I was so scared about starting group this past Monday that I walked in trembling, tears barely falling from my eyes. I walked in ten minutes early but the big group room was already mostly full and I took a chair near the door, and a few people looked my way and smiled knowingly, I could tell that every one of them knew that it was my first day there. I sat quietly and didn’t talk to anyone. I just tried to stare at the floor or the wall or anything, really, so I could focus my eyes and my thoughts at the same time and do my best to NOT CRY. Obviously something I have had a serious problem with lately, one of the biggest problems that had led me to that room on that day.
Now, I don’t even remember the things I said that first day in group. I just know that by the second break I realized that M.A. was right – being in group therapy is great. I can’t say it enough, and I have been saying it to anyone and everyone I’ve talked to about this situation in the past week: It’s amazing to be surrounded by people who are going through the same thing I am.
Not to say that our problems are all alike, because they are not – far from it. The group is made out of men and women of all ages and kinds. There are addicts and handicapped, elderly and teens, gay and straight, hopeful and those who are feeling even more hopeless than me. But no matter what the events or situations that got us in to group, one thing is in common between all of us: There are things in our lives that are just plain wrong and we are all trying to change them, the things that are making us so unhappy. To be able to talk openly with people about the things I think and feel and do – and not worry about being judged – there’s no other word but priceless, unless I stretch a little bit farther and just call it perfect.
By the end of the second day of group I was wishing that it was for more than three hours a day. I wish I could have had lunch with these people and then gone on for three more hours of talking. By the end of the third day, I went home and wiled away the hours, hardly able to wait to get up in the morning and go back again. Here I am on Saturday and feeling annoyed and anxious because there is Sunday to contend with before I can go back again on Monday.
I never thought I would be this person, in this situation. That is one of the things I am still struggling with. Sometimes, even though I feel totally comfortable and accepted and home with these people in group, with the patients as well as the incredible therapists, sometimes I still look around and can’t believe I am there.
I spent most of my life rejecting mental health issues. For real. I used to think people who said they were depressed were actually just lazy or weak. I would listen to friends or acquaintances moan about their problems and woes and think to myself, god, just snap out of it already! Now there is guilt over the people I alienated and pushed away because of my ignorant assumptions. Steph, especially. My best friend, who I wrote off for years, not wanting to listen to her complain that she was depressed because this, that, or the other thing were wrong with her life. I have problems, too!I wanted to scream to her back then, and I did. But I kept all of my problems to myself. I buried everything that bothered me or hurt me in my life for years and years, until they exploded a few weeks ago, until I lost the ability to cope with what was going on in my own head.
I never thought that I would be this person in this situation, and yet now that I am here I am wondering if this was all meant to happen.
Do I want to be depressed, and so anxious that things that aren’t even real keep me from sleeping at night? Do I want to be out of work and spending my days in a mental hospital? Do I want my body to become a slave to the medications I am taking? No, of course not. And yet, I can’t help feeling glad, and even grateful that I hit rock bottom, because I know that from here all I can do is rise.