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Bipolar Disorder: Three Ways to Have a Healthy Relationship

Bipolar Disorder: Three Ways to Have a Healthy Relationship

It is said, “Some days I can conquer the world, other days it takes me three hours to convince myself to bathe.” Bipolar disorder, formerly known as “manic depression”, affects more than three million people in the US, and millions more who are close to the patient.

While forcing a person to act a certain way is not a bright idea, there are steps you can take to improve communication and maintain a healthy relationship. Trust me, I know the ins and outs of bipolar disorder. I was diagnosed with this crippling mental illness around the same time I decided to dedicate the rest of my life to the field of clinical psychology.

Below I compiled three ways that can help stabilize your relationship with someone you love who’s suffering from bipolar disorder.

1. KNOW THE SIGNS

Recognizing the symptoms of bipolar disorder can be a bit tricky. Individuals suffering from this illness have what’s called “mania”, a euphoric mood, and depression, a sad and sometimes suicidal mood.

During episodes of mania one may exhibit rapid speech, a sudden burst of high self-esteem, and uncontrollable excitement. When the anchor drops, a depressive episode may include symptoms such as loss of motivation to complete basic everyday tasks- for example taking a bath or getting dressed. Other hallmark symptoms of a depressive episode include changes in appetite, sleep, energy level, thought patterns, and concentration. It’s crucial to learn and remember these signs, as it will be easier to understand your loved one’s thinking and behavioral patterns.

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2. ENCOURAGEMENT

Is someone close to you feeling down and refusing to go out into public? If so, remember this: never force someone to do anything they are not ready for. However, do encourage them to go out for a walk with you, etc.  Again, never force them, as that is the therapist’s job.

If your loved one is taking psychopharmaceutical drugs, make sure you encourage him/her to take the medication every single day as instructed by the psychiatrist because a missed dose can drastically impact the road to recovery.

Saying the wrong thing can shake up your relationship, so below are words of encouragement with strong potential to help ease depressive symptoms.

1. “I love you!”

2. “I care about you.”

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3. “Do you want a hug?”

4. “You are not in this alone.”

5. “I’m not going to abandon you.”

6. “We’ll ride through this. We’re in this together.”

7. “When this is all over, I will still be here with you.”

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8. “All I want to do now is give you a hug and a shoulder to cry on.”

9. “Hey, you’re not crazy!”

10. “I understand what you’re going through and I’m here for you.”

11. “Don’t worry, I will take care of you.”

12. “You mean a lot to me.”

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13. “If you need someone to talk to, I’m here.”

14. “After rain comes the sunshine.”

15. “No matter how many times you fall on your face, you are still moving forward.”

3. COMPANIONSHIP

Finally, be there for them no matter what. Whether they’re feeling irritable or crying, recognize that they are suffering. Also, prevent them from isolating themselves. Include them in as many social events as possible. Even a simple walk in the park would work. Spend time with them- anything to make them feel upbeat- because at the end of the day, everyone with bipolar disorder just wants to feel accepted. When speaking to them, especially during a depressive mood swing, keep in mind that their self-esteem is usually extremely low and any rough criticism or comments can hurt them badly.

In September 2016, researchers at the University of California San Diego found that loneliness associated with depressive episodes is in our DNA, thus changing the way science perceives depression.

Featured photo credit: UMH via umh.org

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Jose Florez

Mental Health Writer

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Last Updated on May 15, 2019

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

How to Tap Into the Power of Positivity

As it appears, the human mind is not capable of not thinking, at least on the subconscious level. Our mind is always occupied by thoughts, whether we want to or not, and they influence our every action.

“Happiness cannot come from without, it comes from within.” – Helen Keller

When we are still children, our thoughts seem to be purely positive. Have you ever been around a 4-year old who doesn’t like a painting he or she drew? I haven’t. Instead, I see glee, exciting and pride in children’s eyes. But as the years go by, we clutter our mind with doubts, fears and self-deprecating thoughts.

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Just imagine then how much we limit ourselves in every aspect of our lives if we give negative thoughts too much power! We’ll never go after that job we’ve always wanted because our nay-saying thoughts make us doubt our abilities. We’ll never ask that person we like out on a date because we always think we’re not good enough.

We’ll never risk quitting our job in order to pursue the life and the work of our dreams because we can’t get over our mental barrier that insists we’re too weak, too unimportant and too dumb. We’ll never lose those pounds that risk our health because we believe we’re not capable of pushing our limits. We’ll never be able to fully see our inner potential because we simply don’t dare to question the voices in our head.

But enough is enough! It’s time to stop these limiting beliefs and come to a place of sanity, love and excitement about life, work and ourselves.

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So…how exactly are we to achieve that?

It’s not as hard as it may seem; you just have to practice, practice, practice. Here are a few ideas on how you can get started.

1. Learn to substitute every negative thought with a positive one.

Every time a negative thought crawls into your mind, replace it with a positive thought. It’s just like someone writes a phrase you don’t like on a blackboard and then you get up, erase it and write something much more to your liking.

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2. See the positive side of every situation, even when you are surrounded by pure negativity.

This one is a bit harder to put into practice, which does not mean it’s impossible.

You can find positivity in everything by mentally holding on to something positive, whether this be family, friends, your faith, nature, someone’s sparkling eyes or whatever other glimmer of beauty. If you seek it, you will find it.

3. At least once a day, take a moment and think of 5 things you are grateful for.

This will lighten your mood and give you some perspective of what is really important in life and how many blessings surround you already.

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4. Change the mental images you allow to enter your mind.

How you see yourself and your surroundings make a huge difference to your thinking. It is like watching a DVD that saddens and frustrates you, completely pulling you down. Eject that old DVD, throw it away and insert a new, better, more hopeful one instead.

So, instead of dwelling on dark, negative thoughts, consciously build and focus on positive, light and colorful images, thoughts and situations in your mind a few times a day.

If you are persistent and keep on working on yourself, your mind will automatically reject its negative thoughts and welcome the positive ones.

And remember: You are (or will become) what you think you are. This is reason enough to be proactive about whatever is going on in your head.

Featured photo credit: Kyaw Tun via unsplash.com

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