Yesterday was my first day in the Partial Hospitalization Program (PHP). This handout was the first bit of business our group worked through. In Parts One and Two, we marked the items we’ve experienced in the past three months. Then we marked the items we experienced more than three months ago. This was to help us see patterns of distorted thinking, isolation and a victim mentality. In looking at Part Three, we were asked to pick the one item we felt was most important to our mental health.
I think this bodes well for the week.
Steven James’ Totally Subjective, Non-Scientific Guide to Illness and Health
How to Get Sick
- Don’t pay attention to your body. Eat plenty of junk food, drink too much, take drugs, have lots of unsafe sex with lots of different partners and, above all, feel guilty about it. If you are over-stressed and tired, ignore it and keep pushing yourself.
- Cultivate the experience of your life as meaningless and of little value.
- Do everything you dread or hate and avoid doing what you really want. Follow everyone else’s opinion and advice while seeing yourself as miserable and stuck.
- Be resentful and hyper-critical, especially toward yourself.
- Fill your mind with dreadful pictures, then obsess over them. Worry as much as possible.
- Avoid deep, lasting, intimate relationships.
- Blame other people for your problems.
- Don’t express your feelings or opinions. Other people wouldn’t appreciate it. If at all possible, don’t even know what your feelings are.
- Shun anything that resembles a sense of humor. Life is no laughing matter.
- Avoid making any changes that might bring you greater satisfaction and joy.
How to Get Sicker (If You’re Already Sick)
- Think about all the awful things that could happen to you. Dwell on negative, fearful images.
- Be depressed, self-pitying, envious and angry. Blame everyone and everything for your illness.
- Read articles, books and newspapers; watch television programs; and listen to people who reinforce the viewpoint that there is no hope. You are powerless to influence your fate.
- Cut yourself off from other people. Regard yourself as a pariah. Lock yourself up in your room and contemplate death.
- Hate yourself for having destroyed your life. Blame yourself mercilessly and incessantly.
- Go to see lots of different doctors. Run from one to another, spend half your time in waiting rooms, get lots of conflicting opinions and lots of experimental drugs, start one program after another without sticking to any.
- Quit your job, stop work on any projects, give up all activities that bring you a sense of purpose and fun. See your life as essentially pointless and at an end.
- Complain about your symptoms, and if you associate with anyone, do so exclusively with those who are unhappy and embittered. Reinforce each other’s feelings of hopelessness.
- Don’t take care of yourself. Try to get other people to do it for you, and then resent them for not doing a good job.
- Think how awful life is and how you might as well be dead. But make sure you are absolutely terrified of death, just to increase the pain.
How to Stay Well (Or Get Better if You’re Not Well to Begin With)
- Do things that bring you a sense of fulfillment, joy, purpose and that validate your worth. See your life as your own creation and strive to make it a positive one.
- Pay close and loving attention to yourself, tuning in to your needs on all levels. Take care by nourishing, supporting and encouraging yourself.
- Release all negative emotions—resentment, envy, fear, sadness, anger. Express your feelings appropriately, then forgive yourself.
- Hold positive images and goals in your mind, pictures of what you truly want in life. When fearful images arise, refocus on ones that evoke feelings of peace and joy.
- Love yourself and everyone else. Make loving the purpose and primary expression in your life.
- Create fun, loving, honest relationships that fulfill your needs for intimacy and security. Try to heal any wounds in past or present relationships, such as with old lovers or family members.
- Make a positive contribution to your community through some form of work or service that you value and enjoy.
- Make a commitment to health and well-being. Develop a belief in the possibility of Total Health. Develop your own healing program, drawing on the support and advice of experts without becoming enslaved to them.
- Keep your sense of humor.
- Accept yourself and everything in your life as an opportunity for growth and learning. Be grateful. When you mess up, forgive yourself, learn what you can from the experience, and then move on.