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Why I'm Apologizing for My Behavior But Not My Bipolar Disorder

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This is much harder for me to write than it will be for you to read. It is a delicate balance between apologizing and being accountable for my actions, as opposed to apologizing for who I am. Please remember that “I HAVE bipolar disorder, but I AM not bipolar.” The same is true for when I had cancer; I had cancer, but I was not cancer. That being said, I apologize for some of my behavior.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

Bipolar disorder (type 2 in my case) does not simply cause more intense mood swings (so-called “highs” and “lows”) than the norm. It contorts my mind into a kaleidoscopic, sometimes painfully electrified, landscape. The triggers that result in the altered states of bipolar disorder are varied. One type of trigger for me is getting over-stimulated from a lot of noise, a crowd of people, a social situation, too many bright lights, or a combination of such stimuli.

I became hypomanic at a party recently. I hurt someone’s feelings and basically hijacked the evening, making several people feel uncomfortable. When hypomania revs up my mind and body, I don’t know I’m being obnoxious and I certainly don’t ever intend to be mean. Every time it happens I look back with shame and embarrassment. I often do not remember much of what I did or said. I feel as if I’m looking back over my shoulder and seeing a trail of wreckage left behind by a tornado.

I apologize for making anyone feel uncomfortable or bad about themselves, but I cannot apologize for having bipolar disorder. I didn’t choose it. It has adversely affected every aspect of my life. I would get rid of it if I could. I’m not asking you to love me or help me or even like me. I definitely don’t want pity. A bit of understanding and forgiveness would be welcome, but I accept it with grace if you cannot afford me such a big ask.

This is not your problem. I am not using bipolar as an excuse for acting like a jerk. I have tried every kind of talk therapy, alternative therapy, and a varied pallet of medications. I’m working with what I have. I’m doing my best, which is good compared to other times in my life.

I only ask that you not use my vulnerability against me. Others have publicly told me to “take my meds” or even named my disorder publicly on social media. Please never do that. Please contact me personally to let me know if I have hurt you. That will have a more positive effect than a group message or post on social media.

I know I’m not easy to like sometimes, but please know that I never intend to be mean. In fact, I assure you that when I’m not in “crazy” land, I know exactly when I’m being a jerk and I am 100% accountable for that!

Getty image by Maskot

Originally published: May 9, 2022
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