What is Guides?

Guides is an online community for people who are living with, friends with, in love with, parent/child/brother/sister/third cousin of someone afflicted with a depressive illness, including bipolar disorder.

Its purpose is a combination of support and information, in dealing with day-to-day problems and longer-term issues. Topics range from coping with suicide attempts, passive-aggressiveness, taking care of responsibilities, and addressing our own needs as human beings. Fun and serious are welcome.

Mailing lists

Guides operates several mailing lists for communication between its members. These are not mailing lists in the marketing sense, but a discussion group that happens to do its discussion through electronic mail. Members e-mail their thoughts to one special address, which re-sends the message out to everyone who has joined the list.

Joining a Guides mailing list is easy. When you join, you may choose to tell the group about yourself. If you're not comfortable with that, you can simply join the group silently and lurk, and maybe introduce yourself later. Simply fill out the subscription form. If you tell the group about yourself, your introduction will be sent out at the same time your subscription starts (generally within a day).

Leaving is as easy as joining.

How to subscribe

Our mailing lists are free an open to anyone to join.

Joining Guides. Send a blank email message to guides-subscribe (at) svan.ca from the account you want to subscribe to. If you want the Parents edition instead, use guides-parents-subscribe (at) svan.ca.

Once you've joined a mailing list

The rules, briefly:
  • If you are affected by someone's mental illness, this list is probably for you.
  • If you have mental illness, it probably isn't.
  • No advertising, "visit my web site", or "fill out my questionnaire" messages.
  • Medication questions ("anybody know what the side effects for Paxil are?") are not appropriate: ask your doctor instead.
  • You may archive this forum's discussions for personal use, but no other.
  • You may copy or quote from this forum's discussions, but it would be polite to remove identifying information.
  • Messages should be plain text only: don't use HTML e-mail or send file attachments.
The rules, somewhat less briefly:

If you are affected by someone's mental illness, this list is probably for you.

"Mental illness" includes (but isn't limited to) Major Depression, dysthymia, and bipolar, borderline personality, and dissociative identity disorders. Such people are grouped under the rubric "DP" for "Depressed Person", a name which you'll see a lot. Similarly, DPSO is used to refer to the Depressed Person's Significant Other, which includes people like husband, wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, partner, best friend, or some other similarly close relationship.

If you have a mental illness, it's inappropriate to join this group unless you have a particular interest in helping DPSOes, or are also one yourself. The issues discussed here relate to keeping ourselves healthy when someone in our life has mental illness. There is lots of support (online and in real life) available for depressives, but little for people who live with them. Consider joining newsgroups like alt.support.depression or mailing lists like Walkers In Darkness, and having your significant other join this list. There are services like www.hotmail.com and www.mailexcite.com which let you have separate e-mail accounts so that your discussions can be private.

The list seems about 60% people whose husband or wife is dealing (or not) with depression, with the remaining 40% being those who have a sibling, boy/girlfriend, parent, or child who are depressed. If you feel intimidated and wonder if you "fit" with this group mostly talking about their spouses - don't be! The issues are very similar, and there is room enough here for people in all situations. Don't be concerned that talk on one subject excludes other ones. We can all learn from each other's experience.

Newcomers are encouraged to tell the list members about themselves. In this introduction, don't just tell us about the situation you find yourself in, but also tell us about you - how you think, how you feel, independent of your DP (Depressed Person). And hey, where do you live?

Postings to this list may not be archived or redistributed without the author's consent. If you would like to forward a message to someone for discussion, that is OK, but it is considerate and appropriate to remove identifying information (at least the e-mail address, real name, and signature).

There are only minor limits on what can be discussed: the theme should stay focused on the emotional and physical well-being of a depressive's family members or friends. It's okay to rant and rave, to stomp around the room while waving your arms; it's healthy to express anger. Even the odd joke helps!

The major kinds of unwelcome content are:

asking for support for your own mental illness.
This group is one of the few places where the loved ones of depressives can get together. It's important to us to be able to talk freely, without feeling inhibited. Get support elsewhere.
advertising or solicitation.
Self-explanatory, I hope. Of course, feel free to recommend (for or against) products or services you've had personal experience with.
specific medication questions.
Any information you get will be at best anecdotal, and at worst outright wrong. Ask your doctor or pay a visit to the newsgroup sci.med.psychobiology.
academic questionnaires.
You know the flaws of a self-selected sample, right?

Electronic mail annoyances such as HTML encoding and file attachments should be avoided as much as possible. Turn off HTML in your e-mail program, and don't send attachments (cut and paste information as plain text if you want to send it to the group).

I reserve the right to remove anyone from the list I feel like, with or without reason, with or without notification.

I promise to do my best to protect the list from privacy invasions of all kinds: membership lists and archives are protected as much as possible.

If you are unsure if this place provides what you are looking for, you are welcome to send mail to me with any questions you like.

If you are interested in subscribing, follow the instructions above.

Guides Community Resources

  1. Bookstore: Visit the online bookstore with numerous books on topics related to depression, and how friends and family can successfully deal with their loved one's illness.
  2. Support in the real world: A list of real-world support groups for people who are living with someone who has mental illness.