The North Florida and South Georgia Bipolar Support Group will hold its first meeting on Tuesday, April 5

MADISON, Fla. (WCTV) – Wednesday, March 30 marks World Bipolar Awareness Day, and a Madison community volunteer is working to connect those affected by the disorder through a new support group.

The North Florida and South Georgia Bipolar Support Group will hold its inaugural meeting at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, April 5. The meeting will be held at Fellowship Baptist Church, located at 1995 NE Colin Kelly Highway in Madison.

The idea for the support group came from the mind of John Troyer, who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder nearly 30 years ago.

“I decided at that point that I was not going to take it as a curse or a fatal disease, but to learn as much as I could about the disorder in order to help others,” Troyer said.

Troyer said one way to describe his experience living with bipolar is an adventure.

“It’s been a series of ups and downs, which kind of fits the classic definition of bipolar,” Troyer said. “It was a great learning experience. I have a lot of empathy for others who are on the same journey in life.

The support group will welcome friends, family members and caregivers of bipolar people. He says that if the bipolar person has never been able to fully open up to loved ones, hear others speak and their coping skills, this work may give those friends and family more tools. and information that will help them show more empathy. to the person with the disease.

Troyer told WCTV that a combination of medication and talk therapy has helped him stay stable over the years. He also recommends that people with this disorder actively practice self-care.

“Exercise, enjoy the sun, be a little social. Reach. Eat well, sleep well. Lots of rest goes a long way,” he said. “These things haven’t always been easy. It’s something we have to work on. »

Asked about common misconceptions surrounding bipolar disorder, Troyer said some people think it’s all in your head and it’s just an excuse.

“It’s not true at all. It’s very real. It’s just as real as diabetes, hypertension, cancer and other physical health issues,” Troyer said.

During the interactive meetings, Troyer will act as a facilitator. He hopes that those who come will feel free to open up and share, whether it’s a recent experience they’ve had or some coping skills that have worked for them. He also hopes to help everyone come up with a plan they can prepare in case they start to experience a crisis.

Troyer said some signs of bipolarity to look out for include depression, refusal to get out of bed, loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, change in appetite, sleeping more than usual, and despair. He also said that mania is a bigger indicator of bipolar disorder. When a person has hypomania, their symptoms are more subtle. These include having a higher mood, speaking quickly, thinking quickly, and jumping from topic to topic during conversations.

Troyer said someone with full-blown mania would go several days without sleep and take big risks. These risks can be sexual promiscuity, extreme consumption of alcohol or drugs and spending huge amounts of money without realizing the consequences.

If you think your loved one has bipolar disorder, Troyer recommends listening up and gently asking how they’re feeling. He also recommends reminding them that you love them, but have noticed a change in their behavior and that they should consider making an appointment with their healthcare provider.

“Tell them to come in, have a chat and reassure them by saying, ‘I would be happy to accompany you to the appointment and support you in any way I can. That’s where I would start. The healthcare community is well trained these days to talk about mental illness,” he said.

Troyer also stressed that the support group is not a substitute for medical counseling or care, but rather a safe environment where people can find support from others.

After the inaugural meeting, the support group will meet on the first Tuesday of each month. These meetings will continue at the Fellowship Baptist Church, beginning at 6 p.m.

If you would like to participate in the group, you can contact Troyer in the following ways:

  • Cell phone (text preferred): 850-673-7040
  • Landline: 850-929-4444
  • Email: [email protected]

If you or a loved one is going through a mental health crisis, help is just a phone call away. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. You can also dial 211 to reach the 211 Big Bend hotline.

If you want more information about bipolar disorder, follow this link.

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Virginia S. Braud