Category Archives: Support Group Lessons

An encouraging word!

So shame on me for taking so long to respond to this. As I just blogged about, my hubby and I are making a huge decision and I’ve spent a decent amount of time having anxiety attacks!

But—I can’t explain how excited I was when I saw this award on my blog!  It was such a great feeling to see that someone was reading my blog—this author was actually a huge inspiration in my writing as she was one of the first to follow me. So thank you thank you Kat. Check out her blog at http://tryingtoescapethedarkness.wordpress.com/.  I like her honesty and openness—and she recently posted pictures of her “fave hotties”. What’s not to like?

So here are the rules that apparently come with the award?!

Rule One: Thank the person who nominated you. Done!

Rule Two: List Seven Random things about yourself

  1. The “Mayhem like me” All-State commercials freak me out
  2. The more sparkles…the more likely I am to like it
  3. I’m gullible. Unacceptably so
  4. I missed the Justin Timberlake phase in middle school but made up for it with a crush when I was 23 (Friends with Benefits anyone!?)
  5. I hate the color purple
  6. Good deals make me really really really happy
  7. I’m not above bribing people with food to be my friend.

Rule Three: Spread the love and nominate other bloggers!  Here are my nominations (in no particular order!)….

  1. http://highanxietiesvictoria.wordpress.com/
  2. http://natashatracy.com/
  3. http://summersolsticemusings.wordpress.com
  4. http://believersbrain.com/
  5. http://wisecounsel.wordpress.com/

But more than anything—I wanna remind everyone that you never know what a difference a simple word of encouragement can make!  I can think of several times in my life someone has switched my day/week/month around with just a kind word!

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Who inspires you?

I like to believe that I’m not competitive. Sure, I like winning—but I’d rather we all just get along and sing camp songs. My husband used to disagree with this perception of myself, seeing me as “extremely competitive”, but I’ve rescued him from that misplaced belief.

Here’s how I convinced him. I’m not competitive; I’m determined. It’s not about winning, it’s about doing what I said I was going to do—benchmarking my performance to my abilities.  My parents must be so proud—how many times do parents and teachers say “Just do your best, don’t compare yourself to anyone else”?  While I’d like to say it’s because I’m perfect, it’s primarily that have no filter and end up feeling terrible for the people I beat.

I was pondering the distinction between competition and determination during the 16 mile bike ride of a triathlon I participated in this weekend. As a strong swimmer, I started off the bike at the front of the pack. As I cycled merrily along, several guys passed me and I just smiled and waved. Proving that I’m not competitive! But then a female came up on me and I thought, “I can do that”, and kicked my effort up a notch. Was I competitive after all? I don’t think so. Several other females passed me that I felt no desire to keep pace with—they were too crazy fast. It wasn’t about beating the girl; it was about finding someone who realistically challenged me.

You can argue this distinction with me later—but for now go along with me to see how this applies to “real life”. 

I do a lot of reading, particularly in the mental health field. I’ve found a lot of good resources out there, but one particular author, Therese Borchard, inspired me and my decision to write. We have a lot in common—she’s a Christian, struggles with bipolar disorder, and a wonderful plethora of other delightful challenges. When you read her writing, you feel like you are being allowed the privilege of taking a journey with a friend. In her book and blog, she strikes a balance between being entertaining, hopeful, and inspiring, but at the same time being realistic, vulnerable, and honest about the messy parts of mental illness.

While reading her book, “Beyond Blue” gave me a lot of great advice for dealing with my own illness, its most lasting impact was making me go “I can do that!”. I can use writing and my personal story to raise awareness for mental illness.

My husband likes to read biographies about famous business and historical figures such as Warren Buffett and Steve Jobs. He says that he learns a lot from them and they “inspire” him to be better. Frankly, all I learn is that you can accomplish a heck of a lot if you can survive on less than five hours of sleep a night. 

I don’t have that ability. To keep my mood stable I need to sleep at least 7.5 – 8.5 hours of sleep a night. A lot of my time is dedicated to other necessary things such as therapy, doctors’ appointments, yoga, thought correction, etc.—I mean even taking all my meds in the morning runs close to a half hour. I can’t even imagine imitating these “successful” people. But Therese’s book was refreshing. Here was someone I respected who had similar limitations and brain functions as me. Finally someone who made me realistically say, “I can do that!”

AS I’ve started writing, I’m sure that some aspects of my writing style are similar to hers, particularly in her older blogs. After all, I like to think I’m also witty and insightful. But despite some elements of hers that I might imitate, my voice is also present. After all, my favorite element of her style is her personal tone, the ability to make your reader feel like they know you and are just chatting with an old friend over slushies and ice cream. 

As I continue to read and write, I’m sure other authors and books will continue to shape and influence my tone. But one thing I will not forget from her writing is to be myself. To be open about my flaws, my strengths, my limitations, my preferences, my successes, my struggles. I hope my readers can relate to me that way, and I might inspire someone else to say, “I can do that”.

Not a typical post for me—but a bit of insight into my story.  So what about you? Who is the person in your life that you might want to imitate? Are you like Sidney and find inspiration in famous well-known figures? Or are you more likely to find inspiration in those similar to you?

Oh and if you’re interested in reading any of Therese’s stuff check it out here: http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2010/12/the-12-bipolar-days-of-christm.html (this is a link to a post that makes me smile!)

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This is not my legacy….

While a myriad of environmental factors affect and influence mental illness, research shows a causal link between genetics and mental illness. Like many diseases, family history can be a strong predictor of an individual’s mental health. While I do not have any diagnosed mental illness in my immediate family, there is a likely possibility of undiagnosed/untreated illness in extended family. And, there might be individuals that have been diagnosed that I do not know about—how often do we find ourselves hiding from our family more than others?

Because of this link, hearing this song for the first time brought me to tears. The song reminds me I am not doomed to suffer my entire life because of this fluke in my genectic code, but also that I will not be cursing those after me (more on that fear later….)

Family Tree: Matthew West
Lyrics in Italics
Me in Normal….

You didn’t ask for this
Nobody ever would
Caught in the middle of this dysfunction

Caught in the middle, wrapped up in, created the, consumed by, defined by?

It’s your sad reality
It’s your messed up family tree

Why my genes? What about my genetic makeup led to this? Why my branch of the family tree?

And all your left with all these questions
Are you gonna be like your father was and his father was?
Do you have to carry what they’ve handed down?

Can I change? Can I learn to be different? Will I carry the dysfunction my entire life?

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you

It’s not my destiny to suffer forever; my disease is not I will be remembered for.

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be

I am meant to be more than just bipolar. I am meant to be more than burdened or held down by my disease

I can break the chains that bind you

The chains that tie me to these old habits, these old thoughts, these old ideas of who I am and what I’m worth.

I have a dream for you
It’s better than where you’ve been

Can it be worse?

It’s bigger than your imagination

Bigger than just my dream of a life where I’m not anxious everyday. Could there really be a greater plan for me?

You’re gonna find real love
And you’re gonna hold your kids
You’ll change the course of generations

I will change the lives of not just my kids, but other families who have been crippled by this disease

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you

It doesn’t matter what happened yesterday. It doesn’t matter how many times the waves have crashed over me. Just because I suffered yesterday does not mean tomorrow will not be better.

No, this is not your legacy
This is not your meant to be

I’ll leave behind me hope and encouragement for those who struggle

I can break the chains that bind you
Cause you’re my child
You’re my chosen

Chosen by Him, despite the limitations of my illness, because I am capable of change and influence…

You are loved
You are loved

By God and by my amazing family.

And I will restore
All that was broken

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” …and I will finally know what it is like to live with a healthy brain.

You are loved
You are loved

And I am worthy of their love.

And just like the seasons change
Winter into spring
You’re bringing new life to your family tree now

Just as my mood improves moving from winter to spring, I bring hope and change to my family, future family, and even families I don’t know

Yes you are
You are

Yes I am……

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Do I have fun writing this blog?!

Fun: [fuhn]
noun
1. Something that provides mirth or amusement: A picnic would be fun.
2. Enjoyment or playfulness: She’s full of fun.

I’ve been rolling the idea of “fun” around in my mind for the last few weeks. It started when someone at support group made a comment that “nothing is fun. Nothing is enjoyable”. Immediately, other’s joined in echoing her thoughts—including me. Normally when I say “that sounds fun” or “yeah we had fun this weekend” what I really mean is “that sounds less miserable than the other option” or “it could have made me feel worse”.

But this concept of fun is more complex than first glance (otherwise it’d make for a pretty boring post!). The mental illness of majority of the support group members set in during adulthood. Therefore, they have past experiences to compare the present too. Past experiences of “fun”.  I’m not in that situation. I’ve been like this for as long as I can remember. When I was in 8th grade my family was at a large event for Fourth of July or some other holiday. I was able to spend some time with my friends during it and if asked, I would have said that it was “fun”. However, the next day my mom talked to me and said that I needed to find friends I was comfortable with because I was giving everyone a “fake smile”. I probably was—after all, I was in a large group of people and it was raining—I was probably feeling pretty panicked.  But I wasn’t at home in my closet—so I was having fun right?!

Then how do I know what “fun” is? Well, I can think of some experiences where I was able to relax and truly enjoy something. I think I just experience them less often than most, and I can remember going months at a time never feeling like I had “fun”.

But the real twist is that most people consider me “fun”.  In the last 24 hours I’ve had three separate people make a comment about me making things more “fun”…and Sidney would tell you he married me partly because I’m “fun”.

So how do I reconcile these two facts? Apparently I can be “fun” without having “fun” myself. But does that mean I am just pretending? Does that make me fake?

The answer to these questions is complex and jumbled in my mind. I think the gut reaction answer is ‘yes, clearly you’re being fake’. But upon closer examination I don’t think so (and not just because I do not want to admit that I’m a fake!). If I have the energy to make jokes,  come up with crazy ideas, go along with other people’s crazy ideas—why shouldn’t I? I’d rather be pretending to have fun than admitting I’m miserable. Why make everyone around me suffer just because I am?

So I can make people around me have more fun, but not have fun myself.  It’s hard to wrap my mind around that concept. At first, it makes me annoyed!!  It seems unfair—why can’t I make things fun for myself?!

But upon further consideration—it gives me hope. Because it’s a sign that Nicole has a personality that is not ruled by her illness. Nicole has characteristics and personality traits that shine through despite her mental illness. It’s one more reminder that there is so much more to me then bipolar, anxiety, OCD, panic, etc…..

Image

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Skin Deep Link

The link below is to an eating disorder blog–this particular post shares tattoos people who struggle with eating disorders have gotten either during recovery or after. I think having a physical reminder of where you came from and where you want to go is an awesome idea–and a tattoo can definitely be that. My personal favorite was the “breathe” tattoo on a girl’s hand. I bet seeing that every time I looked down could help remind me (or guilt me into) taking some breathing breaks during the day!

I desperately want a tattoo–but my skin freaks out if say–baby lotion touches it. Chicken pox? Yeah–ended up in the hospital with a second degree skin infection. Therefore, a tattoo is out of the question for me. : (  So–other ideas? What other things, either objects/actions/etc, could I use to serve the same purpose? To remind me of how far I’ve come, to breathe, the strength I have…etc.

Link to post:

http://arenomore.wordpress.com/2012/08/13/skin-deep/

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Catching the most elusive feeling…

So I wrote this post Saturday evening—hoping that by the time Monday rolled around it would still be true.  Unfortunately it’s not…which actually makes me even happier that I wrote this post on Saturday…continue on to see why!

 

I have AMAZING news! Today my husband and I were outside, and I was just dancing and jamming to some music, when something hit me. I was HAPPY. Not just “not miserable” or “ok” or “manic happy”. But truly happy.

I looked up at my husband and in a hushed whisper (didn’t want to scare the feeling away!) said “I’m happy right now” and his smile just stretched from ear to ear. The last time I can honestly remember this feeling was the end of April during a trip my husband and I took to Napa (and that might have been the wine…). That’s a long time ago.

Now that’s not to say I haven’t had moments I’ve enjoyed since then, or done things I found fun. But in my life there tends to be an underlying sense of anxiety—which doesn’t generate a lot of “happy” feelings. So to feel peacefully happy—even if it was just for a day is amazing (heck, I’d take even half a day or an hour of feeling this way. Beggars can’t be choosy!). And for it to happen so close after a series of bad days made me appreciate it even more.

I’m sharing this for several reasons. First, you get to listen to me complain about bad days—you should get to hear me celebrate good days.

Second, if you’re a fellow consumer, I want you to know that there are good days. I remember one time at support group one guy said, “every so often, you get to get off the treadmill and feel like a normal human being–and it’s amazing”.  It’s so encouraging to hear things like that in the middle of a down turn—well usually it is. Sometimes it makes me just want to hit the person.

And third, it’s for me to remember. It’s so easy to focus on the 50 days that were bad, and forget about the one that was great. My mom often used to suggest I keep a prayer journal….that way I could see when God answered prayer and have a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness. I’ve taken this pattern into my mental health adventure as well. Sometimes I just need to look back and go “Remember that day. Remember how you felt. Wasn’t that amazing? Don’t worry—no matter how unlikely it looks now, you’ll get to feel that way again.”

It’s several hours later now—and I just spent 4 hours of a Saturday night working on my resume which is not that much fun. Unfortunately I will not be singing one of my favorite songs, “We went out last night” (by Kenny Chesney), tomorrow, but it doesn’t matter to me. I felt HAPPY. I felt CALM.

And the best part–I wasn’t even medicated!

 

You can see now why I’m happy I wrote that post Saturday.  Yesterday and today were rough days, and as I mentioned in reason #3—I need to be remember that good days do happen. Maybe (ok certainly!) not as often as I would like, and sometimes it seems a bit unfair that other people experience that feeling more than once every couple of months, but I do get to feel it.  And every couple of months is better than it was when I was younger before I started treatment…so now I’m working toward feeling that way once a month. Hopefully, if I live to be 100 and don’t die of a stress induced illness, I’ll have only one BAD day every couple of months.

Until then—stay tuned.

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Another reason I’m a nut job….

I mentioned briefly in my recent blogs that I’ve been having a rough time lately—all the normal symptoms…extreme anxiety, irritability, depression…etc. As normal, with the increased intensity of my emotions, I’ve had a desire to hurt (in particular) cut myself. Unlike when they are part of my OCD, the thoughts are not repulsive; instead, something really believes it will make me feel better. While I hate to admit it, the idea is appealing. Sometimes more appealing than French fries…which is saying a lot.

Now I know most of you are asking “Why would you feel like that?” Well, that’s a question I have also been asking myself . As I try to push the thoughts out of my mind as soon as possible, I don’t usually examine the feelings too closely.  But recently I’ve been trying to figure it out. Healthy Nicole does not try to deal with stress by cutting herself—why does sick Nicole want to?

I recently went to a NAMI “In Our Own Voice” presentation that helped answer the questions. (If you have not been to one, I highly recommend it.  The two presenters at the one I went to were great—honest, funny, and insightful (just like me!)).  Anyways, one presenter shared that she began cutting herself at an early age and explained three reasons she did it.

Number One: Physical Pain

 When your body is in physical pain, your mind can only focus on that source of pain. So for at least a brief period of time you can escape the crazy thoughts in your mind. I can relate strongly to this one. Ironically enough, I remember complaining about a headache one time when I was younger and my dad saying “Want me to hit your finger? Then you won’t be thinking about your head anymore!” I sweetly and respectfully said, “No, but thank you anyway.” (haha ok maybe not totally respectfully…I was a moody teenager!)

So many times when I’m feeling my worst, I desperately want anything to take me out of my head and pull me back to reality. Physical pain can do that—and give me a break from thinking (it’s the closest I can come to taking my brain out and leaving it in another room).

Number Two: Outward Expression of Emotions

Especially as a younger person, you often do not know how to express the intense confusing feelings going on inside you.  You honestly don’t know what is wrong.  Harming yourself can be an outward way to express pain and ask for help.

I can relate to this reason as well. I think back on several actions during high school I did to try to get the emotions out of me—and there were a few things I did to try to get attention (SOS attention, not just the ‘I like being treated as a princess attention’—though I did that too!)

I still feel like that sometimes, one time after a breakdown, during the ‘debrief’ this conversation happened:

Me: “Didn’t you see? Didn’t you see how serious the situation was?!”
Them: “Well you weren’t hurting yourself”

Me: “Oh—so I have to hurt myself for this to be serious?!”

Oh……I still cringe when I think about that conversation….

While you might think “I’d never say that”, try to remember—the outside could just be a small glimpse of the struggles inside. Even if you think it might just be “teenage angst” or “hormones”, get to the bottom of it. The goal is to give voice to the emotions before they are expressed in self-harm. One of my goals in raising awareness is to help give others ways to express their intense/unpleasant/unexplainable emotions in healthy ways. You know– hitting a punching bag not your little brother or drinking water not alcohol (and no, putting the vodka in a water bottle does not count!).

Number Three: Physical Healing

The last reason she gave for cutting was that she could see the physical heal. It would bleed, then she would bandage it, it would scab, and then heal over.  While I cannot relate personally to this one, I have heard others also mention it. It reminds them that things can heal and get better

My addition: Human frailty

As I was wading through the why—and trying to relate to the previous reason, I had a revelation. In some ways, seeing myself hurt does give me hope. Unfortunately, not the good hope that ‘things heal’. Instead, it gives me hope that “Life will end at some point. My body can get injured/ harmed and I will die.” I know that is a completely morbid thought—but when I’m in the midst of an overwhelming depression, I do believe there is no end in sight. And in a sick (pun intended!) twisted way, seeing myself harmed reminds me that I can/will die at some point.

Conclusion:

Self-harm can be a weird, confusing topic. It can be difficult to bring up and explain. As mentioned above, one reason for self-harm is the inability to express emotions. So how can you expect those struggling with it to explain why they feel that way?

I hate admitting it because I don’t want people to worry about me. I don’t want them to think that I’m weak. Or worse…weird! But, at the same time-I want it to stop being shameful. I want people to understand. And I want people to know they’re not alone.  So here’s me—admitting once again—that I’m a nut job.

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Surfing without a Surfboard

So as noted in my last blog—I’ve had a rough couple of days.  I’m feeling so frustrated and just beat down by life right now. I’m doing everything (well ok, most things! I’m still drinking slushies….) right; but my brain is not cooperating with me!

After support group tonight, someone reminded me of something I had forgotten.  A gentleman I respect was joking that he didn’t know why this other girl was friends with him. I go, “I’d be friends with you. I think you’re funny.” And he replies, “Well I figure we’re all f***** miserable anyways, might as well laugh about it.”

Oh so true!  If I was only allowed to give one piece of advice about surviving mental illness it would probably be “have a sense of humor”. Bipolar is absolutely crazy—and things I do during mood swings and bad times are nuts. When I look back at them it’s either laugh or cry. And I choose cry plenty of times but I mostly try to laugh (crying just dehydrates me anyways!). I mean how can I not laugh when I think back to the tornado I created in my room a few weeks ago?

Living with bipolar without a sense of humor, is like trying to surf without a surfboard.

There’s all these long scientific explanations about why laughing is helpful, but we all know it just feels good. I know there are times when you’re so depressed that laughing is not an option—but I try to watch something funny (maybe even crack a smile!) or be around someone with a good sense of humor. I don’t pressure myself to laugh (sometimes I do fake it—-fake it to you make it right?!), but mostly I try to just enjoy something humorous.

You know they always say, “It takes 43 muscles to frown, but only 13 to smile…..

….but it only takes 4 to punch something.” 

Haha…yeah I know. I’m hilarious.

To conclude: Take 8 minutes to check out this video. It cracks me up—every time.  Jim Gaffigan is amazing…think I could write the price of tickets to see him as a medical expense?!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UahqgK60vuk

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Jump, Jump. The Mac Dad will make you jump, jump

Tonight at group I shared that I was having intense levels of anxiety–basically the bread of butter of a mental illness support group.  The “consumers” as we are called in the group, immediately jumped over each other to provide advice and suggestions to me on how to cure it.  You could see my already overactive brain spin into full cycle as I tried to take in all the suggestions. On the way home I was talking through it with Sidney (well I was talking–he was looking for the nearest location to return a red box movie) I was reminded of an entry I wrote a while ago and never posted…….I’ve posted it below

*Begin post*

I’m addicted to slushies.  It’s sad really.  I’m 24 years old and nothing makes me happier than a large plastic cup filled with frozen ice and artificial flavoring.  My husband jokingly calls me a ‘connoisseur of slushies’ because I know where all the “good” places are to get them.  What does this have to do with my mental health journey?  Quite a lot actually…so stay with me.

The obsession started my freshman year of high school when my sister and I would get them at the gas station after youth group on the way home.  I always liked those bus rides home, because we’d talk about nothing and laugh, or I’d vent about the current frustrations in my life.  As I grew older, it was something all my siblings would bond over—we’d buy a large 64 oz mug to save money (its only like 20 cents more than the small one!) and split it between the four of us.  Boyfriends have brought me slushies instead of flowers, and friends have bought me them instead of chocolate or ice cream.

So now I have strong association of family, love, bonding, and affection attached to slushies.  They can make me feel relaxed, calm, and remind me of the many people in my life who love me.  I’m sure everyone has something like that; but hopefully it’s something healthier like a song, pillow, smell, etc.

However, everything I read about my illness harps on the negative effects of caffeine on the brain—which means I should give up my slushies. Sad face…actually devastated face is more like it.

But everything I read also has a lot of other advice I need to follow.  Get eight hours of sleep a night. Establish a regular routine.  Go to yoga. Exercise. Practice visualization. Eat less processed foods. Practice mindfulness meditation. Laugh. Spend time alone. Spend time with family. Take your medication. See your therapist. Write down what works.  And it goes on….

At first I tried to do everything at once.  I was so desperate to get better if someone said jump, I said how high?  But after a few weeks I was exhausted, my body was out of balance from all the changes, and I realized that not everything works for everyone.  Healing is a slow process…actually I’ve finally accepted that for me it will be a lifelong process.  So I’ve learned to prioritize, find the advice that seems to be the most urgent, and make that change first. When I felt comfortable with that change I could slowly move to another one.  In the same way that a couch potato cannot turn into a marathon runner in a few weeks—I cannot learn to manage my illness in a few weeks.  So I accept that some things are “the least of the evils” and show myself compassion in those areas while I focus my energy on the larger more important changes I need to make.

So someday—when I’m 30 and wearing dentures from my teeth rotting, I might be at the point where I decide to focus my energy on slushies (and caffeine in general)…but until then, I think I’ll still get a large amount of pleasure from counting out those 95 cents on the counter.

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“Better to walk with a friend in the dark….

…then alone in the light”

I went to my first bipolar support group meeting last week. It was….interesting.  In some ways it was like everything you see in the movies.  We all sat in a circle, introduced ourselves, said our diagnosis, and how we were feeling that evening.

“I’m Nicole. I am diagnosed bipolar two with a variety of anxiety disorders.  Tonight I’m feeling anxious”

Group: “Hhhhiiiii Nicole” (yes, “Hi” stretched into two syllables).

Group Member: “Oh and by the way, let me pass you some kool-aid.”

Gonna be honest, the introductions part creeped me out a bit.  I was silently scoping out the nearest exits and slowly inching my way towards the door when a female voice caught my attention:

“I’m feeling just plain pissy today”

I laughed, which probably broke at least two of the ten rules they read at the begining.  And not because her discomfort is funny—instead, because anyone who’s been through a manic episode can relate.  There’s no other way to describe how I feel during those than just plain bitchy.

Now they had my attention.  I discretely moved my chair back into the circle and shifted my attention the lady speaking.

An amazing young woman began to share the extreme challenges she was currently facing and the hopelessness she felt because of them. The group gathered around her and brainstormed ideas and suggestions to help weather the storm.  Different individuals knew of community resources to aid in her journey, others offered her their cell phone numbers for support, but more than anything—the facilitator for the night looked her in the eye and said, “There is not a person in this room who has not been where you are.  While your experience is personalized and unique, each of us knows the sting of judgment from family members, the difficulty in maintaining a job, and the financial stress of treatment.  But—each of us is still here tonight.  We’re here, we’re alive, and we’re fighting.  And we’re here for you.  Keep coming and keep up your treatment plan, and one day you’ll be the one sitting here helping the newest member of the group.”

(repeat)

If this blog was a song—those powerful words would be the chorus.

I slumped back in my seat and whispered “wow”.  I was finally in a room full of people who “got it”.  People who can be impulsive, suicidal, anxious, and yes—just plain pissy.  But people who know that it’s not their fault, that at the core of these behaviors is some brain chemistry gone seriously wrong. As I looked around that room, I realized there was likely as much diligence and strength in that room as a professional athletes locker-room.  But way less grunting, butt slapping, trash talking and sweating.

I had found a place where people who had walked in my shoes (you know, the comfy sneakers—not necessarily my six inch heels) could offer advice and encouragement.  And when I was having stable days I could bless them in return.

Just a final thought—as I was looking around for support groups in my area I found a list on one website of “What a Support Group is NOT”.  See below:

  • Therapy groups where facilitators diagnose or treat emotional and/or behavioral problems.
  • Led by certified and credentialed counselors.  Instead, they are led by a trained facilitator who can steer the session and ensure that the meeting is not dominated by a few individuals
  • A dating or matchmaking service

What!? Really? It’s not a speed dating event?  I thought that’s why everyone was giving out phone numbers and business calls.  But I guess it’s lucky for me that it’s not a dating service, since I’m already married and all.

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