Today may have been the best group therapy I’ve ever attended, and I’ve had a lot of really great ones. Our therapists were clearly meant to do this job and are absolutely incredible. I wish that they did one-on-one therapy instead of just intensive outpatient. They are the best I’ve come across. I will so miss going to group once I “graduate” eventually. It’s not even a thought yet as I’m not stable, but someday it will happen.
The first part of group, we fill out a questionnaire that asks how our energy, sleep, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, paranoia, pain and obsessive thoughts are doing. We rate them on a scale from 1 to 10. After that, we go around the room and kind of check in. This part of group is pretty open. You can talk about your ratings, you can talk about what happened that day, you can talk about anything that you really need to. This can sometimes be the most healing and helpful part of group. It’s where we are really able to connect to the other members and get to know each other and bond even more closely. We push each other to be better and to challenge our negative thoughts, like “stop should-ing yourself!” We don’t like to hear that we “should” do or be anything other than we are. So we don’t “should” ourselves there and will keep each other accountable, which helps when you’re on your own.
The second hour of group today was about personalities and personality disorders. We talked about the Meyer’s-Briggs personalities and went over each one. I’ve taken the test before, but a couple of us hadn’t. I found a link for them to take it on their own, as it’s a really interesting (even if not “legitimate” or accepted by the psychology field). I already knew mine, so I wasn’t surprised to learn about my personality in that way. At work, we did a workshop about it and spent hours going through the different sections. That was one of the most fun workshops I’ve been to and will always fondly remember it.
The third hour of group was one of the most profound I can think about. Our therapist gave us a list of strengths that we’d seen before. It has a number of strengths like leadership, empathy, kindness, dedication, persistence, ambition, honesty, ect. There were maybe 20 or so qualities on the worksheet. Usually, we pick the ones that we think we exhibit best. TODAY however, “Rebecca” told us that we were going to use the list and pick qualities for the others in the group (thank goodness there were only four today and we four are pretty close). It is very hard, I think no matter who you are, to be able to sit and have three other people pick things they think are your strengths. However, seeing how other people see you after being with you for 9 hours a week, for weeks is profoundly humbling. Some of the things that the others picked I just don’t see in myself.
Modesty and ambition were the ones that I had a hard time understanding and agreeing with. I have a hard time seeing modesty, as I see it low self-esteem. But the group all expanded and said I come in the room standing up straight and am not afraid to speak up and talk. This makes me look more confident than I am (thanks for teaching me that Mom and Dad!), but they said that I’m not stuck up. I can come into group in full makeup and false lashes but will also come in with sweats and my glasses with not a stitch of makeup on. I’m myself. I work really hard to be honest with myself and the group when I’m there. It’s REALLY hard for me to do, as I’ve always hidden things. I can’t heal while hiding however, so I actively work on being honest and open.
I was also shocked and in awe that they all picked for me the one strength that I will agree that I have. It’s the one I hold on to and recognize and use to get myself out of my depression. I love to learn. I have a deep curiosity and will research the hell out of something if I don’t know anything about it (thanks Daddy and Grampa!). They spoke of my intelligence because I’ll talk about classes I’ve taken in college and that I know a lot of medical terminology and medicine (thanks Mandy). I was kind of surprised at this as well. I know I’m not an idiot, but I didn’t think that my intelligence was something that really showed to others. That was amazing to hear.
There was a lot more, and it was amazing. I loved being able to pick exact strengths for those in my group and telling them how much I appreciate and am so grateful to have them in my life. They are all so strong and so brave to take the step to work so hard on healing themselves. There are some amazing people in this group, and I don’t think I’d be getting as stable as I am (even though I have miles to go) without them. (thanks A and J!).
Again, I cannot recommend enough that if you’re struggling to go work with a therapist. They really are indispensable if you find a good one. They can make or break your healing. If you cant afford one with your insurance, try out www.betterhelp.com. They are an online therapist that I’ve investigated. You can talk with a therapist by phone, video chat or texting at any time. It really is a great resource to have.
There are also free groups to attend, which I am going to go to as well, now and when I graduate. Around here, these are from NAMI. I’ve only been to one, but it’s almost like the intensive group therapy I attend now. It’s free, and you don’t have to say a word if you don’t want to. It’s a good way to integrate yourself into group therapy. I’m not sure of the website but search out NAMI groups and there a bunch of different kinds and times you can go. I know I’ll be to one of them eventually!