Learning how to live with a manic depressive, or someone suffering from bi-polar disorder can at first be chaotic and more than a bit confusing. Once you begin to grow accustomed to the fact that there will be no set times for depression and no schedule on the episodes of mania then you may have a great beginning at learning to cope with this form of mental illness in your love one.
Increase Your Knowledge
One of the most important factors to learn how to with a manic depressive is to understand the illness itself. Be sure to research the signs and symptoms of a manic depressive and be aware of the many things that may be triggers to episodes of depression or mania in your loved one particularly.
Understanding the Ups and Downs
Although the ups and downs of a manic depressive can lend itself to a chaotic nature that some people may be uncomfortable with, it is just as important for the loved ones of the person who suffers as it is to the sufferer themselves to understand that the mood fluctuations are a sign of the mental illness, not an indication of the true nature or feelings of the manic depressive. Do not take the episodes of a person suffering from this mental illness as a personal reflection on something you may or may not have done.
Put aside your own possible preconceived notions of what a person suffering from manic depression may act like. The person in your life may have achieved what a lot of other people who suffer with bipolar disorder can achieve; the innate tendency to hide it fairly consistently. Or they may wear their emotions painfully open on their sleeves and have an utter lack of control over their mood swings.
Often, the true key to learning how to live with a manic depressive is for the sufferer to understand what is normal or average. It may indeed be more startling to you than it is to those who have lived with this mental illness for many years.
Although this can cause some high emotions or unpleasant episodes depending upon the current issue, encouraging your loved ones to share what is under the surface is very important. It can be this all important factor, of letting your loved one know you truly desire to know their feelings, even if they are unpleasant, that can mean the difference between them feeling entirely alone and miserable, or feeling supported and lifted, even at their lowest points. It is of utter importance for those suffering from manic depression to feel as if they have an outlet for their emotions and frustrations, without it the tendency to self medicate or use other harmful means of self treatment are increased.
Most who suffer from manic depression understand that the information they have to share may not always be great conversation, but the fact that you are willing to listen regardless, will ensure them that you are there for them in all of the ways they truly need.
Attend Counseling as a Group
Whether it is your spouse or one or more of your children who are suffering from manic depression, learning how to get through everyday occurrences as smoothly as possible is a necessity to offering as healthy a living environment as possible. Attending group counseling sessions can give your loved one the chance to openly voice some of their issues without worrying about the backlash or repercussions of the information they are sharing. Additionally, being in a group counseling session will give the therapist the chance to see how you interact with each other. They can therefore offer any corrective advice for your communication skills if they are needed.
Patience is the Key
Ultimately, patience is the true key in learning how to live with a manic depressive as it will be required in much of your interaction with your suffering loved one. The patience to learn, listen and love regardless is of great importance.