When you’re in a relationship with someone who has bipolar disorder and seems to be exhibiting symptoms of mania or hypomania, you’re likely to face the dilemma of whether to say anything:

  • If you honestly express your observations by saying something like, “You seem like you’re getting a little manic,” you may come across as the insensitive jerk who blames everything on bipolar disorder and is unwilling to take responsibility for problems in the relationship. Furthermore, you may be on the receiving end of some nasty accusations, such as actually wanting your loved one “locked up” or “medicated into a stupor.”
  • If you bite your tongue, you risk the very real possibility that your loved one will end up hospitalized, spiraling out of control, and perhaps even landing in the hospital, in jail, or worse, in which case you’re now the irresponsible oaf who failed to see what was going on and get help for your loved one.

So what do you do?

Shameless disclaimer: I know this may come across as insensitive, but I believe this is exactly how some loved ones feel in the midst of bipolar mania – at least it’s how I feel at times – and I want to capture the essence of the accompanying frustration and anger. I know it’s even tougher for people who are experiencing mania and may lack the insight to seek help for themselves. But it’s also very difficult for loved ones to know what to do. Hopefully, we can eventually move past the frustration and anger to discover or develop practical, effective, and compassionate approaches for dealing with such situations.

Hope you’re not waiting for an answer, because I’m the one asking the question here. I’m asking you – If you’ve encountered a situation like this with a loved one, how did you react? What did you do? Was your approach successful or not in getting help for your loved one?

Tune in next week for Dr. Fink’s answer and insights.