Thinking About Attending A Peer Support Group? Guest Blogger Bev Shares Her Experience With Our Drop-In Groups
Want to know what our peer support groups can do for you? This week, guest blogger Bev from the website Slay Girl Society shares with us her experience with MDAO and how we helped her get through one of her darkest times. This is a great read if you're thinking about attending one of our drop-in peer support groups and want to know what to expect!
A few years ago, I was the most depressed that I have ever been and I didn’t know how to snap out of it. For months, I was barely eating, I was having trouble getting out of bed, I had severe chest pain and my brain felt extremely foggy. I was having trouble making the slightest decisions and I couldn’t focus on anything because my head was swirling with negative thoughts, self-hatred, despair and hopelessness. Pretending everything was normal was exhausting. Eventually, it got to be too much and I decided I needed to take a break from work.
I was fed up with feeling so terrible so I decided to do everything that I could to recover as quickly as possible. I started taking a new medication and seeing a therapist. I went to the library and engaged in activities that I knew I should find pleasurable, like going out with friends or spending time in nature. I started to do a lot of online research about resources available to people with mental illness. In particular, I was looking for something that was very affordable or free. I discovered the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario and saw that it was literally a few blocks away from my home at the time. It seemed like fate – I saw that there was a free support group that same evening. I decided to try it out, because I was desperate for release from my pain and to lift my mood.
That evening, I showed up to the support group a few minutes early. The room started to fill up quickly – there didn’t seem to be any chairs available. A lot of the attendees seemed to know each other and were chattering comfortably while we were waiting. I sat quietly and stared at my cellphone because I was too shy to join in. Once the group started, the moderator started asking people to share their thoughts and stories. Over the next two hours, I heard people talk about their personal lives and what brought them to the group. I didn’t say anything because I wasn’t sure that I had anything to contribute. When I left, I didn’t feel much better, but I did feel a little comforted to hear that I wasn’t alone. Over the next month, I came back each week and started to speak up when I felt like I could relate to what was being discussed. I also tried my hardest to connect with the other members of the group. I knew that I had been isolating myself and I thought that if I forced myself to make friends, then I might start to feel better. Often, members of the group would go to Tim Hortons afterwards to continue the conversation or talk about life in general. I decided to join them sometimes. I started to feel a lot stronger because I was proud of myself for putting myself out there each week and for making friends. In combination with my therapy and medication, my mood started to lift and the pain went away.
Since then, I attend the support groups at MDAO whenever I feel low and feel the need to connect with similar minds. I am forever grateful that the organization was there during my darkest time. I’m sure I’ll never stop going entirely – and I look forward to learning more from the amazing community that attends.
Are you interested in being a guest blogger? Contact Rachel at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out how.