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Anyone been to either DBSA (depression bipolar support alliance) or NAMI (national alliance for the mentally ill) support groups?  What were they like?  Structured versus unstructured?  Helpful or not helpful? 

If you're lucky enough to have been to both, did you notice any differences? 

I'm considering going to one or both, but a bit gun-shy.  Also not helped by the fact that the contact for one of the organizations told me the location of the other organization's meeting but not hers.  Maybe she was just forgetful though. 

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Before I moved this past February, I went to a DBSA support group almost every week and it was very helpful.

I think it depends on the makeup and structure of each individual group, but a good fit can make it so much easier to know when you're needing a pdoc visit or starting to move up or down. Since these folks had a "walked a mile in my shoes," they weren't scared off by anything I had to say. They could also reassure me when I was afraid to tell my pdoc something.

We met in a hospital conference room and once in a while a leader or trusted friend would walk someone to the ER when required. We also visited group members who did not have family around so that no one had to be IP without visitors.

The general rule where I was is DBSA for patients, NAMI for family.

Like AA or your first gay bar, the hardest part is walking in the door the first time...

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I attend a DBSA meeting once a week.  It has been an invaluable source of support.  I struggled for a long time with excepting my DX and the group really helped me through it all. I feel safe telling them things (think extreme paranoia) that I would never tell anyone else.   I was a mess when I arrived.  The group was kind and I felt welcome.  My group also can tell me things I would fight others on.  They tell me straight up if I am having manic behaviors.  

It feels like home. Everyone speaks my language and nods their head in agreement. 

We meet for 2 hours.  Everyone is given a turn to talk. Feedback is given, questions asked and answered. Its structured, but lightly so.  If a member is really struggling of course what ever time they need they get.  We meet in a Church basement. 

Most new members have been lightly screened.  They need to have a DX and it should fall within BP and MDD. Once that info has been confirmed the location is provided. Over the years this was made necessary to create a healthy supportive environment for those with BD or a MDD DX. 

On occasion a family member may attend or even married couples may attend.  Personally I would prefer it was only those with a DX.

I wouldn't miss a week if I can help it. 



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Thanks a bunch for all the helpful information.  Seems like DBSA could be worthwhile if I can talking myself into doing it because it sounds like it's been really, really helpful for many of you (all?).  Their meetings are at a church on alternating Mondays.  NAMI has one on Thursdays  I think--but both seem a bit much with me hopefully starting PHP.

Aura, any memory of how you found the LGBTQ specific one?  That would be perfect for me (it creates the whole different set of issues that it helps to have people understand), but I just saw ones listed by geography. 


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