A group set up to support people with bipolar disorder has seen its membership treble in the space of just a year.
Dundee Bipolar Group – the first of its kind in the city – was set up last September and has been growing from strength to strength.
The self-help group, managed by Bipolar Scotland, started out with just six members and has grown to support a total of 20 people at its premises in Constitution Street.
Graphic designer Jamie Stewart has attended the group from the very beginning and said it has helped him to talk to other people living with Bipolar.
He said: “When I was 18 months old I had seizures and sustained some brain damage, leading to epilepsy when I was older.
“Then when I was 18-years-old I started to have symptoms of Bipolar.
“I was diagnosed when I was in my 20s.
“It’s a condition that can make you feel quite isolated – I often feel like I have to apologise for my symptoms.
“But in the group I don’t have to do that as everyone else is going through the same things.”
Jamie explained that when he is in the “high” phase, he feels elevated and talks a lot, sometimes saying things he regrets later.
At this point he said it could be difficult to maintain control, feeling as though he’s “not driving the ship.”
He added: “You end up going into your mental health ‘overdraft’.
“Then you hit a low point where you feel completely exhausted, you can’t concentrate or remember things.
“With enough support and understanding, you can lead a ‘normal’ life. But you’re always aware that your Bipolar Disorder is there, and you do have to babysit yourself sometimes.”
Bipolar Scotland run similar groups all over the country.
Dundee group facilitarot Kayra Lowe said: “People were always ringing the offices to ask if there was something for people with Bipolar Disorder in Dundee, and there wasn’t – so it was decided to set up a group.
“There’s been a lot of demand and we’ve grown so much that we’ve had to get a bigger room.
“We have our regulars and we also have new faces each month.
“The meetings are friendly and informal. People can bring along anyone they want – a friend, family member, partner or caregiver.
“Sometimes we have a speaker in, other times we discuss things amongst ourselves, such as medication, useful tips or information about a person’s rights.
“The group is split equally male and female and there is a range of ages too.”
The Dundee Bipolar Group meets on the fourth Thursday of every month between 7pm and 9pm at Dundee Voluntary Action on Constitution Street.