Acknowledging Your Mental Health Truth And Progress
I recently posted about feeling in so much emotional distress that my psychiatrist and therapist agreed that a return to IOP (Intensive Outpatient Program) was in order. This discussion happened last Friday, and I agreed to be skillful over the weekend and go in for an intake evaluation on Monday. My therapist reminded me that I may not feel as badly in three days and that I may not need IOP at that point. Although I felt incredibly distressed and skeptical, I remained open to the possibility.
Amped Up the Self-Care
The weekend involved lots of self-care. There were times when I challenged negative, anxiety provoking thoughts and other times when I had to radically accept that they would keep coming. It was frustrating and tiring, but I stayed hopeful and pushed through. The moments free of these stressors were pretty darn good, so it was worth it.
Practiced DBT "PLEASE" Skills
On Saturday, my SO and I went to our favorite Indian restaurant. Although my appetite was not completely there, I ended up enjoying a little bit of this and a little bit of that of my favorite items from the buffet. We enjoyed some conversation and spent some time at the restaurant. Afterward, we went for a 4.25 mile walk. It was a brisk walk on a crisp Northern California autumn day. I was surprised at how refreshed and good I felt afterward.
I slept well Saturday night. I'm sure that eating enough, walking, spending quality time with a loved one, and staying optimistic all helped.
I woke up on Sunday feeling refreshed. I took care of some errands that I had been putting off because they felt too overwhelming, and I felt a sense of accomplishment and mastery once I completed them. They were to my advantage, as they helped me save money while helping a family member. So glad I pushed through in this!
Sunday Night Anxiety & Realizing My Truth
When Sunday night approached, as is common for me on Sunday nights (see my post "Sundays Can Be Difficult for the Borderline Chameleon"), I noticed my anxiety begin to rise. I doubted myself and whether I felt stable emotionally. I also noticed some irritability.
The weekend was coming to an end. I was really enjoying my SO's company, and he'd be returning to work in the morning. I'd be going in for an IOP evaluation. The truth was, overall, I didn't believe I was IOP material at this point. The program is intensive and designed for people coming out of psychiatric hospitalization as a transition program or to help prevent someone who is at risk for psychiatric hospitalization from needing to go inpatient in the first place.
I felt much more stable than I did last week. I was getting sleep. My appetite was a little bit better, and I was eating more regularly. The mood swings were more stable. But, there was a part of me, honestly, that wanted to go into IOP anyway. I've been a bit lonely and isolated. I don't have a huge social network right now outside of my online communities on Facebook and Twitter. Part of me just wanted to be in IOP to be around other people and to have structure.
I discussed this honestly with my DBT therapist, who also happened to be assigned to do my intake. She was proud of me. She told me what I already knew, which is that IOP is not designed to replace a social life. I smiled.
I am so fortunate to have access to a resource like this if needed, but I have made some personal growth, evidently, because I was unwilling to use the system to meet my need in a manipulative way. I felt safe. I have three groups a week to attend and work on my issues. I didn't need IOP, and I was honest about it, even though it left me with the anxiety over the lack of structure in my life. I knew I had to take responsibility for that time and find ways to fill it with meaningful things and in a healthy way.
That part of the journey begins.
Do you have a lot of free time? How do you choose to structure it?