This is a guest post from Naomi Esterly, I am pleased to have her guest post on my blog today.
BIO: Naomi Esterly is a mother of two boys, a baby girl and a wife to an army man. She may appear like she’s got her hands full but she tries to find time to volunteer in her community center and write freelance for companies like 1800WheelChair.Com. In this guest post she talks about supporting family members dealing with bipolar disorder.
Several million people are affected by the serious mental illness called Bipolar disorder. While bipolar disorder, a condition that is characterized by extreme mood swings that range from mania to depression, is most common in teenagers and young adults it can strike people of all ages. Those who suffer from bipolar disorder experience a myriad of emotions, which can be stressful to themselves as well as those around them. Often times, people distance themselves from loved ones who suffer from bipolar disorder simply because they aren’t aware of ways to cope with the illness. However, with the proper knowledge and education, I have discovered that it is possible to learn positive ways to live with those suffering from the illness. I’ve been able to learn about the positive ways to deal with bipolar disorder through raising my son, Jacob, who is now 20 years old and currently able to live a reasonably normal life despite the illness, thanks to many of the positive coping mechanisms we’ve learned together throughout the years.
Life can be stressful for many reasons. Teenagers and young adults experience a multitude of changes as their bodies grow and they transition into adulthood. They experience additional stress as they acquire many of the responsibilities their parents often previously handled, such as paying bills, maintaining employment, managing dietary needs and healthy living, and sometimes even raising children of their own. As we all know, excessive stress can trigger emotions. When stress triggers the emotions of someone of any age suffering from bipolar disorder, the results can be disastrous. A person who has bipolar disorder may react erratically, irrationally, and at times, dangerously. Often times, the results of the behavior will not only adversely affect the person suffering from the illness, but will add stress to the lives of those in the path of its destruction.
In addition to stressful, watching this behavior unfold can be heartbreaking to loved ones of someone suffering from bipolar disorder. Educating yourself about the illness is a key factor in learning how to understand and cope with it. I strongly recommend that you find a support group online or in your community which will connect you to others who are experiencing the same frustrations. Connecting with others has allowed me the opportunity to learn more about the illness, and has helped me learn unique and creative ways to cope with it that have worked for others in similar situations. For example, another group member encouraged me to work with my son to keep a journal charting when he takes his medications each day, his mood, as well as any manic or depressive episodes he experiences. This way, we are able to see if there are any identifiable factors which may trigger an episode, and can also communicate a clear message to his doctor in case his medications need to be adjusted.
In an effort to reduce stress and also understand the illness from your loved ones perspective, practice communicating positive messages in an effort to express your support and let them know they are not alone in their struggle. Bipolar disorder can often trigger negative feelings and emotions which in turn, can easily trigger negative reactions. Taking the time to understand the struggles and also focus on the positive will help direct everyone away from the negative path of destruction created by bipolar disorder and potentially assist in averting disaster. Finally, remember that you too, are not alone.