My therapist recently mentioned that perhaps I should attend a bipolar disorder support group in my city. I told her that I have already attended our city’s bp support group. Once. It was before I had this blog to vent to y’all about how crazy ridiculous and unhelpful it was. I told her that I’m not going back to it, but that got me thinking about what the best support group ever would be. In my world, it looks a little something like this:
First of all, everyone who walks in is immediately handed a puppy. You can’t be sad when you’re playing with a puppy. It’s not possible. If you are allergic to dogs, you can choose between a parrot that says nice things to you or a baby penguin. I’ve never heard of anyone who is allergic to penguins, and they’re so fluffy. Okay. So when you have your chosen animal, you sit down in a lounge-type area that looks something like this:
There will be bowls of jelly beans on every available surface, because jelly beans are colorful and fun. Even if you’re not eating them, just looking at them should make you happier. I thought about providing ice cream, but that’s completely impractical because it will get all melty, and the puppies will try to lick it while you’re eating it. (Somehow baby penguins made it to my theoretical support group, but ice cream was labeled “completely impractical.” Huh. Weird.). Once everyone is settled, people have to go around and say what was awesome about their week. Maybe it is something really fabulous: “I won fifty million dollars!” or maybe it is something mundane: “I got out of bed four out of seven days!” No matter what, we appreciate what you share because it’s whatever you deem to be awesome, and we all love awesome. If you have nothing at all, you can at least say, “I’m currently playing with a puppy/parrot/baby penguin.” That’s awesome.
After that, we’re going to have our guest speaker talk. The guest speaker is always a stand-up comedian, because laughter is medicinal. Everyone knows that. So we’ll all be laughing, and the puppies will be running around, and every once in a while the parrots will interrupt the proceedings by squawking things such as, “You can do this!” or “You’re beautiful!” Then we’ll have pizza. Because……pizza.
After that (only after all of the aforementioned activities!), then people will split off into two groups. There will be the Struggle Bus group who will go and talk about their struggles this week, get advice on doctors and meds, and help each other out with the “me too’s” and the “this sucks” that can be helpful from a support group. The other group will be called the Not Tonight group, and they’ll do some activity that has nothing to do with bipolar disorder. They’ll get a distraction from all of the day-to-day drama that constitutes living with this illness. Perhaps they’ll have a nerf gun fight (ten points if you hit a flying parrot, but minus a hundred if you hit a baby penguin. They can’t fly away – that’s lowball). Maybe that group will do a craft with their old pill bottles (they can reference this post for some great ideas). Perhaps they’ll drag race muscle cars. There are tons of possibilities here.
At the end of the evening, everyone will feel better than when they first arrived. The Struggle Bus group will have gotten to vent, but they also will have gotten pizza, a puppy, and a comedy show – not a bad evening. The Not Tonight group will have gotten a few hours of fun with people who understand their disorder, but sometimes it’s okay for that understanding to be unspoken. They all knew that they needed to help each other forget life for a little while, and that was enough.
There will be a strict “No Wallowing” rule. If you want to vent to feel better about something, fine. If you want to ask for help, fine. If you want to have fun and not talk about your disorder at all, fine. But if you’re just there to whine and complain and you have no desire to feel even marginally happier by the end of the evening, then we’re not going to waste a puppy on you. You can go straight to the Wallowing Corner, where we’ll have a giant pile of mud for you to roll around in until it’s time to go. Don’t bug the rest of us. It’s not that we don’t care about you, you see. We made you a Wallowing Corner. We just don’t want you to bring us down. And you don’t want to feel encouraged. So just hang out in the mud, okay? We’ll bring you pizza if there’s extra.
Personally, I think this could be a very effective support group. I would go every week. I think lots of other people would too. So if you have a crap ton of puppies, a few penguins, and a lot of money…call me up. Let’s get this party started.