One of the things I found very stressful during the 8 week adult day treatment program I attended each day after leaving the hospital, was being left at the edge of a cliff when the clock announced each class was over. Sometimes the discussion was animated or the material too vast to cover in the time assigned but I always wanted to know what I was supposed to DO about my anger issues/panic attacks/perfectionism/low self-esteem (most of which I didn't even recognize as part of my life until I attended the program ). The worst day was when the doctor talked about panic attacks --what one is, what chemicals are being released in your body, what one feels like (for people like me who have them)---and then saying...."Oops we are out of time, so next week when we meet we will discuss what to DO when you feel a panic attack coming."
Not quite as bad as being left hanging, was the constant "TICK, TOCK" of the clock running down on
the 8 weeks I had in the program. I needed answers, and a plan, and I needed them NOW so I could hurry up and get better. After all, I thought, I only have these 8 weeks to get FIXED!!
I begged my psychiatrist on the last day of the program: "Just tell me I will be all right? Do you think I will be all right? I mean, just tell me what to do to get better and I will do it!"
He chuckled in his low Lion King sort of rumbly voice, leaned back in his chair, cocked his head to the side, a slow smile lifting the corners of his mouth and said, "Oh, you know I cannot do that." His voice had such authority...if he had told me to scale the CN Tower to get better I would have put on a Spiderman suit and grabbed the next train to Toronto. "Everyone is different. Only you know what you must do for yourself."
I slumped down in my chair defeated. That was the problem. I DIDN'T know what to do. I mean I thought I might know a couple of things..... In the 8 week day program we had sessions on relaxation, we did exercise, we did leisure time activities and I had a binder fully of strategies (one of the first pieces of advice we gave noobs to the program was get a binder---a big one). So maybe I can tackle what to do with this first mask of foreboding joy.....
At first, when I read about Brene Brown's masks of vulnerability I thought--foreboding Joy did not apply to me. But suddenly, I see it as a huge barrier to me experiencing joy in my life. So how do I deal with the foreboding joy mask? What have I learned? Today has been a day of physical things and trying to accomplish a project. So I think I will take another day to reflect on how to "fix" this mask problem...and think more on where Joy comes from in my little world.
(See?? Being left at the edge when you want the answer is not fun!)