Have you ever experienced emotional whiplash? Suffering from bipolar disorder can feel like this at times. Having a relative who suffers from bipolar disorder can make you feel like you’re being pulled in all directions. Especially during a manic or depressive phase. But, what is bipolar disorder? It is a treatable medical condition affecting the brain. A person with this disorder experiences episodes of highs and lows, or mania and depression. These episodes are separated by periods of stability, which can last months or years – depending on the person. If not treated properly, it can cause suffering. Bipolar is a lifelong medical illness that can get worse over time if not treated correctly. Just like something like diabetes, medication is needed all the time to keep symptoms under control. Most bipolar sufferers live a normal, fulfilling life when their disorder is managed correctly. This is not a disease that can be cured, nor is it something someone can just snap out of. Bipolar disorder is not the result of a character flaw. While the exact cause is unknown, it is widely believed to be brought on by either a chemical imbalance in the brain, genetics or a stressful trigger such as a death of a loved one or abuse of any kind. So, how can you help? Offer your support to your loved one. Sometimes it is enough to just be there and lend an ear. A supportive circle is the best way to help your bipolar relative and everyone else in the circle. But sometimes, this can be overwhelming for you, and that’s ok. No one is expecting you to deal with this perfectly. The important thing to remember is that sometimes it’s vital to take a step back for your own mental wellbeing. A manic or depressive episode can be stressful and unpredictable. If you find that you are not coping well with your loved one’s mood swings, remember that your mental health and emotional wellbeing is just as important. As bipolar is a mental disorder, it is imperative that your loved one seeks professional help and gets on to the correct dosage of medication.