Living with a mood disorder such as bipolar disorder or depression is challenging. Learning to support someone with a mood disorder has its own difficulties, too. While communication might be tough at times, there are some key steps you can take to improve connection and conversation. Here are some aspects to keep in mind.
The most important thing to demonstrate to someone living with a mood disorder is that you are there for them and that they are not alone. Loneliness can be uncomfortable for many of us, but with a mood disorder diagnosis it can be debilitating. Be available to listen, not simply solve problems, and be gentle in your suggestions. Don’t tell the person to “suck it up” or “get over themselves.” By communicating with compassion, you are saying the most important thing you can: that you truly care.
Responding to Crisis
If a person living with a mood disorder is in crisis, this can be an extremely overwhelming situation to navigate. If they are in immediate danger, remember that you should call 911. Otherwise or in the meantime, try to stay calm and speak in reassuring tones. Ask simple questions, taking time to repeat them if necessary. Avoid taking any hurtful comments personally and instead state clearly that you are there if they need you and that you want to help.
Helping Them Get Help
If it’s time that your loved one should seek professional help and they haven’t yet, there are ways that you can encourage them gently. Let them know that their situation is not impossible. There are opportunities for recovery and healing if they get appropriate support.
Offer to help them seek that support. They can go to a general practitioner or to a mental health professional directly. Either way, let them know that you are willing to do the research or even attend the appointment with them.
Follow up with them after their appointment and let them know that you are there to support them through their healing process.
Remember that in the same way that your loved one is not alone, neither are you as a supporter. Be sure to reach out to others you know so that you aren’t carrying the burden of helping someone by yourself.
Feature Image: Flood G.