The Guilt of Mental Illness

There is no cure for bipolar disorder.  I will have it for the rest of my life.  I will take medicine for the rest of my life.  And medicine isn’t perfect.  The disorder can progress and what once worked doesn’t work anymore.  There is nothing I can do to prevent this from happening.

And yet, when it happens, I feel bad.  I feel that I am disappointing my wife when I get sick.  I feel that I have failed when I need more medicine.  There is a lot of pressure on the mentally ill to stay well.  We don’t want to worry our loved ones so much that we curb our natural behavior so that they won’t be.  I get excited about things just like anybody else.  But if I show it much, then people get worried that I’m manic.  I get thoughtful and quiet and introspective just like anybody else, but if I show it, people get worried that I’m getting depressed.

And isn’t this true of any illness?  Don’t people with diabetes hide their eating habits so that people won’t worry or judge them.  Don’t they feel guilty when they have to up their insulin?  Don’t people with high blood pressure hide their stress and feel guilty when their BP is up and they need more medicine.  We feel guilty about not having a perfect lifestyle. We feel guilty about our medicine.

I do my best to control my manic behavior, especially when it has to do with yelling at my family or getting a little too comfortable with pretty women.  But I’m human, and I’m ill.  I yell and I flirt and I feel so bad about it.  My wife is very understanding about the yelling, but not so understanding about the flirting.  I think I get it, but to me they are the same thing.  They are both a medical malfunction of my brain.  I can resist it.  I can learn coping skills, but I cannot stop the impulse.  And I cannot always resist it.

Honestly, I’m not sure what the solution is.  And maybe it’s not so much guilt as it is that I just can’t stand the idea of disappointing someone I love.  Especially someone who took a huge chance on me.


5 thoughts on “The Guilt of Mental Illness

  1. Why not have your wife become one of those “pretty women”? Reinvent yourselves in certain areas and you’ll do better, but keep up the good work you’ve already done.

  2. Pingback: Sex Puzzle | Closer to the Middle

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