My Mental Health Journey Through an Intensive Outpatient Program – Part 26

Week five of my IOP is in the books. The name doesn’t lie. It’s an outpatient program that’s intense. I’m exhausted.

Today was a pretty normal session, but we had a big group. Check-ins took the whole first hour and about half of the second hour. When it came to my turn, I talked about having a lousy day yesterday and sleeping poorly. It wasn’t anything that will derail my progress. Just a bad day.

Our first topic of the day was mindfulness. “Mindfulness is the practice of becoming more fully aware of the present moment – non-judgmentally and completely – rather than dwelling in the past or projecting into the future.” I’m only so-so at mindfulness. I can get there sometimes, but I have a tendency to ruminate. Ruminating is the antithesis of mindfulness.

Studies show that mindfulness is helpful for everything from anxiety and depression to relationship issues and eating disorders. It can even help with run-of-the-mill daily stress. Of course, there is a small risk that mindfulness can create more stress, anxiety, and depression. Mental illness treatment wouldn’t be any fun without its contradictions.

Because check-ins took so long, we didn’t have a lot of time for other things. After mindfulness, we did a quick activity comparing how we think other people perceive us and how we perceive ourselves. I said that other people probably see me as quiet, shy, and grumpy. I said I see myself as quiet (I really am quite quiet), smart, caring, and depressed. I don’t know how accurate either side is, but that’s what I said.

It was one of my fellow group member’s graduation day. So, we ended the session each saying a few words about our fellow and wishing him luck and things like that. It was good to see someone I’ve been seeing for the past five weeks finish. Hopefully, I’ll be there myself soon.

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