Caring for someone with any type of illness is difficult, but looking after a loved one with a psychiatric disorder can be even harder. The sudden mood swings and behavior of someone with a bipolar disorder affects everyone around them making it feel like you have to always walk on eggshells.
Often, parents, spouses, siblings, or friends have to cope with crazy demands, reckless actions, rash decisions, and volatile mood swings. Then, after the manic episode subsides, these same people are the ones who usually have to pick up the pieces and deal with the fallout. However, it’s important to know that your love and support can make a big difference in their life by becoming a partner in treatment and offering them much-needed hope and encouragement.
Living with someone who alternates between being either manic or depressed at times can take a toll on the emotional wellbeing of spouses, friends and family members, as well as strain relationships. While coping with a loved one who is bipolar can be overwhelming, there are ways to effectively deal with many of these episodes and even ward them off.
First, start by educating yourself about bipolar disorder symptoms and learn how to identify specific triggers. Next, find the best possible medication and therapy for the individual. Finally, show love and support as a tightly knit unit so that you can meet challenges as they arise, and help your loved one return to normalcy and gradually become emotionally healthy.
Here are a few additional steps to help you and your loved one cope with a bipolar disorder:
People with a bipolar disorder often have negative thoughts, so it helps to remind them that you are there for them no matter what. Research shows that bipolar disorder patients whose family members are involved in their care, tend to recover more quickly, have milder symptoms, and experience less manic and depressive episodes. Individuals suffering from a bipolar disorder typically snap out of an episode much easier when they have people around them offering support and encouragement.
When it comes to treating a bipolar disorder, there is no such thing as an “overnight success.” A successful treatment plan takes a while to take root and become established. Plus, there is going to be some necessary tweaking along the way. In the meantime, you can help your loved one by finding a qualified mental health professional, scheduling appointments, and following up. Also, keeping track of medications and mood swings will be a big benefit.
When living with someone with a bipolar disorder, remember that open and honest communication will help all of you cope more easily with some of turmoil it creates. Make an effort to listen to their concerns while sharing your own in a loving way.
Living with someone with a bipolar disorder can sometimes feel overwhelming. The caregiver can also develop depression when they find it hard to cope with some of the problems that are created. Set healthy boundaries so that you don’t burn out. Eat healthy, exercise often, and get plenty of sleep. If you are in a good state of mind and health, you will be in a much better position to take care of someone else.
Look for a group or organization within your community that offers support for people who have loved ones with mental illness. One of the largest with chapters in many cities is NAMI: National Alliance for Mental Illness which has programs, services, and resources for people whose lives have been affected by mental illness – including family members and caregivers.