My Mental Health Journey Through an Intensive Outpatient Program – Part 20

Well, I had another lousy night’s sleep last night. So, I was tired again for my IOP. Not quite as tired as yesterday, but still pretty tired. We had a big group today, two new people joined.

Because of the size of the group, check-ins took longer than usual. They went into the second hour. My check-in was pretty standard. I did talk about the fact that I can’t read lately and how frustrating that is. I don’t mean that literally. It’s not like I’ve forgotten how to read. I just mean I have hundreds of books, but when I pick one up, I can’t even get through a page without losing concentration. I love to read. It really sucks.

During second hour, while we were finishing check-ins, there was a fire alarm. It turns out it was just a drill, but we all had to go outside. Everyone was complaining about the cold. It wasn’t that cold. And besides, it’s leap day. February is supposed to be cold. I didn’t mind. It helped wake me up a little bit.

We did two related exercises. The first was “Stress Exploration”. There were three categories and we had to list four stressors for each category. The first was daily hassles, things like chores and work. The second was major life changes, things like losing a close family friend and the death of my cat. The third was life circumstances, things like depression and finances. Then, we had to rate each of the stressors from 1-10 with one being a little stressful and ten being extremely stressful. Chores got a six and depression got a ten.

Then, we talked about factors that protect against stress. This was also divided in three. The first was daily uplifts, things like talking to my kid and music. The second was healthy coping strategies, things like breathing and writing. The third was protective factors, things like a supportive family and access to treatment.

The next exercise was on “Reframing My Experiences”. For this one we made a stress ladder. Basically, we put ten stressors on paper and ranked them. I put my depression as my biggest stressor. Then we had to reframe it. I struggled mightily. I ultimately didn’t come up with a good reframe. I probably should have used work instead. Then I could have talked about making money and being independent.

That was about it for today. All the talk about stressors was pretty stressful. So, it wasn’t my favorite session ever. The clinician did say we’re doing arts and crafts tomorrow. Maybe that’ll be more fun.

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