There are many different types of treatment for any mental health disorder including but not limited to various types of medication, talk therapy, family education, rehabilitation, and support groups. I have especially found support groups to be helpful in dealing with and managing my bipolar disorder and PTSD. There are various types of support groups; some are for generalized mental health, while others specified for certain disorders.

I was very reluctant to go to a support group my first time because I was afraid. One of my PTSD symptoms causes me to be terrified of anything, especially anyone, that I don’t know. It’s a challenge for me to simply run errands; the thought of sitting next to another person and talking about my life seemed to be impossible. When I was in Connecticut, I researched support groups at my local hospital and found a weekly group called ‘Depression and Bipolar Support Group’. In the beginning, my mother came with me, she has always been extremely supportive of me in every way. It took many weeks to get comfortable with the others at the group, but soon, these individuals became close friends that I still talk to years later.

Going to a support group where the other people there have the same illnesses as you do is a comforting feature. I moved back to Arizona in 2009 causing me to leave my Connecticut support group and the friends I have there. Again, I was scared to start going to a new support group. Meeting new people and the intimacy of discussing what’s going on in your life and how you’re feeling is nerve-racking for me. My husband came with me in the beginning for this new group, ‘Taking Control’, which is also for bipolar and depression. Over time, the others in this group became my close friends who I still hang out with.

Each support group that I have been a part of has become a huge part of my life. The groups gave me a place to go and talk about my mental health issues where other people actually understand and relate to me. Sadly, my last support group was discontinued, but luckily I still talk to and see some other group members. I have found a new support group for bipolar depression called ‘Bipolar Bears’ (I love the name), but again, I’m extremely frightened to go. This is a new group for me, at a hospital that I’ve never been to, in a part of town that I don’t know. I’ve talked to a close friend from my last support group, and we have talked about going together; we will support each other, while we go to a support group. Now, I just have to get myself to actually do it.

Mental health support groups have helped me get through many difficult times and I suggest them to anyone and everyone who struggles with mental health. Being able to have people relate to the things we go through is a very comforting feeling. Meeting more people that help support you through your life is a blessing. Maybe this post will help me actually get to this new support group. I suppose I’ll find out soon enough.

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