How do I know if I am sinning?


#1

I have been bipolar my whole life. My bipolar is resistant to medication, and so I have to live with it the best I can. When I am manic or severely depressed, I experience unreasonable and uncontrolled anger. I don’t know if I am sinning or not. Is this still a sin even though I can’t control it. When I am this way, I pray to God to help me control my anger when I’m around people, but it never works. I don’t know what to do? My priest in confession says to just do the best I can, but this doesn’t seem to be enough.


#2

God does not require the impossible of us. Generally, the best advice anyone on this forum can give in such a situation is “do what your priest says,” and that applies here as well: you CAN’T do more than the best you can, and God - who knows you better than you know yourself - understands your condition. Best to continue praying for help, do your best to do what you know is right and, unless your priest tells you otherwise (if he determines that you are scrupulous, for example), confess anything that you are doubtful about. It seems likely that your culpability would be lessened in such circumstances, and so in some cases confessing the actions might not be strictly necessary, but there is no reason to add uncertainty about that onto the struggles that having the bipolar condition already gives you.

Or in short, maybe an action was a sin, maybe not, and only you and your priest have a chance of determining that. In a case of doubt, better to confess while following the instructions of your confessor.


#3

There is a difference between what is objectively a sin and what is subjectively a sin. The first is that the action is listed as a sin, so to speak. The second refers to the particular instances of the person’s having committed the act, and there may be aspects of the situation which reduce the person’s culpability for the sin.

For example, one type of cerebral palsy causes involuntary movement. If a person with this type of CP hot someone involuntarily, they would not be culpable as would a person who did that voluntarily.

I think this is what the priest is talking about with you. You are in a physical state and doing things you don’t want to do, and you are even praying for help to not do them. These actions are thus involuntary.

Keep praying and confessing. When you feel anger welling up inside, do whatever you can as soon as possible, praying immediately and excusing yourself if possible, and follow any advice your priest gives you. Staying close to God and the saints in prayer and receiving the sacraments as often as possible will help you.


#4

Have you talked with a doctor about this recently? I know you say it’s resistant to medication, but there may be something new out there that you can try. Or maybe even try biofeedback. I’m not bipolar, but I know that going through this has helped me be calmer at times. Just a suggestion. :shrug:


#5

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