When someone you love is diagnosed with bipolar disorder, it can create unique challenges within the relationship. Maybe you always knew something was different but couldn’t quite put your finger on it. Receiving a bipolar diagnosis does not change a person, but it does create a better opportunity for the affected individual to access the professional care and support they deserve. And of course, some of the most important backing will come from you, the spouse or life partner who is daily standing by their side.
It’s important to understand that bipolar disorder does impact how a person feels and behaves. Educating yourself about the disease, however, and learning how to support your mate through it will help ensure that both of you get what you need from one another. Here are five tips for nurturing a loving and respectful relationship despite the condition.
- Extend some grace. As with any ailment, physical or mental, there will be good days and bad. While medication and treatment plans will help minimize symptoms, there is no set cure. Initially, episodes may even worsen as the individual tries to work through their feelings and emotions.
- Don’t underestimate your role in symptom management. Attend appointments and address any concerns you might have with a mental health professional. Don’t be afraid to assist your loved one in staying on track with prescribed medications.
- Be positive and encouraging. Giving your partner your vote of confidence may provide just the mental boost needed to make it through a tough day.
- Be vigilant of triggers. Being aware of catalysts and signs of impending mood shifts can help minimize episodes and make them more tolerable. When episodes do occur, the best strategy is to talk through them and reassure your support.
- Know there will be limitations. Some household chores such as managing the finances might be best suited for you because they could otherwise ignite a certain level of unnecessary stress.
Working through a bipolar diagnosis and beginning a plan to manage symptoms may take time and patience. However, it doesn’t have to define a person’s life. If you would like more resources or assistance with helping a loved one manage bipolar disorder, contact Family Guidance Center.