It is easy to pretend everything is fine when you are living with bipolar disorder, hell, I’ve been doing it for 20 years. Put that smile on your face, laugh, do not cause a fuss, be invisible.
But sometimes try as we may, our shiny veneer starts to crack and people can see the bipolar disorder underneath. I started talking slowly and forgetting words. Yesterday I called a green pepper a green potato. As you know if you follow this blog that this round was started with confusion.
After the confusion started my mom, over the phone, asked if I wanted to come stay a few days and I accepted the offer. It was supposed to be for a couple days. It has been more than a couple of weeks. I got worse before I started getting better, but I am on my way to being okay. It is hard as a 38 year old woman to have to be taken care of by my parents. On the one hand I know I am extremely lucky. When I fall they push me back up. Their love is unconditional. They accept my mental illness and all that comes along with living bipolar disorder.
On the other hand, I feel like a burden. With my current condition and medication changes, I can’t be on my own right now. I also can’t drive. As you can imagine that is a major problem. Adding to the mess is the fact that my parents live far out in the country. So, getting anywhere besides a local convenience store is a bit much. But I have to ask for help and somehow we work it out.
Sometimes we have to push our pride aside and say, “Please help me?” to someone. You can start with a therapist. They deal with this type of thing all day so nothing you say is going to scare them away and you are a stranger and sometimes it is easier to open up to a stranger than someone we know. Then we might not feel judged.
For others of us, like myself, I lean on the people who know me best. I feel like I can trust them. They know the “normal” me and when I am off a bit. I become a test and they tell me when I am making wrong answers.
Being a caretaker is for the brave. There is so much that goes into caring for a person who lives with bipolar and is going through an episode. You must be vigilant because someone’s life is in your hands. If they are in a depressive episode, getting someone to brush their teeth may be all you can manage that day. Take it as a win and move on to tomorrow. Like my current situation, you may have to find them transportation to therapy and psychiatry appointments. You may have to be emotionally available after they call in to work saying they need some time off. You also need to be watchful of their medication – are they taking it or are they forgetting to. You need to mindful of changing moods because they can change on a dime. Also, be careful what you say. Something you say in passing may be something the person living with bipolar may latch on to and become upset over.
Whether you are the one asking for help or the one helping, know that it is big of you. Both sides take courage. Stay strong.