The Belfast Bipolar Support Group began in January 2010. We meet in Belfast City Centre 7-9pm on the ‘third Thursday’ of every month. Beneficiaries and carers are welcome.

I read somewhere that 8 is the ideal number for a support group but we never know how many people are going to walk through the door. People travel from all over the Province to attend - one time we had 28!

What strikes me about the support group is that the dynamic changes every month - we have some regulars but there are newbies almost every time so every meeting is different. Donna and I are regular facilitators – we introduce ourselves, read from a Code of Conduct and explain how the evening will go. We will then go around the room saying a little about ourselves, our diagnosis, how our month has been etc. It is very relaxed and there is no obligation to speak, quite often a member of the group will just stay silent and listen to the stories. We take a break about 8pm for tea and coffee then resume the second half discussing a bipolar related topic. Occasionally we have a guest speaker such as a pharmacist, psychiatrist or mindfulness expert.

If there are new people attending they may have questions and we are always very happy to discuss our experience, inject a bit of humour (it helps!) and offer helpful information. Living with bipolar means we are all experts in the condition.

One of the most rewarding aspects of facilitating is the positive feedback. I know first-hand how frightening and isolating this illness can be. To sit in a room with strangers who have such a unique shared bond can be a life-saver. I know it is for me.

Sara

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Your donation will help provide a range of services offering the support people need, when they need it. You can make sure there's someone at the end of the phone to listen, a nearby group to share lived experiences, a 24-hour peer forum and more.

Together, we can support the person behind the diagnosis of bipolar.