For Your Spouse- NAVIGATING BIPOLAR: Prevention & Contingency Plan Template
NAVIGATING BIPOLAR: Prevention & Contingency Plan [As used by my Husband and Myself]
*NOTE: THIS IS BASED ON A TEMPLATE FROM LITTLECHAPEL.COM, THIS IS NOT ENTIRELY MY OWN ORIGINAL MATERIAL. GO TAKE A LOOK AT WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY AS WELL!*
WHAT CAN BE DONE FOR ME:
1. Once a Month Couples Therapy
2. Learn about triggers: the things that can or usually do set off an episode.
A. Learn also about the things that seem to encourage stability – good eating, regular exercise, walks outside, singing, mundane repetitive tasks, learning, church/spiritual counseling
I.Mood swings are often affected by specific triggers and the lack of them are similarly affected by other things. Noting what seems to calm me or what occurs or doesn’t occur in periods of calm can help you determine the correct environment to soothe me when you need it.
3. Learn to talk about the disorder: Intrinsic in learning about the disorder is learning how to talk about it and to your spouse
A. If I am in the middle of an episode the key is to remember that it is not me talking to you, it’s the disorder. Fighting with a disorder is pointless and responding in anger will only result in both parties making statements we might later regret. It’s better to be prepared with statements that are intended to diffuse a situation, rather than escalate it.
B. Ask the mood questions: Are you anxious? Are you depressed? Etc. Follow up with:
I. Do you want to go on a walk outside?
II. Can I hold you?
III. Everything is going to be okay. I’m right here and I’m not going anywhere. I believe in you and have faith you will overcome this.
C. When in doubt, if my mood swings prevent me from being able to answer the questions, don’t shut down, but rather keep the flow of communication open. It’s the only way to ensure that we both don’t create walls that, after a time, can seem impenetrable.
NOTE: Don’t be afraid, don’t put up a defense against me, don’t brace yourself for something bad. Be there to talk and support. It may not be pleasant, personally I can be downright mean when in a bad frame of mind. But when I get past it, we’ll both be glad we’re there.
4. Listen attentively and laugh as often as you can: Often, listening is all a person who is suffering needs: to know that someone is listening to them. Not making suggestions, not always trying to fix things. Just being there.
A. Ask “Do you want my advice? Or do you just want me to listen?”
B. Humor is said to be the best medicine, and it’s true that it can help to
loosen anxiety’s grip on me: “Laughter dissolves tension, stress, anxiety, irritation, anger, grief, and depression...” So be you. Make fart jokes and do impressions. Eventually it will put a smile on my face no matter what mood I’m in
5. Keep track of appointments — a bipolar sufferer who is feeling better might be inclined to skip therapy appointments. Don’t let me. Taking an active role in helping me manage the disorder is appropriate and possibly even necessary.
A. Individual therapy minimum once a month
B. Couples therapy minimum once a month