. Our living standard took a nosedive, when I left the job in PA in 1988 and then worked at four different jobs in the next 5 and third years.
In conclusion, you can note if I had pursued work in a high tech field and stayed away from high stress management I could have been in the workforce at least another 10 to 15 years. Your research indicates some of the problems I had in the workplace. The last time I was in to see my psychiatrist, he said I accepted my illness very good and worked to take care of the issues that caused my illness to deteriorate. Since my children have left home, I have devoted my time to a fellowship.