Bipolar Disorder and Crumbling Relationships: Coping With a Bipolar Loved One

Guest Blog by Jennifer Scott

Bipolar Disorder can be very difficult, for both the person with the disorder and their loved ones. The following is an educational guest blog on this subject with some good suggestions. However, the article is geared for intact relationships rather than separation or divorce, when “convincing”  the other person is not realistic. – Bill Eddy

When you have a loved one struggling with bipolar disorder, it can cause a real rift in the relationship. The mood swings and behaviors associated with both ups and downs can make a healthy relationship nearly impossible to foster.

Fortunately, modern medical research allows bipolar people to treat their symptoms and regain the relationships and the life they should have. There are a few steps to go through if your loved one is currently putting strain on their personal relationships. Here are a few key elements of repairing the damage and fostering relationships.

Convince the Person to Seek Help

The most critical and primary step is to get your loved one to see a doctor and receive professional help. Without medication, bipolar disorder can only be dealt with, not managed. A doctor must prescribe proper medications to restrict both the mood swings and potential psychosis if your loved one is to reclaim their life.

A few good ways to approach the topic might be to point out that treatment will eradicate unpleasant symptoms, suggest they talk to another bipolar person who is being treated, or contact an emergency team if the situation is bad enough.

Encourage Beneficial Behaviors

Beyond medications, there are certain things that bipolar people can do to make their everyday life more stable and their personal relationships a little easier to maintain. One of the most positive things a person with bipolar disorder can do is set a daily routine.

The human brain loves routine, particularly a brain with mental illness. Establishing a routine for things like work, meals, sleep, social interaction, and relaxation is one of the best ways to combat bipolar symptoms. A sleep schedule is particularly important.

You might also help them find fulfilling work. With the rise of the sharing economy, there are many great career paths these days that provide the flexibility that someone with bipolar disorder might need in order to thrive. Great options include becoming a dog walker or pet sitter for Rover, driving for a company like Lyft or Uber, or working as a “tasker” through TaskRabbit.

Be Open and Supportive

The best thing you can do for a bipolar loved one is to let them know you are supporting them, and that they can speak freely to you about any problems they may be having. Maintaining open lines of communication through the rough patches is the best way to guarantee a healthy relationship after treatment. If you are close enough, family therapy may also be a good option for repairing valued relationships.

Having a loved one with bipolar disorder is challenging for all parties involved. It is important that you do not take their episodes personally. They do not have control over their moods and how they feel. Though their emotions are very real, you should remember that the episode will pass.

Convince them to seek help if they are not already receiving treatment, encourage helpful behaviors, and, most importantly, be supportive. They may not act like it, but your loved one appreciates your love and support. With time, they may be able to relearn how to show it.

Jennifer Scott has experienced anxiety and depression since she was a teen. With, she hopes share her story with others and in doing so empower them to take steps to improve their overall well-being. In her free time, she loves to write, spend time with animals, and is always up for an adventure.

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