My First Encounter with a Support Group Meeting
For over a decade I have been struggling with Major Depressive Disorder — Recurrent Episodes, which eventually converted to Bipolar Disorder over time. For people who don’t know, Bipolar Disorder is a psychological illness that is distinctly marked by, among other symptoms, a vast contrast in mood at quick intervals. The moods alternate at two opposite ends of the spectrum: a bout of depression followed by a bout of euphoria. Without getting further into the symptoms, I guess it’s obvious just from this that with Bipolar, it is extremely frustrating to get a hold of myself and find some stable amount of focus. Being productive is a far-fetched idea, and you can forget about explaining the symptoms to people because, for much of the time you are confused yourself by your own mental state. Communicating with people gets affected a lot because the impressions I leave on people is highly dependent on where I am on the Bipolar spectrum at that moment.
I must confess though, for most of the time that I have been struggling with Depression/Bipolar, I have lived with a big misconception. I felt like I was the only one living with the illness. Although I was aware of the number of people struggling with this, practically speaking I could not connect with anyone when it came to this illness. Hence I gradually got more emotionally isolated. I finally got over this misconception when I attended a group therapy session a few years ago.
During my first day at the group therapy, there were around 10–15 people. Right from the moment I entered the small room, I was nervous. From past experiences of sharing stories of my illness with other people, I had learned that talking about metal illnesses only confuse them, and as the conversation progresses, it only leads to more confused looks from the other person. Eventually it ends with me having to justify myself why I have an illness that I have no control over. With similar presumptions, I was waiting for my turn to speak during the session.
I had heard all sort of stories that day; stories ranging from mental illnesses that were in primary stages to illness that were difficult to control despite using multiple medications. When my turn finally came, all I did was introduce myself by name, and with “justifications” ready at the back of my mind, I mentioned that I have Depression/Bipolar. To my astonishment, instead of confused or judgmental looks, for the first time I received a unanimous emphatic nod as response from the entire room. Without them saying even a word, I felt connected to them emotionally. Just that acknowledgement acted as an inexplicable sense of freedom that I have rarely been able to feel before.
The aforementioned group therapy session that I was lucky enough to experience was my first and only one. I was in the United States. Before I could join in for the second session I had to come back to Bangladesh. Ever since then I have been missing that taste of freedom. But by a lucky coincidence only after a few weeks in the country, I got to know about Identity Inclusion, and that they organize a support group meeting once a month. Their message was also promising; they allow only a limited number of people per session. A Mental Health Professional would be present. And they put a lot of emphasis on confidentiality, which is a huge thing for many who yet feel safe to disclose about their conditions or experiences. This has provided me some hope and peace of mind that at least for the time that I will be in Bangladesh, I would not have worry about battling my Bipolar alone.
In contrast to private therapy sessions with counsellors, which have a whole separate list of benefits, group therapy sessions make you feel connected to people on a whole different level. You get to hear about other people’s illnesses and what they are going through. Hearing their stories of struggles doesn’t make you feel isolated anymore; it makes you feel part of a whole. It makes you feel normal. Through that bond of struggle, you feel united.
And with that hope I plan to attend Identity Inclusion’s next Support Group Meeting.
Written by Abu Jaed, who recently joined the Identity Inclusion family as a Psycho-social Supporter.
If you think you can benefit from being a part of our Support Group Meeting to be held on 30th September Saturday, please contact us at +8801738991993 or via our Facebook page inbox by 29th September, Friday, to book your place at, or if you want any further any further information.
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