When I was in hospital, I received a phone call from the local Complex Care Team. They told me I had an assessment for group self-esteem classes. I was relieved at this news because I had heard so many stories that after you are released from hospital, there is no care at all. I jumped at the chance. After hospital, you really do feel alone and although my care was transferred back and forth, the people that interviewed me didn’t realise I had admitted myself to hospital.
I was anxious about attending and also felt extremely low after admitting low self esteem was a significant factor in my depression. Admitting you had low self esteem was humiliating, but facing up to the consequences of all the things I have done in the past due to low self esteem made me ashamed.
There were nine of us initially; all different ages but eight females and one male. For our first session we introduced ourselves and started discussing what self esteem meant. Self esteem for us was a sense of self worth and being compassionate to others, but most importantly, ourselves. Compassion would play a greater role later on in our therapy. Looking around the room, I had trouble understanding why people were there. As I later found out, everyone had felt the same.
I knew were had to complete homework each week. I have had CBT before. so being proactive in your own recovery was essential. For the first three to four weeks, classes felt stilted. It was difficult to open up and when people did, it triggered some others, which was upsetting. One person in the group was so upset that we never saw her again. I hope she is getting the treatment that she needs.
We were introduced to ‘thought diaries’, so we could write down our thoughts and then later made links to our behavior. I enjoyed the links between our thought, our behavior and feelings. Identifying negative thought patterns were key and we could all relate to this as a group. This linked to a model of low self esteem that included our childhood, which struck a chord with all of us. I realised how ingrained my own feelings were and with regards to my childhood, they were too close to the surface.
As the weeks went by, we started to relax more and volunteer to speak in discussions. Acknowledging feelings, fears and thoughts were only the first stage of our recovery, taking action was much later.