It’s a matter of choice

I’m not bragging, but I’ve always considered myself an intelligent man.  I’ve been able to accomplish many things beyond my experience and education based purely on hard work and smarts.  I think I’m a reasonable person too.  For the most part I’m very tolerant and understanding of others.  I’ve spent so many years gaining insight into my own life I’ve learned how to apply that insight to others.  With my jobs I’ve held positions of responsibility and influence.  I’ve been able to contribute to the success of the companies where I’ve been employed.  And these experiences have given me the ability to be responsible outside of the workplace too.  I know what it takes and I have the skills to be just as successful in my private life as well.

So why do I continue to make dumb decisions?

Okay, I know.  I’m bipolar.  And there are no good decisions when in the middle of an episode; especially a manic one.  And boy have I made some bad ones!  What I’m talking about is when I’m not having an episode.  Lately I haven’t been having any extreme episodes, but my decision making still isn’t on par with what it should be.  I’m making decisions (Or not making them, which is just a bad) that I know I shouldn’t.  I know better, but it just happens in the moment.

It may be simple things.  My car registration expired in November.  And yet I didn’t renew it until just this week.  I can make the excuse that I only thought about it when I was in the car (And couldn’t do anything about it), but it’s something I should have taken care of.  It was the lack of a decision that it didn’t happen.  Fortunately, I haven’t gotten a ticket for it, and it’s finally been taken care of.  I hate checking my mail box.  It’s rare that I get anything other than junk mail and flyers, but when there is anything else, it’s usually bad news.  So I don’t check it, and ignore what does come in unless it’s an absolute must to take care of.   My water bill is one of the few that I don’t get electronically, and I’ve chronically been late because it gets left in the box.  I’ve been late on my rent too.  When it’s time to pay it, instead of sitting down and getting it done, I keep telling myself that I don’t feel like it at the moment, and that I’ll get to it later.  That’s a dumb decision, and I’m lucky my Landlord doesn’t complain.

Some of the things I do are more serious.  Even when I was making decent money, I never put away any into savings.  I haven’t contributed anything towards my retirement either.  I have no reserves at all, and I’m one paycheck away from financial disaster.  It’s not a conscious decision, but I just don’t decide (and stick with it) to be responsible and plan ahead.  I’m in my 50’s now, and where I am right now I’ll never be able to retire.  I’ll be working until I die.

It’s obvious that I’ve made some really bad choices when it comes to relationships.  My four ex wives will attest to that.  Getting into the marriages seemed like such a good idea at the time, but if I’m completely honest with myself, there was a little voice in the back of my head saying “You’re making a mistake”.  But I decided not to listen, and got married anyway in spite of my misgivings.  Surprisingly enough, they all failed.  Bad relationship choices haven’t always resulted in marriage either.  I’ve gone out with women that I knew I didn’t really like, or ignored red flags that I knew were there.  And of course none of them worked out either, and there has been a lot of pain inflicted, both on myself and others.

I think I’m doing better now.  The mood swings seem to have stabilized, and I do not have to deal with the fallout of the really dangerous decisions that I make when out of control.  I’ve been working very hard to stay conscious of my responsibilities and make deliberate, thought out choices.  I’ve been very careful when it comes to relationships, and have forced myself to not follow my instincts and do things that in my experiences have been harmful or resulted poorly.  I’m spending a lot of effort to make healthy decisions; surround myself with healthy people; and keep myself out of situations where I’d be tempted to do anything I’d regret.

But here’s the problem.

My whole life has been a long string of mistakes and poor decisions.  My head may know better, but my actions disregard my common sense and intelligence.  I don’t really know how to differentiate between the two.  I think I’m doing the right thing at the time.  Or I don’t think about it at all.  My life just happens, and all the lessons I’ve learned, all the insight I’ve gained, all the tools I’ve developed don’t seem to get applied.  So, now that I feel like I’m doing better, am I really making better choices and decisions?  Will I continue to improve over time?  Or am I just convincing myself that I’ve taken responsibility and doing the things I ought to be doing.  I guess only time will tell. I guess that over time I’ll just have to learn to trust myself; because at the moment, I don’t.

And it scares the hell out of me.

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4 Responses to It’s a matter of choice

  1. cissyblue says:

    Dear Sir. My name is Cissy. I am also bipolar. I am 58. Reading this post you wrote is shocking. If I changed your name to mine, I would swear I wrote the first paragraphs myself. It is exactly, EXACTLY me in a nutshell. I too have a terrible time with decisions. Never understood why. I have made good money in my life as well, and never saved a penny. I am lucky that at least I have a home that is paid for, so I can kick back a bit at times. But it is never easy. I constantly have to watch myself, try to see the rationale I use for bad decisions, before it it too late. I am in transition right now, as we speak, and I also have curvature of my spine. Lifting heavy furnitures two days ago – VERY bad decision – hahaha ok, then, glad to know I am not alone in these challenges… I have no really great advice, sadly… it is a constant struggle every single day. I am just now getting back on my anti-depressant, and I am about as shakey as a leaf! I wish you well, in all things. You will be fine. It is called discipline. I keep a spiral and I write everything I do down. I make myself face each nasty little chore, even if it may take me a while…. I too have let everything on my vehicle expire, even my own driver’s license is expired now since March. So you see, we really should start a club… haha don’t know what you’d call it, but I’d never want to go there… hahaha Thanks for the great post! Cissy

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  2. I can relate to your post. My wife always tells me how intelligent I am and she says it sometimes scares her because of my being bipolar. I have a tendency make very unwise decisions that go against my better judgement. That is what caused me to addicted to drugs for a decade. I always knew the consequences and often said used my bipolar to do drugs. When in a “moment” I used drugs as a gateway to hide from my illness. It only took hitting rock bottom to finally grasp what i was doing and clean myself up. Today I am 6 years clean and am more conscious decisions that I used to. I still have my times when I make bad decisions but use my experiences from past addiction, along with therapy, and medication to help me make better ones than I did.

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  3. cissyblue says:

    Very good american. To come from where you have been is indeed quite remarkable. Everything in this journey is about taking proper time. I think we bipolars love to rush things, we are constantly focused on results. It is my greatest lesson to learn patience. Still working on it every single day. Congrats on your six years clean. Keep evolving into the person you were always meant to be, and be proud of yourself. It is our right to be happy. Everyone’s right. I think people have a right to be afraid of us at times, as without my medication for depression, I become VERY intense. It got me into a high-powered, high-paying job more than once, but as our fearless leader here who seems to remain nameless has said, poor decisions and poor planning is the cause of much upset and chaos in our lives. Then it is a sad matter of picking up the pieces, as I now find myself, slowly but surely, attempting to do, once again. I guess life is always a struggle for everyone, really, not just the diagnosed. Best of luck to both of you in future and good work on a great post. Never ever be scared. You are so very much stronger than you could ever imagine, and when faced with a serious challenge, you will prevail. Blessings to all! Cissy in Tejas

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  4. adamtdenny says:

    Incredible insight. I feel like that’s something I’ll be writing in the future.

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