This week I embarked on a new path in my journey with Bipolar Disorder. I began a 10 week program designed to help improve my ability to manage my symptoms and prevent relapse. The program is run with a group of 12 individuals and one facilitator and takes place weekly. We will be covering topics such as medication, mood tracking, stress prevention, hospitalisation and mindfulness. I thought it would be useful for me to use this forum to reflect on my experiences in the program and the applications and efficacy of psycho-education programs. I have been on the wait-list for this program for a very long time so I am extremely excited to get started and share this journey with all of you. I’ll begin by explaining a bit more about what MAPS is about.
MAPS is an a acronym that stands for:
Monitoring mood, motivation and medical issues
Assessing mood, stress, coping strategies and applying thinking skills
Prevnting relapse and severity of episodes
SMART goal setting
Over the next ten weeks myself and the other members of the group will be learning to apply these principles to better manage our condition.
The first session was introductory in nature so I didn’t learn much new information. We mainly focused on defining what Bipolar Disorder is discussing some coping strategies that have worked for us in the past. What I found most beneficial about this initial session was meeting and talking to other people with Bipolar Disorder. Sometimes when you have a mental illness, it can feel exceptionally lonely and isolating. Meeting with other people and airing our grievances and even making jokes about it was just such a relief that I cannot even begin to explain.
We have a great mix of ages in the group. The youngest person is 21 and the eldest is in their 80’s. This gives us a variety of perspectives to draw upon and be inspired by. I have especially found it empowering to meet people who have lived with the condition for many years and to hear about their struggles. In many respects I struggle with the idea that having Bipolar will impact upon me for the rest of my life. As a young person that is a tough pill to swallow so to meet people who have lived enriching lives with the condition for a long time was reassuring.
I look forward to what I am going to learn over the next 10 weeks and what it could mean for my future.