Bipolar Supporter? Make Sure You Do This


How’s it going?

Many people have been asking me if I still go to the gym. YES.

I just got back actually and I am running late and having to type this up really fast.

Actually I was REALLY tired this morning.

I have to go today twice, Tuesday twice, Wednesday three times and Thursday twice
and Friday once.

Then I am off Saturday and Sunday.

Anyway, let’s jump into today’s topic I thought of while I was doing cardio.

The other day I was in my accountant’s office and he was running late.

He called and told me he would be there, but not for awhile.

I said, “No problem.”

He said that he was really, really sorry.

I didn’t mind, because I was prepared with about 5 hours of work with me.

Whenever I leave my house, I assume traffic delays and other problems are always going to come up, so I ALWAYS have meals for the day AND plenty of work so I don’t have to waste any time.

The key thing is…

I prepare for potential problems ahead of time.

And this is what you have to do if you are a supporter of a loved one with bipolar disorder.

You have to BE PREPARED ahead of time, like I show you in my courses/systems below:




You have to think of things like this:

• Your loved one loses their medication
They may be able to go for a little while
without their medicine, but not for long
without going into a bipolar episode.
This could be very, very dangerous for
them as well, maybe even fatal. So you
need to prepare ahead of time. Talk to
their doctor in advance and find out what
to do in case this should happen. Find out
their doctor’s policy on this. Sometimes
he can write another prescription. Sometimes
he can give you samples to have on hand.

• Something happens to the doctor, psychiatrist
or therapist
Find out ahead of time what they do in
emergencies, when they are out of town or on
vacation, or if something else should happen
to them. What have they done in the past?
What is their normal policy? Will they still
be accessible to your loved one? Will they
have a fill-in doctor? Will your loved one
have to go to the Emergency Room? Will
they have to change doctors (or therapists)?

• Your loved one shows signs and symptoms
of an episode
Ask the doctor their procedure in this case.
You will probably need your loved one to
sign a Medical Release of Information form
in advance (when they are not in an episode)
to keep on file so that you can report these
symptoms directly to the doctor. He then
may be able to adjust your loved one’s
medications without having to see them or
without your loved one having to go to the
hospital. You may also be able to avoid a
full-blown episode.

• Your loved one goes into an episode
Know in advance what your loved one’s
triggers are. Know the signs and symptoms
of their episodes. If they are in an episode,
they need treatment. Call their doctor.
You will probably have to plan on taking
them to the hospital, but if you talk to the
doctor in advance, he can tell you the
correct procedure and what to expect.

• You are going on vacation
If you are going on vacation, you need
to make sure that your loved one has
enough medication not only for the time
you will be gone, but for a few days more,
just in case something should happen.
Assume that you will not be able to get
a prescription filled or refilled wherever
you go. You do not want your loved one
to be stuck without their medication.

• Your loved one will not be home when
it’s time to take their medication
It’s good to always plan for this eventuality
in any case, and carry an extra dose of
medication with you; however, if you
know you will be gone when it is time
to take the medication, make sure you
have it with you when it will be time.
This will take planning ahead of time
so that you don’t forget. In order to avoid
this, try making appointments at times
when medication will not be due.
As a supporter, you must always be prepared in advance to WAIT.

Just like I was talking about waiting in my accountant’s office, you will probably spend a great deal of your time just waiting as well.

When your loved one goes to their appointments, there may be some that you will not be able to go into, such as their therapy appointment.

It is best to plan for this in advance, and to bring something with you to do.

It is also best for you to plan for what might happen should your loved one have to go into the hospital.

I know this is not what you want to think about now, and your loved one may be stable right now, but you still need to be prepared.

You need to have a good grasp on your finances.

What if your loved one should go into a manic episode?

What if your loved one should be hospitalized for a longer period than expected?

These are things that you need to work out ahead of time.

You need to be prepared. ALWAYS.

Bipolar disorder is a very serious disease, and you need to think IN ADVANCE about what could go wrong and to prepare for it.

  1. I think it all depends on how bad the bipolar is. I know , for myself, I wasn’t even diagnosed for over 20 yrs.. It is important when they have it severe. I know what severe episodes look like as my mom had severe bipolar.

  2. HI THERE….
    Talking of tired I was tired this morning. Episodes I wouldnot have a clue if my other half was in one I never see him. And if we do see each other I am either blanked or a moan comes out of his mouth. Its a funny old world in it. If I told my other half to go an see a psychiatrist he
    would just look at me. I dont think he no,s what a full blown conversation is. Its like silence in court or having a good telling off the teacher. E never mind you gotter laugh aven ye.

    Take Care Linda .

  3. Like the Boy Scout motto: BE PREPARED. I think this applies to those of us WITH bipolar as well as our Supporters.

    Once, on a trip West, I forgot one of my meds. We went to a local pharmacy and worked with the pharmacist. Of course, he had to make a long distance call for the oral prescription, but it was filled by the end of the day.

    Even when I’m home, I don’t like to mess with my meds. I pick up my box on Wednesdays: that doesn’t mean Thursday morning or afternoon – that means either Tuesday (if the box is ready), or Wednesdsay before 3. I have “almost” missed getting my box because I was late, which scared me. I’m a firm believer in taking one’s meds!!

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

  4. Good solid advice, thank-you! My son hasn’t had an episode for over a year now and this was a good reminder that you still have to be prepared and have a plan for when/if he does.

  5. Hi

    You are right you do need to be prepared, but how do you prepare what to say to your loved one with bipolar? I treat my Mum like she is a spoilt chid when she is in an episode because that is how she behaves. As I am her daughter she obviously resents this.

    I have just become so fed up lately of how she wants to contol my life. She knows what it takes to upset me she just pushes all the buttons until she get a reaction. Usually it takes a lot to wear me down as I know its not really her. A the moment I’m worn right down as I can’t get a job. I can’t communicate with her and ask her to leave me alone or tell her how I feel. She twists everything I say and tries to get me to agrue with her. Once she breaks me I get so angry I can’t stop myself from giving her a reaction. I feel as if I hate the illness, but its part of her so does that mean I hate my Mum? How do you support someone you cannot communicate with? I would really appreciate your advice.

    Take care and Thank you,


  6. I have Bipolar and it worries me that Mr. Oliver seems to put so much of the responsibility on the supporter. I was taught to be responsible from an early age. I had other medical problems and from about 12 or 13 it was MY responsibility to take my medication and let my parents know when I need refills. This was easy to do because it was asthma meds and without them I couldn’t breathe. My mother, husband and I did sit down and come up with a backup plan – just in case. But it was joint effort. If the person with the medical issue (be it Bipolar, asthma or other issue needing meds to manage) does not take the responsibility to take meds THEMSELF then they will never be able to be stable and manage their life.

  7. My situation may be a little different. The bi-polar adult I am attempting to support is my boyfriend but we do not live together. I agree with being prepared for possible situations but given the fact that his last hypomanic eposide included infidelity, how is one ever to be prepared to deal with that?

  8. This is directed to Suzanne: I know you have been on here a long time and I need your advice. I also know you have been dealing with bipolar for some time. The lady I support is going through manic and depressive episides very quickly, there are no inbetween’s right now. She was stable for 3 solid months but is now going from very highs to very lows. I did take her to the Dr. and he tweeked the med’s. My concern is how to deal with this as a supporter. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. The last time this happened she went into an almosst comatose state, that was about a year ago. She is sleeping alot right now but also very active. Is this what is called rapid cycling? Thanks Suzanne. Jeannie

  9. To JEANNIE: Yes, it most CERTAINLY could be rapid cycling, if the woman you’re caring for exhibits “highs” nd “lows” all in the same day. OR – it could be “mixed episode, (which I’m going through right now). A mixed episode is one in which the emotions are labile (that is, close to the surface; “wearig one’s heart on their sleeve”), but don’t necessarily occur close together.

    As an example: When I walked into my NP’s office about a month ago, I was upbeat and cheery. Then I sat down, and immediately teared up, saying: “I’ve never been THIS poor.” My shrink noticed the relay of emotions, and tweaked my meds to help with stability. Although I’ve been taking the new meds for a month, I DO notice some benefits. I no longer go WAAAY high, nor are the lows that bad. I’m in what’s called, a “plateau,” where I just don’t feel strong emotions.

    I hope this has been helpful to you. I wish you luck in taking care of this woman; it sounds as if you DO care a LOT about her and her moods. Perhaps another visit to the DR would be called for. You are a VERY discerning woman, and I appreciate your question.

  10. Most of you who have posted replies better just be thankful you don’t live in the state of Kentucky. It made the news the other night, not about horse racing but it was reported to rank as the number one state out of the entire fifty which has the highest rate of depression in the nation. The medical profession here seems to allow its citizens who suffer with bipolar in particular to fall through the cracks in the system. If you try to change doctors because of their inability to treat their patients, it will take three months if you are lucky enought to find one at all. I have a niece presently in the Baptist East in Louisville Kentucky. who I am sure will end up as another statstic sucide on a medical form. I wish a national TV network would expose the truth about the lack of care and reveal the newer forms treatments now available in othe states. These poor patients are entitled.

  11. To Suzanne: Thanks so much for your quick reply. Is there something I can do as a supporter other than keeping her Dr. informed? I have been with her for a year and half and this is different than I have seen. It sounds like mixed but then again seems like rapid cycling. I appreciate your input. Thanks again Suzanne. God bless you. Jeannie

  12. To JEANNIE: Your concern for the woman you’re caring for is SUPERB! I wish I had a Supporter like you. All I can say is – to get along, go along. Eliminate ANY and ALL stressors that might agitate her. Keep her calm, and don’t argue. Outside of her harming herself, make sure her moods and emotions are “comfortable.” (A word used by psych techs on the ward to define how one is supposed to feel!).

    It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. At this point, just watch her, and if you feel she needs an intervention, then go for it!!

    Hope this has been helpful:)

  13. Anyone who does not educate themselves on this disorder doesn’t give a rats —-. Sad but true. No one has made a big fuss about it and until then, nothing is going to be done, period. If anyone, I would think the Doctor’s would bring great attention to this matter. It’s just not happening. As a supporter, I get as mad as hell at the lack of concern. Anyone who hasen’t been touched by a person with bipolar thinks it is just some phase, that the person can just snap out of it. Nonsense.

  14. To Suzanne: Thanks very much, very helpful. I have learned a great deal from you, by reading your post’s. It is so helpful to have advice when something I haven’t come across, pops up. I value your opinion’s. Thanks Suzanne. Jeannie

  15. Hi all, I am new at the bipolar stuff my husband was diagnosed in 2006 and has not been able to hold down a steady job. He has a wonderful Dr. and takes his meds but still has alot of mixed episodes. I was just wondering if most people with bp are on disability or just work when they are able. He is 52 and up until 2004 had the same job for 25 years that he just up and quit. Of course we have no money and working just seems to cause him so much stress. Should we be applying for SSDI or are we just wasting our time. I really would like to get some opinions on this subject. Thank you in advance for your input.

  16. To BETTY: WELCOME to Dave Oliver’s blog! Sorry to hear about your husband’s diagnosis, but it IS possible to be stable with bipolar disorder.

    It is never too early to apply for Social Security Disabililty. I have been on it since I was 43 (1991), and it IS a help when there is NO money from other sources. Although I’ve been told I CANNOT work by my therapist, I do simple mystery shops, answer surveys on the Internet, and an occasional job as a freelance writer. I don’t know if there is any amount of outside money you CAN’T earn on Disability, but that would take some investigation.

    I must warn you that you will spend approxiomatley ONE whole YEAR applying for disability. You will get turned down, then you have to appeal THREE times. It is wise to get a lawyer familiar with disability. They are paid OVER AND ABOVE what you get from Social Security.

    Good luck to you and your husband. There ARE ways to live ‘normally” with bipolar. I had my last hospitalization for mania in – 1977!! After that, I lost two husbands through death – and was treated out-patient during those times. Just make SURE he takes his medications, sees his doctor regularly, and has some sort of “talk therapy.” By following a simple treatment plan, you CAN “survive!” My thoughts ad prayers are with you. God bless.

  17. Due to familial circumstance/genetics, I have probably had “Bi-Polar Disorder” all of my life, but wasn’t diagnosed until about the age of 24 and I’ve been episode free and medication free for just about 6 years now. Also to note: I will have a nursing license by the end of 2009 and I’m totally Anti-Medication!! I agree with some of the information posted here, but I don’t agree with alot of it!! Medication is an answer for the “moment”. Have any of you actually thoroughly reaserched the proofs/known actions/mechanisms of these medications?? The information/”facts” about these meds were acquired over a long period of time and any honest professional will tell you that these facts are based on data that is extremely subjective. I have alot more to say about this and I will definitely do that in the very near future, as I’m considering a compilation of Bi-Polar facts myself. (Also to note: Both of my G-Mas had/have it, my father’s sister,and my paternal half sister was also diagnosed with Bi-Polar.)

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