How to Understand Your Adult Child's Bipolar Illness


Understand the illness. This is a mental malady to be dealt with daily. If parents do not accept and understand, it will alienate the ones affected. There is no cure and everyone involved must comprehend that. At the same time, it is not a death sentence, unless it is ignored.


Make certain no lapses occur in medications. Normally, the next step after a regular physician's visit is a knowledgeable psychiatrist for the diagnosis confirmation and who will prescribe a medicinal cocktail of several medications that all work together. But there can be no lapse in taking them. Follow-up sessions are a must! Expense can become an issue, but drug companies have special programs to assist those with financial concerns.


Be patient. The one with bipolar will undergo changes. Fighting them is historic. Frustration and wanting to give up is a normal reaction. It must be stressed that the brain is coming to terms with the right chemical balance, and different moods go with the changes.


Be aware of daily habits. Is your child eating properly? If he/she is living in another area, take time to call and ask what has been eaten that day. The answer must be specific. A package of chips and soft drink is not a proper diet. Personal hygiene sometimes becomes an issue. Don't hesitate asking if he/she has bathed and dressed.


Listen to the conversation and tone of voice on the other side. Is there too much excitement? Or depression? These are indicators to you, the parent, of how to handle the discussion at the moment. Often, a medication has been skipped or is not the proper one and the physician should be consulted if extremes continue.


Express concern and unconditional love often. Praise efforts. But try not to hover. Those with bipolar must accept and go forward and not have too many crutches to fall back on.


Do not feel guilty! Research has proven almost beyond doubt that this is hereditary, although there are other triggering circumstances. Yes, it might come from the parents' genes, but that can't be changed. You just have to do what you have to do, and the strength will come from a reliable higher source to help you see it through.

Tips and Warnings

  • The majority of bipolar patients continue to work, raise families, and lead fairly normal lives. Many soon push the diagnosed illness to the back of their minds because they do so well after the regimen becomes a way of life. With emotional support from others, the way becomes much smoother. There is a great deal of information now available to those who have bipolar children. All cannot be included here. Hopefully, time will be taken to refer to the experts' advice to be educated on this illness and how to improve others' quality of life.
  • "You are Bipolar." Bam! It's a shock, but, finally, there is a diagnosis a person can try to live with after years of undiagnosed illnesses, multiple prescriptions that only hid the symptoms, and a life of struggle wondering why there were so many battles others weren't having. Coping was only a word, not a reality. Many refuse to accept the final scrawl on the medical chart, but my own child welcomed it because she was aware that something was wrong and unable to explain it well enough for a physician to understand. Not until her mid-thirties did she learn that life could be better. As a parent, it was research, research, and more research! It's amazing the millions who have suffered with bipolar, but only recently have physicians become trained to willingly put a name to it. Doctors diagnose, but seldom do they guide the caretakers for their part in helping to improve the bipolars' outlook on the future. There are numerous ways parents can encourage their offspring that life hasn't ended. Indeed, it has just begun.