Having Trouble Dealing with a Bipolar Family Member?

How to Deal With a Bipolar Family Member

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Dealing with a bipolar family member takes patience, education, and compassion. In finding these qualities in yourself you will often find it has a dramatic effect on the person who is bipolar and the quality of your relationship.

Steps

Dealing with a bipolar family member takes patience, education, and compassion. In finding these qualities in yourself you will often find it has a dramatic effect on the person who is bipolar and the quality of your relationship.
  1. Understand that bipolar disorder is disease of the brain. This means it is not the fault of your family member anymore that it would be if they had cancer. Starting from this point may help you to be more compassionate.
  2. Learn to view the behaviors of your family member in the context of the illness. For example, If a bipolar person become angry or defensive, it is often a symptom of their illness. This requires patience and compassion.
  3. Understand that the illness causes a sense of internal chaos for your family member which can result in all kinds of defensive, controlling, and disruptive behaviors. Allow yourself to imagine what it would be like to wake up unaware if that day you would be plummeted into depression or elevated into a frenzied state of energy. Attempt to empathize with that.
  4. Be aware of your own behaviors and your underlying feelings toward your family member. If you are anxious or angry about that person or their behavior, that will be transmitted to them. People who have bipolar disorder may perceive anxiety and anger as threats, thus making them defensive.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of mania and depression. For example, a person who is chattering on about themselves selfishly or bragging is normally recognized as arrogant or self centered. This behavior in a person with bipolar disorder is a sign of mania, as are many irresponsible and risky behaviors that may be equally unappealing to you. Recognizing that this is a symptom of the illness, and not a bad behavior may help you to be more compassionate.
  6. If possible, participate in your family member’s treatment. Family therapy and support is integral to the quality of life of a person with bipolar disorder.

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