Protect Yourself

Being in the company of someone you think has a serious mental condition that is not being treated is highly stressful. Efforts — successful or otherwise — to get the person diagnosed are unlikely to go as smoothly as you had hoped. Tension may be further heightened by the realization that it may not be safe for you to be around this person.

Give Yourself Space

The first priority of a rescuer is to protect the rescuer. You will never be able to help anyone if you are physically or emotionally incapacitated. Do not sacrifice your own life or goals for someone else if you want to help her. That is not the same as deciding consciously to change you life or goals to stay and help someone, but make sure it is your choice. Otherwise, you are likely to become bitter and disappointed. The stress you can experience as a caregiver can seriously affect your health particulary if you feel trapped.

If you have relatively few connections to a person with bipolar disorder, yet the situation is so stressful that it is causing you to neglect other important areas of your life, you might decide to sever your ties, at least for the time being. You need to make sure you are eating, sleeping, tending to your loved ones, and doing your job. It is pointless for your life to be as severely compromised as the person who needs help.

Value Your Safety

On occasion, mania can result in acts of vandalism and even violence toward other people. If your gut feeling convinces you that someone close to you has untreated bipolar disorder, ask yourself why you persist in living under the stress. Always remember that you are doing nothing wrong when you protect yourself from a situation that can result in harm to you.

It is always a good idea to have a well-charged cell phone on your person. It can be used to call for help whenever you are threatened in any situation in or out of your home. If you spend a good deal of time with someone who has untreated bipolar disorder, it will be available to summon help for her as well as for you if the need arises. If the person has a psychiatrist, speed dial his number into your phone.

Fact

More than half of the people imprisoned in the U.S. have some kind of mental illness, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Of the estimated 63,000 ill people, more than 32,000 did not receive health treatment before being arrested. Only around one in three state prisoners and one in four federal prisoners who suffer from mental illness receive treatment while behind bars.

If the person seems to be having a manic episode in your presence, remove yourself from the situation if you feel threatened. If you sense that you, the patient, or a third party is in any danger at all, remove yourself and the third party from the patient. Call 911 immediately, then call the patient's doctor if she has one.

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