Wednesday, March 02, 2011

"Pleasant Events"

Posted by Lara at 9:13 PM
So where the hell have *I* been, right? I honestly hadn't even realized it had been over a month since I posted. To which I say, MY BAD. But hey, I'm back now and you love me for it and we all know it.

Moving right along.

I have started attending a CBT group through my health care provider. CBT stands for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy, and I think it's really great, especially for people like me who tend to appreciate intellectual approaches to things. The first meeting I went to actually dealt more with the Behavioral part, rather than the Cognitive, which was a bit disappointing, since I struggle more with negative thoughts than I do with behavior issues (at least lately). But still, it was interesting.

For those of you who've never done any kind of formal therapy, whether in groups or individually, I need to explain something. See, while you may be depressed or anxious or whatever it is that brought you to the psychiatry lobby in the first place, you'll be plenty distracted once you're there. First of all, every time you think something, you'll immediately question it to see if it was crazy.

Hm, that's an interesting skirt. I wonder what you'd call that color... Avocado green? Looks like smeared guacamole.

...

Damn, does it make me crazy to think of someone's clothing as a smeared condiment?

...

Oh, crap - I was staring right at her ass while evaluating the color. I didn't even realize that. People probably think I'm a creepy stalker or something.

...

And so on, and so on, and so on, and by the time you get to the front of the line and the receptionist asks for your insurance card, you burst into tears and scream, "I may be crazy, but I'm not as bad as that guy!" and point to the bearded man leaning against the wall tugging on his earlobe and picking his nose.Wait, is it paranoid for me to worry about what they're thinking about me? I'm not paranoid, am I?!

But it's not all bad either. Some of the stuff that goes on in group therapy is just hilarious, which is great, because finding things funny is always uplifting, but also a little tough, because laughing at people is frowned upon in CBT group. Also, even though no one knows me or my blog self in the group, and therefore this would probably be a safe space to expose their idiocy to the world, I have decided to refrain, because it just feels rude. Instead, let's look at the hilarious craziness of our group handouts.

You'd think the handouts would be totally mainstream and non-crazy, since they're put together by the doctors in charge of our group, not by the crazies IN the group. However, this has proven not to be true. Take Emotion Regulation Handout 8: Adult Pleasant Events Schedule.

This handout was meant to help depressed/anxious people come up with pleasurable activities to do on a regular basis, in the hopes that these pleasurable activities will offset the more difficult tasks of daily life, like going to work, doing the dishes, or paying the bills. (You don't think those tasks are difficult? Then you aren't dealing with depression or anxiety. Good for you! Now stop rubbing it in our faces.)

There are 176 "pleasant events" on this list, but I think you'll agree that not all of them really make sense. Let's take a look, shall we?

Getting out of debt: For reals? This is an event? "What should I do this weekend? I know - I'll get out of debt!" "Hey, want to get out of debt with me Friday night?" Also, getting out of debt presumably requires earning money, which requires going to work, so... we're back to the more challenging tasks anyway.

Recalling past parties: Don't bother actually going to parties or anything. Just think about previous parties that used to be fun. You know, back before you were depressed. When you had friends. And a social life.

Saving money: That's good clean fun right there.

Gambling: No lie - this is RIGHT AFTER "saving money" on the list. Irony, anyone?

Collecting old things: Just go to a retirement community, start a conga line, and convince those adorable new friends to follow you home.

Sex: Whoa.

Doing something spontaneously: My favorite part about this is that it's on the pleasant events SCHEDULE.

Working: For reals? This is a pleasant event?

Thinking I have a lot more going for me than most people: "Boy, I'm really feeling down today. You know what'll make me feel better? Thinking of all the poor schmucks in the world who are worse off than I am. Schadenfreude, baby..."

Eating gooey, fattening foods: What's particularly funny about this one is that they'd *just* lectured us on the importance of good nutrition in maintaining positive moods.

Teaching: THIS IS BUSINESS, NOT PLEASURE.

Solving riddles mentally: As opposed to solving them physically, I guess.

Dressing up and looking nice: Of course, this doesn't help much if you then realize that you have no friends, no social life, and therefore nowhere to go now that you look nice. Cut to you, still looking nice, sitting alone on your couch cradling a bottle of bourbon.

Erotica: Wait, is this an event? I've been using this word all wrong for years.

Going horseback riding: Immediately following "erotica," this makes me suspicious...

My personal favorite "events," however, fall under the category of "Thinking about [blank]." You already saw one of them above, but there are SO many more. Such as:

Thinking I have done a full day's work: Whether or not you actually have is irrelevant.

Thinking about retirement: Frankly, however, I think the further you are from it, the more depressing this actually is.

Thinking I'm an OK person: Don't think too highly of yourself, though - you're only "OK."

Thinking about getting married: And how you might never actually do it because you're a psycho, paranoid, depressed nutjob and no one will ever want to marry you. Or maybe that's just me.

Thinking about sex: You know, in case you can't actually have it.

Thinking religious thoughts: "Rosary... Jesus... prodigal son..."

Thinking about becoming active in the community: But not actually doing it. That would be a step too far.

And best of all?
Thinking about pleasant events: And here's a list to help you do just that. YOU'RE WELCOME.

6 comments:

dancing dragon on 4:29 AM said...

Hi Lara,

Re-de-lurking here...

I didn't know there were group sessions for CBT. I've been curious how CBT works because it's also used for people with chronic illnesses. Thanks for sharing a little about it. :)

Jill B on 5:19 AM said...

Awesome.
Thinking about your list raised my spirits. Okay, actually, no thinking was really done on my part. I was just sponging off your thinking.
:)

Rachel on 6:12 AM said...

Those are crap. There, I said it. Thank goodness for your commentary.

At least what my spectacular mental health professional is suggesting is helpful - going to group classes for writing or yoga or whatever, volunteering, etc.

Clair on 7:48 AM said...

Wow. I think I may have tried to seek services through your health care provider once. When they discovered I was neither truly crazy or an addict, they totally dismissed me, but their literature on depression and grief was fun to read. Ridiculous, but amusing.

I'm so, so, so glad you're taking some action to get better. I hope it's helping.

BetteJo on 8:19 PM said...

Thinking about retirement totally depresses me because I will be working until the day I die. Sigh ..

Seriously. I will.

Glad you're out there at the crazy sharing place. Although I admit their reading material is a bit - weird. But laughing is a good thing - so keep reading! :)

fjd said...

Daily does of awesome snark: check.

 

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