Friday, December 15, 2006
Depression Support Groups
When you think about treatment of chronic (long-term) clinical depression, you would want to seek every avenue of help that's available. Not just medication. Not just counsel, but you want to take advantage of anything and everything that might help.
Believe me, when you have deep and debilitating depression, you become desperate. You'll try anything short of a witch doctor. I know. One source of help that is not always sought is support groups.
When I lived in Arizona, a woman at church urged me to join her support group. I was busy. I was a little skeptical. I didn't really think that they had anything to offer me. Oh, how wrong I was.
After I had moved to Arkansas, I saw an article in the newspaper about a depression support group meeting at the local hospital. I had been pretty severely depressed for several months, so I thought that I would attend a meeting and see what it was all about.
For the first time, I found a group of people who understood very well what I was going through. They had "been there, done that." The meeting was very informal. We took turns going around the room giving a little background on our own illness and experiences, but if someone wasn't comfortable speaking, they didn't have to. We shared knowledge about the illness, counselors, and medications and how well they worked. There was a discussion about the impact that depression had on the people who cared about us. Teresa, my wife, was really encouraged by the family and spouses of the patients. Finally, she had someone to talk about her experiences and frustrations. It was therapeutic for both of us.
Later, I had the honor of becoming the leader of our group in Hot Springs. Actually, our meetings didn't really need a leader. Just someone to keep the ball rolling. Teresa and I would both say that we met some wonderful people, and we will never forget the friendship and encouragement that we were given.
I cannot overemphasize the blessing that you will receive if you become a member of a support group. "Try it, you'll like it." The two largest organizations that sponsor these groups are: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (www.dbsalliance.org) and National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (www.nami.org). Their websites list local chapters in each state, and you can usually find one within easy driving distance.
I regret that I had not become involved with a group like this a long time ago. Don't make that one of your regrets.
"Two are better than one...If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up (Eccelisiastes 4:9f)!"
["I'm so low I could do a ten minute freefall off the edge of a dime."]