Monthly Archives: September 2019

How Bipolar Disorder Takes A Grip On Family Relationships


A person with bipolar disorder has mood swings from being depressed to becoming hyperanimated.  Some persons with bipolar disorder may have mood swings that could range from mild to moderate while others instead have severe symptoms.  But whether mild or severe, a sudden change in their mood and attitude can affect the atmosphere around them, causing the people who are with them to feel a bit down, too, especially if they don’t understand what the disease is about and why the person acts the way she does.


Emotional and Social Effects

Having a younger sister with a bipolar disorder is hard.  It’s like facing an emotional challenge every day.   And because we are going to the same school, it’s hard to avoid the stare of our schoolmates.  There are those who would whisper at our backs, and there are those who would vulgarly talk about us as we passed through the hallways.  Making friends is never easy because they know her mood swings.  They don’t know anything about her situation, and they are afraid that she will just be violent anytime.  Yes, because she did it this one time when someone tried to bully her.  There are times when she will just sit alone in one corner and will not talk to anyone and then will suddenly burst into tears.  They taught she’s crazy or something, and the worst part is they thought we are the same, that anytime, I will turn into something like her.


Our circle of friends and social activities were limited because of her condition.   Can I blame her or should we blame my father’s genes for passing on this illness to her?

Family Systems Effects

When you have a sibling with bipolar disorder, not only are your parents’ time for you compromised but even money and energy.   And I keep on hearing from my mom and dad, “We’ll cut the budget because your sister still needs to attend her therapy session and have to allocate some money for additional medicines.”

Sometimes I hate it when we had planned on going on a vacation and then suddenly everything will be canceled just because she doesn’t want to go or she doesn’t feel like it.  Even going out with my friends is sometimes not allowed, and if ever I go out, it’s just limited time, especially on days when I have to watch over my sister because my parents can’t come home because of work.

Sometimes, I will ask my mom if we can bond together like go out shopping or just eat out. She’ll answer yes and then suddenly she would call up her sister to come with me.  I can’t even talk to my parents about my problems because I know that their minds are full of my sister’s condition.  But what about me? I also need them.

Why do I have to sacrifice so much just for my sister?  Is she the only daughter?  I also need my parents as much as she does.

Simon A. Rego, PsyD said “When what-if thoughts are swirling in your head, you can feel powerless and helpless. Taking productive action helps.”

Sometimes, I can’t help thinking about why life is so unfair.  Bipolar illness is so cruel to do this to our family.  Bipolar disorder takes a grip not only on my sister’s life but the wellbeing of our whole family.

There are nights when I would hear my parents arguing about her.  Sometimes, I would listen to them worrying about my sister’s future. How will her situation be when they’re no longer around to guide and assist her? I understand the stress and anxiety they are experiencing, and I am trying my best not to be an additional burden to them, and I am also planning my future because I know she will be under my care when we get older.

Every family experiences a lot of trials and problems, and there will always be conflict whether a bipolar illness is present or not.  Understanding and communication will always play a vital role in any relationship.

“Family members need to verbally compliment one another,” said Brent Blaisdell, PsyD.


Being the eldest, I feel burdened by this responsibility of becoming that glue that keeps on holding our family together.  No matter how lonely I feel inside, how hurt I am every time I feel the pain my parents are going through, I have to understand them. It is never easy to accept the fact that your daughter will need intervention throughout her lifetime to survive.   I may sometimes feel jealous of my sister who has all my parents’ attention, but I also pity her for her situation.   It may sound selfish, but sometimes I also feel thankful that I was not the one who has bipolar illness.  I may sometime hate her situation and I hate her illness, but I love my sister. Communication between us will always be open and honest because she’s the only sister I have and I am hers.  And we had a pact that we will not let her bipolar illness get in our way as sisters.

Tip from Deborah Serani, PsyD: “Buy a notebook, start a blog or email yourself “to begin documenting the textures of your thoughts and feelings.”

Family-Focused Therapy Saves Family Relationships


Having a kid with bipolar disorder is very stressful and affects not only us parents, but our family and friends as well.   It is quite tough to control the disabling effects of this disorder.  Additionally, having your bipolar child take his medications is one of the most challenging aspects of being a parent of bipolar kids.


Dr. Kimberly Delaney, Psyd, Pmhnp said “Bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”


Bipolar patients, especially kids and teens, have a high likelihood of medication nonadherence.  In fact, a study shows that only 30% of this group of patients take their medications on a regularly scheduled basis.  Relapse occurs after abrupt discontinuation of drugs.

Reasons for discontinuation of taking their medications include medication side effects, social stigma, and belief that they are already cured and will not have another episode.

Medications Are Not Enough

According to some therapists and as studies show, medicines are not enough in addressing the symptoms of bipolar disorder.  But there are some pieces of evidence which reveal that non-medicine therapeutic interventions could enhance a patient’s outcome.   Some parents try to make the most of these interventions in order to help their children and to keep the family together as they deal with the illness.

“Mindfulness meditation practices are effective interventions, and sometimes for mild to moderate conditions—depression and anxiety—super-effective as front lines,” said Saundra Jain, MA, PsyD, LPC.


Family-Focused Therapy

There are many therapeutic interventions in treating a bipolar disorder such as

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy
  • Psychoeducation
  • Interpersonal and social rhythm therapy
  • Family intervention
  • Cognitive remediation and function remediation
  • Mindfulness-based interventions

One that is proven successful for bipolar patients is family-focused therapy or FFT.  This therapy helps them to be more stable and lessen the possibility of relapse.


How It Works

In this kind of therapy, the therapist educates each family member about bipolar disorder and all related problems linked to it, like family members and caregivers getting burned out when dealing with the family member with bipolar disorder.

This method hopes to

  1. Build better communication skills that will help families minimize the stress this illness causes them, so they can work together in solving the issues related to family relationships, not on the bipolar alone.
  2. Teach them to identify the symptoms and recognize signs of any awaiting episodes and relapses.
  3. Allow them to engage more efficiently in resolving conflicts with minimal undesirable feelings.
  4. Teach them how to use problem-solving skills and management approaches mainly designed to assist members with bipolar disorder.
  5. Introduce to the families some constructive steps they can take when the patient is having difficulties with the disease.

Success Of Family Therapy In Keeping Family Together

A study from randomized controlled trials have shown that FFT is useful in helping the patients avoid relapses.    This method of therapy helps the patient and even the family members recover from bipolar episodes much faster than without the intervention, making it far more effective than other types of psychotherapy.


I can say that this family-focused therapy saved our family relationships from falling apart.   Taking extra care of kids with bipolar disorder, addressing their particular needs, and why we are giving them more attention is hard to explain to their siblings who don’t have the disease.  There are many family stressors caused by having a bipolar child. Even attending parties and gatherings have to be considered.  I don’t want to deprive my other kids the chance to socialize and be with their friends.  FFT allowed us to come up with a solution to this situation.  It had taught us techniques on how all our kids can enjoy the party and what to do when we sense that our kids with bipolar illness are about to have an episode.

I know that as my kids with bipolar mature, the problems that come with it will also add up.  The mood swings might get worse especially as they reach puberty, their attitude might change, and they may be influenced by their peers. Sadness and other symptoms might also get worse as I know that there are limitations to all these therapies and medications that they are receiving.   But with continuous treatment, I’m hopeful that we can survive the challenges brought by bipolar disorder – as a family.

“Bipolar I includes very clear manic episodes that are hard to miss, whereas bipolar II doesn’t necessarily have that,” says Sally Winston, PsyD.

Your Child’s Bipolar Illness Can Put Your Marriage On The Rocks

Bipolar disorder can be seen in any child of any age.  And very much like that of an adult, they have mood swings, from mania to depression, and they can be violent as well.


“It is not realistic for a couple to agree on everything, and if I met a couple who said they did, I wouldn’t believe them,” said Dr. Jesse D. Matthews, PsyD.

Our Son Is Our Treasure We Almost Lost To Bipolar Illness

My husband and I waited for years before our first child was born.  The happiness that we felt the very moment we found out that I was pregnant was beyond words.  We did everything to make ours and the baby’s journey through my pregnancy smooth sailing, something that we handled with excitement and care for the baby. We already felt how much we loved him even though he was still inside me.

When he came into the world, we were very thankful that he was healthy and he seemed like a happy baby.  Like other excited parents, we documented every progress of his growth, his every first – first baby talk, first steps, first run, and the first day of school.  We tried to give him everything that sometimes we were warned by friends and relatives that he might grow up to be a spoiled kid.

While in grade school, his teachers noticed some mood swings, and then he started exhibiting violent behaviors toward his classmates and with one of his teachers.  He can be very unruly when he’s home, but I never thought he would be unmanageable even in school.  The school summoned us multiple times, and we were requested to undergo some counseling with him, and so we did but to no avail, I guess.

According to Sheila Kamen, PsyD, “What counts in making a happy marriage is not how compatible two people are, but how they deal with the incompatibilities in their marriage.”


My husband is the disciplinarian type, and he and my kid started to have fights about his attitude, especially the way he disrespects us and others.  Of course, I would come to my son’s rescue.  I tried to tell my husband not to be too hard on our son as this could just be a phase, or just the result of us showering him with so much attention and material things and too much pampering.

Things got worse in school and in our house.  There were days when my son would not come out of his room and days when he would flee and wander the streets at night when he was unable to sleep.  These things made my husband mad for real that often we end up having an argument.   I can feel that slowly he is becoming distant not just from our child but me as well.

How Counseling Helped Us Save The Marriage And Our Son

The everyday fighting, arguments, me siding my son, his always coming home late and becoming less and less caring had added to my burden.  I felt like I was all alone looking after my son and supporting him.   I felt deserted by my husband.

I sought counsel, and during the session, I mentioned how my son’s behavior would be the cause of our disagreements.  Our relationship started to turn sour since my son became uncontrollable.   My counselor advised that I have my son checked as she sensed that there’s something wrong with him, and so I followed her advice.  She recommended a doctor, and we visited him.  After a few visits, the doctor confirmed that my son has bipolar disorder.  His tantrums, insomnias, eloping behaviors, especially his violent acts are not just about puberty or being a spoiled kid after all.

I explained this to my husband, and I can see clearly from the way he looked that he felt like a loser for having a son with such disorder.  I encouraged him that maybe it would be better if we both undergo counseling and also bring our son to a therapist who specializes in children with bipolar disorder.   It’s hard convincing him, but after some time, he agreed to come with me.  The therapist explained to us our family’s complicated situation – how it can ruin our relationship as husband and wife if we will focus on its adverse effect in our lives, how it can destroy their relationship as father and son, and what will eventually happen if my husband continues to give our son the cold shoulder and just imposing punishments without hearing him out.


Slowly, with the help of our counselors and our son’s therapist, my husband learned to embrace our situation.   He has participated in the interventions my son needed to reduce or even avoid his mania and depressions.   He now knows how to handle the circumstances correctly, and the best part is that we are now in this together.  Though there are still times when he runs out of patience, he can readily shift back when I remind and calm him down.

Managing a kid with bipolar disorder can put any marriage on the rocks, especially if the kid is not yet diagnosed, and the parents are just focusing on his misconducts.

Rowdy behaviors are part of the childhood and teenage years.  It’s natural for them to feel irritable, angry, hyperactive, rebellious sometimes.  However, if these behaviors have gone severe, becoming out of control, and causing problems especially between your relationship as couples, it may mean more than just undergoing a phase in life.

Lauren Dalton-Stern, LPCC said “Having a strong and fulfilling relationship is absolutely possible when both partners are committed to working as a team and creating a supportive, encouraging and accepting environment.”

Top 3 Ways To Bond With Your Family

Finding out that your child has bipolar disorder can be challenging on your part. For sure, you have no idea how to handle the signs and symptoms of this disorder. At the same time, you are also not prepared to explain to other people the condition of your kid. You will find it difficult to make others understand why your child acts differently or why he has specific quirks. Aside from this, you will also start to doubt your capacity as a parent.


“Family members need to verbally compliment one another,” said Brent Blaisdell, PsyD.




During these moments, it can be easy to give up right away and just let yourself drown in misery. At this point in your article, we want to remind you that it is not yet the end of the world. Just because your child or kid has been diagnosed with a medical condition does not mean that there is no longer hope for both of you. Take note that you can still make things right for everyone. One of the tips that you may want to consider is to spend more quality time with your family. Keep in mind that the more you bond with your family, the stronger you become in facing all challenges.


Below is a list of the effective ways on how you can bond with your family:


Have Brunch On Weekends


Teach your child how to enjoy brunch on weekends. Use this opportunity to bond with your kid and to talk about updates from his life. Let him know that you are interested in learning about how his week went and if he has any concerns at schools. Brunch is also the perfect time to teach your kid some perfect manners. Feel free to invite some relatives to come with you on brunch so that the gathering will be more fun.




Travel Abroad


Another exciting way for the family to bond is through traveling abroad. All you have to do is to select the country that you want to visit. Once you have finalized this important detail, it is time to look for the perfect city of that country. What are the kinds of activities that you are looking forward to? Is everyone in the family coming? How many days do you have for vacation? You must answer these questions to help you with the planning process.


Fact: “Marriage and family therapists look at behavior in its social and relational context.” – Benjamin Caldwell, PsyD 


Go On A Road Trip


If you have a limited time for vacation, do not fret because you can always go on a road trip for the weekend. The nice thing about this idea is that you can always go back to your place overnight. At the same time, it is also an affordable way of spending quality time with your beloved family members. That road trip is going to help you get close to your child. If you are not sure how to do this, do not hesitate to ask for some ideas from friends. They are most likely going to share their experiences!




Always find time to share with everyone in your family if you want your kid to become responsible just like you.


Take note, if there is something wrong with the family, you can always talk about it. According to Katrina Taylor, LMFT, “Acknowledging our pain means acknowledging our vulnerability and humanity.”



Parenting 101: How To Handle Your Kid’s Attitude

One of the common challenges that parents encounter is finding out that their children have a problematic attitude to deal with. Whether you like it or not, there is a possibility that your kid will become a monster. You will start to wonder where he got his attitude or why he started acting out. Going through this process can be disheartening and stressful, especially if you are a single parent. Do not worry because we are going to provide you with different things to know if you want to handle your kid’s attitude.




Before anything else, we want to emphasize that it is imperative on your part to act now if you want your child to become a better person. Do not wait before it becomes too late for you to work on the matter. Stop denying to yourself that nothing is wrong if your kid manifests a bad behavior. Instead, focus on finding ways on how you can help him change his ways.


“Expressing gratitude for your family members is one of the best ways to build relationships.” – Brent Blaisdell, PsyD


Here are the things that you need to know:


Be Disciplined


As much as possible, find time to develop a disciplinarian attitude. Just because your child is acting up does not mean that you have to answer to his needs immediately. Instead, allow him to have tantrums until he gets tired. However, do not do something that you will end up regretting. Remind yourself that you can still show your authority to your child without being violent. Learn how to be a good disciplinarian.




“Escaping to a cyber world lets children “do something” at all times, even when they’re away from situations or places that might make them feel pressured or anxious.” – Jennifer Walton, MA, LPC, LCPC


Use Positive Reinforcement


Teach your child how to act nice and great at all times by using positive reinforcement. All you must do is to take note of the good deeds that he does. For example, whenever he completes a task or assignment, be sure to find time to appreciate it. If possible, give him a reward or a gift. The more you do this, the more he will become more accustomed to performing helpful deeds. Do not forget to explain to him why he deserves the gift that he will receive.


Communicate Well


Do not be afraid to make an effort to communicate efficiently with your child. Stop relying on other people to give you updates about what keep your kid busy. Instead, be the one to talk to your child directly. Never make the mistake of spending most of your time in the office or your business. Remind yourself that no value or amount of money can ever bring back lost time with your child. If you think something is wrong with your offspring, do not hesitate to discuss it with him. Find a way to get him to open up to you.




If there is one thing that you need to know, it is the fact that you are a fantastic parent. You can do everything that you set your mind to. Make sure that you continue to provide love to your child at all times. Be the best version of your parenting life!


“Protecting children from sadness, anxiety and stress is a natural instinct for many adults.” – Bonnie Zucker, PsyD