Laura has recently starting volunteering with Bipolar UK Support Groups and shares her experience so far:

Side by Side: Laura

I’m currently involved with the Blackburn Bipolar UK Support Group, but I’ve also attended the Wigan and Peterborough Bipolar UK Support Groups before.

My personal experience of bipolar led me to seek out a Support Group, but I actually first heard about them through a family member who had attended another one. I looked on the Bipolar UK website and found a local Support Group, which was immediately welcoming and friendly.

I was worried when I took on the role of volunteer co-facilitator in one of the groups, because as an attendee, there was no commitment to come along to the group every week. By becoming a co-facilitator, I’d have to come along more regularly and I thought my bipolar might impact on my ability to be committed to the group. However, the support I’ve received has enabled me to feel confident in volunteering with the group and I know that if I’m struggling, the support is there to help me through it.

Becoming involved in Bipolar UK’s Support Groups has been important because I can meet people who have had similar experiences to me. I feel I can learn from other people’s experiences and put my own difficulties in perspective. I also hope I can inspire those currently going through difficulties because getting through my episodes of illness in the past has given me a lot of strength and hope, which I’d like to pass on.

As a volunteer co-facilitator with Bipolar UK, I’ve become a more confident person and I’m much more accepting of my diagnosis of bipolar. I feel part of a group identity, which I think encompasses such strength and courage. I’m proud to be a part of it.

I’ve found it rewarding and supportive and feel inspired by the incredible stories I hear from my peers. There’s such diversity within the Support Group as everybody has their own unique perspectives and experiences.

I hope to continue to be involved with the Support Group. I’ve only recently signed up to be a co-facilitator for the group and I hope to continue to develop the role and improve the group experience for everyone involved.

Feeling inspired? Go here to find out more about becoming a volunteer Co-facilitator with Bipolar UK.

Read more about Side by Side, a peer support project that includes our Blackburn Support Group.