My Mental Health Journey Through an Intensive Outpatient Program – Part 18

Today was different at my IOP. Not in any tangible way. I was still the first one there. We still started with check-ins and then moved on to skills. It felt different, though. For the first time at the IOP, when I said I was OK (I always say I’m OK), I meant it. I wasn’t in a good mood, but I wasn’t in a bad mood either. I was OK.

My check-in was pretty standard. I talked about what I did after group yesterday. I went grocery shopping and to a movie (I saw Madame Web. I don’t understand all the hate. I was entertained for two hours. What else can I ask of a movie?). I wrote a short article for And I talked to my mom and my partner. I also talked about how the suicidal ideations were still there this morning, but not very intense. The clinician said that some people live with intrusive thoughts their whole lives. It’s getting them manageable that’s important. That’s a little depressing.

We started second hour with a little stretching. We ended up hugging ourselves and saying “I love you” to ourselves. It was as awkward and cringey as it sounds, but it led into today’s theme which was self-compassion. This is something I really struggle with.

First there was a worksheet we were supposed to fill out about changing thoughts. On the left was a bubble where we put a negative thought. On the right was another bubble where we put a positive thought that we can replace the negative thought with. I had difficulty thinking of anything, but finally I decided a negative thought could be that I don’t deserve compliments. The positive thought was to just say “Thank you” when I do get a compliment.

Next, we went over an article called PTSD and Self-Compassion. It was informative. It talked about why lack of self-compassion is dangerous (decrease in motivation, increase in risky behaviors, less likely to seek treatment, etc.). There was a section on how to increase self-compassion. These were recognize that you’re human, be mindful of negative self-focused thoughts, practice self-care, validate your emotions, reduce self-destructive behaviors, practice acts of kindness, and recognize your accomplishments. Like I said before, I’m not good at these.

After that, we filled out another worksheet. This one had categories and we had to put three things in each category. I couldn’t come up with three for any of them. I only even got two for one of them. For things I am good at, I put writing (although I don’t feel very good at it lately). For compliments I have received, I put that I’m a good listener. For what I like about my appearance, I put my eyes and my beard. I got nothing for challenges I have overcome and I have helped others by. For things that make me unique, I put everything. What I value most is my kid. And times I have made others happy I put Christmas. Overall, a very uncomfortable worksheet.

We ended the day with a few random questions like favorite movie, favorite holiday, and things like that. I get the feeling that’s what we’ll do whenever we have some extra time.

It was an awkward session for me, but even afterwords, I think I’m still OK.

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