Tonight is the support group I attend at the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA). It meets once a week in the larger city near my home. I have been attending since I was discharged from the psych hospital after a near fatal suicide attempt in 2004. When I originally saw the ad in the paper I thought this group would be 6-8 women who were gathering together to bitch and moan about their lives. I WAS SO WRONG!
I arrived and was welcomed right away. I was so overwhelmed but one of the group leaders sat with me. There were between 40-45 people there that night. The first hour was a large group that was educational and the second hour was split into small groups with everyone getting a chance to share. The group was a variety of people who were everywhere on the mood spectrum from severely depressed to quite manic. I was accepted with unconditional positive regard which has continued to this day. It taught me a lot about Bipolar Disorder when I was first diagnosed as I was misdiagnosed for several years with major depressive disorder. (I never got treatment in hypomanic or manic episodes so no saw these as a problem.)
Our group is the largest in the state of Michigan. We still run about 30-35 people per week on a regular basis. Sometimes I have had ex-clients attend and then I have discussions about boundaries, limit what I say in large in large group and make sure I am never in their small groups so they don’t feel like they have to take care of me and I feel comfortable to share. we have a strong confidentiality rule in each group and everyone is reminded of these rules at the beginning of each group. “What’s said here, stay’s here.” I cannot stress enough how important this group has been to my recovery.
If you’d like to learn more about the DBSA organization (It’s a large national organization in the U.S.) and there are many DBSA support groups across the country in addition to their huge amount of resources on their website…their website is http://www.dbsalliance.org