How You Can Help a Friend Who is Manic
There are many ways in which you may be able to help a friend who is going through a manic phase of
mental illness even though you may have had no such formal training.
Manic people need a great deal of love and caring. They are very demanding. They need to know they are
accepted and not rejected. Often they fear above all else being thought manic. When in a crisis they can be
extremely twisted up and their own inner defence mechanism wants to unwind by talking to anyone who will
listen. If they are not listened to, the knot becomes even tighter, the anger more intense.
You can therefore do far more for them than you might imagine, by simply being there and listening to their
outpourings, however long this may last. The further you can go towards entering into their world and
accepting them for what they are, the more you are relieving their suffering.
To do this it is crucial that you retain their TRUST. Not only must you do nothing that even begins to suggest
that you reject them or think them ill or in need of treatment (leave that to the doctors); in addition you must
say nothing to them which is not completely true. So you will have to choose your words carefully.
Remember that while they are in this highly sensitised state anything even mildly cryptic that you may say
could well be completely misinterpreted. This risk can be minimised if you speak thoughtfully, gently and
When the crunch comes and they are asked to go for treatment, your friendship and trust will be worth a gold
mine. When they are recovering, the topics they have covered with you will be sensitive, fearful areas; you
can assist their recovery by helping them steer around these.
By offering friendship to someone in such a place of need you will do masses to alleviate their suffering and
will probably win a friend for life.
Martin Mosse, 10.10.92.
"Pendulum", Winter 1992