It’s one thing to endure pain yourself, but devastating to watch someone you love suffer. It’s harder to take when someone with bipolar pushes you away and refuses your help.
You feel helpless and hopeless to be a mute spectator to their suffering. You try to do whatever you can, but nothing seems to work.
This will be your story when someone you love is suffering from a bipolar personality disorder. It’s a tough mental health condition that causes substantial mood swings. A person with bipolar disorder will experience massive highs and unbearable lows.
When someone with bipolar disorder pushes you away, just remember that this has nothing to do with you. That doesn’t mean you walk away from them or abandon them when you’re being pushed away. If you’re a family member or a friend you can contribute a lot to make it easier for them.
Your support, empathy, and understanding can make a world of difference to your loved one. From their response and behavior, you may not be getting this message. But if you love them enough, you can disregard their reactions to your offer of help and persist in your efforts to make living better and easier for them. The simple message is not to admit defeat when pushed away.
This article will help you understand this challenging mental health disorder and offers you tips and suggestions on what to do when someone with bipolar pushes you away. Here you will also find the reasons for their actions which you may find useful in understanding them better.
What is bipolar disorder?
This is a mental health condition characterized by extreme fluctuations in mood, energy, and activity levels. Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder can make a person swing between mania and depression. This can have a huge impact on the daily life of the person affected by it.
Typically, bipolar disorder is seen commonly in late teens and young adults. The average age of onset of bipolar personality disorder is 25 years.
The classic symptom of bipolar disorder is mood swing. It can vary between mania or extreme happiness to depression or extreme sadness. In some people with bipolar disorder, both mania and depression may appear at the same time.
There are three main types of bipolar disorder. They are Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymic disorder. Bipolar I is the most severe form of this mental health condition. All of them have somewhat similar symptoms but vary in intensity and frequency of episodes.
Each one of these types of bipolar disorder comes with its own set of challenges and each needs to be treated differently.
Why does a bipolar partner push you away?
A person suffering from a bipolar personality disorder may push people offering help and support away for a variety of reasons. Usually, a bipolar person ignores you when they are depressed, but it may happen when they are symptom-free or manic. For the person offering support and help, this can be really painful. This will make them feel powerless and lost.
If you are in a bipolar relationship, this can be extremely hard on you.
Here are some of the common reasons why a bipolar partner may want to push you away.
- The mind of a bipolar person is filled with dark thoughts. They feel shameful and guilty about their ailment. They prefer to manage it themselves and don’t want to burden others with it. They feel that by sharing, they will bring down others. Talking about it to others may amplify their guilt and shame.
- They are aware that they get out of control with their emotions and may lash out at people around them. They don’t want you to get hurt in the process. Being in a bipolar relationship can be taxing.
- Due to their extreme mood swings, they are unsure about good/bad and right/wrong. They find it hard to make up their minds about whom to trust. They feel that they are not getting the support they deserve and you will feel frustrated and judge them. Even if you have reiterated your support and help time and again and proven your unconditional love, they still find it hard to trust you. They feel that you’ll lose your patience with them eventually.
- They feel a wide range of emotions besides the symptoms of bipolar disorder. Such as paranoia, being watchful, and feeling overwhelmed. When all these emotions invade their mind, they tend to shut out others, while they try to make sense of what is happening.
- They may be intensely focused on a task or an activity and may not notice you or your offers of help. Hyper-focusing is associated with bipolar disorder. When they are feeling manic, they may get lost in what they are currently focussing on and the rest of the world fades away.
What to do when someone with bipolar pushes you away?
Witnessing a bipolar episode can be really hard for a loved one. You may think that offering help and support will make them feel better. However, when someone with bipolar pushes you away, you may find it frustrating and heartbreaking. You are at your wit’s end on what to do to help the person.
Here are a few suggestions you can try if you’re in a bipolar relationship.
1. Just be there for them
Instead of insisting on helping them, remind them of your unconditional support. Take a step back and make yourself available to them at all times. When they are feeling normal, you can tell that you are right there whenever they want you.
Don’t tell them what they should do or force them to do something you believe will help. If you aren’t living together, send a daily text. “Just checking if you need anything” or “Just wondering if you are alright”. These will serve as reminders of your continued support despite their behavior towards you.
If you live with a bipolar person, you can do things that will be appreciated. Such as preparing their favorite dish or playing their favorite song. However, you need to be aware that they may continue to push you away when they are having their episodes. You need to disregard their reactions and continue with your efforts. They will appreciate your gestures when they are feeling better.
2. Heed their boundaries
This can be hard for you to practice and these boundaries may prevent you from helping them the way you want to. But the boundaries are meant to protect the person with bipolar and feel safe and secure. They may need these boundaries to deal with their issues.
Setting boundaries isn’t easy for them as well. By respecting their boundaries, you are letting them know of your unconditional love and support. This is something a bipolar person wants the most from a bipolar relationship.
3. Urge them to get help
Getting the right help and treatment can make a vast difference to a person suffering from bipolar disorder. While prompting and encouraging to seek help, take care to stay within the boundary and not to push too hard. Don’t tell them what they should do or how they should do it. That is the worst thing you can do to a person with bipolar disorder.
If they are trying to find the right doctor or therapist, you can get the information for them. If they are having trouble with transport, you may suggest driving them. You may offer to sort out things that are hindering their appointments.
4. Be a good listener
Getting a person with bipolar to talk is not easy. Don’t interrupt them with your suggestions and advice, no matter how well-intentioned they are. You will only end up frustrating them further. When they open up to you, they are not expecting you to fix their problems.
When they start talking, stay calm and be an active listener.
5. Practice empathy
But stay within limits. Don’t overwhelm them with your love and understanding. Take care not to reach the level of empathy burnout. If you feel you’re getting too much inside their head or you feel their emotions all the time, it is time for you to take a break from them. When your emotions are too much like theirs, you won’t be in a position to help them.
Final thoughts on bipolar relationship
Remind them of your unconditional love and support whenever they want. Respect their boundaries and try not to take their reactions personally. Encourage them to get help. Be empathetic but do not get empathy burnout. Be an active listener and avoid advice and suggestions.
Offer help and support but avoid nudging and compelling them. When someone with bipolar pushes you away, take it in your stride and don’t react.
Just remember that both of you are trying to do your best under the circumstances.