I have mentioned, I am returning on the subject matter of bipolar disorder. This time it’s about how to communicate to someone with bipolar disorder. Because I get it! Us bipolar people can be…. challenging to understand. The lyrics from Katy Perry’s song, “Hot n Cold” may describe your feelings towards the person. I believe that’s because communication between the parties keep missing high fives. Hopefully some of these tips can help you out to make sure things goes less bumpy.
Don’t worry boys and girls of the bipolar nation! I have something for you too! It’s hard to express to someone how we feel and what is on our mind. Maybe some of my advice can help you to communicate to you love ones a little better. So keep on reading, because this may help with some of your relationships.
Please remember this entry, like all my entries, is just a post to learn and open our minds about mental health and to bring awareness. I am not medical professional. Any tips I give is from what I learn at outpatient treatment and personal experience. If I see it has been effective, I share. What may have worked for me, my family, and friends, may not work for you. If you have better suggestions, I am all ears! Comment below! **cheesy grin** Now that’s all cleared up, let’s get to the fun part!
First of all, most people who has bipolar disorder are socially inept. There were studies that were done where they split up a group people (bipolar vs non-bipolar). They did a test if these people can pick up emotions. Like if someone said something happy, but with a sad face, can people with bipolar disorders pick it up. Of course the people that are not bipolar disorder picked up on emotions better than the people who has.
Therefore, when it comes to socializing, a bipolar person may misinterpret the mood or the emotions in the moment. Some people with bipolar disorder may experience interpersonal difficulties. So don’t take it the wrong way if they didn’t react or responded the way you hope for when you share exciting or sad news. We may drop the ball on that sometimes. So on behalf of the bipolar community, sorry? **shrug** But if you communicate how we missed that social cue, we will apologize and try to do better next time. I promise. 🙂
Now, sometimes the things you may say to a person with bipolar disorder can trigger them. Obviously, you didn’t know it would, but it did. You probably think your person is just “going crazy”. But that’s because you’re not seeing certain phrases or wording of choice, is bothersome to you. I will break down what NOT to say and why it might cause your person to “spaz out”
Don’t ever say, “you sound a little down today” I mean no shit Sherlock! My facial expression and tone of voice indicated that. On top of that, you know I have bipolar disorder. Obviously I’m in my low mood and I don’t need someone to point it out to me. It’s like having a never ending physical. Most people with mental illness know how they feel. Being told on the obvious is not constructive nor is it a substitute for true compassion.
“You’re too normal/smart to have bipolar disorder”, is another. I have already expressed this on my entry, But You’re Too Normal. Therefore I won’t stay on this topic for too long. But hearing the remark can make someone feel horrible. Cause it’s almost like you’re saying, the person could have prevented it before it can happen. Or a homeless person is more “deserving” of an illness. The brain, like any organ in the body, is subject to having problems. It is cruel to say something that suggests that bipolar disorder doesn’t exist, isn’t legitimate, or isn’t as significant as any other medical condition.
Viewing someone solely by their illness like, “Do you know she/he is bipolar?” Unfortunately, it happens all too often. A person who has bipolar disorder should not be defined by their struggles. Guard your tongue. Focus on the person you know and love, and dwell on all that makes that individual special. Your friend or family member still has a life.
“It doesn’t take much to set you off” or “don’t take things too personally” Those of us who have bipolar disorder are often more vulnerable and responsive to what happens around us. When you make careless statements, your tongue becomes a trigger that can rouse a reaction and escalate symptoms. You unnecessarily incite a mood change in the person you really want to help. The patient’s self-esteem also takes a tremendous hit. That’s why a promised phone call that never comes may be taken much harder than you might imagine. Likewise, saying things that ignore or make light of someone’s sense of self-esteem should be avoided.
Let’s not forget, “you’re lazy and don’t have a life anymore” or “we used to have high hopes for you” . I know you want to encourage someone with bipolar disorder to get on with life. However, recovery takes time and work, and the role you play is critical. Help by using constructive dialogue that acknowledges progress. Don’t push too hard and don’t expect everything to happen overnight. What you say does matter. Remember that we are all human beings, not human “doings;” the more you acknowledge our being, the more we can end up doing. There is no need to squash hope or diminish dreams.
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Well damn! What can I say?” It seems like a lot have been removed from the table. Nope! A simple “I love you, and I care” or “You are important to me” works. Trust me when I say we walk around thinking nobody really cares about us. “You’re not alone in this.” is another good one. Though we know we have a support system, sometimes it feels like we are in this alone. “I’m sorry you’re in so much pain.” and “I’m always willing to listen.” is all you have to say when you don’t know what else to say. “I’ll be your friend no matter what” and “When all this is over, I’ll still be here”, brings reassurance. “This will pass, and we can ride it out together” and “When all this is over, I’ll still be here”, says no matter how bad it gets they can always count on you.
Now, this is the part for people with bipolar disorder. I will have to be brutally honest and real, in the most sincere way. I do this, because I care. You must be patient with your love ones. They will mess up many times, but just like you make mistakes, they will too. And just like you will need a second, third, fourth, and millionth chance, they will too. Just like you’re trying to navigate your disorder, they are riding it along with you, but they don’t personally go through exactly what you go through. Therefore, they won’t fully grasp it. Try to be calm and patient as you try to explain things to them. Also, don’t explain things the way you would understand it. Speak their language. They will get a better understanding if you do.
Be vulnerable. Hey… don’t you walk away! Come back here! You heard me. Be vulnerable. They are are your support system for a reason. It means you trust them. So let down your guard. When you do, the more they can help you out. I know it’s scary, but there is a reason why you have these people in your circle. So what’s the point of having a circle if you’re not going to share within? You don’t have to pour everything out. Start doing little by little. If you’re worried they won’t stick around, then they weren’t meant to be in your circle in the first place.
Hope you enjoyed that tough love. Lol! Joking aside, it is important for BOTH parties to communicate as clear as possible. It’s the only way to stay on page for a healthy relationship. It benefits the person with bipolar disorder because they can get an effective support system and to maintain one. It benefit the support system because they will know how to be there for their companions while still maintaining a great relationship. I hope this entry have helped you. What did you get out of it? Please comment below on what you think about the post. Until next time, adult one day at a time. xoxo
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