8 Tips for Communicating with Bipolar


More difficult to find than a cure for bipolar is someone who will listen. Not just hear you, but actually listen.

Those of us with bipolar typically have an abundance of thoughts and feelings rolling around in our heads. Releasing those thoughts and feelings can help lighten our burden. As I’m sure you’ve heard, keeping feelings pent up inside is never a good thing. When we bottle up emotions they can percolate inside for perhaps years, until one day the lid pops off and we emotionally explode over everyone. Then we wonder where all that came from. Not pretty.

Instead of allowing the explosion to take place, we should be proactive about communicating our thoughts and emotions in a healthy way. What do I mean by “a healthy way?”

1.  Don’t wait for someone to ask you how you are feeling or thinking. Nine out of ten times that won’t happen. Instead, ask a trusted friend or family member to make some time in their day to talk. Do not just throw all your thoughts and feelings on someone when they can’t give you their full attention for risk of not feeling heard.

2.  Do talk with people only when you are calm. A conversation never ends well when one person is angry or upset to begin with. If you need some cool-down-time, be sure to take all the time you need before you involve yourself in a well-thought-out conversation.

3.  Do realize that because bipolar emotions can be incredibly strong, they might also come across to others as very strong. Try to be aware of your audience and tailor the way you present your thoughts and feelings to how they will best be perceived.

4.  If you really trust the person you are speaking with, sometimes I like to ask (usually my husband, in my case) if what I am saying is irrational. I trust him to tell me if I sound like I am in a more hypermanic phase than perhaps I realized.

5.  Do give others credit for doing their best at listening.  Especially for those who are not naturally emotional people, it can be very difficult for them.

6.  Try not to start a sentence with the word “you” during a more confrontational conversation. It makes the other person automatically defensive. Instead start your sentence with something like “when this happens, I feel (fill in the blank).

7.  Don’t just talk about problems without offering solutions. Otherwise the conversation will just turn into a giant whine-fest.

8.  Thank someone for listening. It takes a selfless person to listen. Also, remember conversations are a two-way street. Allow the other person to speak and be heard as well. We ALL need to be heard and feel valued.

These tips should have you on your way to communicating your bipolar feelings and thoughts more effectively while keeping your relationships intact. Do you have any other tips to add?

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