Part 1 of 2 Being diagnosed with bipolar in my mid-twenties was scary enough, I was experiencing symptoms way earlier( started in high school my senior year) and I was not sure how to handle this in a positive way and tried to stay away from my negative coping skills(such as drinking and self-harm). Then one day my doctor suggested going to individual and group therapy and it has changed my life. I am a firm believer that everyone could use some sort of therapy whether it be individual or both. Below here are some of my tips that have made my therapy successful for me and being able to cope and manage bipolar and my life itself.
1. Find someone you connect with– this is SO important to be able to open and start to heal you need to trust the person you are talking to and feel comfortable with that person. This person does not know you at first, but the outcome to me would be this person will know you (maybe even better than the people in your life). I wanted to make sure the person had my best interest; I did not want to feel like a “number being called to come into the office”. I had an awesome therapist, she made me feel loved and really listened to what I said. She actually was the one that convinced me to check myself back into the hospital during a mania episode (had been up for 5 days) and suicidal thoughts. During our treatment she told me she was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and passed away- it crushed me. I knew I had to find another therapist and start all over again. I did find one and then went a few times, but the connection was NOT there and I went back to the drawing board. I did find another one and we have been doing great! She challenges me and likes to see results and has helped me step outside my comfort zone. She has me do homework to make me a better person. I feel comfortable getting angry, sad, and even crying in front of her. So, please do not feel bad if it does not work with a therapist, just go find another one, you want the sessions to be helpful and successful.
2. Be open and honest– working with a therapist can be scary at first, I always thought does this person really care? I would think if she is judging me as well, will she think I am a bad person. But I had to let that all go, I knew if I held back information or my feelings I would not start to heal. I had covered up all my wounds, now it was time for me to rip those band aids off and let the healing begin. Once, is started to do this and opened those flood gates, my healing process really started to begin. I felt more and more comfortable with my therapist and felt good. I know it can be scary but trust me the healing cannot start till you are truly being yourself.
2. Do the work– many times my therapist would give me assignments to do and at first, I would not do them and lie and said I did. My sessions were not productive. She was trying to help me develop coping skills to be able to manage bipolar and just myself better. After realizing this, I started to do the work and the assignments, exercises and/or challenges given to me. I really have noticed a difference.
1. Find the support group that is right for you– NAMI was introduced to me and when I first attended my first group for those living with a mental health condition, I was nervous and was quiet. I did not say anything the first time I just went ahead and listened to everyone. It was definitely an eye opener, to be able to hear other people experience what I was going through and be able to relate to them. There are so many support groups out there, you do need to do some research on them.
2 Find which platform is going to give you the best experience– now there are support groups out there that are virtual as well. Some people that are suffering with social anxiety this would be great for them. I have done some virtual as well and it was nice to see faces on the screen, now you do not need to show your face if you did not want to. People still talked and the facilitators were there to give advice etc.
3 Do not be afraid to speak– unlike individual therapy remember you will be in a group setting so once you feel comfortable speak out, you will be amazed how much in common you may have with someone and what their struggles are. It is awesome to get advice from so many other people than just from one person (with individual therapy) you may get a different perspective and learn new coping skills. Depending on the group they start to become like your family and there is no judgment being made. You can just let it all out.
Therapy truly has been my saving grace; I do both now and I gain a lot from both types. I truly look forward to attending and will continue for as long as I can. Do no