Bipolar Depression and Dealing with Mistakes

Bipolar Depression and Dealing with Mistakes

When I make a mistake while experiencing bipolar depression, I beat myself up like none other. I get so angry with myself and obsess over any tiny, perceived mistake I make. Bipolar depression (and depression, in general) is brutal for that. As we all make them, we need to learn to deal with mistakes even with bipolar depression.

Mistake Anxiety and Bipolar Depression

It is not uncommon for those with bipolar disorder to also experience anxiety, up to and including, an anxiety disorder. I’ve written before about the anxiety around possibly making a mistake but the anxiety really skyrockets if a mistake has actually occurred.

Anxiety, stress, jagged, spiky energy – no matter what you call it, mistake anxiety with bipolar depression is awful.

Perfectionism, Mistakes and Bipolar Depression

It is also the case that many people with depression/bipolar depression are perfectionists. The two conditions are linked. This makes sense as perfection is sure to make anyone unhappy thanks to the fact that none of us are perfect. And being depressed, depression always looks for more things to be depressed about, so why not the omnipresent inability to be perfect? They really are a match made in the psychiatric hospital.

So, if you make a mistake, your bipolar depression may beat you up not only because you made a mistake but also because it was evidence of the fact that you aren’t perfect. (Naughty you.)

My Bipolar Depression Reaction to Recent Mistakes

I recently made two mistakes I am beating myself up about it. In both cases, tradespeople have taken advantage of me and I’m so mad that I let it happen. I was played for a fool, as they say, and it was successful, so clearly, a fool be I.

In addition to feeling like a gullible idiot (“fool” is far too kind a word) my bipolar depression has spiked my anxiety and so I’m extremely stressed, too, particularly as they were monetarily expensive mistakes that I can’t afford. The conscious thoughts are wholly negative and self-deprecating and the unconscious ones are painful and anxiety-ridden.

I do not wish to admit to either mistake. Like I said. I’m an idiot.

What to Know When Dealing with Mistakes with Bipolar Depression

However, even though my brain has been taken over with the “mistake reality,” my wise mind is still able to squeak in a tiny word or two. And what I know regarding mistakes and bipolar depression is this:

  • Everyone makes mistakes whether they have bipolar or not but bipolar depression can make making mistakes more painful if you don't know how to deal with them.Everyone makes mistakes. I know this is obvious, but when you feel like the most idiotic person in the world because the bipolar depression is inflating your mistake-related feelings to ridiculous amounts, you need a reminder.
  • Bipolar depression revels in mistakes. As I said earlier, depression looks for things to be depressed about. So my bipolar depression is just looking for things to be upset about and looking for things to beat me up about. Of course, any mistake is the perfect opportunity.
  • Mistakes aren’t a big deal. Let’s face it, most mistakes aren’t the end of the world. Most mistakes don’t irreparably harm us. Most mistakes result in annoyances. When put in that perspective, they have much less power.
  • Mistakes are for learning. I know, it’s trite, but we learn when we mess up. I have definitely learned from my mistakes and I hope not to be used in the same way because I now know what to look for and how to avoid it.
  • Mistake pain is your bipolar depressed brain speaking. In other words, the wise part of you knows enough not to beat you up. The wise part of you knows to take these things in stride. The wise part of you is there, even if it isn’t speaking very loudly right now. Don’t listen to your sick brain, listen to your wise mind.
  • You need to give yourself a break. I know that it’s easier written than done, but if you have bipolar disorder, if you have bipolar depression, you need to cut yourself some slack. Everyone needs slack from time to time and it’s okay to give it to yourself, just like you would anyone else.
  • Stop judging – it’s not your job. Would you judge someone else who made the same mistake? Do you judge others who make mistakes in general? What?! You don’t? That’s right, you don’t. You’re harder on yourself than you are on anyone else; it’s not fair and it’s not right. Hang up your robe. Seriously.

Bipolar Depression and Coping with Mistakes

After remembering all of that, I try to make an action plan to correct the mistake. This might include an apology, a strategy to make more money, starting a dispute with a company or something else, but I always feel better once I have tangible steps to take in place.

And keep in mind, sometimes you need help with that plan. I, personally, am rarely capable of starting a serious (even deserved) dispute. I need help with this. When dealing with mistakes and bipolar depression, I reach out for help with the steps I know I can’t take myself.

And I try to treat myself gently. I tell other people to do it all the time. We deserve to treat ourselves the way we treat our friends: kindly and with compassion.

I know my bipolar depression want to squash me due to my mistake, but I know that’s not right and I know that I can fight back and not just fall into a self-hatred spiral.

Banner image by Flicker user:

Image by Flickr user: thetaxhaven.


About Natasha Tracy

Natasha Tracy is an award-winning writer, speaker and consultant from the Pacific Northwest. She has been living with bipolar disorder for 18 years and has written more than 1000 articles on the subject.

Natasha’s New Book

Find more of Natasha’s work in her new book: Lost Marbles: Insights into My Life with Depression & Bipolar. Media inquiries can be emailed here.



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