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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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How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

Sight – Visual Stimulation

The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

1. Maximize your exposure to light.

Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

3. Take note of your environment.

Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

4. Engage in conversation.

Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

5. Listen to upbeat music.

Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

6. Work your nose.

Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

7. Have a good breakfast.

Start off with the most important meal of the day.

Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

8. Drink lots of water.

Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

Touch – Tactile Stimulation

Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

10. Splash cold water on your face.

Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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11. Use acupressure.

Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

12. Get moving.

Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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