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Podcast: Support Groups for Mental Illness – What are They?

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Most people understand how doctors and therapists run, but many people can’t quite wrap their intellects around support groups- especially peer-led ones. In this episode, our hosts dissect different types of support groups to make them better understood and more accessible. Listen Now!

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“[ Mental Illness] Support groups are like a buffet — take what you want and leave the rest.”- Gabe Howard

Highlights From’ Mental Illness Support Groups’ Episode

[ 1:00] Lets talk about support groups.

[ 3:00] Fountain House in NYC is awesome!

[ 6:00] Why it’s great to be around like-minded people.

[8: 00] Support groups in hospitals.

[ 12:00] Peer-run support groups, hints and tips.

[ 18:00] Gabe became a support group facilitator — what does that mean?

[ 25:00] Sometimes people come to support groups only to listen.

[ 26:00] Gabe and Michelle recommend support groups to listen and share.

[ 28:00] Don’t like your support group? You can find another!

Computer Generated Transcript for’ Support Groups for Mental Illness- What are They ?’ Show

Editor’s Note: Please be mindful that this transcript has been computer generated and therefore may contain inaccuracies and grammar faults. Thank you.

Narrator:[ 00:00: 09] For reasons that utterly escapes Everyone involved. You’re listening to A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast. Here are your hosts, Gabe Howard and Michelle Hammer. Thank you for tuning into A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic and A Podcast.

Gabe:[ 00:00: 22] I’m Gabe, I have bipolar.

Michelle:[ 00:00: 24] Hi I’m Michelle I’m schizophrenic.

Gabe:[ 00:00: 26] And today we’re going to try to give some helpful information and perhaps demystify things like support groups peer support groups support groups read by medical personnel like social workers or physicians kind of talk about our experiences we’ve heard from others and just try to tie it up at a nice little bow. For those of you who are sitting there reasoning Should I go to the working group support group and what’s it going to be like and huh.

Michelle:[ 00:00: 57] You’ve been to a a lot of support groups right Gabe?

Gabe:[ 00:00: 59] I personally love support groups. I’ve been to all forms I’ve been to the ones led by a psychologist. I’ve been to ones led by social workers. I’ve been to ones led by peer supporters. Yeah, I am a I’m a big big disciple and I go to a drop-in center which is run by people with mental illness and addiction for people with mental illness and addiction to drop in. So, it’s not exactly a support group but it’s still a group setting for people with mental illness and or addiction to kind of chill.

Michelle:[ 00:01: 34] Yeah I do that too when I go to Fountain House in New York City. It’s kind of just like a clubhouse for people with mental illness and it’s not necessarily group therapy but you’re around like-minded people and you are able to have really good conversations and there’s really just no judgment there.

Michelle:[ 00:01: 49] And it’s a really nice place to be around.

Gabe:[ 00:01: 53] You sort of feel comfortable there because it’s set up for people like you and me.

Michelle:[ 00:01: 59] It’s more like you’re not being judged. You feel no judgment in a support group. Everybody’s likeminded. Nobody’s thinking bad things about anything you say. You only have just a normal dialogue and perhaps you think somebody said something weird but then you’re like you know what I’m at this support group to what may maybe something I say somebody else thinks is weird but it’s okay cause we’re all talking to each other openly.

Gabe:[ 00:02: 25] Let’s take this in segments so the section number 1 we’re going to talk about customer operated services or peer run organisations drop in centers clubhouses like Fountain House where you go in New York City the Peer Center where I go in Columbus, Ohio and there’s there’s hundreds and hundreds of these models across the United States.

Gabe:[ 00:02: 43] So let’s do that first. You go to probably one of the most famous drop in centers in the country. You’re really super lucky to live in New York City because fountain House has all kinds of services don’t you like a rooftop garden.

Michelle:[ 00:03: 01] There might be a rooftop garden I don’t know if I’d been there but I am in the horticulture unit where they do all the planting and all that various kinds of stuff and sometimes I do help with the planting but a lot of times I just go there with my computer and I do my work there because I like to be surrounded by people that I can talk to as I’m doing my work. It’s just friendly. It’s nice it’s pacifying. I entail I could go to a Starbucks but that’s boring. Why not go to Fountain House chit chat with a bunch of fun people while I do my work.

Gabe:[ 00:03: 32] You know the Peer Center where I go doesn’t have a garden. I mean we don’t we don’t have a garden and to call it a horticultural division. That that that severely really bad ass. But let’s talk about that for a moment because you know some people hearing this, they’re like wait a minute what does a garden have to do with mental health. And I’ll tell you this is probably my favorite thing to explain to people because at the Peer Center people come in and like oh you have mental illness and you have addiction issues and you’re playing cards. How does playing cards assistance? How does gardening help?

Gabe:[ 00:04: 09] And here’s what I say. Are you ready for this?

Michelle:[ 00:04: 11] I’m ready.

Gabe:[ 00:04: 12] When you sit down with a group of likeminded people to play cards “i m talking” and this whole game of spades or Uno or whatever game you choose to play that’s just kind of the distraction. Well you’re actually doing is talking about the things that are bothering you just like everybody else who plays cards you talk about your week. You talk about your grandkids you talk about your grandparents if you’re young you simply you’re playing cards against humanity you feel bad. But in the best of ways. But these are very social activities. So, while you’re doing these social things you’re talking about the things that are that are eating you inside or you’re bragging about the things that you’re proud of to other likeminded people. Now nobody leaves a Fountain House or the Peer Center or any drop-in centre and says Hey I said that I was 35 days sober and I was really proud of myself and everybody said they were proud of me too. No, they say I played cards but we know that you can play cards anywhere you ran for that reassurance from. From people who are like you and understand. And that’s really the sorcery of these places.

Michelle:[ 00:05: 18] It is the magical of these places. People find it interesting that I have friends that are so much older than me. I go to Fountain House. One of my best friends there she’s 56. Like people your friends a 56 -year-old woman. No, she’s a really awesome person. She has great things to say. I love speaking to her. Why is it judgment. Is it stigma that she’s 56? What’s the big deal that she’s 56? We have likeminded mental capacity with mental illness and we just talk about regular things. Age doesn’t even make a difference there.

Gabe:[ 00:05: 52] It is hard to find people. Probably because of the stigma that understand what we’re going through. You know I live their lives bipolar disorder and as you know people with bipolar disorder except for like my people we aren’t wearing shirts that say bipolar so people with schizophrenia people with depression we tend not to advertise it. So, it’s really easy to feel alone. But when you go to a drop-in centre you go to a place like this you can sit around other people who also admit to living with mental illness and you can have real dialogues about it. Listen Michelle and I we didn’t meet in a drop-in centre but we could have you and I could have met in a drop-in center.

Michelle:[ 00:06: 28] Oh definitely.

Gabe:[ 00:06: 29] Yeah. We could’ve just been sitting there like Hey I take meds and it causes sex side effects and my mouth is dry and you would’ve been like Oh my God.

Gabe:[ 00:06: 36] Me too. And we could have just had this great conversation about how sometimes our drug pisses us off and when we left, we would’ve felt better because I would’ve been like oh my god I guessed I was the only one. And you would have been like wow at the least I’m not pitiful like that guy.

Gabe:[ 00:06: 50] And the whole thing just drives forward that’s the magical of having a place where we belong and everybody has this. You want to play basketball you go to a gym. If you’re fat you join a gym.

Michelle:[ 00:07: 03] Or you feed a bunch of Oreos.

Gabe:[ 00:07: 05] I love Oreos.

Gabe:[ 00:07: 07] All I’m saying is.

Michelle:[ 00:07: 08] It’s a place of acceptance.

Gabe:[ 00:07: 10] It is a place of adoption and everybody has this in society. Everybody has this. There are all kinds of clubs and social events. There’s a whole website called meetup.

Gabe:[ 00:07: 21] We’re likeminded people can.

Michelle:[ 00:07: 22] Meetup. That’s how I discovered Mike post collegiate lacrosse team was meetup.com.

Gabe:[ 00:07: 27] There you go. So, we like to be around people who understand us. We like to feel understood and that that’s not a mental disease thing. That’s not an addiction thing. That’s a human thing. And that’s why drop in centers consumer operated services peer operate organisations the clubhouse model. That’s why all of these things are fantastic. But that sort of results us into support groups because support groups are, they’re not the clubhouse model because you know clubhouse drop in centres et cetera.

Gabe:[ 00:07: 54] They’re open like for periods of hour you know they’re open for like you know morning to night etc. whereas a support group especially a Community Support Group is usually like an hour to an hour and a half maybe once or twice a week. So very different vibe.

Michelle:[ 00:08: 10] I would agree with that. Yes.

Gabe:[ 00:08: 12] And there’s two types of those groups. Well there’s probably more than two types but two types that we’re going to talk about here. There’s pure operate support group which means a person with mental illness running a support group for other people with mental illness or in the case of like Alcoholics Anonymous recovered alcoholics operating a support group for people who are trying to recover or in recovery from alcoholism. So that’s the peer operate model.

Gabe:[ 00:08: 35] And then there’s the more you know medical model it’s run by a social worker or psychologist or you know someone with some sort of training and they both have their pluses and minuses. One is not better than the other. They both have their pluses minuses now Michelle you went to more than a few if I’m not mistaken.

Michelle:[ 00:08: 53] A support group?

Gabe:[ 00:08: 54] Yes support group that was led by a doctor or a social worker.

Michelle:[ 00:08: 59] Well the first kind of support group I’ve really went to was when I was in a psych ward and it was just various kinds of run by a nurse and we would just go around talking and something that I got out of it that I didn’t even really follow was. Do you journal you should maintain a publication and measure your mood in that way? And I was like Oh OK. Sure. The most reason why I even went to those little support groups that were having in the psych ward was because I was so bored. I just wanted to talk to people. But that really was really helpful and it was nice talking to people. And of course, that wasn’t my last time in the psych ward because the next one I went to we didn’t do any of that. And I realise this is the worst hospital ever, because that other hospital was so much more helpful because they had a support group for us to all talk but this other hospital didn’t do anything for us. So, I realized that a support group in a hospital is actually very beneficial. It built me feel better. We were talking to everybody else that was in in the psych ward then and they were talking about things that got them there and things in the past understand better them. And it was very interesting to get everyone’s story.

Michelle:[ 00:10: 13] And then when I was in the other hospital nobody genuinely shared narratives. And “there werent” support group. Everyone was just kind of talking to each other a little bit but nothing was really organized and it attained me feel lonelier because I didn’t know why anyone else was in there.

Gabe:[ 00:10: 33] I think it’s interesting that you were in this other hospital and you were like Oh my God I’m so bored I’m gonna go to this thing and please correct me if I’m wrong but you thought you’re gonna dislike it. You thought it was stupid and dumb and you didn’t want to go. You were just so bored you were like oh I’m going to do this even this crap.

Michelle:[ 00:10: 47] Yeah.

Gabe:[ 00:10: 48] And then you missed it like you got so much out of it you wanted to do it again.

Michelle:[ 00:10: 53] Yes.

Gabe:[ 00:10: 54] I can see why you believed this.

Gabe:[ 00:10: 56] I don’t I don’t magistrate you at all when somebody said hey I want you to sit in a room full of strangers and talk about your eating disorder or your bipolar disorder or your depression or suicidality I was like No. Why. Why do I want to know? No this is dumb. This is stupid. I felt the exact same route I get so much out of it. I first started like you with the you know the more I don’t wanna say traditional but the various kinds of everybody thinks about with the nurse or the doctor or the social worker sitting up front and the fun is organized in a specific route medically. You know they ask questions everybody shares that kind of thing. But then as that evolved it when I got back out in the community you know those were expensive and I didn’t have a lot of money. But what was free or very low costs like you know throw a couple dollars in a hat various kinds of thing we’re peer run support groups. And that was the same kind of idea.

Michelle:[ 00:11: 50] Yeah.

Gabe:[ 00:11: 50] People sharing narratives etc. except the facilitator or moderator is another person lives with mental illness. Again, the most famous peer run support group of all time is Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s exactly like that except for mental illness or depression or bipolar or you know just depending on how it’s structured. I loved these groups the one that I joined very first. Are you ready?

Michelle:[ 00:12: 11] Yes.

Gabe:[ 00:12: 12] Bipolar bears.

Michelle:[ 00:12: 13] Bipolar bears. That sounds good because you are as big as a bear.

Gabe:[ 00:12: 17] Oh man that’s so mean.

Michelle:[ 00:12: 19] I want to see a fight between you and a bear and watch who wins.

Gabe:[ 00:12: 22] The bipolar bear.

Gabe:[ 00:12: 24] I picked the support group though because I was frightened and the name was so adorable.

Gabe:[ 00:12: 30] No that’s kind of a messed up thing to say but I merely I supposed How can I be scared go into a group of bi polar bears. honestly that that’s just what I thought. Like how can I be scared?

Michelle:[ 00:12: 41] Was there a stuffed animal bear that you had a hold every time you were speaking?

Gabe:[ 00:12: 45] No but that would be a really good notion. I was very nervous to go and here some hints and tips for some people who are nervous to go. Go with a friend. Even if that friend doesn’t go into the room with you even if the friend has fallen you off and waits in the dorm. 1- That’s a really good friend and 2 – you know sometimes that’s all it takes. You know somebody to like picking you up go to dinner first then run. I had somebody help me go to the group because I was scared she didn’t go in with me but she fell me off and waited and I thought that was really super cool of her because I was scared to go but then you know I got to know people I made friends with the moderator facilitator you know simply I became more comfortable just as we’re all you know as humans do.

Gabe:[ 00:13: 30] And then I just became a person who went to this support group for a long time and then after a while I felt that I wasn’t getting anything out of it anymore like I had shared all of my tales I had heard a lot of narratives and there’s a lot of power in that too. There’s a lot of power in hearing other people’s stories.

Michelle:[ 00:13: 47] There really is there really is because you might think that you’ve done horrible things in your life and then you hear somebody else and you’re like oh we’re equal or you might hear somebody else Oh that’s way worse than what I did.

Gabe:[ 00:13: 58] And it’s not about judgment. It’s about sort of sharing the burden.

Michelle:[ 00:14: 02] It’s about understanding what your illness is and what could happen what could not happen and what you’ve done in your life and how you can accept it. Really.

Gabe:[ 00:14: 13] Yeah. And when someone tells you something that they did when they unload on you know they just. I didn’t mow the lawn and I was supposed to mow the lawn. And then you say to them you’re like seem I didn’t mow the lawn either. There’s that connection. There’s that understanding. And that person feels better. And then you’re like Wait. Now I feel better because I helped you. And there’s just there’s a lot of power in that more so than people believe and listen. Replace lawn with anything you want. Plainly when I walked into these groups for the first time, I thought I was the only person that never mowed the lawn. And then I learned that it was just so common. And then after I was there for a while new people walked in and they thought they were the only people that never mow the lawn. And I got to tell them that I mow the lawn. And I’m also thinking wow of all the analogies and instances to use. Why did I pick lawn mowing?

Michelle:[ 00:15: 01] I don’t really know because I haven’t ever mowed on either.

Gabe:[ 00:15: 05] Oh it’s OK though.

Gabe:[ 00:15: 06] Neither have I.

Michelle:[ 00:15: 07] The only as a peer support group if I ever went to. I went with my bipolar friend who took me to the bipolar support group at Columbia University where it’s just donation to get in.

Gabe:[ 00:15: 17] Yeah.

Michelle:[ 00:15: 18] And so I went there and I was talking I couldn’t pertain fully to what everybody was saying but it was very interesting because this one guy was saying that his hyper sexuality was so big and he’s gay and he had you know unprotected sex and he got HIV.

Michelle:[ 00:15: 36] So you know I’m schizophrenic and a bipolar group and people are talking about you know hyper sexuality and look what happened to this guy I’m a schizophrenic I go through all these difficulties I do all these things but wow look what can happen. You know you would learn people’s stories and you know you kind of simply understand that things could be so much worse even though you don’t think that your life is amazing.

Gabe:[ 00:16: 02] We should probably touch for a moment because I don’t want people to get the idea that it’s like the suffering Olympics which we’ve talked about on this demonstrate before in such matters of somebody’s narrative being you know better worse. But at the same period, it is. I know exactly what you’re saying because sometimes I suppose Oh man, I thought that I hit rock bottom but I could have gone further and then other people they hear my tale and they’re like oh wow this guy is route worse than me. It’s not about the judgment. It’s about the understanding the gravity of the situation and the breadth of the situation and just how just how bad it can get.

Michelle:[ 00:16: 39] Yeah.

Gabe:[ 00:16: 40] And then it’s also about seeing those people and lifting them up and carrying them up and helping them and constructing it so that they’re rock bottom is style far below them because my rock bottom was style down there today. But you know when I sort of go into these support groups I was standing on rock bottom.

Michelle:[ 00:17: 00] Hold up. We support from our sponsors. We’ll be right back.

Narrator:[ 00:17: 04] This episode is sponsored by betterhelp.com secure convenient and affordable online counselling. All counselors are licensed accredited professionals. Anything you share is confidential. Schedule secure video or phone sessions plus chats and text with your therapist whenever you feel it’s required. A month of online therapy often costs less than a single traditional face to face session. Run to betterhelp.com/ PsychCentral and experience seven days of free therapy to see if online advising is right for you. Betterhelp.com/ PsychCentral.

Gabe:[ 00:17: 35] We’re back talking about different types of support groups.

Michelle:[ 00:17: 37] The support groups that you and you were so helpful for you that you became a facilitator. What was that like for you?

Gabe:[ 00:17: 44] So one day I realized that I wasn’t getting anything out of the support groups anymore so I stopped running and that’s a great decision to construct. Some people believe that you have to go to support groups for the rest of your life or you’re turning your back on people. That’s not true. You simply keep going until you no longer get use out of it and then you step aside and let the next people sort of rise into their places. But I missed it and an organization that I was volunteering for put out a call for peer subsistence facilitators for these groups you had to go through training.

Gabe:[ 00:18: 15] I had to go through a three day developing eight hours a day for three days. I had to learn a whole bunch of stuff I had to pass a test I had they had to make sure that I was good at it I guess. We learned things about like hot potatoes like what to do if somebody mess in certain words how to get people help how to have a resources how to structure the group how to you know the rules of involvement as it were how to de-escalate and on and on and on.

Gabe:[ 00:18: 36] And I got through that. And then here here’s me and another person we get our own support group. Yeah. Like Gabe and Jane we’ll call her Jane because I want to protect her or her anonymity. Gabe and Jane now have the support group and people started coming and it’s different when you’re the facilitator. The biggest thing that you have to remember when you’re the facilitator is it’s not about you. It’s not about me at all. Like there’s no part of it that it’s about me. The only thing that I’m there to do is make sure that people are obeying the rules and keeping people safe and inducing assured that people have the resources that they need. That’s it. You know in a perfect world I wouldn’t speak at all.

Michelle:[ 00:19: 22] Truly?

Gabe:[ 00:19: 23] Yeah I would come in. I would start the meeting. I would have everybody read the principles of support I would have everybody read the group guidelines. I would ask everybody by show of hands if they understood. I would ask who would like to go first. And then if everybody takes their turn one at a time and nobody get upset or triggered and everybody shares information and has a nice reasonable conversation the next thing that I would need to say is all right well we have about five minutes left so we want to go ahead and wind down or they’re there anything that I can answer because we always like to end on time is very important we don’t want groups to go on and on and on and on and on. That “wouldve been” perfect and you know believe it or not it ran that route a lot. Usually the most I had to do it would say something like. All right who wants to go next or. Hang on hang in hang on Jim. Michelle has been waiting to talk Michelle. You know stuff like that just like little things.

Michelle:[ 00:20: 13] That’s funny because it has such an opposite experience that I had in the in that group that I went to perhaps because I’m in New York City and people simply can’t stop talking all the time. But it was just one after and the other after another after another. A plenty of people were talking about you know burning bridges self-sabotage all kinds of things like that with their partners that are cheating on their development partners all the time is the hyper sexuality. Things like that. And at one point I had mentioned something about me being in the group but I’m schizophrenic and a girl goes,” Oh you don’t even know what people say to me. They said they say oh thank god you’re bipolar and not schizophrenic” and I’m like yeah I’m feeling this stigma in this group.

Gabe:[ 00:20: 56] Well but wait though you even in your own description though you said that everybody talked one at a time.

Michelle:[ 00:21: 02] Yeah but he was just flowing flowing flowing. It was never who wants to talk next everybody was chatting. Everybody merely went on and on and on.

Gabe:[ 00:21: 11] But it sounds like you had a really good facilitator because nobody talked over each other.

Gabe:[ 00:21: 18] There were no side conversations and if there were did the facilitator shut it down.

Michelle:[ 00:21: 22] It wasn’t the facilitator at the end was like this really ran very well I also didn’t really have to moderate. You guys talk really great then.

Gabe:[ 00:21: 34] And that’s what I entail by. If you if you do a good job, you’re just kind of like the cop sitting on the side of the road. You don’t have to do anything. People see you and they slow down if you’re a good facilitator you just kind of establish the rules and you enforce them. But you know you don’t have to enforce them unless people are violating them. And for the most part groups ran fine they ran fine people learn from each other they share it. People talked and you know support groups are like a buffet take what you want and leave the rest just because something is put out there in a support group doesn’t mean that you have to take it accept it or agree with it. You are more than welcome to leave it right there. And I would encourage people to do this week after week after week and it went fine.

Michelle:[ 00:22: 18] Were there ever any problems?

Gabe:[ 00:22: 20] From time to hour there would be a problem. I actually want to stress that 90 percent of the time it was fantastic nothing more than you know merely reminding people not to cross talk you know cause sometimes there’d be like a little cross talking where somebody is having a private conversation I remind them that you know they need to leave the room if it wishes to do that that kind of thing or you know I would notice that maybe a shyer person just wasn’t getting wasn’t jumping in.

Gabe:[ 00:22: 43] So I’d quiet everybody down so that you know Michelle would have a chance to talk as she was maybe being a little shy.

Gabe:[ 00:22: 49] You know stuff like that but. But every now and again of a fight would break out and be like No no. And that’s really poor wording on a podcast an argument a discrepancy. Tensions would rise people would ramp up backs would be raised and I had de-escalation techniques that I use. I’d say all right stop everybody pacifies down please let’s all take a deep breath. Michelle, I understand that you’re upset that somebody said that lacrosse isn’t a real sport OK and Gabe. I understand that you think that lacrosse is not a real athletic but that is that is not kind you. You should really apologize to Michelle for expressed the view that and then the person usually apologizes and I would say and Michelle when somebody says something you disagree with yell at them is not the best way.

Gabe:[ 00:23: 42] So would you mind apologizing for yelling and then you would say I’m sorry I hollered at you and I say OK now let’s talk about what we were talking about before and I’d recollect like what started the fight and get us back on that and nearly I would say all but I honestly I think this worked 100 percent of the time I just really don’t like to say 100 percentage of the time the two people they got in the debate would become like BFF’s. They almost always would because they would talk it out you know I would say seem I didn’t mean it wasn’t a real athletic I was just nervous and I don’t understand lacrosse and you would you would say Yeah look I you know I didn’t invent lacrosse. I don’t know why I get so mad and I’d be like but you’re a sports fan and you’d be like Yeah, I really like hockey. I like hockey and then the next thing you know we’re having a podcast.

Michelle:[ 00:24: 25] How many people are you’re in these groups of you?

Gabe:[ 00:24: 28] Anywhere from the smallest groups I ever had were probably six or seven the largest groups that I ever had were 15 to 16.

Michelle:[ 00:24: 35] That’s huge.

Gabe:[ 00:24: 36] Yeah. We weren’t allowed to have more than 15 people. Yeah, every now and again we would let the 16 th person sneak in before we started turning people away but at 15 what was our maximum limit which is why I’m saying 15 or 16 because we really weren’t supposed to go over 15 because you’re right. That’s a huge group. And there were two of us. There were two facilitators and we would sit in a circle and we’d sit on either one and we’d induce little notes at each other and we’d look at each other and we would just hold people on the right path.

Michelle:[ 00:25: 04] I knew person or persons in different groups that I went to. She was just there to listen. She just wanted to sit there and listen to people. She didn’t want to participate. Her method was just listening and I know that it was interesting there was a guy next to me. He said he was actually a evangelist and he doesn’t really like to talk that much he likes to listen. But he was saying he’s a preacher and nobody that he works with knows that he’s bipolar because he’s a preacher and he asked to keep that that kind of like you know that he has strong you know successful man and he can’t tell anyone. You know in the church that he has bipolar because that would stimulate him look bad. But he comes to these meetings and he listens. He doesn’t speak that much but it simply helps him by being there.

Gabe:[ 00:25: 50] By in the room. By being in the presence of other people. That’s enough for some people not me I’m a talker.

Michelle:[ 00:25: 57] Yeah yeah.

Gabe:[ 00:25: 58] I like to do a lot of talking a lot of sharing. I like to offer support but I also needed to remember when to listen and when to shut up and sometimes when I was a group member the facilitators would have to set their hand up and remind me to stop talking.

Gabe:[ 00:26: 13] And that’s a good the thing for a facilitator to do.

Gabe:[ 00:26: 17] And if the facilitator doesn’t write you’re not embarrassed you’re not a shame you’re understanding that they’re making space for everybody. I really like support groups and I encourage people to go to them if they are available in your community. Please run. Oftentimes they’re free. Perhaps you got to throw a couple bucks in a hat. But even if you simply sit there and listen you’ll learn so much and you’ll be in the presence of other people that have similar experiences.

Michelle:[ 00:26: 43] It’s very it’s very helpful to note that you’re not alone.

Gabe:[ 00:26: 47] Exactly. And some of those people listen. Some of those people will rile you. There’s personality types that you will not get along.

Michelle:[ 00:26: 54] Oh trust me yes.

Gabe:[ 00:26: 55] And that’s okay too because it shows you that even people who are annoying have mental illness. That’s okay.

Gabe:[ 00:27: 05] My mom annoys me. I still love her. Your mom annoys you Michelle.

Michelle:[ 00:27: 11] Just the little.

Gabe:[ 00:27: 12] Just a little.

Gabe:[ 00:27: 14] And.

Michelle:[ 00:27: 15] I still love her.

Gabe:[ 00:27: 16] Yes.

Gabe:[ 00:27: 17] So the people in a support group you will find that common ground and you don’t have to be best friends. In fact, I deter going to a support group to make friends should go to a support group to get subsistence. It doesn’t mean that a friendship won’t come out of it but that should not be your goal your goal should be to attentively listen. And your goal should be to truthfully share and if you do that, I think that you’ll get a lot out of it. So, if you are afraid to go find a buddy and run even if the body simply sits outside or just go on your own. Talk to the facilitator let him know you’re scared show up early so that you’re there before the big group gets there and tell the facilitator that you’re nervous.

Michelle:[ 00:27: 51] You can always change your name too.

Gabe:[ 00:27: 53] There is most all the groups that I did. Everybody went by their first name and you’re right. We didn’t I didn’t I didn’t card anybody. So maybe everybody’s name was wrong.

Gabe:[ 00:28: 02] I don’t know.

Michelle:[ 00:28: 03] I mean you can change your name you cannot say what your job is.

Gabe:[ 00:28: 07] Yes.

Michelle:[ 00:28: 08] Just share only what you want to share. There’s one issue you want to talk about. You can only talk if you would attain us merely talk about that issue. That’s what you want to speak about you’re forced to say anything you don’t want to say.

Gabe:[ 00:28: 19] Exactly. You can share as much as you want or as little as you want. All that’s required is honesty. It’s not full disclosure. And I think that people miss that sometimes they think that it’s some sort of an interrogation. It’s not. It’s participation at your velocity at your rate. And if the support group isn’t working out for you don’t go back. There’s nothing incorrect with that. If I am very lucky as are you Michelle because we live in big cities there’s dozens of support groups. So when I didn’t like one I just joined another one. If that’s the case for you know support group shop. If you merely have the one you might have to work a little harder to make it run. But I really promote support groups and finally the last thing that we want to say is PsychCentral.com has a ton on of online support groups. I like the in person one’s certainly better. The advantage of the online ones is they’re open 24 hours a day. They’re available when you need them. It’s kind of like a drop in center for online. So visit sites PsychCentral.com. Join the support groups and just have a blast. Those groups are really awesome and they don’t pelt you with advertising or ask you for a bunch of stuff either. So we really love Psych Central here at A Bipolar, A Schizophrenic And A Podcast.

Gabe:[ 00:29: 31] Michelle Are we out?

Michelle:[ 00:29: 33] I think we’re out.

Gabe:[ 00:29: 34] Thank you everybody for tuning in. Remember you are able to head over to store.PsychCentral.com and pick up a Define Normal shirt when they’re gone their run unless of course we order more or you can run over to PsychCentral.com. Join a support group read great articles everything over there is free and they are a very generous supporter.

Gabe:[ 00:29: 51] Of this podcast. We’ll watch everybody next week.

Narrator:[ 00:29: 56] You’ve been listening to a bipolar a schizophrenic kind of podcast. If you love this episode don’t keep it to yourself head over to iTunes or your preferred podcast app to subscribe rate and review working in cooperation with Gabe go to GabeHoward.com. To work with Michelle go to Schizophrenic.NYC. For free mental health resources and online support groups. Head over to PsychCentral.com Show’s official Web site PsychCentrald.com/ bsp you can e-mail us at show @PsychCentral. com. Thank you for listening and share widely.

Meet Your Bipolar and Schizophrenic Hosts

GABE HOWARD was formally diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders after being committed to a psychiatric hospital in 2003. Now in recovery, Gabe is a prominent mental health activist and host of the award-winning Psych Central Show podcast. He is also an award-winning novelist and speaker, traveling nationally to share the humorous, yet educational, tale of his bipolar life. To work with Gabe, visit gabehoward.com.

MICHELLE HAMMER was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia at age 22, but incorrectly diagnosed with bipolar disorder at 18. Michelle is an award-winning mental health advocate who has been featured in press all over the world. In May 2015, Michelle founded the company Schizophrenic.NYC, a mental health garb line, with members of the mission of reducing stigma by starting conversations about mental health. She is a firm believer that confidence can get you anywhere. To work with Michelle, visit Schizophrenic.NYC.

Read more: psychcentral.com

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