Useful Tips

What to do (and what not to do) if a child has bipolar disorder


Relations with a person who suffers from a mental disorder is not an easy thing. This requires a lot of exposure and the right approach. Medical journalist Jason Brick has experienced all the difficulties of marriage with a person suffering from bipolar disorder. He was not able to save the family, but now he shares his experience with other people so that they do not repeat their mistakes.

bipolar disorder

In 2010, after an acute manic attack, Brick was diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. With such a disease, a person alternates between normal intervals of a mental state with manic and depressive, and sometimes mixed states.
According to statistics, after the diagnosis of a mental disorder to one of the spouses, the risk of divorce increases by 80%. Jason tried to save the family for six years, but ended up giving up. Brick notes that the specific details of their discord with his wife will forever remain with him, but he is ready to share four important lessons that he learned from everything that happened. He hopes that this knowledge will help someone maintain a relationship.
First, according to Brick, you need to learn how to ask questions correctly. Moreover, it is important to do both sides. He gives as an example the questions that his wife asked: “What can I do for you?”, “Can't you see what you are doing with our children?”, “Can I help you with something?”. Instead, one should ask: “How can we solve this problem together?”, “What should we focus on today?”, “How do you feel?”, “What do you need most now?”
Jason’s wife also asked the wrong questions: “When will I become normal again?”, “People judge me?” And so on. Instead, one had to ask: “What is needed to maximize my condition?”, “Am I eating right?”, “Am I sleeping right?”
Correctly asked questions will help you avoid conflicts and not waste energy on disputes and irritations.
In addition, Jason recommends a realistic view of things. Do not behave as if everything is in order with your partner or, conversely, protect him from everything in the world. Every time something goes wrong due to his illness, he will experience an increasing sense of guilt for being such. You should evaluate its capabilities realistically, be flexible and understanding. Otherwise, it may look as if you asked a person with a broken leg to run a marathon. Or, on the contrary, like hyper-custody.
Another important point - do not forget about yourself. Jason says that after the birth of a child, his wife's frustration reached a peak. He decided for a while to limit her from all possible worries and took on almost all the tasks - household, child care, work and more. He could sleep four hours a day. Soon he was completely exhausted physically and emotionally, but in the end it grew into anger and contempt for his wife. Therefore, it is very important to monitor your own condition.
Do not forget that you can not limit a person with a disorder. Yes, you need to look at things realistically, but if your soulmate has a desire to do something, give her that opportunity. Again - you don’t have to shoulder everything. Properly distribute responsibilities so that everyone performs the functions that he can do and feel his contribution to the work of your family team.
In conclusion, Jason notes that all of the above tips are not a guarantee that your marriage will not fall apart. However, the result of applying them in practice will definitely be better than if you completely abandoned them.

Rescue Strategies for Parents

It seems to me that the idea of ​​creating parental support groups is a very sound one. We are very smart here with our English and access to resources, and our parents are poorly oriented due to lack of information. And yet, here are some other interesting sources on this subject.

1. "15 tips for parents of a child with BAD, how to deal with outbreaks of anger of the child."

2. Here is a series of more practical tips for parents of children with BAD.

3. And here - the personal experience of the mother of an adult son, who was first treated for addiction, and only then made the correct diagnosis.

4. "Rescue strategies for the parents of a bipolar child."

In short, rescue strategies are as follows.

  • Maintain the overall structure of the day, as children with BAD are extremely susceptible to changes in the schedule.
  • Keep a mood diary.
  • Plan everything in advance: surprises can serve as a trigger to aggravate the condition.
  • Reduce the number of family conflicts: set clear boundaries in the conflict, be as friendly as possible, do not swear in front of the child.
  • Remember the strengths of the child, praise and redirect his energy.
  • Be aware of what is happening outside the walls of the house, talk with the child.
  • Make the transition from one activity to another as painless as possible.
  • Monitor the adolescent for alcohol and drug use.
  • Draw up an “emergency plan” in case of a growth of aggression on the part of the child or the appearance of suicidal thoughts in him. If possible, remove all sharp objects from visibility, be in touch with a doctor.
  • Be aware of the unrealistic standard expectations. Of course, I really want to compare the child with peers, but if you think that the child should do this, this does not mean that he can.
  • Take care of yourself, take care of your mental health.

A source: podcast Where Should We Begin. Series: S2Ep1 You need help to help her. The author is the therapist Esther Perel.