I Didn’t Think I Needed a Support Group
Until I started going.
I started attending a bipolar disorder support group in June. I didn’t know what to expect, and I thought about ditching every minute of the drive there. A need to find something to help with my latest depressive episode kept me driving.
When I pulled up, I made eye contact with others and realized it would be strange if I left after that.
I didn’t know if I would speak. I didn’t know if I’d be able to shut up. That’s kind of a part of living with bipolar: sometimes I’m too “far away” to talk. Other times I can’t stop talking even when I want to.
But, hey, these people would probably understand, even if I annoyed the hell out of them.
As other people shared, I felt this weird energy of positivity and belongingness. Total strangers were sharing the exact thoughts, emotions, and experiences I have had. I didn’t feel as isolated anymore.
Intellectually, I know I’m not alone. There are many people out there who have bipolar disorder and similar experiences. Knowing statistics didn’t help me feel supported, though.
I shared how I’d lost a job I loved because of bipolar disorder. I told strangers about my depression and anger about the ordeal. I told them about the frustration that my boss didn’t understand, even if she acted as if she did.
I found more validation and understanding in a group of strangers than I had from anyone else. My loved ones are supportive, but no one can truly get it unless they’ve been through it.
When I share with others who don’t have bipolar disorder, I have to explain the specifics of the disorder. I don’t mind educating people, but sometimes it’s nice to say, “I’m feeling down” and leave it at that. In the group, elaboration isn’t needed as much.
A support group is just as important as my medications and therapy. I can’t get the camaraderie of a support group from a pill. I can’t get the perspective of another person with bipolar disorder from my therapist. All three work together to provide the stability and peace of mind I need.
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