"Acting as if…" may be one of the most powerful tools you can have as a supporter.  It is a concept that can help you not only cope and deal with your loved one and their bipolar disorder, but your own life as well.

 

"Acting as if…" changes things.  Oh, it's not a cure for bipolar disorder, but it can change the way you approach the disorder.

 

The concept is something of a placeholder, in this case.  You would "act as if" your loved one is stable up until the point that they are.

 

Now, please note:  I am NOT saying to ignore signs and symptoms of an oncoming bipolar episode.  You still need to be wary of these and to take action as soon as possible, before the episode becomes full-blown.

 

"Acting as if…" can change the way you think and feel about things.  If you have been worried about a problem and it is causing you stress and anxiety, just "act as if" it is already solved.  Think about what it would be like to have that problem gone.  It will change the way you feel.

 

You will still need to be realistic, though.  "Acting as if…" does not take the place of effective problem-solving.  In other words, you could "act as if" your problem were solved all you want, but unless you eventually do something to solve it, it will remain a problem – but at least you will have a more positive attitude when you go to solve it.

 

This concept is not about being unrealistic.  It's about changing your present situation and making a decision that you're going to act as if things are ok anyway.

 

Like I said, it may not solve your problem or situation, but it will change your attitude toward that problem or situation.

 

Julie Fast, in her book "Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder," describes it this way:

 

"When you walk down the street, smile.  When you see friends and family, act as though you are the strong person you want to be.  Be honest with your feelings and feel your pain, but if it's appropriate, act as though you will be okay.  Because you will be okay in the future.  Why not just act like it now?"

 

You can teach this concept to your loved one, and it can really help them (if they let it).

 

For example, as Fast puts it, "Acting as if things are better than they are means that your partner accepts the truth that the illness makes them feel a certain way, but they have decided to act as though they are well in spite of the disorder."

 

"Acting as if…" can change your situation just by changing your thoughts, feelings and attitudes.