I’m being a bit naughty and ignoring my list for now, because I really need to talk about today!
This morning I woke up so tired. The alarm went off and all I wanted to do was hit the snooze button. In fact, I did. Twice. However, I knew it couldn’t last, and I forced myself to get up and shower. I was picking up a therapy friend to head to Leavers Group, so I needed to be ready and on time!
Typically, one of our cats decided to head in just before I left the house, so I had to feed her, as she’s a wanderer and usually disappears for days on end before coming back home!
I picked up my therapy friend – friend – Yes, she’s my friend, from therapy!
And we went to Leavers. It was my friends first session as she is integrating into Leavers from the Community. I think it’s been great to have this overlap, as I was the first to trial it, and I think it really helped whilst I was still a part of the main community. Though, nothing could prepare anyone for how different the leavers group is.
I hadn’t seen my friend since I left the Main Community at the end of July. It was so nice to see her. Despite it being ages, it didn’t feel that long at all. I think that’s what makes great friendships. We also “get” each other as well. Of course, coming from a mental health background, we can understand each other, but with the therapy we have both had, we’ve learned to deal with difficulties and talk about things in an “adult” way, despite our childlike modes!
I wanted Leavers group to be good for my friend (and another new member), but as always, there was the drama! Just like last week, there was a conflict, between myself and another Community Member. Unfortunately, the same Community Member I had issues with last week. I’m not going to explain the entire situation, but the comments which affected me and the comment I said in the moment, which I now feel was irrational.
She’d brought up a comment I made last week, to which set off my frustrated/anger/rage mode, and I not only started being verbally aggressive in tone, but crying and shaking in the anger. I was, in the moment, furious. I said that I didn’t care about her feelings and that the comment I’d made last week hadn’t bothered me, nor the situation it’d caused.
At the end of the therapy session, my friend was extremely patient as she sat in the car for more than an hour, while I attended an interview as part of a research project about ‘Borderline Patients”, in a Therapeutic Community and about empathy. It seems as though, this was quite helpful for me to do, as not only did I get the chance to talk about how I found being in the Community, but also suggest things about what I’d recommend, and also what I’d do if I could do it again, and also say how the Community works.
For example; the Community runs for 12 months, in that time, a Community Member spends approximately 4 months learning how the place runs and what the Community Members are like, an extra 2 months to start trusting people, by the half way point, you feel like you want to leave (you go through a stage of “I hate the place”, “I feel I’m better”, “There’s nothing wrong with me, I don’t need to be here”), then a month or 2 later, you start to open up, you’re 8 months in, and trying to figure things out. You realise that there’s still so much to say, and you say it all at once, 9 months in, and you feel like you’ve said it all and spend the next month saying nothing, then 10 to 11 months in you start to figure out the past things you’ve spoken about, which brings up other issues and questions and suggestions about things, that then leaves you with your last month to discuss. However, your last month is spent discussing your leaving and how you are going to manage, if you’re going to manage, and how your leaving party should be. You leave, and there’s so many unanswered questions. You’re confused and overwhelmed from going from a therapy of 3 days a week to dropping to 2 hours a week. It makes a big change. The first week after leaving, you feel so low, depressed, overwhelmed and confused. You feel numb and lost in yourself so much so that you may feel suicidal (as was my case – it was horrendous).
So, how should it be? Well, I suggested it ran for 18 months.
The structure of the community is as follows:
4-6 months of Introductory Group for 2 hours a week (This used to be 4 weeks!) – 12 Months Therapeutic Community, 3 days a week 6 hours a day – 18 months Leavers Group for 2 hours a week
The Therapeutic Community should be 18 months and the Leavers Group 12 months – Because by that time, service users should be moving on into work or other therapy related courses.
Why should it be 18 months?
As you see above, by the time you reach the 12 month mark, your last month is pretty much wasted discussing your leaving. In terms of your own, personal therapy, despite having been there for the first 4-6 months, you haven’t really said or done anything. You would’ve participated in a few things and written up some pieces in writing, and done some pieces in art, but you’ve not fully understood yourself yet. At 12 months, you’re left with more questions than what you went in with. Sure, it becomes easier to understand or deal with some of the difficulties of control the emotions but not everything is resolved. Still does there have to be a resolution? Not always.
If it was extended to 18 months, you’d be able to start asking the questions which have just raised, start the discussions you’ve been trying to avoid because it hurts too much to talk about, and begin to open up and feel as though you are really benefitting from being there. The last 2 months should be trying to “wrap up” things which you’ve been wanting to work on, and trying to get the best out of what you can. Leaving should be discussed in the last 2 weeks of therapy.
Leaving can bring up some extreme emotions, because we begin to feel abandoned and rejected. Especially as we know we’ll be “replaced” by new community members soon after we leave. However, having spent a longer time at the community, it should be easier to work on and to understand that it is not the end, but the beginning of something potentially wonderful.
You could start a new chapter filled with hope and joy. Of course, there will always be the anxieties about changing groups, and not knowing where you’re going next, but you’re more likely to feel stronger about things having had more support from Community Members and Therapists.
If I could do it all again, I wish I’d had longer. Purely because at the end of it, I felt I had many unfinished things to deal with, and I felt alone in that because joining the Leavers Group with these questions made me feel back at square one with when I first joined the Community. It’s going to take me at least a year to start opening up there. Especially with the way things are going…
So, that brings us back to today. Not only did I get to say pretty much all of the above there, but also about this conflict. Annoyingly, I needed to give some examples, and that happened to be one of them. I said about my feelings about the other person, and how negative they were and how that irritates me. The lady interviewing me, a Psychotherapist, suggested that I am reflecting my thoughts about myself onto this other person.
I’d like to see myself as a happy person. I want to be happy, but when I’m depressed and down, I hate it, and feel like the world is closing in and, well as you know with depression, if you’re unlucky, like me and many others, then the suicidal feelings are all too real and unbearable. The reflection of me, on this person is that they are the negativity that I don’t want to see in me. I feel so frustrated and angry, and now I wonder that if I feel that way about that person, is that what others see of me when I’m at my lowest?
Just as I was saying in another post last week, about how some people seem like they don’t want to get better, this person is one of them. They haven’t changed since I met them last. I don’t understand how all this time in therapy could not have helped them in any way, at least – that is what I see. I am most likely completely wrong!
So, that gave me something to think about. I said that I felt as though the room saw me as attacking and being a bully. I don’t want to be seen as that at all. It’s evident that there are strong feelings against one another, and we need to work out why that is. The reason discussed with this Psychotherapist, seemed to me to be the most logical for my situation. However, I do wonder why… Why it affects me so much.
That’s for me to work on at some point.
Anyway, after leaving the Community, my poor friend was sitting in the car on the phone to her boyfriend whilst the rain was pouring. I hadn’t intended to be so long but it was over the hour it was meant to take.
Much like my blogs of writing too much, I talk too much too! (Unless for some reason I’ve shut down, or can’t find my voice!)
We were cheeky and broke the “rules” by having a cup of tea at mine before collecting my sister from work. I then dropped my friend off at another meeting she had, and my sister and I went home. My Mum turned up and we had a chat about a few family matters, and then randomly she said she’d brought me a present, and gave me a bottle of a new wine to try! Ooo! I was, I am delighted! I’ve wanted some wine for ages now, but without a penny to my name, we’ve no money for treats! We’ve yet to indulge, it might have to be Saturday night for Dr Who and Casualty, if I can make it last that long (It might need hiding!)
I’ve spent the evening rushing around over things, such as paying bills and cooking the dinner. I started getting ready for bed, then figure out that I’ve developed an allergy to our washing powder (we think!) as my stomach, bra line, back, underarms are red raw. I’d been itchy all day, and hadn’t really thought anything of it. But it seems pretty obvious now! Just another symptom of the Fibro… Skin/Chemical Sensitivities! I’m always coming across them now…!!
Anyway, I’m going to call it a night. I want to write again tomorrow, so I need to save some energy for then.
Time for bed now though!