You know I attend several bipolar supporter support groups, right? Well, at one certain group there is this one woman who sort of stands out because she always participates – she always has something to share, and she always attends the meetings.
Well, for awhile there, I noticed that she wasn’t at the meetings. I didn’t say anything about it for some time, I just sort of kept it to myself, but I wondered about it. Then after some time when I noticed that this woman didn’t come back, I asked someone about it, if they knew what happened to her, about why she had stopped coming to the meetings.
The person told me, (because they were close to her, they knew) that she had tried to be the perfect supporter, and one day she just sort of broke, and ended up in the hospital with a sort of nervous breakdown, that all the stress had gotten to her.
Wow. I was pretty shook up by this. It was hard for me to believe about this woman, because she always seemed to be so together to me, you know? She was the last person I would think would succumb to the stress and have a nervous breakdown (that was what this person called it).
I just assumed, like everyone else, that she could handle everything. It made me think that I better write to you and warn you: Don’t try to be the perfect supporter. No one can be, no matter how much they try.
Just be the best supporter you can be, and that’s all – that’s all that you should expect from yourself. If your loved one expects more from you than that, then you need to have a talk with them. No one should expect more from you than you expect from yourself. And, in the same vein, you shouldn’t expect more from yourself than anyone else expects from you, either.
Stop trying to be the perfect supporter. No one is perfect. If you’re trying your best, well, that’s all anyone expects from you. If you’re overextending yourself and doing for your loved one things that they can do for themselves, that isn’t healthy. In fact, that’s called being codependent, something you shouldn’t be doing. Your loved one should be becoming as independent as they can be with their bipolar disorder.
They can appreciate you as their supporter, but they should not be depending on you to do things
for them that they can do for themselves.
For example: There is a difference between reminding your loved one to take their medication and standing over them every day making sure that they take it. You should be a helper, not a codependent. In the case of codependency, you are doing too much, and the result will be that you will stress yourself out. Be careful of supporter burnout.
Be sure that, although you are supporting a loved one with bipolar disorder, that you are also taking care of yourself, and that you are taking care of yourself first. If you don’t take care of yourself first, how are you going to have the energy or wherewithal to take care of your loved one?
You need to make sure that you are balanced: Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.
Take care of yourself, so that you don’t end up like the woman in my support group!
Are you experiencing supporter burnout? Think about ways that you can take care of yourself first.
Well, I have to go!