Wednesday, September 06, 2006

BiPolar: The Central Issue

(Yoiks, I just opened my blog in Firefox and see the format of yesterday's post is pretty screwed. I posted from IE, so there must be some compatibility issues).

WillbeFine's comment yesterday is pivotal:

"Can someone please tell me the difference between unhappiness (normal people) and depression (bipolar)?"

As part of the anniversary celebrations (; of BiPolar Daily I've been going back and looking over the year's posts. And one central theme keeps popping up time and time again. So much so that I now believe it is the central issue of leading a life as a BiPolar:

Knowing when you should take responsibility for your behaviour and knowing when the responsibility lies with your disorder.

I've posted numerous posts on, around and about this issue:

The BiPolar's Dilemma

Overidentification 2

Telling the Difference

Clearly, it has been a huge battle in my mind. Last month I kind of reached a philsophical resolution of this dilemma in my post:

The Excluded Included Middle

My belief is that there is always a bit of both - i.e. some responsiblity on your own part, and some on your illness. And these combinations fall on a spectrum so that sometimes it's more your own fault, and sometimes the BiPolar's.

Looking at WillbeFine's question from this perspective takes some of the anguish away. There is never a clear-cut difference. When you're down there will always be an overlap - some unhappiness that is completely normal and some disorder, exclusive to BiPolar's. Sure, at some points it will be 90% normal unhappiness and 10% chemical depression.

The outcome of this is that:

  1. You should always try your best (which sometimes means getting damn angry with yourself as you're peddling up a hill in Ukraine like WillbeFine).
  2. You need never feel totally guilty for your shortcomings - you are always more handicapped than non-BiPolar folk, no matter how slightly.
It's getting the balance right that is the devil.


  1. My next question. What is happiness and how do you achieve it? I am sure BPG could give a 2 hour seminar on this subject in terms of Philosophy. It is not a question that can easily be answered.

    I had a book from the library recently titled, "The Conquest of Happiness" by the Philosopher/Mathematician, Bertrand Russell. In my sloth like state of mind I managed to read 16 pages over a 4 month period and accummulated library fines that would have paid for the book 5 times over. However, those few pages I read struck such a chord much like BPG's writing.

    One quote from the book "Getting drunk is temporary suicide."

    When I return home I will finish reading that book and make an effort to persue happiness.If you are happy why should the chemical imbalances in your mind cause depression? Sincerely, I hope BPG can find happiness too and not face another 5 years of "Depression".

  2. unhappiness has a cause.Bi-polar depression does not need one. I get totally and completely depressed for absolutely no reason at all. Nothing bad has happened or is happening yet I get severely depressed. There is a difference.Of course if something IS happening that just makes it worse but no cause is nessecary for a bi-polar to be depressed. Those are my thoughts at any rate

  3. oh i can tell when i'm crying because i'm sad and when i'm crying because i'm depressed. tears are different, the feeling inside is different.



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