Living In A Bipolar Relationship
Living, caring or working with someone who has a diagnosis of bipolar can bring unique challenges to any caring or working relationship.
Individuals with bipolar will experience severe mood swings including extreme highs and severe depressions. When individuals’ mood swings are escalating they can seem self-absorbed and selfish, so those who live with them often feel forgotten or rejected. After all, it’s not easy to offer sympathy and support to someone whose behaviour seems reckless, erratic and negatively affects the household routine and the lives of those they love.
Getting help It’s important for families, friends and colleagues to understand as much about bipolar as possible. It’s also important to realise that the illness impacts individuals in different ways. Consult a psychiatrist or a medical social worker to know more about the availability of support services for individuals with a diagnosis (or concerned about the potential of a diagnosis), families, friends and loved ones. Once you have an understanding of what is happening to the individual and why they are behaving in a certain way, it is easier to come to terms with their behaviour and mood levels. This, in turn, helps create a healthier living environment.
One the most difficult things is helping an individual to realise that they may be unwell. Mental illness, because of its very nature, isn’t always recognised by those who are experiencing the symptoms. You may, therefore, need to support them in seeking help. Signs to look out for are depressive episodes with no apparent cause, as well as sobbing or crying. These are usually followed by inexplicable bursts of activity and elation, often accompanied by exaggerated self-esteem. Unusual sleeping patterns are also common.
Managing Bipolar Fortunately, with the right support, you can learn to help manage the illness. Strategies involving medication, health care and self-management can help lessen the impact. If, for example, an individual’s mood is starting to move higher, it helps to avoid situations that might make them too excitable. Try not to be embarrassed by any erratic behaviour, as once the episode is over, the sufferer may feel more negative about their behaviour when they realise how much you are affected by their actions. In the event of a depressed episode, try to be patient. It can help to take the person out, even if it’s just for a short walk. If their mood continues to fall to extreme or perhaps suicidal lows, it’s wise to call their doctor.
The more you can discover about how bipolar affects the individual, the easier it is to manage problems as they arise. During periods of relative stability, keep an eye out for events or circumstances that trigger the condition, so you can avoid them in future.
Knowing more about the condition means you can discuss with the sufferer how they feel, their concerns, and how you can both manage your relationship better in the future.
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