The Most DANGEROUS Support Group In Town!!!

funny bipolar cat delete hare

 

After I published my blog post last Friday, I received a phone call from a beloved friend who reads my blog.  By the icy tone of her voice I prepared myself for criticism about my topic.

“I must tell you,” she said soberly, “that I’m very concerned about this support group you’re forming.  I’ve spoken with Jabba the Hutt (her counselor) and he and I agree that it seems dangerous!”

At first I thought she was referring to the recent mountain lion sightings in the area roughly where our first meeting will take place.

scary

Nooooooooooooooooo, she was not!  

She wasn’t referring to those magnificent-yet-potentially life-threatening beasts!

Her disparaging comments concerned a cat of an entirely different color.  

She declared, It’s just not safe to be around those BI-POH-LAHS!”

Yes, the very “bi-poh-lahs” who would be in attendance, including…

BI-POH-LAH ME!

 She addedJabba and I think that you need to have a professional with you!”  

Matt Foley

(Chris Farley in his SNL role as the “professional” motivational speaker Matt Foley*)

While yes, it’s a wise idea to have a professional facilitator at some groups, I deemed it unnecessary at my informal, social group.  I had sound reasons for my decision, some of which I wrote about in my last post.

Now I knew that my friend didn’t intend to hurt me.  I realized that her opinion was based, in part, upon decades of deep-rooted stigma imbedded into our society. However, her opinion and tone still cut me to the core.  

What also angered me was that my experience in forming and facilitating other support groups wasn’t acknowledged by my friend.  I created the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) ** Chapter of Santa Cruz County.  The DBSA is a credible, national organization that provided me with group training materials and other resources designed for leading (safe) support groups.  

I arranged for a therapist to attend our first DBSA group to give me feedback after the meeting. I was grateful for her help, especially as she donated her time.  The therapist offered useful advice, but frankly her points were ones I had realized on my own.  

As you can guess, my conversation with my friend ended badly, and I was very upset.  I turned to some friends for support (thank you Lady K. & Sista Sweet), and I worked out on my elliptical.  I calmed down.

Over the next few days I thought about what separates a good, safe support group from a bad one.  I became a little paranoid.  What if I was creating a dangerous support group after all? Meetup can only give me so much information in each applicant’s profile. I had asked prospective members to fill out a detailed questionnaire before I accepted them into the group, but who’s to say they were telling me the whole truth in their answers?

My paranoia grew.  I envisioned a few members turning up at our first gathering brandishing large knives, ready to strike if they encountered anyone resembling the dumbass FOX commentator Tom Sullivan!  

images

search

Other members might be of the unwashed hippie persuasion.  Their five-foot-long, crusty dreadlocks could be filled with families of mice. I’m sure that their body odor would be fetid enough to make anyone sitting close by them become woozy or even pass out!  

dreads

Lest I forget, several ambiguously Pagan folks might grace us with their presence, carrying some cauldrons and magical wands.  They’ll surely wear enough Stevie Nicks-style velvet to clothe a small village.  Their patchouli oil perfume will be so pungent that it’ll scare away all the approaching hungry mountain lions!

search-1

Of course it almost goes without saying that a cannabis grower will take a seat, ready to share a batch of medical marijuana brownies and a cannabis cake topped with edible flowers.  To round out the group, a Scientologist or two will probably join us so they can convert us to stop taking our medications!  

ha ha Guess who?  

My imaginary support group is truly dangerous…  

Not a support group of women with bipolar, anxiety and/or depression.

——————————————————————————————————————————-

“Matt Foley” Saturday Night Live skit – it’s truly funny!

*http://www.hulu.com/watch/4183

** To read my DBSA Life Unlimited Profile & my friend Kitt O’Malley’s profile, please visit this page:

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=peer_life_unlimited

Advertisements

66 thoughts on “The Most DANGEROUS Support Group In Town!!!

  1. This was very, very funny! But also a little scary how someone could be so ‘off’ (I guess is the nicest way to put it) about a medical diagnosis. What the heck is a ‘bipolar person’? That in itself is weird. We don’t categorize other illnesses that way, but for some reason those who have no understanding what-so-ever of BP think they can make generalizations about all who have the diagnosis. And that that it is ok. Sheeeeeeeeeesh!

    1. Hi Molly – I’m so happy you found the post funny because truthfully, I did too! 🙂 And I out of all the lovely comments I got to date, there has only been one comment that didn’t find this humorous. Someone I don’t know named”Bitter” tweeted that it was “unfunny”. Bummer! Harsh! But I knew my post would rub some people the wrong way, and that’s the chance we take as bloggers, right? (Plus if someone’s nickname is “Bitter” that’s a sign that he/she went into reading my post with particular skewed ‘tude.)

      Anyway, I’ve worked through this stuff and I feel a lot better about it. Writing is a great catharsis, and so is receiving empathic comments such as yours.
      Many thanks & take good care! Dy

      1. No worries about Twitter – I won’t push! It’s not the end-all, be-all of anything, ha ha! I only started using it in the past year and I’m actually trying to cut down. You know I’m in your corner, and Lauren is too!

  2. I have been so out of the loop!!! YAY a support group! I think this is a great idea. Now, I haven’t read your last couple posts, I truly eat, drink and sleep online courses right now. It’s ridiculous. BUT my question is, can we attend via online? like through skype or i-chat? I’d love to come to one of these.

    1. I’d LOOOOOVE to have you in the group, my dear, but this group is meeting out in the woods, as long as it doesn’t rain!!!!! (It’s raining cats & dogs today!) But who knows what the future holds in terms of Skyping…I’ll definitely keep you posted! And I’m super-proud of you for taking your courses – you go, Lady A.!

  3. Your friend and her therapist are the very reason that the general public is scared of Bipolar . Don’t you know it’s the ones that have bipolar that rape, kill, abuse whatever is horrible is because of bipolar people. But, mention depression all is ok! Depressed ok. Can I change the world? I am trying. But it takes people like you and your VOICE to help me. I am a bipolar thriver and when I tell someone I have bipolar most of the time they shut down – silence! My goal to compile 500 stories/poems by Mental Health Awareness week 5/11 – 5/19. http://www.outofourmindsontopaper.com
    Go with your intuition and forget the therapist! As Always With Hope!

    1. Eileen, I loved your comment, I loved your spirit and your project sounds incredible!

      I’ll spread the word about your project!

      I’m getting SO EXCITED about my women’s support group the closer I get to our first meeting, jangly nerves be damned! I know that not every one of the other 14 women who signed up for it will “take” to the format, but if even 1/3 or 1/2 of the members get something useful out of the experience, I’ll be stoked!

      The naysayers can no longer get me down, & yes, I’m following my intuition…

      I’m on a mission & I know what I’m doing is right for me!
      Thanks again & best wishes!!!
      Dyane 🙂

    2. Eileen I have to comment on this…. the other day I told someone I had bipolar and he said, “I’m Sorry.” I didn’t really know how to respond. I understood what he was trying to say, but at the same time I felt a little annoyed that he was sorry I was who I am. It was awkward. Anyways. I guess thinking about it now, I could say, “No, don’t be, I love who I am. Even the ugly bits, cause they are apart of me.”

      1. Someone just told me the other day (or commented here, come to think of it) to say that you have “Bipolar Powers”!!! You’d need to wear a cape for that too! 😉 In all seriousness, I would have felt annoyed too if someone said that, but I understand *why* the person would say such a thing! It’s so frustrating, but I LOVE your comeback! You don’t even need to call them “ugly” bits but call them challenging – ’cause there in’t nothing ugly about you, beautiful Adina!

  4. Your friend and her therapist were just being silly. My therapist supports my going to groups and so does my psychiatrist. Both, in fact, would tell you that it makes me better able to handle my disease as well as ensure that I stick to my treatment plan. It almost sounds like the therapist is fishing for an opportunity to run her own group therapy. I would walk on any such therapist.

    1. I couldn’t agree with you more. While the therapist has a good heart, I believe Jabba the Hutt is not doing effective treatment when it comes to helping my friend. Thanks for taking the time to comment – it made me very happy. I’ve appreciated your our support of my blog more than words can say!

  5. Sigh. (almost) No words. Stick to your original intuition and knowledge that bipolar people are actually *people* and need a safe environment in which to share their experience (and speak their truths) so they can deal, heal, and NOT go crazy from people like her. 😉 In this case, it seems having a “professional” present would actually make it very unsafe.

    1. Thank you so much, Melissa. You understand! If that comment came from just about anyone else, it wouldn’t have affected me the way it did. I allowed myself to be triggered by her. I could have calmly said that the topic was off-limits, but I was already stressed out over other things and particularly vulnerable that day. It’s cathartic to be able to blog about it and connect with kindred spirits such as you. Have a fantastic weekend, and I look forward to reading your blog closely in the months to come.

  6. Wow, I can’t imagine hearing that from a friend. I’ve sometimes wondered if, when I’m open about the BP, if people brace themselves, expecting the worst (whatever the “worst” might be in their minds.) No one’s said anything, though; they just become quiet. Too quiet. Silence can speak as loud as words, and hurt just as much.

    1. What an insightful comment, Laura! “Silence can speak as loud as words, and hurt just as much.” gave me CHILLS, I kid you not! ***Thank you*** for reading & commenting. (p.s. here’s a rambling p.s. for you: I’m behind on writing comments at my fave blogs. While I always “like” posts right away, as you might have noticed, sometimes it takes me a few days to go back & comment. So you’ll see me over there! 😉 I know you understand! It didn’t help that the power went out yesterday during a storm and I couldn’t go online – the horror, the horror! 😉

      1. Oh, I know that power outage horror! A few years ago, we had horrible tornadoes and lost electricity for four days. It was awful. It was already a bad time of year (April) and a bad time of month (no explanation necessary!) and I became very depressed. My mental health took months to stabilize. I’m glad you’re back online!

  7. Some people just don’t get it. I’m sorry your friend came over so coldly and with little information to support her fears. I went to a very credible bipolar support group that met at a hospital conference room, wait for this…..where there was no professional facilitator!!!! We had rules we had to follow such as no demeaning, threatening or otherwise bad comments to people. We were not allowed to discuss medication dosages, offer personal recommendations, etc. It was an excellent group that got me through some very dark times, especially in the beginning where I was new to my own diagnosis. Don’t worry about the nay-sayers! You know you are doing a good thing. Keep moving forward and don’t look back! xxx

    1. What a fantastic comment – thank you Lisa!!! How awesome that you took advantage of that support group, and what’s even better is that it helped you when you really needed that support. Reading your words lifted my spirits and helped restore my faith that yes, I am “doing a good thing”. Major (((hugs))) are headed your way!

  8. So now sending you photos of my attire from the Fleetwood Mac concert next week??? I’m totally dangerous as well. xoxo Sending you so much love. So sorry for those hurtful comments. You are a fierce advocate who is an adult. Stomp stomp for that frustration.

    1. Thank you so much, lovely tranquilamama – I’d LOVE to see your Fleetwood Mac photos, hee hee!!! I must admit I went through a Stevie nicks phase so I’m really a bit of a hypocrite. I could play a joke at the first meeting. Hmm, come to think of it, for the first meeting I could actually dress up in a vintage velvet cape and dress the part to the hilt….but then the 14 neophyte members will run away from me! take care, thanks again for your wonderful comment, and have a great weekend!!!!!

  9. I’m sorry, that is just REALLY ridiculous!! This is just a micro-version of the stigma attached to mental illness, bipolar in particular. Assuming that assembling a group of people with bipolar is dangerous is just off the chain. This “friend” needs a reality check. And btw I applaud you for starting a group! I wish I had the wherewithal to do the same!!! ❤ I support you Dy-Dy!!!

    1. I wish you could be with me at this group! We would have such a blast, wouldn’t we? I could TOTALLY see you forming a group at some point – it doesn’t have to be formal! I feel lots better now and writing about it helped – comments like yours help me even more! You know it, girl! XOXOXOOXOXO Stay fiery forever!

      1. I SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO wish I could do this group with you!!!! Dang! Can I skype in?? I know this will be good for you. Maybe someday I will start a meetup….I don’t know . . . 😉

      2. When we have a meeting indoors, I’ll hook you up! I think you’d be so awesome at starting a group….I’ll let you know how it unfolds. I wish I was rich and could fly you in on my private jet stocked with MooseTracks sundaes!!!!!! (we can eat the light version, okay?? 😉

  10. Well, if you’re walking around the Santa Cruz Mountains, no doubt your group will be filled with the types you described. I mean it’s all par for the course down there 😀

    Seriously though, I think your support group sounds wonderful, and I wish we had something like that where I lived. In San Francisco, my hometown, it would have been easy. Here, not so much. Heck, I even refrain from telling people I have bipolar disorder because I’m afraid of their close-minded reaction.

    1. Heck, I even refrain from telling people I have bipolar disorder because I’m afraid of their close-minded reaction.

      Then do what I do and tell them you have Bipolar Powers instead.
      The kids will get it even if the adults don’t.

    2. I know I was poking fun at my own community! It’s soooo easy to do, as you know. Watch some new members show up at my group who fit some of my “colorful” descriptions…I’ll have to bite my tongue. I thought you were still in SF, which is definitely packed with an array of support groups. Have you checked out Meetup.com for your area? I don’t blame you for not wanting to share that you have bp if you’re in a conservative town! The stigma is still everywhere; you need to take care of yourself first and ultimately it’s no one else’s business. People are *lucky* if you trust and respect them enough to share such personal info. with them.

      Thanks for commenting, by the way. If you’re ever in the area you are welcome to attend the group!!! Heck – you can sell your books there! 😉 As long as you bring me some chocolate….

  11. I think that your friend has seriously erred in their judgement. The lesser is not understanding bi-polar disorder but the greater in not acknowledging your abilities and experience.

    Don’t let her (or other detractors) dissuade you from taking positive steps in your life. Continue to have confidence in yourself. It is okay to be worried but don’t let it fester into mania.

    As always, take care. I am in your corner rooting for your success!

    1. Thank you, thank you my dear. I’m feeling heaps better today. I don’t feel a hint of mania or hypomania lurking, thank God. If anything I’m a banana slug these days, feeling sluggish despite the fact that I work out religiously every day. It’s a med-related thing, a time-of-year-thing, and having-young-children-wake-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-thing!

      I’m getting lots of positive buzz from some of the women who applied to be in the group. Their enthusiasm is keeping me going.

      I’m +++very+++ grateful you’re in my corner, and I can truly feel your support through your beautiful comments.

      Speaking of comments, I read your last post as soon as you published it (literally)! I will get back over there to comment. As always, it was fascinating and thought-provoking. Glad you had that good talk with your wife!!!! Doubly glad about the mindfulness helping her!!!!
      (((hugs)))) from
      Dy

  12. members turning up at our first gathering brandishing large knives, ready to strike if they encountered anyone resembling the dumbass FOX commentator Tom Sullivan!

    Seems perfectly reasonable to me.
    The world needs less people who remind you of Tom Sullivan.

    1. Hey Droolio! Your astute gave me the best laugh I’ve had today – and hey, almost everyone knows there is truth in jest. Give my love to those sweetheart bunnies of yours, and I hope the allergies aren’t too hideous these days! Mine have sucked!

  13. Great post, Dyane. I am SO SORRY that you had that experience and feedback from your friend, especially since their concern was over physical safety, not necessary psychological needs. First of all, you are not opening up clinical cans of worms – you are not offering a support group per se, at least not yet. You are offering a social outlet, a place to be oneself without living a lie. Secondly, your DBSA training as a facilitator no doubt covered how to lead a group. AA and NA have been doing it for many years.

    That said, when I first went to DBSA support groups after my hospitalization, I did not feel safe, but that was because I have poor boundaries and rely on clinicians (or in the case of NAMI Peer-to-Peer, peer facilitators) to keep me from trying to help and heal everyone – the world. I still have trouble staying between the lines, so to speak.

    1. Thank you, Kitt, for validating that YES! I’m not creating a therapy group! I’m not posing as a therapist! I just want my own tribe of friends who share something in common with me. These kinds of friends are hard to find in our superficial, frantic, overwhelmed, mental illness stigma-infused society….that’s all I’m doing, as you pointed out. 🙂

      I know I’m not in a position to save anyone who attends, and I’ll have a list of referrals (therapist, pdocs) at the ready.

      That’s a shame you didn’t feel safe when you first went to the DBSA support groups, but I’m glad you understand the reasons for your feelings. I was reading yesterday on what makes a support group successful, and one comment stated that to hold a meeting in church or hospital isn’t a great idea because some people will have negative associations with those places. I know that wasn’t your reason for feeling unsafe, but in retrospect I held some meetings in a church and I wonder if that turned off anyone. The room itself was really nice and cozy, but who knows?

      Personally, I will never, ever use a hospital as a meeting place because of PTSD from my hospitalizations. Id’ rather use my messy home for a spot, although my therapist felt that it would be better to use a neutral location, ideally in nature, and I agree with her.

      This is a major digression from the gist of your comment, but I think you’ll forgive me ! I want to close with one point – I’ve had poor boundaries with other women in support groups before. I had 3 friendships with people who I didn’t have much in common with apart from a diagnosis, and who weren’t “good for me” if that makes any sense, although they were wonderful women and they were not “dangerous”. Because of those experiences I’ve become much more careful about who I’ll allow into my inner circle. I need to be very mindful of this at the group.

      Thanks again for reading….for commenting…and of course, for tweeting! Xo

      1. Exactly, my feelings were of my own psychological safety due to my own tendency to take on the role of healer. I do not say no easily. I get overwhelmed by others’ needs. The meetings were probably great, but I was fresh out of the hospital. My husband even came to one meeting, as a psychiatrist was doing a presentation on medications.

  14. Wow, Tom Cruise looks almost human there.

    Bipolah, huh? Tell her to get a blog, just so I can go round there and frighten her senseless from time to time. Wellll I guess you don’t have to worry about mountain lions with all those scary bi-po-lah people around you.

    Your friend is … odd. And so is Jabba.

    1. If anyone else had said it to me, I would have laughed & not flipped out the way I did! She could very well use a blog as an outlet! She’s a great writer and aside from her massive bipolah brainfart, she has some cool perspectives she could share….I’ll ket you know if that happens! 😉

    2. U nail sweet, I don’t have any more befitting to add other than that I would have loved to be a cheerleader of such a group. I mean, I may not have been diagnosed with BD, but I sure knew and love someone with the diagnosis, so badly, that I sincerely wanna dance in the club some … well whatever I may be trying to say – I know my fair ladies here would just ignore my whatever

      1. You are always welcome in this group, my dear – this particular get-together isn’t just for those with bipolar but also women who live with depression….anxiety…..but I can make exceptions as I’m the glorious leader, tra la la! The only person who really can’t come is Tom Cruise. 😉 And that other Tom guy who made the horrible comments about bipolar not being real! How does someone like that get hired for any on-air TV job, I don’t know. Maybe he bribed his boss!

  15. Wow, wow. I mean who wants to get stuck in the woods with a group of rabid bipolars? They’re likely to do something entirely wacky and unprovoked. Meh stupid people annoy me greatly. Don’t doubt yourself Dy you’re doing a brilliant thing.

    1. Thanks honey – you’re the best – I forgot to add that in my imaginary group we’d have nudists too! Studies at Johns Hopkins and Monash Uni show that naked support group members with mood disorders are super-dangerous! I

      ‘m doing better now thanks to wonderful support such as YOURS! XOXOXOXOXOXOX
      Dy

      1. My brother is doing a biomed degree at monash I’ll ask him if he knows of the study lol “naked support group members with mood disorders are super dangerous” I love that sentence lol if you ever worry that lines are being blurred let me know, or anyone know and talk it out. But it’s a really great idea, I would come to your support group if I wasn’t a tad far away x

  16. What an inappropriate thing for your friend to say. It’s bad enough to think along those lines, but to actually say that bipolars are dangerous to a bipolar is just weird. I had forgotten all about that SNL skit. Matt Foley always gave the best advice for a man who lives in a van by the river.

    1. Thank you so much! Oh my God, that Matt Foley skit cracked me up so hard the first time I saw it. It still does. Farley was a walking, breathing thunderstorm! You know a SNL skit is good when you see cast members like David Spade on the verge of laughing when he wasn’t supposed to laugh! 😉

  17. Not to make light on your situation because I cannot imagine your feelings when approached by this friend, but minus the knife wielding attendees, it sounds like quite a party 🙂 Wishing you much success in this new group!!

    1. Hey A! I welcome any & all light!! Humor is totally helping me through it, and it felt good to write about what happened. I had tons of fun looking for images too.

      I hope I don’t offend anyone because *you* know the area where I live! 😉

      I want this group to be fun – that’s the main goal, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Life is too hard as it is for those living with mood disorders. We each need light now more than ever before.

      Great to hear from you! Thanks for your lovely wishes and for “getting it”! 😉
      take care, Dy

    1. I know, Joe! It felt good to “write it out” and have some fun finding great images to place alongside my fantasy members! 😉 Thanks for your comment, as always!!!

  18. I’ve been a peer facilitator for a depression support group at our church since it started last January. And that’s what it is, support. We’re all walking the same road, just in different places along the journey, and it helps to know we’re not alone. I have found it hard to keep the group from getting “too heavy” – do you have any suggestions?

    1. That’s wonderful that you’ve been a peer facilitator at your church! I agree with you that we’re all walking the same road. As far as keeping your group from getting too heavy, that’s an excellent question. It does help to have a co-facilitator, so you can “tag team” one another. Group size is important – I made the error of allowing too many women into one group (22) and so the overall experience was too much info. overall, & automatically too intense. I set a limit for this group to avoid that. I don’t know how big your group is but if it’s over 10 or so, that might be too large…perhaps divide it into two groups but then you’d need another leader. In the other groups I ran, they were much smaller than the 22-member! Because of that, we had a nice balance and I was fortunately that it never got too heavy, but I know that will be a challenge I’ll face. I’m in talks with DBSA right now to reactivate the Chapter membership I created (I let it lapse) and I can utilize their vast, specialized resources/advice. Until then the internet is a goldmine. I located a helpful link. Just scroll down and check out “Offer support” followed by “Help Members Solve Their Problems” – let me know if you find something that works for you! I’d be very grateful! And thanks for reading and commenting…http://ctb.ku.edu/en/table-of-contents/implement/enhancing-support/peer-support-groups/main

I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s