The Importance of Regular Attendance at Support Group Meetings
I’ve been going to my local bipolar support group meeting for several years now, and have had a chance to observe the general pattern in attendance. Some people come once and we never see them again. Evidently what we offered was not their cup of tea. We’ll never really know why they didn’t come back, since they’re not talking to us.
Another group comes regularly, no matter how they’re feeling. I’ve had a chance to get to know these people over several years, and feel privileged to see the progress they’ve made in their lives. They still have their ups and downs—we are bipolar, after all—but the overall trajectory keeps moving forward toward greater stability, health and understanding. These people provide the solid foundation for our meetings.
There is another group whose attendance varies with the state of their health. For some, when they’re in trouble, they come. When things are better, they stop coming. For others, it’s the opposite. They come to meetings when they’re relatively stable, but avoid coming when things are bad.
From my observations, it’s the people who come steadily month in and month out who seem to have the most success in managing their disorder. For one thing, they know that we are never “cured” in any permanent sense of the term. Rather, it takes ongoing life management in order to stay healthy and stable. What better place than a support group to find encouragement and to pick up tips and information on how to do this.
Another reason some of us keep going to meetings after years of stability is that we want to give something back to this supportive community by helping others. I remember what it was like when I was in a deep depression five years ago, struggling to figure out how to cope and find help. The Ithaca Bipolar Explorers Club was there for me, and even though I found it unbearably difficult to drag myself to the first meeting, I knew I’d come to the right place.
Have you been neglecting going to your support group meetings because you’re a) doing so well you don’t think you need them anymore, or b) feel too depressed or sick, and possibly embarrassed by your relapse? Consider making a stronger commitment to your long-term health by becoming a “regular.”
Share your experience with support groups in the message boards.
Published On: December 28, 2006
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