At the time of writing this I've almost been through one whole week of my Intensive Outpatient (Psychiatric) Program. It has been a roller coaster of a week, feeling all sorts of emotions...even ones that I didn't realize I had in me. When I first started the program I was completely anxious about going through therapy with a bunch of strangers and sharing scary parts of my life with them but, to my surprise, it's gotten easier. Why? Because each time I share something, there's at least one person who has been where I've been, or are currently in the same spot. And there are so many instances where others have shared something and I've nodded my head with–eyes welled up with tears–and thought, "me too."
Those are two very powerful words. Words that cause shame to crumble, and open up a brave, new, and vulnerable world of possibility.
What has helped me the most so far are those "me too" moments: not only discovering that I'm not alone in the issues that I struggle with, but being to share those issues without judgement. It's freeing and beautiful. But, at the same time, there's some frustration in the back of my head. Why does it take a mental breakdown to help me find a room full of people who are completely honest, vulnerable, and non-judgmental? Why isn't the "real world" like this?
Yes, we (some of us) have close friends and family that we can go to. But, why can't I walk into the lunchroom at work and ask my coworkers how they're doing, and hear anything besides, "I'm fine"? I have a slight feeling that none of us are just fine. We all have pains and struggles that we deal with each day. They may not be mental illnesses, or things that I can relate to, but why do we feel the need to pretend to be okay? Does it actually get us anywhere? Does it cause us to succeed more if we hide behind the pretense of being okay? Most of the time, I don't think it does.
What I'm most apprehensive about in doing this program is not the program itself, but what happens when I'm back I the "real world" where everything is "okay" and "fine"; where vulnerability is stunted. I don't want to go back to "fine". I can't go back to "okay" when that's not who I am.
I'm working on accepting myself, and I hope the world becomes a place where I feel accepted, too. I hope for a world of vulnerability, of honesty, of "me too". I hope for a world in which it feels safer to be myself–no matter where I am–and not be judged for having these mental illnesses.
In the meantime, I feel very fortunate to have this outlet with a group of people from all walks of life, who genuinely understand what I'm going through without judgement. I'm thankful that right now I feel safe enough to say "me too".
Instead of one of my normal songs of the week, I'm sharing a performance (flash mob) that was mentioned by someone in one of our sessions. It's a reminder to ourselves: we will survive...one step at a time.