Beyond Blue

Beyond Blue

Larry Parker: The Best Da*n Support Group

And this blog post/journal entry of Larry’s can be found at

Since I wrote a valedictory to the city of New Brunswick in one of my last posts, I thought I would share another valedictory — the thank you letter I just posted on the listserv of my support group, where I have been a member for a year and a group leader (facilitator) for the last six months.
Just for clarity’s sake: DBSA is not formally a 12-step group, but rather a mutual aid and self-help group. Its meetings do run a bit like a 12-step group, though.
The biggest benefit to being a member of a support group, in my mind, is that depression leaves people so isolated — emotionally, and sometimes literally — that the very act of simply sitting in a room together and hearing the stories of others who are in the same boat can be incredibly empowering.


Plus — and this will shock most laypeople — depressed people can be fun! (What, you don’t think I’m fun? ;-P) The group holds frequent social hours, and I’m surprised some of New Jersey’s famous diners (because how else can you make sure everyone in a big group can eat what they want?) haven’t kicked us out for the roaring laughter and ruckus. Of course, it’s easy to laugh when you rarely do it but then, suddenly, you are in an atmosphere where you feel understood and emotionally safe.
Anyway, if you’re ever riding the Northeast Corridor train through New Brunswick, New Jersey on a Friday night, and you find yourself in need of a support group, you certainly can’t do better than walk up the hill from the train station to Robert Wood Johnson Hospital’s auditorium.
Tell them Larry P. sent you :-)


Despite being out of work for far too long, in one way this has been the most incredible year for me, since I finally did something I should have done a long time ago — get involved with a depression and bipolar disorder support group.
And for once in my rather unlucky life, I drew a royal flush — THE BEST depression and bipolar disorder support group, Middlesex County’s Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance chapter at RWJ Hospital in my hometown of New Brunswick.
All of you have done so much to lift my spirits when I was down. Many Fridays (including some recent ones) I would walk in the room the lowest of the low and yet feel completely confident I would walk out with a smile — because someone, sometime, would say something that showed others had walked the road before me, and could show me a bit of the way.
I feel especially blessed (if I may use a mildly religious word) to have had the chance to be trained to give back as a group moderator/facilitator. Many of you have been kind enough to tell me I’ve done a solid job for a new facilitator; the truth is, it’s me who has learned so much from the experience.
I think this where I’m supposed to say, “This isn’t goodbye, it’s farewell.” I consider my move out of Middlesex County to be temporary, and when things become more stable, I fully intend to move back to the greater New Brunswick area (hopefully in the city itself, which even in all its contradictions I have truly grown to love) and reinvolve myself 100%. And, whenever I can on a Friday, I will take the trip up from the Jersey Shore to New Brunswick. Even if I can’t, I will find ways to keep in touch regardless.
When the Japanese conquered the Philippines early in World War II, Gen. Douglas MacArthur said simply, “I shall return.” Famously, two-and-a-half years later, he did.
And once I’ve fought and won the battles I need to (and I will), so shall I.

  • Nora

    I was a member of DBSA when in Santa Rosa and it was great. People were all big hearted and bright (when they were too depressed.) It felt good to have a place where all the c… was understood.
    I’d like to start one here in Australia but I may not be up to it yet. It’s taken a lot to come here and start over again.

  • Larry Parker

    What part of “Strile” are you in? There is a very active member of Bnet’s depression support discussion boards who lives in Canberra.

  • Margaret Balyeat

    Support groups are(can be) WONDERFUL, especially when you find one that “fits”. that’s the trick right there; I had to “tryon” a couple of groups before I found the right one to help with my “aduly Children of alcoholics” group. Part of that, I’m ashsmed to admit, was snobbishmess on my part; the first group I visited at an ALANO club was comprised of mostly high school dropouts who left me feeling “overqualified”. But when I dicovered the wonderful group of women who finallyDID fit, it was trulylike a “homecoming” even though i’d never met any of them before in my life. The emotional/spiritual/intellectual fit was tailor-made or at least felt like it was. Though not all of its members were college graduates, there was a common level of respect for education and a general conraderie born of our ability to discuss things on a common intellectual level. We bonded over our sinilar experiences of having grownup in a dysfunctional family (I’m talking alcoholic here; ALL families are SOMEWHAT dysfunctional (IMHO) We could laugh together, cry together,ceebrate and mourn together, rail at life together in a way that no other group of people I’ve ever bonded with could, and that includes to a degree my three sisters, although we’re (emotinally,if not geographically close.) i’ve never belonged to a depression/bipolar disorder support group. to be frank, since I discovered Therese (Where have you BEEN all my life?) and those of you here at B.B., thatis how I think of all of you1 u’ve often thought it would be great if we were logistically closer so that we COULD

  • Margaret Balyeat

    you all know what happened, RIGHT? AGAIN i MUST ASK YOUR FORGIVENESS FOR MY TECHNOLOGICAL DIFFICULTIES. But I was trying to say that if we all we close enough to one another in terms of our locations, it would be GREAT if we could get together and meet one another as real, live people! Since that’s not our reality, I am very grateful to have found all of you THIS way AT LEAST, and think of you all as special friends, even those of you with whom I sometimesdisagree.

  • Larry Parker

    I’ve been to AA meetings, Al-Anon meetings, Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings, and probably some others in the 12-step family in the past.
    Nothing has been remotely like this particular DBSA group for me — not only in the subject matter, but more importantly in the openness and welcomingness of the group.
    You make a good point.

  • Larry Parker

    Got back to New Brunswick last night for the first time in five weeks (yay!).
    Our new moderator (who was our old moderator before I joined her as a co-moderator) said she was most interested in the interview and is now reading BB and my blog regularly.
    She’s still not sure she wants to comment yet, but she’s great and has a lot of interesting (and different from me) insights of her own, so I hope she will!

  • Belleo (Marie)

    Larry , you are so caring and giving . When we give we receive a hundred fold

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