Saturday, August 17, 2013

Remorse in bipolar disorder - the good and the bad - for the patient and his relationships

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This post is to help establish a bridge of communication between bipolar patients and caregivers - a very small attempt to encourage mutual empathy. It is also meant to encourage bipolar patients to become equipped in dealing with remorse that continually hurts them and others.

Have you met a person who does not feel remorse?  Is it good or even possible to be in a relationship with such a person?   Clearly, when remorse arises from a healthy conscience which is guiding a person on the basis of reason, it is beneficial for everyone concerned.  Remorse in bipolar disorder though, is not always on the basis of reason.  In fact, it may hardly have a basis in reality.  No amount of reasoning might seem to give lasting relief.  As a result, someone may be inclined to conclude that it is better to not feel any remorse, in order to avoid the endless pain.  Such a path of denial can only help so long.  Consequences of remorselessness - seeming or actual - can then be seen reflected in a person's life, his words, his actions, and his relationships.

Learning to differentiate between good and bad remorse in bipolar disorder


It is impossible to exclude the effect of bipolar disorder on a person's emotions even after appropriate medical treatment.  Certain patterns of thinking have already developed, and then can rear their head at any time a person is vulnerable.  The best a person can hope for in terms of his environment is, to have a supportive group of family and friends who understand.  They can be kind yet upfront in matters that threaten the bipolar patient and his relationship with others.  Remorse, or the lack of it, is one such matter.  Patients could benefit from honesty, while not letting others become their judge or determiners in matters of conscience.

The more important thing is, to train one's conscience through correct moral education.  I believe, the unmistakable source of such is a correct understanding of the Bible.  The other thing a person must do to complement a moral education is, learning about the effects of bipolar disorder in general and how it affects him as a person.  Medication could be the same for a number of bipolar patients, but each one has a personal responsibility to address his or her own beliefs and thinking.  While we don't want to ever seem remorseless, we also don't want to be living a life of constant remorse.  Even when there is reason to feel terribly sorry, is there anything we can do? - not just for the sake of our own peace of mind, but also to allay the pain of others who see us suffer.  Help is available.  I encourage you to keep searching with endurance, and take the initiative in reaching out for help when such is available.

Treatment, Conscience, Education, and Support


Throughout this blog, I have tried to repeatedly emphasize the vital need to address bipolar disorder on the physiological level.  Yes, that means gaining control over the symptoms by patiently finding the right medication and sticking to the prescription.  With continued understanding of bipolar disorder and seeing how correct medication can enhance the quality of life, you will find your own conviction to continue taking medication.

Education in connection with something as personal, complex, and painful as remorse is twofold.  It has to be done for both, bipolar disorder as an illness that affects the emotions and on a moral level to train the conscience.  A word about bipolar disorder: It is extremely deceptive.  It affects the emotions in ways, another person with no experience of the illness cannot even imagine.  Interestingly though, I found some of the most understanding words to be in the Bible, especially the books of Psalms and Proverbs.

People draw away from those who suffer.  Even the most loyal have trouble keeping close to someone who makes them suffer.  The most difficult though is, staying connected to someone who hurts without remorse.  That is abusing another human!  We never want to be like that, whether we suffer from bipolar disorder or not.  But bipolar disorder can make a person seem like that on occasion.  What we want to remain on guard against is, making a repetitive pattern of hurtful behavior.  If we love others and are grateful, we could prove it by taking care of ourselves in seeking treatment for bipolar disorder.  The joy it brings to family and friends makes it all worthwhile.

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