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15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Bipolar Disorder

15 Things To Remember If You Love A Person With Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder can be a challenge to navigate. The disorder is fundamentally characterized by dramatic mood swings and can lead to struggles in personal relationships. The National Institute of Health estimates that nearly 2.6 million Americans are currently effected by the disorder. This means that many loved ones are faced with the challenges involved in supporting individuals with this disorder. In order to provide the best support network possible, there are several things to keep in mind when working with an individual with bipolar disorder.

1. They experience emotions on extra loud when in a state of mania

Although we usually explain mood swings in terms of highs and lows, it is not the case that bipolar individuals feel all great happy things when in a state of mania. Instead, all the emotions one normally experiences are on a more intense setting. Everything comes through louder and it can be very difficult to navigate everyday life with such an intensity.

2. They have to navigate a lot of complex medications

Currently, medications for bipolar disorder do not effect everyone equally. As a result, each individual has to work through a complicated web of proper medications in order to find the best balance. This takes time and energy from the individual and can lead to higher levels of stress.

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3. They miss perceiving the world as they did prior to the disorder

Depression and mania can cause one’s perception of the world to change dramatically. This can be both exhausting and frustrating. When the medications start to balance out and things begin to stabilize, the individual may again see things through a more normal lens. This can be a great feeling, but it can also be frightening because its unclear if this will last.

4. They enjoy parts of mania, but ultimately feel exhausted by them

There are parts of mania which are exciting and fun. Colors are more vibrant and individuals often feel incredibly empowered; however, every episode of mania comes with a deep slide into depression. The obsession and highs of mania take incredible amounts of energy and ultimately wear the individual out.

5. They sometimes consider going off their medication

This is not true for all individuals with bipolar disorder, but when the medications begin to work and stabilize the everyday experiences of the individual, it can take some time to adjust. The life of an individual with bipolar disorder is filled with extremes. When medications begin to remove some of those extremes, it may feel somewhat boring. This sensation typically passes as the individual realizes this is a healthier way of life, but before that realization can come, he or she may be tempted to return to the extremes.

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6. They often struggle to be open about their disorder

Revealing one’s struggles with bipolar disorder can lead to feeling vulnerable. It takes a lot of guts to trust another individual with this information, even though he or she may really want to help their loved ones understand the explanation behind their sometimes unusual behavior.

7. They experience more than the normal ups and downs of life

Everyone feels highs and lows, but individuals with bipolar disorder are experiencing much more. It is important to respect this difference and not put unreasonable expectations on the individual as a result.

8. They are not alone in their struggles with mental health

Millions of Americans struggle with mental health issues. Although bipolar disorder has its own unique characteristics, many people are trying to navigate the complexities of mental health. That means those trying to support such individuals are also not alone. Seek support if you need it.

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9. They don’t necessarily want your sympathy

Of course we all need a bit of sympathy here and there, but you shouldn’t assume right off the bat that sympathy is required. It is best to listen and try to understand as much as you can. Avoid saying you understand more than you do, and be weary of giving out too much advice. Just be a friend that listens and you will be great.

10. They will never “cure” their disorder, but can learn to manage it

Bipolar disorder is with the individual for a lifetime. There is no medical solution to curing the condition. Through medication and often therapy the disorder can be managed so the individual may live a healthier life, but there currently is no “cure.”

11. They may or may not be more creative than the average person

There has been some research indicating a connection between bipolar disorder and creativity; however, creative abilities are not necessarily part of the package. For some, such as Stephen Fry and Demi Lovato, their disorder does seem to contribute to their creativity.

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12. They were not diagnosed via a specific test

Bipolar disorder is complex and currently there is no single test one can take to determine if he or she has the disorder. As a result, it often takes some time and careful analysis from a professional to receive the diagnosis. As a loved one, you are probably not in the best position to diagnose someone or seriously challenge the diagnosis, so take concerns directly to the doctors if necessary.

13. They want to know you love them, no matter what their current state

Whether its a moment of mania, or a time slice in the depths of depression, stability and love are critical. The world is an extreme place for someone with this disorder, and whatever pieces of stability they can latch onto are critical to their sense of well being. You can help by being consistent and finding ways to communicate your love to the individual.

14. They might need you to wait until they are ready

Sometimes the best you can do for someone with bipolar disorder is give them the time they need. Although your friend may want to come out with you or call you on the phone, sometimes they truly need some time to process through their current experience. Sometimes the gift of time is truly the greatest a friend can give.

15. They want to be treated like everybody else

Bipolar disorder comes with a lot of unusual experiences, but deep down each person longs to live a normal life. Its important that those supporting such individuals strive to provide the space needed for this individual’s health, but whenever possible, he or she should be treated like everybody else.

Featured photo credit: RondellMelling via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on May 21, 2019

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

Example 1

You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

Example 2

You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

Example 3

You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

Example 4

You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

  • Understand your own communication style
  • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
  • Communicate with precision and care
  • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

1. Understand Your Communication Style

To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

2. Learn Others Communication Styles

Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

“How do you prefer to receive information?”

This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

3. Exercise Precision and Care

A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

“Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

The Bottom Line

When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

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