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7 Ways to Help a Loved One Cope With a Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

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When you’re sick with the flu, it’s nice to have your partner, roommate or family member there to help you. Whether they make you soup, do the dishes or watch movies with you, you feel comforted and not so alone. They help you cope by being there and helping you through your sickness, and the same thing goes for a bipolar diagnosis.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

A bipolar diagnosis can be scary at first and continuously hard to cope with. Someone suffering from bipolar disorder needs a strong support system and help coping with the affects of their illness. There are seven ways you can help someone cope with their bipolar diagnosis and ultimately be there for them through their illness.

1. Educate yourself.

Reading up on the symptoms, triggers and effects bipolar disorder can have on a loved one is a great way to help them because you will gain an understanding of the illness. In times of doubt, your friend or loved one with bipolar disorder can look to you for understanding and answers and truly know they won’t receive any judgement or stigma from you.

2. Encourage.

Words of encouragement are welcomed, especially when someone with bipolar disorder is experiencing a depressive episode. Encourage them to take care of themselves, attend their doctors appointments and encourage them to smile and laugh.

3. Be present.

Feeling alone is common for someone who suffers from bipolar disorder. Being physically and emotionally there for someone who struggles will help them cope with their unpleasant thoughts and feelings and help them to not feel alone in their fight against bipolar disorder.

4. Listen.

It’s difficult to listen to someone when all you want to do is give advice and encouragement. However, listening to someone who is struggling is important because it gives them an outlet to share their thoughts and feelings, good or bad.

5. Be patient.

Helping someone cope with bipolar disorder doesn’t happen overnight. It is an ongoing process of encouragement, talking and generally being there. Be patient when your loved one doesn’t feel like talking, and be patient when their moods change.

6. Make a plan.

Keeping a safety plan is important to do when helping someone cope with a bipolar diagnosis. List their warning signs and triggers. Then, list what to do during manic and depressive episodes. Make this plan and assure your loved one you will stick to your part.

7. Forgive.

Bipolar disorder can turn a person into someone completely different. Your usually kind and compassionate friend may be snide or mean when they’re depressed and brutally honest when they’re manic. Forgive these slights, and remember your friend suffering from bipolar disorder has little control over their emotions and actions during an episode.

Bipolar disorder is something nobody should have to live with alone. Just being there for someone who is struggling will mean so much, along with these seven ways to help them cope. Offer support, be kind and assure them you are in their corner no matter what. It’s nice for someone to know when they are struggling, they are not alone, and they have someone there to make the blow from bipolar disorder a little less hard.

Originally published: June 3, 2016
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