Today is World Bipolar Awareness Day (30th March). Bipolar disorder affects around 1 in 50 people here in the UK. People living with Bipolar disorder may experience mood episodes of mania and depression. Today we are taking the time to raise awareness of the many people living with Bipolar Disorder as well as the people in their lives who support them every day and breaking down the stigma around mental health conditions.
If a friend or family member is living with bipolar disorder, it’s important to be an understanding, supportive ally in their journey. But where to start? Here are 6 ways to support someone with bipolar disorder:
1. Listen to Them With Patience
Take time to hear out what your loved one is saying without jumping to try and ‘fix’ things. Avoid interrupting or offering solutions, and just listen to what they are going through. Being patient, not taking things personally and being understanding will show your support and let them know you care.
2. Be Non-Judgemental
Everyone is different and will experience bipolar disorder in different ways. It’s not always easy to understand something that you are not experiencing yourself, however, you can strive to show empathy and acceptance and remember that their feelings are valid so you can be a non-judgemental supporter.
3. Try Not To Make Assumptions
Along with being non-judgemental, avoid making any assumptions when it comes to how someone else is feeling. It’s also important not to assume that all behaviours are a result of their disorder. Always try to keep the conversation open and honest to help your loved one feel more comfortable to come to you when they are struggling and at ease when talking.
4. Encourage Them To Seek Support
Offering to go with your loved one to talk to a medical professional can help encourage them to seek support and to start their treatment. Going to therapy can also help to improve their mood, cope with symptoms and learn how to recognize any early warning signs of an episode. Let them know they are not alone, and that you are there for them no matter what, social support also has a great impact on managing bipolar disorder!
5. Look After Yourself: When you’re supporting someone with bipolar disorder, it’s important to take care of yourself. Recharge, practice self-care, and make time to de-stress. Don’t be afraid to set boundaries for yourself to prevent yourself from feeling overwhelmed and to help your loved one understand where your limit is. You can’t pour from an empty cup and your wellbeing matters too.
6. Learn More About Bipolar Disorder: Finally, if you want to be a supportive ally for someone with bipolar disorder, it can help to gain knowledge and understanding of the condition. Mental health charities, such as Bipolaruk.org.uk, have lots of resources to help those wanting to learn more about bipolar disorder.
We hope that these 6 tips will help you be an understanding supporter of someone living with bipolar disorder. Keep in mind that everyone’s experience with the disorder is different and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. Supporting a loved one through their journey with bipolar disorder may be challenging at times and it’s often filled with ups and downs. Reaching out to friends, family, and medical professionals will help ensure you’re equipped to support those in your life with bipolar disorder, and there is help available for them too. Knowing how to give the best care and assistance can make a world of difference!