Volunteering with Bipolar UK
I had been working for Bipolar UK as a volunteer facilitator for some years teaching self management skills to bipolar sufferers up and down the country. The courses lasted 3 days and when well enough I would do about 6 a year. Then I was asked to start a support group in WIGSTON Leicestershire where I live. I was fortunate to have a couple of friends who were also Christian and had the bipolar diagnosis we would meet at my house to share and pray. We all agreed it was a good idea and asked the church about a room once a month. We were given the room free of charge and are so grateful for it. Bipolar UK sent letters to all there members in our area and we placed posters and leaflets in local surgeries and outpatient departments. The first meeting had about 8 attending now we have about 24 on the books with an average of 16 attending.
The whole point is to share and encourage and help each other through the ups and downs of a difficult illness. However it's not a pity party and we have Lots and lots, of fun. It's wonderful to talk to people who really understand it makes such a difference. Every one has written an action plan including personal warning signs for mania and depression and what action they should take in each case. Medication is a favorite topic, the message I try to get across is don't stop your meds! Talk over any problems with your psychiatrist. I have used role play to help people become more confident and improve there outpatient appointments which is always very funny. We also meet for coffee at costa this is very much a social gathering again once a month. It is at coffee or in the pub after a meeting that I can be my self and share my faith if it seems right. It's loving people that is most important and accepting them for who they are and not the diagnosis. That's all I ever want.
My favorite bible story is the one about Jesus and the Leper. Jesus was willing to help the Leper, the outcast and he touched him. I wonder how long it had been since that leper had felt the human touch and how wonderful that he was healed. Jesus loves me and respects me and understands me the Bipolar is not an issue. I try to show his love to everyone in the group and they are all so wonderful to me it's such a blessing.