My Mental Health Journey Through an Intensive Outpatient Program – Part 23

I don’t know how I was feeling at the start of today’s IOP session. I even put “I don’t know” on my check-in sheet. I was better than yesterday, no headache, but I was still pretty tired. I was feeling pretty good by the end of it, though.

My check-in was pretty basic. I went first. I talked about how I didn’t know how I felt. I also talked about how yesterday was kind of a waste because of the headache. That was all I had. It was a short check-in.

Our first topic of the day was major depressive disorder. I have experience with major depressive disorder, I know a thing or two about it, so nothing we talked about was new to me. The “At a Glance” section of the worksheet said:

“Major depressive disorder is marked by symptoms such as sadness, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities, difficulty concentrating, and changes in sleep and appetite. Causes include brain chemistry, genetics, and environmental factors. There are treatments available that can help, including therapy, medication, and lifestyle changes.”

That’s a decent high-level description of what we talked about. We went into a lot more detail, though. I think most of the people in the group were pretty familiar with depression.

Our next topic was behavioral activation. This is basically a way of motivating yourself when you’re not motivated. It sounds simple. It consists of writing out a schedule where everything is in small, manageable chunks. My schedule had things like wake up, eat something, go to group, eat lunch, etc. Nothing big, just reminders to do the things I have to do. Sticking to it is the hard part. I’ve done pretty well today. (I haven’t eaten dinner yet, which was on my list. I’m going to, though. I swear.) I’m going to keep my list out where I can see it. Hopefully it will keep me honest the rest of the week.

We wrapped up today’s session by starting a sleep diary. Given my chronic sleep problems, I probably should have been doing this for years. The diary itself is pretty simple. When did I go to bed? When did I wake up? What did I do for the hour before bed? How long did it take to fall asleep? How many times did I wake up during the night? How much caffeine and alcohol did I consume? It’s a good thing to track. I’m going to keep the diary next to my bed and see what insights I can gather.

That was about it for the day. We did have a little extra time at the end, so we did random questions. It turns out that I would be raisin bran if I were a cereal. I don’t know how I feel about that. It’s not very exciting, but it could be worse, like Grape Nuts or something. Meh. The important thing is that I was feeling better at the end of group than I was at the beginning. That’s all I can ask for.

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