Dealing with Bipolar Frustration


When you’re a supporter to a loved one with bipolar disorder, there can be many feelings that you have to learn to cope and deal with. Along with positive feelings such as compassion and

understanding…Unfortunately, there are also negative feelings with which you also have to deal as well.

Some of these negative feelings can include:

• Resentment

• Fear

• Disillusionment

• Disappointment

• Despair

• Depression

• Loneliness

• Anger

• Helplessness

• Hopelessness

• Guilt

• Shame

…and frustration. Frustration is one of the top negative feelings that supporters of a loved one with bipolar disorder express to me. Here’s what some of them have told me:

“I love my wife. But I hate her bipolar disorder. It makes her do things she wouldn’t normally do. And it makes me do things I wouldn’t normally do, too. I hate the way I have to act just to try to control her. I hate the way I feel, too. I really resent her when she gets depressed and won’t even get out of bed. I know it’s just her bipolar acting up, but sometimes I still feel like she could get out of bed if she really wanted to, I can’t help it, so I say stuff to her.”

Another supporter says: “My boyfriend just withdraws from me when he gets depressed. He doesn’t want to go anywhere. He won’t do anything. Nothing I do is right in his eyes. He says he just wants to be left alone, but I don’t believe him. He says he doesn’t want to talk about it, but I still try to get him to talk anyway. Then I get mad at him when he won’t open up. It seems like I’m mad at him all the time these days.”

Another supporter says: “Bipolar disorder changed my daughter. She used to be real outgoing. Cheerleader, head of her class, good student, active in church, lots of friends, everything. Then she started having all these mood swings. She even started drinking and doing drugs. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. Then she tried to kill herself. I hated that it took that to really make me listen. Now I’m scared all the time – I don’t know what to do to help her.”

Still another supporters says: “My wife has so many mood swings, and I just don’t know

what to do any more. I’ve tried to be a good supporter, I really have. But it just seems like I can never do the right thing. Everything I try just doesn’t seem to work. I just can’t keep up with her. I am so frustrated!”

I’ve asked some supporters what they do to deal with their frustration. Here’s what they said:

“I just take a time out. Really. I literally walk out the door and go for a walk around the block.”

“I go for a long drive. A real long drive. I don’t go anywhere specific, just drive aimlessly, as long as it’s really long. Anywhere just to get out of the house for awhile.”

“I go talk to a friend. It’s like literally crying on someone’s shoulder. Everyone needs a good cry now and then, right? I find that after I cry it all out, I can go back home and face another day of the neverending frustration.”

“I yell into a pillow. Really. I put the pillow over my head and scream as loud as I can. It really helps me.”

“I take a shower and scream in the shower as loud as I can. The noise of the shower helps to drown out my screams. But I feel better afterwards.”

“I write in my journal. I don’t care about things like spelling or grammar. It doesn’t even matter what I write – I just keep writing and writing until all the frustration is out on the paper and I feel better. Then I stop writing.”

“I go to the park and watch the children play. It’s to remind me that even though there are bad things like bipolar disorder in the world, there are still some good things in the world, too.”

The one main thing you need to know about dealing with frustration is that you do need to deal with it. If you just stuff your feelings, you can make yourself sick physically, and then you won’t be any good to your loved one or yourself. Maybe you can use one of these suggestions.

Well, I have to go!

Your Friend,


  1. Thank You Dave, Just when I feel like I am at the end of my rope I get an e mail from you that makes me feel sooooo much better. I have been a bipolar supporter to my husband for 34 years. It will wear you out! Receiving inspiring words from you help me cope. Thank YOU and your website for being MY supporter.

  2. I enjoyed reading the comments as they are so close to my experience and I received a blessing from reading them. I find in weak moments, even though I have attended trainings and understand much more about my spouse’s bipolar disorder, I experience all of these emotions at time. I have found great comfort in knowing and trusting Jesus who redeems all things. I my case, I realize He has molded me into a person with much more character as a result of my experienc, and the training and experiences I’ve accessed since my spouse manifested her illness has resulted in me being a much better help mate. This strengthens me. Thank you much for your input. John

  3. That was a great article that I really needed. My husband of 35 years has bipolar and when he is on a high is a compulsive shopper and collector and full of manic ideas about starting all kinds of crazy projects and businesses (istead of working on projects that should be done). He is very impulsive and not rational. Our property is full of things he has collected that he is going to use “someday” or that he got a great deal on. He especially likes old rusty junky looking trucks and cars that take up alot of space! He gives them human names. I feel so angry and frustrated with him. It looks like a junkyard with lots of messy piles of stuff. Yelling, screaming, and crying are the ways I end up expressing my rage and frustration with him, but of course it does not change anything. He says I look cute when I am mad. Sometimes I think he likes to get me riled up as a form of attention. He is regularly taking his medication, but it still doesn’t seem to control his episodes. I’ve been trying to get him in to see a psychiatrist to adjust his meds to stabilize his biochemistry more effectively. I would love to have the Hoarders TV show come and magically get everything cleaned up and organized!

  4. Posts like Dave’s and others helps us realize we are truly not alone. Being a BP supporter can be challenging at times. I can say at one time or another I have felt all those feelings and the best thing is to realize its OK.

  5. “FRUSTRATION”…Boy, is that an understatement! My daughter has bi-polar disorder, and walked out of my life almost 3 years ago. I have not seen or spoken to her. She is 28 years old. We didn’t have a huge argument that lead to this, or anything else. Before I knew about the fact that she was diagnosed, I attended 2 counseling sessions, that, due to a horrible counselor, turned into a disaster! Now, she has moved in with her boyfriend and has even blocked me from her cell phone, as I found when I tried to test her, so I have no way of contacting her, and, to be honest, am even afraid to try, at this point. Now, the holidays are here, again, and I am reminded of the piece of my heart that remains missing. I will, as I have done in the past, send her a card to her workplace, and hope that she gets it, and maybe, there will come a time when I will touch her heart, again, as we were once so close. In the meantime, I have put the whole thing in God’s hands and hope he keeps her safe.

  6. Well dave, I’m actually the opposite of you – I’m a 40 year old mother to a 21 year old Bipolar daughter – I’m Teena, she’s Orga….

    “I love my daughter. But I hate her bipolar disorder. It makes her do things she wouldn’t normally do. And it makes me do things I wouldn’t normally do, too. I hate the way She acts just to try to control me. She usually messes up my vacations I hate the way I feel, too. I really resent her when she gets depressed and won’t even get out of bed. I know it’s just her bipolar acting up, but sometimes I still feel like she could get out of bed if she really wanted to, I can’t help it, so I say stuff to her.” I’m wondering how a creator that created a child would one day not want to see that child’s face – oh my goodness, she has said some aweful things……but I took her Dad’s advice and remembered the person didn’t ask to have this condition, ask to be here with it and didn’t ask for much so when I think of that, I try to empathize with this case and exercise patience…Just because I was the perfect Daughter to my mother doesn’t mean I should expect everyone to be perfect right????

    Dont’ hate player, hate the game

    Dont hate the person, hate what makes them the way it does….. woo hoo – what a breakthrough for this wild child

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