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How to approach someone about a mental illness (bipolar)

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How to approach someone about a mental illness (bipolar)

Old 08-29-06, 10:07 AM
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How to approach someone about a mental illness (bipolar)

Hi everyone,

I very rarely post here now but wanted some advice from the folks here as we come from all walks of life. I've a friend whom after seeing her behavior change recently and from reading up on it am starting so suspect might be bipolar.

I am not one for self diagnosis so instead of coming right out and telling her she might be sick, I would rather she find out coming from someone professionnal but I will tell her if I've no choice. I've been pushing her to go see her psychologist again but she has been putting it off. Frankly, from when she saw her before, I don't put much faith in her skills in the first place, but if she could at least give her some measure of help or send her see someone better.

I would like to know if anyone here has experience with this and how to help this person. How do I get her to listen to me when I say she needs help? I try to be the best friend that I can but our friendship is going through a very tough time because she knows there is something wrong and will not talk to me about it so I find myself pushing her too much.

Before people jump on me, here are the reasons why I am suspecting she might have this illness :
- Her mother is bipolar
- She is very often depressed (Cries many times a week)
- She has manic highs- she has been starting going to the clubs a lot more often than before and doing things she would never have usually. She started going home from the club with some player who wants nothing more from her than her body which she would never have done before.
- Whenever she gets home from staying with that player, she goes to bed and cries for hours over what she has done. (the high is gone)
- She often tells me she hates herself, she is worthless, she is sick in the head.
- Her general behavior is erratic and changes frequently
- She can get very angry/happy for no reason

Before people point out I posted about this girl before, I acknowledge I did. I love her more than anyone else. She is my best friend and as the person who has spent the most time with her over the past 14-15 months, I got to know her intimitally (I use the word in terms of her fears, worries, etc...). Right now I am extremely afraid for her, I can't get the thought out of my head that unless she starts listening to me, she will end up dead. I do not want to separate myself from her because of this. If anything, I wish to get closer to her and help her.

I think tonight I might approach her with my thoughts... but she has already told me she is starting to dislike talking to me because I push her too hard. I try my best to help her, I told her she was hurting herself but I fear if I don't stop, she will shut me out completely.

Advice? Please keep the replies serious- I will read them a bit later as I am at work.

Thank you
Old 08-29-06, 10:19 AM
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That's a toughie. Short of handing her a telephone and standing over as she calls her doctor, there's not a lot you can do. Try to talk to her when she's at her most rational: in the middle of the swings.
Old 08-29-06, 10:35 AM
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Before you diagnose her, you might want to try and find out if she's using drugs. An addiction can mimic the same symptoms.
Old 08-29-06, 10:38 AM
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It's very tough for me also. I spend my time worried and stressed out about her... it makes me irrationale at time. She was depressed this morning when I picked her up for work (refused to talk about it) and I get very worried when she is like that if I don't hear from her often.

At the very least, if she is not sick, I could feel safe in knowing she did get looked after. I am a bit afraid I am the one causing all these moodswings and everything. I really can't see this being the case but if it ends up that it was me, I will distance myself from her so she can heal whatever damaged I caused.

All I can say it that is really sucks seeing a loved one in a downward spiral like this.

Edit : She is not using drugs I can garantee that- she abhors them and their users. She is a chronic migraine sufferer though so takes a lot of advil migraine sufferers.

Last edited by Feneant; 08-29-06 at 10:44 AM.
Old 08-29-06, 10:38 AM
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Maybe you should approach it like you want her to join you in some joint counceling. You could go in with the premise that you wanted her to join the sessions to strengthen your relationship and understand each other better. It's probably easier than saying "I think you're nuts, get help". I mean really? What if she's thinking the same thing about you and it turns out you're the one with mentall issues? What then mister nutty man guy?????
Old 08-29-06, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Minor Threat
Maybe you should approach it like you want her to join you in some joint counceling. You could go in with the premise that you wanted her to join the sessions to strengthen your relationship and understand each other better. It's probably easier than saying "I think you're nuts, get help". I mean really? What if she's thinking the same thing about you and it turns out you're the one with mentall issues? What then mister nutty man guy?????
Well, until you point out I could be the crazy one that's not a bad idea. Actually though, I would love to attend a session with her and the therapist... I might ask if I can.
Old 08-29-06, 10:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Feneant
Well, until you point out I could be the crazy one that's not a bad idea. Actually though, I would love to attend a session with her and the therapist... I might ask if I can.
Yeah, that first part was the only serious piece of the post.....



































you nutcase.....
Old 08-29-06, 11:06 AM
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Based on some of the comments she has made to you and the crying she does after the fact, she seems to have a clue that something is wrong. That may make it easier to slide into a conversation about it. Ultimately you may have to just do the "tough love" thing and confront her about it as if she continues she may end up in a really bad place.
Old 08-29-06, 11:13 AM
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Are there other family members you can talk to?
I'm guessing that because her mother is bi-polar .. this is not something that she hasn't thought about. In fact, it's probably something she has thought about a great deal and is in somewhat of a denial that this could be happening to her.
Other family members or mutual friends.. or even friends that aren't mutual to the two of you may be able to shed some light and they may even have the same concerns as you.. and maybe if you do a 'intervention', she'll see the light.
I would be very careful if you decide to go that route. It can be very risky.
Seek advice from professionals first.

You also need to take care of yourself. Your mental health is very important also and you may have to accept that you may not be able to 'save' her and if that's the case and your relationship suffers.. then you have to look out for you.
Old 08-29-06, 12:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Vibiana
Before you diagnose her, you might want to try and find out if she's using drugs. An addiction can mimic the same symptoms.
Good point.

From what you've described, doesn't sound like classical bipolar disorder...but I agree with the advice in this thread - get a professional's help.
Old 08-29-06, 12:20 PM
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I am not very close to her family at all really. We are from 2 totally different lifestyles so I don't have much in common with her family. As for her friends, most of them leave during the summer as they are from other countries. Maybe she is just depressed at not seeing them.

I might try to bring it up tonight if she will listen to me. Not that she probably is, but why not ask for her therapists' assessment of the risks that she might have or develop it. I know it frightens her but I don't know how badly- does she consider it the end of the world or a treatable disease. Her mother was a wreck prior to getting help so maybe she is afraid of ending up like her.

Thanks all for the advice by the way. I might be over-reacting, but it's just her behavior recently is just so different than what it used to be... who knows
Old 08-29-06, 12:27 PM
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Vwery difficult and dangerous to diagnose without a professional. When I was in grad school, most everyone ended up at one point deciding they had a mental disorder based on reading about them. When they would say something like that, I would announce that I was reading a medical book and knew for sure I was suffering from rigamortis.
Old 08-29-06, 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
knew for sure I was suffering from rigamortis.
Is that the second stage of frost-bite?
Old 08-29-06, 03:46 PM
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aren't all women bipolar? *ducks*
Old 08-29-06, 03:53 PM
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She can't help herself until she wants to help herself and it sounds like she doesn't want to help herself.

So honestly, there is very little you can do. Be a friend, be supportive, listen to her when you can (but don't always be there when she needs a cry) and offer advice if it's asked for. Otherwise, she needs to work this out herself and there is no reason for you to make it your problem.

Trust me on this - I've tried to "save" a few women in my lifetime and I've always ended up walking away when they've drug me down so far that I started to develop the same problems they had.

It sounds tough, but you cannot save her. Just be a friend, let her know you care but don't necessarily approve of her behavior. Put it all back on her, and walk away from the situation if it becomes too stressful for you.
Old 08-29-06, 04:49 PM
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Just to clarify -- is this the same girl as in thread?
Old 08-29-06, 04:59 PM
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*SPEAKING PURELY AS A LAYMEN, AND NOT AS A PROFESSIONAL*

She's gotta see a professional. BPD (Bi-Polar Disorder) is very tricky. it 'sounds' like she has symptomatology consistant with BPD, but a professional would need to evaluate her before reaching a decision. It is probably easiest to get her when she is depressed, because when she is manic....she'll most likely feel to good to consider it a problem.

As for a her mom having BPD, there is genetic connection that can predispose someone for BDP, i think it is 4-6x the average prevelance rate, but I haven't looked at the numbers in a couple years. It may be 2-3x, not sure.

-p
Old 08-29-06, 05:11 PM
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Seriously,she needs a pro. There is almost nothing you can do to help beyond lending some support. If she gets diagnosed and can be treated, she may still have issues, or may even decide to go off meds. Good luck, that can be a rough road to travel.

Mandatory Otter Witticisms:

How to approach someone about a mental illness (bipolar)

with a taser at the ready.
Old 08-29-06, 06:02 PM
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BPD can be an absolute handful if the person doesn't know how to manage it, and/or is not on medication.

-p

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