Report Back from a Local Support Group

August 3, 2009 at 4:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wow. Little did I know how true my own advice was. It’s great to go to a support group. I went last night to a local Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) meeting, and found it very beneficial for several reasons.

First of all, it was great to be among my people, and to discuss persistent issues that I’d only half-articulated to myself, and had never mentioned to my sane peers. It was great to be able to talk cognitive deficits, for example, and see to people nod instead of throwing up a quick bulwark of denial.

I also enjoyed talking to others after the meeting. We were a pretty rag-tag group, but once we reached out to each other and began human discussions, I was impressed, as I always am, with the brilliance, charm, and wisdom of bipolar people, even those who are in great distress. I also felt for the family members in attendance; theirs is a difficult and often thankless task. There are so many issues that I’d like to bring up there in the future!

The greatest piece of wisdom that I heard came after the meeting, when I was talking to an older woman about local Latin classes that she recommended. I told her how much self-consciousness I experience at work, and she said something that I had never considered before: “Try not to worry about how people perceive you — it’s the chronic worry, more than people’s perceptions, that will interfere with your functioning.” So true. Meta-emotions — emotions about our emotions — can be as troublesome as the original emotions themselves. So as with bad, compulsive thoughts, when I start feeling abnormal, I will ask myself what emotion is behind the sensation, then deal with the emotion, not the stray thought. That alone was worth the price of admission (they passed the hat, so I donated what little cash I was carrying — it would have been worth a lot more than that).

The funny thing was, I found it almost impossible to go. I had to force every step towards the hospital where it is held. Naturally hospitals have awful associations for me, and I also feared seeing someone I know. In the end, it was more than worth that nearly overwhelming fear.

Other beneficial activities from yesterday: I attended an extremely difficult yoga class, and was proud to make it through with my dignity and joints intact. It was fabulous to have my ass kicked like that, and I plan to push myself much harder in classes, and perhaps in my daily practice as well. I also attended my local Episcopal church, and reveled in the ceremony of taking communion. Spiritual practice is one of the five pillars of mental health (I don’t remember the other four offhand), and it helped me enormously yesterday — so much that I calmed myself by reciting a rosary before bed.

So, yes. Support groups, exercise (yoga in particular), and spiritual practice. All three alleviate symptoms and enhance wellness. Check them out if you haven’t already.

Love to all.

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