When big life issues come up bipolar folks tend to get caught up in them. We obsess about them. We think about them for hours, days, weeks, etc. We vacillate about which direction to go and what decisions to make. We may want to talk about it for what can seem to listeners like forever.
But here’s the thing. We just need to talk. To have someone listen. Just to have someone say it’s okay that you’re hurting, confused, sad, excited, nervous, happy, etc. Like most people we need and want validation for our feelings. The difference is that the bipolar person needs it for longer and wants more of it than most. This can be very frustrating for those in our care circles.
So we turn to online solutions. In fact, support groups can be effective both online and off, which allows those of us who need help to get it. Instant messaging and texts are another solution but all of these are just part of the answer. Technology is not always enough and we sometimes need more than pixels on a screen to know we are valued and worthwhile of being heard. Not always mind you, but please make sure that your care repertoire consists of more than typing and includes a few phone calls and maybe (if you can make it happen) some actual face time.
Please, if you’re not able to take the time to listen please help us find it elsewhere. Don’t just say, “Find a support group.” without offering to help us with the task. Or one of my favorites, “Find someone else to talk with about this.” What if there isn’t one and you’re the only person? I am lucky enough to have several but I know plenty who don’t. Remember how important you may be to that person. And please (unless we are very recently diagnosed) don’t suggest we find a therapist. We know they’re out there. We either already have one, don’t want one, or can’t afford one.
Bottom line, it’s tough for everyone involved sometimes. For the caregivers and the ones they love. If someone you care about is struggling then they need you to listen. Please don’t expect or wait for us to ask for your help. It really doesn’t always work that way on a reliable basis. We need you to reach out and ask us how things are going. Frequently. Just a quick, “Are you feeling pretty balanced these days?” or, “How are things really going, I’d love to catch up.” mean a lot and can make a huge difference. Especially if you’re able to do a bit of listening, perhaps even over a cup of tea with cookies.