Bipolar disorder is a life-changing condition that affects millions of people in this country—and not just those who have the illness but their friends, family, and loved ones.
Loving or living with someone with bipolar disorder can feel at times like a roller coaster. The ups and downs and sudden drops and climbs can put strain on a relationship.
Family members facing bipolar disorder often have questions about how to help and support their loved one while exercising healthy boundaries and good self-care. To help you navigate these and other frequently asked questions, we’ve compiled the following list of books based entirely on recommendations from the clinical team at FHE Health.
8 Helpful Books on Bipolar Disorder for Families
What Happened to You
In What Happened to You, Oprah Winfrey and brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry dive into stories of trauma and adversity and how we can approach these topics in a healthier way. This book isn’t specifically about bipolar disorder. Instead, it focuses on a struggle that we all have but that people with bipolar disorder are intimately familiar with.
Everyone has moments where they lose control of their emotions or behavior. These events are at the core of bipolar disorder. Often, outsiders wonder why people with bipolar disorder don’t simply control themselves, but bipolar disorder takes that control away.
By framing it in a way that everyone can relate to, What Happened to You makes it easier for a person without bipolar disorder to understand those who have the condition.
The Bipolar Disorder Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know
For people who need a straightforward guide to everything concerning bipolar disorder, this book by Dr. David J. Miklowitz is a great starting point. In this work, he discusses the mechanics of bipolar disorder, how to manage it, and how to approach conditions that often pop up alongside it, like anxiety or ADHD. He even dives into how to navigate the often confusing world of bipolar medication management.
The Happiness Trap
While The Happiness Trap doesn’t discuss bipolar disorder specifically, the tools it provides its readers can help with a range of mental health issues, including bipolar disorder. Dr. Russ Harris breaks down how the actions that most of us take to find happiness often leave us feeling far worse, especially when struggling with things like anxiety, depression, and stress. Harris also teaches various Acceptance and Commitment Therapy techniques. This therapy maintains that you can’t eliminate negativity from your life and that it is far healthier to channel your energy into activities that you value.
Living with Someone Who’s Living with Bipolar Disorder: A Practical Guide for Family, Friends, and Coworkers
This book from Chelsea Low and Dr. Bruce M. Cohen is a must-have resource for anyone close to someone with bipolar disorder. Rather than obtuse and difficult-to-understand techniques or labels, it provides simple guidance for dealing with common bipolar disorder behaviors. Learn how to manage rants, personal attacks, blame, and coexisting issues like depression. If you are unsure how to approach bipolar disorder, this book is a great place to start.
The Bipolar Relationship: How to Understand, Help, and Love Your Partner
When in a relationship with someone with bipolar disorder, you have moments where everything seems perfect. Their condition is manageable and it’s smooth sailing. But all it takes is one manic phase to flip both of your worlds upside down. Understanding and helping your partner can be extremely difficult when they have bipolar disorder. The Bipolar Relationship addresses nearly every concern you might have, including:
- Family planning
- Trust and loyalty
- And sex
By facing these topics head-on, you and your partner can work together to have a happy, healthy relationship. Plus, unlike many other mental health books, The Bipolar Relationship is an easy read. Many readers say they often refer back to their favorite sections when their relationships experience a bit of turbulence.
Welcome to the Jungle: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Bipolar but Were Too Freaked Out to Ask
Because bipolar disorder is a serious condition, most books approach it seriously. Welcome to the Jungle instead uses humor to help defuse the tension of talking about the condition while still managing to discuss personal and serious topics. The author, Hilary Smith, addresses common questions like “Will people judge me if I tell them I’m bipolar?” and “Am I still me?”
Mental health is never simple and is often deeply uncomfortable. Welcome to the Jungle makes everything a bit easier to approach.
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness
The author of this book, Kay Redfield Jamison, isn’t just a medical expert on bipolar disorder —she’s also someone who has dealt with it first-hand. Her symptoms first appeared when she was seeking a career in medicine and threw her life far off her desired path. Few people are able to approach this topic like she can, and it is a great resource for anyone struggling with the condition.
Surviving Manic Depression: A Manual on Bipolar Disorder for Patients, Families, and Providers
One of the symptoms of bipolar disorder that people have the hardest time managing is manic depression. This informative guide thoroughly breaks down manic depression and how it relates to bipolar disorder. In terms of bipolar self-help books, it’s hard to beat the sheer amount of information in Surviving Manic Depression. The book also features interviews with people living with bipolar disorder, which provide more insight into life with the condition.
Don’t Be Afraid to Reach Out
You can live a normal life with bipolar disorder. No matter how much time and work you put in to educating yourself about bipolar disorder, there will still be struggles. If you or a loved one has the condition and are experiencing difficulties, don’t be afraid to reach out to a mental health expert. Our experts at FHE Health have decades of experience treating bipolar disorder and have helped countless families and their loved ones successfully manage the condition and live happpy and productive lives. Contact us today to discuss your needs and how we may be able to help.