When I think about mental health and creating a support system of well being for an individual, I cannot stress enough about how important education is for all people involved. I recall being with a family awhile ago as their son had experienced a psychotic break with reality, and I simply sat with them and told them my story. They were afraid because he had been acting irrationally and they did not understand that his behavior was not his fault. I explained that psychosis is simply when one sees things, hears things and/or believes things delusionally-things that are not real or true. There is still much debate over this definition, but in a nutshell, it helped them understand that his delusions were not something he could control on his own. I explained the ups and downs of bipolar and all of the things that you can find in between. The hill and slope theory is constructed too simply to engage in an entire picture, so in telling my own story I drew an abstract which helped them understand more fully what had been going on.
Once the individual affected is well enough, I encourage them to take on some education of their own. People ask 'So really, what is bipolar anyway?' 'How can I help myself?' 'Where can I find some Q & As on the Internet?' 'Am I alone in this?'
I know how vital it is to educate oneself but not get bogged down in information as it is overwhelming out there so I would like to recommend two sites that provide a solid background to the illness and advice for one to discuss with others or utilize it to help themselves.
I hope that you find this useful: Mood Disorders Association of British Columbia: http://www.mdabc.net/ Canadian Mental Health Association: http://www.cmha.ca/bins/index.asp These sites provide information on support, Q&As, bipolar illness information, and so much more. There are many books out there that I have found amazing too, but the #1 book is the story of a woman afflicted with bipolar disorder named Kay Jamison's An Unquiet Mind. A definite read for inspiration and for those that are part of a support system. In your educational travels do know that it will bring you to amazing places, it will inspire you and often take you down a road of healing. It did for me anyway, and armed with that knowledge you can achieve anything…especially be able to kick bipolar's butt and know there is hope! 😉 Much love, Andrea xo