The most recent session of MAPS was family and carer day. For me, I invited my partner and my father. I invited my partner because he is my most important social support. I invited my dad because he has quite limited knowledge about bipolar and has quite a closed mind when it comes to mental illness.
The day began with an introduction and run through of what we have done over the last eight weeks. We then split into groups and did some brain-storming about what it is like to have bipolar and be a carer and what are the challenges and strategies that apply to these two roles. It was interesting to see how similar the perspectives were, indicating a degree of shared understanding between the groups. It also interested me how when it came to discussing the challenges to accepting help how the people with bipolar differed to those without, For us, we focused on things like our pride and denial getting in the way whilst the carers group focused on pragmatic concerns like getting the correct help. So I think that was informative for everyone concerned.
My partner found it a good refresher course and said it helped fill in some of the gaps. He also felt a sense of solidarity in being around a group of people who shared similar experiences to him. It also gave him hope being around couples who had been dealing with this condition longer than us and seemed to be making it work. He feels the information he learned will give him more patience with me in future and be a good resource to draw upon when times are tough. He now feels more positive and hopeful about our future which is exciting and more than I could have hoped for.
In terms of my father it was a lot harder to gauge what he got out of the day. He is not the most outspoken person. But I know he feels a lot more knowledgeable about Bipolar and has gained a deeper understanding of me. At the end of the day the facilitators listed some resources and he actually wanted to check them out. The next day we watched Stephen Fry’s the secret life of a Manic-depressive. It meant a lot that he would take that initiative and interest which he would not have otherwise taken without the family day.
It meant a lot to me that my family came along to the day. Regardless of how much they got out of it, and I do think they gained a whole new perspective, the most important thing to me was that they cared enough to come along. Both of them are quite reserved people so it meant a lot to me to see them putting themselves out of their comfort zone for my sake.
Next week is the last day of MAPS and I am keen to see how we tie it all of. It has been a great journey and I am excited to see how I go on my own applying it all.