For a caregiver of someone with bipolar disorder,
having fun may be the furthest thing from their mind
when dealing with a manic or depressive episode,
medication trials and errors, and just frustration
with the entire situation. A loved one living with
bipolar disorder still wants to feel included and
normal, however. With some basic knowledge, ways to
handle surprises, and a sense of love and hope, this
feat can be accomplished successfully.
Itís not necessary for everyone in a large
group setting to necessarily know about and
understand a personís bipolar condition. A select
few close friends and family will benefit from
having a bunch of tricks up their sleeve, so to
speak, for ways to avoid fun turning into failure.
Empathy is a big one. Itís knowing what a loved
one is feeling and really, truly caring for their
challenges. A caregiver wonít get far without it.
After that, what are the loved oneís triggers?
Large crowds? Loud noise? Donít take them to those
types of places. Just donít. It may seem like they
could ďget outĒ for a while. If it sets their
emotional reactions on high, a calm atmosphere will
be much more enjoyable in the end.
communication with how a loved one feels about
activities is important for a caregiver. Do they
like going to dinner? Or taking a walk? What are the
types of events/outings they enjoy and feel they can
manage successfully? This attitude also gives them
control, something that many people with bipolar
disorder struggle with maintaining in many areas of
Sometimes having a planned-ahead,
structured schedule is a good idea. Loved ones
living with bipolar disorder do best with knowing
whatís to come and are able to mentally prep
themselves for any new or scary experiences. They
also have a finer memory of past experiences than
the average person. If they didnít like something
before, chances are they will remember it and resist
trying it again.
Caregivers take on a lot of
burden, and this is just one more place. They may
lose their choice of fun activities, but also gain a
more full and satisfying relationship with a loved
Donít fight fire with fire
first rule of preventing an outburst is simply not
being the flame that starts one. The four big
communication no-noís, according to Bipolar Disorder
for Dummies, Second Edition, are criticism, blame,
judgment and demand. The guide says to keep them out
of interactions with a loved one who is bipolar.
Honing these skills is essential, and how a
caregiver (or anyone for that matter) says something
makes a world of difference in the outcome of an
event or gathering.
While some people tend to
yell when they are upset, and if a caregiver is one
of those people, it is imperative to find another
way of expression. Yelling at a person with bipolar
disorder puts them on the defensive and increases
aggression, and possibly hitting the trigger point
of stress. Fighting fire with water is much better.
Here are some examples of phrases that may be
taken the wrong way by someone with bipolar
disorder, but not affect someone else.
Who said life was fair?
Itís all in your head.
Snap out of it.
Shouldnít you be better by now?
Stop acting crazy.
And things to say:
What would you like to do?
This episode wonít last forever.
Weíll get through this together.
What can I do to help you have fun?
I wouldnít change anything about you.
willing to jump on the rollercoaster of bipolar
disorders certainly will find loops and dark tunnels
along the way. Itís a guarantee. Taking the big dip
over the hill can be a blessing, in knowing someone
who needs love and compassion is being given it. The
loved one with a bipolar disorder is looking to
their caregiver to be a friend who enjoys life with
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