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How to Deal with a Bipolar Parent or Family Member

Updated on June 28, 2014

be selfless

If you love someone who suffers from this illness, you cannot afford to be selfish. They have a disease and they cannot help it. Imagine of someone punched you in the face and asked you not to have a strong emotion towards that. My father explained that he didn't have a minute to think about what he was going to say. When he was going through a strong bipolar phase, there was no medium between happy and sad. Like a toddler, they don't have the ability to process the emotions and realize that something isn't as bad as it seems. You have to be patient with them and be okay with the fact they're angry at something. The worst thing you can do is argue because they don't really know why they feel that way, so arguing about a situation will only make things more difficult for you.


know who they are

If you're concerned about a family member, most likely you already know this question. However, this is the most important part. I personally have a father who suffers from being Bipolar and I have mastered the art of remaining in a calm state even though they might not be. You need to know what their core values are. Values such a faith, family, and respect are down in the core and will be present through every mood swing. If they seem to be upset, use these values in a positive way to bring them to a peaceful setting. If they're having a manic episode, offer to visit the grandkids or have a family dinner if they value that. If you're loved one is very faith oriented, offer to go to a service or ask to go for a walk and have a talk about your faith.

Even though you might know what their core values are, you still need to know what they get angered at easily. In my situation a big issue is disrespect. One minute a phrase won't be disrespectful and the next minute it will be. Staying away from that phrase altogether will ensure an argument free environment even though they might not be happy.

don't talk about being bipolar

For awhile my father was convinced that he was not Bipolar, even though we all knew he was. My mother would try to explain to him the symptoms but it would leave put him in an uproar and would scream about how he wasn't sick. Men especially have trouble with admitting their faults. Admitting that they're Bipolar could be seen as a sign of weakness on their part. They won't be able to be helped if your rubbing it in their faces. If you feel like you are in danger because of their illness or they might harm themselves, it would probably be a wise decision to contact a mental care facility who have professionals that can actually help your loved one.


they might not always seem sick

Sometimes with Bipolar Disorder, individuals can go through phases of being completely calm and collect and then out of nowhere they have an episode. Feel free to enjoy those peaceful times but remember that chaos can come back any moment. You always need to watch your words, that will never go away. You don't want to set off a rampage or a yelling spree. During those times try urge them to make healthy decisions like diet and exercise. When individuals are manic, they might not be willing to care for their body or may want to eat their emotions. When they are in a calm mood, take them to the gym or for a walk regularly and make healthy meals. They might be more willing when they aren't full of emotions. Then when they are manic again, they will be in the habit of eating healthy and exercise and help their mental state of being.

don't let them consume you

Even though you love this person dearly, you have to remember yourself. They are not your responsibility (unless they are your child.) You have to keep your sanity in order to help them if it is your choice to. Everyone has to be accountable for their actions. They should not be allowed to hurt you or scream at you. If they happen to do so, step out of the room or go for a drive. Before you leave say something short and non-hostile. For example, "Those words really hurt me. I love you but I need to leave the room." Give them time to think about what they did, if they love you they will reflect on those words and apologize or give you peace when you return. They need to be aware of how you feel but they have a hard with thinking about it.

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    • denise.w.anderson profile image

      Denise W Anderson 

      4 years ago from Bismarck, North Dakota

      We have several family members with bipolar. These suggestions work very well. I have found that I cannot take anything personally, whether they are manic or whether they are depressive. The best that I can do is to be supportive and encouraging, that way, I am less likely to trigger an episode one way or the other. Taking time out for myself is vital to my own health and well being.

    • profile image

      Brittany Tallon 

      4 years ago

      I can tell you love your father very much. It was well written, and touched on the emotions and thought processes of a Bipolar person. It was very informative on how to stay calm, and keep them calm, as well. Very well done!

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