Bipolar disorder is a serious mental illness that affects the emotions and behaviors of sufferers. Bipolar individuals often experience mood swings in which they vacillate between being manic and depressed. When you love someone who suffers from bipolar disorder, you are exposed to every aspect of the illness. It is a challenging proposition to maintain a healthy relationship with someone who is mentally ill. Loving someone who has bipolar disorder is challenging and requires much patience and empathy.
Communicate with your bipolar loved one. Talk often to her about her feelings and ask her what she needs from you. Let her know your thoughts as well. Keep the conversations as positive as possible and brainstorm through difficult matters together.
Encourage the bipolar sufferer to take his medication consistently. Drug therapy is usually the primary and most effective treatment for this mental illness. Monitor how medications affect your loved one, as these may need to be altered during the course of treatment.
Speak with your friend’s physician with her permission. Get involved with her therapy as much as she is comfortable with to let her know you care and are there to support her.
Let the bipolar person know there are certain behaviors you will not tolerate despite his mental illness. These will likely include aggressive or hostile actions. Contact a mental health professional immediately should out of control behavior occur.
Look for triggers for bipolar episodes in your loved one. Anticipate situations likely to spark a manic or depressive period to help avoid or, at least, calm the situation.
Take a break when you need to get away. Being close to a bipolar individual is often an intense experience. Refreshing breaks will help you be a more supportive and a better friend in the long run.
Join a support group for family and friends of the mentally ill. Sharing concerns and experiences with others who are in similar situations will help improve your outlook and give you hope for the future.
Develop routines with your mentally ill loved one that will provide security and help keep things on an even keel.
Contact a psychiatrist or other qualified professional if your loved one experiences prolonged manic or depressive periods or threatens to hurt herself.