Last week I reached a major milestone in my mental health rehabilitation - I had my six month review, and applied to spend another six months in the Intensive Day Programme, which was approved! This gave me a great opportunity to reflect on the last six to eight months, as well as allowing me to plan what things I need to work on. In this blog post I'll try my best to summarise my reflections, my review, and my hopes for the next six months of my treatment.
TW: mentions of suicidality & self-harm // CW: long post
If you had of asked me two months ago how you thought I was doing, I would have replied positively. Up until a week ago, I'd felt like I'd taken several painful steps backward. I'd struggled to feel my progress on the hardest days, and thought that perhaps I was beyond help. Since the end of 2016 I knew that Segar House was my final chance at rehabilitation, and six months into the programme, I thought I was failing.
To put things into perspective, I'd written this in a previous blog post on February 4th 2018:
"...what I'm learning has made such a difference. I'm no poster child for mental health, but a year ago if you had of told me that one day I'd be able to face difficult emotions head on and not fly into a rage or hurt myself, I wouldn't have believed you. It's only been six months, but already I'm able to use DBT skills in difficult situations, practice regular self-care, and find creative ways to track my progress."
Then, on February 5th 2018, I attended the funeral of my Grand Uncle. It's from this day that I can trace my most recent suicidality and self-harm urges. It had been over a year since I'd engaged in any self-harm behaviour, and I fell off the wagon. It had been months since I'd seriously considered ending my life, and here I was lying in bed for hours making plans and writing final letters. My therapist wouldn't let me leave the building on two separate occasions because he feared for my safety - one of those times he ended up calling the Crisis Team and the Police. I went from being hopeful and positive about my rehabilitation, to wanting to give up completely; back and forth relentlessly, almost daily, for two whole months.
And now I'm here.
Despite being in the middle of a rough patch, preparing for my half-yearly review at Segar House allowed me to reflect on the fact that I actually have made progress, I just need to be reminded every so often. What I'd written two months ago was one of those reminders, and another reminder was the review itself.
Anxiously waiting for my review time in the group room.
I'd been mentally preparing for this review for weeks. My anxiety on the day was through the roof, but I was still able to tell myself that perhaps I was unnecessarily making a big deal out of something that wasn't likely to be all that bad. We all know that our anxious minds often have a tendency to not listen to that voice of reason, though! My individual therapist had reassured me the week before that in their eyes I was on the right track, but deep down I still felt as though I was failing. Who was I failing? Segar House? Myself? My family? I still don't have the answer.
As well as mental preparation, I'd also done some physical preparation for this review as well. I'd started keeping detailed notes on my moods, as well as the regular diary cards we have to fill out. This meant that I had specific dates for each of my 'meltdowns', specific dates for when my low moods occurred, specific dates for when I'd written my suicide notes (as well as specific dates for when I'd given those over to my therapist). I took all of this information and basically rewrote my entire Segar House Care Plan. I also wrote a full page letter requesting another six months of treatment, even including a comic from The Sad Ghost Club.
Unfortunately I don't get any qualifications for the work I do at Segar House...
Looking back on all this effort I put into preparing for my review, I feel like perhaps I'd gone a little bit overboard. I'd let my anxious mind take over, and in some way I thought that all this preparation would compensate for the fact that maybe - just maybe - I was failing Segar House.
Long story short: I wasn't.
My review was so much more positive than I had ever anticipated. I was actually speechless for most of it, because I just couldn't comprehend the amount of positivity these five amazing therapists were throwing my way. It wasn't a full 20 minutes of them just complimenting me (although at the time it certainly felt that way), but it was 20 minutes of them encouraging me and reassuring me to keep heading in the direction I'm going. They praised my "out of the box thinking" and the creativity I bring to the programme, as well as the insights I have into myself. My favourite comment of the review goes to my individual therapist, though:
"I enjoy working with you. I enjoy being affected by you..."
*cue me just melting into a puddle on the floor*
Moving forward from my review, I know that I have a lot to work on. In terms of individual therapy, I want to continue to tackle my tendency to avoid emotions, my self-loathing and negative self-talk, and perhaps really delve into how my traumatic childhood has impacted me. In groups, I know that sharing my thoughts is not only beneficial for myself, but also seems to be beneficial for others as well, so I want to build up my participation in group a bit more. I'm hoping that working on avoiding my emotions will help me in group situations when I dissociate.
Overall, I feel like I'm in the right place at Segar House, and I'm committed to at least another six months in the Intensive Day Programme. And, with the guidance of the Segar House therapists...
The therapists really loved that I included this comic. via The Sad Ghost Club
Here's to another six months of treatment, and working on myself!
Any comments or questions about this post, Segar House, or the programme? Feel free to leave them below, I'd be happy to answer them!
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