After I published my blog post last Friday, I received a phone call from a beloved friend who reads my blog. By the icy tone of her voice I prepared myself for criticism about my topic.
“I must tell you,” she said soberly, “that I’m very concerned about this support group you’re forming. I’ve spoken with Jabba the Hutt (her counselor) and he and I agree that it seems dangerous!”
At first I thought she was referring to the recent mountain lion sightings in the area roughly where our first meeting will take place.
Nooooooooooooooooo, she was not!
She wasn’t referring to those magnificent-yet-potentially life-threatening beasts!
Her disparaging comments concerned a cat of an entirely different color.
She declared, “It’s just not safe to be around those BI-POH-LAHS!”
Yes, the very “bi-poh-lahs” who would be in attendance, including…
She added, “Jabba and I think that you need to have a professional with you!”
(Chris Farley in his SNL role as the “professional” motivational speaker Matt Foley*)
While yes, it’s a wise idea to have a professional facilitator at some groups, I deemed it unnecessary at my informal, social group. I had sound reasons for my decision, some of which I wrote about in my last post.
Now I knew that my friend didn’t intend to hurt me. I realized that her opinion was based, in part, upon decades of deep-rooted stigma imbedded into our society. However, her opinion and tone still cut me to the core.
What also angered me was that my experience in forming and facilitating other support groups wasn’t acknowledged by my friend. I created the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) ** Chapter of Santa Cruz County. The DBSA is a credible, national organization that provided me with group training materials and other resources designed for leading (safe) support groups.
I arranged for a therapist to attend our first DBSA group to give me feedback after the meeting. I was grateful for her help, especially as she donated her time. The therapist offered useful advice, but frankly her points were ones I had realized on my own.
As you can guess, my conversation with my friend ended badly, and I was very upset. I turned to some friends for support (thank you Lady K. & Sista Sweet), and I worked out on my elliptical. I calmed down.
Over the next few days I thought about what separates a good, safe support group from a bad one. I became a little paranoid. What if I was creating a dangerous support group after all? Meetup can only give me so much information in each applicant’s profile. I had asked prospective members to fill out a detailed questionnaire before I accepted them into the group, but who’s to say they were telling me the whole truth in their answers?
My paranoia grew. I envisioned a few members turning up at our first gathering brandishing large knives, ready to strike if they encountered anyone resembling the dumbass FOX commentator Tom Sullivan!
Other members might be of the unwashed hippie persuasion. Their five-foot-long, crusty dreadlocks could be filled with families of mice. I’m sure that their body odor would be fetid enough to make anyone sitting close by them become woozy or even pass out!
Lest I forget, several ambiguously Pagan folks might grace us with their presence, carrying some cauldrons and magical wands. They’ll surely wear enough Stevie Nicks-style velvet to clothe a small village. Their patchouli oil perfume will be so pungent that it’ll scare away all the approaching hungry mountain lions!
Of course it almost goes without saying that a cannabis grower will take a seat, ready to share a batch of medical marijuana brownies and a cannabis cake topped with edible flowers. To round out the group, a Scientologist or two will probably join us so they can convert us to stop taking our medications!
My imaginary support group is truly dangerous…
Not a support group of women with bipolar, anxiety and/or depression.
“Matt Foley” Saturday Night Live skit – it’s truly funny!
** To read my DBSA Life Unlimited Profile & my friend Kitt O’Malley’s profile, please visit this page: