Meeting People Where They Are

I’ve been attending a therapy group everyday for a while now.  It’s an IOP group that’s usually used to transition out of a partial hospitalization program to help patients use the skills they learned to transfer back into the swing of things.  People come and go from the group all the time and today we had a young girl who had her head down the whole time and never made eye contact with anyone and when our therapist asked her questions about her situation and what she needed, her responses had an immense effect on the rest of the group.  See, most of us in the group had already been to the hospital and went through partial; so we had already made a lot of changes in our lives and took long strides to get better.  Yet this girl seemed to be at the very first step, which is actually wanting to try to get better, so basically, I began to figure out that she should really be in the hospital, or at least in partial.  And I’m sure through battles with anxiety, depression, self harm and other mental health struggles, we all always wanted to get better, we just never want to actually take steps and make changes in our lives to actually change our situation and feel better.  Usually it comes to a point when you hit rock bottom when you realize that you do want to change because you can’t take anymore pain.  So here was this girl who was very depressed and suicidal, who kept making very black and white statements like “I’m never going to get better”, “None of this matters”,  “These programs are a waste of time” and so on.  And after a while, other group members were getting very upset with her, because they had already been through these programs and put a lot of work into them.  These programs had basically changed our lives and helped us immensely, so many took offense to her saying that it was a waste of time.  And those feelings are totally valid; of course I felt that too.  But why is it that once we already have taken big measures to reach stability and have recovered in many ways, that we so quickly forget where we came from.  I’m sure there was a time that all of us felt the way that this group member expressed.  We all felt at one time that we were never going to get better and that everyone that was trying to help us were just feeding us bullshit.  And sure, this girl probably made it a bit worse since she didn’t make any eye contact with anyone and didn’t care how she made the other group members feel or try to apologize or anything.  But once we make so many changes in our lives, it’s so hard to relate to ourselves months before we started.  Does taking strides to lead a mentally healthier life detach us from most other people in the world?  Is it that easy to forget where we came from?  We started off as extremely self destructive and hopeless people.  Is seeing someone the way we used to be so difficult because it shows us that are battles with mental health affected those around us too?  Is it too hard to see how mentally ill we were before that we choose to ignore it and judge others’ still in that position?

I found this situation today really interesting.  It brought up a lot of these types of questions.  I think it says a lot about the way we are quicker to judge others than we are to try to relate to them.  Our feelings should be things that bring us together.  When we share about them, there’s usually at least one other person to say, “I feel the same way.”  Connecting with others is a lot easier than we think.  When we make ourselves vulnerable is when we’re able to connect with others the most.  And we can’t change people until they’re ready to change.  We need to meet people where they’re at, not where we wish they would be.

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