If the person is ill a lot of the time

Some people have patterns of illness that are more severe. They may relapse more frequently or their illness may be more resistant to treatment. This can be very challenging for both you and the person. Don’t give up hope as patterns of illness can change and there are things you can do that may make it a little easier to cope.

It may make things a bit easier if you:

  • Find out what resources are available to support yourself, the person and the family when the illness is severe (e.g. community & health services, respite, financial assistance and professional counseling).
  • Maintain as much of a routine as possible.
  • Do not isolate yourself socially, as this can increase your risk of depression (e.g. join a peer support group, organize a social activity or regular chat with a relative or friend) .
  • Don’t criticize yourself for feeling stressed. Reassure yourself that it is common to feel very stressed in a challenging situation.
  • Find ways you can relieve stress (e.g. talk to someone you trust, watch a funny movie, go for a walk). Even small things can make a difference.
  • Consider making some lifestyle changes of your own to cope with the person’s persistent or recurring illness (e.g. you may consider following a strict budget, changing jobs or arranging for others to take over more of your tasks).
  • Suggest to the person that they get a second opinion from an expert clinician.
  • If you can’t change the situation, focus on doing things that you can control

Browse the resources section for a list of organizations and websites that offer support and information to people with bipolar disorder and their family or close friends.