Responsibility in Bipolar Syndrome

If a person drives when drunk and causes an accident resulting in death and injury to others but they get a good lawyer who employs medical experts to argue that the accident only occurred because of the intoxication of the alcohol, and the alcohol was only in the person’s brain because they are an alcoholic and alcoholism is a form of addiction and addiction is a form of mental illness, therefore it was not the person’s fault, it was all because of the illness that other people were killed and injured. So if you do something illegal or just antisocial when you’re manic  and your brain is intoxicated with excess dopamine and possibly other chemicals that we don’t yet understand then it’s not your fault right? It’s the illness and you can’t help yourself; well yes and no.
During a manic phase the brain is hijacked by a chemical cocktail similar to taking a mixture of cocaine, amphetamine, excessive coffee and some alcohol just to further diminish the capacity for making good judgements. So yes it is right that when the brain is intoxicated during a manic blowout the person definitelydoes have significantly compromised abilities to make sensible judgements so they could argue they couldn’t help themselves and use this as an excuse to at least explain the illegal or antisocial behaviour, not that this is necessarily much compensation to other people who may have been hurt. However or should I say but it’s not right that a person with bipolar syndrome can’t ever stop their behaviour because there are other times when a person with bipolar syndrome can do everything they can to treat the bipolar syndrome and reduce the frequency and severity of the manic episodes.
Let’s go back to the alcoholic, many people have difficulty accepting that drug addiction is actually an illness as opposed to a choice and simply moral weakness, if this is a view that you share could I ask you just for a moment for the sake of argument to imagine that alcoholism is a mental illness and that without adequate treatment alcoholics are unable to avoid alcohol altogether. If the court accepts the validity of the medical and legal arguments that the accused had diminished responsibility for the accident because of their mental illness I think it could be reasonably argued that a condition of their reduced or suspended sentence is that they enter into a medical treatment program for their alcoholism. In other words they have to take responsibility for the consequences of their illness when they’re sober by doing everything they can to never again get drunk and drive.
I’ve lived with bipolar syndrome for over 30 years and I know what it’s like to have one’s brain hijacked and taken into unhealthy places completely outside your control or ability to stop it at that time, something that people who don’t have mental illness must find very difficult to understand. The way I explain it to people is just like a diabetic has a pancreas that doesn’t make enough insulin to stop their blood sugar going too high the bipolar person has a brain that is unable to stop their dopamine going too high. When the dopamine does go to high it be like giving you (the non-bipolar person I’m speaking to) a cocktail of cocaine, amphetamine, three double espressos and a few shots of tequila; how well do you think you’d behave over the next few hours :-! Now imagine this  cocktail could hit you at any time without warning so you might not even recognise it was happening at least in the beginning and that it could last for weeks. I don’t have a good way of explaining the depressed condition, it seems people cannot understand that the depressed condition can exist without any reason and independently of outside circumstances. 
If it’s of any comfort to someone who’s been hurt by the behaviour of a manic bipolar person understand that at the time their brain is genuinely chemically intoxicated, the illness is very real, often ongoing and complicated to treat.
To my fellow bipolar sufferers obviously I’m totally sympathetic how our brain chemistry can hijack our mind but I’d like to say that it’s really not a very good thing to be using bipolar syndrome diagnosis as an excuse unless you’re in court or asking someone for forgiveness; and even then we still have to face up to the nature of how we behave when were manic just like the alcoholic has to face up to how they behave when the drunk.  If we don’t do everything in our power to treat the condition then we can’t honestly use the excuse that it’s not our fault when we behave badly. Of course the point I’m making is not to just do the minimum so you can say you tried and then continue using bipolar syndrome as an excuse, the point I’m making is that we can help ourselves initially in-between manic phases and then pretty quickly even during manic phases; first and foremost doing this helps you yourself lead a better life as well helping your relationships and controlling wayward behaviour.  
The heavy-handed approach of using pharmaceuticals to quash bipolar mania leaving one feeling flattened and oppressed is not my approach, nor is passing electricity through the brain (ECT) with its potential for damaging one’s memory. I know from personal experience how keeping too tight a lid on one’s dopamine highs to the point whereby you exclude all hedonistic pleasures even just a little fun and happiness for fear that it will lead to a manic phase is also not an acceptable lifelong strategy. In the long run once you accept you can treat your bipolar syndrome and then learn how to attenuate or reduce your own dopamine levels so that you no longer have out of control hyper-mania episodes you and everyone around you can lead a better life free from the need to even have to make excuses.

Bipolar Treatment Main Menu:

Section 1  
Understanding Bipolar Neurotransmitters & Treatment
Section 2 
How to Monitor you Bipolar Phases to Adjust your Prescription
Section 3 
Treating Bipolar Mania
Section 4 
Treating Bipolar Depression
Section 5 
Putting It All Together
How to Combine Natural Therapies to Manage and Live Well with Bipolar Syndrome
Section 6 
Universal Bipolar Helpers:
Darkness Therapy for Bipolar Mania
Sleep Cycles & Bipolar Syndrome
Stabilising Blood Sugar
Omega-3 Fish Oils for Bipolar Depression
Lithium Friend or Foe
Vanadium Toxicity & Bipolar Syndrome
Detoxifying Heavy Metals
Bipolar Treatment Articles:
Lecithin & Choline Reduce Bipolar Mania
Bipolar Drugs
Drugs & Weight Gain
Addiction & Bipolar Syndrome
NAC-Cysteine Anti-oxidant & Antidepressant
Be Well
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Hi my name is Peter Smith I specialise in treating and coaching people how to live well with mental health problems, digestive health problems/IBS, sleep problems and type II diabetes using natural therapies.
I used these techniques to overcome and live well with my own bipolar disorder and IBS. I've been in practice as a natural medicine practitioner since 1988.

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