Talking to the person about ways to help

Things to consider when talking with the person about their bipolar disorder, its management and how you can help include:

Timing is important

It is best to have these discussions when the person is relatively well. If the person has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder they may not be ready to accept the illness or discuss its management.

Keep the lines of communication open

Invite the person to share their views on what helps people to manage bipolar disorder and listen to their point of view. Make use of good communication skills.

Use ordinary language

Don’t feel obliged to use psychiatric jargon. Many families have their own ways of talking about the illness (e.g. feeling really down or very high).

Ask what you can do to help

If appropriate in your situation, mention that you would like to help with the illness, but do not want to be intrusive or get in the way of the person’s own illness management strategies. You could ask the person what you can do to help in specific circumstances (e.g. what you can do to help when the person struggles to get up in the morning when they are becoming depressed , or how to assist them with their plans to prevent relapse). There is a possibility that the person may not know what help they need. If you have some ideas about how you could help, discuss these options tactfully with the person.

Check things out with the person

Another idea is to check with the person when they are well if the support you have been providing is appropriate.

See also: