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The Dirty Secret

Hmmm. Do I post this one or don’t I?

First, with this post especially, I am not writing for anyone but myself. I think studies show that bipolar people who aren’t also substance abusers are not significantly more prone to commit violent crime.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20819987

I also need to point out that the only laws I have ever broken are copyright laws and traffic laws. The last time I hurt someone was in a schoolyard fight that I didn’t start.

However, there is something that eats at my soul. I never used to understand it and I thought I was just a very bad person. Now that I have meds, this thing is just an annoyance.

For some of the time my conscience shuts off and I actively contemplate hurting people and other criminal acts. These thoughts used to be overwhelming. I used to make very elaborate plans to do pretty bad things and doing so made me feel pretty good.

However, I am very lucky that as a child I was given a clear understanding of cause and effect. Even when I think that hurting someone may be desirable, I know that I cannot escape the consequences. I’m lucky that I’ve never gotten away with anything (I tried as a child and was always caught and punished). I always expect to get caught and that keeps me in line. This whole paragraph bothers me because it’s basically the reasoning a psychopath would use.

Unlike a psychopath, however, I do have a conscience that comes back and these dark times are temporary for me. In fact, even without a conscience I have often thought to myself that I can’t do something, not because it’s wrong, but because I’ll hate myself later. Luckily, most of the time I have a good sense of empathy and I would be devastated to have hurt someone (or to have broken the law).

These days with my meds the problem is so mild that when I catch myself thinking criminal thoughts I can stop it. Buddhist breathing meditation (just basically observe your breathing to the exclusion of everything else) breaks the train of thought and the problem goes away.

I should point out as well that 90% (95%?) of the time, manic and depressed, my conscience works fine and I’m absolutely horrified by what my brain does during these dark times.

Update: I noticed in the WordPress Dashboard that one of the searches that led someone to this page was “Do bipolar people have a conscience when manic?”. I remember one time when I was manic I thought I understood the teachings of the Buddha. I remember walking down the street feeling the most profound sense of love for every person that I saw. That may not be proof that I had a conscience, but at least I wasn’t the psychopath I described above.

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Categories: bipolar
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