Living With a Person With Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder affects more people than just those who are diagnosed with it. It affects everyone around the person who’s been diagnosed too. Witnessing someone you love and care about struggle with bipolar disorder can range from an unnerving experience, all the way to a traumatic one.
The unpredictability brought about by bipolar disorder can provide a variety of challenges for those living with someone experiencing an episode. While it can be difficult, it’s important to try and be understanding. If the individual with bipolar disorder is not normally frantic or aggressive, but they are when they have an episode, don’t be angry at the individual, be angry at the illness.
One of the most important things that you can do is to make sure that they have access to treatment, and that they’re encouraged throughout their treatment process. Make sure to let them know that you have their back.
Having a Significant Other With Bipolar Disorder
It’s difficult seeing loved ones experiencing a bipolar episode, however it can be even more difficult if it’s your significant other experiencing it. A bipolar episode can have an effect on the emotional, psychological, and sexual aspects of the relationship.
Once again, make sure not to blame any new erratic behaviors on your significant other, but on the illness. Try and make sure that they have access to the mental health treatment that they need. Don’t be afraid to get more involved in the treatment process if they ask you to (attend therapy sessions with them, etc.).
Just remember that your safety, and the safety of your loved ones with and without bipolar disorder, comes first. If it becomes extremely difficult to deal with, don’t be afraid to reach out to a local support group for loved ones of people with bipolar disorder. They may be able to provide you with the resources you need to cope, and they’ll be able to help answer questions that you may have.
Understanding Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder can be a very difficult illness to deal with. Whether you yourself are diagnosed with it, or one of your loved ones is diagnosed with it, it can bring a lot of complications into your life. However, it doesn’t always have to be an overall bad experience.
Not only can the process of treatment make you stronger as an individual who has bipolar disorder, but it will leave you and your loved ones better prepared for any potential episodes that may occur down the road.
If you wish to seek more understanding of bipolar, you may also try:
- Seek therapy. A therapist can help in many ways, including reducing symptoms and providing understanding. Also, a therapist can provide you with information to normalize your experience and suggest options that have worked for others. Bipolar is life-altering. Discuss aspects of grief and loss that are common with this diagnosis. Improving your mood will improve your perceptions of others.
- Understand yourself. Without having an understanding of yourself, you cannot hope for others to understand you. Bipolar is confusing. Symptoms can change daily, weekly or monthly. Sometimes you have long periods of stability followed by rapid changes. Monitor your symptoms and know what your triggers are. Investigating cycles based on whether or other external events provide you with a wealth of information. Assemble information from a therapist, psychiatrist or online resources to build a complete picture of yourself. Keep in mind that bipolar is not your entire life, only a portion.
- Be assertive. Once you have built a reasonable understanding of yourself, assertively communicate this information to the trusted people in your life. Assertive communication is the best type of communication because it allows you to state your thoughts and feelings clearly while respecting others. Let your supporters know what thoughts you experience, what they feel like and what they can do to assist you. Saying, “You’ll never understand” is aggressive and does little to help them or you. Saying nothing is passive and facilitates no change. Assertive communication is a perfect balance.
- Adjust expectations. Even with assertive communication, people may not fully understand you. After all, your experience is distinctively your own. Expecting them to react perfectly in situations is impossible and will lead to unneeded stress in the relationship. Consider if the person is making an effort to improve understanding and support their attempts. Continue to praise while encouraging them to make small adjustments, perceptions and responses.
- Seek out understanding. Depending entirely on your current supports can be frustrating and limiting. All people benefit from varied resources, especially people with bipolar disorder. Keep your old friends but seek out new ones. Maintain family relationships but find support groups in person or online. The new supports may be more likely to provide you with the understanding you seek. Additionally, they may offer new suggestions to make others relationships more satisfying.