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Bipolar Disorder "What Works" List Example

What Works for Depression

This example list comes directly from the book "Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder" which I highly encourage families to get.

  • "I can exercise with my partner

  • I can respond to bipolar disorder by saying, I see that you are depressed, let's trat the depression instead of arguing. Or I can ask, What can I do to help?

  • I can plan something we can do together. Activity beats depression every times.

  • I can help my partner set small goals and see that they get done.

  • I can learn techniques to stop negative self-talk so that I can help my partner do the same.

  • I can encourage regular bedtimes.

  • I can create a less chaotic environment.

  • I can encourage taking baths using aromatherapy

  • I can learn about alternative treatments for depression including yoga, vigorous exercise, vitamins, supplements, and talk therapy.

  • I can watch our diet carefully and educate myself on foods and drinks that help with depression. I can learn what food and drinks make depression worse.

  • I can help more around the house.

  • I can remind myself not to take bipolar disorder behavior personally. I can't reason with depression.

  • I can help my partner remember to take medications."

What Works for Angry Mania

I did not find an example in the book for mania and mixed episodes. However I've decided to make one up for myself that works for my mania and mixed episodes. This is my first list so bear with me and good luck in creating your own. I encourage you to create this list with your family member.

If I am not at risk for harming myself, others or property, the following list is what helps me during an angry episode with my partner which he has described as scary.

  • "I will try to stay with my partner and advise her very calmly and without judgment that she is in a manic episode and her thinking is skewed.

  • I know that my partner does not mean what she is saying (yelling) to me as she always regrets it the following morning. Therefore I don't take personally anything she says to me.

  • I can tell my partner how much she is loved and appreciated and let her know I am listening to her by saying things like, "I understand you feel I spent too much money and are feeling very upset.

  • Offering a full ear for my partner to vent ( when I can take it) and attempt to soothe her and hold her if she allows me.

  • Leave the room or the home until my partner calms down if she is safe and she continues to verbally abuse me. 

  • Make my partner some soothing tea such as chamomile tea. 

  • Keep the room dark, the sounds very low and perhaps provide soft soothing music

  • Ask my partner what I can do to help..

  • Many times my partner is triggered by feeling by something I said or some insecurity about our relationship. This is why I advise her how much she is loved and appreciated.

  • Never ignore my partner.

  • Call the crisis line for further instructions or my partner's Dr. and/or therapist and follow their instructions.

  • If my partner is hungry, this feeds into the manic episode. I can cook soothing healthy food for her or pick some up.

  • Keep my voice soft, soothing and quiet.

  • Remind my partner of any medications she may need to take.

  • Do an assessment of whether my partner needs to be driven to a local help facility such as the crisis unit.

  • Pamper her by offering to run a warm bath or use candles to provide a calm environment.

  • Remind her this too shall pass and that I will love and care for her just the same.

  • Encourage regular bedtimes.

  • Encourage exercise.

  • Remember that this is not my partner's personality. This is her illness talking, not her.

  • Reduce any further triggers.

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