I don’t know anyone who likes to ask for help from their bipolar support system. No one wants to feel like they can’t handle things on their own or like a burden to others. The impact that mental health conditions such as bipolar can have on our lives requires us to seek help (Asking for Help Because of Bipolar). This is where having a bipolar support system that is equipped to help you comes in handy and you must help your support systemp in order to allow your support system to help you.
What Is a Support System for Bipolar Disorder?
The ability to self-care is paramount. Unfortunately, for those of us living with bipolar disorder, issues with self-regulation can make self-care seem impossible sometimes (Are You Afraid to Ask for Mental Health Help?). A support system is a group of people that you trust and can turn to for emotional support. Family, close friends, a significant other, a therapist, or a psychiatrist are examples of people you might choose to include in your support system for bipolar disorder.
How to Equip Your Support System for Bipolar Disorder to Help
The people in your support system can’t assist you if they don’t know what you need. It’s difficult to communicate that in a time of crisis. I encourage you to have open and honest conversations with your support net you continue to learn about yourself and your experience with bipolar disorder (Supporting Someone with Bipolar: For Family and Friends). Here are some things that might be valuable to discuss with your support system for bipolar:
- Talk about your experience. Bipolar disorder has many symptoms that present in various ways. Talk to your support network about how you’re affected by cycles of mania/hypomania and depression. Open up to your comfort level. The goal here is to increase their awareness and understanding.
- Identify warning signs and triggers. Sometimes our supporters see things that we don’t recognize. Discuss the things that are specific to you. For example, if your significant other knows that irritability is a warning sign for mood disturbance, they can bring this to your attention and the two of you can create a plan of action for wellness.
- Talk about what helps and what doesn’t. We learn something about ourselves with each episode. A lecture from your friends about how it should be easy to just “pull yourself together” isn’t helpful when you’re depressed. Empathetic and compassionate language, kindness, patience, availability, positive activities, and trust are things that you might appreciate during difficult times. This is crucial information for your bipolar support system.
- Share your safety plan. Risky and dangerous behaviors, self-harm, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts are not foreign to bipolar disorder. Your safety is always the top priority. Safety crisis plans include coping skills, trusted individuals, safe places, and crisis resources. Chances are that you’ve created one of these with your team of professionals. It’s not a bad idea to share your plan with your support network for bipolar disorder so that they can assist in times of crisis.
- Establish boundaries for yourself and your supporters. Talk about what you are comfortable letting others help you with and, in return, let your support network tell you what they are able and willing to do. Supporting others can be hard sometimes. As much as your support network cares for you, care for them.