Bipolar disorder is a brain disorder characterized by several severe symptoms that pose significant challenges for individuals and others with whom they are in close relations.
Living with someone with bipolar can be stressful and tasking; however, with the right strategies, you can support your loved one and maintain order in your life.
The first important step to supporting your loved one diagnosed with bipolar disorder is to
educate yourself about the illness.
The more you know, the more help you can provide.
Also, you must set healthy limits and boundaries with your bipolar loved one.
Unmet expectations and needs can lead to conflict; thus, it is important to state your limits, how much support for bipolar disorder you can provide, and what you expect from your loved one.
Similarly, you must remember that your physical, mental, and emotional health is just as important.
Practice self-care daily, create time for your hobbies and interests and maintain relationships with friends and loved ones.
Read on to learn five tips for living with someone with bipolar disorder.
Living with someone with bipolar disorder means you'll have to deal with their mood swings from emotional highs to lows and possibly help them cope.
To do this efficiently, you will need to equip yourself with facts and resources on the condition.
Start by learning all about the symptoms of bipolar episodes, that is, symptoms of a manic phase and a depressive episode.
The more enlightened you are about bipolar disorder, the more helpful you can be for your loved one in their moment of need.
Warning signs of a manic episode include impulsive spending, short temper, aggressiveness, taking on several projects at once, sleeping less, and excessively happy mood.
A depressive episode, on the other hand, is characterized by symptoms such as withdrawal/isolation, suicidal thoughts, body pain, abandoning projects, losing interest in formally enjoyed activities, changes in eating habits, lethargy, feelings of shame or guilt, and intense sadness without reason.
When living with someone with bipolar disorder, it is crucial to have a safety plan.
You must ensure your physical and financial safety, especially if you're in a close relationship with your loved one with bipolar disorder.
It is not uncommon for people with bipolar disorder to show aggressive behaviors, especially when they do not stick to their treatment plan or cultivate unhealthy habits like substance abuse.
If you're worried about being unsafe during your loved one's manic episode, make a safeguard for yourself; perhaps a place you could go during your loved one's episodes or a contract that helps to secure your safety.
Similarly, money can cause significant problems when living with a bipolar person, as mania episodes could trigger impulsive behaviors and reckless spending habits.
So, if you are financially dependent on your bipolar loved one, you may need to secure your bills ahead of time.
Also, if you have a joint account, consider setting limits on cash withdrawals and credit card purchases.
According to research, people with bipolar disorder are more likely to get laid off from their job, so having a safety plan to ensure your financial stability is essential.
When living with someone with bipolar disorder or planning to do so, it is essential to understand your limits and communicate them with your loved one.
This way, there's a clear understanding of how much help you can realistically provide and at what point you'll no longer be able to support.
You'll need to clarify to your loved one from the start that certain lines cannot be crossed if they want your continued support.
Also, depending on your relationship with your bipolar loved one, your level of involvement might vary.
Living with a spouse with bipolar disorder differs from living with a bipolar roommate.
Perhaps you're living with a bipolar housemate; you may decide to keep your involvement minimal and offer to do things like reaching out to someone that could help during their bipolar episodes.
Increased involvement may include you helping to spot signs of an oncoming episode, helping with medication usage, or chaperoning to doctor appointments.
To help your loved one in the best way possible, you'll first need to take care of yourself.
Living with someone with bipolar disorder is a huge responsibility that can be taxing and significantly impact your mental, emotional, and physical health.
So, ensure you tend to your own needs as you do to your loved one.
Prioritize sleep, healthy eating habits, exercise, and personal hygiene.
Creating a quiet time for yourself to do "you" things and rejuvenate is also vital.
Similarly, remember the hobbies and activities you used to love.
If you love to work out, dance, sing, paint, draw, or go hiking, create time to do so—endeavor to find a balance between supporting your loved one with bipolar disorder and living your life.
In addition, you must not neglect your spirit.
Many people living with their loved one with bipolar disorder tend to blame themselves for an episode or inability to provide more care to their loved one.
Practicing mindfulness will improve your mental clarity, emotional intelligence, objectivity, and ability to relate with yourself and others with kindness.
Living with someone with bipolar disorder requires you to have certain positive behavioral traits such as communicating effectively, helping others, displaying honesty, strategic thinking, and empathy.
Bipolar disorder and its symptoms don't just go away.
Even with medications, you cannot expect a quick or permanent recovery.
When your loved one experiences a mania or depressive episode, it might take a long while to recover, so you'll need to be extremely patient.
Similarly, people with bipolar disorder often find it challenging to seek help because of their fear of burdening anyone.
So, you will have to be understanding, show extra care and constantly remind your loved one that you care about them and want to help.
In addition, communicating your boundaries, needs, and feelings is essential in any relationship.
When living with a bipolar person, you'll need to practice positive communication and a healthy conflict-resolution habit.
Dealing with the peaks and valleys of bipolar disorder can be challenging–and not just for the person with the illness.
The emotional and mental state of a bipolar person affects everyone around–especially those living with them.
The good news is that there are helpful strategies that can help you cope with living with someone with bipolar disorder and provide support for bipolar disorder.
They include enlightening yourself on bipolar disorder, having a safety plan, setting healthy limits, practicing self-care, and developing positive behavioral traits.
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