by: Kait Mauro
I was diagnosed with Bipolar Type II disorder on January 28, 2014 and I wish someone had sat down and told me what I have since learnt on that Tuesday morning:
It will get better. Your meds will become finer tuned and you will learn how to better live with this disorder. It will all become more natural for you with time and, although there will be some bumps in the road, your quality of life will overall continue to improve as long as you take care of yourself and follow your treatment plan.
Find a doctor and a therapist you really trust and believe in (and who trust and believe in you). You need to trust that you have been given the correct diagnoses, that your doctor knows what is best for you and that they will listen to you and take your opinions into consideration. You need to find a therapist you like and respect, who makes you feel heard and understood. Keep looking until you find these people – they are worth the extra seeking. Choose a care team who are easy to get ahold of, who call you back and who you can schedule emergency appointments with when things come up.
Learn your own warning signs for ups and downs and let the people in your life know what they should look out for. They may spot the beginnings of an episode before you do, and if you notice it quickly enough you might be able to do something to prevent the cycles from beginning again.
You do not need to be afraid every time you feel sad that you are falling back into a depression; you do not need to feel anxious every time you feel up that you are getting manic again. Life after bipolar treatment still includes the natural ups and downs of life and it can take a while to learn how to tell the difference between normal feelings again and bipolar symptoms.
You should learn all you can about this disorder. Watch any documentaries you can get your hands on, read and follow blogs, seek out books and articles & look for groups (whether they are on Facebook or in person) for bipolar people who can help you not feel so alone in dealing with this disorder. Make bipolar disorder your new hobby until you are comfortable with this new identity (you have so many) and you don’t have to think about it so much. But for now? Obsess.
At the same time, if you feel like these groups are dragging you down, take a step back. Sometimes we need to be around people who understand our pain when we are hurting but once we are feeling better again, we don’t want to be continually reminded of the dark places. Seek community when it feels right and if it starts to feel wrong, just take a step back. It’ll still be there when and if you need it again.
Find your own ways to cope (in addition to following the treatment plan you create with your doctor and your therapist). Some of mine include making art (primarily photography), taking care of my houseplants and my dog, keeping my space organized and clutter free & eating a balanced vegan diet. Your coping strategies might be very different than mine, but try things and learn what helps you to feel (and stay) balanced.
Look for ways to get involved in mental health advocacy – use your talents and resources to help other people who are also living with bipolar disorder. Doing this will also help you to heal and grow and will give you the support of a loving and encouraging community. Start a blog, make artwork inspired by your experiences living with bipolar, get involved in a national or local organization – think of how you can use the things you are passionate about to become an advocate for yourself and everyone else who is living with this condition.
Giving unconditional love for bipolar disorder patients is a tough job. It is not easy to express love when you are being turned away from, disrespected or even ill-treated. It is never easy to lend a hand to those who think grandiosely of himself. Most importantly, it is never simple to care and understand someone who has disorganized thoughts and feelings.
In-depth understanding of the illness is the primary aspect you need to undertake. If you do not understand what is happening to your loved one, then you will have difficulty relating to them.
After you have gone through the understanding and assessing specifics of Bipolar disorder of your loved one, then it is time to devise a plan wherein you should workout the problems.
You need to recognize symptoms.
It is not the fault of your loved one why he is inflicted with bipolar disorder that is the one thing you should take into account. He does not have control of his actions or of his feelings.
You need learn to recognize the many symptoms of bipolar disorder. Does he have sleeping problems? Why is he getting too much or too little sleep?
It is important to observe his moods, his actions and the way he relates to people. Jot it down so you know when and where it occurred so you have a basis to present.
When you perceive that the symptoms can be most likely bipolar disorder, do not be embarrassed.
Do not think of the illness as humiliation.
To love someone knows no illness. Bipolar disorder is not an illness where you should cast off or put your loved one into shame. This type of disorder can be treated just like any other diseases.
If you will feel ashamed of your loved one because he is inflicted with such illness, then you are not helping him restore his good health, instead you are letting him do worse than expected.
Trust is essential to individuals with bipolar disorder. They need you to trust them, not entrust them to other people or institutions such as the psychiatrists or an asylum.
There will be times that you will feel that you cannot deal with your loved one anymore that you will be tempted to call the doctor for him to be fetched because you do not want to take care of them. Never let them hear you say those words because it will just aggravate the situation.
To build up trust, an open and honest communication is needed.
Keep the communication line open.
Once you acknowledged the symptoms, and then ask yourself what you can do. However thinking of good ways to help your loved ones is not always the best way. You may think it is good but it may not really be helpful to the patient. Hence, it is needed that you communicate with the patient.
An open and honest communication is vital. Encourage your loved one to talk about what he thinks and feels. Let him suggest ways on how you are supposed to relate to him.
Do not suppress what you feel. However, there are positive ways to let your loved know how you feel. It is recommended that you avoid nagging, preaching or lecturing an individual with Bipolar disorder. Such negative actions will drive him to detach. If you are concerned about him, let him see how concerned you are in a gentle and encouraging manner.
Let him do his way.
Family members or friends usually ends up wanting to serve his loved one afflicted with bipolar disorder. You begin to do every work he intends to do. You start to make things he is supposed to construct. Do not do such things.
Along with trust ad communication, let the person experience what he can do for himself. Let him solve problems he can find solutions. Let him live the way he is supposed to live. By that, he will feel that he is important and has a good reason why he lives.
Although you allow him to do his own way, it does not mean that you will not be there when he needs you to. Let him do his way but make sure that you are around to give assistance when needed.
Most importantly, apart from assistance, you need to offer your love, understanding and support.
Come along to our newly formed Women’s Support Group held on the fourth Tuesday of every month at The Youth House next to the Monash Church of Christ, 44-48 Montclair Ave, Glen Waverley 3150, 7:30pm – 9:30pm.
Gain support, understanding and friendship in a safe and open environment.
You will always be made to feel welcome.
Food and refreshments provided.
Contact : Amanda 0403 535 332 or email firstname.lastname@example.org