You're watching bipolar in focus, I'm Jane Pauley.
Sadly, it's not uncommon for people in depressive or manic states to damage intimate relationships.
An often difficult but healing aspect of recovery can be to make amends to loved ones. It's a complex and delicate process.
Dr. Robert Leahy is the Director of the American Institute for Cognitive Therapy. And thank you for joining us. Making amends is not just good advice. This is therapy.
That's right. Making amends is part of getting better as it is with any problems that the people have that affects other people.
Being willing to say to somebody, "Here's the problem I have. I would like you to understand it. I hope you can forgive me."
Bipolar has certain signature symptoms that are people often are making amends for. What are some of them?
Well, the hallmarks are acting out sexually, spending money you don't have, being very irritable, aggressive, being inappropriate, being overly silly.
These kinds of things are a part of the illness. These are the signs of mania.
Shame and guilt are often warranted for some of the mistakes and the wreckage that an episode can leave behind.
People who are bipolar often have a great deal of guilt. Part of it is due to being depressed.
Whenever anybody is depressed, they are vulnerable to feeling guilty, even if they haven't done anything to feel guilty about. The other part of it is what people do during their mania.
In therapy, you can also leverage shame and guilt to a positive outcome. How does that work?
You feel regretful about the things that you did when you were manic acting out sexually, you're spending too much money, you're being highly irritable.
You feel that regret for a short period of time, five minutes. Now how do we turn that regret into a learning curve?
What did you learn from that experience that you can make use of in the future?
How is that going to motivate you to make sure you take your medication that you catch your mania or your depression unraveling?
And so that you can get the help that you need early. Turn your regret into learning and to motivation.
Making amends includes asking forgiveness. And what if the person you're asking forgiveness declines to give it?
Well, maybe you have to forgive them for not forgiving you. And part of it is understanding that some people don't understand bipolar, yet. Maybe they'll forgive you later.
The most important thing is you've taken that initiative to be honest with him, ask them to forgive you and maybe to help you cope.
It would seem likely to start with learning to forgive yourself.
That's right. You need to forgive yourself because you didn't decide to have bipolar disorder. It's something you were born with that happened to you.
Forgiving yourself helps you actually get better. It helps you cope. It helps you say, "Okay, given that I have bipolar disorder, what can I do to make things better in the future?"
Dr. Leahy, thank you again.
And thank you for joining us on Bipolar in Focus.