1. Educate Yourself
I remember the afternoon of my first severe panic attack. I phoned Eric
at work as my breath grew shallow and my heart pounded. I was sure I
was dying of a heart attack. As soon as he walked through the door,
Eric stared at me suspiciously. My limbs were in place, and I seemed to
be functioning just fine. What was the problem?
What quickly convinced my spouse that my bipolar disorder was an illness, not a weakness, was research. The reams of paper that I printed out and asked him to read. The psychiatric evaluations he witnessed. The group therapy and family sessions he attended. And the conversations with other spouses of those with bipolar disorder.
Education is always the starting point. Because until the spouse or daughter or friend of a manic-depressive understands the illness, it is impossible for them to to say or do the right thing to be supportive. Do your own research by going online to NAMI.org (National Alliance of Mental Illness) or dbsalliance.org (Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance), or by doing a Google search on the words "bipolar disorder."