Friday, January 6, 2012

Goodbye to Group Therapy?

I'm having a wee bit of a condundrum, so I thought I'd toss this out to you Blogxygeners and see what you think.  All opinions and thoughts are welcome!

So, I've been going to group therapy for a little over two years now; I know that I've mentioned it a time or two on my blog.  The group is led by my therapist and it is an eating disorder support group.  Group therapy has been a huge rollercoaster for me.  At first, I hated it.  LOATHED IT.  I dreaded group every week, and I mostly only went because my T made it a requirement that I go, because she thought it was really important I learn to open up and work on my social skillzzz.  Fair enough, so I went.  And then, slowly, group got easier for me.  I opened up more and participated in group and started to develop friendships with some of the other members, and I still love them to death, and some of them I'm still very good friends with.  During this time I really started to emerge as a group leader.  I looked forward to group, and I always felt really great afterward.

And then something started to happen, oh, maybe 6ish months ago.  I started to regress in my group experience - I started to get really quiet again, and didn't participate much.  I felt really anxious in group, and I usually left feeling really crappy.  I don't feel like I've gotten much out of group for quite awhile now.  I go because I know I should and because I committed to it, but I could be the freaking doorknob in group, for all I add to it.  I'm there, hey, you can look at me jiggling my foot a million miles a minute and chewing my nails apart, but that's about all I'm good for.

So for the past 2 months or so, I've gotten really serious about questioning if group is something that I should continue doing.  And I've been torn.  So I finally worked up the courage to talk to my T about it, and I told her basically everything that I've said so far in this post - that group used to be great for me, but that it doesn't feel that way anymore, (Why though?  I don't know!)  and I usually feel worse afterward, and what should I do?  And this is more or less what she said:
She believes that group can still be helpful for me, but only if I work really hard at it.  She says that with how long I've been in group, she expects me to be a group leader, and speak up more and participate more.  She said that she still sees me, in my "regular" life as someone who is more or less a doormat, and who doesn't usually speak my mind, and sometimes to my detriment.  She still thinks group therapy could be helpful if I was willing to be assertive and speak up in group, because that would help teach me and give me practice to do that in my real life.  But, if I'm not willing to do that in group, then she agrees with me that group is basically not helpful for me anymore, and I should be done.  She is completely leaving the decision in my hands.

And, I don't know what to do.  The bigger part of me wants to quit and just brush my hands off and be done with it.  But...if I do I running away?  Am I  not taking an opportunity to learn more about myself and really grow and change some things about my day-to-day life that I don't really like?  (I mean who likes being a doormat?)  Or should I just call it quits because 2 years is a long time to be in a group, and think that I will learn to talk more and open  up more and be assertive in a different setting, maybe with individual therapy? 

I don't want to squander this potential opportunity to change and grow, because the truth is, I really do wish that I was more assertive and more open.  I'm a pretty quiet and withdrawn person, and sometimes I wish I could get out of my isolation and speak up, especially because I get walked all over all the time.  But...if I haven't yet learned to do that yet with 2 years of group, maybe I won't ever learn.  I don't know?

I'm honestly so confused.  When I talked with my T about this earlier today, I told her I was just going to think about it awhile before I made any decisions.  And I feel so stuck.  Breezy has  no idea what to do.

Addendum: I was just about to publish this post, when Brandon called.  I talked to him about all this, and he thinks I should continue group with this whole trying to be a group leader thing and see how it works out.  I'm inclined to listen to him, but I still want all of your opinions!

PS - the photo of Miss M and I has nothing to do with the post, obviously.  Just thought it was cute.  :)


Shannon said...

Ive kind of been MIA from commenting on your posts for awhile. Hi Brie! Your daughter is beautiful. Have I told you that yet? Well she is :)

I wanted to give my 2 cents..even though thats all its probably worth, is 2 cents :)

If I were in your group therapy and I knew there was someone there who had been in the group for 2 years and truly felt it had helped her (I dunno, do they have new people? Do they keep the same girls?) I would want her to speak up and let me know how helpful it has been for her. If there are new girls, Im sure there are those who, like you, LOATHE it. Maybe you can be the leader and let others know that it CAN help and will help if you do open up.

Maybe a part of your treatement could be to help those who were once in your shoes?

Jonny and Haley said...

I'm no therapist but I know that it is hard to be expected to be a leader all the time. It's almost exhausting forcing yourself to always contribute when your heart isn't in it. I would guess everyone goes through days or weeks when they just don't feel like contributing. But I believe that's okay. Don't be hard on yourself because you've been out of it for a bit. If you decide to go back, just realize that no one expects you to be on top of your game all of the time. Give yourself a break and when you feel ready to lead again, then go for it.

Heather Lindquist said...

I agree that you could still gain a lot from going. On the other hand, sometimes it really IS healthy and good to acknowledge that it helped for a season in your life, but it's now time to move on. Only you can decide. For me, groups helped me be more assertive and open, but they also kept me stuck in ED. So, it was MY best decision to stop going. Pray about it, Brie. You will know what's best for you.

Erin said...

Can you take a little break, then see how you feel? You may find that's all you need. A break could even re-charge you.

My 2c.

Sairs said...

I do group too and I'm one of the older members of the group. I also have done DBT before (not eating disorder group), so I know a lot of the skills and how to use them in real life. I think if you believe you'll grow or even think you will or want to try to, you can always try and if you don't like it say a set period of time, then quit. Nothing lost, nothing gained. But if you feel you really can't cope with it, then give it the flick. Personally I usually love group. I hope you can get that back again if you decide to stay.

Fight 4 Ur Lyfe said...

I personally think that you should keep going to Group. However- I like what Shannon said about stepping up to the role of the leader, and offering advice to new gals who may be in the same situaion you were once in: loathing group.

Additionally- I know that you have mentioned several times that you struggle to be social. I think that, if anything, Group at least ensures that you are engaing in some form of social activity at least once a week.

I think that Group could be an awesome opportunity to learn how to assert yourself; be more social; find your voice in a group setting, etc.

I know for myself, I certainly miss Group (at CFC). I stopped going in August after I got out of said hospital- and started back to school. I would like to find a way to tweek my schedule a bit so I myself, can get back to group. Not having been in it for the past several months- I now better recognize the benefits the Group offered (i.e., social support; being able to relate; practice new skills, etc.).

I think you should keep at it. But hey, that's this gals opinion.

Stay well!


Stacy said...

agree, agree, agree. and I think you man is right. You can do it, you did it before. you can do hard things and you are better than the doormat you have been. Love you and you are ah mazing!

Afterglow said...

Hi Brie. I am in a very similar situation - I hated it at the beginning and then it was ok, maybe even good. Now it sucks again. I have found that when I'm not doing so well with my own recovery, group tend to not be as beneficial. It all depends on where MY focus is on any group day. I don't know if that helps or not. If you truly don't have any idea, it's a tough one. Could you maybe give it another month and see what happens in that month WITH you trying to be more assertive?

Good luck!
PS Mila is adorable! ;)

Katie said...

I think that leaving it without peace is not a good plan. When you leave, it should not be when you're frustrated with the group/uncomfortable/ should be when you've outgrown it. The main signs of outgrowing it, would be an indifference and calm and peace--that a group meeting would sway or change your behavior/moodes/thoughts/actions--that you just *are* ok on your own. Your new level of discomfort indicates there may be something new to address and/or work through. Welcoming teaching experiences, especially when you're uncomfortable, can be the best way to work through new or underlying or deep-seeded issues.

Honestly, I wouldn't quit if I were you (it sounds like you're saying that you want to quit when the going gets tough, and that you're trying to rationalize it)--it sounds like you need it even more right now, than you ever have.

Please, don't cut off a resource of support and education and learning--ESPECIALLY when you are not a peace...wait until you truly have outgrown it and can peacefully walk away from it without and blame on the group or the situation--that, it simply isn't right for you anymore.

It sounds like you've come a LONG way...but you still have quite a ways to go still! Hang in there! You are not alone in your fight toward recovery! You CAN do it!

firefly said...

Hey Bree: Was there something that triggered your quietness in group or that you aren't comfortable with people in the group? Do you feel that the group is not at the same level or your life is completely different and it's hard to relate? Since you've struggled a bit do you feel pressure to not struggle because the group sees you as a leader? I know lot's of questions. Just things to think about.

Maybe attending some sort of group like mom and me groups or our Barnes and Noble does story hour for kids at different ages all week. This is how my friend'daughter met her first group of friends. We started taking her when she was 4 months. Now almost 2 and a half. You meet other parents and you will have lots in common to talk about. Also a music or swim class might work. These are also groups but with people that share the same interests.I know the ed support is helpful but if you dread it, you may find another way to accomplish the goals of being in a group that members of things in common. Just an idea. Hope you have a great Sunday!!!