I’ve been asked this question frequently by family members and friends of a bipolar sufferer. Most Individuals with bipolar disorders are often misunderstood and considered out of control, irrational and problematic during an episode. Some of this may be true. However, no one develops proper understanding without experience or, at least, practical knowledge of the current situation.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive disorder, is a brain disorder that causes unusual changes in mood, energy, and activity levels, causing strain on day-to-day responsibilities. The variety of moods ranging from stages of extremely elated, and energized behavior known as manic episodes, to very sad, “down,” or despairing periods are known as depressive episodes.
Some of the best ways to cope with a loved one with bipolar disorder are with understanding, tolerance, and patience. Information, such as literature on the disorder, will also bring awareness and clarity to disconcerted and affected members of these situations. It can be disheartening when a loved one is experiencing an episode of bipolar. Helplessness and fear become all too familiar, and not knowing what to do, who to call, or even what to expect, can be vastly overwhelming for anyone to endure alone. No one should have to endure these hardships alone. There’s always hope.
There are several options and organizations to support loved ones with coping skills. ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America). NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), also another helpful organization, has several local chapters that offer support groups and classes designed to assist family and friends with knowledge and understanding of the disorder. And NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health) has plentiful information that will bring hope to the forefront.
One of the best characteristics a loved one can provide is strength, not giving in to the disorder and allowing it to define the person. however, with proper care an individual can live, a full and productive life.
Isolation and shame are two major concerns people with bipolar disorder often experience when their loved ones are not familiar with the disorder. Not wanting to be judged by their loved ones, an individual may opt for isolation, withdrawing from friends or even loved ones. Regarding such basic and fundamental mannerisms, the existence of other anxieties can also present themselves. Therefore, practical knowledge of the disorder, as well as knowing how to spot individual triggers, and uses of preferred treatment plans will help eliminate some of the stress often relating to the disorder. Always remember that your loved one is a person and not the disorder; usually their behavior is not intentional.
Take the time to educate yourself about the disorder. Find a caregiver support group and evoke patience to provide a loving atmosphere. With knowledge comes understanding and, we are all trying to cope and survive. So, let’s do it together.
Dr. Candace Walters – Motivator, Speaker, Transformationalist, Activist for Women.
Dr. Candace is CEO for The Walters Group. Dr. Candace often affirms “Not every woman requires therapy, most of us just need an accountability partner”. Contact number is 951-541-4986.