Sunday, March 14, 2010

Girl, With No Life to Interrupt







I started the behavioral partial program at McLean Hospital about a week ago. It's actually kind of cool being there, in a weird way; the buildings are so beautiful and historic, and it's where Sylvia Plath and Susanna Kaysen (of Girl, Interrupted) were hospitalized.

It took a bunch of meetings before they would accept me, as they were worried about my low intake and whether I would be medically stable and get enough out of the program. But after a medical exam the doctor deemed me stable enough, so they let me give it a try. It's been okay so far. Mostly it's a place to go where I have structure and feel safe. But I can't really say it's been helpful. It's like, there are no emotions involved in groups at all. It's kind of freaky. Everyone actually refers to groups as classes. A psychologist stands at the front and writes on the white board; practically everyone takes notes. Words are defined. Diagrams are made. They're huge on "scheduling," planning out your time. One of the groups is called Positive Events Scheduling. Does it get anymore emotionless? It's like, do this, this, and this. Nevermind if you're too depressed to do anything. Just remember MEDS: medication, exercise, diet, sleep. Instant prescription for mental health. As if you can rationalize and schedule yourself out of trauma and suicidal ideation, as if everyone's "illness" is the same. They are very heavy on the disease model of mental illness, which I don't agree with and find very unempowering.

I'm on the mood disorder and Borderline personality disorder "track," which determines the groups I go to each day. They are mostly DBT and CBT-based, which are more basic, condescending versions of the psych classes I've taken, and I find them extremely frustrating. As if it were as simple as learning the triangle of emotions-thoughts-behaviors. There is one cool group called "Self Group," which focuses on feelings of emptiness and lack of self that go along with BPD. I also meet with my case manager and a skills therapist a couple times a week. I just wish there were more support groups, and chances to actually talk about feelings and experiences.

Tomorrow may be my last day, unless insurance decides to be extremely generous and grant me a few more days. Not going to get my hopes up on that one. I will miss the routine of the program, though. The 1/2 mile walk from the bus stop to the hospital was a good way to start off the day. It was peaceful, and a chance to listen to my Ipod or just think. The last couple days were raining, and I ended up taking the shuttle. That experience is pretty entertaining in itself. I had to observe a few times before I knew what to do, as the whole process is kind of secretive. A big, white, van shows up every 15 or so minutes, and it doesn't say anything on the sides, presumably to save everyone the shame of riding in the crazy shuttle. It doesn't pull up to the bus stop, but goes through the parking lot, and suddenly everyone hiding shamefully in the bushes hurries over and crams in. Unlike most hospitals that house psych wards amidst medical floors, McLean is just a mental hospital. The first day there I had to take a cab, and I think the driver felt sorry for me as he refused to accept the tip! Ah, the benefits of being mentally ill. Pity and free cab rides.

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