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From September 2010 onwards, self help groups of bipolar patients or, more generally, patients with affective disorders are running. (Affective disorders are disorders such as depression, schizoaffective disorder, various kinds of bipolar disorder or manic depressive illness).

A self help group is a group of people who all face a common problem and are linked to each other with friendship or simple acquaintance ties. Their goal is giving each other help by means of exchanging information, experience and advice. The co-ordinator does not get paid. Our self help group has psychoeducational content and a holistic philosophy. The co-ordinator is the owner of this website.

Meetings take place on Saturdays, from 4 to 6 pm., in Ano Nea Smyrni. Each group runs for one winter period, i.e. from September or October until May or June of each year. You can enter the group by contacting the owner of this website on ++(30)210 9315 284 (leave a message on the voice mail loudly and clearly) or on ++(30) 6976 499566 or e-mail at nvassilaki@yahoo.com or info@alternativebipolar.gr. These are organized on a first-come first-served basis. Also, there will be a one-off charge of 20 euro per year which will cover expenses like photocopies, stationery and heating or air-conditioning.

The themes of the sessions are as follows:

1st session: Acquaintance, ice-breaking, self-presentation of members, rules, name-giving of group.

Part 1: Getting to know our illness

2nd session: Affective disorders. Bipolar disorder and its subtypes, schizoaffective disorder, monopolar depression and its subtypes.

3rd session: Going high! What can I do?

4th session: Facing depression.

5th session: Psychotic episodes. Differences and similarities between manic episodes and psychotic episodes. Psychotic symptoms in affective disorders.

Part 2: Psychiatric experience:

6th session: Our experience with mental health services and mental health professionals. Good and bad mental health professionals. We as partners in designing treatment.

7th session: Psychoeducation, psychotherapy. How to choose a psychotherapist.

8th session: Stigma and how to fight against it. Should we disclose our mental illness to others?

9th session: The bio-psycho-social dimension of our illness. Approach, causes, treatments.

Part 3: Lifestyle and alternative medicine:

10th session:
 Smoking, alcohol, staying up late, and coffee.

11th session: Nutrition, orthomolecular nutrition, organic products. Nutrition according to blood type and genotype. Nutritional supplements. The correct nutritional pyramid. Tailoring the right nutritional model to ourselves.

12th session: Physical exercise as a biological need and means of treatment. Aerobics. How much exercise per week?

13th session: Candida Albicans, leaky gut syndrome and the healthy digestive tract. The enteric neural system. Water.

14th session: Alternative medicine approaches. Our experiences with alternative medicine.

Part 4: Getting to know each other better:

15th session: The life story of each one of us. Dreams, goals and expectations.

16th session: Our relations with our close relatives. Facing possibly toxic 1st degree relatives. Boundary-setting and defenses.

17th session: Our gifts. Special talents. Traits and things about which we are proud.

18th session: The hierarchy of human needs. What would lead us to self-actualization. How we express our creativity. When creative drive becomes dangerous.

Part 5: Everyday “mundane” problems:

19th session: Money and ourselves. Financial management skills. Money and priorities. Limitations to our desires and keeping our needs under control.

20th session: Our job and ourselves. Choosing a profession. Making a living, vocational orientation, vocational training.

Part 6: Psychological theories, theories of psychopathology:

21st session: Emotional intelligence.

22nd session: Double bind, psychological identity, authoritarianism / overprotectiveness, healthy and unhealthy boundaries, “healthy” or unhealthy upbringing.

23rd session: Our relationship with the other sex. Differences between women and men. How men and women relate. The five languages of love.

Part 7: Other issues in psychiatry

24th session: Compulsory admission, hospitalization, the mental hospital as an experience, guardianship.

25th session: Feeling suicidal, prevention of suicide. How we can create a prevention network for suicide.

26th session: Feeling comfortable in the patient’s role. Secondary benefits of our illness. The assumption of responsibility for treatment.

Part 8: Ending

27th session: Clubbing-together party

28th session: Ending of cycle, evaluation. Directions to continue friendships which may have developed. Establishing a social supportive network. Saying goodbye.
Meeting place: Either 87 Artakis Street and Grigoriou E 24A
Or 42 Artakis Street and Grigoriou 23A Street
At the “Siotropou-Vassilaki-Chryssochoidis” Language School.

Access by public transport: Buses No 218, 232 (from Piraeus and Kallithea or Hymettus) or No 136, 137, 134, 135 (from downtown Athens, Kolokotroni Square) (Bus stops: Astynomia, Loutra, Ethniki Stegi, 9th Artakis)

Subway and Tram: Get off at the Metro Station of Neos Kosmos (red line), then you take the tram from Neos Kosmos Stop and get off at Kentriki Plateia – Agia Fotini stop. You go up Agias Foteinis Street on foot and in front of the Agia Fotini (the yellow church) stairs you find Grigoriou E Street. From in front of Agia Fotini Church you go up Grigoriou E street on foot, until you reach the crossroads with Artakis Street.