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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Loving Someone Suffering With Bipolar Disorder

One of the best ways you can show your love for someone suffering bipolar is to never give up on them.  Yes it may be hard and there may be times when you have no idea what to do.  But one of the things you can do is tell them that you will always be here.  Even if you ran out of things to say and do, just knowing that someone is there no matter what brings assurance and eases the sufferers fear of being abandoned for something that is literally beyond their control.

Bipolar is a serious illness.  Just as if someone lost a leg and losing that leg has brought disability and limits and not to mention suffering.  The difference is you can easily see a lost leg but looking at a bipolar patient can at times look like they are choosing to be difficult.  Not true at all.  Most bipolar patients are the kindest and most compassionate people you could meet.  They know what suffering feels like and can have empathy for other sufferers. 

Also, read. Learn more about the illness.  Have an understanding for what they go through.  This will help you to not take alot of the things they do or say personally.  When one is depressed that is not the time to point out all their flaws.  They may need extra affirmations and positive feed back.  If your friend were in the hospital for any kind of illness the right thing to do would be visit and maybe even send flowers.  Same thing for someone suffering a mental illness.  Now is the time to show extra love, care and concern.  This will reinforce that this is an illness and is not their fault. 

Mania can bring a scare to loved ones watching their loved one act out of control.  Shopping sprees, life of the party, not sleeping, talking a million miles an hour.  It can feel like there is nothing you can do.  Sometimes the bipolar patient will resent your input because they don't see their behaviour as dangerous or out of the ordinary.  This may be time to step in with some tough love.  If they are going out of control with spending, take their credit or debit cards away for a time.  Make sure they are safe when going out with friends.  Keep alcohol away and maybe even out of the house.   And if it gets really bad get them to the hospital.  Call their doctor and get further advice.  Hopefully they will cooperate and receive the help.  You may not be able to talk them into doing what you want them to do.  Usually it takes them to realize their need for help.

 It may seem unfair that you have to deal with someone who has an illness, but it is the human thing to love, support and be there as much as possible.  Its the golden rule. Do unto others what you would have them do to you.  Think about that.  If you had any kind of illness.  Would that be the time for friends to step away, stop calling, decide that your no fun any more?  Well I can tell you that that is not friendship and your better off without them.  Think of Mother Teresa who dedicated her life to caring for the sick, poor and dieing.  Be great.  Make a difference.  Be important in someones life.  Does this mean never having time for yourself and never enjoying yourself? No.  But it does mean that this person needs you.  Feel honored that God would chose you to be His hands and feet, His heart and compassion.  Never ever give up especially if it is family.  You would never give up on your friend who could no longer walk would you?  If its true friendship you would still visit, still love and still give.  Life may be different now but it doesn't have to be ruined by illness, disease or a mental disorder. 

This is what I would want as a bipolar sufferer and that is who I am.  Someone in need of love, care and support through all the ups and downs.  I have felt utterly alone many many times.  Send flowers to your suffering friend or family.  Trust me it will mean the world.

Art by Jenni Moore
On behave of all those suffering a mental illness...Thank you for caring enough to even read this.  May God bless you and give you the strength to love your loved one fighting this disease.

1 comment:

  1. Jennifer we are trying to help our mother who had her first mania at 84. Her mother had it at age 38 and she has a nephew with it also. She has been mania mostly since several panic attacks when her husband was taken to nursing home. Before this she was in near perfect health. She spent 6,000 in a month and was watching TV about 16 hours a day ordering stuff until we figured out what was happening.
    We are a family of 7 children trying to help our mother and really struggling. She has been on meds (abilify & depokate? and klonapin for sleep) for about 2 weeks. She was kept for 4 days but she will not believe she has this and was doing a little better but was stressed and now is back in anger/ mania again.
    God Bless you for your journey and even just being there.