Hi, how’s it going? Hope you are doing well.
On some days, with your loved one’s bipolar disorder, it’s hard to be sure where they’re going in life. At times they’re doing so well, and maybe even better than the average person. They certainly have so much potential! But there are other days when it’s so blatantly obvious that they don’t live up to it.
Those are the days when their symptoms take over and they lose control. Those are the days that have you worried that they won’t make it to where they want to be. With those days in mind, how do you help them plan for the career of their dreams without setting them up for failure?
Marie was a young teenager who was constantly being asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. She knew she wanted to have the good things in life. That is, she wanted to buy a house eventually, and to own a nice car.
She wanted to have a retirement account set up so she didn’t have to work for the rest of her life. She wanted to graduate from college long before thinking about a family. She had a good head on her shoulders.
But she couldn’t for the life of her think of what she wanted to do as her career. Well, she was only 14 years old. Did she honestly need to know yet?
So when her teacher insisted that she map out her life plan, here’s what she did: She mapped out her goals that she knew, and the finances she would need to make those goals. She even did the research on things like buying a house so she had her numbers right.
She then, very realistically, mapped out a plan for how much she needed to make each month, starting at a lower wage and working her way up over time, to meet her goals. Then, based on her interests and her financial needs, she came up with 12 possible career choices that might work for her, with an emphasis in the report that they were just possibilities and she was not limiting herself to them.
The teacher didn’t like the fact that she didn’t give a diffident answer, but had to respect the research and thought she put into it, so she got an A.
Sometimes you can’t plan for everything. Well, most of the time, actually. If your loved one is working on their recovery to the best of their ability but still has relapses, then yes, you need to plan for the symptoms of their relapse.
But you can’t expect to plan how they will affect the rest of your or their lives. It’s just not so easy to map that out. So instead, you have to do your best to plan for the uncertain and to live life anyway.
If they know what they want to do (when they aren’t manic, that is) and it doesn’t sound absolutely impossible, then help them plan for it. There will be factors to planning for it that they probably haven’t thought of.
It is possible, especially if they are persistent in working towards it and in improving. But everyone needs some help in making sure their ideas are sound to one extent or another. Someone who has trouble with mania may need a little extra help.
Remember to break down the goals into two groups: eventually and today. It’s what happens today that has potential to set them up for success. But don’t worry: what happens today isn’t guaranteed to set them up for failure.
Do you have any thoughts on this?
Well, I have to go!