Thursday, October 05, 2006

Depression and Bipolar Support Group - Week One

Tonight was the first of an eight week support group that I am facilitating. I thought perhaps it might be fun to get my fellow bloggers involved. After each support group I will post the information that I shared with the group online for all of you to read. Your tasks will be in bold. If you don't want to leave comments, I encourage you to start a notebook of points. This way to can follow along. (Of course what you see will be the abbreviate version.)

I started off with an introduction into who I am. I think most of you know. I have suffered from mental illness for as long as I can remember. In fact sometimes I think I know the illnesses better than I know myself.

To help set the tone for the group, I read the following quote by Dean Ornish, Love and Survival:
Anything that promotes a sense of isolation often leads to illness and suffering.
Anything that promotes a sense of love and intimacy, connection and community, is healing.

A support group is about those connections, finding the sense of community, of belonging.I then gave the participants a chance to share their stories. I would love for you to use the comment area to share yours. If you'd rather, you can email it to me:

I talk about the value of journaling. Keeping a locked journal to help with privacy and insecurities. I offered the suggestion of mood mapping and a daily activity log. It was through my log that I learnt some of my signs. Signs that things are starting to go: I write smaller, I need to sleep with a the closet doors closed and I want to change my physical appearance in some way. I would love for you to also use the comment area to talk about your coping mechanism. Maybe provide some advice for others or those who love someone that is ill.

I talked about needing to fall hard before coming up. Before realizing and accepting that I was forever going to be ill. I think the moment that it truly hit me was my 25th birthday. I had the whole day planned. It was going to be perfect. Well, when you have two little kids and a busy day planned, it will be anything but perfect. I of course was convinced that they had ruined my day on purpose. I was angry. Very angry. I was yelling and saying hurtful things. I went upstairs to Doodles room (he would have been just over 4 years old). I was saying some pretty mean things. I picked up a teddy bear from his bed and throw it across the room in frustration. I then went to pull him into me. I wanted to hold him. Just hold him and cry. As I went in to reach for him, he pulled back and shuttered. In his little mind he thought I was going to throw him the way I'd thrown the teddy bear only moments before. I will never forget that look of fear in his eye. Never. I went downstairs, crawled into bed and I cried. I cried for a long time. I knew then that something had to change. Not just for me, but for also for those I love.Use the comment area or email ( your moment of realization.

We talked a bit about medication. The value of listening to your body and finding the right fit. This too is only part of the long journey. We talked about why we tend to self-medicate. The purpose it serves: desire to be healthy, the joy of mania, the need to fit in, the believe that you can do it on your own...Use the comment area or email ( your stories of self-medication.

Recommended Reading:

  • Stop Walking on Eggshells
  • The Depression and Manic Depression Workbook
  • The Feeling Good Handbook
  • Words that Heal the Blues

That is all until next Thursday. Welcome to the support group.


Sarah said...

hey there i didnt know in which blog i should leave you a comment but i chose this one..

I agree, canada is AMAZING!!! but my point was that sometimes, for people with mental illness especially depression it might NOT eb the best place to be in..

dont get me wrong though, i LOEV the good old canuck land! And i love the snow and ski season and the whole deal!! :)

LC said...

My daughter was at your group last night, her daughter is the bipolar person in our family and is living with us. First, thanks for the support you are offering to families like ours. Our daughter is so grateful too. Second, we hope to make it to the group soon. Our lives were busy before our granddaughter moved in, so it takes a while to shake off the excess. Again, bless you for doing this, and we hope to meet you soon.

Brony said...

lc, I do hope that you can make it out one night. I think it is so valuable. I admire your strength for taking your grand daughter in. I know already that you are a beautiful person. I can tell that your family is full of love.

Ramblin Rose said...

I would love to join your support group online if I may. I live in Australia and found you via Manic Mom and think you are doing wonderful work . Thank you


ps I took up your challenge ..

Gwennaƫlle said...

Here they seemed to say that new research tend to prove that depression would not barely be a matter of low times that could be cured through therapy but would have a physical answer. They seemed to say that the result of this research tend to show that something is not working the way it should in the brain. I am waiting for more informations. If this is to lead us to new medication that will actually work perfectly then GREAT. If it is a new way to set aside a part of the population then I think I am going to get angry again ;-)

Wandering Coyote said...

Great idea here, Brony!

I journal prolifically. It helps with a lot of things, but recently I've seen it's value in helping me with my memory. I, too, know my signs, but I need to re-read my journal entries in order to find them. I'm considering reading parts of my journal to my counselor and psychiatrist. I frequently have trouble expressing myself or articulating my feelings adequately during my sessions, so I think bringing in my journal will help greatly.

Other coping mechanisms...well, pushing myself to get out of the house on a daily basis is key for me. I totally see the value of exercise, and feel the endorphins after I'm done exercising. I only wish the feeling lasted longer.

I take several medications: manerix, seroquel, nozinan, imovane. I think the seroquel is the best; I really think it helps my mood shifts, and it has the least side effects of anything I've been on. I used to comfort eat (last time I had a major depression I gained 65lbs) but I've really worked on that and eat way less comfort foods than I used to. I find listening to music and my list of distraction techniques helps out a lot - watching TV, surfing the net, having a shower (alas, no tub where I'm living now) or calling a friend. I love to bake so I often do that to make me feel productive.

I just picked up Walking on Eggshells from the library today.

Carmi said...

I admire your courage. It takes a huge amount of strength to share with others as you have - both here and in leading your support group. I wouldn't have the spine, and am glad that the world has people like you who so obviously do.

From reading everyone else's comments, it's clear you're already having a deep and lasting impact on so many lives.

And as a writer, I wholeheartedly agree: picking up a pen is incredibly cathartic.

Michele said...

What a great idea and thank you for involving bloggers.

Journaling - I have journaled since I was 14 and have stacks of paper journals from the silliness of dating in my teens to the dark parts of my depression and moods.. I need to start a paper journal again in ernest I find that I edit and censor far too much on my blog journal AND I can't take it with me. I also need to get some depth to my entries. I love your idea here and will definitely be following along.

I fell hard on the day that my father's father passed away. He was old, he lived a full life. After hte funeral and such we were back at my grandmother's and my aunt, mom and grandmother started talking about what kind of carpeting my nana wanted to put in. I out of no where totally lost it and started crying and had a total melt down saying that htey were not respecting his passing and how could they thing of trival things when a life had just gone. That combined with a annoying medical diagnosis and the death of my mother's mother 3 months later left me reeling, numb, in therapy and starting my journey of dealing with the depressive tendencies that I think I had all my life.

Medication - I have been on and off and round and round. I am holding my own on the mix I am taking now - lexapro, klonapin, trazadone. I tried topomax for my mood swings but it left me feeling too detatched, tired and distant. I have been on medication for 8 years now and I too up it when I need it a litte more but any major changes I try to run by my doctor.

These are all quick answers that only provide a peek. I will journal them in more depth. I have just started back at therapy again and I think answering your questions will provide me insight and possibly some topics for therapy.

Michelle said...

p.s I too would love to joing your online support group. Is there an official way to join?

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