Meeting Notes – March 2, 2011

by Bruce on March 7, 2011

The meeting was well attended, with approximately 20-30 people present.  The refreshments featured, among other delights, gourmet treats from the wife of a member who is (the wife) a former pastry chef.  Mmmmmm.

Introductions

We begin the meeting with each person answering the following questions (and passing if they wished).

1. Your first name.
2. Your diagnosis.
3. Your mood on a scale of 1 to 10 (low to high).
4. What do you do to take care of yourself?.

Several people mentioned the importance of good nutrition in taking care of themselves.  One person commented that, “Diet is as important as taking your meds.”

We were also asked to answer the question, “What is your most memorable experience with music?”  The highlights ranged from exchanging a few words with Louie Armstrong (complete with an excellent rendition of his gravely voice), to giving a ride to the members of “Quiet Riot”, much after their prime.

Check-In

At this point we broke up into small groups for a more personal check-in.

Meeting Format

Throughout the meeting, we circulate the question bag (just a paper bag with a big “?” on the side). Anyone is free to write virtually any question relating to living with depression bipolar disorder. The question is read by the facilitator and members of the group respond from their own experience. The writer of the question remains anonymous, but benefits from the collective experience and wisdom of the group. The discussions are often quite lively and humorous.

(The only topic we don’t discuss are individual medications and health care providers. There is too much variation in individual’s response to a certain medication or certain doctor and what might work for one person might not work for another. We do have general discussions about classes of medications, and people are welcome to ask during the meeting for feedback on a particular medication or doctor and then discuss it with others one-on-one after the meeting.)

Q & A Session:

Q: How do you get over rejection by someone due to your illness?

A: I had a friend growing up who’s mother was very supportive of me when I was first diagnosed. After I told my friend, she refused to talk to me. I got over it, after I yelled about it, and journaled about it. But I’ve never had anyone else tell me in so many words, “I don’t want to be around you. As an adult, she apologized to me and said that she wants to be a Facebook friend with me.
A: I didn’t speak the word “depression” for many years. I tried to deny it. But then I began to embrace it as a part of myself. I tried to learn all that I could about it, went to support groups and educated myself in any way I could. At work I would hear people talking about people with mental illness, but it was always in a derrogitory way. I deal with it by running the thought through my head, “They have no clue what it’s like”.
A: There were two couples that my husband and I spent a lot of time with. We’d go out to restaurants and visit one another’s homes. After I was hospitalized, I began talking about having depression. I haven’t heard from them in six months.
A: One friend, after I told her about my depression just stopped talking to me. Then she wrote me this horrible, telling me about all the terribly things that she thought I’d done to her. I just decided to write her off.
A: I’ve written off most of my family, but there was one relative on my mother’s side who still talked to me. When I brought up the fact that none of the rest of the family would talk to me, she just said, “Do you have any relatives on you dad’s side?” I was incredulous. What I wanted to hear was something like, “Well, I still love you.”
A: It’s easy for me to give too much weight to people who don’t accept me. I’m learning to tell myself, “They’re just wrong.”

[At this point we recapped a question from a past meeting that didn’t get the attention that it deserved. There was a show of hands of all who had experienced this and showed that it’s not that unusual.]

Q: Getting to sleep has been a life long problem for me. What do you do to get to sleep?

A:  Yoga breathing.
A:  Sleeping pills.
A:  Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
A:  Drink warm milk or Valerian tea.
A:  There is a list of  suggestions for getting to sleep on the dbsa.org website.

Q: Are moods/emotions/depression contagious, even without talking with others?

A:  Yes.  People can be negatively affected by being around someone who’s depressed.  When someone is depressed, they give off bad vibes.  If you’re around someone who is depressed, try not to take it personally.
A:  When I was a child, I would cry whenever my mother cried.  Now, whenever I see a woman crying, it brings me down.
A:  There’s a reason that there are words like “downer” and “kill-joy” in the English language.
A:  There was a research study that asked people to rate their mood before and after someone who was quite depressed entered the room.  The survey showed that peoples moods were negatively affected when the depressed person entered the room.  In the next part of the study, the depressed person didn’t interact with the people in the room, but instead entered an adjacent room.  Even though they didn’t know that the depressed person was in the next room, they still registered a negative change in their mood.  I don’t know what this means, or how it happens, but it shows that moods are contagious.
A:  To me, it makes a difference how the depression is presented.  If my partner is depressed, and expresses it through negativity and complaining, I feel frustrated and discouraged.  But if my partner confides her true feelings, and doesn’t suggest that it’s somehow my fault, then I feel compassion and connection with her.
A:  When I realize that I’m being unpleasant to the people around me, I try to let them know that it has nothing to do with them and that it’s the result of a mood that I don’t have control over.

Q: Do people that have had mental illness for a period of time (5 yrs or longer) ever forget to take their meds? Is it just once in a while, or a lot of the time? An y recommendations on how to remember besides the usual: i.e. calendar, checklist, phone reminders, positive reinforcement, etc.?

A:  Make it part of your daily routine.  I keep mine by my toothbrush, so I see them when I brush my teeth.
A:  I keep them with my car keys.  You’re not going to get anywhere without your keys.
A:  Keep them with your purse or wallet.  Anything that you need to get before you go out the door.

Closing

We end the meeting with each person sharing something good or neutral that happened to them during the week (and passing if they wished).

A:  Yes.  People can be negatively affected by being around someone who’s depressed.  When someone is depressed,

they give off bad vibes.  If you’re around someone who is depressed, try not to take it personally.
A:  When I was a child, I would cry whenever my mother cried.  Now, whenever I see a woman crying, it brings me

down.
A:  There’s a reason that there are words like “downer” and “kill-joy” in the english language.
A:  There was a research study that asked people to rate their mood before and after someone who was quite

depressed entered the room.  The survey showed that peoples moods were negatively affected when the depressed

person entered the room.  In the next part of the study, the depressed person didn’t interact with the people in

the room, but instead entered a room adjacent.  Even though they didn’t know that the depressed person was in the

next room, they still registered a negative change in their mood.  I don’t know what this means, or how it happens,

but it does show that moods are contagious.
A:  To me, it makes a difference how the depression is presented.  If my partner is depressed, and expresses it

through negativity and complaining, I feel frustrated and discouraged.  But if my partner confides her true

feelings, and doesn’t suggest that it’s somehow my fault, then I feel compassion and connection with her.
A:  When I realize that I’m being unpleasant to the people around me, I try to let them know that it has nothing to

do with them and that it’s the result of a mood that I don’t have control over.