Pot.

**This post discusses the use of marijuana. Please do not read if you are triggered by discussions about drug use. I am not a medical professional and the below information should not replace treatment by a licensed health care provider. I also live in a state (Arizona) that has legalized medicinal marijuana. I am a rule follower by nature**

 

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I have been wanting to discuss marijuana and its uses in mental health. Personally, I use it pretty consistently. I do not drive, work, or care for anybody under the influence. Again, big proponent of rules over here. I believe in bodily autonomy and I don’t get to decide if you want to be around someone under the influence. I would never attempt to convince you of my beliefs as I respect everyone’s opinions.

I primarily use this for stress and anxiety symptoms, although it is officially prescribed to me for PTSD. I feel like my mind is in so many places at once sometimes. I imagine that it has the same effects on me that ADHD medication has on those with ADHD. It calms me, I can concentrate better, and my tension is no longer affecting me physically. I can’t convey in words how much better I feel. I sleep better with it as well. I have never let it interfere with my professional life. In no way do I feel like drugs are the answer to problems. If anything, I avoid smoking or alcohol when I am depressed or manic. As strong as the desire to numb the feelings is, I don’t feel that is healthy. I don’t want to associate bad times with great enjoyable substances. I don’t go out for a drink on a bad day. I wouldn’t smoke either. I will smoke when I feel anxious, but not when I am manic. when I am stressed, but not when I am making major decisions. I guess it kinda sounds silly that someone would follow so many rules that they set for themselves over something so trivial. I sincerely believe that there is a such thing as too much of a good thing.

So, yeah. I smoke pot. I feel more productive and relaxed just enough into easing myself back to the outgoing person I was. I have to let my guard down and try to regain the self confidence I once had. Anyway, I am rambling.

Let me know what you think?

-B

p.s. Full disclosure, this post was originally posted on my personal blog here.

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure: Two Sleeps

photo of santa claus sleeping

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I have two nights remaining, or two sleeps, that’s the way we used to count down the days until Christmas, by the number of sleeps.  I have two sleeps until I leave for treatment.

My to do list is starting to get shorter.  The pile of things to pack is getting taller.  The exhaustion is increasing each day.  The head cold is progressing and has resulted in an absolutely horrid, knife in the head feeling kind of a headache that has been throbbing on the left side of my head all day.  The withdrawal symptoms from the one medication I was taking are slowly subsiding (slowly being the operative word).  The ability to do basic things, send a text message with accurate spelling, for example, are becoming challenging.  The driving anxiety has returned from a hiatus that started in May.  I am not welcoming it’s return, but I know it is due to being overall heightened and my body basically throwing a hissy fit.

However, as I was discussing with my brother today, I am persevering.  There is this candle or fire lit deep within me that I swear can not be extinguished.  I am the most tired I have been (without being depressed) yet I am up before 6 AM, getting going and doing what needs to be done.  Should work need to be done after hours, I take care of it.  I am plugging along, some days slowly, and at a toddler’s pace, but I am making movement in a forward direction.

It hit me today, and brought tears to my eyes, how much I am going to miss my people while I am gone.  To see their faces, to hug them, to text them when I am thinking of them, just to spend time with them.  But, I know that I need to let go to heal.  I need to relinquish my reigns so I can work on my deep and inner issues so I can be well from the inside out and allow for a transformation.

In all honesty I do not know what to expect and should I put expectations on an outcome I set myself up for failure.  My goal is to adhere to the program and to be compliant.  And for those that truly know me this will be a challenge.  But, I have committed to myself that this is what I will do.  Come hell or high water, I will do what is asked of me and I will do it with all of me.

Shall, I not have the chance to write before departing, I thank you for your support, kind words and positive energy as I embark on my big adventure.  Your support means the world, moon and stars to me!~

Cupcakes and Sprinkles,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

 

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure: The Home Stretch

round grey and black compass

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I leave for treatment on Thursday.  It seems to have come upon us quickly in that slow agonizing kind of way.  I am the kind of person that once I have my mind made up, I am set and I am ready.  When I have to wait it is pure agony for me.

I know that good things come with waiting.  I have been able to spend good quality time with my family and my friends.  This weekend we had family photos taken and I was able to take my son’s senior portraits (what an honor!) I have been able to make my list and not only check it twice, but a good nineteen times at this point.

With the time I have had since being accepted into treatment and actually leaving I believe will be three weeks.  It has been a long, tiring, draining three weeks.  I have attempted to get “caught up” work wise, but alas, this does not seem like it is going to be one of the things that is going to be checked off my list.

And that is one thing I am learning.  I am trying, really hard, and I am doing the best that I can.  And that’s the best that I can do.  I am fighting through horrible side effects due to withdrawal from one medication and side effects from another new medication.  Then there’s stress that causes the body to breakdown it’s personal shields and cold season, and oh so much fun.

But, I am a fighter.  This journey will probably be the hardest one I have ever chosen to take, but I am going to muscle through each and every foot step of it, perhaps not with grace and certainly not always with a smile on my face, but I will do it and it will be worth it in the end.

Sprinkles and Cupcakes,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure: Perspective

woman wearing black shirt sitting on rock
Photo by Vlad Bagacian on Pexels.com

The days are passing quickly.  I suspect that it is due to being so busy.  However, I feel like I am barely keeping my head above water so to speak, only getting done the bare minimum and my head is swimming with what still needs to be done before I leave for my big adventure.

It seems like every few days I venture to the store to pick up a few things that I “need” for the trip and I am currently storing all items in a small, round, white laundry basket that I plan to bring with me so I have something to do my laundry (good thinking there, because how else would I actually do my laundry if I did not have a laundry basket??)  I feel like I am nesting a little.  I am thinking of what I may need over a 45-day period and it is nerve wracking.  I just started reminding myself yesterday that I have a spouse and he WILL be visiting me and he is willing to bring me items, so I should not worry so much about bringing everything that I need because I have a resource who can bring me items should I forget them.  But then, I was wondering if this is my way of attempting to be in control of a situation that is not within my control.  And if it is also a way for me to act out on my symptoms (shopping addiction) and justify it, with a pretty good justification.  In addition, I am spending time engaging in a mind numbing activity.

This weekend I ran errands and I felt no satisfaction from the shopping that I partook in.  It was not much, not like a “spree”, but more like a shopping trip for things that I did in deed “need” but I was numb.  This tells me that I am, in some ways, starting to shut down.

In other ways I am more heightened in my feelings.  When sitting at the dining room table with my family, I will well up with tears knowing that I will go without these family dinners for an extended period of time.  I know that my family will be fine, I have full faith in their ability to exist while I am away, but I will miss them, I will miss being with them, and I will miss being part of my family.

One thing that I have found is that I am holding onto things with more length, knowing that I have a short amount of time left (less than two weeks) and I am no longer taking things for granted.  I am holding on to each hug, each conversation.  I am staring like a weirdo because I know that I need to keep those memories glued in my mind.

I am feeling the depression starting to sink in.  The sadness, the heaviness, the despair.  Yet, there is so much to do that I have not time for depression, or any dip in my mood.  I need a up kick in my mood to be truly honest, I need a little bit of an upswing so I can have all the energy needed to get all this stuff done.  I feel like I need to be the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland, but I feel like I am moving from Piglet into Eeyore and this, well, this is just not a good thing.

I am going to take a break and take a deep breath and let all the buzzing and rushing and racing come to a stop.  I am going to be still and calm in my space and in my mind.  I am going to embrace what I have in this moment and the gifts that have been given to me.  I am going to be kind to myself and my spirit.  All will be well.  This will be a wonderful experience.  I will be safe.  I will have what I need to function in the manner that I need to function.  I will not be in need of things, I will not be in a place of wanting.  My needs will be fulfilled.  I will have peace in my body and my soul.

This is a big adventure.  There will probably be some scary cliffs, but I bet there is going to be some breath taking views.

Sprinkles and Cupcakes,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure

Babbles: Bella’s Big Adventure

woman wearing grey long sleeved top photography
Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Pexels.com

In less than two weeks I am going on an adventure.  There could be lions, tigers, or bears (oh my!~)  It was suggested that I pack light and there was a whole list of what to bring, and an even longer list of what not to bring, and I am stressing over the whole packing situation, because, well that’s what I do.  I am not so good when it comes to packing.  To have to limit myself to specific items for an extended period of time is like putting me on one of those stretcher machines they used back in the old day to dismember people.  At least that is what it feels like to me.

I love clothes.  I love to dress a little fancy, to accessorize with jewelry and to wear nice shoes and more eclectic clothes so to be going to a place where this is not necessarily appropriate, I feel like I am being suffocated.  How will I be able to show my personality, I say as I throw myself down on my bed with gust and expression of disbelief and sadness.  I can’t wear boring clothes (with emphasis on the O) it’s just not my thing.  Oh heaven’s bee this is just impossible, I can’t go.

The reality is that I AM going, whether I pack my bag or my spouse packs it and I will have more joy in the process if I just suck it up and do it myself, because although I love him to pieces, he will probably not pack my favorites and then I will be mad and realistically, I will only have myself to blame.

Next obstacle is getting ready for the adventure because it is a 45-day long adventure and that ladies and gents is a long time to be on an adventure.  I have been handling it pretty well (and in that I mean that I am staying strong, until I am weak and breaking down in tears, sobbing my eyes out and letting my fears get the best of me).  So, that’s my definition of pretty well.  I have been so busy with work and life that I have not allowed myself a lot of time to let what’s going on really sink in.  I am staying busy and just plugging along and getting things done and checking things off the to do list as if nothing huge and giant is coming up down the road.  One may say I am acting like I am in denial or acting in some sort of avoidance.  But it’s my coping mechanism and has been for many, many years.  Staying busy, keep the mind engaged and then it stays out of the mucky muck mud and then we do not have mental breakdowns.

Last night I took part in a sleep study.  I stayed away from home in a sleep lab for the study and it was hard.  I felt utterly alone, even though there were plenty of staff who were quite attentive to my every need.  I was missing my people and my pets.  I felt like this was a trial run to my big adventure and I did ok.  I did not cry, but I also had all my electronics and was in contact with my humans.  When I go on my adventure, for the first three days, I will have no contact with my humans, and I think this will be most challenging and will really cause me to use all my strength to get through this trial.  Moving past the three days, there will be a landline phone that can be used, so no texting, no computers, no electronics, no music.  I will be going through total withdrawal and this is going to hit me hard.

I chose to look at this trip away as an adventure because it’s the power of the mind.  If I state that it’s an adventure, it changes the mindset to a positive one, it implies that there may be challenges, but that they will be exciting, breathtaking, exhilarating, memorable.  If I were to say in a solemn tone that I was going in for a stint in treatment, that to me, has a negative connotation to it, and I am trying to surround this opportunity with as much positiveness as possible.

This is a big adventure for me.  I am scared, but that is overshadowed by the fact that I am looking forward to this opportunity and the blessings that I am hoping will come.  I have the support of my support network and so much positive energy, there may be a solar flare.

In a few weeks, I will sign off for 45 days.  Ill be writing, no question about it, but will not be able to post until around Christmas.  I pray that while I am away my soul is healed, along with my mind and my body.

Sprinkles and Cupcakes,

~Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

Babbles: Patience

girl wearing white clothes walking on pavement road

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When I was 18 months old, I was playing in the yard with my older brother as my mom stood at the window watching us as she washed a few dishes.  Not long into being in the yard, my brother came inside and approached my mother.  He looked up at her while she was at the sink and said, “We lost Michelle!”  Puzzled, my mother stated that we had not lost Michelle, that she was playing in the yard, just as he had been.  Yet, my brother was insistent that I had been lost, nowhere to be found.

The yard was searched, and I was sure as hell, not in the yard.  Thinking through the previous conversations that took place, it was realized that it was stated that after the dishes were done, we would go to grandmas.  (And boy did I love going to see my grandparents!) But I had to wait.

And that whole waiting part, yeah that did not work for my schedule.  It seems that I opened the gate, closed the gate and started walking.  I walked up the street, over to the next street, crossed an alley and was beginning to cross a major road when the girl who happened to be our babysitter that lived behind us caught me and saved me from my self.  When asked what I was doing, my response was, “going to grandmas”.

I have never been a person that had much patience.  I want what I want when I want it.  From a young age, to the age that I am now (a bit older than 18 months), the whole waiting game has never been my favorite, or my jive, or my cup of tea, coffee or wine.  It just doesn’t work for me, makes me irritable and agitated.

I am at a place right now in my life where I am in a real place of waiting.  I am seeking additional treatment and I have to wait.  I need to wait to get the paperwork processed, and to get it approved.  I need to wait for me and my brain to stabilize.  A month ago I was not sick enough and now at this point I am not stable enough.  If you wait a week, who knows what mood I’ll be in…

I am learning that there are gifts in waiting.  I am seeing things differently.  I am noticing that I am stronger than I thought I was, more resilient, strong, persistent, dedicated, you know I am woman hear me roar.  But I also found that I am really, really, tired.  I keep pushing and pushing, trudging through the mucky muck, but goodness bee, I am exhausted.  It feels like if it is not one thing it is another, and Nancy’s coffee cake I am not sure how much more I can take.  But, every time I say that, something else comes up and I have the strength to persevere, not sure where it comes from, but it appears, and I press on and then I am that much stronger.

And then, you get the call, the call that all is approved.  There is a sense of relieve, and disbelief that overcomes your whole body.  Also fear, fear that it will be taken away.  Followed by a brain that starts to go into nesting mode and thinking about all that needs to be done before you go and how just not sleeping until you leave is a plausible, although unrealistic, possibility.

Slow and steady won the race for the tortoise and the hare.  I more identify as a hare, so it is hard living in a world of tortoises, but they win, and I want to win, therefore I need to be more turtle like.

I sit here today, and I am taking a deep breath in and breathing it out.  I am telling myself that I am well, and I will only accept wellness into my body and my mind.  I will have peace and calm within me, that is the only thing that I will embody, nothing else will be permitted to cross into my person.

May you have peace.  May you have wellness.  May you have the peace that passes all understanding.

Cupcakes and Sprinkles,

Bella

www.bellasbabbles.com

 

Finally, Some Good News!

So, as many of you may already know, I have been pursuing ECT (Electro Convulsive Therapy) Treatment for about the past month or so. I am very pleased to announce that tomorrow is my very first treatment! I will be undergoing treatment for about a month, maybe less, maybe more, 3 times a week. I know, that probably sounds like a lot, and don’t worry it sounds like a lot to me too. Yet, I am basically giving the steering wheel of my life to these doctors for the time being, in the hopes that when I get it back, I will be on a much brighter path. So in case you didn’t know, I will be chronicling my treatment with posts every Monday, Wednesday and Friday on my personal blog The Smiles We Bear. I will be writing everything and everything about my treatment, from side effects, to progress. I am very hopeful that this treatment will succeed with me, as it has a 90% success rate with treatment resistant depression. However, my therapist has told me to proceed with caution when it comes to my expectations for this treatment. In her words, “I won’t wake up from the anesthesia and be a new happier person.” But then again, she has no experience with ECT, like myself, so we cannot honestly say that that won’t happen. Of course there are also the extreme side effects that I will have to wade through during the course of my treatment, like confusion, nausea, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, etc. On top of all that, even if it is successful, there is no telling for how long. Yes, I CAN relapse into depression after going through all of this. The silver lining is that not only can the treatment last decades, but if it worked once, it can work again. Meaning IF I do relapse, I can just go in for another round of ECT. Not to mention that I will be continuing my meds throughout and after the treatment. So to say the least, I have really high expectations for this treatment, exactly the opposite of what my therapist is advising me to have. How can I help it though? I mean there is a chance that I could be depression FREE when all is said and done. Why would I not be excited after 10 grueling years of non-stop fighting. I could finally have a, somewhat, normal life! So, I don’t want to take any more of your time, but if you want to read my entire ECT Journey series, follow my blog The Smiles We Bear.

 

Yours,

Wolfgang

Mental Illness and Cognitive Dissonance

It’s no secret that the spectrums of mental illness come fraught with confusion, anxiety and fear, whether it be depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In some cases, the illness is the anxiety and confusion itself – a deep-set emotional displacement that has no reasonable cause behind it. There exists an endless number of factors that influence, weave in and out of, and cause mental illness, and it can take decades of therapy and medication to root out the reasons behind it, never mind help resolve it.

One of the biggest pain points for me – and for many people I know – is that there exists a discrepancy between what they see and what they feel, or between what they believe and what they’re told to believe. It can be as simple as feeling worthless when everyone around you tells you how great you are; it can be as complex as believing that you don’t physically exist, despite being able to touch and feel your own body.

Cognitive Dissonance Theory

The concept of cognitive dissonance dates back over sixty years, when psychologist Leon Festinger proposed that humans need a kind of internal consistency between belief and perception in order to function mentally. The basis of his work came from a phenomenon in the 1930s after a severe earthquake in India. People who felt the earthquake but suffered no damage began to believe that worse disasters were yet to come – not because there was evidence to justify their fear, but because they needed a belief to justify their fear.

This is something that can be seen throughout the world today; perhaps the most obvious example is theology. People believe in the existence of a deity or deities not because there is evidence to make them believe, but rather because the existence of those deities is necessary to support their beliefs.

The thing is, when there is a contradiction between belief and perception – or simply between two beliefs – people will go to extreme lengths to justify both beliefs. Historically, the geocentric model of the solar system is another example. Despite evidence to the contrary (the motion of planets, stars, etc.), astronomers came up with increasingly complex systems to keep the earth at the center of the universe, because it was necessary to support their belief.

Subjective Dissonance

One of the greatest challenges to psychology is the subjectiveness of the field; whilst chemical and behavioral studies can help, and large data sets balance things out for clinical trials, when treating individual patients it can be difficult to isolate a particular illness for the purpose of a diagnosis, simply because the treating psychologist is reliant on the subjective description of the symptoms by the patient. Observationally a person may appear depressed, but internally they may feel content or happy.

This disconnect between objective fact (what a person does or says) and subjective reality (how the person really feels) is often at the heart of many mental illnesses. For myself, a day in bed might be genuine exhaustion from a hard week at work, or perhaps a low-level illness; to my family, who’ve seen me like that frequently, it’s just depression. And of course, the behavior often begets the emotion – the longer I stay in bed, typically the worse I feel.

For someone in the manic phase of bipolar disorder, it can be even worse: to the sufferer, the world is on their side, everything is going amazingly, and nothing can bring them down. To the observer, they are erratic, nonsensical and in some cases outright dangerous.

Belief in Treatment

The key to surviving with mental illness is to get help; to find treatment. It can be in the form of therapy, medication, meditation … all these things are proven to help balance an unbalanced mind. But dissonance can be a challenge here, as well. To start with, it can be difficult to admit you need help – you don’t want to believe you have a problem, despite observable evidence to the contrary. Alcoholics suffer from this; the pile of empty bottles in the garbage simply don’t equate to a drinking problem. They find ways to justify the drinking – even in the most absurd ways – because they don’t believe they have a problem.

On the flip side, someone in the throes of depression may not believe they can be any help – that there is no point seeking treatment, because it won’t make any difference. I’ve suffered this for most of my life.

And then, of course, there’s the behavior changes associated with treatment itself. The classic example is the schizophrenic patient who goes off their medication, because on the medication they feel fine and believe they don’t need medication. Another is when I stop taking my own medications because I’m running low and I don’t want to run out.

Logical Fallacies

To anyone on the outside, this simply doesn’t make sense; it isn’t logical. But logic is the enemy of cognitive dissonance (or perhaps the other way around). In my mind, it all adds up: if I run out of medication I will feel worse; therefore if I stop taking medication, I won’t run out.

My friend at work was talking to me the other day and mentioned a similar experience; he suffers from extreme anxiety, and is on medication to help cope. But once he was on the medication he didn’t feel anxious, and when you don’t feel anxious, you don’t need medication. So he stopped.

These sorts of logical fallacies are the loophole for cognitive dissonance. I can use a kind of “When A is true then B is true; B is true so A must also be true” reasoning to connect the disparity between my thoughts and my perceptions. The subjective truth is that I meed medication to keep a constant chemical balance in my brain, but the objective truth is that I simply feel better.

In the end, cognitive dissonance isn’t going anywhere, and nor is mental illness. But an awareness of this problem can help a lot of people – it certainly helps me – to push through with something that might not immediately make sense, because in the long run it will help. Keep taking the meds, even when you feel fine, because the meds are the reason you feel fine.

And if the problem is that you simply can’t believe in your own worth, use this to look around you. The people who still talk to you, who live with you, who put up with you – they wouldn’t, if they believed what you do. You might not be able to change your belief, but you can change your behavior – and that’s sometimes the first step towards changing yourself.

Dear OCD…

Dear OCD

Hi there.
You’ve been a part of me for so many years.
I did not realize you were with me until I officially got introduced to you in my psychiatrist’s office. I’ve been realizing how many things have started to “make sense” ever since I found out about your existence.

You see OCD, your full name is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. You are meant to be destructive, and defective. But you know what? You weren’t always so bad to me. In this letter, I want to not only share with you what kind of troubles you made me go through but also why you weren’t always so bad.

OCD, your name is made of two parts and that’s what makes you, YOU. You made me have obsessions of being perfect, which made me be insanely hard on myself and obsess over efficiency. You also brought in negative, intrusive thoughts about every possible thing that could go wrong if I tried to ignore you. You also gave me some odd compulsions, like re-checking the stovetop more than five times or making sure the water cap is closed multiple times because you made me so anxious if I didn’t.

I remember when I was younger, I had intrusive thoughts about “chewing aluminum foil” in my mouth. For a period of my life, I remember having these intrusive thoughts about having a taste of aluminum foil in my mouth, and you were not pleasant. I was so confused on what it was since I was so young, and you didn’t leave me alone. You were strong enough to make my parents think that I was lying to them so that I could get out from after school activities. I hope you were satisfied.

OCD, you were also strong enough to bring a full on depressive episode VERY recently in my life. When my “perfect summer” didn’t go the way I expected, you popped into my life again. But this time, I needed a lot more help than I did before. Your presence grew stronger inside of me even without me knowing. That’s what makes you so scary and strong.

But you know OCD, I’m also here to THANK you for being a part of me for so long. Because of you, I was able to achieve many things including internships and different opportunities. Because of you, I became a perfectionist, and I was always on top of my work that I was given, and that got me a lot of trust from my higher ups. Because of you, there were many times when I actually saved my house from burning down because the stove was actually still on. If it wasn’t you telling me to re-check it over and over again, I don’t know what would’ve happened.

Last but not least, even though you made me experience what it meant to be suicidal – you made me hold on to my heavenly father more than anything else. You pushed me to the edge of the cliff, but my heavenly father is STRONGER than you, and that allowed me to experience so much of his grace and sovereignty in the midst of everything that you put me through.

Dear OCD, you pushed me to my limit, but I am not going anywhere. I will stand firm and fight against you but also embrace you because you allowed me to be who I am today. I’m sorry you have to be labeled a disorder like this, and I hope more people can learn more about you, so we can try to be friends someday.

This is not a goodbye, but this is me reaching out to acknowledge your existence. Acknowledging how much I hate your guts but still learning how to THANK you for making me who I am today.

I’ll see you in my thoughts.

Take care,
Haelim

Partial Hospitalization Program and IOP

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.

Until now.

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