How to help a loved one with Bipolar Disorder - The Explanation
If you suffer from Bipolar Disorder, you are undoubtedly aware of how destructive this illness can be for everyone involved. Often, your friends and family members are at a complete loss as to how something like this could be possibly happen, much less to you! Fortunately, there is an explanation and truth is...Bipolar Disorder can make anyone act in extremely uncharacteristic ways.
Our highest brain center, the one that organizes our feelings of love and compassion day to day becomes unexplainably disorganized. Then everything else goes down hill from there. From top to bottom nothing in your body feels the same. Your sleep patterns, eating patterns, energy levels and ability to concentrate all become distorted. Then, right down the neurological latter of complexity your ability to think, feel and 'be yourself' all falls off line...leaving a mess of everything in your life.
What you need in such times is an understanding of what is going on and to have those around you also understand. You need a buddy, a therapeutic partner who you see often and can trust to tell you when they first notice any concern. Given these unpredictable changes and how long it can take to notice many use some form of 'buddy system'. Often a buddy can notice initial changes in a mood state a week or two before things really get rough. This is helpful in several ways. Small adjustments in medication or other therapies may work when you catch these symptoms early. You can call your clinician/therapists and make these changes long before anything progresses. Additionally, quicker response means less neuronal degradation so that your concentration and processing speed are less affected. For example, when a student falls into a full blown depressed or manic episode they will likely have to miss at least a semester of school despite feeling better emotionally These mood states create neuronal degeneration and although your mood may respond quickly, it may take an additional six months before your concentration and processing speed recovers.
How to Help a Loved One with Bipolar Disorder continue Medications
A lack of follow-up in therapy and medications is another hallmark of Bipolar Disorder. Often, as you begin to feel better you may feel your medication is no longer necessary. Your reasons may sound good at the time but the bottom line is that if you are going to try to manage your own medication, you and your family are heading back to that very dark place. Even a psychiatrist doesn't provide him or herself such care. We know that we can't see through the mist this illness creates. With each relapse the potential for further neurological damage increases. Open discussions with family encourages their participation and is critical to your long term happiness. We all need help and need to be reminded of decisions we have made that are critical to our wellbeing. We need as much support as we can muster to gain and maintain remission. And...we need to grow these relationships to move on and live the lives we were called to live. These simple understandings can prevent countless life mishaps for both you and your family. All types of depression are a family affair and each family member can benefit from more open and closer communication, empathy, compassion and love.
How to help a Loved One with Bipolar Disorder - Working to Prevent Suicide
Lastly, suicide is a real concern. As stated above, when you have Bipolar Disorder and are depressed, you don’t feel suicidal, you are suicidal. There's a difference. Your highest mind is disorganized and less available to implement strategies needed to protect yourself from such thoughts, anxiousness and feelings of emptiness. When feeling this badly you may resist going to an emergency room or calling an emergency suicide hot line. You need help you have agreed to and can trust, to be there and do what is necessary. When you agree ahead of time to follow your buddy’s emergent advice, it can make a life changing difference. The love we have for each other, can align the bit of self control we have left, to make the decisions everyone can life with.
This lack of organization of your highest brain centers is not you! Firm up your self-awareness. Increase your 'sense of self'. Love your family. And reach out to teach others what you have learned. Sharing compassion for all who suffer as you and your family have suffered, is another way to sustained remission and happy life!
If you wish, consider joining us as a Patient of Oneness for more support and information.