Coping When A Loved One Has Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder is unpredictable. Take it one day at a time. Healing doesnt happen overnight, and its completely normal to worry about your relative during their mania and depressive episodes. You may fear them making reckless or irresponsible decisions, and harming themselves during an emotional low.
Bipolar disorder can be a lifelong struggle. The more you learn about the condition, the easier itll be to offer support. People with bipolar disorder cannot control their emotions or moods. Remember, bipolar disorder isnt a sign of weakness. It is a mental illness. Avoid insensitive or negative comments like snap out of it, or get a grip.
Let them know youre there to help in any way you can. Offering practical assistance can reduce their stress level and help keep their emotions under control. For example, help out around their house or offer to research local support groups for them.
My Personal Experience Of Bipolar Psychosis
I have bipolar I disorder, and I have been in psychosis with hallucinations and delusions. I have to admit that during my psychotic break, I was more empathetic and kind than I have ever been in my entire life. I recall that I gave my savings to the poor and my own grandmothers treasured diamond ring to a man in a wheelchair. It breaks my heart when I hear of someone struggling with a mental health condition and who has been violent, and I encourage people to realize that this is what happens when people are left untreated and are actually falling through the cracks of the mental health system.
For instance, mania has driven me into a frenzy where I was not aware of the consequences of my actions. The feeling of being unstoppable, magnetic, and perfectly self-inflated was all too real. I empathize with people who experience mania and have cheated on their partner. It is difficult for people to understand that when you have bipolar disorder, your judgment is beyond cloudy that understanding often seems to be unattainable.
I ponder about my psychotic break from so many years ago , and I reflect on the fact that there is a fine line between guilt and innocence. However, I have been stable for over 14 years and I have not experienced a mental breakdown since dedicating myself to a treatment plan. I feel that I can be trusted to be responsible for my actions now but am I to be considered unpredictable simply because I have bipolar disorder?
And It Can Take Clinicians A Long Time To Diagnose Bipolar Disorder Properly
It can take 10 years in some cases to diagnose bipolar disorder correctly, Dr. Galynker says. Especially if you have someone who has subclinical symptoms, oftentimes in cases of bipolar II, when hypomania isnt affecting a persons ability to function.
Mike, 66, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 1988, but he remembers recognizing his mood swings as early on as 1980, he tells SELF. I recall keeping a calendar at work where I logged how I felt, he says. I was trying to track my own rhythmmy up and down time, so I knew when to plan events, like vacations.
Emma says she was originally diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and mild depression. Then, last year, she was diagnosed with bipolar II. We get help when we’re at our worst, so you get diagnosed based on the symptoms you’re evincing, she explains. But the thing about bipolar disorder is that it’s all dependent on patterns. If no one asks you to work backwards in your own timeline, you can’t figure out those patterns.
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Create An Emergency Action Plan
Despite your best efforts, there may be times when you experience a relapse into full-blown mania or severe depression. In crisis situations where your safety is at stake, your loved ones or doctor may have to take charge of your care. Such times can leave you feeling helpless and out of control, but having a crisis plan in place allows you to maintain some degree of responsibility for your own treatment.
A plan of action typically includes:
A list of emergency contacts for your doctor, therapist, and close family members.
A list of all medications you are taking, including dosage information.
Symptoms that indicate you need others to take responsibility for your care, and information about any other health problems you have.
Treatment preferences such as who you want to care for you, what treatments and medications do and do not work, and who is authorized to make decisions on your behalf.
Dont Beat Yourself Up After A Presentation
We are the hardest on ourselves and its good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.
You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.
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What Risks And Complications Can Bipolar Disorder Cause
There can be complications and risks for people who live with bipolar disorder. But these risks can be lessened with the right support and treatment.
What about suicide and self-harm?
You might have an illness where you experience psychosis, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Your risk of suicide is estimated to be between 5% and 6% higher than the general population.
You are more likely to try to take your own life if you have a history of attempted suicide and depression. It is important that you get the right treatment for your symptoms of depression and have an up to date crisis plan.
There is also research that suggests you are 30% – 40% more likely to self-harm if you live with bipolar disorder.
What about financial risk?
If you have mania or hypomania you may struggle to manage your finances. You may spend lots of money without thinking about the effect that it may have on your life.
You could make a Lasting Power of Attorney. This is a legal process. This means that you pick someone that you trust to manage your finances if you lack mental capacity to manage them by yourself.
You can work with your carer and mental health team. You can form an action plan. This can say what they can do if you have a period of mania or hypomania and you start to make poor financial decisions.
What about physical health risk?
What about alcohol and drugs risk?
If you want advice or help with alcohol or drug use contact your GP.
What about driving risk?
Brain Structure And Function
Researchers are learning that the brain structure and function of people with bipolar disorder may be different from the brain structure and function of people who do not have bipolar disorder or other psychiatric disorders. Learning about the nature of these brain changes helps doctors better understand bipolar disorder and may in the future help predict which types of treatment will work best for a person with bipolar disorder. At this time, diagnosis is based on symptoms rather than brain imaging or other diagnostic tests.
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Tip : Monitor Your Symptoms And Moods
In order to stay well, its important to be closely attuned to the way you feel. By the time obvious symptoms of mania or depression appear, it is often too late to intercept the mood swing, so keep a close watch for subtle changes in your mood, sleeping patterns, energy level, and thoughts. If you catch the problem early and act swiftly, you may be able to prevent a minor mood change from turning into a full-blown episode of mania or depression.
Become Impulsive And Feel Unstoppable
One month and three days after meeting a man, I convinced him to marry me. I once destroyed my kitchen and bathroom thinking I could do home renovations like a pro. I also volunteered to interpret in a language I hadnt used in 17 years, thinking I could quickly relearn it via YouTube. So, I guess you could say I am impulsive and overestimate my abilities. In the end, 16 years and three kids later, my husband and I divorced, I did manage to relearn the language but it took way more than a week, and my kitchen is still unusable four years later. Jessica P.
Tattoos. I have an extremely high pain tolerance when Im manic and spend money recklessly. I have 10 tattoos and only one wasnt from a manic period. Ali P.
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Overspend And Shop For Luxurious Items
Shopping. Spending way too much money and feeling amazing when I do so. Then, a few hours later, complete guilt followed by a downward spiral. Candy S.
I dislike shopping, but when Im experiencing mania, I want to go shopping to change everything in the house, from curtains to pillows and so on. Its usually about the house nothing for me. I feel very irritated if someone interrupts me while Im cleaning the house and changing all decorations. Griselle F.
Buy cars. Only good thing about screwed up credit is that its prevented it from happening again. Ive bought three on manic highs. Im always buying crap. I buy gifts for other people then get pissed when they dont appreciate them. Andrea G.
Coping With Bipolar Disorder
Living with bipolar disorder can be challenging, but there are ways to help make it easier for yourself, a friend, or a loved one.
- Get treatment and stick with itrecovery takes time and its not easy. But treatment is the best way to start feeling better.
- Keep medical and therapy appointments, and talk with the provider about treatment options.
- Take all medicines as directed.
- Structure activities: keep a routine for eating and sleeping, and make sure to get enough sleep and exercise.
- Learn to recognize your mood swings.
- Ask for help when trying to stick with your treatment.
- Be patient improvement takes time. Social support helps.
Remember, bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness, but long-term, ongoing treatment can help control symptoms and enable you to live a healthy life.
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Why Bipolar Lying Is Wrong
When we tell another person a lie we are behaving in a way that is controlling and contemptuous of that person. Telling someone a lie reduces the lied-to person from a subject to an object. That person cannot exercise their free will and personal judgment because they do not have all the facts. Rather, they become a prop for our playacting.3
Bipolar liars may not manipulate and attempt to control people out of malice, but mania can turn us into fantasists. And, as outlined above, there are many reasons Bipolar Disorder and lying is so tightly linked. The grandiosity, superiority, impulsivity, and loss of control experienced in a manic state contribute to the Bipolar liars attempts at controlling others and everything around them. Their goal is to create a new reality-a sort of alternative universe-that supports their delusional state. However, we have a duty when we are well to reflect on why we lie during mood episodes and to include strategies for avoiding lies in our Treatment Contracts and Wellness Plans.
Surprising Things People Do When They’re Manic
When you hear someone describe bipolar disorder mania, what do you immediately imagine? Sure, we might think we know what mania is really like feeling super happy, or having a ton of energy but in reality, mania and hypomania are far more complex than society believes. Mania is multifaceted and can, at times, be dangerous for the person struggling with it. The only true way of knowing is to ask those with bipolar disorder directly.
Thats why we talked with our bipolar disorder and mental health communities about their experiences with bipolar mania that one might find surprising. From hypersexuality to an unexpected change in something we all tend to do every single day, we hope you find their answers enlightening or, for those bipolar warriors reading this, that you realize your experience isnt all that unusual.
Heres what our community shared with us:
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Are People With Bipolar Truly Responsible For Their Actions And Behaviors When In A State Of Mania Depression Or Psychosis
Having bipolar disorder is extremely difficult when I watch the news or read an article online and feel irritable. I have been feeling quite disillusioned with the world, especially when the medias coverage is consistently about people experiencing a mental health crisis. They are reported to be out of control, violent, or worse. I do not know how many times I have watched the news to hear of yet another person who has a mental health condition and has acted out violently. Often there is no proof provided that a person even has such a diagnosis, but it is implied to be the case because someone is dangerous, scary, or violent.
People With Bipolar Disorder Are Not Always Experiencing Symptoms
Individuals with bipolar disorder do experience periods of extreme changes in mood and energy levels, but not around the clock.
First, these shifts are called episodesand there are a few different types, as SELF reported previously:
- Mania: A manic episode is typically characterized by having high energy and activity levels, a reduced need for sleep, and/or feeling confident or euphoric. But someone in a manic episode may also feel irritable and agitated while also being energized.
- Hypomania: This is a less severe version of mania but still presents generally as high energy and activity while feeling as if you dont require sleep.
- Depression: A depressive episode may cause a person to feel sad or down, fatigued, or they may have difficulty concentrating or think about death or suicide.
- Mixed: A mixed episode means that a person is experiencing a manic or depressive episode with some symptoms of the opposite mood state at the same time.
The types of episodes that you go through depend on whether you have bipolar I or II . And how a person feels or acts during their bipolar episodes can vary greatly and be quite subjective.
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What You Need To Know About Relapse In Bipolar Disorder
Bipolar disorder causes people to experience intense mood swings from manic highs to depressive lows. Not everyone experiences bipolar the same way, however, it is estimated that at least 75 per cent of people diagnosed with bipolar disorder will relapse, even when following a treatment plan.
In bipolar disorder, a relapse is defined as the return of depression or a manic or hypomanic episode after a period of wellness. Sometimes it is possible to predict a relapse often it is not. For many, the onset of a relapse seems to come out of the blue.
Research shows that those who live with bipolar II are more likely to relapse than those who live with bipolar I, and that it’s far more common to relapse into depression than into mania or hypomania. It’s important to remember that bipolar disorder is a complex and chronic illness, and that there is no shame in not being able to ‘control’ the possibility of a relapse.
The word ‘relapse’ is sadly fraught with negative connotations. Many people equate relapsing with failure, especially if they are doing everything ‘right’ to manage and monitor their illness yet experience an episode anyway. The sense of failure that often accompanies a relapse can be devastating and make it even more challenging to form and follow a strategy to stay well.
Let Us Help You Manage & Treat Bipolar Disorder
As debilitating as bipolar disorder can be, it doesnt have to control your life. Here at StoneRidge Centers, we have programs that can help you manage the mood disorder and any other co-occurring disorders you may be living with. Were passionate and focused on restoring the brain to its optimal state of health. Thats why we have designed our programs to include the best of what brain science has to offer.
At the same time, we know that living with and managing a mood disorder can be challenging and overwhelming, so our approach to care is compassionate and comprehensive. Call us today at 928-583-7799 if you or a loved one are living with bipolar disorder and are ready to manage it in a healthy, wholesome way.
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Common Bipolar Relapse Triggers
While the neurological causes of relapse are unknown, the best approach to preventing future episodes is knowing what activities may trigger a new episode of illness. Everyone’s triggers are different if you can learn to recognise yours or those of a loved one, it may be possible to prevent or minimise the intensity of a bipolar relapse.
Keep in mind that even with the best coping strategies in the world, you might not be able to stave off a relapse. It is crucial to create a stable environment that is less likely to lead to an episode but if one occurs, you must not interpret it as some sign of weakness.
The following tips may help with preventing or minimising the intensity of a relapse:
At the first signs of a possible relapse, you should always speak to a doctor or psychologist. Avoiding a relapse isn’t always possible, and seeking help is essential. Learn to identify your triggers and be mindful to avoid them where possible.
Remember to stay positive about the periods of stability and wellness rather than focusing on the occasional or decreasing relapses. Take kind, compassionate care of yourself. Living with bipolar disorder is often a bumpy road, so try connecting with others who understand and can relate to your experiences. Our SANE Forums are dedicated communities for people affected by mental illness including friends, family and carers. They’re safe, anonymous and moderated 24/7 by mental health professionals.