Giving Tuesday

Ken AshfordMental Health, PersonalLeave a Comment

I remember when it was just Black Friday.  Then came Cyber Monday.  Now they’ve added Giving Tuesday.

Okay.  But that’s all, okay?

Anyway, since Giving Tuesday is a thing now, let me make a pitch.

I got heavily interested and involved in the mental health area when my (now ex-)girlfriend was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder and depression affects more than 21 million Americans, and accounts for 90% of the nation’s suicides every year.

Obviously, people with bipolar disorder bear the brunt of the ill-effects of their condition, but they don’t live in a vacuum.  If you have a family member or significant other with this condition, you already know that YOUR well-being suffers too.  The parents, children, spouses and significant others of “bipolars” often find themselves becoming anxious, clinically depressed and even suicidal when having to deal over the long term with their ill family member or mate.  I wasn’t suicidal, but I  found it unbelievably difficult.  Her emotions were all over the place, and very strong.  What was once “cute” turned into a nightmare.  I never knew what her moods would be and what would trigger her moods.  She tried to kill herself. She was manipulative.  She had delusional events.  She shoplifted.  She lied.  She wasn’t accepting of my friends and worked behind the scenes to create friction betwewn others.  At the end, when she stopped all therapy and medication, she took no responsibility for her behavior.  And God forbid if I had any problems of my own — she wasn’t at all interested in my thoughts or feelings (unless it affected her in some way).  On a mental health counselor’s advice, I had to withdraw for my own sake at times, simply because I was the object of emotional — and sometimes physical — abuse (not that she injured me, but she did hit a few times).  It was a constant struggle, and I ceased to exist because, whether she was happy, sad or angry — it was all about her.

Despite all that, I was trying to make sense of my then-gf’s erratic behavior, and to be in a better position to help her.  So I joined several bipolar support groups.  And now, even though the relationship is far off in my rear view mirror, I am still active in a couple of these groups.  I keep abreast of the current developments in the science of bipolar disorder “cures”, techniques for therapy, and motivational assistance for those who are damaged by a loved one’s bipolar disorder.  The problem with being close to someone who has bipolar disorder is that you don’t know what is going on, and very often, the person with bipolar disorder is too volatile or too much in denial to be objective or explain.  However, although nobody’s bipolar situation is ever the same, there are many similarities between those inflicted with it.  It is rewarding to be able to help people whose significant other or family member is struggling with bipolar disorder… in the way I was helped when I was “green” about the issues

A lot of groups are out there asking for your dollars to help understand and fight the stigma of mental illness.  And certainly I would recommend any of them for your charitable dollars.

But I wanted to put in a plug for DBSA – the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.  The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is the leading peer-directed national organization focusing on depression and bipolar disorder

DBSA’s peer-based, wellness-oriented, and empowering services and resources are available when people need them, where they need them, and how they need to receive them-online 24/7, in local support groups, in audio and video casts, or in printed materials distributed by DBSA, our chapters, and mental health care facilities across America.

Through more than 700 support groups and nearly 300 chapters, DBSA reaches millions of people each year with in-person and online peer support; current, readily understandable information about depression and bipolar disorder; and empowering tools focused on an integrated approach to wellness.

Even though they are the leading group in this area, they are not very big.  And they could use your help this Giving Tuesday.  More information here.