Who Supports the Bipolar Supporter?


How’s your day going?

Thanks for all those who asked about my back. It still hurts today and on top if it, I have another cold.

I will be better soon but I am hanging in there.

Hey, so I got an email the other day:

“Dave, I don’t mean to complain, I really don’t. I mean, I know my husband is sick and all, and I really do believe he has bipolar disorder. It’s not that. And I’m not jealous of the attention he gets. I’m really not that kind of person. And I don’t mind taking care of him. I love him. It’s just that I’ve been doing it for such a long time, and I am really, really, tired. Really tired. Like I said, I don’t mind being my husband’s supporter. But Dave, let me ask you a question. Who supports the supporter?”


Wow. This woman sounds really stressed out, doesn’t she?

But she raises a good question:

Who DOES support the bipolar supporter? In my courses/systems below I talk about how important it is to build a strong support system, not just for the person with bipolar disorder, but for their supporter as well:




If you, as the supporter, don’t develop your own strong support system, you will burn out. You have to have support, because you can’t do it all yourself, it’s that simple.

So who supports the supporter?

For one thing, you do. You support yourself. You have to take good care of yourself, or you won’t be able to take care of your loved one. You won’t have the strength or the energy.

This includes doing things that you enjoy, time away from your loved one, time spent with friends, family, having a job ( perhaps), having hobbies, etc.

You can’t spend every second with your loved one, and you can’t do things for your loved one that they can do for themselves (that’s called enabling).

Who else supports the supporter?

Your family.

You should have other people in your/your loved one’s family who can “spell” you once in a while so that you don’t always have primary responsibility for your loved one.

You do, sometimes, need time to yourself.

And they also should share some of the responsibility. After all, he/she is their family, too.

Who else supports the supporter?

Your friends.

Your friends should still be there for you, in spite of the fact that your loved one has bipolar disorder. They are still your friends.

You should still have something of a social life.

Everyone needs friends, and you are no exception.

There should be fun in your life, and friends can help you do that!

They can also be there as a shoulder to cry on when you need it.

Who else supports the supporter?


Whether they know that you have a loved one with bipolar disorder or not, it doesn’t matter.

They should still be a part of your support system.

Who else supports the supporter?

If you are spiritual, you can go to a priest, minister, rabbi, etc. for spiritual support.

Join a church, and you can get plenty of support from other church members.

Who else supports the supporter?

The doctor.

They aren’t just there for your loved one, but they are there for you as well, since you’re part of your loved one’s support system.

Supporting you is part of helping your loved one to get better.

Who else supports the supporter?

The therapist.

If your loved one is following a good treatment plan, then they’re already seeing a therapist, but it might be a good idea for you to see one of your own, if you aren’t already doing so.

Then your therapist would be a good support for you.

Who else supports the supporter?

The support group.

Many supporters have found comfort and fellowship in bipolar supporter support groups.

If there is one in your area, you might be able to find support there.

If not, there are some very good support groups on the Internet.

There are also bipolar supporter chat groups and forums on the Internet where you can find support.

So who supports the supporter?

Plenty of people do.

You are NOT alone!

If you are a bipolar supporter, besides me, who supports you?

Visit: http://www.bipolarcentral.com/testimonials

David Oliver is the author of the shocking guide “Bipolar Disorder—The REAL Silent Killer.” Click Here to get FREE Information sent via email on how and why bipolar disorder kills.

  1. my question when i first got into this thing with my bipolar partner. but dave, the letter sounds a bit too contrived. try to do better next time, eh?

  2. I’ve been with a partner who has bipolar disorer.

    I guess i’m one of the lucky ones at this time in my life.
    As a child growing up my father was bipolar before I was able to understand what it was. I was told after my dad passed at the young age of 43 that he was manic depressive. What ever it was he did great when he was on meds. but then he thought he was well and would go off his meds and life got scarry for my 2 siblings and my mother. Thank God she was not physically abused. She set limits and stook by them. I look back now and we were each others support.
    The love in my life is doing what is necessary today to keep bipolar in check.Even though there are ups and downs We do well. and we have a very open,honest and loving relationship Ihave not be capabile of enabling because 7 months into our relatioship I became diabled by a brain infection. They supported me, guided me and today almost 4 yrs. later I have been able to go back to work.


  4. My sentiments exactly – friends and family can support to an extent (and many don’t, and lets face it, so many just don’t care to understand), but they aren’t having to live with it 24/7. They don’t have to pick up the pieces of ruined finances, emotionally broken children and trashed houses to name a few. And if ones bipolar spouse in is denial and therefore not in treatment then there is no psychiatrist or psychologist to help support. Once the sufferer accepts the condition and works on a treatment plan, then all these things can fall into place. But until then we are very very alone. Except for your daily emails:-)

  5. Dave,
    Continue your recovery with your back, I understand back pain.. Anyway I am writting today about the WHO SUPPORTS THE SUPPORTERS WITH BIPOLAR?
    Well I believe it’s a great question and the woman who posed it was smart to ask it. We sufferers don’t always think about what our supportters are going through because we are to busy with what we are going though, but I think as long as ou have a good support system with your family and friends then you have half the battle won for yourself(the supportters)..
    I am sorry that woman felt as though she was being stupid, but I think it was the smartest thing to ask about herself and how much of a toll bipolar takes on her life as a spouse to someone dealing with the disorder..
    Any way that ‘s what I had to say..
    Hope your back gets better soon.

  6. Having someone to support a supporter is so important. I know that my mom got burned out trying to be there 24/7 for me when I was ill for 9 months. She did have some support from family members but she was the major supporter and it drained her. It would have been nice if she had gone to a support group or had the family to take on some more of the responsibility. Fortunately we all survived and al is well now. Thanks for your daily e-mails.

  7. Thanks for this letter! I am BP2 amongst other things and before I got medicated and therapy I had NO CLUE how much energy (mental, physical, spiritual) I was consuming of my supporter until she snapped. THAT made me feel terrible… I think it is proper to convey to your BP that it does consume you but don’t say you are a “victim” it would devastate your crazy loved one. I love saying ‘crazy’ and “manic monday” haha!

    If I can’t laugh about being BP I could not handle it (coping mechanism, perhaps). Anyway, I digress, I think the best time to relay your exhaustion and your needs is in couple’s therapy… or if you are not a couple – to your friend in a safe place. The words you use are of the utmost importance. Be political about it and choose your words very carefully if you do decide to talk to your BP friend about it (and I think talking about it is VERY important).

    For what it’s worth.

    Cheers and here’s to your back getting back to its role of support!

  8. I agree. The supporter needs a support system as well. If I was worse off, my husband would need more then he has now. When the chips are down, who is around would make a difference.

    On the flip side, everyone has there own lives, and problems they are faced with. We have ill family, so it is difficult to get support from them because they have so much on their own plates and besides that, they are looking to us for the support they need. Can’t get water from a stone.

    One thing missing, I think it’s possible for the bipolar person to be a supporter right back to the one who is supportive of them. Just because I’m bipolar doesn’t mean I’m not capable of helping, understanding, being empathetic.

  9. This is an email I just sent to Dave:

    This was such a great topic and I know we all want to know who supports us.. When we have done all we can for them and they are non manic.. who do we go to and rely on. My issue is that my partner has bp and DID (multiple personality disorder) so I have a double dose of burn out. She is also a rapid cycler so I don’t get a 4-6 month break in between her manic stages and sometimes I just want to pull my hair out.

    Right now she is in mania and she has left me for the 100th time and this time it is a fight for me to go back. I stay so stressed and so frustrated and now I am worried about my mental health. I feel bad because I know it isn’t her its the disease but I am truly at my wits end and she needs me. I am the only one in her family that really knows what is going on with her and I want to be a better support system but I am losing myself in the process…. Any suggestions..


  10. Who supports the supporter? Great question! I myself did not have the support system I needed and I could not hold my marriage together. Finding the right support can be difficult depending on where you live. I was far away from the place where I grew up and away from family. I did see a therapist but it was not enough. My husband would threaten his life if I wanted to go have any fun. It was horrible!
    I am divorced now and my life is wonderful. I had no other option than to get away from the marrige or it would have killed me and my son. I am not suggesting divorce for anyone unless you have tried everyhting else first. I am now seeking support so that I can teach my 8 year old how to deal with his father. He is now old enough to see some of the signs of the diorder and wonders what is going on. Anyone have any suggestions?

  11. i have no suppoters, our family seems to avoid us like the plague. however i go thru this every 6 years. i’m getting stronger every time. it’s a real shame though to see your loved one go down like this. sometimes it seems like there’s no hope. i want to thank you for your letters of support, they have helped me alot. thanks again…rol

  12. Who supports the supporter? I have tried that one – my partner, cunning and sweet infront of the therapists and psychologists… Turns into the devil incarnate when home, screaming and calling me names, verbally and physically abusive. I have tried talking to ALL involved, everyone in his treatment plan. They don’t believe me. He cunningly turns around and plays the victim – and then the treating therapists believes I am the horrible person. I am sick of it. The lies and bullsh*t. Turning me into crazy person. Well, who will I turn to now when the going gets tough? Glad that some people on this list have the support they get, I don’t 🙁

  13. My ONLY support is “professional” – psychiatrist and therapist. I have no live-in supporter to recognize mood changes or help me when I can’t help myself.

    I wake up every morning, not knowing how I’m going to feel. I am so sedated by my night meds, that I don’t hear the TWO alarms I set to wake up. Sometimes, I’ll open my eyes at a reasonable hour – say, 7AM – then close them, and not get out of bed until 1:30PM. This wastes a whole DAY!! I’m NOT depressed; I’m just what I term “over-medicated.” But – if that’s what my DR wants for my recovery, then I have to go along with it.

    If I ask my friend to call me at 8 in the morning, I usually get up BEFORE then, just to be able to hear the phone. On the days when I don’t wake up before Noon, I DO hear the phone – but just let it ring. My cordless has run out of battery-power by then, and I’d just have to get up to answer! Perhaps I need a NEW strategy for waking up in the morning…

    My Mom supported me the best way she knew how – by treating me as if I did NOT have a “mental illness.” She was of the “old school,” and NO one in her family was psychotic. I had TWO hospitalizations for full-blown manic episodes while she was alive, and always went home to be with her after each one. We’d do “normal” things – cook, go shopping, go for walks, etc., and she understood when I had to go to bed at a certain hour. She NEVER allowed me to sleep late, so my sleep/wake pattern was engrained while she was alive. Unfortunately, she got Alzheimer’s in 1987, and lived with me and my husband for about 4 years, until she got so bad we had to put her in a nursing home. Ask about “Who supports the supporter of an Alzheimer’s patient,” and I can tell you – you’re on your own!!

    I think Dave’s suggestions of who to turn to for support are excellent, especially clergy. They usually have degrees in counseling/psych, so are good to talk to.

    Dave – I KNOW what back pain IS – I take 2 opiates for mine!! And – maybe Dayquil will help your cold…anyway, start to feel better soonest!!

    BIG HUGS to all bipolar survivors and those who love us. May God bless us real good. I pray for my country.

  14. My 19 yr old grandson has been going thru a manic episode for about 2 months. He becomes very distructive and angry in the home. Also, will walk the streets (dangerous areas) all night without eating, drinking, etc. He has become paranoid and believes anyone who offers him food is poisoning him…won’t even brush his teeth for fear that the toothpaste is laced with poison.
    He is presently incarcerated on a criminal trespass charge and we are letting him stay there even though the bond is only $100.00 because we know he is safe (or safer).
    We are desperate to get him into treatment to no avail…he refuses his meds. Any suggestions?

  15. Hi Dave,

    Sorry to hear about your back. I hate to sound like a little miss know it all but I have had a bck problem for about 14 yr. Once you have had a back injury its easy to have your back go out. The wrong twist,stoop or any other movement can put you out of commission for 6 wk, or more.

    The Chiropractor has been my best remedy and sometimes it makes it worse until I have a few adjustments. Pain releavers only mask the problem, I have also had shots in the triger points but it really isn’t safe because it injures the soft tissue and causes more problems than its worth.

    Ice compacs applies first then heat, depending on the injury. Nothing will help a slipped disk except surgery and I’ve had my stomach cut open 2 times so I’m not real anxious to have any more surgeries.

    So the best medicine is to try to rest and not do any physical stuff til the back is better.

  16. My mother occasionally helps me financially, but has never given me any emotional support. We have never been able to understand each other, as we are extremely different in our ways. She would say it was my choice to have a relationship with a man with bipolar again (I was married to one before), so it’s my problem and not hers. Maybe she has a point. It would be nice if my friends could learn to understand (I’m working on it) why my boyfriend is on disability pay without a “proper” job or a “proper” home. They believe he should have a good income, as he has so many skills and talents. Most of his friends also have bipolar or some other disorder. His family disowned him. I support him and in many ways he supports me. We understand each other. His psychiatrist and psych nurse believe in me and say I am good for him and in their way they support me.

    DAVE, who supports you? While I appreciate all that you do, I still think you work too hard. Hope your back is better.

  17. Oh, I can so relate to so many of these emails!! I am a bipolar supporter and its soo tough. I am soooooo stressed right now. Last week my husband went into an episode. I knew right away as he started with the insults and name calling. Its sooo hard! His family aren’t supportive, thankfully I have some understanding friends (a few) and a son and daughter who are there as well. But its hard to “dump” on people as I feel soo guilty. My husband’s doctor doesn’t believe he is bipolar, just depressed. I KNOW he is. Last week twice he was physically abusive to me. This is the FIRST it became physical. I’m just not sure what my next step is. Its suddenly become serious and I am scared. He then threatened to kill himself. What do you do if your husband is sweet to his family, says he’s fine to his Dr. and fools (almost) everyone? Oh yes, he crashed to a depressed state yesterday so thankfully this episode didn’t last this time. I really don’t trust him anymore… HELP!!

  18. you are exactly right there are so many people to help you but you must look to those for some support even though we don’t want to seek help we all must just to keep our peace i know from experience it is really hard to but you absolutely must take time for yourself and most importand do something you want to do

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