If you’re a parent, you know that one of the values you try to teach your children is the value
of sharing. There’s no worse screech to a parent’s ears than to hear the cry of “Mine, mine, mine!” from their children’s voices across the room…To be followed by an inevitable fight that they then have to referee. So…Then must come the lecture about the value of sharing, mustn’t it?
Well…Sharing is an important value, I’m not going to dispute that. But when it comes to bipolar disorder…There are some things that it’s important for your loved one to have…And some things that it’s important for you to have of your own.
For example: It’s very important that you have your own support system. Your loved one does need a good, strong support system if they’re going to learn to manage their bipolar disorder and get better. But for some of the very same reasons that they need one…You need one as well. And for another very important reason as well: Without a good strong support system of your own…
You can very easily suffer from supporter burnout. You just can’t do it all yourself…As much as you might want to…As much as you might be tempted to…As much as you might think you can…As much as you might think you have no choice. You just can’t. You can’t afford to burn out. For your own sake as well as your loved one’s sake.
As a bipolar supporter, it’s just as important that you see to your own needs as much as you see to the needs of your loved one. And one of those needs MUST be the formation of your own support system.
So…Who should be in your support system? Well…It could be your loved one’s treatment team, for one thing. But mostly it should be made up of family and friends who care about you. People who can offer YOU support, as you offer your loved one support as part of their support system.
These people can also be members of your church or synagogue or other place of worship. They could also be members of your bipolar support group. They could even be some of your co-workers with whom you are close, or even your boss, if you are close to them and if they can offer you support. Anyone can be a member of your support system if you want them to be. As long as they can support you if/when you need them to.
But one thing to remember is this: You have to tell the members of your support system how to help you, or else they won’t know how. After all, they aren’t mind readers. They only know what you tell them. So you have to tell them what you need. For example: If you just need someone to talk to about what’s going on with your loved one…You can pick someone for that, and tell them that you just need someone to listen for awhile. Or you might just need a temporary break from
your loved one. So you might need someone from your support system to “spell” you for a little while so you can go somewhere and take a break from the situation. Or you may even need a temporary place to stay for a day or a few days.
But these are all things you need to ask for from the people in your support system. Because they are all people who care about you and want to support you, I’m sure they want to help you out, but you have to tell them specifically what you need.
Well, I have to go!