Support Group Recap

Feb 18

This month’s meeting reminded me of #10 on our list of Principles of Support: “We accept we cannot solve all problems.” Some of our members are dealing with very complex and exasperating situations, and sometimes all we can really do as a group is listen and offer moral support. As much as we’d like to be able to wave a magic wand to make the problems disappear, often our options are limited, especially when a loved one lacks insight (is unable to recognize the presence of symptoms) and refuses help.

During this meeting, we were also reminded of the devastating fallout that can result from periods of mood instability. Both mania and depression can strain relationships… and bank accounts. During these challenging times, one of our main goals, in addition to the primary goal of getting a loved one into treatment, is to limit the fallout as much as possible. Some suggestions from members include the following:

  • Set boundaries. You may not be able to control what someone else does or says, but you  can choose how you respond to certain behaviors or situations.
  • Keep in touch with your loved one’s healthcare providers, as much as possible. Healthcare providers may not be able to tell you specifics about your loved one’s diagnosis or treatment, but no law prohibits them from listening to you. Let them know what’s going on and express your fears of what might happen if the situation doesn’t improve. Consider letting them know that you will hold them accountable if they don’t provide treatment and something bad happens. Document all communication.
  • Keep any children out of harm’s way. If the child is living with you, do what you must to protect him or her. If you’re concerned about a child who’s not living with you, you may need to contact child protective services. In addition to helping prevent harm to the child, getting the authorities involved may help a loved one receive the treatment he or she needs.
  • If overspending is a problem, be prepared to close bank accounts and cancel credit cards. To quickly cancel a card, simply report it stolen, as one of our members suggested. You can also put a hold on a credit card account, so a new card won’t be issued.
  • Consider placing a security freeze on credit reports. A security freeze blocks the three credit reporting agencies from releasing your credit history to credit card companies and other lending institutions. If they can’t gain access to your credit history, they won’t issue you a credit card or grant you a loan. Of course, you can temporarily or permanently lift the credit freeze at any time, but it can prevent someone from getting a credit card or loan in your name and may be enough of an obstacle to discourage you or a loved one from impulsively applying for and using a new credit card. You must place the security freeze with all three of the following credit reporting agencies:

Although this didn’t come up during the meeting, it’s important to remember that most of these suggestions apply only to crisis situations. We have to be careful not to overreact and become too controlling and intrusive. In most cases, the rule is to ask your loved one for permission before stepping in.

Also mentioned during the meeting: If you believe that your loved one is involved with one or more individuals who may have criminal records, you can visit your county courthouse and search the court dockets for one or more counties to pull up a list of those criminal records.

If you were at the meeting and I overlooked something important that was mentioned, please post a comment to add it.

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