Uncertainty is a certainty with bipolar disorder. That is a fact. It can be an exciting part about being around someone with bipolar disorder, but it also can be disruptive and sometimes inappropriate.
Dealing with the uncertainty of bipolar disorder in any kind of relationship takes a bit of finesse and common language. Whether romantic or caregiver, a relationship requires reaching a middle ground on many issues. Here are some tips on finding that ground with someone with bipolar disorder.
Using a ‘Safe Word’
During less hectic times, you should both agree on a word to let the person know his or her actions are getting out of control. This word should be a signal during mania or other periods to notify the person about his or her behavior without publically embarrassing them. Said calmly, it can be an effective tool in controlling a possible sticky situation.
Your safe word can be something silly, or serious, but that’s up to you and the person with bipolar disorder. It should, however, be a word you wouldn’t normally use in daily conversation, so no one gets confused.
Sometimes the sillier the word or phrase, the easier it is to inject a little humor into the situation. Here are some examples you may consider for your bipolar safe word to calm things down when they get hectic:
- soy latte
- Then again, the word “stop” is usually pretty effective.
Use the Energy
Mania can be a troubling time, especially if you need the person with bipolar disorder to sit still for more than 10 minutes. It’s a hard feeling for anyone to control, but done right, that extra energy can be put to better use than, say, endless chattering when it’s time to be quiet.
These activities can help keep a person focused and possibly get some things done on the to-do list. Oftentimes, people find booking a full schedule of things to do helps to guide them through mania and puts their energy to good use.
For example, if you have a dinner party at night, a day of exercise and activity can help the person with bipolar disorder burn off the extra energy so it’s easier for him or her to act accordingly during a civil affair.
Keep Them Accountable
One of the hardest parts of caring or living with someone who is bipolar is dealing with the changes, especially when promises made are not promises kept. While it may be frustrating, you can help keep them accountable for when they say one thing and do another.
If your partner is habitually making promises and not keeping them, calling him or her out on these broken promises can help keep him or her accountable. It’s also imperative to inform your loved one of how those broken promises jeopardize your relationship because it institutes a lack of trust.
While some spontaneous activity can add spice to a relationship, erratic and irresponsible behavior can severely jeopardize it.
Install Some Safeguards
This can be hardest while the person is under mania and is going on a rampant spending spree, even if they do not have the funds to support it. If you two share an account, protect the person from going too far by putting limits on the account, or stashing money away in another account. They may accuse you of being deceitful, but you’ll know your actions are to protect everyone.
A person with bipolar disorder will often have grand ideas during mania and may want to be by him- or herself during periods of depression. It can be difficult to not take any of it personally, but understand that the person isn’t acting out of malice.
This doesn’t mean giving him or her free reign to do as he or she sees fit, but it does mean keeping an open mind.
Don’t Be Afraid to Laugh
Yes, things can get crazy, hectic, or downright near insane. However, that might be something worth relaxing about and having a laugh. The more you can laugh off the small things—like a person being a few minutes late or getting behind on laundry—the less they’ll build up to bigger problems.