Hitting Rock Bottom In Order to Climb Back Up
I have spoken to many people around the world about bipolar and the one thing that I find is that there are a percentage of people who have bipolar disorder who have to hit rock bottom before they will get serious about the disorder.
I have personally spoken to hundreds of people who have bipolar, many of whom told me really sad stories of years of neglect and ignoring their symptoms before serious problems made them take stock. They didn't take their medicine consistently for years and one day, their spouse left, took the kids; they went bankrupt, lost everything. It's very interesting to note this reoccurring theme in some of the most successful people I know who are bipolar.
I believe it's because losing everything or hitting rock bottom showed the individual about the consequences of not getting treatment. The pain and suffering becomes greater than the pleasure of not getting treatment and experiencing bipolar mania (bipolar mania is the high part of bipolar which many people report to me, it sometimes feels really great - almost like a high).
What is rock bottom? It's generally when a person loses everything and everybody they care about and has nothing. I have spoken to many people who are bipolar and hit rock bottom and they basically have told me that once they were stripped of everything it forced them to get serious about getting a proper diagnosis, seeing a doctor regularly, getting treatment and following through with treatment.
NOTE: I don't recommend letting someone bipolar suffer and lose everything if it can be avoided, and you should be aware that a percentage of people that commit suicide may have done so because they lost everything and saw no way to help themselves out of their situation other than suicide.
BUT, I will tell you this as well, if you are supporting someone for many months or years and in some people's cases, decades, and they will not see a doctor, get treatment or follow through with treatment, YOU can't do anything more for them. You can't keep paying their bills, fixing the problems they created, and doing all kinds of things to cover for them. There comes a point in time when a person has to take responsibility for themselves and there is only so much you can do.
If someone in you know suffers from bipolar disorder and is approaching that point where he or she is about to hit rock bottom, it is always tempting to help them out by "saving" them or "rescuing" them with financial help and helping out with any problems they get themselves into. Try to resist doing anything beyond the absolute minimum so that they do "hit bottom" enough to realize what they've lost and truly want to get help for themselves.
In other words, let them lose their job. Let them lose their house. Let their car get repossessed if that's what it takes. But agree to take them to the hospital if they ask. Offer your support when they are willing to take that first step. "Tough love" is a phrase that can be applied to those people who aren't willing to acknowledge they have bipolar until they have lost it all. When they admit they need help, step forward and embrace them.
David Oliver is the nation's leading experts on helping and supporting a loved one with bipolar disorder. You can get learn about many of David's little known, yet effective strategies to cope and deal with your loved one's bipolar by clicking here right now. View all articles by David Oliver