Partial Hospitalization Series: Day Two Groups

You find a better seat than yesterday. In a corner. The group starts with a woman you've never met passing around handouts. Handouts for mental illness like it's a kindergarten class on how to write the letter A. Draw a 45 degree angle. Breathe in and think about the problem. Connect the two lines with a line in the middle. Breathe out and think of all of the solutions. Keep calm. Follow Freud, or was is Schrodinger, or that guy that wrote that book about the 7 Habits? Avoid eye contact. Why do you keep making eye contact? She'll call on you if you make eye contact. You try to look away but it's not in time and suddenly your name is being uttered. An almost death sentence in group. And suddenly you're sharing things with people you've known for a total of 8 hours that you haven't been able to share with people you've known for 18 years. You had to do a diversion class once, and oddly enough this reminds you of it. Everyone is talking but they seem to only be talking to pass the time. They just want to say enough words to get past the 6 hours that you're supposed to be there. 5 hours and 45 minutes if you're lucky. You get unnecessarily angry at those who seem to have such an easy time sharing and roll your eyes at those who refuse to open up. Why in mental health does there seem to be no happy middle? Why is it that almost every person you know who is mentally ill seems to only see life in black in white? All of the things or nothing at all. Note to self; look up that symptom on the internet. 

So you do.

Next note to self; do not self diagnose.

Partial Hospitalization Series: Medicine

The doctor is quiet. Everyone at this whole place seems to be so quiet, and it makes your brain race a million miles an hour trying to fill in the gaps. She speaks to you for barely ten minutes and then suddenly you have a diagnosis. Bipolar II, Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia, and Psychotic Disorder (not otherwise specified). This is it, what you've been waiting years of your life for. A diagnosis. And yet you're somewhat disappointed. You're crazy, You see things, feel spiders that aren't there, chase toddlers around parking lots when there aren't any there. And you don't feel like this diagnosis really speaks to the magnitude of it's severity. Just a couple words seem to sum up how you feel everything all the times, how you can't stand the thought of people leaving you but you want them to go away for the rest of forever.

She recommends a type of pill that will make you stable. But stable is terrifying. Stable means you might not be able to sing or act or write the way you're used to. Stable means you may not be able to love and hate and everything in between as strongly as you're used to. But you're here for that reason, aren't you? Stability. So you tell her you'll think about it and see her on Tuesday with an answer.

Stable, maybe you can get used to that.

Partial Hospitalization Program Series: Day One

Your first day at a PHP program is one of the most emotionally exhausting days you'll experience. Your first hour (or was it two, or three?) is spent baring your heart and soul to a complete stranger with a clipboard. Your life story becomes a checklist to them. Abuse? Check. Sexual assault? Check. Irrational anger? Double check. It all gets broken down into such finite particles of existence that you begin to question the real reason you're there. Was it really the mental breakdown that led you to run out of work and chase non existent babies around a parking lot? Or was it that one time in elementary school somebody called you fat?

And then you finish up and go to meet a group. That group looks nothing like you were expecting. But then again, you aren't quite sure what you were expecting. Whatever it was, all this group is, is a gathering of adults sitting around a table, not truly prepared to share the damage that brought them there.

Then it's over, and you're not sure why, but things are looking up despite the fact you're exhausted and the program used up all of your spoons for the day.

Your day one went by in a flash, and you can only hope that despite the difficulties you faced, the rest go the exact same way.