While it can be rewarding and enriching, having a close friend with bipolar can also sometimes be frustrating, and confusing. Here are ways to be supportive—while taking care of yourself, too:
#1 Educate yourself about bipolar
Learn more about its array of symptoms and the different facets of its treatment. Don’t be afraid to ask your friend if he or she is open to answering your questions.
#2 Avoid passing judgment
If you see your friend struggling, approach him from a place of compassion and concern, rather than from a place of judgment.
#3 Communicate your acceptance
Let your friend know what you admire about her and that you appreciate how hard she works to stay well. Be patient and understanding.
#4 Establish a warning system
Decide together how to best communicate any behavior that could indicate that symptoms are worsening or escalating.
#5 Get to know them well
Spend time with your friend regularly, even routinely, to establish a strong connection. Just be there to listen and lend an ear.
#6 Be motivating
If your friend is in a low period, understand that it can be very difficult for him to find motivation to get out of that dark place. Offer to pick him up and go see a movie or just go for a walk; but respect his decision to not be social.
#7 Practice self-care
Set a good example and become a role model to your friend by taking care of yourself first. Establish boundaries, find time to relax, and keep doing the things you enjoy.
Sasha Kildare, a feature writer, speaker, and educator, is also the author of the upcoming memoir and information guide Intact: Untangle the Web of Bipolar Depression, Addiction, and Trauma. Her blogs about storytelling can be found at DrivenToTellStories.com, and you can find her on Twitter @sashakildare and Instagram @sashakildare562.
With bipolar disorder, we’re more likely to become overdependent on our digital devices. Here’s how personal tech can affect our moods—plus tips for self-protection. Are we too attached to our digital devices? That question has been debated for almost as long as the iPhone has been around, giving rise to the first National Day of...
Talking about my bipolar disorder with each of my children was difficult. Once each was old enough for “the talk,” they had sharply different reactions. Here I share my story and some tips that might help you navigate your own family discussions. Difficult Conversations about Bipolar Disorder The discussions I’ve had with my children about...
Mood symptoms such as overspending, hypersexuality, anger attacks, and self-isolation hurt those around us. A simple apology is just the starting point of making things right. When Our Actions during Bipolar Mood Episodes Harm Others Olivia S. of Colorado got up one morning to unexpectedly find two of her four grown children in her living...
Whether you live with bipolar or love someone who does, you can find comfort, wisdom, and strategies (maybe even a good laugh!) in these inspirational books. We can lose ourselves in the power of the written word, compelled by the raw emotions, deep insights, and humorous takes offered by others like us—people who share our...