My goddaughter is at that age where “Let’s Pretend” is almost better than real life. So, even though it’s winter outdoors…An indoor picnic is just the thing for a cold, windy day! Of course, it must come with everything from real peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to potato chips to chocolate chip cookies for dessert, with lemonade to quench our thirst! The only thing that definitely does NOT come with our indoor picnic is ANTS! LOL Of course, coping and dealing with a loved one with bipolar disorder “ain’t no picnic,” as the saying goes, and I certainly understand that, from dealing with my mom. You have to deal with the daily ups and downs of the disorder, and that is really NOT easy. In fact, it can be downright discouraging sometimes.
I’m sure when your loved one was first diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the doctor was going over some of the things to expect, he/she didn’t tell you everything. They sure couldn’t tell you everything in the short time they have to be with you (your loved one). They just really go over the basics. Plus, everyone is different. And bipolar disorder can manifest differently in different people, too. So I’m sure your loved one’s doctor probably also stuck to just general information because they didn’t want to give you wrong information for your loved one. But by doing that, I’m sure they left you with some questions that went unanswered. I mean, even if they had answered every one of your questions at the time, I’m sure there have been circumstances and issues that have arisen since your loved one’s diagnosis that were not anticipated in the beginning. There are some things that you can only find out by going through them, unfortunately. For example: Everyone who has bipolar disorder has triggers. But everyone’s triggers are different. So even if your loved one’s doctor had talked about what triggers a bipolar episode…You wouldn’t necessarily know what triggers your loved one’s episodes until you go through them. That’s why it’s important to do what I call a PEA, or Post Episode Analysis, after the episode. That’s where you and your loved one sit down together and analyze the episode, going over things like what led up to the episode (including triggers), and how they could
be prevented in the future (or at least spotted quicker to prevent a major episode). These are just some things that you learn with experience as you go along with bipolar disorder.
So how do you deal with the daily ups and downs and discouragement of having a loved one with bipolar disorder? Well, what I just talked about will help. In other words…TIME is a big factor. Experience as you go will help you to get along better, as you become more learned about your loved one’s disorder. The more experience you have, the better you will be able to cope with it (and them). Another thing that will help is your attitude. Learn to just make it through the bad times with a “This Too Shall Pass” (it always has before) attitude, and to appreciate the good times for as long as they last, and to get the most out of them. But you also need to stay realistic, and remember that, although you can appreciate the good times, they won’t
last. And always separate your loved one from their disorder, remembering that it’s NOT their fault that they do some of the things that they do. That will also help you get through the daily ups and downs and discouragement. As one supporter puts it: “I hate when my wife acts bipolar, but I always remember that eventually she will get back to herself, so I just wait it out.”
Well, I have to go!