Group therapy went really well today. As it was only our second session together, we were all still pretty hesitant to talk about the more “hidden” stuff in our lives (the things that are more “real” and the things that we feel more intimately but are too afraid to really share with others). We spent about an hour talking about things that were still quite safe and we dipped our toes a little into things that bothered us like how people perceived us and not being heard.
Eventually, I asked the group what would be too much information or what would be something that would be too intense to be shared in the group. I’ve been struggling and still am but I didn’t want to be the person who not only is the “downer” of the group but also didn’t want to bring to the table something that might be too intense and too soon for the group to handle.
After getting affirmations from the group that they were willing to hear whatever I had to share, I took a deep breath and dove in. I decided to share with them that I’ve been struggling with my suicidal thoughts and that my week hadn’t been good (everyone else had said that they had a good week). No one spoke as I shared – words just came tumbling out of my mouth.
I told them how my week had been bad and how a fight had triggered my negative downward spiral. I told them how I felt like I was all alone in my struggle and how I felt this terrible pain that I wanted to be rid of. Despite all the people who love and support me, I felt like I wasn’t being taken seriously or that I was heard.
I said that I obviously didn’t do anything but I felt scared that my thoughts were getting more active – that I had contemplated writing a note whereas in the past, my thoughts have always just been more passive.
When I stopped talking, all the members offered their support in their own way. The first one to speak told me that I wasn’t alone. That though he wasn’t able to relate on my level that he still understood how terrible my situation had been. He told me that he had a friend who had tried to kill himself and related his experience on being on the other side of that situation. He told me that sometimes life really sucks and that he feels for me. Another offered advice on using the crisis phone numbers during my low moments and also offered encouraging words about me – she told me that I’m a very positive person and that she finds me very encouraging. She said that it’s hard to believe things for ourselves sometimes but that she hopes that I can believe that I am a positive person for others. Another member, who’s very quiet and tells us that he almost never speaks unless he needs to, told me that he was sorry to hear that I was struggling and that he wanted me to know that he is happy that I didn’t go through with my plan to end my life. He said that if I did, then the group would miss me. The last member who is also very quiet finally spoke up after a while and said that he himself had sat in the parking lot of a grocery store a month ago and had planned to end his life that night. He said that had circumstances been a little different, he would have done it that night. He told me that he might seem like it now, but just a month ago, he was where I am too. He said that he understood how I felt and that things will get better. He said that it’s hard to see that now but for me to trust that it will.
Hearing all those things from the group made me feel better. I felt a lot calmer after I had shared that. The psychologist who facilitates the session asked me if what they said helped. I told her that I think what I really was to be heard first and they gave me that. They sat there and listened. I just needed to feel like I was able to do that. To be able to express that life really sucked at this time and that it was ok. I didn’t need anyone to help or save me. I just needed people to hear me out. I told her that on top of that, the group offered me more than that – they not only gave me a safe space to say what I needed to say, they also supported me with kind words, and helpful advice.
I told the last member that I was thankful that he shared his experience with me. And it made me remember that all of us have some kind of a part to play in another person’s life. I told him that I’m glad that he didn’t end his life either because if he had, he wouldn’t have been able to share his experience with me and helped me today.
I shared with the group that sometimes, when you feel so alone and isolated, it’s easy for negative things to stack up and push you to the edge. I told them that that’s exactly what happened to me and though things are better this week, that I need to remember that I am not alone. At the very least, I know that I have my group therapy members who will be there to offer me this safe space.
I told them that I hope that I didn’t scare them from future group sessions. They said that they will keep coming back if I promise that I would too. It was very uplifting. I was very thankful and so encouraged. I didn’t think that I would get that from group therapy. I was always so adamant against going. Now I’m glad I made the decision to attend.
I also told the group that I hope they didn’t mind that I had decided to take the leap and jump into the deep end. I said that I felt this sense of hesitation from everyone to share something serious because they don’t want to be the downer. So I made the leap and took a step to share something extremely serious so that they can now share whatever they want without feeling bad or like that they’re bringing something too intense to the group. The psychologist told me that it was a brave thing to do – to open up so much that others could too.
The group then thanked me for taking the leap and for breaking the barrier. The first one to offer me support said that now he’s able to share what he had initially wanted to share but was too afraid to.
I’m glad things turned out the way it did. I’m glad I had enough courage to speak up and finally feel like I was heard.