If you have bipolar disorder, there are certain things you are doing to maintain your stability, like taking medication, going to the doctor and, probably, going to a bipolar support group.  However, there five common mistakes that people make with support groups.


1.      They listen to bad advice.

There are some people at bipolar support groups who will tell you that they are on the best medication in the world and that it's practically cured their bipolar disorder, so everyone else should be on it, too.  Then other people go to their doctors, asking to be put on the same medication.  The truth is that everybody's different.  Just because a medication worked great for one person, doesn't mean it will work great for someone else.  This is an example of some of the bad advice you might hear at meetings.


2.      They let others take advantage of them.

It may start off by doing something as simple as passing out some papers; then move onto making coffee for the group.  Then you might volunteer to serve on a committee.  The next thing you know it, you're wondering why you seem to be doing everything, while nobody else seems to be volunteering for anything.


3.      They become more of a leader than a participant.

This can happen as someone becomes more educated about their bipolar disorder, while other people seem to treat the support group as more of a social group or a complaint session.  More and more, they will begin to look to you for leadership, and you will feel like less of a participant, not getting your own needs met.


4.      They keep going to the group when they're not getting anything out of it.

Some people keep going to the bipolar support group out of habit.  Others go because they hope that maybe this week (or month) they may get something out of it, but are sorely disappointed – again.  However, if after several months of going to the meeting and not getting anything out of it, it's a mistake to keep going.


5.      They stay when it's time to move on.

This is perhaps the biggest mistake people make with bipolar support groups.  After making the other mistakes, ask yourself, "Is this support group doing me any good?"  Is it helping you at all, or has it just become a waste of your time?  If you can't think of a valid reason to stay, then perhaps it's time for you to move on.


I'm not saying that bipolar support groups are bad – I'm not saying that at all.  In fact, I encourage people with bipolar disorder to join a support group.  I just don't want you to make the mistakes I've pointed out in this article.