Do you have a friend or family member who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder? If so, here are some things you can do to help them.
- Learn about their illness. There are many websites that deal with mental illnesses including bipolar disorder. Read up on bipolar disorder so you know what to expect. Know what the signs and symptoms are of mania and depression.
- Take care of yourself. Know your limitations and have ways of dealing with the stress that might come with dealing with your loved one or friend. Set boundaries and let them know what they are.
- Help them to create a action plan. This is where they come up with things that you and others can do to help them through an episode. For example, if they are manic, you might want to secure their keys and credit cards they become more stable.
- Find yourself a support system. You can look up places in your area where there are support groups. You also should talk to the other people who are part of your loved ones support team.
- Be patient and understanding. This is in an illness and in many cases they can’t help what they are doing. Encourage them to take their medications and see their doctor on a regular basis.
- Be honest with them and expect them to be honest with you. Let them know ahead of time that you expect them to let you know when they are not feeling right. Encourage them to share what medications they are on and if they are taking them.
- Recognize that this is an illness just like diabetes. They are not to blame and there is nothing they did to deserve having it. If they take care of themselves, they often can lead a “normal” life. If they don’t, they will most likely cycle through mania and depression often and their illness will be a constant struggle. It is their choice.
- Know what to do in an emergency or when you know they are headed for trouble. There should be phone numbers of crisis teams that you should have handy, know their doctor’s phone number, know when you should take them to the emergency room.
- Take it one day at a time.
- Focus on the good times. Remember the person who you love when they are stable.