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Q:  hello David.  I'm 16 years old and I was diagnosed with Bipolar I disorder and I've had the hardest time coping with it.  My mom's having the hardest time just being around me.  I'm on medication but i still have all the effects and my mom cries because she hates seeing me like this.  I cry about 3 times a day and i dont know what i could do and how to help my mom ?

Dear T,

You have asked one of the most important questions to think about when it comes to dealing with any illness.  Your mom obviously knows that you are having a hard time and it may seem to both of you that she should know what you need when you are in a crisis but unfortunately, people are not mind readers.  This can result in a tremendous amount of guilt and frustration for both you and your mom.   The truth is that, despite good intentions, most people who don't live with bipolar disorder will never be able to fully understand what you're going through BUT the situation CAN change when you accept that it's not natural for most people to know what to do about your illness.  YOU have to learn whom to turn to when you need help and YOU have to teach them what you need.  This is an excellent topic to bring up to your psychiatrist and/or therapist during counseling sessions.  You should ask about including you mom during one or more of these visits.  Communication is the key. During these sessions you can begin to learn how to talk about what your needs are. Develop a plan for how to handle them as they arise and before they become problematic for you.  Perhaps better communication between you and your mom about both of your needs will ease both of your frustration, guilt and sadness.

Recommended Reading:  Loving Someone With Bipolar Disorder; Understanding
& Helping Your Partner, Fast, J.A., 2004.

David Schafer, M.Ed.
Staff Psychologist

Published May, 2006


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