Bipolar: Be Careful of Doing This in Your Life


I want to warn you today about something important. It’s something that I see too many supporters do. They are still making bipolar disorder the main focus of their life. At first, when your loved one was initially diagnosed and you were learning all you could about bipolar disorder, it was your main focus, and that was ok. But it still shouldn’t be the main focus of your life now. The main focus of both of your lives should now be stability, or the management of your loved one’s bipolar disorder.

You have to understand and realize that bipolar disorder is a lifelong illness and you and your loved one will be dealing with it for the rest of your lives. Still, it shouldn’t be your main focus.

Even though there is no cure for it, bipolar disorder can still be treated with medication and therapy. There are other things you can do to help your loved one to maintain their stability as well. Things that will keep the focus off their bipolar disorder. Concentrate on your relationship, for one thing. Remember that bipolar disorder is not what defines your loved one. You are with them for other reasons (and you know what those reasons are). Your loved one is a person with a unique personality, has interests and goals, and is capable of living a stable, healthy life.

Surround yours and your loved one’s life with all that life has to offer, not bipolar disorder.

Many times, I talk about how important a good relationship is to bipolar stability. Concentrate on that relationship, and make it the best that you can. Remember what brought you together in the first place. Don’t make the mistake of making bipolar disorder the only focus of your lives.

There is so much more to it than that.

You should share some common interests. Enjoy doing the same things. I know a couple who when they were dating, used to go to their favorite restaurant and eat strawberry shortcake and drink coffee and talk for hours. Despite the bipolar disorder, they still do it! What was your favorite thing to do when you were first dating? Do it again! Spend time with your children.

Or even grandchildren, if you have them. Don’t forget extended family, either. Family is important to your loved one’s stability. A social life is important, too. This is so they don’t isolate, because isolation is a trigger to a bipolar episode. And it, too, keeps the focus off the bipolar disorder. And keep fun in your lives! Try to think of some fun things to do. Another couple I know enjoys playing board games, so they do that. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or extravagant. The important thing is that you don’t make bipolar disorder the focus of your lives. Try to think of some things that will help you keep the focus off bipolar disorder in your life.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,




Bipolar: Pride Goes Before a Fall


Have you ever had to deal with someone who had a lot of pride? Maybe someone who could never believe they were wrong or even to admit they made a mistake? That’s pride. And pride can alienate a lot of people. People who are prideful are not the easiest people in the world to get along with. I’ve seen this in the support groups I go to. It’s sad, really…I hear a supporter complaining about their loved one, but not be willing to do anything to help them – it would mean swallowing their pride. So it’s as if they feel somehow “better than” their loved one because they don’t have bipolar disorder.

Then there are other supporters who, just because their loved one might be doing better than yours at the time, act like they have an attitude that their loved one is better than yours. That’s really bad, because you shouldn’t have to feel that way. In fact, they shouldn’t act that way, because the Bible says that pride goes before a fall. And they might find themselves in your shoes. Then when their loved one starts not doing as well, they don’t know what to do.

Swallowing your pride means asking for help when you need it.

Prideful people think they can do it all themselves, then are stuck when they find out that they can’t do it all themselves after all. If you are having trouble with your loved one, don’t be ashamed to ask for help. You can even contact their doctor, psychiatrist, and/or therapist and tell them how your loved one is acting and that you need help dealing with it. There is no shame in asking for help with your loved one. In fact, there can be even more problems if you don’t.

You can easily suffer supporter burn-out if you don’t ask for help when you need it with your loved one. You can get totally stressed out trying to do everything alone. You might even get depressed. You might feel alone or lonely. You might get frustrated. You might feel disappointment. You might even get angry, resentful, or any number of negative emotions… All because of pride. All because of not asking for help when you need it.

Maybe all you need is a break. Ask someone else in your loved one’s support system to watch them while you do something on your own. It just might be the very thing you need to break the cycle of depression or frustration. Don’t be too proud to ask. That’s what those people are there for – that’s why they’ve agreed to be part of your loved one’s support system. You have to be willing to let others help you. You can’t expect yourself to handle everything all by yourself all the time. Don’t ever let pride stand in your way. If you do, little things will become big things.

Small issues will become large issues. And things that you otherwise might have been able to handle, you won’t be able to handle after all.

Pride is a very negative influence on you and the choices you make.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


David Oliver

Current Bipolar News



What’s new? Hope you are doing well.

To read this week’s news visit:

Doerzman: Removing stigma of ‘mental illness’
DO> Do you agree with this man’s opinion?

Highland Park resident heals by writing about bipolar disorder
DO> This woman’s story will move you.

Online bipolar disorder screening tool shown to improve lives
DO> Aren’t you excited about this new screening tool?

Expert shares first-hand account of mental illness
DO> This man’s story will impress you.

Genetic link between depression and panic
DO> An important link to discover, don’t you think?

Myths About Bipolar Disorder – Bipolar Disorder –
DO> You’ll find the comments to this post interesting as well.

Is It Bipolar Disorder or Schizophrenia? – Bipolar Disorder –
DO> Do you feel the way this woman does, and does the information help?

One third of people with bipolar disorder unable to work – report –
DO> You’ll find the results of this survey very interesting.

Bipolar 21-year-old died from drug combination
DO> You may find this man’s story very disturbing.

Former Johnson City administrator’s case to go back to court
DO> Do you concur with the court’s rulings?

Across the divide
DO> This man has a very strong opinion, don’t you agree?

Mum’s heartbreak as son takes his own life after 12-year bipolar ordeal
DO> This young man’s story was tragic, don’t you think?

Concern over anti-psychotic drug given to soldiers
DO> Don’t you think this is frightening?

Weatherman candid about mental illness
DO> You’ll find this man’s story inspirational.

For these stories and more, please visit:

Check out all my resources, programs and information for all aspects of bipolar disorder by visiting:

Your Friend,



Bipolar and the Installment Plan


Have you noticed how many Rent-to-Own places there are these days? It seems like there’s practically one on every corner! Ok, here’s how it works. It’s sort of like layaway, except that it ends up that you pay a whole lot more money! Say you want a big screen TV. Well, who can afford one right now? Times are really tough financially for everyone right now. So they offer you one at a really good deal. They offer you one at a really good price. No money down, even!

And they let you pay it in INSTALLMENTS. So it sounds like a good deal, because you don’t have to pay for the TV all at once, which you can’t afford to do. So you agree on how much you’re going to pay each week (or sometimes each month in some places), and you pay for the TV on the installment plan.

Well, there’s a bipolar installment plan, too. Where your loved one doesn’t get to have stability right up front. Just like you don’t have all the cash up front to buy that big screen TV all at one time, your loved one doesn’t have the resources to get stable all at one time, either. So they reach stability in installments. The first installment they make is that they listen to their doctor and psychiatrist and do what they say to do, which is to go on medication. The next installment they make is that they take that medication, faithfully, every day, every time they’re supposed to take it.

The next installment is to get a therapist, and to see them regularly. The next installments are that they get the right amount of good sleep, exercise, and eat a healthy diet. The next installment is that they take care of themselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

The other installments have to be made, but not necessarily in any particular order. These could be:

• Build a strong support system

• Help your support system help you

• Join a church (or other spiritual place)

• Go to a bipolar support group

• Be productive

• Start a hobby

• Communicate with your supporter

• Don’t neglect your supporter

• Help your supporter help you

• Watch out for triggers

• Watch for signs and symptoms

• Stay close to family

• Stay in touch with extended family

• Have friends and a social life

• (maybe) work a part-time job

• (maybe) start a home business

• Volunteer

• Help others

• Do things you enjoy

• Keep stress to a minimum

• Don’t forget to relax

• Be independent (as much as you can)

• Keep learning about bipolar disorder

• Educate others about bipolar

• Self-manage your disorder

• Etc.

There are several other ways to make “installments” toward management of their bipolar disorder. Any installment they make toward their bipolar disorder will lead toward greater stability. And the more stable they are, the less episodes they will have, and the more time they will have to spend having a good, productive, successful, happy life.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,




Current Bipolar News



What’s new? Hope you are doing well.

To read this week’s news visit:

Google search trends suggest mental woes vary by seasons
DO> Interesting study, don’t you agree?

Mental illness laws block parents: Column
DO> Do you agree with this woman’s opinion?

Genetic fatalism in mental disorders
DO> Some interesting information, don’t you think?

Do drugs for bipolar disorder “normalize” brain gene function? UM study …
DO> Very important study, don’t you agree?

Bipolar disorder emerges in college students
DO> Good to know if you have a college-aged loved one.

Finally debt-free, she’s buying
DO> You’ll find this woman’s story moving.

Prisoners at high risk of mental illness in Italy
DO> Some frightening statistics, don’t you agree?

How to Approach Senior Care When a Loved One Has Mental Illness
DO> Important information for you to know if you love a senior.

For these stories and more, please visit:

Check out all my resources, programs and information for all aspects of bipolar disorder by visiting:

Your Friend,



Bipolar: Expect the Unexpected


I was looking at greeting cards the other day, and I came across this one that made me laugh out loud: On the cover it says, “Open this card to find your birthday money.” And then on the back it says, “Gotcha!” Because…You can’t open the card! I thought it was so funny. But it reminded me of the saying, “Expect the unexpected.” See, like with the card, the way it gets you is that

you ASSUME something (that turns out not to be true). Well, we do that in life, too. And when it comes to bipolar disorder, it can be dangerous for your loved one.

For example, if you ASSUME that they are stable, so they will never have another bipolar episode…That episode can come unexpectedly and you won’t be prepared for it. First of all, no matter how long your loved one has had bipolar disorder, you still need to update your knowledge of the disorder. That’s one of the biggest reasons why I post the Bipolar News on my website, and why I stress the importance of information when I talk to people.

There is always new information coming out on bipolar disorder. You can’t afford to fall behind.

So you need to stay informed. That’s one thing you can do. Another thing you can do as far as expecting the unexpected is to have a plan in case your loved one DOES go into an episode. This plan should be something you develop together, when they are NOT in an episode. You might want to come up with a code word that they can say to you at those times when they are “feeling bipolar.” Then you can determine how you will respond to it.

Here is one couple’s plan: Their key word is “decompensating.” If she uses this word, telling him that she feels like she is decompensating, he knows to put their plan into effect. The first thing he does is determine how serious the situation is. He asks her if she’s feeling suicidal. If she is, (especially if she has a plan for it, how she is going to do it), he calls her psychiatrist right away,

and they decide whether to put her in the hospital because she is a threat to herself. If he believes it’s a real threat, like if she’s got a plan and intends to carry it out, he may take her directly to the Emergency Room (for her own safety). If she is not suicidal, he tries to determine if she is in a full blown bipolar episode, or just on the way to one. He can determine this by talking with her and finding out how rational she is. If she is in a full blown episode, he goes ahead and calls the psychiatrist and the doctor either adjusts her medication, or her husband takes her to the Emergency Room.

Sometimes, if your loved one is only on the way to an episode but not in one right now, or at least not a full blown episode, they can be controlled by a temporary increase in the dose of their medication, and you may not necessarily have to take them to the hospital at that time.

This is the plan that this couple has developed, and you can copy it and/or make one of your own. But you still have to expect the unexpected. In other words, you may think that your loved one is stable and perfectly fine, but then they may say their key word to you, and you will have to put your plan into action. The point is to have a plan you have worked out in advance, so you know what to do.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,




Bipolar: Want You to Be Encouraged


You know I do a lot of reading about bipolar disorder, right? I read everything I can get my hands on, all the time. Because in order to keep you well-informed, I have to stay well-informed.

And also because I am still a supporter of a loved one with bipolar disorder myself. And there is always new stuff coming out all the time. Well, I read something in a brochure from the National Mental Health Association (NMHA) called “Making the Journey to Recovery,” and I thought it was really interesting. So I wanted to share it with you.

This excerpt from the brochure said:

“All of us are unique. What works for one person may not work for another. But one thing is true for everyone: The more you know about your illness and treatment choices, the more ready you’ll be to make the decisions that are right for you. You can control your illness and your life. With the help of friends, family, health professionals, and support groups, you can recover.”


I really liked what that brochure said, because too many times the information you read is negative. It can even discourage you. But this was very encouraging, I thought. I’m always talking about recovery from bipolar disorder, that it is possible, and how to get there. I try to give people hope, and direction. That’s what I think this brochure did, too.

It raised some good points. It’s especially important to remember that what works for one person may not work for another. Because you may hear things like at a support group meeting, that you might want to take home with you, and that wouldn’t be the right thing to do. For example…Just because some person says that this one medication is great and did wonders for their loved one, doesn’t mean that it would work for your loved one. Like the brochure says, everyone is unique.

You also can’t compare yourself to another supporter, because each of you are different as well.

Don’t try to be like someone else. Just keep doing what works for your loved one and you.

I also like what the brochure said about the thing that is the same for everyone. That the more you know about your illness and treatment choices, the more ready you’ll be to make the decisions that are right for you. Notice it says, “…right for YOU.” Because, remember again that everyone is different.

And you know I’m always stressing education. That’s because I don’t think you could ever know everything about bipolar disorder. There is new information coming out all the time. And there are decisions you and your loved one both have to make in controlling and managing their bipolar disorder. The more informed you are, like the brochure said, the better off you will be to make those decisions.

The best part of the brochure to me, though, is that it tells you that you CAN control your illness and your life. Because that’s one of the main things I’m always saying about bipolar disorder –

that it can be controlled. And that it doesn’t have to take over your life. And, like the brochure ends: “…you can recover.” I really like that part, because it reinforces what I tell you as well:

That recovery from bipolar disorder IS possible!

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,




Current Bipolar News



What’s new? Hope you are doing well.

To read this week’s news visit:

Scans reveal key difference in mental disorders
DO> Critical information discovered here, don’t you agree?

Telling her story — Stigma of mental illness comes out of the darkness
DO> This woman’s story about her sister will move you.

Mental Illness linked to heavy cannabis use
DO> Do you think this is anything new?

Stereotypes soil reality of mental illness
DO> Do you agree with her opinion?

‘There is hope for a good life’
DO> You will be touched by this man’s story.

Show explores living with bipolar disorder
DO> These women’s stories will interest you.

Frederico Gil diagnosed with bipolar disorder
DO> Do you agree that he has bipolar?

Suit against UnitedHealth tests mental health coverage rules
DO> Don’t you think what they did was unfair?

Google searches about mental illness higher in winter than summer: Study
DO> Some interesting information you’ll want to know.

Foster Kids’ Long Wait for Mental Health Care
DO> You’ll find these kids’ stories very moving.

DSM-5 and Bipolar Disorder: The Asheville Jung Center Explores One of …
DO> You may find this new perspective refreshing.

For these stories and more, please visit:

Check out all my resources, programs and information for all aspects of bipolar disorder by visiting:

Your Friend,



Bipolar: Getting Back on the Horse


Have you ever heard the expression “getting back on the horse”? People use it when talking about having failed at something and then trying it again. Sometimes, if you’ve messed up, it’s hard to get back to where you were. But sometimes it’s CRUCIAL that your loved one “gets back on the horse” when it comes to things that they mess up with their bipolar disorder.

Take, for example, their medication. It’s easy to forget to take it. If they do, that’s ok. They can just take the next dose when it’s time. But too many people will just stop taking it altogether, and that’s a HUGE mistake! Because that is almost a SURE way to go into a bipolar episode! And also because when they’re ready to go back on their medication, it’s like starting at square one again. Bipolar medication takes time to build up in the bloodstream, so if they’ve been off it for awhile, they have to start at a low dose again and build back up to the level where they were before they stopped taking it. Some people mess up seeing their doctor, psychiatrist, and/or therapist. They miss one appointment, then it gets easier to miss another, then another…Then they stop going altogether. And that is NOT the right thing to do. If your loved one misses an appointment, they have to “get back on the horse” and go to the next one.

There are so many parts that can be messed up in a treatment plan, but I’m not going to go into all the parts of a treatment plan here. But I do want to talk to you about what happens when you do start to mess up parts of your treatment plan. Let’s say your loved one has started isolating again. Isolation is one of the symptoms of bipolar disorder, and one of the top triggers to a bipolar episode. But if your loved one lets this slip, and they start to isolate again, then they are in a dangerous place, and could be jeopardizing their stability. Now they have two choices: They can either close down, shut out the world, get all depressed, climb into bed, pull the covers over their head, feel sorry for themselves, cry, and go into a bipolar depressive episode…OR… they can “get back on the horse” again. Another example is if they start to slip with their sleep patterns. Lack of sleep (or too much sleep) is another trigger to a bipolar episode. But they can fix it if they catch it soon enough. In other words, they can accept that even though they let a PART of their treatment plan get messed up, their WHOLE treatment plan is still working, and they can still fix it. First they need to identify what went wrong. Then they can fix it (“Get back on the horse.”)

It doesn’t have to be anything really dramatic, but even small parts of their treatment plan, if they get messed up, can cause them to go into an episode. For example…They could let their diet slip.

This could cause them to gain an excessive amount of weight. This could cause their self-esteem to go into the pits. Which could make them get depressed. Which could cause them to go into a bipolar depressive episode. Even if it does cause them to go into an episode, though, they can still recover from that episode and…That’s right – “get back on the horse” again. Start back doing the things they were doing before they went into that episode.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,




Bipolar: Can This Be Fixed?


You know, we go along our lives expecting things to go right, don’t we? We hope for the best.

There’s an expression that says, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Makes sense, doesn’t it? But what about when something does go wrong? Like if you feel sick. You can’t just ignore that. So you go to the doctor to “get fixed.” Well, some supporters think that if their loved one could just “get fixed,” life would be much easier. And it might be. But you can’t fix your loved one. They aren’t broken! They are just a person who has a mental illness. So, call it a “broken brain,” if you want.

They are still not broken as a person.

It’s important that you don’t try to fix your loved one. It’s important that you see them as a person first, and a person with bipolar disorder second. They have the same needs as you do. Like kindness, understanding, and support. That’s how you can be a good supporter – by exhibiting these things toward your loved one. What if someone treated you like you were sick all the time?

You wouldn’t like that very much, would you? Well, neither does your loved one. I think they would rather be treated with respect and dignity. They struggle with their disorder all the time. But if you concentrate on that struggle all the time, too, you may just make things worse.

What if your loved one has a bad day? Just a bad day. It happens to people who don’t have bipolar disorder too. But if you are concentrating on their disorder instead of them, you might jump to conclusions and assume that they’re going into a bipolar episode. Or if they seem to have more energy than usual one day, or be in an “extra” happy mood. If you’re concentrating on their disorder instead of them, you might jump to conclusions and assume that they’re going into a manic episode.

The emphasis needs to be on your loved one and not their disorder. Your loved one doesn’t need to “be fixed.” They just need you to be a good supporter while they are on their way to stability with their bipolar disorder. The best way you can do that is by treating them as you would any other person. Or how you yourself would like to be treated in the same situation. You should know your loved one’s signs and symptoms of a bipolar episode by now. As long as they are not exhibiting them, just treat them like normal. This will encourage them to continue striving for stability. Yes…It’s true that with bipolar disorder does come the inevitable bipolar episodes. And your loved one will probably relapse at times…Probably when you least expect it. But you can appreciate them for their normal periods, and enjoy them when you can.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,