Learning to put an end to blaming yourself for bipolar disorder symptoms is not easy, but the benefits can last a lifetime.
There are, of course, more than three ways to stop blaming yourself for bipolar disorder. This list is in no way exhaustive and I am in no position to say that any of these methods will work for you. That said, they are really good ideas and have helped many people, myself included. If you are looking for the easy way out, I’d suggest clicking the back button now. I’ve read many lists on the internet and I work very hard to make my readers think. While eating ice cream on the couch might make you stop blaming yourself for a moment, these methods have a significantly greater potential to work for a lifetime.
1 – Stop Feeling Guilty for Having Bipolar Disorder
There is a common theme that I hear a lot from people with bipolar disorder. It is obvious that, on some level, we feel the need to be “forgiven” for having bipolar disorder.
I reject the entire premise outright. Forgiveness implies guilt. If you’re not guilty of something, there’s nothing to forgive. We no more need forgiveness for an illness than we do for our hair color. Don’t buy into the lie that bipolar disorder is a character or personality flaw. It isn’t. It’s an illness that some people have and has no further moral or ethical implications.
Now, if you made a mistake, hurt someone, or caused a problem and bipolar was the primary cause of that issue that is different. Which leads us to . . .
2 – Take Responsibility for Your Actions During a Bipolar Episode
For years, I felt a great deal of guilt about the people I hurt when I was at my sickest points. I didn’t think there was anything I could do about it, because, after all, it wasn’t my fault they were hurt.
I was correct. It wasn’t my fault what happened, but it wasn’t their fault either. Since it wasn’t their fault and my illness caused the issue, this made it my responsibility. This is unfair, yes, but that is just the way it is and accepting it made a world of difference.
There is a lot of power in owning up to our actions, especially the ones we aren’t entirely responsible for. Reaching out to people and explaining why I did what I did, apologizing, and making amends felt very good. Remember, bipolar disorder is an explanation for what happened, not an excuse. Taking responsibility helps shift the balance of power away from the disease and back to you.
But what about the things we can’t make amends for or the people we’ve hurt who won’t forgive us? This is where it is important to . . .
3 – Focus on Living with Bipolar Disorder in the Present
Above all else, you need to focus on living with bipolar disorder in the present. The truth is that the past is over and we have the most control right now. Focusing on today will help us shape the future we want. Time spent dwelling on what you did wrong years ago won’t change anything except today’s outlook – negatively.
Blaming yourself for past mistakes is not productive, doesn’t make amends for anything, and doesn’t make you feel better. If, instead, you used that same amount of time to focus on the present — things you are doing well, accomplishments, and working toward a better future — it makes it much easier to let go of the regrets of yesterday.
The best you can do is acknowledge what happened, apologize and make things right, and do everything in your power to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Blaming yourself is foolish. Treat yourself with the same respect you would expect from others. After all, if you are blaming yourself for having bipolar disorder, why shouldn’t others do the same?
This article originally appeared on BPHope as “3 Ways to Stop Blaming Yourself for Bipolar Disorder“