My Mental Health Journey Through an Intensive Outpatient Program – Part 8

I survived the first full week of my intensive outpatient program (IOP). The name doesn’t lie, it was intense. I’m exhausted. It’s kind of amazing how much work emotional labor can be. I’m trying to decide if I’ve changed after my first week, but it’s hard to tell. I’m still having the intrusive thoughts, but I think they’re less intense than they were. That’s progress, I guess.

As usual, we started the day with check-ins. It was a big group today, so check-ins took almost the first two hours. I feel bad saying this, but it’s strangely comforting listening to other people talk about their struggles. It sucks that they are having struggles to begin with, but it makes me feel less alone. I’m not the only one struggling.

When it came to my turn, I talked about my mood being low and not getting a good night’s sleep again. The clinician asked about the intrusive thoughts. I told her that they are still there. I even had them on my way to the IOP this morning. I also talked about having eaten three full meals the day before. I was pretty proud of myself. I don’t remember the last time I did that. I wrapped up by talking about my plans for the weekend, going to my parents’ house tomorrow and watching the Superbowl on Sunday.

After check-ins, we played a sort of card game. We each picked a card out of a deck. Each card had a coping strategy printed on it. Then we had to say how our coping strategy resonated with us. My card was “Beautiful Oops”. It made me think of Bob Ross with his happy little accidents. I know it’s about taking a mistake and making something worthwhile out of it, but I’m not sure it resonated with me. I don’t really know what I do with my mistakes. I guess I’ll have to pay attention going forward.

After the card game, we got a list of safe coping skills. It was a six-page list. We didn’t go over all of them. Everyone read the list and picked one that stood out to them. Mine was “notice the source”. This is what it sounds like, before accepting advice or criticism, look at where it’s coming from. If the source is bad, we should not accept the advice or criticism at all. It’s easy to say but hard to do. I know it’s something I need to work on.

That took us to the end of today’s third hour. Now I get two days off to rest as much as I can. I’ll be back at it on Monday.

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