It’s pretty easily explained, really: I’m bipolar (II) and as we probably all know, excessive guilt is a symptom of that. Still, I’m pretty sure, that guilty feelings are not supposed to be this strong. What I mean with that is, that my mind seems to randomly decide to start guilt-tripping me (mostly in the evening/at night). There’s no real trigger, nothing that causes it, as far as I know/realize. And it’s not simple “Man, why did I do this today?”-guilt, it’s straight out “I’m remembering all the bad stuff I ever did in my whole life right now and it’s crushing me”-guilt. Like, seriously, I remember everything I ever did, that you’d ever want to apologize for in those moments. It’s such a crushing sense of guilt, that I sometimes just start mumbling “I’m sorry.” over and over again, or even start crying. Mostly though, it just makes me feel completely restless. More fidgety than I’d ever be able to feel, if this wasn’t happening right then and there. That fidgety-ness mixes with pure uneasyness and guilt, at having screwed-up so much and so often. I start feeling like I’d deserve to die, because of all that I screwed up and all the people I (accidentally) screwed over. I’d never feel like that, if I wasn’t guilt-tripping myself, but in that moment, suicide seems like a pretty good idea – because I will feel like I’m unworthy of living because of all my screw-ups and like it’d keep me from screwing up again or from hurting someone else ever again. (Like I already said, I’d never contemplate suicide, if I wasn’t in a state like that, which is why it kind of worries me, because I’m not sure whether I won’t give in to that feeling someday.) And the only thing that makes the guilt-trips stop is hurting myself, and I’m pretty sure, that it’s not a good idea to just continually hurt myself for the rest of my life. So, I just wanted to ask, if you would know of some other way to stop those guilt-trips? Thanks in advance (even if you don’t know any). If possible, then please one without any kind of medication? My parents don’t know I’m bipolar and I don’t like medication in the first place, because I’m pretty forgetful and I’ll probably forget to take it. (age 16, from Germany)
Thanks for writing in with your question. I’m sorry that you have so many burdens at such a young age, however, there is no easy answer that I can offer you. Bipolar Disorder is a serious condition that requires treatment, both from a psychiatrist and a therapist. I can only assume that you are not getting any type of treatment if your parents don’t know you have this disorder. Furthermore, the internet can be an excellent source for information and resources but you cannot diagnose yourself. To be sure of any diagnosis you need to be evaluated by a trained professional.
Working with a therapist and being evaluated for medication should be your next step, which also means it is time to involve your parents. A therapist can help you learn to change your guilt ridden thought patterns and learn non-harming coping skills. In the meantime, you can also look into some workbooks (self-help) books written for teens. It can (and will) get better, but you have to learn some new techniques to manage your feelings.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts