Bipolar Bad Days


Everybody has good days and bad days. You don’t have to have bipolar disorder to have a bad day. But when you’re dealing with bipolar disorder, the bad days can be really bad. And it can seem like you have more bad days than good days. But that isn’t true.

There are more good days than bad days, generally speaking. It’s just that the bad days are so bad that they overshadow the good days. At least it seems that way, doesn’t it? Sometimes it seems that all you do is go from episode to episode, with barely a break in between.

But that really isn’t true. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual on Mental Disorders (DSM-V) says that your loved one should only have about four major episodes in their whole lives.

But I know that, for you, there are many more bad bipolar days than just four. Your loved one doesn’t have to be in a full-blown episode for it to be a bad bipolar day. They may just be a bit “off.” Or just be down, or a little sad. Or in a bad mood. Or agitated. Or irritated. Or edgy. Or hyper.

They don’t have to be in an episode to feel those things. But feeling those things can make it a bad day for them (and for you).

So what can you do when you’re faced with a bad bipolar day? Sometimes, on days like that, when a person with bipolar disorder feels a bit down, they’ll just try to sleep it off. Then there’s nothing for you to do. Or if they feel hyper, they might throw that hyperactivity into doing something productive. Then there’s nothing for you to do, either.

However, if they are just sitting in those feelings, they may turn to you for help. One of the biggest things you can do is simply to listen. They may just want to talk about the way they are
feeling, or whatever is on their mind.

Try to be non-judgmental. Listen more than you speak. Don’t interrupt. Use phrases like, “Go on,” or “Tell me more.” Use your body language to indicate that you’re listening – nod your head, or lean into them, for example.

But what about when your loved one doesn’t seem to want your help? What if they are confrontational? What if they pick a fight with you, for example? Well, if they pick a fight with you, first of all, do NOT fight back! This will only escalate their bipolar behavior, and do
nothing to help end the fight. In fact, it will prolong the fight.

The best thing for you to do if your loved one doesn’t want your help is to leave them alone. Let them try to work it out for themselves. Watch them for signs and symptoms of an episode,
however, and if they get worse, get them professional help. Otherwise, just let them know that you are there if they need you.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. david i find your information so very helpful as a supporter of someone who has bipolar.(NOT THEY ARE BIPOLAR)
    how to listen and when to answer and the correct verbage.
    this diagnosis in new to us, we thougth we were dealing only with depression. bipolar is so different. now looking back it makes more sense, the diagnosis. it is not easy, but we hope it can get easier.
    she’s 26 and feels she has accomplished nothing. no job, no friends, hopefully that will change.
    thank you again, karen, her loving mom


  2. David, Thanks so much. love reading your email they really help me as being a supporter… you are so right about not fighting back. Just listen to them.. but sometimes it gets to me.. I’m having to raise our child (three years)and it is like having two childern. Sometimes I feel that I don’t have a husband..My husband has been on and off his meds for three years now. Just now starting to take them again after having a episode in Feb. I have learned alot from buying your books. Reading them still because I’m still learning about this illness. It has helped me on how to help my husband and not to just give up on him. Thanks

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