Bipolar disorder is a mental illness that often takes a toll on people if not diagnosed. However, with a diagnosis, one can leave a normal life by taking medication, attending group therapy, and working with a psychiatrist. The fact that you know that your son’s girlfriend is bipolar shows that she’s already diagnosed. With that settled, you can interact with her and understand how to relate to someone with bipolar disorder. Here are some pointers to help you get started.
Educate Yourself About Bipolar
Learn about bipolar disorder. You don’t have to get in-depth about the details, but it helps if you have a rough idea of the manic and depressive episodes. Start by reading information about bipolar online. Strive to understand the symptoms of each mood episode and the different treatment plans. You can also involve your son in your learning expeditions.
You’ll better understand her condition by interacting with people who have family members or friends with bipolar. Look out for bipolar support groups or bipolar awareness campaigns to gain more knowledge about the condition. The more you learn about bipolar, the easier it will relate to your son’s girlfriend.
Talk About It
When your son and his girlfriend are ready, it’s essential to have a conversation about bipolar. It would help to know how they are coping. Besides, you’ll know if she’s taking medication or under the guidance of a psychiatrist. Talk to your son too. Please get to know about his experience and how he’s coping.
Remember, conversations around mental health are usually uncomfortable. So please don’t push it. Make a suggestion and sit back. If they want to talk about it with you, they’ll come around in due time. The key is to understand better the dynamics of dating someone with bipolar and offer support. Let your son know that you are there for them if they ever need your help.
Separate Your Son’s Girlfriend From The Disorder
Your son’s girlfriend is a person first. The disease is just a part of her life and doesn’t define her whole being. However, understand that the condition plays a significant role in her relationships, behavior, and personality.
Encourage your son to get support. It’s draining to deal with a loved one’s depression and manic moods. Caregiving can compromise his mental and physical health. Therefore, it is essential to have enough sleep, eat healthy food, and have some personal space to re-energize. The sporadic changes in mood can cause stress and frustration in the relationship. It can lead to break-up if not taken care of.
So, it is essential to guide your son into seeking support. He needs to interact with people whose partners have bipolar disorder. Their experience will provide insights on how to better relate to his girlfriend. It is also a good idea to join a support group for the same. You can encourage your son to seek therapy to better cope with the stress. If need be, give your son support by attending these sessions together.
Just like any other disease, bipolar treatment takes time. It is a manageable condition, but it is not cured. Your son’s girlfriend might take the medication and attend therapy but don’t expect a quick recovery. The treatment is a lifelong process.
Know What To Do During Emergency
Bipolar is a life-threatening disease. It would help if you had an emergency plan in case your son’s girlfriend turns violent. For starters, have her parents’ number or a close person you can contact in case of emergency. Next, have her psychiatrist’s number within reach and the hospital he/she works; a clear plan on what to do during an emergency will help you avoid last-minute rush and panic in case of suicide attempts or excessive violence.
For your son to have a fulfilling relationship, he will need support from family and guidance form professionals. You can get involved and be part of their journey. It will not be easy. But with the right mindset, awareness, and commitment, you’ll find the experience worthwhile.