Many challenges exist for the Depressed or Bipolar person in their quest for wellness. The challenges faced by our loved ones trying to help us can seem insurmountable. It’s been a commonly stated belief (at least among the crap that I’ve read and professionals I’ve talked to) that wellness hinges entirely on the afflicted. I strongly believe in this point. We are the ones that need to make necessary lifestyle changes, take our meds, go to the doctors, actually communicate with them, work to understand our own brains and their bullshit, and then incorporate all of that crap into pursuing wellness while juggling whatever else life is throwing at us. That’s exhausting just typing it.
But then we have the loved ones on the sidelines who don’t know how to help. How do you navigate the chaos and turmoil? How do you help that person strive for more?
There are no simple answers. And there no simple answers because each of us is an individual who have our own likes, dislikes, and personality. What’s important to me and drives me towards wellness may mean jack shit all to the next guy or gal.
The following general points should provide some thoughts on a developing a fairly personal approach that will hopefully help chip through the walls to a loved one.
1. The approach must be personal. If you’re the loved one of someone who is struggling, you’ve already got a good idea of what is important to that person. Those are the things that you want to leverage to help guide them towards wellness. It may be a career path, relationship with a family member, school; whatever. It doesn’t matter. The point is, it can be used as leverage to help steer the chaos in a general direction.
Tact entirely matters- which feels very strange for me to say. Do not be dishonest in your approach otherwise you’ll alienate the person as soon as they figure it out. But use the truth to help pull them back. Ensure that what you are saying is done so in a way they can understand and relate to.
An example on selling suppositories:
Right: This suppository will provide relief for XYZ condition for 12 hours.
Wrong: Cram this up your ass for relief from XYZ for 12 hours.
They both say the same thing but in entirely different ways. An example of how I’d approach a Bipolar person:
“Look, I know things are going to shit right now; but if you educate yourself and commit to getting well, you can get back into college and finish your degree once you’re rebalanced. But you’re not going to be able to do that while your moods are bouncing back and forth.”
Continue to calmly reinforce that THEY HAVE THE POWER as often as you can. Remember that you’re trying to hammer through the wall of fucked emotions that mood disorders create. That does include the helplessness, powerlessness, and pointlessness that depression instills in the person. It takes time and persistence to hammer through that bullshit.
2. Once you are through, you want to have a solid path for them to walk. Once they’re hearing you, you want to get them going on the path before the depression and self-doubt has time to destroy the progress. The longer they’re able to think about it; the more they will convince themselves to not do what is necessary to get well. It’ll come as any flavor of excuse ranging from “What’s the point? It won’t work.” to “I feel fine now. Why should I?” So what’s the path?
a. An appointment with the person’s doctor or psych to discuss the situation, where the person fell off their plan, how to get back on.
b. Develop a plan of action on what they need to do to minimize damage to their lives from unwellness.
c. Implement the advice from the professional. Push the person to follow through and stay on the course.
I’m also in favor of getting folks to support groups with like-minded people. They don’t typically require contribution but it can be very helpful to be around other people going through similar if not identical circumstances. I generally encourage people to go to a few meetings for their respective mental illness just to listen. It can also offer a much needed self-esteem and confidence boost if the person is able to contribute positively to other members of the group, in the event that they decide they want to be social in the setting.
An unoccupied unwell mind can be a serious liability.
3. You have to learn patience. Patience, patience, patience. Hard to have patience when you’re watching someone you love unravel to their core and meltdown. To quote Shakespeare: “It sucks ass”. (Author’s Note: Quote may not actually be attributable to Shakespeare.)
For years I had virtually none. My range was either utter apathy or “let’s get this shit done”. But that doesn’t really work in life, does it? No. It takes time to build anything worthwhile. So goes the same with the battle for stability. There are times that it is impossible to make any real gains. You have to be able to identify those times, maintain some distance, and do your best to ensure they cannot do anything drastic while unwell.
Then, when the person hits a more level plane, you can start pushing again to try and make progress. Avoid exhausting yourself trying to swim against the current all the time.
Subscribe to have blog posts and news delivered straight to your Inbox!