1. Make it clear to you are there for them, but do not press.
Unfortunately, there is still negative stigma surrounding mental health today, and Bipolar Disorder is at the forefront of misunderstanding and insensitivity. Chalking up regular but perhaps undesirable behaviors as “bipolar” has crept into social jargon, and this general ignorance may make the diagnosis particularly challenging for your loved one to accept and embrace. Make yourself available to the person but gauge and respect their comfort (or lack thereof) discussing the new diagnosis.
2. Be patient.
When someone is diagnosed with any sort of mental incapacitation, not only may it take time to accept and embrace the newfound diagnosis but the pharmacological aspect may be a lengthy journey, too. One of the best ways to support your loved one through the process of new diagnosis, medication, and therapy is to be patient. It’s important to know that finding the right meds can take several tries to get right, and while it may feel tedious to the people around the person with Bipolar Disorder, trust that the medicinal process is much more taxing on the person ingesting the meds.
3. Understand that there may be backtracking.
Like any kind of healing or medical adjustment, there may be times that feel like one step forward, two steps back, whether it’s with therapy, work, relationships, or meds. Remember that the person with Bipolar Disorder is along for that tiring ride, too. Work hard to be empathic and gracious toward the person going through this transition, as there is not a one-size-fits-all solution and it may take some time.
4. Be respectful to the person diagnosed.
Before someone very close to me was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, being around them was like walking on eggshells. That was over ten years ago and we’re now able to openly discuss what things were like before the diagnosis. It’s important to approach your loved one with respect, and not harp on old behaviors that were perhaps undesirable. Remember, the person diagnosed was previously living with an undiagnosed mental illness and that is hard enough. It’s not fair to take shots at someone who is newly healing and trying to live a better life post-diagnosis.
5. Champion respect for Bipolar Disorder.
If you hear someone describing another person’s behavior as “bipolar” as a mean write-off opposed to an actual allusion to Bipolar Disorder, kindly let that person know their misnomer is hurtful towards those with Bipolar Disorder and the people who love them. This is one way to champion respect for your newly diagnosed loved one while maintaining privacy they may wish to have.