Bipolar: I’m Sorry I’m Sick

February 14, 2011 Natasha Tracy

Being bipolar is a challenge for the people around me. I tell them I'm sorry for my bipolar symptoms and I'm sorry I'm bipolar. Breaking Bipolar blog.

Women are classic “I’m sorry” – ers. We’re taught to say “I’m sorry” from the time we can utter the words. We are the peacekeepers, claiming fault so no one else has to. We have to apologize for emotions because we’re “overemotional.” We have to apologize for our needs because we’re “clingy.” We’re sorry for our behavior, our significant other’s behavior and our children’s behavior. We are simply, sorry.

And most women in 2011 realize this habit is one borne of the past and is no longer relevant in our everyday world. We realize we are not “sorry” at the drop of a hat or a glass of wine spilled by a drunken significant other. We realize there is a time to be sorry and there are times not to be.

Unfortunately for me, I feel like I have to be sorry all the time, for every tear, for every thought, because if I’m not, people will leave.

I’m a Bipolar Handful

Being bipolar is a challenge for the people around me. I tell them I'm sorry for my bipolar symptoms and I'm sorry I'm bipolar. Breaking Bipolar blog.I’m a handful. I’m two-hands-full. I’m a wheelbarrow-full. I’m just really, really full.

And all that fullness is hard to deal with. I know it’s hard to deal with because I deal with it from the time I wake up in the morning until the time I go to sleep. I know my fullness is impossible for most people on the planet to handle.

I’m a Bipolar Burden

And I have to say, between the weeping, the crying, the irrational thoughts, the self-harm, the irritation and oh, so many other things, I am a freakin’ burden. I really am. My friend might be having a lovely Sunday afternoon feeding her chickens and weeding the garden only to get a teary phone call from me she can barely understand because the pain has choked off my oxygen supply.

Way to ruin a Sunday.

I’m Sorry

And so I’m sorry. I’m sorry for every tear and every sob. I’m sorry for every injury and every phone call. I’m sorry for every worry I give and every sadness I bring. I’m sorry for crying on your shoulder and speaking of death in your lap.

Believe me; I’m just so very sorry.

I Have to Be Sorry

I have to be sorry. I have to be sorry because it’s the only thing I can think of to mitigate the pain I drop on your doorstep. It’s the only way I can think to make my horrible disease seem one millimeter better. I have to prove to you how sorry I am my disease is ruining your Sunday.

I have to be sorry otherwise you’ll leave.

I’m Sorry I’m Bipolar

It’s not conscious on my part but after having people vanish from my life without reason or word, I try desperately on my part to hide my illness and make it better for other people so they won’t realize I’m more trouble than I’m worth. So they won’t have the realization, whatever it was, that disappeared the last person I loved.

And I know I shouldn’t be sorry for bipolar. It’s a disease. It’s like being sorry for needing Kleenex when you have a cold. It’s like saying sorry when you need to be picked up from the hospital after surgery. It’s like being sorry you can’t reach the top shelf because you’re in a wheelchair. No one would feel sorry for those things. No one should feel sorry for those things.

But bipolar seems desperate. Bipolar seems devastating, raw and endlessly painful. Bipolar seems to eat the air between you and everyone else. Bipolar seems to devour whatever it is that makes those other things OK.

I Shouldn’t Have to Be Sorry for My Mental Illness

I shouldn’t have to say I’m sorry for my illness. It’s not fair. The illness is killing me and I shouldn’t have to be sorry for that. It’s not my fault. It’s the fault of the illness.

But I know I always will be sorry. I’m driven to it. It’s a reflex. I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m Sorry. I can say it even without oxygen. I can blink it with my eyes.

Because I don’t know what else to do. I don’t know how else to make the situation one iota better. All I know to do is say I’m sorry. Because I am. I’m sorry I have bipolar disorder.

You can find Natasha Tracy on Facebook or @Natasha_Tracy on Twitter.

APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2011, February 14). Bipolar: I’m Sorry I’m Sick, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Author: Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is a renowned speaker, award-winning advocate, and author of Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. She's also the host of the podcast Snap Out of It! The Mental Illness in the Workplace Podcast.

Natasha is also unveiling a new book, Bipolar Rules! Hacks to Live Successfully with Bipolar Disorder, mid-2024.

Find Natasha Tracy on her blog, Bipolar BurbleX, InstagramFacebook, and YouTube.

May, 11 2018 at 1:04 am

I just split up with my girlfriend 2 days ago and feel really bad, she suffers with bp and was always telling me she’s not good enough for me and she’s a burden on my life and sorry was her favourite word, we argued a lot over nothing and she needed constant reassurance that I like her, I know it’s bad but it was hard on my mental health also so after an arguement I told her I’d had enough she cried a lot and I truley felt bad for her, now I feel so much guilt I want to get back with her but for the wrong reasons - id like to be friends with her but she said that would be too hard, i don’t know how to deal with this I love her but can’t be with someone just because I feel sorry for them is anyone else in my position?, would contacting her make it all worse, I don’t want to abandon her I want to help but I can’t be with her Because I also need have feeling and can’t put them on hold to help someone else?

April, 18 2017 at 2:37 pm

This is the story of my life. i am sitting here in tears; of relief but frustration too.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 12 2020 at 11:29 pm


April, 14 2015 at 10:02 pm

I truly get the sorry thing, really I do. I'm more inclined to say I'm sorry or at least show it after I've been really manic as apposed to when I've been really depressed and I agree that I shouldn't have to apologize for my illness either. But there comes a point though when 'I'm sorry' just seems like empty words. I believe more in actions that words. I know I can appear to be rather cold on the outside sometimes but on the inside I really do have a big heart. I think that comes from been hurt so much growing up, having gone through some very difficult times but I also realize that not everybody is like that. Because I have always been a very generous person, when I'm feeling sorry I try to do something thoughful to let others know how appreciative I am that they are still in my life. I feel blessed in that I have some very tolerant friends and family members who still choose to be there for me when they can. They've seen me at my best and at my very worst and they still accept me the best they can. But they do let me know though when they've had enough, especially of my manic behaviour (and I respect that) and they do try to get me out of the house when I'm depressed (and I appreciate that too)
My best friend was raised catholic and grew up in a large family with a schizophrenic mother. When her mother was sick which was a lot of the time my girlfriend had to be 'the mother' and the family had to pull together in order to survive. She was even held back a grade because she was so mentally exhausted looking after her family as a young child that she had no time left to focus on school work. I was never judgemental of her mother, she was always nice to me but I felt so bad for what my girlfriend had to go through. When all the kids finally left home her father decided he needed a life too and divorced his ill wife. Lucky for the mother her kids still loved her, in their own way of course. This girlfriend now has a brother and a son who suffers from depression and a husband who is bulimic and a sister-in-law who is agoraphobic and I'm constantly hearing her say l'm sorry. I really wish she'd stop. She says it so often that I don't even think she realizes it. She shouldn't have to feel this way either...

September, 1 2014 at 10:34 pm

All I can is ahhhhhh. I have messed up every relationship I have had. Except my first husband who broke my nose and tail bone. He was addicted to crack. Boy was that a combination. But to his family it was all my fault anyway. I have 2 biological sons and 1 stepson. 1 of them is talking to me and he also is bipolar and we are identical so we help each other (when we are not trying to kill each other with words) I'm mentally exhausted right now, All I can say is I am glad I found you and i will be back. One thing today I didnt have to say sorry for. :-} I will be back. Thank you

July, 13 2014 at 5:43 am

Thank you. Thank you for helping me see that I am not alone. All morning I have been bombarded with anger and disgust by my husband. It's gotten to the point where he believes I am the biggest mistake of his life.
The crazy thing. I finally found the med cocktail to make me feel the closest to "normal" I have ever felt in my life. So, how the hell do I keep myself from not being depressed if the person I love is telling me that they can't live their life with someone like me as they constantly belittle me.
I can say sorry over and over and over. It just gives him ammunition to keep digging in the past and take advantage of my apologies as a way to make me the ONLY one who has ever caused pain in this relationship.
But thank you. Thank you for your thoughts. Thank you for your posts that speak reality.

March, 14 2012 at 10:00 pm

Im always sorry.
Im sorry for screaming obscenities in your face and walking out..... thats tough to say to your dad.
Im sorry for gambling my whole pay check even though i promised i wouldnt.
Im so sorry i forgot to turn up to you school assembly.
Im sorry i dont know if im coming or going.
It really is infuriating. But i feel i have to apologise because no one understands and thinks that you are making excuses when i say "im bipolar, and not doing well at the moment"

December, 2 2011 at 3:51 am

Dear Tiffany, NamiDearest, and Nonane...
I don't know why you would visit this blog to abuse people with mental illness. I really don't. Natasha created this to be a safe space for people to receive information and share our feelings.

August, 23 2011 at 5:55 am

I have apologized for even being born. I have asked people to leave me because i know i am hurting them or im affraid i will hurt them or im affraid they'll hurt me. i cannont tell you how the feeling of being more trouble than i'm worth has been a constant thought to me. I will be sorry for the resr of my life for the things i have done. but I will also try everyday to be better and get well. not for other people but for myself. I shouldnt have so much self hate because I am sick. But guilt is the stickiest glue. I guess life is always a work in progress.

July, 6 2011 at 11:28 pm

I find it hard to believe that "bipolar" sufferers have a hard time finding people who accept them. These days it seems to have become an epidemic of great proportion, the number of so called bipolar excuses. Exactly, i said excuses, most of you are pathetic and make me extremely "moody" lol .. chuckle ..
You know it's funny, how that you have this to hide behind, you can go the rest of your entire life whining, moaning, and pining for as much sympathy as you can get... The more of you phony, [moderated] claim it, the least attention true manic depressives get. How do i know it's bull....
if any of you [moderated] happen to go over the dsm when your doctors, i'm assuming gave you this crap diagnosis to push their pills, you'll find it placed among severe chemical imbalances like schizophrenia.. Surprisingly, i've yet to see the percentage of those cases rise as rapidly as a mood disorder, that description is inner changeable and can bbe easily applied to everyone and anyone, including women's, hormonal change, puberty, and or hangup.... You can claim that , but realize, if there is something really wrong with you, the longer you hide behind that label , thel onger you go without resolving your issues, thereby leading a life more miserable then it really ever had to be.....

February, 23 2011 at 2:58 pm

All I want to say is... Thank you. You just expressed everyday of my life.

February, 23 2011 at 2:52 am

Yes there are those that are treated effectively and go on to live a wonderful life and I am truly happy for those. There are some, like myself, that were misdiagnosed for close two 25 years and the meds they had me on were throwing me into manic episodes. I was not correctly diagnosed until 2006. They believe now that I am med resistant.
I have owned what I have done and believe me I have done it all. Yes, I say I am sorry for it all the time and I say I am sorry all the time. BP1 is not all I am dealing with either. I have become a hermit. I see 5 docs a month and take an escort due to the BP being med resistant. I can flip and don't want to hurt someone else. My pshyc has put me in the red zone and is trying to get me out of that. Or it can be a meltdown where I cry b/c I can't find whoever I am with. I am doing the best I can though and that should be enough.

February, 21 2011 at 5:22 pm

I'm sorry that people can't accept this is a real problem for those who suffer bipolar. I'm sorry that some people envy the fact that others can embrace who they are and learn to live with it. I'm sorry that I can't find a way to be better.

February, 21 2011 at 3:31 am

Helping each other out by sharing our experiences and insights is what it's all about.
Christine, I can also testify that being stable on medication & functioning well IS possible. It seems adjustment of medications is needed for me from time to time. The greatest key for me has been learning all I can about mental illness and also learning what coping mechanisms work for me - which has been trial & error over the years. And keeping my appointments with my psychiatrist & therapist is crucial - being honest & open with them.
I know it is difficult, but I would encourage you to just share with your brother what you have shared with us - that you DON'T know if it's okay to ask or not, and get his opinion. I don't mind being asked about my mental illness, but there are times & situations where it is more appropriate to discuss it than others.
Also, NAMI has been an excellent resource for me & my family - most communities have a chapter nearby & they offer educational classes for FREE such as Family to Family, which can help you learn how to live with someone who has a mental illness. Best of luck!

February, 17 2011 at 6:21 pm

Oh my goodness .. such bitterness people spout! Thank you again Natasha, I love both of your blogs, twitter and facebook. You provide a bit of light for me .. in fact, today I went back to the Doc, and I am going back on my meds, and doing a new mental health plan .. we moved insterstate 3 years ago, and I had not developed a relationship with a new Doc and I finally admitted to myself that I am not coping, and that is mostly due to you and your articles. Thankyou :D xx

Natasha Tracy
February, 17 2011 at 5:27 pm

NamiDearest comment removed.
Be a bully somewhere else.

Natasha Tracy
February, 17 2011 at 4:58 pm

OK, last warning.
Let's bring the level of discourse up. No name calling. No harassment.
If you have a comment please make it in a reasonable adult fashion or I'll be forced to moderate you.
This is not the place to spew hatred. Go somewhere else.
- Natasha

February, 17 2011 at 3:51 pm

I don't know what us NamiDearests would do with our genetically defective, mentally ill, broken-brained offspring if it weren't for psychiatry. *sigh*
Bipolar is the best invention ever! You can act just fine when you want to or throw a hissy fit and blame it on your "broken brain". Can I see your diagnostic tests, please? The ones that show you have a real brain illness called "bipolar disorder"? Otherwise, take some responsibility for your actions. The label doesn't make you special. It makes you a pawn and a user.

Natasha Tracy
February, 17 2011 at 2:57 pm

Hello all.
I know there are some strong emotions here but everyone is reminded to respect each other.
- Natasha

February, 17 2011 at 2:49 pm

So much anger at a blog. Wow. Irrational? Indeed. Maybe you're bipolar, Nonane. Are you sure you're truly not? You'd have an advantage if you were. hahahahaha

February, 17 2011 at 10:48 am

Are you sure you're truly bi-polar? or just a drama queen? or maybe a narcissist? because this sounds a heckuva lot like the last two. I'm so tired of that sort of manipulative junk like I've read at this blog. It seems to me that some people like to play the mentally ill card and think it will make everything ok and they continue to do the same garbage that they have "apologize" for. Stop blogging to get pity and start taking some responsibility for your words and actions.

Natasha Tracy
February, 17 2011 at 10:21 am

Hi Kris,
"I was always sorry so it didn’t mean anything. In the end, sorry doesn’t appease anyone."
That is a fair point and a difficult thing to overcome. Good for you for working on that.
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
February, 17 2011 at 10:19 am

Hi Kate,
Thank-you for your comment.
- Natasha

February, 17 2011 at 9:05 am

I don't know how many holiday and birthday celebrations I have ruined because the stressors - both good and bad - have overwhelmed me.
I am slowly learning when to say "I'm sorry" and when not. I realized I needed to do this when my son told me that I was always sorry so it didn't mean anything. In the end, sorry doesn't appease anyone.

February, 17 2011 at 8:03 am

this post is simply amazing, and true for many bipolar sufferers. thank you for your message to the world =]

Natasha Tracy
February, 16 2011 at 8:58 am

Hi Christine,
You are asking very good and very hard questions.
"Should I inquire about it from time-to-time?"
That's a really personal thing. Sometimes, like you said, I don't want to "ruin the mood". I just want to focus on having the person there and I don't want to think about all the things I don't want to think about.
And sometimes I wish people would ask to show that they care. Like I said, it's individual.
In my opinion, if you ask how the person is, and really want to know, and really give them space to talk to you about it, then they can pick to bring it up or not. If you tell them you are willing to listen, then your door is open and they might or might not walk through it.
"is it possible to get on a therapeutic level of meds and get to a place of being able to function fairly well (even with tweaking every now and then)? Is this possible?"
It is possible. People reading this right now have done it. There have been times I was stable and functional. I worked at a very prestigious job for a prestigious company. Yes, it happens.
No one can guarantee the outcome of treatment but with meds, therapy and lifestyle changes, people do get better. There are people with bipolar who are married, with kids, at fancy jobs and are happy.
I understand that it might seem hopeless and overwhelming right now, but try to take a deep breath and take things one day at a time. Treatment takes time to work. Get help for yourself. You need support too. You're not alone in this.
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
February, 16 2011 at 8:48 am

Hi Anniem,
"Do “normals” have any comprehension what it’s like to apologize for one’s very existence?"
I suspect not. I suspect they don't think of it that way. But I do try to remember that while you should never apologize for your existence, it's hard on them as well as you.
Perhaps it's possible to reach a medium with the ones we love.
I was on the phone last night with a friend and talked to her about this, and she understands. She understands why I feel like I have to apologize but you know, she says she doesn't need me to. Obviously we all do things we _should_ apologize for, but just for having an illness isn't one of them.
Perhaps your husband has no idea how you feel or what all the sorrys mean. Perhaps he would understand and give you reassurance if you spoke honestly about it.
Just a thought.
- Natasha

February, 16 2011 at 8:34 am

I appreciate your responses. I wasn't even sure how blogging worked but I found my way back to the comments. I feel for everyone and their responses. Besides my Husband's new diagnosis, my brother who doesn't live near me but I am close to also has Bipolar as well as his son. When we visit be don't get into it much because I don't want to bring it up if he is having a good time and isn't thinking about it, for fear that I will ruin the moment? Is this the right thing to do? Should I inquire about it from time-to-time? He tried to commit suicide on New Year' Eve and was put into a psych unit. He didn't respond well but was discharged, then a week ago he was put back in and this time he fell much more stable and happier. He once told me that he can tell when he needs to call his Doctor and get the meds tweaked, and that comforted me because I love him. I think this last problem came from his "new" doctor felt that he wasn't Bipolar and took him off some of the meds. He now sees that unit doctor and is doing better, praise God! Would all of you who read this and live with Bipolar please tell it possible to get on a therapeutic level of meds and get to a place of being able to function fairly well (even with tweaking every now and then)? Is this possible?

February, 15 2011 at 11:44 am

I just recently told my therapist how my children want absolutely nothing to do with me. How I know that I honestly don't remember most of what they're angry about. How I'm constantly saying "I'm sorry" in my head. While cleaning my craft room I came upon paperwork from the last 20 years or so, and boy-oh-boy was that upsetting. Seeing a trail of my erratic behavior through the years in relation to so many people was so bad I just had to leave the room. When I asked my husband "How did you stay with me through all that?" he responded in an angry resentful voice "I still am." So, of course, my mind's response was (again) "I'm sorry." Do "normals" have any comprehension what it's like to apologize for one's very existence?

Natasha Tracy
February, 15 2011 at 8:46 am

Hi Christine,
I'm sorry you're in that situation, that must be extremely difficult. I have a few comments.
1. No one can tell you when or if your husband will feel better. Anyone who tells you differently is well, wrong.
2. Being with someone with a mental illness is very hard, but it doesn't mean you have to stay with them and take whatever the illness has to offer. You are a person, you are important, you deserve to have your needs met too.
3. I can't say what your husband is going through but it's quite possible he's in a severe depression right now and can't work. It may also be the devastation of getting this diagnosis. It probably hit him (and you) hard.
4. Being overwhelmed by illness can make even the simplest task seem impossible. Someone who is very sick may be overwhelmed at the thought of doing the dishes. Facing a huge problem like a financial mess, that he is probably well aware that he made, is a pretty big thing to ask for right now.
5. That being said, you and your household have real needs. You and your husband need to make a plan to deal with the needs. If you need $X then you and he need to work out how to get $X. It's as simple as that.
6. If he refuses to participate in any way, then you have some decisions to make. You need to do what is right for you. Can you stay in this situation? Is it reasonable? Only you know the answers to those questions.
7. I would recommend getting couples therapy. He absolutely needs therapy for his mental illness and it would probably help if you did some together. It can help heal existing wounds and facilitate conversation around current problems.
You're in a really tough spot, but remember, you have needs and he has needs and you shouldn't give up everything that you are for someone else. There needs to be some give-and-take, even if all he can manage is something small. You need to take care of you too.
(By the way, the name of the org is NAMI. They do offer mental health information and support services.)
- Natasha

February, 15 2011 at 7:20 am

I also say I am sorry all the time. I really feel for Christine. I have been married a long time so my husband saw some better times of me before things got so bad;in bed all the time,saying I want to die, taking no help of the household. Sometimes I do think,"how can I be sorry for something I have no control over", but I am . Also, chauvinistic as it is since I am the wife he sees working as his job in the marriage. I wish I had answers for those who have to deal with a bi-polar family member, but unfortunately there is nothing that is right for every one. I would encourage Christine to look up NAIME ,which I have probably misspelled but can be googled as support group for family member with a mental health problem.

February, 15 2011 at 5:29 am

I say I'm sorry all the time as well. I feel as if no matter how much I help others that I'm a huge burden on them, partially because of my mental illness. They tell me to stop saying sorry, but I can't. I feel so guilty for asking them for help.

February, 14 2011 at 8:29 pm

I am new to all this. My husband has recently been diagnosed with Bi Polar. Before the diagnoses he put us deep into debt. Once I found out I stayed and tried to fix everything because that;s what I have always done in my life...tried to make everything ok for everyone else. We have only been married 3 1/2 years (second marriage for me and first for him. He was 41 and never married, I knew he had personality problems but I thought that it was because he had never been married and wasn't used to how to deal with a women and marriage. But I need your help...he doesn't want to be married now that we are in this financial mess. He doesn't want to work (or can't???) He just wants to leave and live like a hermit somewhere. He quit his job and I can't make it on my income alone and run the household. He considers us separated but is still here in the house. Knowing what you go through, should I try and get a second job and run the house on my own with him here or what should I do. He is on meds now and someone told me that It could be 9 mos or so before he feels better. I just don't know what to think, help!

Natasha Tracy
February, 14 2011 at 3:03 pm

Hi Angela,
An eating disorder must be tough. You have to eat every day (probably more than once) and I'm guessing food issues can come up every time.
I agree, all the sorry's add up into being sorry for being alive. Which you should never be.
"I’m so sick of saying I’m sorry for my illness I could scream."
I think it's going around.
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
February, 14 2011 at 2:59 pm

Hi Kylie,
Are you suggesting I'm _not_ in your brain? (Delusional manifestation of blog articles.) ;)
I was just thinking about how I would rather not talk to people just to avoid having to apologize and the possibility of them leaving. Oddly illogical and paradoxical.
We're there with you. And we don't leave.
- Natasha

Natasha Tracy
February, 14 2011 at 2:53 pm

Hi Lisa,
"I thought it was just me who apologized all the time."
Nope, not just you. You're not alone on that one.
"I’m so sick of being sorry for being sick."
Well said.
- Natasha

Angela E. Gambrel Lackey
February, 14 2011 at 1:57 pm

I say the same thing for having an eating disorder - I'm sorry I have anorexia. I'm sorry I developed anorexia. I'm sorry it's so difficult to deal with it and I'm sorry I haven't been able to make it all go away. I'm sorry....
I've decided this year I'm going to be really careful of when and why I say I'm sorry. Because it turned it to saying "I'm sorry I exist." I'm so sick of saying I'm sorry for my illness I could scream.

February, 14 2011 at 10:06 am

I'm sure I said this yesterday, I know damn well I thought it yesterday. I think it everytime I make a new friend, everytime I meet someone, everytime they step out of my life AGAIN because I can't hold on to a friendship to save my life. I am so alone all of the time, because sometimes that is easier than saying sorry. I cling, I ignore, I get desperate, I hate myself ..... sometimes I swear you are in my brain!

February, 14 2011 at 9:51 am

I'm sorry I'm so tired. I'm sorry I don't feel like sex right now. I'm sorry I can't remember s**t. I'm sorry I scream. I'm sorry I hurt myself. I'm sorry I'm talking to you about all of this. I'm sorry I want to die some days. I'm sorry I'm sick and am always a burden. I have this conversation with my husband at least weekly. I'm so sick of being sorry for being sick. I thought it was just me who apologized all the time. Thanks for the great post.

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