A carer shares their experience of caring for a family member with bipolar.

We spoke to Frances whose daughter has bipolar.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I am a mother of four and my youngest daughter has bipolar. Not knowing anything about the illness, I did find it hard at the beginning.

What issues or challenges have you faced as a carer?

The challenges I have faced go right across the spectrum. To begin with, she was seen as attention-seeking by friends, neighbours and some medical staff. After she had taken an overdose of medication I challenged the doctor and after many years and questions he said it was bipolar (this was about 5 years after her first admittance).

Is there anything significant that you felt was helpful to your loved one?

I found the only way to help her was to monitor her mood changes and respond with a positive attitude and I also sought advice from Bipolar UK.

How do you look after your own health and wellbeing?

Sometimes it is hard to think of yourself when the episodes are bad but the rest of the time it is positive thinking and keeping busy that helped me. Volunteering on a part-time basis also allowed me some ‘me time’.

What advice would you give to other family members or carers?

Bipolar is a life-changing illness, which will affect most family members and friends. The way I dealt with this after many years is not to expect each family member to react the same way. Some would reject her or get angry and some worried about their own children developing it. This is hard to accept at first but after a time it was easier and now they all know they have a place in my life separately for their own needs.


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