So today I started an intensive outpatient program to help treat my severe depression and anxiety. Basically it’s just 2 hours of group discussion followed by 1 hour of arts and crafts. There’s also days where we will just be learning how to cope, but that wasn’t included in today’s schedule.
My day started with my initial appointment which was a one on one session with a therapist to evaluate my condition. I was asked to fill out a questionnaire which asked me to rate my feelings and actions. Basically they were scoring me to see how severe my depression and anxiety are. This was followed by a discussion with the therapist to get more details about my condition and get to know me better.
After this appointment I had some time to kill before group therapy began so I went next door to the mall and wandered around, ate lunch, wandered around some more and then came back to the medical facility.
Before the group session began I was asked to fill out another question form. This one asked how and what I’ve been doing/experiencing over the past 48 hours and what I’ve been doing to cope.The group therapy went pretty much just the way you see group sessions go on T.V.. We sat in a circle and took turns talking about what we’ve been up to since the last session (or introducing ourselves and why we’re here if we’re new), what issues we’re currently dealing with, and how we’re coping (or if we’re coping at all).
The second half of the session was spent doing arts and crafts. Yes, you read that correctly, we did arts and crafts. There are a couple reasons they have you do this as I understand it, one is because doing something artistic and productive and fun can relax you and make you feel better. And the second reason is because they sit you at tables in groups and while you color, paint, do a puzzle, or weave a key-chain they expect you to be talking with each other….socializing!
FYI, I think it is cruel and unusual punishment to force someone with social anxiety (me) to participate in group therapy. Just sayin’.
In all honesty, I did find the sessions to be a bit helpful. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a bit better by time I left. While listening to others talk about their experiences I heard a lot of behaviors and symptoms that match my own. And many of the people who sat there and listened to me totally understood what I was talking about because they went through it as well.
During arts and crafts I chose a pretty intricate flowery picture to color. I found it relaxing to color, and I found myself feeling better. I chatted with a woman about her family and dogs while we did our crafts. She did most of the talking, of course, because I find it very difficult to talk to strangers.
For me social interaction is profoundly uncomfortable. I do not like to be outside my home because it means being around people. This makes me anxious. I do not experience fear, I just don’t want to be around people, touched by people, looked at, judged. I’m not afraid or worried, no, I’ve been afraid a million times in my life, this does not feel like fear. It feels like shame.
Why would I feel ashamed to be around people? It would take me to write a book in order to explain it all…