This Bipolar Life: No Excuses

Having bipolar disorder may be an explanation but it isn’t an excuse. A lesson I’ve learned repeatedly over the years.

So many times over my life I have felt the need to say “I’m sorry” and frankly it’s getting old. I’m tired of apologizing for who I am and for a condition I am doing my best to control. For years I have tried (and will continue to) but it’s getting increasingly frustrating to have to utter those words so often for something that I struggle with and would never have chosen for myself. People don’t apologize for having diabetes, cancer, or any number of other medical conditions so why do those of us with mental disorders feel so compelled to do so? I’m not sure but it’s definitely something I deal with. Daily.

I wish I had a great list of examples that were funny and witty, and perhaps there are somewhere if my mind could find them, but on a sleepy Saturday morning those memories just don’t come to mind. Instead I see the house that’s cluttered and observe myself feeling a complete lack of get-up-and-go to put everything away. It’s just not there and I don’t know how to conjure it. I’m sure I’ll later be apologizing to my wife about how the house is still as messy as it was when she left this morning. It’s just how things go some days. Even in my best moods I am also usually also depressed somewhere inside so it’s a delicate balancing act of telling my bipolar brain to shut the hell up and forcing my rational mind to the forefront so I can function effectively.

This can be challenging for the people around me. My episodic cycle can be pretty rapid and it’s difficult for people to know whether I’m in my right mind or being bipolar and not always knowing the impact of my actions. Often it would be best if someone just asked me, “Is this your bipolar talking or do you really feel like/want this?” People try hard to be accepting and kind despite my behavior and mostly they go above and beyond to accommodate this part of me. They care about me enough to keep trying to support me through what are often confusing times for them and me.

Will I keep apologizing for having bipolar? No. I didn’t choose this and won’t do it anymore. That being said, I am sorry for any damage I have caused (or may cause) along the way. I will continue to say those important words when necessary to make amends for my behavior but I will no longer do so sheerly because I happen to have this condition. Thankfully with meds, therapy, and a lot of introspection I am learning to find ways that lessen the frequency with which I have to apologize. That glimmer of improvement gives me the hope I need to keep trying.

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