How to Cope When a Loved One Suffers from Bipolar

I have been sitting on my laptop, staring at my screen for the past hour trying to think of a way to introduce this blog, but I’m struggling. How do I introduce something that makes me so vulnerable and shares one of the most difficult events in my life? I don’t think there is an easy way to introduce this topic and that’s why I am sharing my story, to reduce the stigma and the shame that surrounds mental health. If my vulnerability helps one person feel less alone when the world seems to be against them, it’s worth it.

Last year I faced a challenge that changed my life, a close family member got sectioned for 3 months due to a psychotic mental breakdown. After 3 months, in 3 different psychiatric hospitals, she was diagnosed with bipolar.

This close family member was my mother. I always knew something wasn’t right, she often had erratic and unpredictable behaviour but refused to get help. She stopped paying interest in my school work, was unable to get out of bed, and refused to go into shops. Yet, some days she would decorate the whole house and spend money that we simply didn’t have.

My friends would often say how happy my mother appeared to be, but as soon as they had gone, things were a completely different story. Living with a family member with a mental illness feels extremely lonely and scary, how is it fair that everyone else seems to be so normal and happy?

So how do you cope when a loved one suffers from bipolar?

  1. Make yourself your number one priority. It’s not easy to prioritise your own mental health when someone you love is struggling, but you have to. If you aren’t coping yourself, how do you expect to be able to help the person you care about?
  2. The most important thing you have to do is talk and be open with how you feel. Talk to a family member, a friend, a counselor, or even your neighbour’s cat if it will listen to you for longer than 5 minutes. It’s so incredibly important that you don’t bottle up your feelings or ignore them. Suppressing negative emotions will come back and make your life a lot harder in the end.
  3. When they say something horrible, or act out of character, try not to take it to heart. When someone’s brain is constantly fighting against them, it can be unbearable and frightening for them. When my mother was struggling, she often said vulgar, horrible remarks which she simply didn’t remember when she got better. It’s essential to remember, it’s the illness talking, not the person.
  4. Surround yourself with positive people. The world can be horrible at times but it is important to have a glass half full approach to life. Positivity and optimism always win. However, remember it is okay not to be okay. Allow yourself to feel every emotion, it’s okay to feel scared and helpless, just don’t stay there.

Remember every person’s mental health battle is different. As a society let’s be more understanding, open-minded, and realise that mental health isn’t an excuse, it’s real.

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind” – Jennifer Dukes Lee

Carrianne Dukes is a Digital Marketing Executive at eComOne and SEO Traffic Lab. 

After studying Marketing Management at The University of Lincoln, Carrianne found her passion in content writing, social media marketing and events. 

She has a strong love for Alpacas and Orangutans! She enjoys socialising with her partner, sister and friends.