In Undersharing With the Oversharers, I described some struggles I was continuing to have with DBT group. At that time, I had just e-mailed the group therapist, Sierra, about these concerns. After several e-mails back and forth, we had accomplished nothing. I was still uncomfortable about group. She had suggested we meet to discuss it, but I could think of nothing else I could say about the situation.
Then I went to my individual therapist, Sadie, and spent the first 20 minutes of the session discussing group. I had failed to notice that Sierra cc’ed Sadie on her response to my initial e-mail. The two of them proceeded to have a conversation about me, with Sadie providing examples of ways I’ve made progress since starting to learn DBT. After being subjected to this awkward 20 minute conversation, I felt I had to meet with Sierra after all, so I e-mailed her again to further explain my problems with group. I said that I have no idea where the boundaries are for what is or is not appropriate to share, so I stay away from anything that could remotely be crossing a boundary.
We scheduled an appointment, but it was after the next group meeting. So I went to that meeting, trying my best to share more. I ended up sharing 4 examples of skills I used that week. I contributed ideas for how to use the skills we were covering that day. I volunteered to read parts of the material aloud for the group. All in all, it seemed to go very well. I came to the realization that I felt comfortable that day…because a particular group member was absent. Molly, the worst offender for dominating the conversation and going off on inappropriate tangents.
When I met with Sierra, I mentioned that things went better when Molly was gone. I felt safe saying that, because she had already acknowledged that there are some group members who get distracted by inappropriate topics. Of course, there’s not anything she can actually do about Molly, other than continuing to try redirecting her back to the topic at hand. It was proposed that I might be more comfortable in the Tuesday group, which has more people of a similar mindset to mine – learn the skills and get out of group. Sierra and I agreed that next week I will attend the Tuesday group and then make a decision. I am anxious, but a little hopeful that it will be a better fit for me.
The conversation about group was actually very brief. Sierra asked if there was anything else she could help with in that regard – perhaps anything about her leadership style that was bothering me – and I truly couldn’t think of anything. She had acknowledged that, since I am the only group member she doesn’t know much about, she needs to take responsibility for looking over my chart and for communicating about me with Sadie. I asked if there was anything about me she wanted to know that I could explain more efficiently than she could read it in my chart.
We talked for another 20 minutes or so about me, and at one point my job hunt came up. Sierra asked if I had applied for disability, and when I said no, why not? I don’t feel I would qualify. I mean, there are other reasons, like the fact that Sadie encouraged me to job hunt instead, but the big reason I didn’t do it when so many people encouraged me to is because I can’t see how anyone making this decision would possibly consider me disabled. Sierra said that with 4 hospitalizations I might be surprised how it turns out. She also reminded me that even if I apply, I can still continue my job hunt.
So I had disability on the brain the rest of the day. While out to eat with the cast of the play I’m stage managing, I was asked what I do for a living. I said I’m unemployed and we discussed job hunting. A part of me wanted to bring up disability then, but I barely know these people. However, after I got home, I impulsively sent a message to the individual who asked and told her I was considering disability. She ended up telling me that her father is bipolar and gainfully employed, so in her opinion I should find a job. My gut reaction was that she was wrong. Not wrong about working being good, but wrong that I shouldn’t at least consider disability for the short-term. So I went to the Social Security website and started filling out the application.
I already had most of the information gathered from when I considered it before, so it was fairly easy to fill in all my medical and employment history. I intended to save the application, give it some more thought, and potentially submit it at a later date. When I got to the last section, I didn’t realize it was the last section and I continued, only to realize that I had actually submitted the application. Cue panic! Then I realized that the universe had just made my decision for me, so now all that’s left is to accidentally mail in my W-2s from last year and then wait for them to gather the records I authorized them to request and make their decision.