I wrote a blog post a few months ago detailing my experience with modern day mental health hospitalization. You can read it here. It was a nightmare experience that exposed the glaring holes in America’s mental health care.
Since then, I’ve enrolled in an intensive therapy program. They call it a Partial Hospitalization Program, but that’s just the insurance code used. It’s not as scary as it sounds. I’m not hospitalized, I’m not locked in a facility. Basically, I go to intensive group therapy everyday of the week from 9:30 AM to 2:00 PM.
Then there is a step down program called Intensive Outpatient Program. Which is, essentially, going to therapy 3-4 days a week from 9:30 AM to 12:00 PM. The difference between PHP and IOP is that PHP is to figure out the causes of thought distortions and to integrate with the the skills taught in the program. It can last from 2 weeks to 4 weeks.
IOP is practicing the skills learned and getting stable on medications. IOP is still intensive, but is a step down from PHP. Usually IOP lasts for a month or two. But it can end sooner.
At the facility where I’m at, I’m free to leave if I want, but I’ve found I don’t want to. Normally I shy away from group therapy. I don’t like interacting with others and never feel a connection with the other patients. But this time, it’s different.
I’ve fully committed to my treatment plan. I’ve fully committed to getting better. And that means going to group therapy and interacting with others facing the same issues I am.
I have to admit, my first week, I wanted to just go home. I was withdrawing, existing in my head through most group therapies. I retreated into my intellect. Each day we check in with a mood rating, the emotions we’re feeling, struggles we’re having, and topics we’d like to discuss. Then we move into mindfulness exercises. And this is where my intellect collided with the therapy.
I always found mindfulness new age hokum. It’s taking Eastern meditation and reinterpreting it as some psychological self-help crap. I always resisted it.
After two months of intense therapy, sometimes not wanting to go in at all, wanting to isolate, but making myself to go in to therapy I can say this program saved my life.
I was at the bottom of a deep, dark depression. I was isolating and abusing substances. Thanks to Compass, I learned the skills I needed to work my way into a functional life. They didn’t fix me, but they gave me the skills and methods to start making things better.
They helped me find a great outside therapist (my current one being useless), worked with my psychiatrist on getting on the right medications and regime, and things actually look hopeful for once.
I have to say, if you are struggling, if you are hopeless, and you are scared of inpatient hospitals, please, please, please look into a Partial Hospitalization Program and Intensive Outpatient Program. Don’t let the names scare you. There is no hospital, you are free to come and go as you please.
But these people are professionals and truly care on you getting better. They know how to get things started and get you help. They will not treat you like scum or something unworthy of help. They truly care.
They saved my life. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or fears. I’ve been through it all. And I’m now better for it.
photo Credit: unsplash-logoMartha Dominguez de Gouveia