When I have read of others' experiences with bipolar disorder, I have often thought that they have not revealed much about their worst moments, and I have thought that if I decided to write about my experiences, I would be more forthright, so that others would know that they are not alone in feeling shame from their own strange and out-of-character behavior. However, now that I am writing about my experiences, I realize that I have the need to protect my privacy, but I will say that there are many things I have thought, said, and done, during both mania and depression, that have brought me shame, and I will share some of them.
Thankfully, I have never been arrested, but I have acted impulsively and aggressively, and I know that I have scared people with my unpredictable behavior when I have been manic. I have made scenes, thrown tantrums, thrown things, and have had hallucinations and delusions. Once, when I was depressed, I attempted suicide. Some people have compassion for someone who feels that desperate, but others believe taking one's own life, or attempting to do so, is one of the worst things a person can do.
Once, when I was manic, I was locked in a hospital room by myself for about three weeks, and I have been put in restraints more times than I care to remember--mostly for attempting to run through open doors. When I think about these times, the person I remember, doesn't even seem like me. Everyone always tells me how kind and dependable I am. When I have told people that I have bipolar disorder, they have often reacted with disbelief. They say that I am one of the most normal people they know, but the people who see me daily know that there are times when I have behaved like a different person.
There are shameful moments I will always want to keep to myself. Although everyone experiences shame, I think that if you have a disorder that affects your behavior, you are probably much more familiar with this feeling than the average person. A positive result of shame, is that it has motivated me to stick with my treatments. I have realized that I would rather battle side effects than constantly deal with the repercussions of mania and depression. Shame can be painful, but at least it fades over time.