Advice for Family and Friends

Bipolar Disorder TreatmentBipolar 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.

2 Responses to “Advice for Family and Friends”

  1. Anita says:

    Hi, and thank you, thank you, thank you for this web site. I happened upon it while I was studing up on BP to help my husband. It feels good to know I am not alone in this struggel.
    I have been married to a man with BP for 7 years (together for 9) During this period he was untreated for 4 of those years. He had a manic episode and moved out a year after our son was born and made a mess of his life. He moved back in after 3-5 months and finally got treatment. We have had a hard time financially and struggeling with visa issues for him as we live in Norway. I have not been working full time and did not understand his diagnosis. He is now recovering from a hypermanic episode where he at one point moved out. He told me later that he thought I was poisoning him. Is it commen with disilousions like that? He is type 2 BP. During this episode I talked with family and friends (who do not understand BP) and a few of them thought I should leave him. He would put me down infront of his friends, telling them how bad I was at different things. He has alienated me to some of his friends because of what he has told them. 2-3 days after he moved out he came down from his hypermania and realized what he had done. And he started going in to a depression.
    We have now started looking in to what kind of supplements he can take in addition to his meds (lamictal and cipralex). What we have found so far is Omega 3, magnesium and B vitamin complex. He also needs to stay away from white flour, sugar, caffine, milk, potatos, whay, radish, lamb, grapfruit and several other foods + alcohol. He has not started on the supplements yet but will as soon as we can get some. We will let you know how it goes.

    I have considered writing a open post on my fb page to inform family and friends about BP because not a lot of them know what it is like and how it can play out. Maybe it will give them a better understanding of why my husband acts the way he does at certain times and they can help recognize some of his symptoms.

    I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Kind regards

    Anita

    • Anonymous says:

      We are going through a mania episode with my daughter. One of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. You are right to realize the illness makes them do things they otherwise would not. Hard to remember thy are ill when their words so hurtful.

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