This is just a summary list. Keep reading for more details on each mistake. Individual supporters usually don’t make each one of these mistakes, but they often make several of them, which can have terrible consequences.
1. They fail to educate themselves about Bipolar Disorder and its effects.
2. They fail to understand the seriousness of Bipolar Disorder.
3. They fail to recognize how medication is a CRUCIAL part of their loved one’s treatment plan.
4. They assume their loved one will never have another episode, or that their loved one will always be in an episode.
5. They don’t take charge when their loved one is having an episode and is unable to manage their behavior.
6. They fail to protect their finances.
7. They take it personally and fail to understand that Bipolar Disorder is no one’s fault.
8. They don’t take care of themselves.
9. They fail to recognize that there is a Bipolar Stability Equation and that Bipolar Disorder is highly treatable.
10. They believe their loved one is always going to be in the throes of an episode.
Mistake #1: They fail to educate themselves about Bipolar Disorder and its effects.
How do we get knowledge? We get it through information!
Here’s how it works:
1. Knowledge is power.
2. When you learn, you gain knowledge—and therefore power.
3. When you gain that power, you gain control—not only over bipolar disorder, but over your entire life and over yourself.
4. When you have control over yourself, you will make better choices and decisions—and your life will automatically improve.
5. When you have knowledge and power, you have control over how bipolar disorder impacts your life.
So, the bottom line is this: You need more information!
So what’s the catch? The catch is that you and your loved one have to want to do it. You have to be willing to make the necessary changes, and you have to do all the work (although you both should develop a support system to help you). And it will be work!
This is a very dangerous, deadly disorder, and it will take hard work on your end to manage it. You start with education . Read everything you can get your hands on about the disorder. That’s the beginning. Knowledge is power.
There is a saying that, “For lack of knowledge, the people perish.” What is the absolute most deadly thing you can do? Nothing . You can do absolutely nothing. And many supporters do exactly that: nothing. They avoid getting lots of information about the disorder—information that is helpful, informative, and, for their loved one, lifesaving.
Next to doing nothing, flying blind or getting invalid or inaccurate information is the worst, most deadly thing you can do for your loved one. Getting lots of accurate information is crucial to your loved one’s health. If you fail to act, they will suffer.
You need to take action! You need to get more information! You can’t just wait around, hoping your loved one will get better. You need to be proactive and get more information on bipolar disorder.
In general, we fear what we don’t understand. Those with bipolar disorder, for example, often fear the illness because they don’t understand it. If they understood the disorder, however, and had enough knowledge about it, they would no longer be afraid.
I learned a lot of things when I devoted those nine months of my life to researching bipolar disorder. And I’m still learning a lot as I continue to research and stay up-to-date on the latest information available. Probably the biggest thing I learned, however, was the power of information.
You see, we need information. Without information, any attempts at dealing with bipolar disorder will be ineffective at best—dangerous, even deadly, at worst.
Unfortunately, I learned this the hard way. For most of my life, I did not have information, and neither did my family. Instead, we tried supporting someone with bipolar disorder with NO INFORMATION at all—and it showed. We were far from helpful, and I’m sure we probably made things worse a time or two.
I don’t want others to make the same mistakes I did. I want those who are supporting someone with bipolar disorder to have the information they need to be successful in dealing with this illness. That is the essence of my mission.
Where to Get More Information
The most important thing you can do for yourself when your loved one has bipolar disorder is to become educated. Even if you’ve been dealing with bipolar disorder for five years, there is still information out there that you probably don’t know, because doctors and medical researchers are finding out new things about the disorder every day. They are always doing research on bipolar disorder.
For instance, go to the website for the National Institute of Mental Health and look at their “clinical trials” section for bipolar disorder. It can be found online at www.nimh.nih.gov/studies/studies_ct.cfm?id=4 . At the time I wrote this special report, there were eight clinical studies being conducted on bipolar disorder! When you check the website, there will probably be eight new studies!
There are so many resources out there that can give you valuable information. Take the time to learn more and stay up to date, because research and progress is being done every day.
There are many valuable online resources available. If you don’t have Internet access, go to your local library and use the computer there.
At the library, you can also look for books in the psychology and psychiatry sections of the library for information on bipolar disorder. You can also check for magazine articles and professional journals on the topic. The larger the library, the more computers and books it will have—as well as people available to help you.
Your local hospital’s psychiatric wing will also be able to direct you to local resources. Most counties have a mental health services office; if you can’t find it in your local phone book, your hospital can put you in touch with the appropriate office. These mental health services offices, as well as your local hospital, can give you brochures and information on bipolar disorder and put you in touch with counseling services and other resources that can help you and your family better understand bipolar disorder.
You might also be able to find a local support group for supporters of loved ones with bipolar disorder, and there you will get a great deal of sharing of information. If you can’t find one yourself, check with your local hospital or psychiatric facility, and they should be able to point you in the right direction.
Remember, you can never have too much knowledge. Even after you have done your initial study on bipolar disorder, keep learning about new research updates, current bipolar news, and new developments about bipolar disorder.