When I was in my outpatient therapy after my first hospitalization, the third day I was there, I was called into my assigned counselors office. I was very nervous because I thought I had been making my best effort at participating and working with the group having only been there for just a few days. I sat down, she closed the door and sat in a chair across from me, looked me in the eyes and said, “BULLSHIT!” I nearly jumped out of my chair because I was so startled. I was totally confused, but before I could respond, she continued on.
“Right now, you are sitting here with a perfect looking outfit, complete with heels and jewelry, your makeup is flawless, and your hair is perfectly straight with not a single strand out of place.”
I thought to myself, “yea, soooooo what’s wrong with that?” Again, before I could say anything, she continued on.
“You just came out if the hospital 5 days ago after almost 2 weeks of treatment for depression, suicidal thoughts, and possible bipolar diagnosis, yet here you sit in front of me looking like perfection, like nothing is wrong at all. BULLSHIT! You are not here because nothing is wrong, you are here because something is very wrong. Is this how you always dress? Do you dress this way because you enjoy it or because you feel you have to?”
She paused long enough for me to answer very quietly, “Because I feel I have to.”
“Exactly. You are trying to be the ‘Perfect Barbie Doll Christi’ that you think everyone expects you to be, but inside, you feel like complete shit. Am I right?”
Again, I softly answered, “yes.”
She continued on, “Your homework and assignment to work on, and I expect to see you doing it, is to dress how you feel. If it means coming here everyday in your pajamas, then so be it. I do not expect to see the flawless hair and makeup, and perfectly put together outfit for quite some time. Can you do that? Can you let yourself not be ‘perfect’ when you come here? I want you to dress how you feel!!”
I whispered, “yes.”
And then she sent me home.
For the next few months, I didn’t wear make up or even put on a single pair of jeans when I went there. I felt like a thousand pounds were lifted off me. As I began to cope better and began to come back to life, I slowly started dressing nicer, using make up again, fixing my hair, etc. It had now gotten to the point that dressing nice no longer felt like an obligation, but was my way of showing that I was feeling good that day.
These last 2 years, while I have been out of commission, I have remembered that and have dressed how I felt. However, the one modification I made was that if I was dressed down for a few weeks at a time, I would try to do some little thing to pamper myself in hopes that the pampering would kickstart the feel good endorphins again, and it does!!!! If I have been feeling shitty for awhile, I do something to make me feel a little better on the outside to try and kick start the inside. I will get my hair done, or do my nails, or go tanning, or use a face mask to make my face feel better.
Something soooooo simple really helps me boost my mood and get back to going up again instead of falling back down.
Do you have something like this that you do? What is it? I would love to hear from you and I’m sure others would love to get some ideas too! So, share with us your little mood boosters or jumpstarts!!!!!