“I don’t deserve this, to die like this. I was building a house.” – Little Bill Daggett
“Deserve has nothing to do with it.” – William Munny
I was in a car accident recently. The car behind me careened right into me as I was stopped at a red light. The back end of the car I was driving was badly damaged, as was the front of the other driver’s car. Fortunately neither of us was injured.
There was nothing that I could have done to avoid that wreck. I was stationary in a line of stopped traffic. The driver behind me just accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake and drove right into me. Careful driving may avoid some wrecks, but wrecks like that one are unavoidable.
I have often wondered if my bipolar was avoidable. Sure, there’s nothing that I could have done about the genetic component, but more than just genetics are at play in illnesses like bipolar. Environment is a big factor as well. I often wonder if there is something that I could have done differently that would have led to a different outcome. Or, to put it more self-judgmentally (a specialty of mine), is there anything that I may have done to “deserve” being bipolar?
I had plans for my life. I was going to go to college. I was going to be successful. I was going to be a good spouse, a good parent, and a good person. I was going to make enough money for us to live comfortably while still being emotionally and physically available for my spouse and our children.
When I made these plans I had no idea that I was bipolar. When I couldn’t live the life that I had planned, failing out of college, failing to consistently hold down a job, failing to be the kind of emotionally available, patient, caring parent that I wanted to be, I just thought that I was a bad person.
The bipolar diagnosis itself was actually a blessing. The problem was identified and it was treatable. I wasn’t a bad person; I just had a disease that led to some bad behaviors and bad outcomes.
I have made a lot of progress since my diagnosis. I went back to college and obtained a degree in studio art. I have now found a new job that I think will be an outstanding opportunity for both me and for my family. Things are turning around.
But there is still that question, “Why?”
Why am I bipolar? How did I get this way? What could I have done to prevent it? What did I do to deserve this?
While my bipolar can be managed through medication and lifestyle choices I can’t control that I am bipolar. And I can’t control whether or not I will have a serious relapse in symptoms. While there are things that I can do to help me be more stable, I will cycle again. That can’t be avoided. I may be able to be stable for long periods of time but that stability won’t last forever.
“Why?” doesn’t help me move forward. “Deserve” doesn’t matter. I didn’t do anything to “deserve” bipolar. But, on the flip side, I also didn’t do anything to “deserve” my amazing spouse, awesome kids, and wonderful support system. Bad things happen. Good things happen. That’s life.
I need to live my life. I need to find balance. I need to pursue stability. I need to work to be the best me that I can be and to have the most full life that I can have while living with bipolar. Wondering why I am the way that I am will not help me achieve this.
“Deserve” has nothing to do with it.