8 Ways to Help Your Bipolar Loved One Cope

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2. Learn How--and When--to Talk

8 Ways to Help Your Bipolar Loved One Cope

Eric doesn't say much when I'm clutching tissues, crying my eyes out. And he's hesitant to speak when I'm manic (not that I would let him get a word in). But when I don't want to get out of bed in the morning, he reminds me why I need to. And when I'm revved up, he's the voice of reason telling me why, for example, a spontaneous trip to New York isn't smart.

Anna Bishop, wife of fellow blogger James Bishop (


) has some wonderful advice for the loved one of a manic depressive on what to say and when:

"When James becomes ill he turns into a different person. I say goodbye to my husband, so to speak, and hello to bipolar James. In a depressive episode he becomes highly irritable and usually itches for a fight. He will often make comments to bait me.

At this point I have two options:

1. Take the bait, have a messy fight, and accelerate his downswing, or

2. Grit my teeth and say, "it's the illness speaking." If I can do that, then I have a much better chance of diffusing the situation. A comment like, "You sound stressed about work - let's talk" has better results and sometimes can even stop the mood swing.