If a parent is a good parent, they will raise their children to believe that they can do anything that they set their minds to do…That if they want to be a doctor, they can do that…That if they want to be a lawyer, they can do that…That if they want to help people, they can do that…And that if they want to work with their hands, they can pick a profession (like auto mechanic) where they can do that. In other words, they see their child and that child’s particular gifts and talents, and they try to steer them in a direction that will use those gifts and talents, while all the time telling them that they can be anything and do anything that they want to. In psychology, that’s called positive reinforcement. Which is a good thing for a parent to do.
That’s a good thing for a bipolar supporter to do as well. You should be supportive to your
loved one and not let their bipolar disorder hold them back. But it shouldn’t hold you back, either. You should still be able to do anything you want to do, too. For example, if you still want to work a full-time job, you should be able to do that without worrying about what your loved one will do without having you around. If you do, that’s called codependency. If they get in trouble without you around, maybe they’re too dependent on you to keep them out of trouble, and that isn’t a healthy thing. You should be able to trust them to be ok when you’re not around, at least as much as to be able to work. However, I know one woman who tried to work, but her husband would call her 10 and 12 times a day at work, until she was let go from that job because they said they couldn’t tolerate it.
Your loved one needs to have something to do while you work so that they don’t do things like
that. They need to be productive in their own right so that they aren’t so dependent on you. They need to have their own strong support network, and their own social network as well,
some friends who they can hang out with and do things with, or like at a day center. They could even have their own job – either part-time, or even a volunteer position, just something that gets them out of the house – or even a home business might work for them.
You should also be able to have your own friends and family that you can see when you want.
It is healthy for you to have a social life outside of your loved one so that their bipolar disorder
doesn’t overwhelm you. Go to lunch with a friend every once in a while – it will do you good.
For your own mental and emotional well-being, you should be able to go out and do things on
your own. You shouldn’t feel trapped by your loved one. And you shouldn’t feel guilty at leaving them alone at home, or fear for what might happen.
They should be learning how to manage their own disorder, and to be independent to some degree. They shouldn’t need you to such a degree that you can’t do what you want to do, or it isn’t healthy. If you feel as if your loved one and/or their bipolar disorder is holding you back, then you need to talk to them about it. Or maybe even talk to their therapist about it, if you
feel that you need to. You need to be able to do the things you need and want to do. You need to have some freedom from both your loved one and their bipolar disorder. Otherwise, if you’re not careful, you may suffer from supporter burnout.
Well, I have to go!