What to do if you have a friend with Bipolar Disorder and signs of Paranoia
Bipolar Disorder - formerly known as Manic-Depressive Disorder
Bipolar Disorder, formerly known as Manic-Depressive Disorder, is one of those illnesses where, if you know a patient fairly well, you can often tell, or suspect, that they are "off their meds" and are beginning to show some signs of Paranoia.
Chances are that you probably know one or two people in your circle of family and friends that suffers from Bipolar Disorder.
When the person who suffers from Bipolar Disorder is being medicated properly, they will appear to be perfectly “normal.” They will be able to laugh and carry on with family, friends and co-workers in an everyday manner.
Missing doses is a problem I have run into frequently. It is usually due to a patient feeling like they are "fine," when they have had a long run, with few or no perceivable symptoms. The statement they usually make is "I felt so good that I didn't think I needed my medicine any more." Commonly they are looking for an excuse to cut back. Sometimes the problem is due to expense. Other times, it may be due to an often wrongfully perceived notion of a social stigma associated with having to take “drugs” in the first place.
Paranoia is one of the first observable signs that something is wrong. They will mention people at work talking about them all of the time or about someone “from the government” stalking them. If they come up to a group of people talking, they will almost always assume that they were the topic of that conversation. If they see a parked car, with someone inside it off in the distance, to them it is proof that they are being followed.
When you engage them in conversation, after you have observed this behavior, you will frequently discover that their meds are not working like they should, because they have cut back or have quit taking them properly, for one reason or another; including forgetfulness.
If someone you know is suffering from this rather common illness, be alert to these signs and be prepared to direct them towards help any time you think it might be necessary; not just when they might be demonstrating sign of paranoia, etc.
One of my friends, that trusts me completely, will listen to me when I tell him that he is starting to act paranoid again. I will ask him if he taking his medicine like he should. He will say, “Yeah, you’re right.” That’s usually all it takes, because he knows that I am looking out for him.
I hope that what I have written is helpful to you; if you are a friend of, or a caregiver for someone that you know suffers from this disorder. If you aren’t aware of a valid diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, then you must not assume that they have it and you must completely disregard this information.