Bipolar Disorder? Fixing What Is Wrong


How’s it going for you today?

I hope you’re having a good day.

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.

In my courses/systems, I talk about separating your loved one from their bipolar disorder.







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.

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.

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.

What do you think?

Can you separate your loved one from their bipolar disorder?

Can you treat them with dignity and respect in spite of the disorder?

  1. David,

    Quis me of your list. Ik discoverd I dont have dipolar disorder.

    Thank you for your mails.

    Kind regards.

    elly teunissen

  2. Bonjour,
    How do I help and birng my husband (of 5 years now) in our normal world when he does not want to take any kind of medicine ?
    Number one feature in bipolar : denial.
    My solution : I am very kind to him but found a balance by not living with him 24/7. Reason : I strengthen my resources when away from him and am able to carry him better when I come back, until his negative overwhelming energy takes over then I leave.
    The only problem with that cycle : he has plenty of time to nurture his bipolarity and nothing reminds him of the “normality” out there when I am not around.
    My love for him is inconditional as a child, not as a husband (he calls me Mommy !!) any more. For that I am very sad.
    What am I suppose to do ?
    I control whatever I can and leave the rest to the faith.
    Fondest regards to all supporters and patients out there.

  3. Very good information and helped me a lot. I am guilty of doing this and did not realize it. You have given me a lot of good advice in taking care of my brother. Thank you.

  4. This advice is very informative – and comforting. I look forward to the messages every day, and I actually find them useful in other areas of my life, as well. We are, in fact – all of us – more than our circumstances, and this applies to mental illness, as well. So once again, thank you!

  5. David,
    thank you for your continued support. I am in a loving, yet difficult relationship with my partner who is suffering from Bipolar II. He has not yet been diagnosed, and his medication is cannabis. Recently i wasnt sure if it was actually medicinal or recreational, and i had asked him to stop. He has stopped and while I noticed small withdrawl symptoms, i feel that after last night’s episode he really needs to be on some sort of medication.

    Because ofthe fact that he is not officially diagnosed, I feel it is difficult to have such conversations of the burden, yes burden, I feel supporting him and his erratic moods. His moods directly spill out onto me as we live together, and I am very mild in manner and stable. I love him, but as we were talking, and As i told him it is unfair for him to cast unwarranted blame on me for his moods, he said maybe he deserves to be alone and got depressed. I often feel as though i do not deserve this treatment when i am trying my hardest to be supportive. Even wtih basic needs he doesnt eat when he doesnt feel well (which is most of the time) and loses weight to the point where coworkers will all comment on how thin he looks furthering his depressed mood. He claims, He cant handle those kinds of comments.

    I appreciate that a supporter needs to be kind and understanding and supportive – but when he doesnt eat (especially because ive asked him to withhold from using cannabis) i feel as though I am a nurse and sometimes feel as though i am coddling him. We are not yet married and i have deep concerns about a possible future together.

    I am very concerned, very confused. I found myself saying yesterday (after 3 years of being in this loving struggle together) that maybe he is not the one for me.

  6. The wisest thing my therapist ever said to me was – “You are ‘normal,’ except when you’re in an episode.” This did WONDERS for my self-confidence and self-esteem, s I saw myself as “a bipolar.” Though I still look “over my shoulder” expecting an episode to occur, I pretty much put that on the “back burner” lately.

    Another way of looking at the Supporter’s role with their bipolar loved one is to utilize the “Golden Rule.” Your loved one IS struggling, but to be watched like a hawk for signs of an impending episode, does neither one of you any good. Just treat them as “normal,” unless they exhibit unusual signs of being “not-normal.” By that time, you should have plans in place for handling an episode.

    I’ve had severe vertigo since June 25, and have FINALLY found a doctor who CARES. She does NOT treat me like a “mental patient;” she is clueless as to what IS wrong that is causing the dizziness; but she is taking great pains to refer me to professioals who DO know what to do. For that – I am grateful. She said it could be a series of mini-strokes, or cervical vertigo, or any one of a number of things. She calls me a “challenge,” and one that she is perfectly prepared to take on. Praise the Lord I’ve FINALLY been put on the road to recovery, and a life that is not “spinning.”

    BIG HUGS to all bipolar survivors and those who love us. May God bless you real good. I pray for my country.

  7. Good posting.
    Why is it in my 9 years I have had only drug treatment, no proper psychiatry?
    Taught no coping skills…

  8. David, please take time to read our story
    In 1984 our father’s mother passed away. That same week he went on a buying spree, purchasing property, a small retail store, a custom van etc. He accumulated a lot of debt then contemplated selling the family business, went to an attorney to see about filing for bankruptcy. In spring of 1985 he had a nervous breakdown was in the hospital, came home with nerve medicine. Money at the business was limited, we worked our way out of the debt (our mother and sons). In 1999 the business got back on it’s feet again, money started to come again which started to fuel dad’s spending. In 2003, we started to see strange things such as, going without sleep, a lot of energy, moody, and could never reason with him etc. The summer of 2003 he bought a property and was doing crazy things, at that point we knew we needed help so we called mental health because he went into a rage, mental health with the police convinced him to go with them to the hospital. Someone had to sign him in so my oldest brother signed him in. He has had anger toward my brother since. When he came home from the hospital he told my mother, “when you see me getting this way again, get me some help, how will I ever be able to face my neighbors”. At that time he was dianosed with bipolar disorder, he was treated up until 2007 when he went off his meds in the spring of 2007. In August, he left his family and business. We seen the signs in May of 2007 but failed to do anything because we didn’t know what to do. Our father is very prideful, says he is not bipolar. He has distant himself from the family and made statements that he will bust everything that no one will have anything-meaning business and family. It has now become a legal issue because of the business. Legally it is a uphill battle due to the privacy act and Pa’s Mental Health Laws. His attorney is trying to make the case out that his son’s are trying to take everything from him ignoring the illness. Dad’s symtoms are: withdrawing from family, tell’s other business people not to tell my wife or sons what I am doing, rapid spending, business ventures, alot of anger toward the sons, he is on a high all the time never seems to have a low. The doctor says he is an unusual case. In the mist of all this our mother has passed away Jan of 2009 of a brain tumor. His emotions are crying to laughing within seconds. But hasn’t seemed to mourn her death. We need to seek ways to get him help and also legal help.

    Please share with us some of your thoughts.

    Warren Dixon

  9. I fnd that sometimes my other half blames my condition, when he really shouldnt it gets me so frusyrated,i feel,when i express my feelings about something or someone (ITS MY BIPOLAR AGAIN)he sometimes accuses me of doing his head in. therefore i strongly feel that my feelings arent important or dont count! It makes life really hard most of the time.

  10. I found this post to be SO helpful! After I went through the first episode with my husband, I was constantly scrutinizing him, like he was under a microscope. I was so fearful that he had “changed” as a result of the episode, that he was going to be manic again. He has been extremely stable now for over a year. It definitely helps when I am not constantly scrutinizing him; it helps both him and me! Thank you so much for this reminder of treating him as a normal person; not just focusing on the bipolar disorder.


  11. In praise of those with Bipolar:
    The one thing that sticks in my head is what Rachel said to me one day as she was getting stable”You now what mum, I wouldn’t wish this terrible disorder on anyone even my worst enemy”.
    And it occurred to me that she has to live with her BP every day every hour and she has to be aware of her mental condition every day in every way, and she has to take her meds and see her physcotherapist and her doctor and she has to have the right amount of sleep and she has to exercise all this to keep stable : now
    I don’t have to do any of those things if I don’t want too, I don’t have to worry about adverse affects of a stressful situation, I don’t have to worry about what might happen if I don’t get enough sleep. I wont get psychotic if I don’t do any of the above- because I won’t become mentally unwell- Rachel on the other hand most certainly will. and when I think this way I begin to have the utmost respect for all those who have a mental illness , specifically those who have
    Bipolar and I am in awe of those ( with BP) who have won their latest battle with BP and maintain their stability with a staunchness and courage – because they know the odds –
    I can only guess.
    Thank you Dave for making me ever aware of the bravery of all those who have Bipolar and all those who have reached stability through their tenacity.

  12. Maybe Troy you were not able to accept anything else?
    The two work together symbiotically.
    This is a difficult subject – not fixing. It is the one thing extended family and children want of a spouse who has a bipolar condition – to FIX it. I have had this screamed at me for many years now. I always remind them there is treatment but not a fix! But it goes along with the ridiculous notion that there is a cure. Fix and cure mean the same things to some people.

  13. Thanks Suzanne.
    XYZ I have only ever seen psychiatrists, they push only drugs.
    Soon due to my CTO (Community Treatmenr Order)I will have a case manager (who has been in 3 times himself) & a psychologist on top of the PUSHER.

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