Is there any way to help my family understand my illness better too?

I was just diagnosed with BP after struggling for many, many years without help or medication, any advice for a newbie? I don’t know much about it, but I’ve had 3 violent episodes in the past month almost landing me in jail. I’ve been put on a mood stabilizer and xanax and I have counseling once a week. Is there any …way to help my family understand better too? My husband seems kind of confused still and I have a step-daughter to care for too. It’s just so damn hard!

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Ahhh the ups and downs of being newly diagnosed. (As if you don’t already have enough ups and downs to deal with!) There’s always the battle between;

Should we be excited now that we know what’s wrong?

and

No, that can’t be right! I can’t have Bipolar! Bipolar people are crazy…I’m perfectly normal!

And THEN we get to add in all the stress that comes from the people around us. There are basically four different types of people each of our friends and family members end up being.

  • The Sympathetic– The, “Oh yeah, I’ve been there. Let me know if you need something.” They’ve been there. They get it. They know when to step in, and they know when to stepΒ  back. These are rare!
  • The Empathetic – The, “Oh honey, I’m so sorry you’re going through that! What can I do to help?” They can’t exactly sympathize since they’ve never been there. But they feel so bad because they want to help you in any way possible. They read everything they can about BP and do everything they can to understand. Sometimes it’s great to have that support and sometimes it’s overwhelming, especially when we just need to be alone.
  • The Meh… – The, “I get that you’re sick. That’s cool. Sorry…it must suck.” They’re there to listen if you need them or you have important information to share, but they aren’t about to go out of their way to learn anything about the illness or be proactive. They tend to give you space…lots of space. But they are usually unable to see the signs that tell them it’s time to intervene.
  • The Ignorant – The, “That’s just an excuse. You’re just looking for attention!” So NOT my favorite type. They think everyone is over diagnosed and full of crap. They aren’t willing to learn a thing about BP. Why should they know about something that in no way affects them! (At which point you want to slap them because HELLLOOO they know you, OBVIOUSLY it affects them!)

My advice is, if you have someone that is at all willing to learn, whether it be on their own or with your help, TEACH THEM. Read books with them. Have them join support groups such as “Bipolar in the Family” or other such types. Send them to our site. Encourage them to ask questions. We aren’t here just to help those suffering from the illness. We’re here to help EVERYONE who the illness affects. Do your best to keep them from being Ignorant to your disorder. It’s not going to work for everyone, but it will make a world of difference for those that it does.

Here is a list of books I recommend reading:

The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

Living Well with Depression and Bipolar Disorder: What Your Doctor Doesn’t Tell You…That You Need to Know

Voices of Bipolar Disorder: The Healing Companion: Stories for Courage, Comfort and Strength (Voices Of series)

And for those dealing with children and teens with Bipolar Disorder

The Bipolar Child: The Definitive and Reassuring Guide to Childhood’s Most Misunderstood Disorder — Third Edition

The Bipolar Teen: What You Can Do to Help Your Child and Your Family

As for websites, here are the best one’s I’ve been able to find so far…

MD Junction

NAMI

Bring Change 2 Mind

as well as others listed on our Helpful Links Page. (Also, if you know of a link we are missing, please let us know!)

I know that this seems really complicated and a lot of work, but I promise it pays off in the long run. The more educated you and your friends/family are, the easier it is going to be for everyone involved. And doing this will definitely make it way LESS hard! They don’t lie when they say knowledge is power!

And remember, if there is anything we can do to help, please let us know!!!

6 thoughts on “Is there any way to help my family understand my illness better too?

  1. As always, awesome answer MB. I especially liked the types of people you described. So on point and very accurate. It seems like her husband might be amenable to learning & with help, becoming more educated about her illness, I hope so. The resources on education you provided were excellent.
    There’s a couple I haven’t read, so thanks. I will be sure to check them out. πŸ™‚
    As a side note: My husband is the 1st two types of people you described, but I’m lucky. He doesn’t pepper me with questions each & everyday ” are you ok?” “are you sure?” ” you sure you don’t need help?” etc… He knows me so well & only asks when needed. He knows I need & enjoy my space. He never resents my having “my alone time”. Like I said, I’m very lucky & I know it. I make sure he knows how much I love & appreciate him every day! πŸ™‚
    I hope our questioner checks back in & let’s us know how she’s doing, & maybe even becomes one of our “regulars” πŸ™‚
    C

  2. This site is great to get more infor from searching the web. I already have the book the bipolar child 3rd edition. by Janice and Damitri Pappalos. God must have put it in my hands 2 times when I prayed and prayed for answers and was not getting them! The book landed in my hands by shutting my eyes and reaching for a book in the self help isle at the Library and again at the book store. Best book ever! This book taught me what I was dealing with in 2 of my 3 children along with other problems. I could not only understand and be at peace with what I was dealing with. Now I could move foreward with that understnding “Accept it” and try to cope with it! I was stronger! Still do not have all the answers as there was never anything diagnosed with in my family but I do see the characteristics now and with the understanding am at peace with it! Someday wish to help others see it!

  3. Great answer! (as usual)

    I’m newly diagnosed BP II and I couldn’t agree more that educating yourself is great. I completed a book called Bipolar In Order by Tom Wootton. That really is great at educating a person with Bipolar Disorder that having this condition doesn’t mean you’re confined to living any less of a full life. And, some people over time can even have a fuller life because of Bipolar Disorder. The book is really uplifting.

  4. I have not been diagnosed with anything but through out my life i have struggled with violent episodes in relationships. It seems when i am single I am just fine and then when I am in a relationship and become close with someone I lose it like I get jealous and paranoid afraid of being cheated on or disrespected. i tend to feel that other women are flirting with my husband. I don’t like him to go out with his friends and always trying to control. I get upset and can’t cope with minor disappointments and it is usually the same cycle of violent events. We argue, I tell him to leave or he decides he wants to leave and then I snap I try to stop him, break things, violent threats, my heart beating fast. and then I come down out of this complete and crazy mental state i get overwhelmed with guilt and remorse. We’ve had public displays of craziness on many occasions. Other symptoms Is that I become so self absorbed I can’t concentrate I tend to make up “what if” scenarios in my head that get me upset. My husband is not a cheater, he doesn’t disrespect me, he is religious he doesn’t drink or smoke and ever since we’ve been together i quit smoking cigarettes and drinking ans I don’t do drugs. He is loving and affectionate and a great father but I flip out on him all the time. When I’m not having one of my episodes we are best friends so why am I going through this why am I so scared of being lied to cheated on abandoned that it makes me crazy. Does anyone know why I’m like this? Is this bipolar?

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