Bipolar Disorder can affect a person's life in 101 major and minor ways, everything from relationship break-ups to losing your job or under-performing at school or uni. In extreme cases it can lead to extreme financial hardship (if you max out your credit cards while high), drug or alcohol addiction (if you try to self-medicate) and – in the most extreme cases – end of life.

‘My wife has suffered for 26 years since the birth of our daughter. Her illness was only diagnosed five years ago and is now on the correct medication. We have had dark times but we are doing well now. Anybody with this illness needs a strong and caring family around them whether it be friends or helpers - it’s the only way to get some kind of stability. We have been really lucky with this or my wife would not be here today. Please keep up your good work especially raising awareness and destroying the stigma of the illness.’

Peer-led Self-Management Support gives people affected by Bipolar Disorder the tools, tips and techniques they need to manage the condition. It boosts awareness of warning signs and ‘triggers’ and gives them the power and knowledge they need to maximise being ‘on the level’ and minimise the frequency and severity of depressive or manic episodes. It takes power out of the hands of a very insidious and sneaky illness and puts it back where it belongs – with the individual.

‘I was lost before l joined Dundee Bipolar group. I’d met a few other people with bipolar here and there, but it was never the right place or time to talk seriously. I felt isolated and totally lost. I joined an Anxiety Group which was helpful up to a point but l could only relate to some of what they were saying.’

This year we offered our first Self-Management Training (SMT) course aimed specifically at young people aged 18-30 and it was a stonking success. The course was heavily over-subscribed and the learners helped to develop new course materials and ideas specific to their experience.

‘I came home from the first day and shared my expectations with my family.’

‘Bipolar Scotland treated me like an adult when I called them… and gave me hope. That made all the difference.’

HeraldScotland:

Young Scots with bipolar disorder usually only engage with the NHS during crisis but if we develop early intervention tools and materials directly related to their needs, this will help them to stay well and massively boost their life chances in work, in education and in their personal relationships. And if we can help people stay out of hospital, everybody wins – simple.

Demand for our support increases every year and we’re really proud of this because it shows that people want what we’ve developed. It means people can access support early doors, it means people don’t face bipolar alone and they gain strength by joining our groups and accessing the support of the Bipolar Scotland community … and kick stigma and prejudice into touch. But this rising demand puts pressure on our services.

We've been asked to develop our SMT tools by creating a course for carers, a refresher course, online learning, more groups and an online support group. We want to reach out and support more people… and we can only do that with your help!!

You And I Are More Than Friends - We're Like a Really Small Gang

Bipolar Scotland has 550 members across Scotland and 48 individuals accessed our Self-Management Training in 2017/18 (a 50% increase on 2016/17). During this period, 999 unique individuals accessed our Self-Help Support Groups but bear in mind that around 110,000 Scots may be living with bipolar so we’ve got lots more work to do!

Do you want to join the gang? Do you want to be in our team? If so, please call 0141 560 205 or email info@bipolarscotland.org.uk and start making a difference today.