How are things going for you today?
I hope you’re having a good day.
I saw a post on my blog from Mona that I wanted to
share with you because I think it’s really important.
“I have a question, Dave, if that’s alright. BTW, I do
agree with you on the ‘baby steps’ concept. My
question is this: Can you tell me what kind of responses
might come from a person with bipolar if they are trying
to repair a relationship (from a bad episode) and the person
does not want to have anything to do with them (because
of what happened)? Could that trigger a suicidal response?
(Or some sort of retaliation?) And if so, how can a
support person help their bipolar loved one get through
such harsh reality, or how can they help prevent such a
Well, first of all, like I always say, I’m not a doctor,
therapist, or any other kind of medical or mental
health professional, so I can’t give that kind of advice.
I can only give my opinion, based on my experience.
But I will tell you, this is not the first email I’ve gotten
And Mona does bring up quite a few points.
Many times, a person with bipolar disorder will do
things during a bipolar episode (especially during
a manic episode) that has consequences to it.
And sometimes these consequences are bad ones, and
it’s hard for their supporter to handle them, or even
to forgive them for what they did during the episode.
There may have been risky sexual behavior, or even
Sometimes it could even involve a pregnancy.
There may have been excessive spending, or poor
business decisions, that may have affected (or even
drained) the family’s finances.
Some people have even gone bankrupt because of the
person’s manic episode.
There may have been other things that happened as well
that hurt the relationship.
The supporter may have some negative feelings, like
hurt, anger, resentment, etc.
Then these things might cause some real damage to the
Even though the one with bipolar disorder wants to repair
the relationship after they come out of the episode, the
supporter might be reluctant to accept these attempts.
Communication breakdown is very common in these
That’s why communication is one of the things that I
stress in my courses/systems, because that is really
important in the relationship.
SUPPORTING AN ADULT WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER?
SUPPORTING A CHILD/TEEN WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER?
HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER?
But if the supporter is no longer even willing to
communicate with their loved one with bipolar,
then it may cause their loved one to get worse,
and they (the loved one) might go into a depression.
One of the symptoms of a depressive episode is
If this happens, it may not be your fault.
After a manic episode, many people with bipolar
disorder will “crash” into a bipolar depressive
episode and have these kinds of thoughts anyway,
because their thinking is distorted.
If this happens, they may have these suicidal
It’s part of the depression, part of their bipolar
You can’t prevent them going into the depression,
if it’s part of the crash from their manic episode to
a depressive episode.
The only thing you can do to help them at this point
is to notice the signs of suicide, and to try to get them
the help that they need.
At this point, if you want to help them, you will need
to put your own feelings of hurt, anger, resentment, and
If they are starting to talk about suicide, you MUST
take them seriously, whether they really intend to go
through with it or not.
Try to talk to them about it. Or at least try to get them
to share their thoughts and feelings.
This is where the communication I was talking about
earlier comes in.
Try to convince them that they need help.
If possible, try to get them to at least call the suicide
hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE.
Try to get them to call their doctor, psychiatrist, and/or
therapist for help.
The point is, as Mona pointed out, this is a harsh reality
that must be dealt with if your loved one’s reaction is one
of threatening suicide.
Please, take ALL threats of suicide seriously!
FIND OUT WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT ME
Well, I have to go!
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