Explanations not excuses. Let’s learn the difference.

Let’s go the way of every student who has ever had trouble coming up with an essay introduction…

Explanation: the act or process of making something clear or easy to understand : the act or process of telling, showing, or being the reason for or cause of something

Excuse: an explanation that frees one from fault or blame.

Thanks Merriam-Webster!


Learning the difference between these two words is beneficial to all parties. It’s easy for the two to get thrown around in the wrong way. When I do or say something that I am aware was fueled by bipolar related issues I explain this to those affected. I have to. It’s a disease all by itself. I want to at least know that I explained why whatever happened, happened. It could be a semi-sudden drastic mood change, ups and downs from cycling, a dumb manic move, anything. However, I also state that I know it does not excuse my actions. I am aware that I am still accountable for an apology and possibly a reverse of actions etc.

After awhile I can see how all of the explanations can be overkill and start to sound like excuses. This is why sincerity is key. When I found out I am bipolar I vowed to myself that I would never use it as a weapon, a crutch, or for manipulation. That personal vow is the reason the people I love trust in me and hopefully discern the difference between excuses and explanations. (Despite what the whispers in my head tell me sometimes)

Here are some examples to help you differentiate. Reinforcement is key, after all!

Explanation: “I behaved that way because I was having a depressive episode mixed with rapid cycling, and rumination. I let my head convince me that no one loves me and began to ruminate over some of your actions and words, which added fuel to my fire.”

Excuse: “My dog ate my pleasant personality and goodwill.”


2 thoughts on “Explanations not excuses. Let’s learn the difference.

    • This is so hard on me as well. We are very visual beings and it is hard for most people to force their mind to open up and try to grasp something they can’t see. So combining that with the necessity to go on good faith with what we say isn’t easy for anyone involved.

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