Bipolar: I’m Sorry I’m Sick
Women are classic “I’m sorry” – ers. We’re taught to say “I’m sorry” from the time we can utter the words. We are the peacekeepers, claiming fault so no one else has to. We have to apologize for emotions because we’re “overemotional.” We have to apologize for our needs because we’re “clingy.” We’re sorry for our behavior, our significant other’s behavior and our children’s behavior. We are simply, sorry.
And most women in 2011 realize this habit is one borne of the past and is no longer relevant in our everyday world. We realize we are not “sorry” at the drop of a hat or a glass of wine spilled by a drunken significant other. We realize there is a time to be sorry and there are times not to be.
Unfortunately for me, I feel like I have to be sorry all the time, for every tear, for every thought, because if I’m not, people will leave.
I’m a Bipolar Handful
I’m a handful. I’m two-hands-full. I’m a wheelbarrow-full. I’m just really, really full.
And all that fullness is hard to deal with. I know it’s hard to deal with because I deal with it from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I go to sleep. I know my fullness is impossible for most people on the planet to handle.
I’m a Bipolar Burden
And I have to say, between the weeping, the crying, the irrational thoughts, the self-harm, the irritation and oh, so many other things, I am a freakin’ burden. I really am. My friend might be having a lovely Sunday afternoon feeding her chickens and weeding the garden only to get a teary phone call from me she can barely understand because the pain has choked off my oxygen supply.
Way to ruin a Sunday.
And so I’m sorry. I’m sorry for every tear and every sob. I’m sorry for every injury and every phone call. I’m sorry for every worry I give and every sadness I bring. I’m sorry for crying on your shoulder and speaking of death in your lap.
Believe me; I’m just so very sorry.
I Have to Be Sorry
I have to be sorry. I have to be sorry because it’s the only thing I can think of to mitigate the pain I drop on your doorstep. It’s the only way I can think to make my horrible disease seem one millimeter better. I have to prove to you how sorry I am my disease is ruining your Sunday.
I have to be sorry otherwise you’ll leave.
I’m Sorry I’m Bipolar
It’s not conscious on my part but after having people vanish from my life without reason or word, I try desperately on my part to hide my illness and make it better for other people so they won’t realize I’m more trouble than I’m worth. So they won’t have the realization, whatever it was, that disappeared the last person I loved.
And I know I shouldn’t be sorry for bipolar. It’s a disease. It’s like being sorry for needing Kleenex when you have a cold. It’s like saying sorry when you need to be picked up from the hospital after surgery. It’s like being sorry you can’t reach the top shelf because you’re in a wheelchair. No one would feel sorry for those things. No one should feel sorry for those things.
But bipolar seems desperate. Bipolar seems devastating, raw and endlessly painful. Bipolar seems to eat the air between you and everyone else. Bipolar seems to devour whatever it is that makes those other things OK.
I Shouldn’t Have to Be Sorry for My Mental Illness
I shouldn’t have to say I’m sorry for my illness. It’s not fair. The illness is killing me and I shouldn’t have to be sorry for that. It’s not my fault. It’s the fault of the illness.
But I know I always will be sorry. I’m driven to it. It’s a reflex. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m Sorry. I can say it even without oxygen. I can blink it with my eyes.
Because I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how else to make the situation one iota better. All I know to do is say I’m sorry. Because I am. I’m sorry I have bipolar disorder.
Tracy, N. (2011, February 14). Bipolar: I’m Sorry I’m Sick, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, September 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/breakingbipolar/2011/02/bipolar-im-sorry-im-sick
Author: Natasha Tracy
My best friend was raised catholic and grew up in a large family with a schizophrenic mother. When her mother was sick which was a lot of the time my girlfriend had to be 'the mother' and the family had to pull together in order to survive. She was even held back a grade because she was so mentally exhausted looking after her family as a young child that she had no time left to focus on school work. I was never judgemental of her mother, she was always nice to me but I felt so bad for what my girlfriend had to go through. When all the kids finally left home her father decided he needed a life too and divorced his ill wife. Lucky for the mother her kids still loved her, in their own way of course. This girlfriend now has a brother and a son who suffers from depression and a husband who is bulimic and a sister-in-law who is agoraphobic and I'm constantly hearing her say l'm sorry. I really wish she'd stop. She says it so often that I don't even think she realizes it. She shouldn't have to feel this way either...
The crazy thing. I finally found the med cocktail to make me feel the closest to "normal" I have ever felt in my life. So, how the hell do I keep myself from not being depressed if the person I love is telling me that they can't live their life with someone like me as they constantly belittle me.
I can say sorry over and over and over. It just gives him ammunition to keep digging in the past and take advantage of my apologies as a way to make me the ONLY one who has ever caused pain in this relationship.
But thank you. Thank you for your thoughts. Thank you for your posts that speak reality.
Im sorry for screaming obscenities in your face and walking out..... thats tough to say to your dad.
Im sorry for gambling my whole pay check even though i promised i wouldnt.
Im so sorry i forgot to turn up to you school assembly.
Im sorry i dont know if im coming or going.
It really is infuriating. But i feel i have to apologise because no one understands and thinks that you are making excuses when i say "im bipolar, and not doing well at the moment"
I don't know why you would visit this blog to abuse people with mental illness. I really don't. Natasha created this to be a safe space for people to receive information and share our feelings.
You know it's funny, how that you have this to hide behind, you can go the rest of your entire life whining, moaning, and pining for as much sympathy as you can get... The more of you phony, [moderated] claim it, the least attention true manic depressives get. How do i know it's bull....
if any of you [moderated] happen to go over the dsm when your doctors, i'm assuming gave you this crap diagnosis to push their pills, you'll find it placed among severe chemical imbalances like schizophrenia.. Surprisingly, i've yet to see the percentage of those cases rise as rapidly as a mood disorder, that description is inner changeable and can bbe easily applied to everyone and anyone, including women's, hormonal change, puberty, and or hangup.... You can claim that , but realize, if there is something really wrong with you, the longer you hide behind that label , thel onger you go without resolving your issues, thereby leading a life more miserable then it really ever had to be.....
I have owned what I have done and believe me I have done it all. Yes, I say I am sorry for it all the time and I say I am sorry all the time. BP1 is not all I am dealing with either. I have become a hermit. I see 5 docs a month and take an escort due to the BP being med resistant. I can flip and don't want to hurt someone else. My pshyc has put me in the red zone and is trying to get me out of that. Or it can be a meltdown where I cry b/c I can't find whoever I am with. I am doing the best I can though and that should be enough.
Christine, I can also testify that being stable on medication & functioning well IS possible. It seems adjustment of medications is needed for me from time to time. The greatest key for me has been learning all I can about mental illness and also learning what coping mechanisms work for me - which has been trial & error over the years. And keeping my appointments with my psychiatrist & therapist is crucial - being honest & open with them.
I know it is difficult, but I would encourage you to just share with your brother what you have shared with us - that you DON'T know if it's okay to ask or not, and get his opinion. I don't mind being asked about my mental illness, but there are times & situations where it is more appropriate to discuss it than others.
Also, NAMI has been an excellent resource for me & my family - most communities have a chapter nearby & they offer educational classes for FREE such as Family to Family, which can help you learn how to live with someone who has a mental illness. Best of luck!
Be a bully somewhere else.
Let's bring the level of discourse up. No name calling. No harassment.
If you have a comment please make it in a reasonable adult fashion or I'll be forced to moderate you.
This is not the place to spew hatred. Go somewhere else.
Bipolar is the best invention ever! You can act just fine when you want to or throw a hissy fit and blame it on your "broken brain". Can I see your diagnostic tests, please? The ones that show you have a real brain illness called "bipolar disorder"? Otherwise, take some responsibility for your actions. The label doesn't make you special. It makes you a pawn and a user.
I know there are some strong emotions here but everyone is reminded to respect each other.
"I was always sorry so it didn’t mean anything. In the end, sorry doesn’t appease anyone."
That is a fair point and a difficult thing to overcome. Good for you for working on that.
Thank-you for your comment.
I am slowly learning when to say "I'm sorry" and when not. I realized I needed to do this when my son told me that I was always sorry so it didn't mean anything. In the end, sorry doesn't appease anyone.
You are asking very good and very hard questions.
"Should I inquire about it from time-to-time?"
That's a really personal thing. Sometimes, like you said, I don't want to "ruin the mood". I just want to focus on having the person there and I don't want to think about all the things I don't want to think about.
And sometimes I wish people would ask to show that they care. Like I said, it's individual.
In my opinion, if you ask how the person is, and really want to know, and really give them space to talk to you about it, then they can pick to bring it up or not. If you tell them you are willing to listen, then your door is open and they might or might not walk through it.
"is it possible to get on a therapeutic level of meds and get to a place of being able to function fairly well (even with tweaking every now and then)? Is this possible?"
It is possible. People reading this right now have done it. There have been times I was stable and functional. I worked at a very prestigious job for a prestigious company. Yes, it happens.
No one can guarantee the outcome of treatment but with meds, therapy and lifestyle changes, people do get better. There are people with bipolar who are married, with kids, at fancy jobs and are happy.
I understand that it might seem hopeless and overwhelming right now, but try to take a deep breath and take things one day at a time. Treatment takes time to work. Get help for yourself. You need support too. You're not alone in this.
"Do “normals” have any comprehension what it’s like to apologize for one’s very existence?"
I suspect not. I suspect they don't think of it that way. But I do try to remember that while you should never apologize for your existence, it's hard on them as well as you.
Perhaps it's possible to reach a medium with the ones we love.
I was on the phone last night with a friend and talked to her about this, and she understands. She understands why I feel like I have to apologize but you know, she says she doesn't need me to. Obviously we all do things we _should_ apologize for, but just for having an illness isn't one of them.
Perhaps your husband has no idea how you feel or what all the sorrys mean. Perhaps he would understand and give you reassurance if you spoke honestly about it.
Just a thought.
I'm sorry you're in that situation, that must be extremely difficult. I have a few comments.
1. No one can tell you when or if your husband will feel better. Anyone who tells you differently is well, wrong.
2. Being with someone with a mental illness is very hard, but it doesn't mean you have to stay with them and take whatever the illness has to offer. You are a person, you are important, you deserve to have your needs met too.
3. I can't say what your husband is going through but it's quite possible he's in a severe depression right now and can't work. It may also be the devastation of getting this diagnosis. It probably hit him (and you) hard.
4. Being overwhelmed by illness can make even the simplest task seem impossible. Someone who is very sick may be overwhelmed at the thought of doing the dishes. Facing a huge problem like a financial mess, that he is probably well aware that he made, is a pretty big thing to ask for right now.
5. That being said, you and your household have real needs. You and your husband need to make a plan to deal with the needs. If you need $X then you and he need to work out how to get $X. It's as simple as that.
6. If he refuses to participate in any way, then you have some decisions to make. You need to do what is right for you. Can you stay in this situation? Is it reasonable? Only you know the answers to those questions.
7. I would recommend getting couples therapy. He absolutely needs therapy for his mental illness and it would probably help if you did some together. It can help heal existing wounds and facilitate conversation around current problems.
You're in a really tough spot, but remember, you have needs and he has needs and you shouldn't give up everything that you are for someone else. There needs to be some give-and-take, even if all he can manage is something small. You need to take care of you too.
(By the way, the name of the org is NAMI. They do offer mental health information and support services.)
An eating disorder must be tough. You have to eat every day (probably more than once) and I'm guessing food issues can come up every time.
I agree, all the sorry's add up into being sorry for being alive. Which you should never be.
"I’m so sick of saying I’m sorry for my illness I could scream."
I think it's going around.
Are you suggesting I'm _not_ in your brain? (Delusional manifestation of blog articles.) ;)
I was just thinking about how I would rather not talk to people just to avoid having to apologize and the possibility of them leaving. Oddly illogical and paradoxical.
We're there with you. And we don't leave.
"I thought it was just me who apologized all the time."
Nope, not just you. You're not alone on that one.
"I’m so sick of being sorry for being sick."
I've decided this year I'm going to be really careful of when and why I say I'm sorry. Because it turned it to saying "I'm sorry I exist." I'm so sick of saying I'm sorry for my illness I could scream.