Whether you’re trying to repair a broken relationship or manage an ongoing relationship with a spouse, parent, friend, or adult child with bipolar disorder, here are a few tips to help you navigate this tricky terrain.
- Recognize Your Limitations
Many times we try to help, save, and rescue our loved one who is diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Become educated on the many facets of this disorder, as well as talk with your loved one about how it affects them when there isn’t a crisis happening.
- Keep Your Cool
Someone with BD may draw you into an argument or a fight, but don’t respond with a harsh word or try to argue back. Proverbs 9:7 says, “Anyone who rebukes a mocker will get an insult in return. Anyone who corrects the wicked will get hurt.” No matter how much you confront a person who is angry, they won’t back down. Instead, resist the temptation to react.
- Set Boundaries
Establishing boundaries will help both of you. Boundaries create safety and clarity in any relationship. For a person with BD, it can help them stay in a healthy connection even during turbulent times. It can also help create structure in what sometimes feels like an uncertain relationship.
- Don’t Try to Fix Them
Seeing someone you love in pain is hard. You may think you can try to fix them, but you can’t. Try listening to them without offering advice, and respond to them by showing empathy and support.
- Spend Time Together
Spending time together is vital, especially if your loved one is depressed. They may isolate themselves, making the problem worse. Here are a few ideas: go out for lunch, watch a funny movie, or take a walk in the park. And if they turn your invitations down, keep asking them; it’ll send the message you care about them. They’ll probably appreciate your efforts and may eventually say yes.
- Encourage Them to Get Help
It’s crucial your loved one gets diagnosed and treated for their condition. Encourage them to see a doctor and take medication to help control their symptoms. Even if your loved one is committed to treatment, their symptoms may get worse. Take action right away if you notice any troubling symptoms, or they have stopped taking their medication. Point out these problems to your loved one, and encourage them to tell their doctor.
- Plan Ahead
Someone with BD may behave in ways that are dangerous. Plan ahead for how you will handle these episodes. When your loved one is well, discuss a plan of action for when they are experiencing a bipolar episode. Agree on specific steps you’ll take such as removing credit cards or car keys, going together to the doctor, or taking charge of household finances. If they make threats of suicide, be ready to contact the police. And if they threaten to hurt you, get to a safe place first before contacting the authorities.
- Help Them Alleviate Stress
Bipolar disorder can get worse—especially during times of stress. Life changes such as moving or losing a job can be so stressful it can trigger mood swings. Encourage them find healthy ways to deal with stress such as exercising regularly, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and learning to set limits with others.
- Take Care of Yourself
Caring for yourself is essential if you want to avoid burnout, health problems, or depression. After all, coping with someone with BD can take a toll on you and may strain your relationship to the breaking point. There will be times when you may simply need to spend time apart from your loved one. Finding a good Christian counselor or Life Recovery Group is essential for your own well-being. Having others pray for you and your loved one will also give you strength.