What to say or do in persons with mood disorders

“Families need to know what to say or do to cope with the person’s thinking and fluctuating moods.”

“Pull yourself together.”

Disabling cliché. Setting a standard, the person cannot meet

“Hang in there!”

Disabling cliché. Hang in there? But how? The person just does not know how to stop being sad.

“There are other people less fortunate than yourself.”

Disabling cliché. Argue that things are really not that bad.

“You do not need to be sad. Just for that?”

Disabling cliché. Insist that sadness is the wrong feeling to experience.

“If only you would do this…”

Disabling cliché. Treating them like their problems are small.
International Bipolar Foundation

Vincent Willem Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Dutch Post-Impressionist painter who is among the most famous and influential figures in the history of Western art. 

“I have painted three more large canvasses. They are vast stretches of corn under troubled skies, and I did not have to go out of my way very much in order to try to express sadness and extreme loneliness.”

From the song “Vincent” by Don McLean

Now I understand
What you tried to say to me
And how you suffered for your sanity
And how you tried to set them free

From the song “Vincent” by Don McLean

They would not listen
They did not know how
Perhaps they’ll listen now
For they could not love you
But still your love was true
And when no hope was left inside
On that starry, starry night
You took your life as lovers often do
But I could have told you, Vincent
This world was never meant
For one as beautiful as you

The sadness will last forever

“We said that we would try to get him
better and that we hoped that he would
then be spared this kind of despair, he
said, “La tristesse durera toujours”
Theo, brother of Vincent
“They would not listen they did not know how perhaps they’ll listen now”

Dr Gachet told him that he still hoped
to save his life, van Gogh replied,
“Then I’ll have to do it over again.”
Theo, brother of Vincent
“They would not listen they did not know how perhaps they’ll listen now”

We will listen because now we understand.

“You just want to be there” “We are in this together”

Each has his own preference of communicating.

Private? Talkative? Active?
Sometimes thoughts and behaviors may not make sense to you. Be Patient. To the Patient.

Talking won’t make things worse.

Accept what he has to say in confidence. Allow him time to speak without interruption.
When the feelings are very intense. When he is deep in thought. Silence. Let him feel and express his emotions.
Recognize the importance of silence. Gently break silence. What were you thinking of just now?


Mental illness is real medical illness and it’s not your fault or anyone else’s. No need to blame self or anyone.
“Alam ko na ako’y may mental illness. Alam ko ang aking diagnosis.”
“Hindi ang mental health condition and magdidikta ng takbo ng aking buhay.”
“Alam ko ang kahalagan ng pagsunod sa pag-inom ng gamut na inireseta ng doctor.” Para makontrol ang illness.
“Mayroon pang ibang bahagi ang aking buhay. Hindi lamang mental illness.”
“I won’t let the diagnosis define me.”

What is your message of hope … to others living with mental illness?

Express your feelings
Talk with a family and friends
Eat vegetables and fruits. Less meat especially fats.
Exercise, walk and be active.
Get enough sleep, at least 7 hours
Continue doing the things you are good at.
Sports, arts, drawing, singing, academics, charity, entertainment, skilled in computer
Have a strong faith, do not give-up, have a sharp memory, be a good listener, love your family, pray, be friendly