Bipolar disorder: Coping with a loved one's mental illness

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Bipolar disorder: Coping with a loved one's mental illness

Question

My wife was recently diagnosed with bipolar disease. She is seeing a therapist and taking medication. But things are far from perfect. Although I'm glad she's finally getting the help she needs, how am I supposed to deal with her illness? It has really put a strain on our marriage and family.

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Answer

You find yourself in a situation that many people find themselves in. Family members are often the first to be affected by a loved one's illness and the last to recover — even after the person starts to get help.

Although spouses and others most often want to be supportive of their loved ones' recovery, they may also experience a variety of conflicting feelings, including isolation, frustration, relief, worry and sadness. It's important to seek out others to share these experiences with in order to more clearly understand these feelings and what you can reasonably expect from yourself and others. Sometimes, family members may choose to enter therapy themselves to better cope with the changes at hand.

There are also many organizations that can provide support, education and other help to family members of those with mental illness. One such organization is the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill.

Last Updated: 09/21/2005
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