Spinning off from the Going There with Dr. Mike podcast presented by Consequence and Sound Mind Live, our monthly “Ask Dr. Mike” column here to help listeners cope with the various struggles of mental health. Sponsored by AbbVee’s GettingHereToThere.com, a safe online space for the bipolar 1 community to find inspiration through music and first-hand stories, this month’s episodes focus on bipolar disorder. Today, Dr. Mike Friedman is here with some tips to help family members cope with the intense mood swings of this affliction.
Living with a mental illness such as bipolar disorder can be a struggle on many levels. We may swing from manic episodes of euphoria, agitation, and anger to depressive episodes of sadness, pleasure loss, and low energy and concentration. Feeling like we cannot control our moods may lead us to engage in risky and dangerous behavior (drug use, unsafe sex, reckless spending, and even violence) on one end of the spectrum or self-damaging conduct like lack of work, isolation from others, and neglecting basic personal and household tasks. If our bipolar disorder is not managed properly, in a short period of time our health, our personal and professional lives, and financial security can be severely harmed — sometimes irreparably. In the most extreme cases, we may feel hopeless to the point of contemplating or even attempting suicide.
For all of these reasons, a mental illness such as bipolar disorder can be overwhelming and devastating to our lives. And when it is someone close to us who is the one suffering, that experience can feel just as — if not more — devastating. We care so much about the people we love and simply don’t want to see them in pain. We want to do whatever we can to help them so that they can live full, satisfying and productive lives. The good news is, there actually is much we can do to help our loved one cope with their mental illness.