IOP Day 1: Intensive Outpatient / Partial Hospitalization

Today was day one of IOP (Intensive Outpatient/ Partial Psychiatric Hospitalization.)  Programs like this are offered in many communities. Those of you who have been following my blog are aware that I have recently become overwhelmed with my emotions due to multiple, intense triggers, and collectively, they became too much for me to handle on my own. So, I reached out for the help I knew I needed in order to get through this difficulty without making the matter worse by self harming or self sabotaging in some way.

IOP is intended to help you become stable when you are suffering an emotional crisis. This particular program that I have been accepted into is three days a week for 3 hours each day.

There is a set schedule of groups that include a processing group where you talk about what issues brought you into the program and what goals you are working on for your recovery, a mindfulness group where you talk about the principles of mindfulness and do meditations, and a recreational group where you do art and play games that help get your mind off of your troubles for a little while (today we colored detailed images while answering Trivial Pursuit questions.) There are other groups, but these are the ones that they offer on Wednesdays and that I experienced today.

The length of your stay in the program is very individualized and decided between you and your treatment team. In years past, I have been in the program for up to three weeks. It was during a previous

IOP experience that I was officially diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder and began my path wither Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

Fortunately, this particular IOP program is based largely on DBT and mindfulness principles. I am truly in a good place.

After just one day, I am beginning to feel hopeful, and I have even noticed a slight improvement in my appetite. It's still amazing to me how healing it can be to be willing to reach out and then receive support and help when we need it. It felt so validating today to be allowed to cry and express my distress about the myriad of issues I am coping with. It was also very helpful to engage in the various activities as well as listen to others who are also suffering and hearing what they are doing to cope and heal.

My day started out rough. I was highly anxious and was dissociating and depersonalizing. I stuck with it and ended up getting a lot out of each of the sessions.

In addition, it just so happened that a member of my DBT group is also in IOP right now. We have a lot in common in terms of our mental health issues and beyond, and although we were both anxious about eating, we made the commitment to sit down together at a local restaurant and eat something, anxious or not. And, we followed through! We ended up enjoying each others company for 2 hours before realizing the time had passed. I felt so at ease and accepted in her presence, and I truly hope she felt likewise.

I'm now at a different part of the hospital campus and getting ready to head home soon. I don't have IOP tomorrow but another DBT class (Distress Tolerance). I'll keep you posted. Thank you for the outpouring of support and kindness. It means so much!

Thanks for reading.
More soon.


  1. I've been contemplating going into one if I don't see any change in just weekly therapy sessions alone, which I haven't. I love my therapist and she'll be handling the IOP program temporarily, so it could be good. It's hard to get into and I'm worried about the cost as I'm already unemployed from BPD and living in a 4 adult household with only one income. But it's something I'd love to try. Thanks for sharing your experience. <3

  2. Hi Debbie. I just "discovered" your blog 3 days ago and have been reading some posts. I'm sure you'll get better. Thanks a lot for sharing your journey, it's being really helpfull for me to read your insights. I have BPD too, tho I'm not following any therapy. I live in south america and BPD is barely known here, or taken seriously. But I'm gettin through thanks to some self-help books, some forum in spanish I've been participating on for more than a year, a lot or research and so on, including DBT. I hope to download your book as soon as my internet conection cooperates with me. Thanks again and have a great weekend! ♥



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