Archives for May, 2012

Helping Loved One

Separating What’s Bipolar From What’s Not

One of the things I hate most about bipolar disorder is how subtly sinister it can be when a loved one is trending toward mania — not manic yet or even hypomanic, just talking faster and louder, blurting out statements that are a little too open and honest and perhaps hurtful, and being more self-centered than usual.

A lot of bad stuff can happen during these times to drive a wedge between loved ones, but nothing bad enough to convince the person or a doctor or therapist that bipolar is at work.

During periods of low-grade pre-hypomania, uncertainty fogs the mind. In our family, we argue more and "walk on eggshells." Everyone's afraid to mention the elephant in the room out of fear of being accused of blaming bipolar disorder or the person who has it for our family drama. After all, the rest of us in the family are admittedly less than perfect, and even in a normal, healthy family (whatever that is), interpersonal conflicts arise.
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NAMI Support Groups: Combined or Separate?

We just started a NAMI support group in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Since the town is small (population about 15,000), we decided to start with a combination group, consisting of both consumers (people who have a diagnosis) and family members. We hope eventually to get enough people involved to split into two groups — one exclusively for consumers and the other for family members and friends.

Having both perspectives in a single group has its advantages and disadvantages. Personally, I feel that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.
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