Tips For Family And Friends Caring For Someone With Bipolar Disorder During Manic Or Depressive Episodes
Things You Can Do
Do not take bipolar episodes personally. When in the storm of a bipolar episode, the bipolar person often says or does things that are hurtful or inappropriate. When in a manic episode, they may become excited, difficult, overwhelmed, or even psychotic. When depressed, they may become discouraging, irritable, and despondent. These are symptoms are of a mental illness. They are not your fault. You should not feel responsible.
Prepare yourself for some very erratic behaviors. Sometimes the person with bipolar disorder will act in some very inappropriate ways. These can be extremely destructive, sexually, or spending behaviors. Knowing how to handle these kinds of behaviors ahead of time can benefit you greatly. Having a crisis plan in place is a good idea. Agree ahead of time what steps should be taken when an intervention becomes necessary. Put the crisis plan in writing, so it is always available.
Knowing what to do in a crisis is very important. Make sure you have a list of emergency contact information of doctors, therapists, and other family and friends who are able to help you. Be sure to include the address and phone number of the hospital you will take the person to if it becomes necessary.
If the person with bipolar disorder is suicidal or showing violent outbursts, you might want to call 911 or go to the emergency room and let them diffuse the situation. Someone with bipolar can sometimes escalate, and it is best for everyone's safety if professionals are involved.
Some other things you can do.
Spend time with the each other. People who are manic or depressed sometimes feel isolated and alone. Doing things together will help you both feel connected and less isolated. People with bipolar disorder sometimes need to be reminded people still care about them.
Avoid confrontation if at all possible. If the person with bipolar is manic they may have a tendency to argue.
If the person is depressed they may want to sleep a lot. This can be a good thing. Don't force them to get up. Suggesting they eat or shower with your help is a start. Remember it isn't your fault.
You can help the person by scheduling and tracking medications, making doctor, or therapy appointments, and reporting any changes in mood.
Create a support system for yourself. Have friends and family you can talk to who can listen when you need to talk, or want to get away. Sharing your feelings with a support group or a therapist can be beneficial for you as well.
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