As you know I’m currently “convalescing” in a “supportive environment” (oh just say it, in the nut house, no judgement) with Postnatal Depression. PND as the cool kids call it. Generally plenty of group therapy and contemplation of taking up smoking in order to get a break. Today has been no exception with two group meet ups already and another scheduled. I missed the earliest one. But in the second one I finally had my “ah ha” moment, as the big O calls it. And I’m going to tell you all about it after a “quick” note about group therapy.
A note on group therapy:
Damn you film and television for making group therapy look so god damn hilarious. I spent the first week here so bitterly dissapointed with the fact that it was nowhere near as entertaining as it “should” be that I really didn’t process information as well as I should. That’s right, I’m blaming Hollywood for my own shortcomings rather than taking responsibility for my own actions.
As a writer (well I’m a wannabe be writer not a really real writer. I’ve written a couple of novels but I’m no Kate Forsyth with a plenitude of published novels in multiple contries with five star reviews… I’m not even published or reviewed at all… I’m more of a “writer” than a writer…) As a “writer” I was expecting something exciting to write about. You know, come up with the next ‘Sucker Punch.’ Some dramatic confessions, arguments, the odd chair thrown and of course being that we’re all women here, the obligatory cat fight that devolves into a group pillow fight. Totally has not happened. Not even close. The closest we got was someone said I had no filter between my mind and my mouth, I had to agree unfortunately, so no animosity, backstabbing or pillow fighting ensued. We sit in a circle, yes like the movies, but we have manuals. We pause thoughtfully as we try to articulate how the theory relates to us personally, but not too personally, no sordid tales or juicy tid bits really, and we nod appreciatively when another person is speaking to show that yes we feel that way too. All very civilised. It’s more like a group of girls out to coffee but with guided conversation and plenty of thoughtful pauses. Le sigh, not the stuff of a best selling novel with a spin off blockbuster film. I guess I could sex it up a bit. Put in a lesbian love triangle and then the struggle to return to heterosexual family life… ‘Girlback Mountain’… ‘Brokeback Interrupted’??? I’ll work on it. There’s something there, once I put in some forced drug use and us all wearing hospital gowns instead of our own clothes. Anyway, back to my point, yes I had one, group therapy is not the awesomely hilarious experience you see in comedies. So just be warned about that. Don’t get your hopes up on the therapist who clearly has more issues than anyone else, alcoholics and sexually promiscuous virgin types. They aren’t there…
My O moment
In group therapy we’ve been looking at Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, CBT for those up on the lingo. It basically looks at how we respond to an event. How what we think, often unnecessarily negatively, effects how we respond to a situation and therefore how we feel and act and then the consequences of that. Makes sense right. So a common example for us mums is, the baby is crying, then you list what your thoughts were about it. For me starting from something is wrong, ramping up to I’m doing something wrong, I’ll never do this right, my babies will be permanently damaged because I’m not responding right. As a consequence I get stressed. Simple really. I get that. And logically I got this and a range of other exercises on a variety of topics over the last 3 weeks but emotionally I still felt sick and anxious. My emotions were running rings around me. But today our group leader said something a little bit different. When we got to stating our thoughts/beliefs about the situation the therapist said, “Now how does that relate to your core beliefs about yourself?” And the world went CLICK. Suddenly I was forced to think about what I truly thought about myself deep down. And that my beliefs about specific situations all stem from this very horrible but very misguided notion I have about myself. So here’s what I wrote all in a rush as the emotional floodgates opened – I can’t do anything right, I poison everything I touch, I’m not good enough, I’m not enough enough… and then it was like a huge ray of sunshine broke free and I just smiled. I wrote down those awful things I believe about myself and all I felt was elation and happiness because now when I start having these thoughts I know what is at the core of it. I now have more of a chance of halting the escalation of my anxiety because I know it comes from within me, within my own twisted psyche, not from a situation. I don’t need to conquer a myriad of thoughts regarding a thousand different events, I need to conquer myself and essentially one thought, I’m not good enough. Now it’ll be exceptionally hard work and a long journey to rid myself of this core belief that has been ground into me through my entire childhood. BUT I now feel that at the age of 34 I have a map of where to go. Maybe some of the streets are misnamed and some roads closed but at least I now have a start and end point.
I’ll keep you posted on my journey with more “Confessions of a Mad Mooer.”
P.S. I refuse to apologise for my brazen use of commas. Don’t be a commaunist!
What an inspiring post! I did some outpatient group therapy for…well I can’t remember exactly what the group was called, but it was a formal way of saying “a group of people who want to kill themselves.” Anyway, I totally agree that the media has the images of mental health treatment totally skewed. What a disappointment, right? I’m really happy you came to that aha O moment! It’s so much easier to succeed when we know exactly what we need to fix. And now, you know that all comes from inside your head! You’re very strong and courageous to go through this journey and share it here! I send my love and support.
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