Tag Archives: support

Too Much of a Good Thing?

There was a point during this round of depression where I was facing what seemed to be too much support.

I was getting calls several times a week where I had to repeat anecdotes about how poorly I was doing, what my doctor was doing, and the like, and I admit, I found it all extremely overwhelming.

Sometimes the best way to support someone with bipolar disorder is to be open to talking about their symptoms or situation with them. Other times, the best way to support someone with bipolar disorder is to help them focus on something else. 

I know the people calling me had good intentions, and were genuinely concerned about my health. However, I was spending every waking moment trying not to dwell on just how terrible I really felt. Anytime I had to talk about it with someone, it would send me back into this spiral of negative, hopeless thinking.

Yes, I am a woman with bipolar disorder, but sometimes I need to be treated like a woman. Just a woman. Tell me about your day, or your job, or a joke, and allow me to relate to you in any other general human way.

There is a balance when it comes to being open about bipolar disorder. When I feel fine, it isn’t a problem to talk about it or explore peoples ideas and thoughts and whatnot. When I am not doing well, however, dwelling on this stuff really negatively affects my health. 

So I admit, a little embarrassed, that yes, I dodged a few phone calls while facing the worst depression I’ve had in months the last few weeks. To some extent, people consider isolation to be a negative thing, but sometimes isolation means avoiding stressors that will ultimately make things worse.

I realize it seems a little backwards to complain about too much support, but I think there are ways of being supportive that don’t include quid pro quo about my health when I am feeling extremely overwhelmed and vulnerable.

Like anything else, the open bipolar relationship is a work in progress. I know that everyone who reached out to me meant well, but we’re all still learning what helps and what doesn’t, where the boundaries are, and how to be supportive, in the best sense of the word.

NAMI’s Peer to Peer

Last week I finished a course through NAMI called Peer to Peer, basically a 10 week course about recovery for those with mental illness taught by people who have mental illness.

First of all, if you’re not familiar with NAMI (the National Alliance on Mental Illness) you should definitely check them out. NAMI hosts support groups and all kinds of educational classes for people with mental illness and their friends and families, as well as playing a part in national fundraising walks and interaction with local lawmakers in an attempt to get better rights for those with mental illness. They are a national organization with chapters all over the country, you can visit their website here to find one near you!

I have done a lot of research and been pretty involved in the mental health community in Seattle so I wasn’t really sure what Peer to Peer would offer me. Would it be full of information I already knew, or would it go beyond the limitations of what I already know as a consumer and a support person?

Initially I concluded that just having a group of people to go meet with once a week would be helpful in its own right (getting me out of the house and socializing) so I signed up.

There were things that I already knew, and some interesting tidbits that piqued my interest (that I’ve already written a little about here). The class covered things from different diagnoses to making sure your health care provider is working for you to hospitalization situations and even what to do if you find yourself in jail.

I can’t say I agreed with every minute detail of the course, but overall I think it was educational, even for someone who knows a lot about how the mental healthcare system works (like me).

The course was free and was a great place to meet like minded people, so I would really recommend it!

Again, for more information check out NAMI’s website to find a branch near you.