Having a family member who struggles with mental illness isn’t something that only affects the afflicted, but the entire family as well.  People suffering from bipolar disorder experience extreme dips in moods alternated with extreme happiness.  The chemical imbalance in their brains requires them to take special medication in order to be able to regulate their moods and urges.

When a family member has an episode which results in irregular behavior it can be extremely emotional for their loved ones who can feel helpless and confused.  Do not despair, however.  With the right tools, your family can make it through mental illness together by following a few simple rules.

Stay Patient

Same as you have to remain patient with a child who can’t help their urges at a young age, you have to have the same compassion for a loved one with a mental illness. They can’t control their body’s composition, so getting angry with them isn’t going to do anything.

Coming from a place of acceptance and compassion is the best way to handle a family member who suffers from a mood altering illness.  Sometimes even if you can’t completely understand it, the best thing you can do is just love them.  For all that they are.  If their wonderful sides are truly wonderful, then anything else that comes along with it is worth the patience.

Educate Yourself

Doing research on mental illness, it’s triggers, and it’s therapies, is a great way to paint a full picture of yourself of exactly what your loved one is going through.  By explaining to your children exactly why or how it works can simplify the experience and put it in perspective for them rather than just “accepting it.”  

Knowledge is power, and by being able to understand exactly what you family member is enduring, you can provide more support for them and have even more compassion.

Group Therapy

Since an episode can be an extremely emotional experience for everyone in the family, group therapy can be great for everyone to take part in.  Talking to other families who go through the same experiences can reduce feelings of isolation, and a fear that there may be something “wrong” with your family.

1 in 3 people suffers from a mental illness and it is much more common than you might think.

Taking part in a group therapy session is a way to release your emotions, share, and learn more about mental illness.  

You can also build a support system and lifelong friends by opening yourself up in this kind of an environment.  You will be a better friend and family member by giving yourself the support you need in addition to the people that you care about most.