How can I help?

How do I help someone i’m in love with deal with her bipolar ….I have ocd & ¬†ptsd so we clashed and now we live apart till she gets past her depression. she said she just needs time.

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Helping those you love deal with depression is much easier said than done. It’s not as though you can just make them laugh and everything will be okay. Depression is deeply rooted. Something that needs to be treated. You can’t quite expect a sinus infection to just disappear on it’s own now can you? No. It will only get worse. Same with depression. The proper medications need to be administered and therapy given to work through the all the negative feelings.

Well those are all things only a doctor can do … so where does that leave you?

Perhaps she is resistant to seeing her doctor and may need that extra nudge to call him. Maybe she is not a fan of therapy, but really does need to talk. You could definitely listen.

Listen

Stop!

Key word there, Listen.

Often times we confuse listening with offering our advice. This is not what she needs right now. She just needs to vent, to talk through her feelings, to makes sense of them as she speaks. Never offer advice unless it has been requested.

Space. When it comes to space and those with bipolar, it’s kind of a funny thing.

Let’s play this scene out to show what typically goes on in our heads. Let’s call us … Agnes … and we’ll call you … Lover.

Agnes and Lover face one another in the door way. Lover’s eyes are puffy and glassed over. Lover reaches over to embrace Agnes.

Agnes takes a step back thinking, Feeling smothered … I think I needs some space.

She looks up to Lover, trying to hide the irritation by keeping her voice calm. “Lover, I think we need to take a break.”

“But Agnes, we just took a break two weeks ago. Why would you want one now. Don’t you love me?”

See, more smothering. Love? How can I love someone who is suffocating me. I need to breathe! Agnes thinks. Her frustration mounts as the need to be alone creeps through every portion of her being. Lover must leave. Lover is making this worse.

Agnes clenches her teeth. “No Lover, I don’t think I love you anymore. I think maybe I hate you even.”

Lover looks to the ground and saunters out of the room, brushing away the tears of abandonment.

Within moments (possibly minutes, maybe days, or even a month or more) Agnes takes in the fact that the person she cares about the most has just left. No longer is she suffocating from lack of space, but she is fighting to breath from the lack of oxygen flowing through her broken heart. How could Lover leave? How could Lover let go so easily? So Agnes does the inevitable, she picks up the phone and dials Lover’s number.

“Hello,” Lover says.

“Oh Lover, I didn’t mean what I said. Please don’t go. I need you!”

Now at this point, you have two options, take Agnes back, with the full knowledge that this “I hate you, Please don’t go” pattern will no doubt repeat itself over and again numerous times. Or you can walk away.

It sounds to me that you don’t want to walk away though. And I admire that about you. Hard as it may be, you are going to have to give your Agnes space. But do so while also staying close. Send her a text from time to time, or an email or a quick phone call. Let her know you’re thinking about her and ask her if she needs anything. If she says no, end the conversation and wait another day or two.

It’s frustrating, I know. But unfortunately it is what it is. You say you also have OCD and PTSD. Possibly consider taking the time apart from her to get treatment for these things as well. Speak with your therapist about them and about her, asking what they would suggest.

I do know one thing though. If two people love each other and want to be together, they’ll make it happen, regardless of everything else going on.

Best of luck to you both. Please let us know if you have any further questions!

Thoughts? Questions? Leave your feedback here!