bipolar [an excuse for bad behavior?]

Is bipolar an excuse. for bad behavior such as abusive, liar, stealing, hypocrite

Or even for posting in the wrong forum?

Moving this thread to IMHO and making the title a bit more clear.

Excuse? No. Explanation? Possibly. We’d need more information about the situation to give tell you anything else.

I can tell you this: Being bipolar means you go through two different states of mind: a depressed phase where everything in the world is horrible and life is barely worth living, and a manic phase where you have a lot of energy and are either really happy or really agitated. The stuff you describe might happen with a manic person, but it would not be an excuse for said behavior, and even the bipolar person should agree once the mania calms down.

It’s reasonable that you might have to make some allowances for a bipolar friend, but that doesn’t mean the friend shouldn’t be trying to be better, rather than just excusing their behavior on their mental illness.

No. Briefly, it’s referring to a condition caused by a chemical imbalance in one’s brain.

Absolutely not. You may have a condition, but it doesn’t own you.

Accidentally hit submit: It’s up to us to decide to fight against things like this. Yes, it sometimes might get the best of you, but it’s never an excuse. I say this as someone who IS bipolar.

Back in the day, I dated a nurse who was bipolar. I tried to be understanding, but there was no way the relationship could have continued without my murdering her. In her good phases, she would try to make me feel guilty if she (correctly) thought I was thinking of ending the relationship, using her disorder as an excuse. Well, it may be an explanation but not really a valid excuse. When I moved to Hawaii for school, I’d find my mailbox – real mailbox, this was pre-Internet – jammed with her obsessive letters asking me to come back. No return address, I guess so I would not know who it was from and thus not open it, although her handwriting was recognizable enough. The letters finally stopped when I began writing in her return address myself and dropping them back in a public postal letterbox. Fortunately, the logistics of following me to Hawaii were too great for her to attempt, or I have no doubt she would have tried that too!

So the bottom line is being bipolar will not excuse your bad behavior to anyone other than a saint, although it is an explanation.

No, it’s not an excuse but as mentioned above, it is an explanation. I’m bipolar and it’s a pain in the ass to deal with, as much for me as for those that have to deal with me. (I am on medication and doing better, but still have issues) It’s horrible to be trapped in your head and not even understand why you do what you do. To be internally screaming at yourself, asking ‘WHY IN HELL AM I DOING THIS?’. So yes, give some latitude to the person, but don’t let them walk all over you just because they are dealing with an illness.

I think you said it well, Antinor01. :slight_smile:

I am bipolar and on meds. Since I take my condition seriously and I’m actually trying to get better, my friends are fairly patient with me. If I know I’m having a bad day, I may skip a planned get-together just to avoid the potential of damaging friendships.

The worst is when I have an outburst (which I have maybe once a year). I can almost see the words coming out of my mouth, but I can’t stop them. Since it happened at work more than once, it’s no wonder they consider me disabled now. :frowning:

I think the degree of patience you should have with your bipolar friend/loved one should be dependent on if they are actively trying to get better. Are they taking their meds as directed? (Bipolar people are almost notorious for quitting their meds once they think they feel “well”.) Do they go to therapy? Are they at least seeing a doctor?

Bipolar disorder is really one of those things that doesn’t just “get better” without some form of treatment. So if your friend/loved one is using being bipolar to excuse their failings, but making no effort to get better, you have some thinking to do. Don’t let them run you into the ground, physically or emotionally.

Good luck to you!

I have a younger brother who was diagnosed bipolar, refuses to take meds for it, and refuses to even discuss the topic.

Over several decades, he has built an incredibly detailed mental list of slights that he believes he has suffered at the hand of his immediate family and during periods of stress (and I’m not saying he hasn’t had periods of stress, whether self-inflicted or otherwise) he calls on this list as an excuse for treating his closest relatives to the most outrageous verbal abuse (mostly not physical, although he’s certainly tried to provoke physical confrontations a few times).

As far as I’m concerned, I disengaged from him a long time ago, and I don’t see that ever changing. He’s done and said, and never once apologized for, things that IMO are simply unacceptable, regardless of the underlying condition.

There is at least one study showing a link between being highly intelligent and bipolar disorder. Part of why a lot of people delay treatment, don’t get it at all or quit medication is thinking they’re smart enough to be able to overcome it. It’s a dangerous trap to fall into.

This right here exactly. I’m willing to go to the mat with anyone for as long as they need, IF they are trying to help themselves. And I understand lapses when you are so worn out from dealing with your condition that you temporarily give up. That’s totally understandable. But I’m not killing myself (in whatever way) to help save someone who is doing their damn level best to stay right where they are.

Also, this is precisely what I’ve expected of myself. I have to get / stay better too. There’s no exception for not doing all that you can, even if that’s just a teeny, tiny bit. Every last effort helps.

That doesn’t tally with my experience of a person in a manic state. It’s not really about feeling happy, it’s really disordered thinking and logic.

A manic-depressive person I know was a maths teacher and one of her annual projects was to get the kids to draw tessellations. She then decided it would be great for an end of year project to get the tessellation drawings made into wrapping paper, then the kids could sell it to friends and family and raise money for the school. So far, so reasonable.

Here’s where it gets manic. The printing of the wrapping paper turned out to be really expensive. She didn’t do any research of how much wrapping paper costs on average. Instead of being, say $2 a roll, this stuff was $10 a roll. She was so convinced it would sell well, she didn’t wait for pre-orders, instead she went ahead and got it printed anyway at her own expense, to the tune of $2,000.

End result? Very little got sold and the whole exercise started her on a downward spiral to a depressive episode. However, at no point could she fathom that she had made stupid decisions. The fault was entirely the families of these children who didn’t care about them enough to purchase the overpriced wrapping paper at a time of year when families are generally short on spare change.

I concur with sandra that that is almost exactly how my manic phases used to be. There might have given me a brief sense of euphoria that everything was sunshine and unicorn farts, but there was an underlying theme of unease and scariness about it. And I can only surmise it was because I was out of control and making poor decisions. Mania, in my experience too, is not the direct correlation to depression. It’s some bizarre off-shoot that can momentarily feel better, but not really really.

Thanks for the info on what mania is really like, from the inside. I just saw this thread apparently sinking, and felt it deserved at least a token answer. All I know about mania is from psych class and seeing the occasional person who hadn’t slept in few days and seemed overly happy. (I just assumed that was mania.)

It can come across as happy, but it’s mostly just racing thoughts, and as already mentioned above, a disconnect from what is really a good idea. During my last manic episode (I don’t get them often) I decided that I should scrub the house from top to bottom, then painting the walls sounded like a great idea. Then I thought that since I was going to be painting we needed new furniture to go with the new colors. Then I decided I was hungry and remembered this great place in Malibu I love but there is a place in Vegas that I really liked, so was ready to hop in the car and drive the 4 hours. And that was just part of it.

Fortunately my husband was here to talk me down and get me to think it over before doing anything. When the episode ended I realized that I was just being stupid with all these ‘plans’. At least the house got cleaner. :slight_smile:

I had a glimpse of mania a few years ago when I was suffering from depression. No happiness, no joy. No anger. I really didn’t feel anything. But I was very agitated. I couldn’t sit still. I would walk around town aimlessly in 100-degree heat. My thoughts raced constantly. I’d wake up in the morning and have the intense urge to spin around in circles. I had akathesia. And I was mildly catatonic too. In addition to my Tourettes and my depressive symptoms, I was a hot mess. But also functional, amazingly.

I thought these symptoms were just me being a weirdo. Then a sibling informed me of her own bipolarity. Suddenly, my own symptoms started to make sense. Fortunately most of the symptoms cleared up spontaneously.