1. Doing nothing and hope the problem fixes itself
Year after year, my dad thought like this. He always thought that it would work itself out. He ignored things that were indications that my mom was getting worse and worse – things that he should have noticed, before things got out of control. He didn’t do anything, because he thought the problem (my mom’s “condition,” or the bipolar disorder) would fix itself. He honestly thought mom would get better without him having to do anything about it. That has got to be the number one mistake. That’s like ignoring the elephant in the living room. Bipolar disorder is NOT going to go away by itself. You HAVE to do something about it in order for your loved one to get better.
2. Reacting instead of being proactive
My dad always let bipolar disorder run the show so to speak. He never knew what to do, because he didn’t know enough about the disorder to help my mom. Now, because I have taught them, my mom is in charge of her bipolar disorder, instead of IT being in charge of HER. That’s why I teach in my courses/systems below that having knowledge of bipolar disorder is one of the most important things you have to do:
SUPPORTING AN ADULT WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER?
SUPPORTING A CHILD/TEEN WITH BIPOLAR DISORDER?
HAVE BIPOLAR DISORDER?
If you don’t have KNOWLEDGE of bipolar disorder, how can you fight it?
If you don’t realize what you’re up against, you will be reactive instead of proactive, just like my dad was. He just plain didn’t know what to do, so my mom got out of control. Then when she went into the worst episode of her life, he had to react to the situation and take drastic measures and put her in the hospital. I’m not just picking on my father here, I see other supporters making the same mistake. You need to learn as much as you can about the disorder and about your loved one’s symptoms, so that you can be proactive, and head off an episode before it becomes full-blown.
3. Not realizing how serious bipolar disorder can be.
Just like I was just saying about having to put my mom in the hospital, my dad didn’t realize how serious bipolar disorder can be. If he had realized it was something that could actually make my mom that out of control, I think he would have taken it more serious much earlier than he did. Bipolar disorder is a very serious disorder. It can destroy families. It can destroy lives. And supporters need to realize how devastating an illness bipolar disorder can be, and how dangerous it can be for their loved one. Some supporters don’t take it serious enough, until they’re sitting in a hospital waiting room, like my dad.
4. Trying to change your loved one, looking for a quick fix
Many supporters are looking for a quick fix. I don’t blame them. Many of us do, when we’re faced with a difficult situation. But you have to understand that you can’t change your loved one – they can only change themselves. Getting stable takes time – it will NOT happen overnight. It will take patience on your part as a supporter to wait for your loved one’s treatment (medication and therapy) to work. There is no quick fix to recovery from bipolar disorder.
5. Not realizing your loved one can be “normal”, stable and successful
Yet, along the same lines, some supporters give up too soon. They think that their loved one will never get stable, and this is just as big a mistake. NEVER give up hope on your loved one. With your help and support (and a lot of work on your loved one’s part), there is ALWAYS hope for stability and recovery from bipolar disorder for your loved one. Just like I said before, it won’t happen overnight, it will take time, and there will be set-backs and probably more episodes before it happens, but your loved one CAN become stable, “normal,” and successful. My mom did it!
Have you noticed yourself making any of these 5 big mistakes?
How do you see them happening in your life?
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