Although some family members and close friends who care for a person with bipolar disorder report experiencing positive aspects to their caregiving role, it can be very stressful. If the person is frequently ill, you might find that all your energy goes into helping them. Neglecting your own health and wellbeing can affect your emotional and physical health. Poor health can make it more difficult for bipolar caregivers to provide support and deal with bipolar.
Below are some suggestions for taking care of yourself while caring for the person with bipolar:
As a caregiver you may be at increased risk of becoming depressed and having other health problems. To pick up your own signs of caregiver stress or caregiver depression and take timely action to restore your wellbeing see:
Organize demands and take steps to sort out problems
Finding ways to organize demands and systematically deal with problems can reduce stress. Taking even short breaks from caregiving can be revitalizing. The following links have tips about getting organized and dealing with problems:
Develop a support system
Dealing with bipolar in the family or a bipolar relationship can be challenging. Caregivers who feel supported are less distressed and have fewer health problems. It can help to learn about local and online resources to support you and the person.
Develop realistic expectations and healthy boundaries
Some caregivers develop realistic expectations of what they can do to help that make caregiving more mangaeable. A healthy perspective is easier to maintain if you set boundaries, keep up some of your own interests and social contacts and take breaks from caregiving. Click on the following for more information:
Dealing with a bipolar relationship?
You may need to distinguish when it is the bipolar talking and adjust the way you communicate when the person with bipolar has mania or bipolar depression.
Communication and relationship difficulties have many causes. Bipolar disorder can put extra strain on your relationship with the person. Coping with bipolar in the family can also put stress on family relationships. This can be upsetting for you, the person you care for and the family. Your relationship with the person may be different to what it was before. For some suggestions about ways to maintain your relationship and deal with communication problems see:
Allow time to adjust
Close family commonly experience a range of reactions when coping with bipolar in the family. Similarly, partners and close friends may find it hard to adjust to the changes in the person with bipolar. Acknowledging your natural reactions can make it a bit easier to stand back and choose how to deal with the situation. For more information see:
Take care in difficult circumstances
Situations differ but if you experience any of the following challenges click on: dealing with caregiving challenges
- If the person is ill a lot of the time
- Reducing stress in a bipolar crisis
- Risky or inappropriate bipolar behavior
- Conflict between you and the person
- If the person is ill, irritable and very critical of you.
- If the person is physically aggressive
- Negative consequences of risky bipolar behavior.
What about the positives?
Some bipolar family members and close friends find it helpful to keep the positive aspects of the person and their caregiving situation in mind.