What can I do to help without hurting her feelings?

I have a very nice neighbor who has bipolar disorder. What can I do to help without hurting her feelings?

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Whether we want to admit it, or not, everyone needs a support system; ESPECIALLY people with Bipolar. It can come from a variety of places: therapist, relative, friend, neighbor, blogs…. (I could keep rambling, but I think you get the picture.) but the key ingredient is positive support. That is one of the most important things anybody can provide for someone with bipolar, regardless of their relationship. Because support comes on many different levels and can be provided in so many different ways, there is no form of support that too small.

As a neighbor, there are ways you can be supportive, even if you don’t have a really close relationship. Since your neighbor felt comfortable enough to confide in you that they are Bipolar, you can always offer your ears. There are many times that I just needed to talk some things out, but couldn’t because I was afraid of what my friends or family would think. If I had a neighbor or someone outside of my family to talk to, that would have helped me immensely. Letting your neighbor know that your ears are there is a way to be supportive without being too intrusive in your neighbor’s life. As time goes on however, being there to listen could develop your relationship into a closer one and you both will benefit. Your neighbor may also confide in you some other ways you could be supportive.

If you have a closer relationship with your neighbor, and feel comfortable, you can be direct with them and ask them if there is anything you can do to help or if there is anything that they may need flat out. If they reply there is nothing, then let them know that if the time comes that they do need something, you are right next door. Again, as a neighbor, you don’t want to be too intrusive. If you are constantly knocking on their door to check on them, or are asking them a million questions about how they are doing each time you cross paths, your efforts intending to be helpful might become more of a strain and a stressor for your neighbor and could have the opposite effect of what you are actually trying to do. It’s important to mindful of what it is that your neighbor needs as support and asking directly is the best way to do that.

Every person who has Bipolar is different. We all have different triggers, different cycles, different types, and will need different types of support. The one thing that anyone can offer that we can never have enough of though, is positive support. Without it, it’s hard to maintain stability and our own positivity.

Also, , here are a few past posts you may want to refer to 🙂

Good luck with your neighbor. I hope they will appreciate all the support you have to offer them!

2 thoughts on “What can I do to help without hurting her feelings?

  1. Letting your neighbor know you care is the best gift for your. You might offer food; but don’t push the issue if she says she is not hungry. Some of us binge and others eat nothing. Don’t tell her she will feel better if she gets out of the house. She won’t. Also, don’t ask about her symptoms. She may not feel well enough to talk. If you and your neighbor are close friends, tell her you will check in (by phone, NOT at her front door.) to see if she needs anything. If she lives alone, this is more important; as we bipolars have a high suicide rate.

    In my own experience, the doorbell or a ringing telephone worsens my condition. I do not want to talk to ANYONE. I answer calls from my husband and mother, to ease their minds, and ignore all other callers. Sleep is my friend when I feel very bad. My meds usually help, but if the moon is full, no amount of medication allows me the sleep I need so badly. When your neighbor’s mood improves, do not be offended if she resists talking to you about her illness.

    Do your own research online, or buy one of many books about bipolar disorder. Two favorites are “An Unquiet Mind” by Kaye Jamison Redfield, and “A Brillent Madness” by Patty Duke. By educating yourself, you will be able to understand bipolar disorder and be an even better friend and neighbor. Above all, do not tell her you, too, feel bad sometimes, and this or that helps. We do not want to hear how you have pulled yourself up by your boot straps. Bipolar is a very serious illness; treatable but incurable. Our highs and lows take us by surprise sometimes. For me, it has not only changed my life, but the lives of family and friends.

  2. Those are absolutely great tips and “An Unquiet Mind” is a great book. Another book that is absolutely fabulous is “Madness” by Marya Hornbacher. 🙂

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