You know, I remember how I used to tell my goddaughter the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I told her about the little girl and how she had found the three bowls of porridge (I told her porridge was like oatmeal)…And how one was too hot…And how one was too cold…And how one was just right!
Then I told her about how the girl was tired, so she went to the beds. And how one was too hard…And how one was too soft…And how one was just right!
Well, my goddaughter, who was really smart, said: “Why didn’t she just go to the ones that were
just right in the first place?” She cracked me up! But I thought she actually made a good point,
and it made me think of bipolar disorder (doesn’t everything? lol).
Why do we complicate everything? Why not go to the “just right” in the first place, instead of going to the “too hard” or “too soft” first? Well, here’s how I related it to bipolar disorder: You can be too soft on your loved one. This is what I would call enabling. Enabling is when you “help” them to continue to do unacceptable behaviors.
Or you can do too much for them in your role as a supporter. This is called being codependent.
Like when you do things for them that they should be doing for themselves.
For example, as a supporter, you can oversee that they take their medications. You can just ask them, say, if they took their medications that day. But to stand over them every time they take their medications to make sure that they take them, or to give them their medications every time they’re supposed to take them, that would be crossing the line into codependence.
In other words, making things too “soft” for them. Doing something for them that they should be doing for themselves.
They should be becoming more independent, and not leaning on you for everything, while still appreciating you for the supporter that you are to them.
Then we’ve got the “too hard” type of supporter. The one who expects them to do everything by themselves with no help from them. That’s going to the other extreme.
As a supporter, there are some ways that you can help. Perhaps your loved one isn’t up to driving themselves to their doctor’s appointments yet.
By driving them to their appointments, you are not being too soft, because they are willing to go, but you are being a help to them, because they are unable to drive themselves yet.
What if being around crowds is a trigger to their bipolar disorder? If you insist that they accompany you to a large gathering (family, office, friends, etc.), even though they are nervous
and don’t want to go because it may be a trigger for them, you are being too harsh on them.
You want to fall into the “just right” category as a supporter. Not to go to either extreme. Be loving, kind, supportive, and understanding without being codependent or having unrealistic expectations of your loved one, either.
Where do you stand? Can you see yourself in the “too soft” or “too hard” pictures? Or are you “just right”? If you are at either extreme…You might want to consider making a few changes.
Well, I have to go!