Author Bradley Finnearty
I learned that I was bipolar1 about 15 years ago and ever since then I have looked back at my past to see how it has affected my life. I don't dwell on it but I do look back at parts of my life and say "did it cause that?
My reason for that is that I have made some extremely strange and troubling choices. Have done some extremely bad things that would make a person believe that I am a bad person. Things that make me say "why did I do that?"
In order for someone to understand what I am talking about I have to give the reader a brief history of my past. Just as I had to understand what I did and why. These are things that I am not proud of but are a part of my life none the less.
In my post The Story Of A Middle-Aged Bipolar Man And How I Survived I gave my history in more detail than I am going to go into now and you can find out more there. But in short I had a dream of joining the Air Force and becoming a D.J. on the Armed Forces Network. I let that go by the way side to get married and "live for today". My life later turned into raising 3 kids with a job that I hated in a life that I hated. I turned all that negativity against my kids in a very wrong way. I also had an addiction to sex that although did not affect my family it did affect my happiness as I was not free to follow the sexual things I wanted to pursue. Again, that angst was turned against my kids.
So with that out of the way you can understand that I had to figure out how much of my Bipolar1 caused all of that and how much of it was other factors.
In order to figure out if my Bipolar1 had any effect on my behavior I did some research into the personality characteristics of Bipolar people. Since I am BP1 and only know about my dealings with it I will talk about what I found out when it comes to that. A 2012 study by Ulsan College of Medicine in Seoul found some interesting things. It found that there are personality differences between BP1 and BP2 among other things.
For purposes of my article here are the findings that affect me.
When the different patients were surveyed it was found that those who were in the Bipolar I group scored low points in terms of neuroticism, whilst Bipolar II patients scored much higher. The same Bipolar II patients suffered increased levels of anxiety, feelings of vulnerability and depression because of this.
Conversely, Bipolar I sufferers scored more highly on the extraversion dimension of the test and the more positive elements that went with this particular trait, whilst the Bipolar II patients had a significantly lower score. Source
Though people with Bipolar 1 do not characteristically have anxiety issues they are subject to them. But that does not answer my question about the past. It did not answer about judgement. So on with the research I went.
I found that manic periods can and do affect judgement. During a manic period, people with bipolar disorder often have impaired judgment and act recklessly. People with bipolar disorder often do not recognize just how ill they are (a condition known as anosognosia) and may blame their problems on outside factors. Source There it is. What I have been looking for. Bipolar can cause bad judgment. Yes, all the bad things I did in life before I found out about being Bipolar can be explained.
Before anyone says "you are looking for an excuse" I want to say that I am not looking for an out. I was wondering if there was a reason for my bad judgement and not just me being a bad person. So now I have it. The fact that I do not feel like a bad person means something. I am not. It is just that before I found out that there was reason for all of this I felt like the most evil person in the world. Now I can concentrate on moving forward with life.
One of the things that I found out I must do to move on is to forgive myself for my past. I have heard it said many times in order to get forgiveness for your wrong doings you must forgive yourself first. I had done that, but I have never felt that the people who I wronged the most forgave me. I tried to apologize and explain why I did what I did and what happened. But none of that helped. I know my son never forgave me. I had hoped that my daughters had.
They had told me many times that they had but I did not feel like it. I kn during one certain conversation one of my daughters told me that her and her brother had blocked out parts of their childhoods. That they could not remember whole part of it. When I made the comment that the older you get the more you forget of your childhood it made them mad that I was minimizing their pain. Other conversations like that made me believe that I was right. They had not forgiven the past. So I tried harder. But again it did not work.
Then after one particularly rude conversation between my son and myself I had decided I had enough. Period. So I wrote a letter that I sent to all three of them at the same time stating that very point and that I did not want to hear it anymore. Well that went over like a lead balloon. I received notes back from all of them saying what a disgusting person I was and that they did not want to have any contact with me anymore. That they did not set around and think about the past and other things. There were other things said, but that was the short of the story.
At first it hurt because I had done and given so much to do "the right thing" by them after the fact. But then it hit me. I wondered if in a subconscious way I did it to "kick them" out of my life. I wondered if I knew that they would react that way? I don't know. Maybe I am putting to much thought into it. But the end result was that they do not have the constant reminder of me in their lives to force the past on them, and neither do I. I can get past it also. I am not at all proud or defending what I did in the way of the poor treatment of my children, but it is over. It was 25 years ago there has to come a time when a person has to move on regardless of the past.
"Nothing fixes a thing so intensely in the memory as the wish to forget it."
Michel de Montaigne
No it was not a selfless act of allowing my children the freedom to move on. It again was poor judgement that in this rare case worked out for the best in a way. No I do not have contact with my children any more and that hurts in a way. But it is what is best for all of us. I know that in my heart. But it did allow a chance to move on. To heal from the past for them and for me. To move on from it. Hopefully one day it may be corrected. I hope so.
That is one of the many ways that understanding Bipolar can help you have hope for the future. I now can understand that the bad judgments of the past can be dealt with and moved past. I now can see past it all. There is a hope for future judgments.
How? Well I can now think about something when or shortly after it happens to rethink it if you will. To say to myself, is that the way you want it to be? I find myself doing that all the time anymore. It gets so aggravating to have to do that, but in order to be the kind of person I want to be I have to do it. It just as important as taking my medication.
That has been the positive about learning about my situation. Now all things make since. All of the strange things in my past make since. I look back at all the bizarre stuff and in some strange way it all makes since. So now it is on to the future.
I can at least look to the future with a hope that I have not had in a long time before now. Not only because of learning about my bipolar and what caused me to do that things that I have done in the past, but because there is a new hope for small businesses in the country today. I have been waiting on this day for a long time. In my world the best thing I can have is a hope for the future. I think that is the biggest thing that anyone can have, hope for the future.
It is said that in order to move on, in order to find a future there has to be a cleansing of the past. The way that I did it may be wrong but it seems that sometimes you have feel the pain of your actions in a new way.
You can find a brighter future from a painful past. Even if you are the one who causes that pain. Empathy for the pain is a must, but you can't live your entire life trying to make up for mistakes that you made. At some point it all just has to end.
About the author
I am a certified webmaster who has lived a life dealing with bipolar depression. My goal is to not only help others dealing with bipolar and depression but to help those around them to understand what is going with their loved ones. I write about how I deal with it and hope that it inspires you to understand that you don't have to let it control you. You control it. I write the way I talk. I want you to feel like I am talking with you in a conversation, not preaching at you in a way that makes you feel like you have to do what I tell you. I hope you enjoy my blog posts about not only bipolar but all things that I write about.
What about you? Do you have any pain from the past that you have had to clean out so that you could move on?