Summary: People with bipolar disorder need help and support from others. You need to recognize this and be proactive in getting them treated. However, you must also help the person take charge of their life.

Denying that a person does not have bipolar disorder is the greatest mistake which supporters make. This causes you to miss all symptoms or signs of the person having the bipolar episode. It is also essential that firstly you recognize all these symptoms or signs of an attack. Hence, you can recognize where the person is headed to. That needs knowledge on your part. Recognizing them can be a somewhat hard, and needs more efforts from your end as it is sometimes tough to make the distinction between the disorder from which a person may be suffering. However, being in denial also does not help.

How to Support People with Bipolar Disorder?

You must never takes things said by a person having bipolar disorder personally. They do not or say things during an episode to hurt others. They will not do it intentionally. They may otherwise not even recollect what they have said. However, the chances are that they will not even recollect an episode afterwards. Hence, if you take all this personally, it will leave you with very hard feelings, whereas they will not even know all that they have said. Since this person does not have any control about all that they do or say, you must have control over your emotions if you wish to help them.

You must be not be reactive and try to be proactive. These differ in terms of taking action. People who are reactive do not take good control of themselves in particular or their lives. They keep on spending time reacting to circumstances, events or situations surrounding them in place of creating or shaping them. This is something that a proactive individual will do. You must be a proactive person if you intend to support a person with bipolar disorder. You must not keep on brooding about things. Being proactive may mean a great difference for this person whether they suffer from episodes or not.

If you do not take proper care of your health, how can you take proper care of the person with bipolar disorder? Yet this is a common mistake which many supporters do. They put lot of energy and time into the person and their disorder. There is no time left for themselves. This is a recipe for burnout. You should safeguard your health first. Meet your necessities first. You must ensure that you get enough sleep, eat right, exercise, etc. Additionally, ensure that you schedule time for relaxing, and also for some activities or off-time as well away from the person with bipolar disorder.

Don’t let the person with bipolar disorder behave in an unacceptable manner. This is inclusive of abusive acts – such as emotional abuse like yelling at you or physical abuse like actually trying to hurt you. If a person has this disorder, it must not imply that they have the license to behave the way they want. You must not take any unacceptable behavior. Speak to the person between episodes regarding their behaviors. Set limits. Set standards. Set boundaries. Make them realize you will not put up with their unacceptable behavior. Let them know that you will never let them cross certain limits, or else you will take action.

A supporter sometimes becomes so engrossed with the bipolar disorder; it is like they almost "catch" the disorder, like the common cold. They get drawn into it and bipolar disorder appears to dominate their lives. The thin line separating them or the person becomes blurred. This is known as co-dependency. You must be careful about this. You must teach the person to accept responsibility for all their acts, just like you shoulder responsibility for your acts. You must learn to stop aiding them to do things which they may do very well on their own. Draw a distinct line from where your life is yours and separate from the person with bipolar disorder.