Taking risks is a part of everyday life. And of course, risk taking in general is not always a bad thing. Sometimes you have to take a new job even though it may be a stretch of our skills. We open ourselves to a new relationship. We trust our children to make the right decisions. If we never took risks there would be no chance of improvement or success. But risk taking is frequently a major component of being bipolar.
Bipolar disorder is an illness of extremes, and the risk taking behaviors are not exempt. This is definitely true with my own illness. It may be just a little risky. There are times I wait until I’m completely out of one of my medications before going in for a refill. Even has been times when I couldn’t get to the drugstore as planned, or they were out of my medication and had to order the prescription from inventory. There are times I have spent money I have in the bank trusting that there won’t be a problem with my next paycheck that could end up causing trouble paying my bills. Or even if I have the money, I’ll put off paying a bill until after it’s due, either because I’m too involved in other things or my mind is scattered and I forget, or even just being too lazy. These are minor risks they may happen with anyone, being bipolar increases the probability that chances will be taken with a higher likelihood for failure.
Other times we put ourselves in more unhealthy situations. Doing activities (such as blogging) that are not work related, even though there’s a chance that you could get fired from your job if caught, or it happening too often. Taking a walk at 2:00am through a questionable neighborhood alone is just asking for trouble. Choosing to drive yourself home even though you know you’ve had a little too much to drink. Committing to a new relationship too quickly or too deeply endangers both of your happiness. Quitting your job in a fit of anger even though you don’t already have another one lined up is definitely taking a chance. These types of risks come with serious consequences that endanger health and well being.
Then there are the extremes. Driving like a maniac through heavy traffic; following so closely to the car in front of you that you can’t even see the tail lights or cutting off other drivers in a way that could force them off the road or otherwise cause an accident. Cheating on your spouse and putting your marriage and well being of your children in jeopardy. Endangering your health by exposing yourself to life threatening diseases by acting out with promiscuous and casual sexual activities. Mixing medications with excessive drinking night after night risks your health and can cause permanent health issues or even death.
The risks we all take as a part of life are based on risk versus reward. Even though you might be taking a chance, there is control over the outcome a reasonable chance of success or achievement. The risks taken as part of the bipolar disorder rarely have an association with reward. Most likely these chances are harmful and self destructive. The most extreme perils can even be considered suicidal where there is a subconscious (Or conscious) desire to put an end to the pain and suffering that comes from this illness. Manic or depressed, the total disregard of consequences is a result of apathy or even self loathing so you just don’t care. Too often these choices aren’t always self destructive but frequently put strangers and loved ones in danger.
Bipolar disorder has a significantly higher mortality rate than any other mental illnesses. Suicide is certainly a factor, but more often or not it is the exposure to danger and harm that result in death. But no matter of the apathy, or disregard of consequences, or even an active death wish you may have at the time:
It’s never worth the risk.