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Bipolar, Negative Emotion and Guilt

When you are feeling particularly emotional, tread lightly.

What I have noticed from my own experience, is that negative emotion is almost impossible to snap out of. It is harder to control, and it is extremely difficult to bounce back from after you act on it. 

I ask myself why I cannot control my emotions, and why it is so hard for me not to act out sometimes. Why is it that some days, something so small as being told ‘no’ sends me spiraling into a fit of despair?

Now let me be clear. It’s not every single time something goes wrong that I react this way. Sometimes it happens out of the blue. A passerby could look at me the wrong way and the world will be ending tomorrow. But on the other hand, I could endure something on an actually terrible scale with complete maturity on a better day.

Guilt is another aspect of mental illness that is confusing. I have always heard about guilt being part of depression. Hopelessness, emptiness…guilt. But I always questioned what that meant. What did they mean by feelings of ‘guilt’?

I was laying in bed the other night, and I identified a feeling that I understood to be my own personal form of guilt. It comes and goes, and I never understood it until now. But it is just there. I feel guilty for no reason. It’s hard to explain the feeling. I identify it with a feeling I get, when I recall a time I hurt my father as a child.

I was about 12 years old and eating lunch. My father came to me and gave me a glass of milk in a Scooby-Doo cup. I snapped at him for no reason and told him I didn’t want it. He told me I should drink it because it’s good for me. I, being in the mood that I was, snapped at him again and said I didn’t want the milk. So, he took the cup and drank it himself. To this day, I remember that moment and feel a pang of guilt.

Is the guilt that I feel now associated with the fact that I’m alive and I feel like I shouldn’t be? Is it the fact that I am not fulfilling my goals, or becoming who I am ‘supposed to be?’

Maybe there is no good answer for why I sometimes feel guilty. I just do. Maybe someone else has a better answer.

I’ve dealt with my mental illness for over a decade, and continue to learn about the many different symptoms that can come with it, especially with every new challenge that life presents.

Photo by Cali4beach

Bipolar, Negative Emotion and Guilt

Caiti Gearsbeck

Caitlin is an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention and lives with a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder. She is passionate about spreading awareness and sharing her story and hopes to help others living with mental illness feel less alone in their journey.

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APA Reference
Gearsbeck, C. (2017). Bipolar, Negative Emotion and Guilt. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 15, 2020, from


Last updated: 10 Sep 2017
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