Bipolar Disorder (BP) impacts the person who has it as well as their family members, spouse, friends, and coworkers. Bipolar Disorder can be extremely stressful to relationships, especially close relationships. I want to focus on one specific thing that you can do to help you cope when you are in a relationship with someone with BP.
Try not to take it personally if your friend or loved one with BP is occasionally incapable of relating to you in their typical way. When a person is having a manic episode, for that time period, they are often incapable of refraining from behaviors that seem out of character. The prefrontal lobes in the brain are not working properly and the person having a manic episode will often say things that they would not ordinarily say, things that might hurt your feelings, or that you might find offensive. When the lobes are not working, there is a decrease in inhibitions. Jay Carter Psy.D. writes about the importance of family and friends not taking a manic person’s words and actions personally.
As Dr. Carter says, “It doesn’t mean that you disassociate or disregard what the person says….You simply know that a person who thinks “it’s all about me” does not function as well as someone who knows it isn’t.” In other words, you need to remember that It’s Not About You. It’s about the person with BP.
To learn more about how you can help yourself and your friend or loved one with BP, read books, magazines, and blogs about BP. Doing so will help you better understand what your friend or loved one is experiencing. Participate in therapy sessions or support group meetings if appropriate. And remember: Don’t Take It Personally!
I recommend reading The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder by Jay Carter, Psy.D., and Bobbi Dempsey. If you have BP and have recently had a manic episode that has shredded many of your close relationships, you might ask your loved ones to read this book so that they can better understand what you are experiencing. Rebuilding relationships takes time, education, and mutual effort.