Living with bipolar disorder, I'm always looking for rocks in my life. Places, routines, people, tools I can depend upon that will help stabilize me and also be there for me when I'm not doing so great (like when I'm a blubbering, vomiting, nervous wreck).
Lately, for me that's been my support group. We meet every Tuesday in a nearby location. It's specifically for folks living with mental illnesses. It's only for folks living with mental illnesses. No mental health workers (unless one of us does that for a living), no family, no friends. It's just us supporting each other.
I was nervous to go, the first time, but quickly got hooked. I really don't feel alone when I'm there. My friends are great, but they don't always _get_ it (nor do they claim to). When I talk about the ups and downs, they can only imagine.
This group is swell. If I mention suicidal ideation, they can relate because they've been there. A lot of them understand mania and know how much you can dread a crash into depression.
We ask each other advice. It feels better asking someone advice if you know they understand. If you know they'e been there or maybe they're there now.
It helps to have someone go, "I know." It helps to have someone understand.
It's funny to have a group of people to laugh about mania with. Or laugh about feeling like a "normie." That one always gets me laughing 'cause we're never going to be normies. It just don't happen that way. We'll find ways to fit in, we find our own ways to cope, but we're not going to be the same.
The group focuses on connections as a theme, too, which I like. Folks quickly jump in to meet a need of another member through time, service, and care. Each meeting, I see someone rise up to help another member. We encourage each other to do something about our problems, find ways to make it work. Take steps forward.
Between this and my counseling sessions, my week has it's rhythm that I need to cling to. I need both. Counseling is good for grounding me and for reassurance that I'm on the right path. Support group? It's to not feel so isolated.
I love that group and I'm grateful.