|A BiPolar Woman Goes it Alone
August 18, 2000
Alone, Searching for Her Pack
Without having a job, I endure the loss of not only my insurance, but my psychiatrist and therapist who both pulled out of my insurance on the same day. I can't blame them, they weren't getting paid by said insurance company. So where does all of this leave me? Alone. At least that is what I thought in the beginning.
It was a shock losing my job. It was a bit of a shock to learn both my professional helpers were leaving my insurance program. But the real shock was realizing that now, I am all alone in dealing with this disease.
Should I just say to hell with it and go off all my medications? The shrink at least made sure I have a couple months refills on most of them. But have you checked the FULL price on most of our medications lately? Yeah, just what an unemployed bipolar person needs to know.
I should have been prepared for all of the above but since I went on a mania induced spending spree, I now have nada.
While flipping through the pages of one of those little paper magazines that stuff you mailbox daily, I found a listing for a Bipolar Group at one of the local hospitals.
I called the number and was informed that it was a private-closed meeting and that I would have to call someone else to get permission to enter the group. So, I did.
I blew-off going that first week, but I cannot remember why. Yesterday was the normal meeting time at 6:30 pm. Having just learned I'd lost the prescription discount on all my medications, plus getting a "dressing down" from my mate for "not planning" for such an event, I said to hell with it and headed off to find that meeting.
I knew I would be late when I got there because I left home ten minutes before the meeting was to begin. I figured if it was anything like an AA meeting, that it would be okay to straggle in late.
After finally finding a place to park at the huge hospital, of course I went to the wrong building and then backtracked all the way back to the first building. Cut to the chase: I find the meeting.
It was behind closed doors and had approximately 15 -18 people. People came in later than I did and one even left early.
I sat down next to the social worker, which meant of course all eyes would be on me, the newcomer. I think some of them at first thought I was another Social Worker. They were in the middle of each member telling "their story" for the week.
As I silently sized up each member, I saw people from all walks of life. As I listened to their stories, those walks blended into one. One woman, apparently one who seldom speaks but listens, had had a very frightening day and evening prior.
The more experienced and older members of the group went out of their way to make sure that she understood, "it was just one day" and to not blow it out of proportion. They were so kind and sincerely interested in how she was feeling. They wanted her to know, it was okay. The things her husband should have told her, but he wasn't speaking to her. Been there.
A couple of the other members in my opinion seemed to walking the edge of being committed because they were very agitated. You could just see the thoughts racing through there minds as if you had x-ray vision.
When break time came, everyone went out to smoke, or grab a snack. The Social Worker wanted me fill out some forms, and asked if I wanted to speak, it being my first meeting. I said "certainly!". Anytime someone asks me to speak, by golly I'll ramble on and make people laugh or cry.
I was the last to speak...I saved them some mercy and gave them the abbreviated version, and still got some laughs behind the tears.
Afterwards, I felt so good because I had just spent almost 90 minutes just sitting there, listening to people like myself rambling on, asking each other questions, offering advice.
I felt safe with these strangers. The one thing every single person said to me DURING and after the meeting, was "you'll be back won't you?" or "please Storm, come back next week."
Some were going out to grab a bite and invited me right along, but I declined. I knew I should go home, but part of me wanted to go with my new "gang".
Afterwards, I felt a warmth that I had not felt in ages. A kind of warmth that a loved one cannot bring out in you. I hate to classify people and I hate labeling. But I have to admit, even though there were times I was a tad bored, I still enjoyed every minute.
These people were even concerned about those that usually attend and did not show that night. Phone calls were to be make to be sure that the missing was "ok".
I think I will be going back. I need that support. I need that feeling of being wanted, being with those who have experienced what I experience. I need the support of those older group members who have been living with this disease even longer than I.
And I want to be sure that the two members who were on the edge, make it back.
Please all of you, try to find a real time support group. Sure, it's a bit like AA, but the same core reason is there---support.