So your spouse or loved one has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and you are wondering how to handle it. Like many, you may run to the library and return with an armful of books that will take six months to read. Or you may jump on the Internet and try to wade through a thousand pages of useless information for one page of relevance. Or you may reach out to others that have similar afflictions. Here at BipolarConnect we try to give you the information you want, the way you want it. So here is a quick top ten list of suggestions and things to remember if your loved one is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Keep in mind this is written from the point of view of the bipolar disorder “sufferer”. In the near future, we’ll revisit this topic from my wife’s point of view.
1. Give us confidence. If you can make your partner or loved one feel good about him or herself, life will be SO much easier for both of you.
2. Take an active role in our treatment. Help with med administration. Don’t count on us to be faithful to our medication, we all slip from time to time. If we are under the care of a psychiatrist or counselor, maybe a yearly session where you join us would be helpful. At a minimum, if you have questions or concerns write them down so we can take them with us to our appointments.
3. Recognize there are things we just can’t bring ourselves to do, and try to work with us on this. For example, my wife pays the bills, as my stress level goes through the roof, and I blow up at the family if I try to do it. Of course, it’s worse when I then give her a hard time for not “doing it right”. When this happens, try to be understanding.
4. Remember that we have certain strengths and super-hero abilities at times. Take advantage of this. For example, if we go hypomanic and suddenly desire intimacy for hours on end, or multiple times per day, help us out. Keep in mind our meds sometimes take this desire away for months on end, so when it does come around use this to your advantage. You might even go so far as to say “Paint the house and I’ll fulfill that little fantasy you’ve been hinting at for years…” The house will be painted in a matter of hours.