Hiya buddies, it’s been a few minutes since I last blogged. Let’s recap: I’m depressed AF and was referred to an intensive outpatient program (IOP). It’s basically the step before (or after, I suppose) inpatient.
What is it? 3 days a week, 3 hours per day, in a group setting. The first two hours are “processing,” and the last hour is education.
My first day was December 19th. I was sick with anxiety, but somehow managed to not throw up. I was driving to a building I had never been in, to inevitably cry in front of a group of people I had never met, all before 10am. This was also the week I decided to give up coffee in favor of tea to give my stomach a break, which had me feeling all sorts of ways.
After I found a chair, they showed me the form I was to fill out every day.
-On a scale of 1-10 how bad has your depression been? 10
-On a scale of 1-10 how bad has your anxiety been? 10
-Have you had thoughts of killing yourself? Yes
-Have you hurt yourself? No
-What coping mechanisms have you used since your last session? LOL WHAT
Every day we fill those out, giving the therapists a heads up about where we’re at. It’s a really bizarre feeling to report to someone like that every day. It’s like they’re babysitting my mood. Which frustrates me, because I’m 30 and an adult and I SHOULD be able to babysit myself. I mean helloooooo, I literally babysat children on a PROFESSIONAL level for over a decade. But here I am, now the toddler with unregulated emotions, being babysat. I’ll come to learn about how those are irrational thoughts, but until then, it’s really annoying.
So it officially begins. Every day, we go over rules. Every day, one of the interns reads a quote from a book called ‘365 days of happiness’ or something along those lines. Pretty hokey stuff, but I’m not really an expert in happiness (YET!) so I’ll go with it. Every day, we do an ice breaker. YAH, like the first day of class in high school. Someone offered up the question “What’s your favorite rainy day activity?”
What I want to say (the truth): uhhh I get really sad and waste a lot of time and drink too much whiskey and then get really down on myself and spiral deeper into sadness.
What I actually say: Hi I’m Chelsea….I like to watch cook and watch movies!
Then, processing. I spill my guts in front of strangers, telling them why I’m there. A story I’ve told a million times now. We got married, my mother (to whom I wasn’t speaking) died 2 weeks later, also it’s our first year in business and working in a creative field by yourself is beyond difficult especially with mental health issues, and I just can’t do it anymore, apparently. It’s always a run-on sentence when I tell it; I did that on purpose, mkay? I don’t say much for the first day because I still don’t really understand how this all works. I have SO much I need to work on, how do I decide what to bring up first?? So I listen.
To the myriad of other people there with me, working on themselves just like me. The lawyer, the grandma, the pharmacist, the nursing home cleaner, the teacher, the young men who really don’t want to be living at home anymore but aren’t sure where to go or what to do. A bit of everything and everyone. It really is fascinating to hear their stories. Sometimes it hurts and I cry, but it’s so interesting. Hearing someone describe their anxiety and the lies it tells them, you just want to shake them and tell them they’re perfect and NONE of that is real. But you know you are convinced of the same lies every day, over and over again. Guys…..I think they do that on purpose because omggggg IT WORKS. It doesn’t work immediately, but it’s a baby step to recognizing irrational thoughts.
When it’s your first day, you get homework. You have to write 25 things you like about yourself. UGH PLS NO. But I did it. And I don’t really wanna put it all out there but fuck it, I’m putting it ALL out there so here is mine:
good dog mom
kids love me
started a frickin business
have kept the house clean for like 2 WHOLE WEEKS
give clients fun experience
I feel super braggy and weird writing that all out for you to see, but that’s the point! I shouldn’t feel bad or braggy! It’s okay to like myself?!?! YES IT IS YOU GUYSSSSS!!! I’m going to try to not overwhelm you with positivity right off the bat, because that shit is annoying when you’re really down. And I am definitely NOT positive 80% of the time still.
But little glimpses of optimism are truly the key to beginning the journey. If you haven’t been feeling well in your head, try to write down 25 things you like about yourself. Or even 5, I don’t care, I’m not your mom.
I can’t wait to share more about my journey as it continues! While my body isn’t quite convinced that it’s going to get better yet, the team that has formed behind me in the past few weeks, and my dear friends, have me thinking it might actually be okay eventually.
Now go take your meds.