I have begun my search for a day program (also sometimes known as “PHP” (partial hospitalization) or “IOP” (intensive outpatient)). Logistically, it would make the most sense schedule-wise for me to do such a program in my winter break between the fall and spring school semesters. This is when I have the most free time, and also when I am usually the most depressed. However, from past experience I know that it can indeed take months to find and get accepted into a program (which I know, doesn’t make any sense at all…that could possibly be too long a wait for someone in active crisis, especially if they’re suicidal…but it is what it is and I need to bear that in mind in my planning).
Also…there would be benefits to starting sometime in the fall as well, if I could get into a program in the fall. While I’d only have time for 1-2 afternoons a week with my schoolwork (depending a good deal on the length of the commute), this is better than nothing (and I could increase it come winter if I’m still in the program at that point). Doing a program alongside school would mean I could immediately practice applying whatever I learn to my daily life and my “work” (being a student), and also bring difficulties I’m having in school to the groups. This could potentially be a powerful learning cycle. Also, doing the program as soon as possible would provide me with additional assistance and support in finding post-program treatment (the outpatient support groups I’m looking for), based on assessments that they do and their knowledge of me through their groups. Finally, if I find a program that seems like a good fit but that takes a long time to get to by public transit, while the weather is still nice in the fall, I’d potentially be able to bike there. I absolutely do not feel safe using a bike for transport in the winter (too much ice and snow). Unfortunately I don’t have a car (or even car access through others), and can’t afford to be regularly taking taxis.
Interestingly, both Amber (my therapist) and my friend recommended the same program to me! So I figure it’s worth looking into. My friend did this program himself last summer, so I trust that they at least treat their clients humanely. It’s geared specifically toward the mental health needs of LGBT people. While my pansexuality (being attracted to men, women, and people who identify as neither or both) has not directly impacted my mental health (since I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by supportive and nonjudgmental people for much of my life), I do like the idea of a program that I know will be accepting of LGBT people and their needs. This is unfortunately not a given; being gay used to be considered a mental disorder, and being trans still is. I would hope that if they’re accepting of this, they might be accepting of other “alternative lifestyles” as well, for instance polyamory and Paganism (though I’ll still take it slow. I’ve been burned too many times to feel safe completely opening up right away.)
Also, the program is apparently very individualized, and comes from the perspective of mindfulness and CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy — working on combatting negative thoughts, for instance self-hate voices, with the idea that your thoughts affect your emotions which affect your behavior). Sounds great! Sign me up! 😉
Not so fast…I need to call them and set up a consultation/intake interview. It’s impossible to know what I need to know just from looking at their website, and even though my friend speaks highly of it, I am not my friend. We have different backgrounds and needs, so it might turn out to not be right for me after all. Or I might turn out to not be right for them (most programs, as well as individual clinicians, have a good idea of the clientele that they’d best serve). I have…more experience with this than I’d like to admit, so I have a list of questions saved on my computer. Time to bring that up, I guess.
At least, though, they definitely take my insurance! Yay!