My birthday just passed and I had decided before, that I would invite people to my home who I knew were also living with a mental illness (MI). My hope was that I could contribute to developing a comfortable space were we could freely speak about our lives with MI without feelings of “being a burden”. Although at this point, I am not desirous of starting a full-fledged support group, over the past 15 years I have learned a few things that I want to share and want to find out what others have learned too.
I invited 7 persons, of which, 1 came. Two responded saying they would have come had they not already made plans and another was scheduled to come but the infamous chickungunya virus diverted his plans. Still, it was every bit worth the effort. I sat and talked with the person that was able to come and we both agreed that the time was very helpful. We ended with hopes of doing it again in the near future.
I have come to dearly appreciate the value of:
– a personal relationship with God (including going to church on Sunday; participating in prayer, praise and bible study alone and at church)
– social support (including my immediate and extended family members, my church-family and a “trailer-load” of friends);
– a good rapport with my psychiatrist (pdoc)
– taking medication and going to bed and waking at the same time everyday
– taking vitamins and eating a balanced diet
– letting go of coffee (which I found was making me more anxious)
– exercise (no matter how minimal- to start) and
– sticking to mood-tracking techniques that help me to manage and cope with my illness
I am convinced that without that kind of “backative”, the journey would be much more challenging. I am certain that I wouldn’t have survived ’til now without the people I have on my side.
What started out as a “crazy-sounding” idea turned into a birthday that I will always remember.
I thank God for His nudging (as far as giving me the idea), His strength to sustain and follow-through with it and His provision of wonderful parents who helped make it happen. The members of my support team were all fully on board even as none of them received an invitation (lol, hush Shani and Joey).
To God be the glory!