Bipolar Disorder is a mood disorder characterized by episodes of depression and mania. You may know this condition by its former title, “manic-depression”.
Like any physical health condition, sharing a diagnosis of a mental health condition with family and friends is of paramount importance. Given the nature of bipolar disorder, where depressive episodes may contribute to isolation and manic episodes may lead to impulsive decision making, open communication can not only help better manage your symptoms but also reduce stigma. Here are some suggestions to better communicate your diagnosis:
- Educate family and friends: Important people in your life may have limited knowledge about bipolar disorder and are likely to have some misconceptions around the condition. Educating them will not only address any myths around the condition but will create a better support network. Remember to remain calm and avoid being defensive. As frustrating as it can be that you loved ones may not understand your illness, keep in mind that at first, it probably took you a while to understand it. Direct your friends and family to important websites where they can learn more and talk to them about your treatment plan. If you feel you need their support to cope with the condition, openly share these feelings with them. Your ability to educate them will normalise your diagnosis and open gates of further communication. Give them the official definition, and credit the source, rather than relying on misconceptions and myths, your family and friends will turn to you to clarify and ask questions.
- Create a support team: Decide a list of people who you think will benefit from knowing and understanding the diagnosis. Openly share your symptoms with your support team and let them know what type of support you may need. Preparing them will only ease the process of receiving support.
- Building acceptance & setting boundaries: Acceptance from others that you may not be able to make sound judgements during episodes of depression or mania can ease the process of asking for support. You could benefit from using your support network and have people looking out for you. But it’s equally important to set some boundaries so that you don’t feel that you are always being watched. Hence why openly talking about creating a plan around acceptance of your condition and setting boundaries with loved ones will help better manage your condition.
It’s important to remember that bipolar disorder can be a lifelong condition and therefore is likely to involve ongoing conversations. However remember that with better treatment, and learning new coping skills, the effects of bipolar disorder will diminish in your life. It’s best not to feel frustrated by constant questions about what it’s like to live with bipolar disorder, the ones that ask probably ask because they care. The more you embrace it, the easier it becomes to communicate about it.
If you are going through difficulties and need support, why not give us a call today? Our team of highly skilled and well-experienced Psychologists are here to help.