Coping Strategy #2 Revisited – 5 Things I Learned at my Support Group

I’m going to an anxiety and depression support group through my local hospital now! It’s a lot more functional than when I tried to make an anxiety support group 😛

I’ve been going for a couple of weeks now. Here are the highlights.

1. How do we relax? Our most common response was taking long baths. Take note, but remember that stealing baths is completely unacceptable bath behaviour…

2. I know psychiatrists need to learn to understand mental illnesses too, such that they can talk to their patients in addition to throwing pills at us prescribing medicine (sorry, psychiatrists reading! I do take medicine, and I’ve met one or two good ones – but many bad ones! so do take note – I, your average patient, am generally having more trouble with you than with other health care professionals!) Basically, our group counselor had a really awkward psychiatry resident sit in with us, without asking us. He looked incredibly uncomfortable when our counselor asked him to join in conversation with us, as though he wasn’t expecting to be subjected to the ‘inferior’ role of mental patient. He didn’t speak unless forced to by our counselor. We weren’t asked if we wouldn’t mind having him there. We weren’t told that he would be there. I felt this was disrespectful to us and I felt helpless, which I think is a common theme with people being treated for mental illnesses and disorders in hospital settings, as opposed to physical ones. We are not grade school children, we are adults receiving medical care and when someone completely irrelevant to our care sits in with us in order to benefit his education, we certainly deserve to be asked permission, or at the very least informed respectfully, before he enters the room. Rarr.

3. We weren’t allowed to get water for ourselves. Because apparently, they had their water cooler stolen a few times. Again, I felt the mental health stigma. These crazies keep stealing the water cooler bottle, was the message I read between the lines as our counselor chuckled. Do you know how much one of those bottles costs? Under $20. Our collective dignity is worth more than $15 plus tax. Let us grab our own darn water, or if you are ever so fearful of these horrendous thefts, install a water fountain. Yeugh.

4. The people in my group are lovely, and my counselor is well trained, well meaning, and quite effective. They clapped the first time I didn’t fall asleep during meditation time, and I was incredibly flattered. We are just a clapping kind of group as it turns out. A bath-loving, clapping crew, motivated to improve our mindfulness. Yay!

5. Speaking of meditation, I found one that works for me through this group, and maybe it will work for you too, because it speaks specifically to that constant level of pain you carry with you every day, every minute, when you are experiencing a depression or an anxiety disorder. It doesn’t pretend that when you sit down to meditate, you will magically float away to happy unicorn paradise, but instead helps ease some of that pain. It’s called First Aid Meditation, by Dr. Jackie Gardner-Nix (available on iTunes for download, only $0.99)