Online peer support group. Would you join one?

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For a long time now I have been wanting to attend some kind of peer support group for bipolar. But there was just nothing available. I have been ‘googling’ and found the odd peer group session in the city. But my nearest big city is 4 hours away! The only peer support groups in the small town near me are Alcoholics Anonymous and for those who have had drug addictions. I didn’t feel like those were my peers. As I am not an addict. They also are on during the daytime which makes me assume they think that only people who do not have jobs have addictions and can attend these meetings. Which makes me a little ranty because we all know that mental illness does not discriminate and people who have a mental illness can also have jobs! But back to what I came here to write about…

Peer support.

A few weeks back on Twitter @BipolarStyle mentioned in his podcast about support groups and a group he attended: Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) I was jealous! “God damn it! Why can’t I have a support group!”  So I googled them and low and behold they have an online support group. That anyone in the world can attend. So for a little old New Zealand girl, this was perfect. You can find them here:

They are a peer-led support group. The strength of a peer-led group is that it is run by someone who has also experienced a mood disorder. They have been hit with the shit stick too. They get it.

Before you get worried this is a legit website! You can tell straight away. It is very professional and has all the right safety checks. Once you have signed up to be a member you can register to attend a meeting. I had to play around for a bit to find a meeting that worked with my timetable, as these guys are based in the USA. My first meeting was today. I was a little nervous. In fact, I nearly didn’t go. But I thought willed myself to give it a try and if I didn’t like it I would never go back. Plus I figured these people live in the USA it’s not like I am going to bump into anyone.

Fifteen minutes before the meeting starts you can sign in. They use a software called Zoom which is free to download. If you have never used Zoom before then I would suggest that you turn up a little early and get yourself sorted. The best part is that you don’t have to have your camera on! So you have complete anonymity. There is no awkward turning up to a cold, dark, meeting room. That has no signage for the confidentiality of all the attendants but in reality, everyone knows that is where the people who have bipolar go to meet. You can do this from the comfort of your own home! You don’t even have to get dressed for this!

There was 12 of us at today’s meeting. Which seems like an awful lot and you might be thinking well how does everyone know when to speak and when to listen? The software allows you to virtually raise your hand if you have anything to say. Then you just wait to be asked by the facilitator to contribute.

At the beginning of the session, there was a preamble which tells you how the support group runs and then we went over the guidelines. The most important one for me is that what is said in the room stays in the room. The virtual room of course. So I won’t be disclosing any of the actual conversations that were had because that would not be cool. I was surprised at how comfortable the facilitator made me feel and straight away I felt like this was something that I could do. After we all briefly introduced ourselves then we had talk time. Which is basically an open forum for people to discuss things that are on their mind and for others to listen, empathise, and offer advice from their own experiences. Like I said I have never been to a peer support group before. So I wasn’t expecting much. But it was like walking into a room of people who knew you, they understood you, and they got it! It was a really powerful experience.

To wrap things up we quickly went around to say something we were going to do to look after ourselves this week. Just like that, an hour was up and my first online peer support group session was over! I would highly recommend these sessions to anyone who is looking for peer support and doesn’t want to meet with a group of people face to face or cannot due to the location of where they live.


How to avoid the disappointment of a New Year’s resolution fail!


I feel like at the beginning of every new year there is always a rush of people pledging themselves to unattainable goals. They miss the mark almost immediately and then think “fuck it” may as well just give up! Having bipolar I think this is an unhealthy process. We spend so much time trying to balance the all or nothing attitude that it can be quite damaging to our confidence when we fail.

For several years now I just pick a word to focus on. Something that I let mull around in my head that brings me joy and helps me focus a little. This year it is “creativity”. Over the last month or so I have been quite unwell. While I clawed myself out of the shit pond I had found myself in,  I re-engaged purposefully with the activities and routines that keep me well. Which has included: Listening to positive podcasts that have challenged my thinking, reading books that encourage creativity, writing, photography, playing my guitar, and cooking in the kitchen. Not to mention getting to bed early, eating healthily, upping my exercise, and adding some new medication to the mix.

Once again I am reminded that when I stifle my creativity by becoming busy with work, or not making it a priority. Then I become toxic in mind and spirit.

The problem is being creative doesn’t make me any money. Often I can find it hard to give myself permission to work on something that is just a passion project. Such as this blog. But when I am in my creative space I am my most positive, happy, and free. I am not bothered by thoughts that ruminate and negative self-talk. I am feeding my ‘good wolf’.  I woke up this morning and said to my husband ‘can I leave work and just focus on being a full-time creative?’ He just looked at me and said ‘I don’t even know what that means. But it sounds like it would be very unhealthy for you’. What he was implying is that good old-fashioned work where I have to turn up to a desk gives me routine and also helps me stay connected with human beings. I think he had visions of me locking myself in the office and scenes of a beautiful mind being reenacted.  This is what I touched on earlier the desire to put my foot fully on the accelerator, rather than having a balanced approach.

Whatever your aspirations, goals, thoughts are about the kind of year you want 2018 to be I hope they are realistic, healthy and balanced.

When your fuck it bucket is full! A bed time story by Dr. Seuss

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There are only so many fucks a person can give until their bucket is full! When we are unwell that bucket reduces in size dramatically so you need to be very careful what you put in there. To elaborate on this I have asked Dr. Seuss to explain.

‘I cannot give any fucks’ I said. I need to retain my energy instead.

This fuck it bucket is full, it is full to the brim. It is impossible I cannot let any more of you in!

Are you my partner, my mother, or a close friend? I didn’t think so! I don’t mean to offend.

But I am running on empty. I have no juice left. My bucket is full, it is full I have said!

If you are from work or drift in and out of my life. I can’t help you right now. The time isn’t right.

This fuck it bucket is not a bottomless pit. It is very small and your problems just cannot fit.

North Korea, global warming this means you too. I cannot lose any sleep over you. Come back in a few weeks and there might be some room.

If you are feeling unwell then don’t feel bad. To tell people that there are no more fucks to be had. That your bucket is full and there just isn’t room. If they don’t like it then fuck it there’s nothing more you can do!




Nothing complicated, just simple stuff.

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It has been more than two weeks since my I stopped sleeping and we had to get the ‘owls’ involved. I call them my owls because they are the wise specialists who help keep me on the straight and narrow when things are going a little haywire. It has taken a long time to get the right ‘owls’ around me. At times I have wanted to give up on the whole mental health system because of the ridiculous amount of inept ability I kept stumbling upon. But I have found a very talented mental health nurse who is my case manager and an excellent psychiatrist. I can’t say I relate to my psychiatrist, her empathy skills are not great. But, I trust her. As a team, we have made some good decisions in relation to my mental health so I continue to keep them in my back pocket and bring them out when I need them.

It is always disappointing to have a relapse because you have worked so hard to build yourself up. You might even be thinking ‘I am cured!’ Then out of nowhere, it hits you. The thing is it never really does come from out of nowhere, does it? If you spend some time reflecting and are really honest with yourself, you can see that it has been building. A few missed night sleeps here. A few too many nights out on the drink there. Not to mention your lack of healthy eating, the death of your dog…and before you know it you have created the perfect storm.

It is hard to let control go back to the specialist, to let them tinker with your meds and your brains chemistry. To find yourself stuck in bed day after day while you wait to level out again. But it has to be done. While you are waiting for your brain to heal all you can do is give yourself over to the small things in life. A hot shower, a fresh change of clothes, a snuggle with the cat. All great things! Trashy Christmas films, writing in a journal, reading books.  Attempting some baking, a phone call with a friend, listening to a podcast, connecting with nature. Nothing complicated, just simple stuff. All of these activities are like chicken soup for the soul. They nourish you slowly while you are mending.

While I write this my husband is lying next to me in bed watching his programmes, my cat is snuggled between us purring and I am comfortable, warm, and fed.

Those are all the things I can focus on right now.

How about you?



The silent citizens….need us!

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I choose to speak out about my mental illness because I have a voice and I want it to be heard. I want an opportunity to connect with others who also experience mental distress or have a mental illness. I want to speak out for those who might not have found their voice yet but need representation in society.

When I was in the inpatient unit one of the things that upset me the most is the percentage of patients who suffered from a mental illness who had very low levels of literacy. They couldn’t read and could barely write. Not only that but they never had visitors. They had no one to advocate for them. They sat, staring, waiting for support and care.

‘The Silent Citizens’.

They are silent because they are part of a health system that is massively underfunded. They are silent because they do not have the words or voice to be able to fight. They are silent because nobody has shown them the pathway of how to advocate for themselves. They are silent because they do not have loved ones who can stand up for them when they can’t.

There are people depending on us. They are waiting. Waiting for better care, more funding, greater support. They are waiting to be accepted and understood by society.

That is why we need to write, speak up, be the squeaky wheel. For all of those fellow sufferers who are depending on us to make sure that they are not forgotten. That they are no longer silent. Their stories, their voices need to be heard.

It starts with your story.

Your voice.

You have a gift that many don’t.

Use it.







Everyone wants it nobody is getting enough of it…sleep!

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Not in this house this week anyway! Oh yes, it is true I have left the station and am pulling into Manicville. It has been four nights now with barely any sleep. I say that with absolutely no conviction at all as I have lost count and I don’t know what the day is anymore. Why keep track it really doesn’t matter!

All I know is this, the meds that I lovingly refer to as ‘the big guns’ that get brung out during times like these are doing nothing!!! So every day I have to relay to my nurse that no there was no sleeping going on last night. She then gets me to change them around a bit. I get all hopeful for the evening and then 2am rolls around and I am staring at the ceiling wide awake. I finally admit defeat and get up and go and do something fun!

Fun!? What can you do at 2am in the morning for fun when you are feeling a little manic but you live in the middle of nowhere. Well my friends let me tell you…not a fuck of a lot. Except come on here and rant. I have some pretty good strategies in place for such occasions ie we don’t let me have access to the credit card because 2am can be lonely and nothing fills that lonely hole inside of you by buying $1000 of makeup online. Or booking those air tickets to see…ummm well it doesn’t matter who you are going to see but the point is you won’t be lonely there either. What I do have is rice bubbles and peaches. They are just so damn good at 2am in the morning. All their crackle and pop goodness.

Earlier this week I planned out a whole new tour company for the area I live in (we are currently experiencing a boom in tourism). Priced it all up, made itineraries, worked out the break-even point for the company and then began building the website. I know I sound absolutely bonkers! This is what happens when I can’t sleep. It has happened before. Once I came up with an idea to start an online house swap site for educators to use during their school holidays. I stayed up all night building the site and had my first 20 paid sign-ups by lunchtime the next day. I am certainly not short on good ideas. I am short on follow through and sleep. Oh, how I wish I could sleep.

So tonight while the rest of you are sleeping (bastards) I am keeping it real low key and blogging instead. Looking forward to seeing the sunrise so I can get in touch with my nurse and have another crack at mixing the meds so we can get it right before the weekend rolls around.

My mental health melt down is reducing my carbon footprint and here is why…

Being stuck in bed with a relapse is not ideal, nor fun. I have experienced a minor bump in the road….or is it a big fucking pothole! I don’t know yet and I won’t know I guess until I am a few more weeks into it, but hopefully, by then I will be out of it. Then yes I can call it a bump.

Having a relapse is not a very fun time. For me or for anyone else who supports me ie my husband and my mother. They have to get on with their normal working day. While they also take on board my health and wellbeing. It’s like having a child around the house. If my husband is on shift then he takes me to my mothers who works from home. That way she can keep an eye on me. Not really a lot to keep an eye on though when I don’t move far from the bed. Then when the husband has finished work he drops by we usually eat dinner together. So that is one less thing he has to take care of, cooking. Then he packs me into the car. He jokingly asks ‘how was daycare today?’ Then we go home to bed. Where on a good night I stare at the ceiling until my increased meds kick in. Or on a bad night get up and party around the house until 4 in the morning working on some amazing new idea I have just had.

It is times like these that I find the hardest to keep my sense of humour. Lots of really shitty thoughts try to break into my head like – you are such a burden to everyone, what your Mum and husband have to put up with is so unfair. Yada yada! I won’t go on I’m sure you get the point. There are plenty of other blogs out there you can read about the self-despair felt during a mental health relapse.

So this morning when I was having a shower (yes I am still showering so technically winning) I had a wee chuckle when I was able to convince myself that having a mental health relapse is actually helpful to the planet (remember I like to use humour when dealing with my mental health, and it’s my mental health right!? So I get to deal with how I see fit). That is right! My mental health meltdown is reducing my carbon footprint and here is why:

  1. I am currently not having to drive to work every day and so reducing the amount of petrol I am using.
  2. When I go to my Mum’s for so-called ‘daycare’ my husband takes me on his way to work therefore we are carpooling.
  3. No lunchtime shopping for me currently – a drastic reduction in buying unnecessary crap
  4. The amount of food I am consuming has reduced, so the amount of food being brought by us at the supermarket has also.
  5. We are eating together as a family. Therefore our food is made and cooked in bulk. Less wastage.

So there you have it! My mental illness might mean I am not doing so well at the moment but the environment is winning…well a little anyway.

Ultimately this is how I know I will be O.K. because I can still make something that is totally shitty mc shit shit a little funny.