Bipolar Disorder is a mental health condition that can cause dramatic shifts in a person’s mood. For someone who suffers from the disorder it can be very difficult dealing with the ups and downs. The mood swings not only impact that individual but those around them as well. This condition is manageable with proper treatment. If you are someone who has a friend or loved one with this disorder, you know this condition can be difficult to watch a loved one struggle with as well as knowing how to best provide them with support.
A person who has bipolar disorder can experience manic and depressive episodes. Episodes of mood swings may occur rarely or multiple times a year. During these episodes, they may experience high energy and happiness followed by profound periods of depression. When they experience episodes of depression, they may need support from loved ones as they may not have the energy to meet the responsibilities of their everyday tasks.
If a loved one or friend close to you suffers from bipolar disorder, there are several ways you can support them:
Educate yourself. One of the first things you can do to support a loved one is to learn about the disorder. This will help you better understand what the person is going through as well as recognize symptoms and patterns.
Be supportive. Offering support to a friend or loved one with bipolar disorder can play a major role in their treatment. Some things you can do include helping them set up appointments, finding a qualified doctor or therapist, monitoring their mood changes, learning about the medication they take, and even contacting their doctor if there are any problems.
Show patience. It can take time for a person to get better once they start seeking treatment. It’s important to be patient with this process and to continue to offer support throughout your friend or loved one’s journey.
Be understanding. For the person who has bipolar disorder, it can be difficult for them to understand what they are experiencing. They may not realize their moods are shifting. Making an effort to understand what they are going through and offering support is the best thing you can do to make them feel comfortable.
Being open about bipolar disorder and talking to your friend or loved one about their experiences can help them feel supported and loved. Find a time when your family member or friend is feeling well and make a plan to help support them when they may be experiencing an episode. Lastly, remember to take care of yourself. You may need to establish boundaries with your loved one, and that is okay. You cannot pour from an empty cup, so it’s important you are making sure yours is taken care of.
Jill Haupts, Outreach Coordinator for The Kim Foundation
Jill Haupts is the Outreach Coordinator at The Kim Foundation. She received her bachelor’s degree in Child, Adult, and Family Services from Iowa State University in 2016. Jill joined the Kim Foundation in January of 2020, coming from Des Moines, Iowa. Her previous experience includes volunteer recruitment and fundraising, as well as experience coordinating services and providing resources to adults who have a mental health diagnosis. Jill’s role in the foundation is coordinating event logistics, presenting and attending community fairs, as well as volunteer coordination and recruitment. She enjoys working in the nonprofit field and has a passion for advocacy and helping others.