One of the most attractive facets of the “symptoms” of Bipolar Disorder is “risky behavior”
Probably the reason this symptom bothers me is that like many others, I forget or wish to deny my own risky behavior. I personally have wanted to think that I am, above all, that – and that my activities were justified which my therapist would say is oppositional behavior and really another symptom of Bipolar Disorder.
Not wishing to go into the specifics of risks that I have taken, I will say that upon honest examination, they have been many. Because of Bipolar Disorder, I feel compelled justify them. As a Bipolar, I could go on and write in circles about why I did what I did but really coming back to the same conclusion. Technically, they have been justified, because I was ill.
Examples of risky behavior include things such as promiscuity, drug or alcohol abuse, shoplifting, gambling, excessive spending, infidelity, putting yourself in physical danger and others. The obvious examples of this are celebrities who get into legal trouble because of risks they have taken – such as shoplifting, public exposure, public drunkenness, and drunk driving. There is no logical reason for a celebrity to steal or shoplift as the things they steal “necessities” and that they can clearly afford to purchase. There is also no reason for a celebrity to drive repeatedly drunk as they can usually afford a driver, and there is hardly ever a reason for public exposure.
Do I feel guilty for any of the risks I have taken? Really, I don’t. Were they against my moral values? Really, they weren’t. I certainly have regrets but no guilt. I regret doing those things because of the trouble I caused and sometimes because they were things that others could judge me for. Still today, even though I am well stabilized on medication, I am not sure they were against my morals. Intellectually, I know that some of them were considered “wrong” or possibly illegal but that is the judgment of others, and my judgment system is different.
Guilt is defined as knowing that you did something wrong. Shame is a judgment that others impose upon you to try and make you feel guilty.
Recently I read that bipolar patients wish to avoid feeling, choosing instead to think. I agree with that (and I feel compelled to justify my agreement) by also adding that I also think that this is because people with Bipolar Disorder also feel too much.
Fortunately, today I am stabilized on medication and usually don’t exhibit risky behavior. I haven’t had an episode in a few years – since the last time I quit taking my medication.