There’s an age old question that people ask: Why do bad things happen to good people? And that can definitely apply to people who have bipolar disorder and the supporters trying to help them.
I mean…Things could be going along just fine…In fact, things could be going along fine for a long time, maybe even years…And BOOM! The next thing you know, your loved one is in another bipolar episode. And you’re left asking, “Why?”
But here’s the thing: It’s unproductive to try to find a “why” behind why bad things happen. The “why” question generally lends itself to finding fault, someone to blame. Then you might want to blame your loved one for bringing the episode upon themselves. Like, maybe they’re not trying hard enough to get better. Maybe if they did this…Or maybe if they did that…Then they wouldn’t have gone into this episode.
Or you blame yourself. Maybe you’re not a good enough supporter to your loved one. Maybe if you’d tried this…Or maybe if you’d tried that… Then they wouldn’t have gone into this episode.
But guilt never helped a supporter help their loved one come out of a bipolar episode. Guilt is not a positive feeling and, in fact, is a very negative feeling, but is one that is very common among supporters of a loved one with bipolar disorder.
Like the “why” question, guilt is not very productive. It won’t help you to help your loved one at all. And it can make things worse, especially for you. It can lead to a lot of stress for you. So you need to address any guilt you may be feeling. The fact is…You are NOT responsible in ANY way for your loved one’s bipolar episode. Remember that they have a chemical imbalance in
their brain. Sometimes the chemicals just misfire, leading to an episode. It’s not because of anything you did or didn’t do. It’s not because of you AT ALL. So stop feeling that way.
And if you are blaming your loved one in any way, stop that too. It’s not their fault either.
What you should be doing instead is thinking about how to cope with the episode. You may feel angry at first. If you do, be sure that your anger is directed at the real cause (bipolar disorder) and not at your loved one. Anger, like guilt, is not going to be very productive in helping your loved one get through their episode, so you need to work through your anger as quickly as you can.
While your loved one is in their episode and you’re waiting for the medication or other treatment to work, try to keep your thoughts positive by remembering that they are not always this way.
Remember what they’re like when they’re NOT in an episode. One supporter does this by looking at photographs. Another one does it by looking through a scrapbook. Still another one watches videos. And one supporter has letters from their wife that she wrote when she was stable.
Do whatever you have to do to get you through the episode and be a good supporter to your loved one. Remember that it isn’t always like this. The bad times always pass.
Well, I have to go!