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5 Tips for Loving Somebody With Bipolar Disorder

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There are several sources for somebody with bipolar disorder to learn to love themselves, from self-help books to the Bible to therapy and more. However, there are limited sources available for people who love somebody with bipolar depression. You could be a family member, a significant other or a friend and not know how to respond in love to somebody struggling with bipolar disorder. I know it is sometimes difficult for my family and my girlfriend to know what I need when I am going through an episode, and it is difficult for me to articulate what I need at the moment. Here are some tips for how to love somebody with Bipolar Depression.

• What is Bipolar disorder?

1. Don’t take it personal.

It is not your fault they are depressed. There is nothing you did to cause this. Part of bipolar depression is having episodes of mania and depression. Sure, something you said could have triggered that, but playing the guessing and blame game is dangerous for both of you. If they are like me, they are not mad at you or hate you; they hate themselves at the moment. Let them vent to you about how much their life sucks or how much they hate themselves. They are not saying they don’t love you or appreciate you. They can only focus on the negatives at the moment. The last thing they need is you being frustrated or upset with them for something they can’t control. All you will do is close them off from talking to you.

2. Don’t try to fix them.

As much as you want to, it is not your job to fix them or how they are feeling. In fact, you probably can’t since bipolar depression is a chemical imbalance. They have heard all the advice in the world, whether spiritual or secular. They know what they need to do to get better, they just don’t have the motivation to do it. Just listen if they want to speak. I know for me, I hate when people try to give me advice because they do not know what I am experiencing right now. Be there for them instead. Let them experience their emotions. Let them know you are available for them and you love them. That is the biggest thing. Help them understand they are loved.

3. Remain patient.

You do not understand what they are going through. There is a good chance they do not know what they are going through as well. You may want them to talk about it, but they may honestly not know how to articulate the thoughts going through their head. There is so much spinning in their head and it just cannot come out in coherent sentences. Stay patient with them. If anything, just sit with them and assure them they are not alone in this valley.

4. Check in on them.

If you know somebody you love is experiencing depression, check in on them. Send them a simple text or give them a call, just to talk. Talking about anything can help distract them from what they are feeling and that can assuage some of the depression. Or, it can be a simple text saying you love them and are thinking of them. By doing this, you are demonstrating they have an impact in this world and that somebody is thinking of them. This counters some of the negative talk they are telling themselves.

5. Ask the tough questions.

There are some questions that are tough to both hear and ask, yet it is vital, out of your love for that person, that you ask the following questions: How can I help? Have you been taking your medication? Are you seeing a therapist? Are you having suicidal thoughts? Do you have a plan? Can I get you help?

Now these tips will not work for everybody or at all times, but they are good tools to have under your belt. Try them. The biggest takeaway is just to love them in the way they need, not the way you think is best.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash

Originally published: January 4, 2019
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