Dealing with your mental health – particularly with severe and ongoing issues, such as bipolar disorder (BPD) – can take a huge toll on your everyday life. It can change the way you live, how you work and can even affect the lives of those around you.
Once you, or your loved one is diagnosed with BPD it can feel like the end of the world, with no available U-turn. However, a for those suffering with a mental health condition – or those supporting them – a diagnosis is the tool that can help you find the right treatment and get back on track. But when your partner, a friend or a loved one is diagnosed with BPD what should and could you be doing to tackle the condition as a team.
“A Problem Shared is a Problem Halved”
When dealing with any kind of mental health condition or issue, having a support network of loved ones to help look out for you can make a huge difference – especially during long periods of depression or ongoing conditions that can worsen over time.
How to Support your Partner, or Loved One, with Bipolar Disorder
A bipolar diagnosis is never easy, however for most people it is the start of a treatment plan that changes the way they deal with the condition and helps get their life back on track. If your loved one has been recently diagnosed, or is looking at alternative forms of treatment – how can you be there to support them throughout the process?
Learn More About the Condition
Bipolar is one of the most common mental health disorders to be explored in films, soap-opera plot lines and novels around the world – however, due to the popularity (and subsequent exaggeration) in the media, the condition often carries a number of different false connotations.
It’s normal for those of us with little knowledge of the condition to assume the worst when a loved one is diagnosed, to believe that we’re destined for a life of “Jekyll and Hyde” – however, the condition is often nothing like depicted in popular dramas, and those who are in treatment often enjoy a “normal” life with their friends and loved ones.
Learning more about the condition, rather than relying on false knowledge learned through the media, can help you to support your loved one better throughout their experience. In addition to supporting your partner or loved one, learning more about the condition can help you to notice if medications or therapy doesn’t seem to be working – as well as helping you to point out if symptoms seem to be worsening after a period of better health.
Encourage Professional Help
Whilst a problem shared is often a problem halved, when it comes to mental health – in order to get “better” it is often essential to seek the assistance of a professional. Like with physical injuries – such a broken leg – telling someone close to you can make your life a lot easier, they might pick up some shopping for you when you visit the supermarket, bring a cooked dinner to your house once a week or even offer to stay a few nights whilst you recover – and whilst all of those things might help, it doesn’t fix your broken leg and ignoring it could make things a whole lot worse.
Mental health is very similar to physical health, and if ignored it can worsen or develop into a much bigger problem. When someone opens up to you about their mental health it can be difficult to suggest visiting a professional – it might make them feel like you’re pushing their problems onto someone else and for many people the idea of sharing your mental health problems with someone else, after it’s taken a lot of time to open up to one person, can feel impossible.
However, like with physical health, a professional is often the best – and quickest – way to get back on track and start feeling like yourself again. If your partner or loved one isn’t ready for a face to face session with a therapist, online therapy could be a great introduction towards mental health care that could really make a difference.
Enjoy your Time Together
Both relationships and people flourish when time is enjoyed, even when faced with a bipolar diagnosis and the changes in your life that might follow – it is important to ensure your loved one, friend or family member enjoys their time spent with you. Suggesting a healthy activity that can support you both can help to create an environment that you can mutually enjoy, whilst spending time together on things you both enjoy can help to further develop healthy attachment – something that those with BPD often struggle with.
Take them Seriously
In a “normal” or healthy relationship it is not uncommon to exaggerate how we feel and throw about expressions that we might not mean. For example, for some people it is not uncommon to throw phrases such as “I swear I’ll kill myself…” (if the bus is late again tomorrow, if my boss makes me work late again, if my kids don’t go to sleep when I tell them to), which are often intended as off-hand comments to express just how tired/frustrated/upset. However, if a loved one who is suffering with their mental health throws around the same, or similar expressions – it could be a whole lot more sinister – and something you might need to take more seriously.
As mentioned earlier in the article, many people suffering with BPD often find attachment extremely difficult – many of those suffering have a history with attachment and therefore struggle with issues such as mistrust and fear, especially with those they are close to. When supporting someone with BPD it is important to be consistent and honest during your support – when you can be honest with what you can or are will to do throughout their treatment process.
If you think you’re struggling with bipolar disorder, have already been diagnosed or are looking to support a partner with the condition – online therapy is a great way to find the treatment that is right for you. My Online Therapy offers the UK’s first interactive platform offering the very best in psychological therapy – from your laptop, phone or tablet. Our unique service matches you to the most compatible therapist, as well as the therapy that works best for you. Unlike the NHS there are no long waiting times or commutes, and the service is notably cheaper than traditional “bricks and mortar” clinics – without compromising on quality or professionalism, with a recent study finding online therapy is affective as face to face sessions. Therapy can take place around your busy schedule – and from a place that works for you, whether it be your sofa, your office or the park on a warm day. Learn more about our services and how we can help you, at our website or through our App which can be downloaded on to most hand-held devices.