First support group in EC for persons with bipolar disorder

It often is said the moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens!

The first bipolar support group in the Eastern Cape was established in Despatch and hosts free meetings for sufferers of depression, anxiety and bipolar disorder in assisting them to accept and manage their problems.

Maryke Gouws, a resident from Despatch, is the facilitator of the support group and has been trained by the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG).

“I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and went for treatment. I realized the need for people to know more about this disorder and the need of support when diagnosed as bipolar,” said Maryke Gouws, facilitator of the Bipolar Support Group: Despatch.

It has always been a dream of Maryke’s to have some kind of support system to help people. But she never knew exactly what kind of support group.

“Now I have first hand knowledge and experience on how to help others with bipolar disorder,” said Gouws.

According to Justine Ilondo, SADAG project co-ordinator, “the mission of these support groups is to eliminate discrimination and stigma in the field of mental health and to support, educate and assist the public, patients and their families regarding available resources and treatment options which will help lead to recovery.”

SADAG explains bipolar disorder or mood disorder as a physical illness marked by extreme changes in mood, energy and behaviour. It previously was called manic depression and involves episodes of mania and depression with periods of normal mood in between.

Untreated bipolar disorder can be devastating with great personal suffering, disruptive relationships, derailing careers and an increased risk of death from suicide and accident.

There is hope

Proper treatment however can be effective in returning people to more healthy and productive lives.

Bipolar disorder is similar to other lifelong illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes - in that it cannot be cured. But it can be managed successfully through proper treatment.

How to get help

If you suspect that you, a family member, or a friend has bipolar disorder, consult a mental health professional.

It also is essential to learn more about your illness. The more you know, the more control you will have over your life. This is where a Bipolar Support Group plays a key role in making the community aware about mental health.

Bipolar Support Group: Despatch

The support group in Despatch meets every second Thursday at 20 Smith Street (Kleuterland building) from 19:00-20:15. The next meeting is tonight with the following meeting on August 31st.

)Enquiries: Maryke Gouws 082 320 9452 or SADAG 080 020 5026. -HEILIE COMBRINCK

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