Avoiding the Helpfulness Trap
When a loved one is cycling into mania, she may become more energized than usual–more driven to get everything done all at once. If you’re a people pleaser by nature, it’s easy to get swept up into the vortex and even contribute to it by being too helpful (in the wrong ways). If possible, it’s better to slow down and take a more rational approach. Otherwise, you and your loved one are likely to run around “like chickens with your heads cut off,” increasing everyone’s stress level.
As we write in Bipolar Disorder for Dummies, bipolar mania tends to feed itself. Mania increases stress, which fuels the mania, which further increases stress and deepens the mania. It can be a vicious cycle.
One way to help break the cycle is to try to stop or at least slow down its momentum. Instead of offering to help your loved one with bipolar execute all his plans and projects right here right now by running errands, making phone calls, etc., consider helping him draw up a plan of attack that provides plenty of time to get everything done. This can add the structure and focus necessary to alleviate some of the anxiety over the need to get everything done at once.
Of course, it’s also necessary during these early stages of mania (the hypomanic times) to encourage your loved one to remain in close contact with his psychiatrist. A medication adjustment (possibly only a temporary adjustment) may be needed to prevent their hypomania from slipping into a full-blown manic episode.
Kraynak, J. (2010). Avoiding the Helpfulness Trap. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 26, 2017, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/bipolar/2010/05/avoiding-the-helpfulness-trap/