I have attended lots of different inpatient and outpatient therapy and support groups, which says two things. One, I have a lot of information about my illnesses and two, I am still struggling with them. Sometimes we hear about the success rates of different programs, this is to encourage us I guess or to give us hope. It also lets us know that there is a chance that this sort of group wont work out for us and that sometimes people drop out.
It doesn’t matter how many groups I have attended, I am not a success story. In fact, I have repeated some groups multiple times and still cannot put the skills I have learnt into practice. At the end of the day, some people get better, some people get better at coping, some people don’t get better and some people (like me) get better at pretending.
I find being in a group setting both highly stressful and supportive. Being physically close to people and being stuck in a room makes me very uncomfortable. I always have to sit near the door and I move my chair far away from others. I go to groups early so I can sneakily arrange the seating before the group leaders or anyone else arrives. Often this doesn’t work out because people like to get closer to the leaders and like to be able to hear each other.
While I can relate to what other group members say and they appear to relate to what I say, I usually feel out of place. I simultaneously ask most of the questions and think I have most of the answers. For someone with social phobia, I talk a lot. This is because I hate silence so if no one else is talking, I start. Some of the stuff I say is pretty strange. I don’t really know why I say it, I am just a nervous talker. Often I make the other people in the group laugh, but I don’t mean to. I think differently to others and towards the end of any group program, I see changes in everyone else so I adjust my words carefully.
I try to blend in with the positives. I don’t exactly lie, I am not a liar, but I don’t tell the complete truth all of the time either. I don’t want to be seen as a failure so I act a little happier, I make my work reflect a change in my style of thinking and I try to catch up to the others.
One day during one of our breaks, another group member was talking to me. I can’t remember what we were talking about but it made him say something like, “Stunnedandstunted, are you sure you’re from this planet?”
It made me laugh, I know it didn’t come from a mean place. I replied, “Sometimes I wonder!”
I am odd. I will probably always be odd. I will probably never quite fit in anywhere. I am the exception, not the rule but as long as I attend these sorts of groups, the other group members statistically have a higher chance of recovery.