I’ve been attending a weekly Anxiety and Depression Group for about 8 weeks at my local hospital and I can honestly say its helped and brought more attention to my negative thinking and the effect it has on my life. I believe in this day and age it’s really hard not to be anxious or depressed. I mean what’s not to be anxious or depressed about? – everyday we are slowly dying. I realize that was a morbid thought but it crosses my mind every once in awhile.
Group has taught me that I am my own best friend and worse enemy. Only I can stop and change my negative thoughts or gain control of my life. It was interesting to learn that your feelings are a direct result of your thoughts. If you feel bad, simply change your train of thought and the feeling will change. Ultimately YOU have the power, the power to feel good and the power to think healthy thoughts.
As part of the group we have homework each week and one week I had to fill out a depression scale which was enlightening. My results did not surprise me but it was nice to become more aware of the level of depression I was experiencing. I scored a result of mild degree of depression and lacking in personal satisfaction. I thought I was more depressed than that but realized that I was not when reflecting on my life. I agree, however, that I am lacking in personal satisfaction which a lot stems from my current weight I am not happy with.
Another thing that group has pointed out to me is that a lot of my anxiety comes from negative dialogue with myself. Group has taught me that I need to have compassion for myself, learn to talk myself out of being afraid, learn to use positive instead of negative dialogue when I feel I have failed or done something wrong, and most importantly learn to stop negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. As part of my homework I had to write down and replace my negative thoughts with positive ones. Here are a few of my negative thoughts and the positive ones I replaced them with:
Negative: My life is complete shit!
Positive: My life has many blessings and I have the power to change it if I don’t like it
Negative: I don’t understand why people even like me
Positive: I am a unique and beautiful individual who has redeeming qualities
Negative: I am fat
Positive: I weigh exactly what I should according to my BMI and my new gym membership will help me lose the weight that I am unhappy with
It was interesting to see on paper and in writing that I have the power to change my thought processes. I was able to turn the negative into a positive in less than a minute even and wondered why I didn’t practice this sort of exercise in my everyday dialogue with myself. This is probably the most important thing that I have learned from my Anxiety and Depression Group that I have power: power to change things and power to change the way I talk to myself.
Group also helped me identify what was causing most of my anxiety and that was a fear of rejection and failure. I am currently unemployed and looking for work but every time I get close to getting a job I bail. I am afraid I am going to quit or get fired and disappoint somebody, mostly myself. This results in me stalling to apply to jobs, dodging call backs and in one case flaking on an orientation and job offer, all because I feared failure. This leads to even more anxiety because the thing I am most anxious about lately is my lack of finances and lack of job. It becomes a vicious cycle in that I am too anxious to get a job but also anxious because I lack one.
One of the counselors at group said that most successful people have had some sort of failure in their life they had to overcome and this statement made me feel more comfortable with the idea of failure and rejection. She also said that the only way to get used to the possibility of failure and rejection is to expose yourself to it. The more you expose yourself to failure the more you expose yourself to opportunity, in my opinion. When you face your fear of failure over and over again you become desensitized to it and it becomes less of a struggle and more of a challenge. I’ve decided to start applying for jobs again and showing up for potential interviews because I think its important to challenge yourself and I hope the more I do it the less afraid I will be to face my fear of rejection and failure.
In conclusion, group therapy was beneficial for me but I recognize some people may be even too anxious to attend a group. I took away some really good tools to put in my anxiety coping toolbox. I think overall it was definitely worth attending and there is something that almost everyone can take away from it even if they do not have anxiety or depression. The most important lesson I learned is to love and have compassion for yourself.
So I ask my readers (those who have attended similar groups) Yay or Nay to group therapy? Feel free to email me or leave a comment on this post about your experiences, I would love to hear them!