Having bipolar disorder can create havoc within relationships. Any mental illness has the potential to destroy families as well as friendships.
It is important to know how to manage bipolar disorder and still maintain strong relationships with the ones you love.
Here is a 3 step guide for those who have bipolar disorder, some other mental illness, or for people who have changed in some way and having difficulty with their relationships to create meaningful and respectable connections with family and friends.
- Do not expect them to understand what you are going through. I made this mistake when I was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder. I expected everyone around me to understand my changing mood swings and still be supportive even when I’d yelled or punched the wall. Well, the support and love I was expecting didn’t start off that way. Your family and friends cannot possibly relate to what you and I experience on a daily basis. Usually, this lack of connection to loved ones leads to frustration or even a deeper level of depression. I experienced both. It wasn’t until an insight came to me during a Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago. Everyone at the dinner knew I had a mental illness but chose not to focus on the fact that I had bipolar disorder. I was treated like an equal. Bottom line: Try allowing some flexibility in your relationships. You may be surprised by the results you receive!
- Understand your current limitations and let your loved ones know what they are. This step is probably the one of the hardest to accept. I fought “tooth and nail” against my new shortcomings and I only ended up exhausted and more depressed. Now is the time to step up and use your voice letting everyone know what you can and cannot handle. I’m not suggesting to make demands on them. However, I am saying that hopefully your family and friends will understand after you speak up. This may not make sense to them fully but at least they will know what your limits are!
- Accept and respect yourself regardless of how they respond to your changed condition. You may loose close friends or family members by having bipolar disorder. However, those that stick with you are the ones you want on your side anyway! I personally lost a few friendships but in this whole journey I’ve gained so much more. I have relationships now that are genuine, honest and loving. As far as I’m concerned, these three elements are the cornerstone which I start new adventures with people. Perhaps they are what most individuals ask for in a relationship? I think at the very least it’s what we should expect them for ourselves. Use these 3 steps to save crumbling relationships and turn them into meaningful, loving, and honest ones which support you and your circle of family and friends. You deserve it!