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Morality and Bipolar

Zana

Zana

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
137
Location
England
Hi all.

I was diagnosed type 1 in 2020 after ~5 years of decaying mental health and stupid, impulsive behaviour. The genetic markers were there and the huge amount of pressure I couldn't help but put myself under was (imo) the trigger.

I have long told myself that the origin of that pressure was a decision I made many years ago to achieve great things in order to know I've lived a full and worthwhile life. However I now contemplate how much of this is true and how much comes from a desire to have my moral compass validated. One consistency among everything I want to achieve is that I want the result to be positive for others rather than myself. As a Christian I believe there is an afterlife and fear of it is the only reason I am still alive, and as a deep thinker by nature I am terrified of the prospect of judgement for all of the wrong I've done and thought up to this point.

Much of that wrongdoing has probably been a result of Bipolar disorder, and that is not an excuse but objectivity. So are we to be held accountable for what we do, say and think when we are 'away from our normal self'? If yes, to what degree? Are we partly to blame for allowing our minds to be contorted by this vicious monster? Is it a test? And is to act virtuous for fear of eternal punishment truly virtuous or is the motivation corrupted?

I've had this thought chain rattling around in my mind for years so hopefully you can understand it based on this brief explanation. Has anyone else struggled with similar thoughts? Keen to read your insights.


Best wishes to all that see this,
Joe
 
WhiteHydrangeas

WhiteHydrangeas

Member
Joined
Mar 5, 2020
Messages
16
Location
Pensacola, FL
I’ve often wondered the same thing, Joe.

It doesn’t seem fair at times, but when you step back, you can see how this same issue is handled in the courtroom. People convicted of murder are held accountable and punished for it. But that begs the question: anyone who murders another person must have a significant level of mental illness, right? Of course, there’s always the whole insanity plea, but that doesn’t mean they’re going to walk out scot free. Or the drunk driver who suffers from severe alcoholism. Granted, there is a way to manage that, but still. It’s a huge challenge for so many. Driving drunk and injuring or killing an innocent person who is just running to the grocery store. There are so many examples. Some are mild, others unbelievable.

I don’t know the answer. I really wish I did. I feel like I’m going to be punished for the rest of my life. That gives me roughly 40 more years of being reminded every day of the worst decision of my life, a decision I barely even remember. I almost would rather had done something that resulted in jail time. At least then I’d know there was an end date.

Undiagnosed and untreated mental illness that significantly influences behavior is such an unstable situation. Until there is a bona fide test that can be done resulting in definitive results as to the presence of mental health illnesses, I’m afraid we are going to be held to the same standards as people who are sane and fully cognizant of their decisions. Try not to dwell on it too much. It can only lead to negative thoughts. I know this from first hand experience. And it’s a lose-lose situation.
 
HLon99

HLon99

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
709
Location
London, UK
Hi all.

I was diagnosed type 1 in 2020 after ~5 years of decaying mental health and stupid, impulsive behaviour. The genetic markers were there and the huge amount of pressure I couldn't help but put myself under was (imo) the trigger.

I have long told myself that the origin of that pressure was a decision I made many years ago to achieve great things in order to know I've lived a full and worthwhile life. However I now contemplate how much of this is true and how much comes from a desire to have my moral compass validated. One consistency among everything I want to achieve is that I want the result to be positive for others rather than myself. As a Christian I believe there is an afterlife and fear of it is the only reason I am still alive, and as a deep thinker by nature I am terrified of the prospect of judgement for all of the wrong I've done and thought up to this point.

Much of that wrongdoing has probably been a result of Bipolar disorder, and that is not an excuse but objectivity. So are we to be held accountable for what we do, say and think when we are 'away from our normal self'? If yes, to what degree? Are we partly to blame for allowing our minds to be contorted by this vicious monster? Is it a test? And is to act virtuous for fear of eternal punishment truly virtuous or is the motivation corrupted?

I've had this thought chain rattling around in my mind for years so hopefully you can understand it based on this brief explanation. Has anyone else struggled with similar thoughts? Keen to read your insights.


Best wishes to all that see this,
Joe
I'm not 100% sure what you mean, but I got the overall gist. I think having a mental illness has little to nothing to do with morality. Both good and bad people suffer from it. Although I believe that in the end of the day, we all have to take responisbility for our actions, I don't think you can judge to harshly the actions of a man in the accute phase of a mental illness. Almost in all schools of ethics and moral philosophy around the world, the decisions of men are only judged to be 'good' or 'bad' if the person is of sound, rational mind. And even then, good and bad are concepts that are subject to interpretation and are almost always relative.

But if you ask in terms of tradition Judeo-Christian morality, even Jesus took pity on people who suffered from illnesses of various kinds. In my personal opinion, a person's morality, just like anything else in his life, isn't defined by their mental illness, but rather its how you choose to deal with it. Although, I don't know you that well, we have talked in the past and you seem to me like a reasonable person who has of late, chosen to make sensible and sane decisions about how to cope with your illness. You have built yourself a support network both at home and at work, you are in treatment and despite your setbacks you choose to work and make soemthing out of your life. If this isn't in itself an achievement I don't know what is.

Also, as I have told you before, never make any grandoise plans with your life There's an old proverb from where I am from and it goes: if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans. This is because even with the best laid plans, there are bound to be countless factors and circumstances that are beyond your control that will invetably affect it. Don't plan to far ahead, set yourself a general strategy, employ short-medium term goal, know yourself and the principles that are important to you. Beyond that, just sit quietly and ply away at your trade, day by day. This is the only way to move forward. Those who truly succeed in this life (an possibly the next) are those who subscribe to this philosophy. Those who constantly make astronomical promises which they inevitably fail to attain are not true themselves and are bound to suffer the consequences, proffesionally and personally and will be bound to fall into all sorts of misery as a result.

But that's all academic Joe. What I'm more interested in is the source of these thoughts and feeling that you have been having of late. You told me that right now your mood has been spiralling out of control and you think you are in a (hypo)manic episode. It is not uncommon to experience thoughts of grandeur and persecution in these states. Me, you and anyone else with bipolar have experienced this if it is the case that this is the true source of these thoughts, you must recognise them for what they are. I don't mean to intrude, but since we've been talking on this subject these past few days, you still havn't answered my question. Are you taking your medication and have you gotten in touch with your psychiatrists yet?
 
Zana

Zana

Well-known member
Joined
Apr 15, 2020
Messages
137
Location
England
Thanks H for the kind words. You're definitely right in your approach to goal setting and maybe I should re-evaluate my approach to some of those goals. I weaned off all medication just before XMAS last year as I could not cope with not being able to feel emotion and just felt like a fraud on the rare occasion I'd smile or laugh. Luckily my psychiatrist is happy to stay in touch until I get sorted in my new area (yeah, I moved town and job in late 2020 in the middle of a pandemic and after a crazy manic episode. Good timing...right?). However in this post I wanted to explore the thoughts of others on the philosophy of morality rather than focus on myself.

It's really interesting to read your different opinions on the matter.

I feel like I’m going to be punished for the rest of my life. That gives me roughly 40 more years of being reminded every day of the worst decision of my life, a decision I barely even remember. I almost would rather had done something that resulted in jail time. At least then I’d know there was an end date.
-

Couldn't have put it better myself, WhiteHydrangeas. Over time if we are able to do good for others that amounts to or exceeds the pain we've caused others, perhaps this is enough to let us put our pasts to bed. How that would be quantified is out to the jury though.


In my personal opinion, a person's morality, just like anything else in his life, isn't defined by their mental illness, but rather its how you choose to deal with it.
Maybe one needs to have caused harm in order to understand and avoid in the future. But what about when we lose the ability to rationally distinguish good from evil even after we have considered the consequences of previous similar actions whilst rational? It's a really difficult one to unpack.
 
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