My Mental Health Journey Through an Intensive Outpatient Program – Part 28

I got some good news at my IOP this morning. I’m stepping down to three days a week. I thought I’ve been making progress, and this is confirmation that the IOP thinks so, too. Yay me.

I woke up with a nervous feeling this morning. It was like butterflies in my stomach. I brought that up during check-ins. I have no idea what I was nervous about. I didn’t know that I’d be going down to three days when I woke up, so it wasn’t that. Although, I am now a bit nervous about it. As much as the IOP is difficult and exhausting, there’s a certain comfort to it. Back to my undefined nervousness, we speculated that maybe I’d had a bad dream. I almost never remember my dreams, so it’s possible.

During the first break, I had to sign my revised, three day a week treatment plan. There was nothing exciting about it. Just a brief overview and a signature.

Our first topic of the day was motivation or lack thereof. I think one of the universals about depression is that we all suffer from a lack of motivation. Sometimes it makes it hard to get out of bed, other times it makes it hard to do the dishes. We went around the room and talked about how we fight our lack of motivation. My two favorites are opposite action and arguing the opposite. I’ve talked about opposite action here before, but briefly it’s looking at whatever impulse you’re having and doing the opposite. It sounds a lot easier than it is. Arguing the opposite is similar, but it focuses on reasons. When you don’t want to do something, you can come up with myriad reasons not to do it. Arguing the opposite is countering each of those reasons. Again, easier said than done. But it can be effective.

For the third hour we talked about anxiety. We took an anxiety quiz. It was 20 questions. The questions were things like, “Do you ever have thoughts that run on and on and you can’t seem to stop them?” There were five answer choices below each question ranging from not at all to almost always. If I can trust this, I’m more anxious than I thought.

After the quiz, we went over tips for when you are feeling anxious. It was things like, “These emotions are not in the least harmful or dangerous, just unpleasant. Nothing worse will happen.” The program is big on the fact that emotions are not good or bad, it’s our reactions to them that are good or bad. We finished with going over some grounding techniques that can help a person get through moments of intense anxiety.

Given that I started out nervous, it’s probably a good thing we ended on anxiety. As I said, I am nervous about the upcoming changes, but excited, too. I’m almost cured (Just kidding. If only it worked like that, life would be a lot easier.) But I am almost done with the program. I’ll be able to get back to my real life. I’m sure that’ll give me something to be anxious about.

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