Bipolar and Caregivers

Bipolar disorder can affect not only the person with the diagnosis, but also those who provide care and love. While the demands of caregiving are often not easy, know that a caregiver’s support and perseverance can have an enormous impact on a loved one’s treatment and recovery. Also, be reassured that, although the lifestyle changes associated with bipolar are real, caregivers and those with the diagnosis often find new ways to live productive and fulfilling lives. Caregiving experiences and the impacts on daily life will all differ. This is an extensive resource and a compassionate community providing advice and insight, trusted information and practical help for: spouses, partners, family members, friends, parents of adult children and children of aging parents. Find helpful coping strategies to help manage symptoms, develop boundaries, and maintain a sense of balance, joy, and hope.

Blogs and Articles

Caring For A Loved One With Bipolar: What Helps & What Hurts

Stephen Propst
April 26, 2016

When you love someone who is struggling with bipolar disorder, there’s only so much you can do. But here’s some advice on how to help: Do you have a family member or friend who lives with bipolar? Do you feel like you’re fighting an uphill battle? Who can blame you? It’s a difficult diagnosis that...

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Learn the Importance of Hope in Your Life

Julie Joyce
April 5, 2016

After raising a child with bipolar, I’ve learned to appreciate the small things in life and depend upon the people who love us the most. When people ask me what it is like to raise a child who has bipolar disorder I often sigh and say it is like being to hell and back and...

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Winning a Presidential Election When One’s Spouse Has Bipolar

Gabe Howard
April 5, 2016

When discussing the state of mental health advocacy in our country, we consider the political liability of one’s spouse who has a bipolar diagnosis.   As the primary season winds on, many conversations about who is—and who isn’t—electable continue to dominate the news cycle as well as interpersonal conversations. We, as a society, should probably...

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The Parent’s Perspective: Learning to Let Go

Julie Joyce
March 21, 2016

As a parent of an adult child with bipolar, it’s sometimes necessary to establish boundaries—stepping back and letting them lead the way. If there is one thing I have learned about bipolar it’s that it is very unpredictable. Watching your loved one suffer and not being able to help them is one of the toughest...

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finding hope

As a Parent You Can Make A Difference in Overcoming Public Stigma

Julie Joyce
March 7, 2016

Instead of hiding in the shadows I chose to speak openly about my son’s bipolar disorder and found that one person can make a difference: One person can make a difference. We all know that bipolar comes with a lot of challenges, but it also comes with a lot of rewards. I have never been...

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man

Waiting For The Other Shoe to Drop

Julie Joyce
January 11, 2016

When my son isn’t really stable, his perception of reality becomes skewed. I become his target and eventually I start to shut off emotionally. Recently, my son and I were having a conversation about apologies. He told me that I have only apologized to him twice in his life. I am sure there were a...

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Loving Someone With Bipolar

Julie A. Fast
January 1, 2016

A mood episode can cause your loved one to say and do horrible things, but it’s not personal; it’s a medical condition. Years ago, my much-loved partner, Ivan, went into a massive manic and psychotic episode that lasted for almost five months. As his sole caregiver, I was very confused and scared. During this episode,...

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Another Holiday Season With My Son Being Judged

Julie Joyce
December 30, 2015

After 22 years of holiday get-togethers, I still don’t have any grand advice on how to cope with family who ignores my son. Anyone else dread the holidays? It has been a rough year all around. Not only am I trying to rebuild the relationship with my son, but the holidays are quickly approaching. Ok...

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What My Mother’s Bipolar Taught Me About Real Love

Andrea Paquette
December 25, 2015

Watching my parents take care of one another during a crisis has shown me that true love rises above any mental health challenge. We do not choose our family members. And mostly, we are expected to love them no matter the circumstances. It is my hope that we can love our parents when times are...

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Parenting My Son: When Sorry Isn’t Enough

Julie Joyce
December 15, 2015

It can be difficult to separate the diagnosis of bipolar with the person in the midst of a mood episode, especially when they are not medication compliant. I’m sorry. Two little words that can really be effective in a relationship, but only if the person saying it really means it. Living with someone who has...

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When The Roles of Caregiving Are Reversed

Beth Brownsberger Mader
December 12, 2015

If the person with bipolar has to become the caregiver, providing that love and care is not always simple and easy, especially while managing mental health challenges. A month ago my husband underwent major cardiothoracic surgery to remove a glandular mass sitting near his heart. We learned of this scary, unwanted blob five months earlier,...

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asking for help and support

When Caregivers Don’t Know Where To Turn

Karl Shallowhorn
November 20, 2015

At one time or another, someone may come to you seeking help. Being present and attentive can make all the difference in the world. I’ve been working in the mental health and addictions field for over 14 years with more than eight of those years as a clinician. During this time I’ve been privileged to...

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We All Need To Talk About Our Pain

Julie Joyce
November 16, 2015

There is no shame in being hurt and expressing how it makes us feel—processing your pain makes you stronger and healthier. Recently I had someone close to me break my trust and I was immensely hurt by it. This wasn’t the first time this year I have been hurt by someone close to me. Relationships...

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When A Loved One Cannot Recognize His Diagnosis

Sheila Hamilton
November 3, 2015

Among the greatest frustrations in caring for a person with bipolar disorder is anosognosia, or lack of awareness of one’s own diagnosis. It has been nine years this week since my late husband David died by suicide. He’d been formally diagnosed with bipolar disorder only six weeks earlier, but in fact, his doctors believed he...

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Parenting And Living Two Different Lives

Julie Joyce
October 19, 2015

To the outside world, I had it altogether—wearing the mask of a smile—but on the inside, I was falling apart at the seams.   I think I have developed a split personality. Not the clinical type. The type where I am living two different lives at the same time. I have this whole mental health...

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“Blessed Are The Crazy”—A Review

Karl Shallowhorn
October 9, 2015

Author Sarah Griffith Lund has a gift for sharing her experience, strength, and hope about living with family diagnosed with bipolar. “Expressions of solemn testimony have long been important to the children of God upon the earth.” ~ Joseph B. Wirthlin We all have a story. Some of us have had to endure hardships that...

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How To Help Family Become Better Caregivers

Janice Arenofsky
October 1, 2015

Here are strategies that, along with time and effort, will help your family members understand your bipolar disorder. People with bipolar disorder need all the emotional support they can get from friends and family. With time and effort, it’s possible to minimize criticism and crankiness from frightened loved ones. The process is “a two-way street,”...

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Bipolar Disorder and Suicide: Let’s Change the Way We Talk About Symptoms

Julie A. Fast
September 24, 2015

Suicidal symptoms, due to bipolar disorder, should be talked about openly and in a natural way in order to save lives. Yesterday’s blog by our new blogger Sheila Hamilton, the author of the upcoming book All the Things We Never Knew touched me deeply.  (Click here to read Sheila’s blog post if you are new to her work.)...

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What I Learned About How To Prevent Suicide

Sheila Hamilton
September 23, 2015

All people deserve hope, knowledge, tools, a sense of community and access to care to recover from trauma. We should demand hope. We should expect recovery. According to the National Institute for Mental health, 41,000 people take their lives every year. It is said for every suicide, eight people are profoundly affected. That’s hundreds and...

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Now That My Son is An Adult, The Law Makes it Difficult to Help Him

Julie Joyce
September 10, 2015

Society doesn’t understand that the system is severely flawed and leaves us parents with no recourse to help our kids in their most vulnerable states. James Holmes was sentenced this week for the Colorado shootings. I read the statement his mother gave in court to the families and it made me cry. I don’t think...

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