Can the HT group help me, I need some advice.

denninmi(8a)January 18, 2013

Sorry to post another deeply personal post, I apologize in advance if this is inappropriate to the purposes of the forum.

Here's the latest question - do you think I made a mistake by seeking out mental health treatment?

Because it sure feels like it right now. This experience has been one giant fiasco from day one. August 20, 2012, 12:30 pm, in my lunch break, sitting in my car in the parking lot, under the shade of a linden, I called the psychiatrist who treated me long enough to make me feel like the scum of the earth, some kind of criminal. And sentenced me to the psych ward. It was all a bitter pill to swallow. I know this sounds incredibly arrogant, but I just kept thinking "this don't supposed to happen to educated guys from good communities". It does, of course, like some middle aged guy in denial he could have blocked arteries, that feeling of not me, until he had his first heart attack.

It's been such a mess. My family hates me, they don't understand what is going on and think I'm a different guy, mysterious, aloof, moody. I guess I am. I just blew through $34,000 paying bills I never would have had if this hadn't happened, and I still owe about $20k on a MC and a Discover. It was partly medical, all of the things my insurance didn't cover. But in all honesty, I went on an enormous shopping bender, because frankly it was a form of self-medication, made me feel better short term. Long term - not so good.

Most of all, though, the entire guns versus mentally ill thing has me really spooked. I am afraid the state will go way beyond just ensnaring the dangerously mentally I'll. I think they are going to cast a very wide net, and use the data almost like a credit score. Who knows who will get access - for example, will I end up on the no-fly list. Or, if I get a traffic stop, will the cop freak out and go all rougue on me if he sees my name on the MI database? My diagnoses are down on paper in black and white, not sure how secure that info is.

I talked to my therapist yesterday at length about this. Her take, naturally, was I am overreacting. Which, of course, I am. But I am still really upset about all of this. The "lose sleep over it" kind of worry.

I just want to go back to the way things used to be before this happened, which is of course impossible.

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No I don't think you made a mistake, but I would like to ask you a question. You do not have to answer if you do not want to.

Have you been prescribed meds, and are you taking them?

All the things you have described above are very common with your particular diagnosis, I am sorry that you are struggling .. and if it means anything at all one of the biggest accomplishments in all of this is that you are facing the fact that you have a medical disability. My mother never did admit and/or accept that.

It may be that it is taking time and/or there needs to be an adjustment in your medication.

We all, for whatever reason, come to a time in our lives where we wish there was a "do over", unfortunately that is not possible.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 1:22PM
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Having been in the mix with this type of issue, I realize I'm being vauge, it's not just the patient who has a hard time admitting and accepting the diagnosis--sometimes it's the family. They can feel they've let you down in some way, that they could've done more or other things... so they just don't like to accept it. It's hard for them to realize in rejecting the reality, they could inadvertiently be rejecting you. It's hard for them. Give them some time to get to where you are. Just keep getting better and stronger, they'll come around and understand. And if not, you'll still be better off being the better you.

Do it for you! Don't stop now that you've begun.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 1:42PM
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Ohiomom - it's fine, ask me anything. Lord knows I haven't left out much detail as is.

Yes, lamictal 300 mgs a day.

It doesn't feel like a medication change I need, but something not possible, a shift in the entire cultural paradigm of guns and MI.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 3:21PM
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Well the only advice I can give you at this point is to find (if you have not already) a good therapist that you trust, you will spend more time with her/him than the psychiatrist, who just adjust your meds (dosage) as needed.

I know it is easier said than done, but "try" to not focus on the gun issue, I do not believe what you fear will happen. This is only in the headlines so much because of recent events.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 4:53PM
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Denninmi, I lurk on this Forum and have been following your postings. Nothing that I have read so far indicates that you have met with a thyroid specialist for a complete evaluation. Recent research is showing that the thyroid may be involved with this illness. Based on the experience of several friends whose lives have turned around 360 degrees with thyroid treatment this is an avenue worth exploring.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 7:29PM
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Den, I'd sure look into the thyroid possibiity. Also, have you researched lamictal to find out more about it?

You are in charge of you. I personally think one on one therapy (not a psychiatrist) is something everyone could benefit from.

I am totally unqualified to give you advice, but if we were good friends talking, that is what I would say ;)

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 10:27PM
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I'm sorry for the way you are feeling. I think its great you sought out help. Maybe if I share my experience it could help you.

Up until a year ago I have never been treated by a mental health provider. I explained my issues to my primary care doctor. For years we played with different antidepressants. Finally somebody suggested I get a therapist. I knew nothing about mental health and I found out the hard way that a primary care doctor should not be working on the mental health aspect. As my first therapist said "we don't treat a broken arm and your primary care doctor should not have tried treating you". Anyway the first one thought depression. I went to him for a while without getting prescribed anything. Then he thought maybe bipolar. I then moved and saw a psychologist. The more we talked about my symptoms and behaviors he figured it out. My highs, my lows, my shopping sprees and other impulsive behaviors, my inability to focus, never finishing anything, and many more. He ruled out depression and bipolar. By taking a simple written test he found out I had ADD.

So I said all that just to tell you maybe you should get a second opinion. If you do not trust and/or feel comfortable with you therapist find another. And it may take a while. Instead of rushing to diagnose me, it took my psychologist ten one hour sessions when he put it all together. While it is scary to think of your situation or any diagnosis to be released, it is extremely important to get the help you need. Your impulsiveness or your lows might bring you to more than owing lots of money. Or being so low that you may hurt yourself. I always thought I was weak to have to seek help but I was completely ignorant. Your mental health is as important as your physical health.

I hope things start looking up for you soon.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2013 at 11:37PM
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terrene(5b MA)

Denni - just wanted to say that I sympathize with your quandary and wish you the best.

Glad you read it, now deleted.

This post was edited by terrene on Sat, Jan 19, 13 at 11:59

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 12:24AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Re: guns and MI. I think there are MANY mentally unhealthy people out there who currently own guns. If there ever were some sort of "dragnet" to catch them, the NRA would probably be "up in arms" because they'd lose half their constituency! Besides, isn't medical confidentiality still held sancrosanct in our legal system?

I had a wonderful parenting counselor for 4 years. We coined a phrase "invoke the rational mind". Please try not to worked up in a lather about what is speculation at this point, I know it's hard. I lose lots of sleep myself.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 12:52AM
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I had a thyroid test as part of a routine physical in September, it came back normal.

Elvis -- lamictal. Enough to frighten me. I had to sign an informed consent waiver, which informed me that one out of thousand people who take it die from an adverse reaction called Stevens Johnson Syndrome (or something like that), and another 5 become seriously ill. Joy, huh? But that happens roughly in the first month or so, I should be good. Otherwise, I've noticed no side effects at all from it.

I've worked with the same therapist since 1999 on and off, about a total of 10 years of active weekly sessions. That was all before I was officially crazy, just when I was officially troubled. I really trust her, she's great. And, I did find a new psychiatrist who is a night and day difference from the first one. My bad, I didn't bother to check out the first one at all, other than the physician referral website I used. Had I done that, I would have never gone to her, her patient reviews are terrible and her rating is bottom of the barrel. The new one, in contrast, gets rave reviews and it seems like all of her patients love her. I've only seen her 3 times, but I have a good feeling about her. She is Russian/Jewish and seems like a kindly Jewish grandmotherly type, yet very, very good at what she does, too. I think I'm in good hands. And I didn't mean to suggest or imply that I was quitting treatment, I'm pretty much committed to this course of action, unless I want to be committed for real (LOL!). But I still wish we had real-life "do-overs".

Jessica and Terrene, thanks to both of you for sharing your personal stories.

I just hope that medical privacy/confidentiality for psychiatric conditions is still respected when the dust clears from all of this.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 10:04AM
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littleonefb(zone 5, MA)

denninmi, Do you know exactly what your TSH level was when you had the test done?

The reason I ask is that what was considered to be normal TSH levels has changed over the past 7 years, yet there are still many labs, both private and within hospitals along with doctors, that are still using the old numbers and calling them normal; when in fact they are no longer considered normal but are now considered hypothyroid levels.

The old levels considered normal where 0.5-5. The new levels considered normal that where adopted way back in In the Fall of 2002 by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists are 0.3-3.

that is a huge difference and if your levels where considered normal but fall in the old level, then you are now considered hypothyroid.

That would complicate your mental health issues, exacerbate any mental health issues that one might have.

It would be worth checking into exactly what your TSH levels where to be sure that the old numbers are not being used to say your level is normal.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 10:23AM
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Has your therapist suggested you meet with a support group?

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 10:24AM
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I have the labs somewhere around here, I can look it up.

Group therapy -- well, actually, I liked that and got a lot out of it at the hospital. My therapist only does individual. The new psych. does run a group, but it's right in the middle of the work day, and I've missed enough time, and pay, already. If it were in the evening I would do it.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 11:15AM
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BTW, thanks to each of you. It means a lot to me that you're all willing to help out the crazy dude here.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 11:18AM
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Speaking for myself, I think it's more empathy than sympathy. I suspect most self-aware people can relate.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 11:40AM
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terrene(5b MA)

Denni, you don't sound too crazy to me. You are still very thoughtful, and quite rational, at least when you are posting here. Maybe you're a little crazy, who isn't?

Seriously this thread has got me thinking about the whole issue of mental health. How many people are truly mentally healthy? I don't know. How many are physically healthy? Well, 70% of the US population is overweight or obese. We eat crappy food and look for every excuse and gadget to move our bodies less. Countless people are on meds for a physical condition - and how many more untreated. Diabetes is rampaging. Hundreds of thousands die of heart disease and cancer every year. Etc. And the real test of health comes when a person ages. Easy to be healthy when you're young. How about when you're not?

So, if it is true that the majority of the US population has maybe fair or poor overall physical health, why would the majority have good mental health? Aren't body and mind connected?

I think it's likely that as a society we're still in the stone age as far as understanding, diagnosing, and treating mental illnesses. Probably much more advanced as far as physical health, but think of the advancements that are yet to come.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 12:22PM
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Mental and physical connection. No doubt to some extent, probably more than less. Certainly, obesity is linked to depression, especially morbid obesity.

My own personal journey with this included gaining a lot of weight in the past couple of years, eating a terrible diet, and drinking a lot of regular soft drinks. Which left me feeling like crap physically and upset with myself emotionally.

One good thing that has come of this. When I had my big "I can't live like that anyone" moment in August, one of the things was my weight and health. I am SO embarrassed to even admit this, I was 155 about 5 years ago, I was 210 when I stepped on my scale for the first time in about a year in August. Of course, almost none of my clothes fit, just a few I could squeeze into. And, I think had this not happened, I would have continued to gain weight. So, a "Silver Lining" as in the movie. I did really embrace that one, and started walking, then biking, neither of which I had done in years, and the weight started to come off. During the first six weeks, mid-August to late Sept, I couldn't eat, maybe 400-600 calories a day, and all I could even face were bananas, plain yogurt, and cottage cheese. And, sorry to be gross, but I threw up most of what I ate and drank every day, out of anxiety and panic attacks.

BUT, after some of the shock wore off, I really embraced it, bought a great bike while I was in the hospital day program, actually. I've put roughly 2,000 mile on the bikes since I started riding, and I just started running a few weeks ago. Ultimately, I have three goals at the gym, running in a serious manner, taking their triathlon training course and their "boot camp" extreme fitness program. Three days after I was "sprung from the joint" I joined the gym and enrolled in a fitness program and hired a personal trainer for one on one. It's made such a difference, I'm in the home stretch of weight loss and really beginning to see significant results on strength, flexibility, and balance, all of which I've had issues with in the past.

The poor diet combined with pre-existing conditions really predisposed me to all kinds of health issues, physical and mental. In fact, I've had health issues for years, I was diagnosed in high school with dangerous, extremely high blood pressure, despite being a normal weight, and in my sophomore year of college with borderline type II diabetes. Then about 5 years ago I had abdominal surgery to remove part of my small intestine due to persistent ulcers and bleeding of "ideopathic origin" ie they didn't know why. That was when I hit the low point in weight, because again I was pretty sick for a while.

So much better now, I might be a bit too thin when I'm done, but after I got over the surgery I had a couple of years very thin and I felt like a million dollars. I want to get back to that.

And thanks for the vote of confidence. I run myself down with the "you're crazy" bit when feeling sorry for myself, but I have a pretty good grasp on reality even when depressed. I was never "manic" it's supposedly bipolar II which is primarily depression. I know where I am, what I'm doing, etc, I just feel down on myself and the world to the point it gets kind of serious.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 12:51PM
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In my opinion, one of the most difficult aspects is finding really good doctors and other professionals with the knowledge and dedication to accurately diagnose and treat us... doctors that we feel comfortable with and confident in. Locating these professionals often takes many tries.

But the important thing is that we acknowledge we have an issue that needs treatment, and we take steps to get the help we need.

Family can be a sticky issue... either supportive, or unable to be supportive. Sometimes, we have to worry about ourselves and our health first, and set family issues aside for a little while. It's important that we get the treatment we need.

I wish you the best.

    Bookmark   January 19, 2013 at 1:40PM
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"Based on the experience of several friends whose lives have turned around 360 degrees with thyroid treatment this is an avenue worth exploring."

I'd really question a treatment that turned my life around 360 degrees. Hmmmmmm

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 8:45AM
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"But the important thing is that we acknowledge we have an issue that needs treatment, and we take steps to get the help we need."

AKA - taking personal responsibility.

dennis, Here's my take. All of life involves making choices. As individuals, for every choice we go with there is one we pass on. Weighing the pros and cons of options (and there will be pros and cons with each option), we make the choice that is best for us.

If you are TRULY, TRULY serious about choosing and getting medical care and working through what's going on, I'd suggest that you may want to revisit your whole focus on owning guns. If good health is truly #1 on your priority list, then you just might have to choose a new relationship for yourself with guns.

The choices are yours.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 9:02AM
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"Group therapy -- well, actually, I liked that and got a lot out of it at the hospital. My therapist only does individual."

Denni, Unlike group therapy, support groups are often led by a lay person with first hand experience dealing what you are going through. They don't replace therapy sessions with your mental health professional.

I am guessing you live in Minnesota, so here's a link that, if you're interested, can help you find information about support groups near you. Since you liked the group therapy, it might be worth checking out. It's not like you have to keep going if you don't like it. It's your call.

A personal aside: A couple decades ago, a friend and I attended a support group for parents of children with ADHD. It was held in a meeting room at a local hospital. The minute we walked in, we started laughing. Why? Because we instantly recognized people we knew! They were looking at us, and smiling as well. They were all parents we knew from the school. WE had no idea THEY were having problems, too! Had we not gotten up the courage to go to that first meeting, we would have never realized how alone we WEREN'T.

Here is a link that might be useful: NAMI support and support groups

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 11:27AM
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"I'd really question a treatment that turned my life around 360 degrees. Hmmmmmm"


"I am guessing you live in Minnesota"

Nik, I think the "denninmi" is "denn in MI" (Michigan). I agree; support groups are helpful for some. I think, though, support groups and group therapy both mean "coming out" with your issues and one needs to feel ready, don't you think? But--if the confessional ambiance of one-on-one doesn't feel like enough, group and/or support is there if one wants it.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:31PM
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I think the idea of a support group is GREAT in that you can discover what issues you have in common with others, that *you aren't alone in your struggle* even if nobody has your exact problem., the troubles and fears and coping skills may be the same.

You could find out what their own self reactions have been since becoming ill, how others reacted to them, all the various coping methods used for some measure of relief. It could go a long way in helping your confusion about how you feel about all of this and you could get great advice about things you simply must guard against- like finding comfort in overspending or perhaps poor choices in relationships, poor choices period etc. such valuable advice - . all with the built in ability to quit if it just isn't your thing.

I hope your therapist can point you in a good direction. It will also be of great help if you have a tendency to isolate yourself excessively - a place ro go where you must interact on a social kind of level..

Best wishes, I do hope you are able to get some constructive ideas from some of these thoughts offered to you.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 1:09AM
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littleonefb(zone 5, MA)

"Based on the experience of several friends whose lives have turned around 360 degrees with thyroid treatment this is an avenue worth exploring."
I'd really question a treatment that turned my life around 360 degrees. Hmmmmmm

Simple facts are this. If you exhibit symptoms, for example, of a disease process that are symptoms of several different possible medical issues; being treated for the incorrect disease process doesn't do anything to help you.

On the other hand, if you are treated for the correct disease process, then progress and improvement can be made. Depending on the medical issue, "ones life can be turned around" with the correct treatment.

The suggestions made to have a thyroid test done, if they have not been done, in my suggestion to find out exactly what the numbers of the TSH level where is for the following reasons.

The symptoms of depression and hypothyroidism are identical and far to many doctors and labs are relying on the old, outdated levels that are considered normal, when in fact they are not.

If one is treated for depression, using anti-depressants, and in fact it is not depression but a thyroid issue; an under active thyroid known as hypothyroidism, then the patient will not improve and more and more meds will be added as the patient becomes worse and worse.

On the other hand, if the depression is caused by an under active thyroid, or a non functioning thyroid, then you bet there will be a "massive turnaround" in the patient's life.

A simple pill, synthetic thyroid medication provides the missing hormone to the body and it is amazing what the thyroid does control in the body and what happens if the thyroid is not working or working properly. Though it takes time to reach the needed synthrod levels in the body, differences are felt within about 2 weeks and with blood test monitoring about every 4-6 weeks, all symptoms of and underactive thyroid will vanish.

OH, yes, symptoms of an under active thyroid are the following:

Increased sensitivity to cold
Dry skin
Unexplained weight gain
Puffy face
Muscle weakness
Elevated blood cholesterol level
Muscle aches, tenderness and stiffness
Pain, stiffness or swelling in your joints
Heavier than normal or irregular menstrual periods
Thinning hair
Slowed heart rate
Impaired memory

Also there has been severaL studies that have shown a relationship between auto-immune caused thyroid problems and bipolar disorders and some doctors are using a combined approach now of thyroid meds along with meds for bipolar and or depression in the treatment, even with patients that are showing normal TSH levels but are on the low end of what is considered normal.

Proper, appropriate treatment for medical issues, as well as mental health issues, can have very quick turn arounds and results. Most times it is what we expect, just don't realize it.

check out the link below denninmi for the info on combined treatments for biopolar by using thyroid meds. and please check out your TSH numbers and see if they are using the outdated numbers.

Here is a link that might be useful: thyroid and bipolar disorder

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 1:43AM
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jmc01 wrote:

"If you are TRULY, TRULY serious about choosing and getting medical care and working through what's going on, I'd suggest that you may want to revisit your whole focus on owning guns. If good health is truly #1 on your priority list, then you just might have to choose a new relationship for yourself with guns."

OK, I think I should address this -- I guess it came from the NRA thread, and it's obviously the elephant in the room. So, here's the real truth -- I have no "focus on guns" never have, never will. I was basically, what's a good term, perhaps "trolling" just a bit, because I was really, really pissed over this whole NRA business of "round up all of the crazy people" after that LaPierre press conference. So, I kind of shot my mouth off on various internet forums and took the absurd position of arguing for something I don't really believe in, the 2nd amendment crap.

I believe in the principle, which is that no right should be taken away from anyone without due process and equal protection, which IS what is happening in the new NY law, for example, and I worry that it will happen with federal and other state laws. But, to me, the specifics of WHAT the rights being taken away aren't as important as the principle of standing up against an arbitrary loss with no due process.

The legal standard in my state is that you must be adjudicated legally incompetent or have been involuntarily committed in order to get on the prohibited purchasers list, which mirrors the current federal standard. My biggest problem with the NY law is that it goes far wider than that, basically it turns mental health professionals into informants for the state and then has this immediate provision to remove guns from the people reported, which is OK in my eyes short term, but it's a permanent ban with absolutely no mechanism for appeal except for the theoretical one of getting the law overturned in court. I read a NY Times piece about how cops, corrections officers, security guards who seek mental health treatment would end up permanently banned if reported, and lose their ability to maintain their careers. That is the kind of thing that just burns me, when legislatures cobble these laws together in an extremely short time, the NY law was written in 24 hours, and then pass them with little or no input from experts. Not a single mental health rights advocacy group such as NAMI was even consulted about this law. The NY Times and other media have also reported that many, many mental health professionals feel this is going to have an extremely adverse impact on treatment rates because people just won't go if they think they're going to end up on a state registry of mentally ill.

Finally, my biggest concern about all of this -- I think they would NOT stop at guns, and any registry list is going to be used for a LOT more things in the future, especially if these laws don't stop more mass shootings, which they won't. I could see them going so far as to dictating where people with MI can live, such as not within X yards of a school, where they can assemble and with whom, etc. AND, I think they are going to want to register ALL of us, not just people that psychiatrists and psychologists think are dangers to themselves or others. JUST like felons on parole. And, frankly, I don't want to be treated like a felon, I haven't done anything wrong.

OK, so, bottom line, no guns, really. I guess I can't MAKE anyone believe it, but it's true.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 2:00AM
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Nikoleta, I'm from Michigan.

RE - support groups. I went to about 4 meetings. I found it REALLY depressing. I don't know why it felt so "different" from group therapy, I guess because it was like the first part of a group therapy session, where you tell your problems, but it didn't have the second, follow-up part, which is the IMPORTANT part -- no real attempt at finding solutions. It was just hard to listen to people who seemed so absolutely lost with no way out. Honestly, I felt like some kind of spoiled whiner listening to many other people's stories -- so many of them can't work or function very well in the real world, and have recurrent problems, multiple suicide attempts, things like that. It was REALLY depressing, after about the 4th one I decided that I just couldn't be around that much sadness, it was bringing me down in a major way.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 2:05AM
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Well that had to be disappointing! The good news is that each group is unique. Perhaps at some point you will want to give it another try. The fact that you stuck it out for FOUR miserable meetings shows a lot of strength on your part. Was the support group larger or smaller than your therapy group?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 10:57AM
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Hey, Nikoleta, I wanted to respond earlier, but I couldn't log in all day from my iPad. I was afraid I had said too much and was banned. I hope not, I like everyone here and really appreciate the support at this time in my life. Plus I want to get back to actual garden forums in the spring, life goes on and so do my fruit trees, perennials, vegetables, and bees (well, maybe not the bees, they didn't look too good going into the fall, I think they had pretty heavy varoa infestations).

Seriously, ladies and gentlemen, if I say too much and make someone uncomfortable, please just tell me to shut up. I won't be offended in the least. I find that my inhibitions about certain things are down a bit, I think that probably is a side effect of the medication.

The SG meetings I attended were roughly the same size as the hospital therapy group, about 8-10 people on average. I might be wiling to try something like that again, but honestly, I think I'm better off doing positive things with people who can make me feel like they have a focus on life. For example, I joined the cycle club at my gym last fall, although it was almost over for the season when I joined, but I did go on one really awesome group ride. Spring will be here soon, so I'll go back to that. Things like that, which will both take my mind off of the whole bipolar fiasco, and yield some happy memories for the future. OK, the bike club thing was REALLY awesome, I was riding with guys who compete in triathlons, and I not only kept up, I took the lead for a part of the route. Which really made me feel good about myself and forget the bad crap for a few hours.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 5:08PM
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Like I said, denni, you've already shown you have a lot of strength. Only a really, really STUBBORN person would go to four crappy meetings before calling it quits...LOL!

(You surprised yourself with that biking thing, no? :))

    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 8:14PM
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Denn, there is something special you can feel really good about, and I can't think of another poster who I can say this about: you have brought out the best in us. Keep up the good work.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2013 at 10:11PM
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