Finding the Positives

On Labor Day a year ago I was nearing the end of my third inpatient stay.  Anytime multiple people were being discharged at once, the activity therapist, Nikki, pulled out a “game” called Homeward Bound: a set of cards with questions designed to reflect on the experience of being in inpatient and prepare for rejoining the outside world.  On the day of my discharge there was another patient leaving, so out came Homeward Bound.

I only distinctly remember one of the many questions: “What advice would you leave with the other members of this group?”  I asked, “Does it have to be good advice?”  Without a trace of bitterness, Stefanie, who was awaiting her transfer to a state hospital for long-term treatment, said, “And she gets to go home today.”

The advice I ended up giving was that, when speaking with the staff, one should try to address both the positive and the negative.  Obviously there are going to be negatives when one is in a condition that requires hospitalization, but finding at least one positive in the day helps, not just in improving mood but in convincing the staff that your mood is improved enough to go home.

A while back Sadie asked me to keep a journal of positive things that happened.  I told her I couldn’t commit to a separate journal, but would try to include a positive thing each day in the journal I was already keeping.  This lasted about two days.  For me, the journal is where I write down the thoughts I’d like to discuss in therapy, and positive events usually don’t fall under that category.  I do sometimes include something positive that happened, but I don’t manage to find one for every day.  Today I’ll try: I am very amused by the Toasted Notes memo pad that I had forgotten I bought.


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