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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 July 10, 2020

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

Boundaries are limits

—they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

1. Self-Awareness Comes First

Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

  • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
  • When do you feel disrespected?
  • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
  • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
  • When do you want to be alone?
  • How much space do you need?

You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

2. Clear Communication Is Essential

Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

Sample language:

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  • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
  • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
  • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
  • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
  • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
  • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
  • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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Final Thoughts

Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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