What to Do When Someone with Bipolar Disorder Pushes You Away

Coping with a family member or friend who is affected by bipolar disorder can be both rewarding and challenging. Bipolar disorder, characterized by mood swings that range from depressive lows to manic highs, can lead individuals to push away those closest to them. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s important to understand that their actions may be a result of their mental health condition rather than a reflection of their true feelings. In this article, we will explore the various steps you can take when someone with bipolar disorder pushes you away, ensuring a supportive approach that fosters understanding and communication.

Understanding Bipolar Disorder

To navigate this situation effectively, it’s crucial to educate yourself about bipolar disorder. Understanding the symptoms, triggers, and treatment options will provide you with valuable insights into your loved one’s behavior. By gaining knowledge, you can approach their actions with empathy and avoid misinterpretation.

experiencing social withdrawal due to bipolar disorder

Recognize the Signs of Pushing Away

Individuals with bipolar disorder often experience periods of withdrawal, where they push away the people closest to them. This behavior can stem from various factors, including feelings of shame, guilt, fear of burdening others, or the belief that isolation is the only solution. It’s essential to remember that this behavior is a manifestation of their condition, rather than a reflection of your relationship.

People with bipolar disorder may exhibit behaviors such as isolation, withdrawal, irritability, and abrupt changes in communication. Recognizing these signs early on can prevent feelings of confusion and frustration on your part. It’s essential not to take their actions personally, as they might be struggling with their own emotional turmoil. Other signs of pushing away include:

  • Becoming distant
  • Avoiding social interactions
  • Canceling plans
  • Becoming uncharacteristically angry at those close to them

Immediate Strategies for Dealing with Pushing Away

  1. Respect Boundaries: While maintaining a supportive presence, respect their need for space. Let them set boundaries and communicate how much interaction they’re comfortable with.
  2. Be Patient: Bipolar disorder involves fluctuating moods. Understand that their pushing away might be temporary, and they may reach out when they’re feeling better.

Communicate Gently and Openly

When someone with bipolar disorder pushes you away, reaching out with gentle and open communication is crucial. Express your concern and let them know that you are there to support them. Avoid being confrontational or judgmental, as this can exacerbate their distress. Use “I” statements to convey your feelings and avoid making them defensive.

Respect Their Space

While it’s important to communicate, respecting their need for space is equally vital. Bipolar disorder can lead to overwhelming emotions, and giving them the freedom to manage their feelings can contribute to their well-being. Let them know you’re available when they’re ready to talk, but don’t pressure them to do so.

Offer Practical Support

Practical support can make a significant difference. Offer assistance with daily tasks, such as cleaning, cooking, or running errands. These gestures show that you care and are willing to ease their burden during challenging times. Remember, your actions speak volumes about your commitment to their well-being.

Encourage Professional Help

Encouraging your loved one to seek professional help is a delicate yet essential step. Suggesting therapy or medication can provide them with the tools to manage their condition effectively. Offer to accompany them to appointments or help them research reputable mental health resources.

Be Patient and Understanding

Dealing with bipolar disorder is an ongoing journey, and your patience will be paramount. Mood swings and pushing away are part of the condition, so avoid reacting impulsively. Understand that their behavior is not a personal attack and that they are grappling with internal struggles.

Practice Self-Care

Supporting someone with bipolar disorder can be emotionally draining. Prioritize your well-being by engaging in self-care activities that rejuvenate you. Whether it’s spending time with friends, pursuing hobbies, or seeking therapy for yourself, maintaining your mental health will enable you to offer better support.

Set Boundaries

While offering support, it’s important to set healthy boundaries. Define what you are comfortable with and communicate these boundaries to your loved one. This ensures that you maintain your own well-being while supporting theirs.

Going to therapy for help with bipolar disorder

Stay Connected

Consistent communication, even during periods of pushing away, is key. Send occasional messages to let them know you’re thinking of them, without expecting immediate responses. Small gestures can remind them that you’re a source of comfort and understanding.

Coping with a loved one who has bipolar disorder can be a challenging journey, but by taking the right approach, you can navigate it successfully. Educating yourself, practicing open communication, offering practical support, and prioritizing self-care are all integral aspects of maintaining a healthy relationship. Remember, their actions are a manifestation of their condition, and your unwavering support can make a significant positive impact on their journey to managing bipolar disorder.

Looking for more information about bipolar disorder? Here are a few suggestions:

    • Bipolar Disorder: A pamphlet about bipolar disorder providing fundamental insights into indicators, symptoms, treatment, and locating assistance.  Also available en Español.
    • Bipolar Disorder in Children and Teens: A pamphlet focusing on bipolar disorder among children and adolescents, delivering essential details about recognizing symptoms, available treatments, and seeking support. Also available en Español.
  • Research and clinical trials: Learn about the most recent studies of bipolar disorder and medication, or become a part of searching for more treatment options by joining a study.

Ready to reclaim command over your emotional well-being and overcome the stigma of bipolar disorder? Find the support you need at SummitStone Health Partners. Reach out to us today and take the first step to a happier, healthier future. Your journey to a more balanced mindset starts today!