Last week was my very first time attending an official, set up support group for depression and anxiety. I’ve been to a free support group where you just show up, no registration needed, and speak openly to others. This group was different because I had to register prior to going and there was a whole form I had to fill out on what problems I have been facing. I guess it’s so my therapist will have an idea of who she is going to deal with before meeting in person, which makes a lot of sense. Another difference is that it isn’t free. It costs $75 for the first three weeks then $25 every week after for 4 to 5 more weeks. It’s a group that will eventually have an end. Even though it isn’t free, it’s amazingly priced because most places charge $100+ an hour each week!
I have to get off of work early to be able to attend this group because it’s about 45 minutes away from where I work. I was extremely nervous on my way to group and I got so lost! To be fair, the GPS sent me to a place two streets away from where the group took place! Either way I made it… like 30 minutes late. I kept in touch with my therapist though and told her I would be late. I think they even waited for me, I felt so bad!
I won’t describe anyone that was there to respect their privacy, but everyone was overall very nice. When I walked in there everyone looked normal, no one seemed to be the stereotypical version of “depressed”. We were all dressed nice, our hair was presentable etc. There are 2 girls, not including me and 2 guys- one i didn’t meet because he was out of town that week. They are also all older than me. I panicked even more when I recognized that because I felt as if they were just going to say I’m too young to have anything to worry about. Our therapist, Alaina, began by introducing herself and setting some ground rules: everything we say in that room is private. I will not share anyone’s entire, personal stories, I will only share what resonated with me.
After Alaina introduced herself, it was time for us to introduce ourselves. BOY WAS I NERVOUS. I could feel my face getting red, beads of sweat starting to come out of me and I hadn’t even started talking yet! Once everyone started talking though, I knew I’d fit right in. Here are the three things I learned at group…
The S word is sneaky.
One person in the group had just recently tried to out themselves, let’s pick a gender neutral name: Sam. Sam tried to do it in a drunken fit on a night where the bar seemed so filled with comrades, but they had none. Sam is not from Texas, so they don’t have many friends here and the one that they do have was about an hour away from their location. When you’re drunk you tend to lose control… of everything. Being mentally ill, you already have a hard time controlling your mind so mental illness and even a bad thought can cause a horrible drunken night. Sam hadn’t felt his depression be so strong in a while, so they never thought they even wanted to out themselves. Drunk Sam however, was all for it. Drunk Sam still had a sprinkle of Sam in them and that little sprinkle let the friend an hour away know what Drunk Sam was about to do. That friend saved Sams life. Friends can be so freaking amazing, but I already knew that. What I learned was that even though you may be able to suppress negative thoughts while sober, putting alcohol in your system can bring out those thoughts from the back drawer and cause you to do something you really don’t want to do. Just because drunk you wants to do something, doesn’t mean it is you. Do not let these relapses define you. Instead, learn from the relapse and learn to not drink in an emotionally distressing environment or simply control your alcohol intake.
Let your thoughts be thoughts, not voices.
This one has been repeated to me in different ways, but this is the way that it stuck out the most. My partner has religiously told me that I control my thoughts. Only I can change the way I think. I tried my best to take control of my mind, but the way I understood it, my mind was like a dog that I had to keep tied up. BUT when it was explained to me in “let your thoughts be thoughts, not voices”, there was no dog to control because there has never been a dog to begin with. It’s just been a thought. A thought that I allowed to manifest into a voice that dictated what I did. Everyone thinks of crazy things and there will always be some form of what if; but if I didn’t dwell on not winning the lottery last week, why am I dwelling about not having graduated from University yet? Why am I stressing about these illogical thoughts that literally bring me nothing but stress? There is no reason! I must look forward, work on what is on my plate now and I cannot let my thoughts become wild dogs.
I should not let myself talk myself down.
This was MIND BLOWING for me. After my mind was blown with that simple statement, I realized that for people without a mental illness or with basic logic even, know that they shouldn’t put themselves down. It’s not even something that has to be practiced for them, it’s something that registers automatically in their brain like opening your mouth when you’re bringing a full spoon of food up to it. They just know what to do. I however have allowed negativity that other people say to rewire how I think of myself. I had done this for such a long time, for more than 10 years! Training my developing brain to think negatively about myself was like knitting a blanket with a certain pattern and now I have to undo all the knitting patterns I just did because the first pattern was way wrong. If you’re not a knitter, just know this takes AGES. And along the way, the yarn that was used is already kinda fuzzy and messed up from the previous pattern and now I gotta find a way to make it work! Rewiring myself is hard and it’ll be a long time till I get used to this rewiring and dealing with the fuzziness of the previously used yard. The best part though is that I found out there was a wiring issue and I am taking the right steps to fix them.
I am extremely excited to keep going to group because my first time around I learned SO MUCH. One hour has changed my life and all it took was a little googling and $75. I am eternally grateful for my friends, family and partner who have been so, so supportive I don’t even know how they do it. I know I am a handful, but I know that if they are ever feeling like I am or once did, I will be there for them too. No questions asked.
If you or someone you know is looking for a support group for free in Dallas, here is the info for a couple support groups for Depression & Anxiety, some are even for addiction and ideation.
Location: Common Desk- Deep Ellum
Meeting Days and Times: Mondays @ 7, Sundays @2
They have a sign at the front door with a number to call to let them know you are there since it is a private area. Most of the time, the lady that runs the group is sitting inside at the very front already welcoming people in. Run by Foundation45.org.
Location: Common Desk- Bishop Arts
Meeting Days and Times: Thursdays @ 7
I have not been to this support group, but the location is similar, nice and run by the same foundation as the first one.
Here is the info on the support group that I’m currently going to. I’m not sure how many groups they run at a time, but you can book appointments online and check out what they may have available for you:
New Outlook Counseling and Wellness Center
Location: 9535 Forest Ln Ste 258 Dallas, Texas 75247
To book an online appointment: Click Here
If you are not in the Dallas area, here is the website I used to find the support groups above. You can find support groups for anything! You are seriously not alone!!
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post. Let me know your experiences in the comments below and if there’s anything else you’d like for me to write about! 🙂