The five most hated words to someone with bipolar disease are: Just snap out of it.
Ive found myself biting my tongue and force-feeding those words back down my throat more than once. You see, as well as being a patient, I am the loved one of a patient. If you think my own illness drives me crazy, you should see how my wifes illness drives me crazy. Yes, even I sensitive, loving, caring me - can be driven to the brink.
By the same token, Im capable of arousing hate in Mother Teresa. I exaggerate only slightly. Mother Teresa is my wife, Susan. I wonder how she puts up with me.
So, what chance can you possibly have with family and friends? Is there any point in trying to establish a rapport, or should you quit while youre still behind?
First, the bad news. Unless your family and friends are drowning in the same end of the gene pool as you are, they can never understand the illness. Its like trying to explain a headache to someone who has never had a headache. You may as well tell them that Jupiters great red spot is acting up today, . thats why youre behaving a bit strangely.
The good news is that family and friends will rally to your cause despite their hopeless ignorance. These people will prove indispensable in your quest to get well and stay well.
Chances are, disclosing your disease to family is a moot point. They probably suspected you had bipolar disorder long before you did. After all, your Attila-the-Hun moments are pretty hard to hide from those residing under the same roof. Odds are they were the ones who dragged you kicking and screaming to the emergency room in the first place. They have seen you at your very worst. You are blessed to have them still in your life. Many of us havent been so lucky.
Following is some practical advice, based on my experiences as both a patient and family member:
Keep your expectations realistic. From your familys perspective, your illness will always be a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.