My Mental Health Journey Through an Intensive Outpatient Program – Part 25

The regular clinician was back today at my IOP. Yesterday’s clinician was perfectly good, but it felt like getting back to normal today. It’s amazing how much I like my routines in an IOP setting. I sit in the same chair every day. I’m the first one there every day. I even prefer it when everyone else sits in their right seats. Unfortunately, I don’t control that, so other people move around. Oh well.

Check-in was pretty basic today. I covered my trip to my kid’s art show. It was mobbed. You’d have thought the Mona Lisa was on display. I had to deploy a few tools, mostly breathing and grounding. It was claustrophobic. But it was nice to see my kid’s art. I also talked about dinner (mac & cheese), sleep (not too bad), and my mood this morning (also not too bad).

The check-ins took the whole first hour. We started the second hour with “My Wellness Pie”. We had to create a pie chart with different aspects of ourselves. The bigger the slice of pie, the more important the aspect. Family, friends, and morals were my big three. Then, we did an aspirational pie chart. This is how we want the pie chart to look. This was almost the same, but mental illness disappeared, and physical health got a lot bigger.

We moved on to “Circles of My Multilayered Self”. For this one, there were circles on a paper. We put ourselves in the middle and filled in the other circles with the things that make up our identities. I put parent, partner, family, and friends. Apparently, my identity is very relationship oriented.

For the third hour, we got all DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy). We started with an “ABC Log”. A stands for Activating Event. B stands for Beliefs. C stands for Consequences. I struggled with this one. I’m sure I have activating events all the time, but I couldn’t come up with anything on the spot. I suppose I could have use hitting a pothole last night. I told myself that I probably popped a tire (Thankfully, I didn’t), and the consequence was worry. I just didn’t think of it in the moment. The point was to look at the ways negative self-talk makes things worse.

We finished the day with cognitive distortions. These are also known as thinking mistakes. There’s all-or-nothing thinking which is believing that everything is either good or bad with no middle ground. There’s filtering which is focusing on the negatives and ignoring the positives. There’s personalizing which is blaming yourself for anything that goes wrong. There’s mind reading which is assuming you know what other people are thinking. There’s catastrophizing which is imagining that any consequence of an action will be disastrous. There’s overgeneralizing which is assuming one result will be typical of all future results. There’s emotional reasoning which is believing something because it feels true. There’s labeling which is reducing people to a single characteristic. Finally, there’s should statements which is focusing on what should have been done, or what should be done instead of dealing with what actually happened or what you can control. I do all of these at least from time to time. I use should statements a lot. I should really get better about that.

That was it for today.

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