It’s been a hot minute since I wrote a blog about my mental health, so here we go again. Some of you may be growing weary of the topic, but let me tell you, there is no one warier than me. I’m tired. It feels like a constant daily battle to win over the negative thoughts. The thoughts shake me so deep to the core that I have to swallow back the panting breaths and force my racing heart to slow down so that I can release the tension building in my chest. Trust me, I’m tired of the topic too.
But that doesn’t mean that I get to stop talking about it or that I can let off the gas pedal on my journey to recovery. There is one step in particular that has been very helpful. One thing that forced me into a consistent pattern and made me think about my feelings daily and vocalize them. That almost silver bullet was group therapy.
Now I won’t say this lightly, but group therapy isn’t for everyone. There were plenty of people who came and went from the group that had to leave because they weren’t in a place where they could speak openly, or they knew that individual help would better suit their needs. But for me, it was enlightening.
I suddenly found a group of people that were just like me. While all different in their own way, their stories were still the same. We were the same. I can’t tell you enough how nice it was to have people on the same journey as me who were so willing to talk openly about their experiences. Don’t get me wrong, no one talked enthusiastically about what they were going through. It was always a struggle to open up and find the words to voice what we were feeling or to put words to the errant thoughts that coursed through our minds. Yet, every day, we found the words.
Sitting in a group setting was very intimidating at first. How could I bear my soul to a bunch of strangers? But those strangers quickly became someone special. They weren’t friends, not in the sense that I would ever seek them out to talk. They weren’t even someone that I would necessarily make eye contact with in public. Despite all that, they knew some of my deepest darkest secrets, and I held theirs.
Every session was nothing short of emotionally charged. There were days that I would come out with puffy red eyes and a sniffly nose. Days that I was so distraught that I couldn’t even pick up my daughter from daycare because I was too emotionally spent. Yet, every day, four days a week, I went back. I spent nearly two hours in a small, windowed room with virtual strangers and put words to all my deepest, darkest secrets.
There is something powerful about a group. As the old saying goes, there is power in numbers. When it ended, I felt a mixture of relief and worry. But that is a post for another blog. When I started this post, I began by saying that group therapy was terrific and that it helped me when I was very low. It brought me to a spot where my mood was consistent and my thoughts were clear. But like all good things, it must come to an end. What’s my point with all this? Good question. While I understand that not everyone needs something as extensive as group therapy or even has access to something like that, but finding a friend can be just as powerful. Having one or many people stand behind you when you need support is amazing. Whether it be family, family, or a hired professional, I urge you to find someone.
I found my voice in a room full of struggling people just like me. I hope you can find your voice in a way that makes you feel safe and supported.