Dealing with bipolar rage

It can be like a war zone: trying to cope with a loved one who is in an unstoppable, uncontrollable rage.

Mania in bipolar one can express itself in many ways, rage probably being the most destructive and hardest for others to deal with. How do you cope?

Get away. If you can do it, the best strategy is to simply remove yourself from the vicinity of the raging person. Just leave. The time to do this is when they overstep the mark, such as threatening physical violence (or being violent to objects or walls); screaming; or actually trying to hurt you or someone else. They might try to bully you into staying, but keep in mind that they are in a destructive mood anyway, and staying is not going to help. Your number one priority is not to make sure that the rager is okay. Your first priority is always your own safety. Everything else follows from that.

Second, wait it out. Rages do not last very long. fueled by emotion, they burn themselves out. This is a physiological reality. It is physically impossible to rage for several hours continuously. Once you remove yourself, you may find that two hours later the raging person is quiet and contrite. In some cases, their rage might morph into an ongoing “cold rage”, but that is a completely different phenomenon.

Third, Don’t rage back. It is easy to get sucked into an angry, raging response right back. Don’t let this happen. Don’t yell, scream, swear, or get violent. if you do, then there will be no resolution. When the time comes to talk about it later, the rager will simply say that “you were pretty bad too,” and point out all the terrible things that you did. If you’re in a situation where you are also doing things

Fourth, don’t make threats like “I’ll call the cops,” or “if you keep this up, I’m going to have to remove you from my life.” These things are on the table (or they should be, in your mind), but don’t say them.  And definitely don’t say them now, in the middle of a rage.

Fifth, if you or someone else is assaulted, call the police. Don’t be put off by threats about “I’ll tell them it was you.” That’s blackmail. Even if they do try that, it is your duty to yourself and indeed everyone involved to call the police. If you are injured, get medical help. Again, don’t threaten to call them. Just make the call.

Take all threats seriously. This includes threats of harm against themselves, against you, or against other people.

Talk about it afterwards. Don’t be too quick to forgive and forget. Of course you are relieved that the rage is over  and the person is ashamed and contrite. Naturally, you want things to be good again. But that calm after the storm is your only opportunity to really let the person know how much damage he or she was causing. Often ragers are in denial. Tell them that they were out of control, tell them that the way they were behaving was wrong. Tell them that they might see a doctor about some kind of medication that will make them less angry.

Think about leaving.  If the person won’t change, regardless of the reasons for the rages, or if medications are not working, or if they won’t take medications or don’t think they need them, the best thing for you to do may be to get out of their life.

You can’t make other people’s decisions for them. And unless you are a psychiatrist, you can’t solve all their psychological or psychiatric problems. That’s for professionals. What you can do – indeed all you can do – is look after yourself.

Leave a Reply