Today I went to my first group therapy session. I had been on the waiting list since my latest hospitalisation almost two months ago, and had been holding out a lot of hope that I would get some benefit from it.
I was told the therapy focused on reducing emotional discomfort and increasing the ability to cope with problems in everyday life , which in theory sounded like exactly what I needed. But in practice, I’m on the fence. Not because I don’t think this particular style of therapy will be helpful, but because of the way the actual session was run.
It was my first time with group therapy, so I don’t know how common my experience is. There were about eight patients (including myself) and two doctors to facilitate the session. Of the eight patients, two were extremely vocal and soon began to get on my nerves. They both constantly railroaded the proceedings in order to talk about themselves, and it soon devolved into what seemed like a game of one-upmanship between the two of them. They seemed much less interested in learning how to overcome their emotions than in letting the group know how far they had gotten in their plans for suicide. “I’ve picked the day!” “Well I’ve picked the time!” “I’ve picked out what I’ll wear!” “So did I; they had to cut me out of the shirt I chose!” And on and on.
Now, it may sound like I’m being insensitive, but the reason we were all there was because we have all tried at some point to take our own lives. It’s part of the criteria to enter the group. Of course I am empathetic towards these women, but far from these two women being sensitive to the other patients, some of whom may still be triggered by such talk, they relayed their plans light-heartedly and with no regard for the feelings of the group or the time they were monopolising.
I wanted to yell at them to just shut the fuck up and let the doctor help us learn to deal with our emotions, the reason we were all there. This was not a suicide support group, it was a practical therapy group. But I sat calmly, waiting to see where it would go. The hour passed and there was no practical element to the session, and I came away learning nothing more that how annoying it is to have someone harp on and on about their hard luck story.
Eh, at least I learned something; to just shut the fuck up sometimes.
I’ll go back again as maybe this week was a one off. And even if I only take away the tiniest bit of extra knowledge, then it might be worth it. Spending the hour with those women made me more determined to not wallow in self pity.