Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: October 2013

Monday, October 21, 2013

When Someone You Love is Manic

While depression is often the worst part of bipolar disorder for the sufferer, the mania is often the most damaging to his relationships. One twitter follower described the mania she experiences as feeling unhinged with overwhelming thoughts and ideas. The racing thoughts often lead to grandiose and unrealistic beliefs.

The National Institute of Mental Health describes mania as  

·         A long period of feeling "high," or an overly happy or outgoing mood

·         Extremely irritable mood, agitation, feeling "jumpy" or "wired."

·         Talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another, having racing thoughts

·         Being easily distracted

·         Increasing goal-directed activities, such as taking on new projects

·         Being restless

·         Sleeping little

·         Having an unrealistic belief in one's abilities

·         Behaving impulsively and taking part in a lot of pleasurable,
high-risk behaviors, such as spending sprees, impulsive sex, and impulsive business investments.

Acquaintances might view the manic person as talkative, extremely happy, and fun to be around. The people closest to the person with mania however deal with the consequences of the person’s irritability and reckless choices.

I recently spoke to a mom whose son is currently having a manic episode. She is frustrated because her son won’t listen to her. Because mania leads to unrealistic beliefs and racing thoughts, you can’t rationalize with someone in a manic state because they are irrational. Using the broken record technique may be helpful. Speak in short sentences and say them repeatedly until your loved one comprehends what you are communicating.

Dealing with someone who is manic takes incredible patience and love. You may need to postpone any serious discussions until the person comes down from the high. When your loved one is in a healthy place, ask her how she wants you to respond to her when they are manic. Ask her what helps and what hurts.

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Sunday, October 13, 2013

How to Help Someone who is Depressed

People who are depressed often feel like they are drowning, and wonder if they'll ever be able to breathe again. Several years ago I asked a group of people who were struggling with depression what advice they would give to someone who has a depressed love one. This post is a combination of those responses.
Before I share some practical suggestions on how to show you care, I want to clarify a few things about depression. Depression can be one of three types:

1.       Circumstantial – Depression can be a result of difficult circumstances or even grief. When depression is circumstantial, counseling is often beneficial. Time is also a helpful healer in circumstantial depression (as circumstances change, the depression lifts). Sometimes, medication may be needed short-term to help a person get on top of the depression.

2.      Result of sin – Sometimes depression is a consequence of specific sin in a person’s life. When this is the case, confession is the key. A person needs to confess to God and potentially to others.

3.      Physiological – Depression can be due to physiological factors. This could be due to a medical condition, genetics, and/or a chemical imbalance. If depression is physiological, medication is almost always necessary.

People struggling with depression often feel alone, even if they have family and friends in their lives. It is important to show them that they are not alone, even in their darkest hour. Your presence is important; sometimes a hug and a listening ear is a great gift. Too often people try to give advice. Your loved ones don’t need you to tell them what to do. They need to know you care. When you speak, make sure that your words are encouraging and show your support. Your love and support shows them that you are willing to walk with them in their pain. It’s easy for people to say, “Just snap out of it,” but it is much more helpful if you will listen and show compassion. The depression may not lift right away, but they will remember you were there for them.

Some shared that volunteering helped them to get their eyes off of themselves and focus on others. When the depression is circumstantial, this can help.

Above all else, pray for your suffering friend or family member. The Bible tells us that God will never leave us or forsake us; God doesn’t promise to alleviate the pain of depression, but he does promise his presence in the midst of it. Ask God to give your loved one peace in the midst of the pain. Pray that they will draw closer to God during the dark night of the soul. Pray for deliverance from the depression. Let your friend know you are praying and when possible pray with them either in person or on the phone. Writing your prayers and sending them in a letter so that your depressed family member can revisit it in those dark hours and be reminded that she is not alone.

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Help! Someone I Love Has Bipolar Disorder: Part I

When someone you love has bipolar disorder, it influences your life as well. I’ve had several people ask me to write about how loved ones can cope with their loved ones excessive mood swings. First let me say that there is no easy answer. Each individual and each situation is unique, but I will share some things I’ve learned along the way. This post is the first in a series that I will write on the subject.

It is important to remember that your loved one has bipolar disorder, but this does not define her. Every person is complex and uniquely gifted; don’t let the disease cloud your overall perception of your loved one’s identity. People with the disorder often feel stigmatized, and are paranoid that others will treat them differently if they know about the diagnosis. Your loved one needs to know that you care and that you are there to offer support as she seeks treatment.

Medications are almost always necessary in managing the mood swings associated with the disorder. Medication compliance is often one of the most difficult hurdles to recovery. It is important to understand that medications are meant to control the illness so that the person can be himself. Please do not make jokes about psychiatric medications as this only adds to the stigma.

In the coming posts, I will address ways to cope with your loved one’s depression, his mania, medication, codependency, and self-care. If there are other topics you would like for me to address, please let me know.

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