I have bipolar disorder and it’s not my fault

I’ve been really open about my struggles with bipolar disorder.  Before I had a good handle on this illness it really rocked my world.  I’ve come to learn that bipolar disorder will destroy your life if you don’t get the proper treatment and learn how to manage the condition.  It can be life threatening during times of severe depression episodes and suicidal thoughts.  It can put us at risk during manic episodes which often lead to psychotic episodes.

After my initial diagnosis I felt terribly ashamed.  The other day I was thinking about an analogy people might be able to relate to.  If you’ve ever had a night of drinking way too much alcohol and you engaged in embarrassing behaviors, the next day you might wake up with not only a hangover but guilty feelings about your behavior.  The things you said and did while drunk didn’t take away the fact you said and did those things.

This is what happened to me during manic and psychotic episodes.  I’d say and do things and then when I was stable I’d have to deal with the guilt of what happened.  The guilt leads to shame and the terrible tapes rolled in my head about what a bad person I was for having been sick.

But after many years of learning about bipolar disorder, I don’t feel badly about what happened to me while sick.  I’ve come to learn that I have bipolar disorder and it’s not my fault.  What is my accountability is now that I’m stable I need to manage my condition so well I won’t ever end up in a compromising position again.

But if for some reason I have break through symptoms, I’m not going to be ashamed.  I’m going to be proactive and do everything I can to manage my condition.  And if I have moments where I feel a little paranoid, make up a story or two based on that paranoia, I’ll live with it too.

One day people are going to realize mental illness doesn’t make you crazy, it just makes us vulnerable.  I wouldn’t blame myself for having cancer.  I’m not going to blame myself for having a mental illness.  And neither should the general public.





15 thoughts on “I have bipolar disorder and it’s not my fault

  1. Great post, Amy. Having to deal with shame on top of the agonies of extreme mood swings is just not healthy or right. I have struggled with shame for a long time but I’m getting over it. I realize I didn’t have the coping skills in place to overcome the negative effects of an episode at the time. And If i have an especially intense one now that I still can’t overcome, well, I’ll probably feel guilty for awhile until I make amends, but shame? No more shame–impulsiveness and poor judgement, acting in strange ways, is part of the condition, unfortunately, because of a host of things the episodes do to our perception of reality to varying degrees. I wish people would understand that the condition, when active, affects one’s perception of reality and ability to reason. Amy, I know you are fighting a good fight to educate people and to end the stigma. Thank you.


    1. So good to hear from you!! I hope you find peace and can let go of guilt. I found forgiving myself and others really helped me overcome the guilt. Peace to you my friend.


      1. Thank you for writing this… I shared it with my two children who r in their 20’s and experienced an episode of mine for the first time 4 yrs ago and it was a 6 month untreated devastating manic episode! what you wrote is what I know has taken 4 years to know is true for me and Im not spending anymore time feeling ashamed gor sonething that was triggered by too mych stress brought in by me doing to much for others and letting people yake advantage of me. What a life lesson that was… Almost cost me my life. thank you for confirming what i know in my heart to be true as well! keep it up Amy .. You are helping so many by speaking your truth.❤️


  2. I myself have bipolar depression and anxiety and when I was diagnosed it crushed my heart. It was something that I thought I was not going to be able to handle, then I thought about my kids and husband. We had a family meeting and it was hard for them to understand exactly what was wrong with mommy at that time, but has the years have gone by I see that I have a good family support. I mean don’t get me wrong there are some bad days really bad days but that’s when they know to leave mommy alone for an hour or so. So you’re not alone 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks so much for your post, it really meant a great deal to me. Your description about the morning after experience and your conviction that mental illness – like cancer – is not the fault of the individual afflicted, really resonated with me.
    Blessings and love.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am 37 years old and a mother of two . Being diagnosed as Bipolar II 2 years ago changed my life life in ways I could not imagine. I think that I always knew that it was there, but was unable to acknowledge any form of “abnormality” to my “intelligence”. (Please excuse the overuse of the easy use of ” ” “…) My intelligence and academic ability had always been the aspect of myself in which I held the most pride. I am a nerd. Learning that there was something, again using the unimaginative “with my brain” really difficult for me. I still struggle with the concept. As do so many of the people who have commented above, I find it easier to have a couple of glasses of wine and then I feel urggggggg “more normal”. My medication has resulted in me putting on 20 kg (which I could not afford in the first place) since my diagnosis. I am not one for new years resolutions, but this year I have actually made one (or two). I will no longer feel sorry for myself. I will seek help when I need it. I will stop being so hard on myself and I will do my best to help others that feel the same. I am quite sure that it is inappropriate, but if you land up here and feel the same, you are welcome to call me. +27 833329337. As mentioned, 2 kids, but bad sleeping habits, so whatsapps preferred, and I will call back!!! One of my closest friends physically dragged me through this, and continually does so, and if I can do the same for somebody else… that would be awesome! P.S. without generalization, I have never met anybody that suffers from bipolar that does not drink. I have avoided conversations, phone calls and posts (such as this one) as I have worried about judgement. With me, you need not!


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