Let the conversation begin.
Bipolar Mentoring Works - Both Perspectives of Mentoring Relationship Shine Light On How Simply Caring Is Key
Hope Xchange Nonprofit welcomes guest post writer Raine Vollor who bravely shares her perspective on our program as does Kerry Martin, our Founder, CEO and Raine's mentor.
Part 1: Perspective from Mentee, Raine Vollor, on How Simply Caring Helps Us All Shine
I make a lot of comparisons between fighting mental illness and fighting substance abuse. Substance use disorders are now listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-V) so the connection is there medically as well. I like to take some of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) lessons and apply them to myself. I am obsessed with the Serenity Prayer. I am atheist, but there is something about “Let God and let go” that really strikes true to me. And then, of course, there are sponsors.
Sponsorship in AA is when one alcoholic who is farther along in their journey to recovery guides and supports another alcoholic who is closer to the beginning of their journey. Bringing the comparison full circle, people with bipolar disorder (BPD) can also find help, support, and guidance with mentors with BPD.
People with BPD need a lot of things. We need a soft bed, tissues, a creative outlet, a passion, sometimes medication, and we definitely need support. I have a lot of support from family and friends, but nothing compares to speaking to someone who knows where you are now, where you were, and, hopefully, where you are going. A bipolar mentor is someone who has been there and is there to help you move forward.
Personally, one of my biggest challenges is self-care. I don’t love myself. I don’t even really like myself. I need to learn how to do that, but it is, as I am sure many of you know, incredibly difficult.
I need someone else, on occasion, to tell me everything is alright. To tell me that I am not crazy. To tell me that this too shall pass. This person must be a good listener who does not pass judgement. We pass enough judgement on ourselves. We don’t need any extra guilt.
Some people, such as myself, are fortunate enough to have a therapist they like. A therapist is wonderful once you find someone who you connect with, but these connections are hard to find, expensive, and difficult to maintain. Sometimes you cannot get out of bed long enough to drive to your therapist’s office for your 45-minute session, but maybe you can reach the phone and send a text.
YOU ... No, WE are not alone. We are not crazy. We are not bad, fucked up, broken, or any of these other terms our brains throw at us. Sometimes we need someone outside of ourselves to remind us of this. Sometimes you can’t go to your family. Sometimes your friends just do not, cannot, understand. We need to not worry about stigma when we’re worried about everything else. We need a safe place and often a mentor can provide that.
"I didn't need another appointment, but knowing that there is someone available when I might need someone the most is what I need right now. It might change, but for now this works for me!
I do feel cared for. I feel like the whole community is cared for. Anyone could have just moved on to the next person, but when I hadn't replied I got an email from kerry asking if everything was alright. I knew someone cared right then.
I think empowering is a great word! People don't all need the same things so I think mentoring would look different every time, but giving someone hope that they can be powerful and help others is a wonderful goal.
I am helping because that is what I am good at and I know that I need help sometimes too. Being able to help in any small way makes the suffering not all for naught."