Fittingly for this time of year....I have homework. Yesterday was my first day of the Mood and Anxiety Group (MAG) at the hospital and I am slowly starting to fill my three inch binder. I was told by the end of the class it will be full.
I remember my first experience in group. My head felt fuzzy....full of the even hum of radio static. Every now and then I could tune into a channel and pick up some of the words---other times it was just easier to surrender to the comforting buzz.
The facilitators warn that these next eight weeks will not be an easy ride. You will NOT feel better until you feel worse. This is true. I was sure that the first group I did for 8 weeks was really just to pick up some pointers. I was fine. I was out of the hospital. What I didn't see coming was the deconstruction of my head. Unlike the slow but constant decline in my mental state, much like the Leaning Tower of Pisa's slow lean I started this whole blog talking about, the first two weeks of group sessions were as if some giant had walked up to the Tower and gone "flick" with its wrecking ball like fingers and the whole thing went off centre.
As I "tuned in" more and more often in class, I found one more new thing that was "wrong with me". Instead of confirming I was already well on my way to recovery, I discovered I was a very angry person, I had low self-esteem (whaaaaattt?) and my perfectionista was sporting a ninja outfit ready to take down my self-confidence at any moment. Ka-POW!
The biggest thing I learned yesterday was that I have dug my way through some of the avalanche of emotion and feeling that dumped on me like so much laundry. Some issues now sit comfortably folded, albeit a bit wrinkled, in the appropriate drawer in my psyche....others are still hanging out there to dry....and I will get to them.
The other biggie was recognizing a kindred spirit in each person in the group. We are the same, but we are different. I want to share with them that it will get worse before it gets better, but that is what this group is for---to help you recognize you are not alone while you try to slip a straightjacket on your ninja inner perfectionista or lean new ways to think about old issues.
I am better at not being perfect---but certainly not perfect at it (my inner perfectionista and I can often sit down for a civilized cup of coffee once in awhile now---no straightjacket---no throwing stars.
I have resolved some family issues that have lingered since childhood. The key. I had to change me, not them. You cannot change someone else---you can change you. ( I am still working on that one in some unresolved areas of my "on hold" work-life.)
I recognize that while there is no timeline to getting better (boy I wanted there to be one---by day X you will be "all better") I also acknowledge that I like a schedule. I need to have some sort of control over something and right now, I can only have control over my day. This day. Not the future day. But what can I do THIS day to get me ready for my future?
For me that means making time for the things that are important to me. So scheduling in housework (Tues and Thurs and Friday and Sat and Sun are available. I will pick two days. I will NOT do housework on other days unless some unforeseen disaster happens. Monday morning is BodyFlow and Wednesday morning is Zumba. Thursdays will probably be reserved for visits with C--but not EVERY Thursday). If I don't do this, I will put myself last. Every. Time. I will jump from one activity to another and not get much accomplished. I will stress myself out that I will forget something--which often leads me to not doing ANYTHING on a day that I have an appointment at 2PM because I will be worried I will forget to go. Oddly enough, a schedule will free up my mind to genuinely enjoy my day as I know I have some balance. I can enjoy hanging the laundry on the line knowing today is my chore day....I have other time or days to knit or read or go visiting.
I look forward to the next eight weeks with this new group. Just like my kids back at school, I am gearing up for learning new things, making friends and having fun.