By Josh Roberts
1) Address your stress.
Organize, prioritize, delegate, and get rid of unrealistic expectations about what you can and should do. Encourage the person with bipolar to develop a diverse support network, including mental health professionals, other relatives, friends, and peers. Make sure you have a support system for yourself.
2) Take care of your health.
As best you can, get into the habit of exercising, eating well, and getting proper rest. Pay attention to signs of depression, such as withdrawal, low energy, trouble concentrating, excessive guilt, and irritability.
3) Make peace with the illness.
Acknowledge your grief, anger, sadness, or guilt. Accept that your loved one’s bipolar will inevitably affect your family and plans for the future, and find new ways to enjoy your life.
4) Set limits.
During a period of stability, make it clear that you will walk away from symptomatic behaviors such as shouting or constant criticism. You may also wish to establish responsibilities that must be performed except in cases of severe illness.
5) Accentuate the positive.
Looking for, recognizing, and focusing on what’s good—your loved one’s courage or creativity for example, or your own empathy and kindness—can make it easier to cope with the situation and encourage a better outlook.
Adapted from “A Guide for Caregivers of People with Bipolar Disorder.”