Living with Bipolar Illness

Living with a bipolar disorder is a difficult challenge for anyone to suffer. It can be stressful for your family and loved ones as they witness someone they love engulfed in episodes of mania and depression.

The same factors that would pose threats to peaceful personal life for anyone pose greater risks when living with bipolar illness. The alcohol and drug abuse, lies, reckless spending, rage, depression, hyper sexuality, suicidal inclinations, and hallucinations that can accompany your illness has potential Bipolar symptomsto upset both your peace and integrity both and that of your loved ones.

To minimize risk you and your family and friends need to understand this illness and acquire coping mechanisms for managing it. This often boils down to having clearer routines, organization, forward planning and sense of humor than normal. There is no disputing the power of laughter to improve one’s sense of well-being, elevate the mood and help keep things in perspective.

It is important to know that few bipolar patients do harm to others, so normally there is no need for loved ones to feel physically threatened. Assuming you have been correctly diagnosed, are in counseling and being monitored by health professionals, disruptions to your normal personal and family life can be minimized. Disruptions are more likely before you have been diagnosed, if you were misdiagnosed, or for whatever reason aren’t taking your prescribed medications or treatment.

If your loved ones are unfamiliar with this illness, ask them to please read this Special Report Communicating with a Bipolar Loved One,  and other information to better understand what you are dealing with.

When loved ones find your behavior to be beyond what they considered reasonable or normal for them and thus too much for them to handle, they should seek help for themselves too as soon as possible. Even if you don’t believe anything is wrong or see nothing unusual in your behavior, they may need help in understanding and learning how best to respond to your moods.

You and your loved ones can work to identify that triggers (i.e. stressful life events) that are likely to spark an episode of mania or depression. These might be memories of events like deaths, anniversaries, traumas, or the like. Keep a record of such events in a journal and learn to insulate your bipolar family member from them.

Living with bipolar disorder yourself or through someone close to you requires fighting not only one’s own irritation and frustration but also, and more importantly, the fears that underlie this illness. Part of this disorder is a need to be in control of one’s situation. This craving is rooted in a deep fear of losing control and the love and attention of others. With a lot of patience love and care, you and your family and friends can help you abate your fears and provide help and support in social situations.

Manic episodes with psychotic features like hallucinations (voices, sounds etc) can occur with some bipolar individuals. If this happens to you, what seems real might be construed as nonsense or lying to others. It is important to understand that “reality” may be different for you, more difficult than simply recalling the experience as perceived. Acceptance of this relativistic reality goes a long way to curbing anger in such situations.

What you can do to help yourself

Although bipolar disorder tends to be a lifelong, recurrent illness, there are many things you can do to help yourself. Beyond the treatment you get from your doctor or therapist, there are many things you can do to reduce your symptoms and stay on track, including educating yourself about bipolar disorder, surrounding yourself with people you can count on, and leading a healthy “wellness” lifestyle.

You’re not powerless when it comes to bipolar disorder. With good coping skills and a solid support system, you can live fully and productively and manage the symptoms of bipolar disorder illness. It takes requires making certain adjustments though. Like those recovering from alcoholism need to avoid drinking or diabetics who take insulin, it’s important to make healthy choices for yourself. Making these healthy choices will help you keep your symptoms under control, minimize mood episodes, and take control of your life.

Managing bipolar disorder starts with proper treatment, including medication and therapy. But there is so much more you can do to help yourself on a day-to-day basis. The daily decisions you make influence the course of your illness: whether symptoms get better or worse; whether you stay well or experience a relapse; and how quickly you rebound from a mood episode.

Key Recovery Concepts

  • Hope. With good symptom management, it is possible to experience long periods of wellness. Believing that you can cope with your mood disorder is both accurate and essential to recovery.
  • Perspective. Depression and manic-depression often follow cyclical patterns. Although you may go through some painful times and it may be difficult to believe things will get better, it is important not to give up hope.
  • Personal Responsibility. It’s up to you to take action to keep your moods stabilized. This includes asking for help from others when you need it, taking your medication as prescribed and keeping appointments with your health care providers.
  • Self-Advocacy. Become an effective advocate for yourself so you can get the services and treatment you need, and make the life you want for yourself.
  • Education. Learn all you can about your illness. This allows you to make informed decisions about all aspects of your life and treatment.  On our site see the Special Report Six Tips to Managing Bipolar Illness . Paul Please Post this as a Special Report  and add it to the list on the right hand side to be on all pagers. And see other sites like HelpGuide.org.  Provide these and other sources of information to others in your life, as well, so they can educate themselves too and better understand your situation.
  • Support. Working toward wellness is up to you. However, support from others is essential to maintaining your stability and enhancing the quality of your life.

Source: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

If you would like more information or assistance in dealing with bipolar, please contact me.