Bipolar Supporter? Dealing with Your Own Anger Issues


Anger is a very negative emotion. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a natural reaction. In fact, it’s a very natural reaction when it comes to bipolar disorder. You’ve probably seen this in your loved one. They probably react in anger many times.

Sometimes it seems justifiable; however, sometimes it can seem out of proportion to the events that caused it – This can be due to the bipolar disorder itself. Pent-up rage can be their reaction to anger that they have kept inside.

Many supporters of a loved one with bipolar disorder report that their loved one goes into manic rages. They say that their loved one will sometimes pick a fight over nothing at all. This could be because they have been ‘stuffing’ their anger, until it gets to a boiling point and comes out as rage, usually directed at you.

But what about you? What about anger in the supporter of a loved one with bipolar disorder?

This is a subject not usually talked about, because usually the supporter feels guilty for feeling angry at their loved one – Like they’re not supposed to get angry. Or because they see the results of anger in their loved one, and they don’t want that to be them. That’s understandable.

I remember when my mom would get so angry at me that she would throw things at me. I sure didn’t want to get that angry. But she sure would make me mad sometimes, too. I would feel that anger, but then I would feel so helpless, not knowing what to do with those feelings.

I knew I couldn’t act like her – I couldn’t throw things back at her. I couldn’t yell back at her, because yelling back at her wouldn’t get me anywhere, and would just prolong the fight. Yelling back at my mom would just make her angrier, and she would yell even more. So I knew that wasn’t the solution.

Now, if you’re thinking that you never get angry at your loved one, consider this: Do you ever resent them? Do you ever think that it’s not fair? That you wish you could unleash your anger the way that they do? That it’s not fair that they get away with expressing their anger the way that they do, when you can’t? Because you are the ‘normal’ one, the responsible one, and you wouldn’t do what they do, would you? You might even feel a little jealous of them.

Well, if you resent your loved one, you might be surprised to know that resentment is actually repressed anger! So you are actually angry. You may not rage, or act out like your loved one does, but you still experience anger.

The thing is, if you keep ‘stuffing’ that anger, it will eventually come out, and you might find yourself raging too. Or at least yelling and screaming when you least expect it.

Now, we’ve already talked about how ineffective that is. So you have to find a better way to

handle your anger. Find someone you can talk to about it. Someone you can trust, like someone in your own support system – or another family member or friend, clergy person, coworker or boss, friend, someone in your support group, your therapist, etc.

If you don’t have anyone you can talk to about it, at least write it down in a journal or diary, but get those feelings of anger out, so they don’t come back at you.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. Anger…..what a double edged sword, especially when dealing with BP disease. Thru all the training in Nami and counseling, you’re told not to escalate, not to raise your voice, not to antagonize the person suffering from the disease, but you’re right….You internalize this so much, that you begin to wonder if you aren’t just as sick as the other person. It is especially hard when you are the only direct caretaker and you are dealing with this on a day to day basis. Unless you have someone else that is going thru the same thing…talking to anyone seems to fall on deaf ears….I’ve found myself getting in the car, turning the radio up real loud singing at the top of my lungs and sometimes screaming out loud to get out the aggressions.

  2. Hi Dave,
    Yes the anger that my husband takes out on me is really ridiculous at times. We have had an argument over me leaving earings on to many days. We got into a disagreement just recently when I questioned him as to why he did not put the water pitcher back in the refrigerator. As for support system I hate to say it but most people don’t want to hear this stuff. Not even our kids. I tell them but I often feel they don’t want to be burden by the knowledge of this. Things are getting better these days, not great but better so to all your readers I say hang in there. An make sure you do something in your life to give you joy so that your entire life is not just around your love ones problems.
    Have a good day, there are better ones coming on the horizon.

  3. I think it is ok to respond to this anger to some degree since you need to let your loved one know that they are having an episode. The constant badgering and “mountains out of molehills” tendency needs to be shut dowqn or else it becomes acceptable behavior and impacts both parties self esteem.
    Anger management is tough but I find that letting them know that they are not acting in a positive manner helps us both get thru the day.

  4. I have a daughter who is bi-polar and when she has a breakdown, it can either be major (if she doesn’t take her medication) or minor (if she does take her medicine — which she is now)but, she expressed that she is suicidal — having trouble with her ex fiance with whom she still lives – she’s unemployed…she uses me as her scape goat a LOT and she is very depressed right now. I am not “normal” either. I have anxiety and depression for which I take medication. It takes a lot to be together for any length of time… because, I have to be very patient… and sometimes I just don’t have the patience to deal with her insecurities, her telling me she was suicidal…she won’t go with me anywhere to have some fun, and stays in her apartment all day long. I took her to lunch today (drove 30+ miles to do that in my 6 cy car)… we made it back to her apartment, where we were going to watch a movie — the movie was greatly delayed: she had to smoke a cigarette, went over her email before and after the cigarrette. Then I looked up my email to see if I got some responses from yesterday…looking for a place to live (have a difficult roommate now and my place is no longer “mine” never was “mine” — I’m still trying to work that out with our landlord). But, I am really tired of these girls being — “It’s all about me” They act like my needs don’t matter at all: i.e. I don’t have feelings, I don’t have anything to do, or have any responsibilities. I really need to vent — but it will take too long to do all that I need to say right now… (aren’t you glad?) I really needed to “talk”! Thanks.


  5. Your messages always comfort me in my moments of sadness and confusion. Thank you very much. I feel so hopeless most of the time. My husband hasn’t recieved any treatment. We have been separated for about a year and a half after 20 years of marriage. He has gotten aggresive and even insinuated death towards me and my family. I need help desperatly.

  6. Today was one of”those days” where my daughter kept on twisting my words; belaboring subjects, full of blame to the point that I was sick and tired of repeating myself and trying to clarify our conversation. Yes, I am lost and angry also, angry with the psychiatrists that see her 20 minutes once in 2-3 months and proscribe meds that do not make a difference and her psycologist that says nothing, relates to none of her multiple problems and looks at her watch and says times up after 50 minutes 2x a month and never addresses all her multiple problems andon “public assistance ” this is all thats available—am I in dispair with the whole system ; it seems wasteful and non helpful.

  7. Thank you David for that wonderful website. My husband has had BP problem for the last 35 years. We have been married 47 years. You are asking about anger well to tell the thruth I am sitting on a ball of dynamite. This is how angry I am. I have no energy I had breast cancer so I had a mastectomy also blood pressure and diabetic. And I have a lump either in my stomack or my liver they took a biopsy, I should have the results the first week of August. And my husband beside being bipolar he also has prostate cancer with metasteses in the bones. We havent live together for the last 3 months because he is getting traitements for cancer and BP. He phones me some times and if I don’t agree with him over ridiculous things, then, he hangs up on me. I should see a psychologist beginning of August believe me she will get an ear full.My husband tried to commit suicide, he is very unhappy he tried to just from a 8 story building. But they caught him on time. Anyway this is it for tonight, but thank you for being there. I just love your website I feel like you are a friend to me. Thanks a lot
    I receive your e-mail everyday and I am always looking forward tt read it because i feel that you are the only one who uinderstand.
    Have a nice day.
    Francine God bless you for what you do.

  8. I love reading your posts for many times they seem to correlate with what I am going through being a supporter for my thirteen year old daughter who has been diagnosed with bipolar and ADHD. She was diagnosed at eight years old and was doing well on her meds until the past 5 months. Lately she has been angry most the time and at times she becomes verbally and physically abusive. I have stuffed my anger many times and have seen the negative outcome. It is reassuring to know many of my feelings are shared among you and others that post to this site.

  9. I often imagine having an outer body experience. What they are screaming about is not about me. After 25 years my husband stop taking his meds, his brothers advise that was for crazy people. We are now in a very messy divorce.
    My eight year old daughter is also bipolar and suffers from transitional anxiety disorder combined type. I receive lots of hits and death threats from her, from killing me and cutting me into little pieces to setting me on fire. We go to therapy once a week, and see the the Dr. once a month. By the end of the day I’m exhausted, and worried what the future holds for her. I show the bruises to her and try to reason, but when it’s not such a good day, she just screams and cries. I feel like a don’t have a life, at the end of the day I just pass out.

  10. Good subject. I get angry at the disease. At what it has done to the man I have known and loved for 19 years. His anger is so destructive that all we can do is protect ourselves and sometimes doing just this is a full time job! I firmly believe that a good psychologist that practices truth based therapy and fact checking with the family and a competent psychiatrist that actually wants to achieve harmony would make miracles happen, but when a person with bipolar does not believe they have an anger problem and does things that show he is addicted to anger, it does make the rest of the family angry at the illness. It is very difficult to watch someone that is so bad in episodes you can’t tell what are lies, delusions, confabulations, dementia, alcholic tendencies etc and be on the receiving end of every kind of abuse imaginable. It is not healthy for the BP person or for the family. But until the right medications and the right therapy takes place, there is no hope. Although we kept hope for a long time and tried again and again to give him the chances to “behave” he did not want it for himself and would prefer to keep spinning reality with new groups of people who will believe what he makes up. It is sad, it is so sad. Each day we pray many times that reality will show him the way to be remorseful and empathatic to what he has done to the rest of us, but it never comes to be, so unfortunately I have to say we have just given up hope. And it is the first time in all of these years. I think in our case a personality disorder is more to blame than the bipolar though. So yes, we get angry at the illness and we have tried to learn everything we can about it, but in the end did it matter, no, because he says he never loved us or cared about us in all these years anyway.

  11. The anger my partner expresses towards me is extreme. He has suffered many major injuries and is constant pain. This alone is a major challenge each day for him. On top of this he drinks daily and is a very negative angry person. He has mood swings that come from no where and has this cycle of self destruction that seems to never end whilst blaming the whole thing on me. He can’t handle any stress and if put under any lashes out at me. For many years I have defended, fought back and got angry. Now I feel numb. I can sit for hours listening to all the abuse thinking to myself why would you talk about things that are negative, show hatred towards your partner and wonder why your so angry.

    Its hard to keep your emotions in tact when they are saying cruel, heartless, disgusting remarks at you just trying to say anything to get a rise so they can issue a full blown attack with the gloves off.

    I get so emotionally worn down by this sometimes i feel like i can’t function.

    i try and stay strong hold my head up high and wonder why i stay in this nightmare. As time goes on the good times get less and less and the anger gets more and more.

    i hope things will get better but how and how long will it take and will it ever get better.

  12. Hey, I happen to be a woman with dreads (Mondays and Tuesdays). Braids (Wed-Fri) and Cooly (Saturday and Sundays)

    I dont feel like cutting my locks off. Lord knows I stumbled into a family that have treated me like “one of their own”. How lucky is that? Too good to be true!

    Only the good die young?

    I have yet to see this issue – Anger (Lucky I guess)

    the only thing I battle is my high school friends now all in 35 year olds asking – are you listening? are you watching? no pressure they are just annoyingly funny. Geesh!!!!!!

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