Dealing with the life sapping nature of mental ill health is an awesome struggle.
Attending a self help group is an important first step. It is not for everyone as different people cope in different ways. However for those that do try it the benefits are many and varied. Just meeting people in the same situation, who have experience of what you have experienced. There is also the opportunity to help others and gain from their input. A fresh perspective could be provided by family and friends of people at the group, shedding light on situations your own family has faced. Most important there is a chance to meet other people and become friends with people who are truly ‘like minded’.
It is true of all mental health problems, the first area of life to take a hit is the social side. This can become extremely difficult with the onset of illness. All the different illnesses have in common the factor that the onset is gradual and in the early days avoidance or behaviour that could be clues go unnoticed. Isolation is a major factor and creates its own vicious spiral. Groups offer those first tentative steps to getting on with life, and you are with people who understand, importantly no longer cocooned but being supported. Family and mates or people ‘down the pub’ can’t understand, maybe shouldn’t be expected to. A support group is an added extra but separate to other parts of life.
The group can act as an adjunct, a compliment, and bolster other support such as the G.P., CPN or councillor. They can be user-led and are often supported by charities whose work is based on the illness that affects you. For example Bi-polar UK or OCD Action. The pay back from helping yourself puts you in the driving seat.