At a time when I had given up – felt hopeless & suicidal – I found the ARC on the internet. I was searching for self help info and there it was. No one had ever told me about the ARC. I hadn’t seen any other ads anywhere other than on the internet. I decided to check it out. One last stop before chucking it all in.
My first visit was scary. I was anxious about being there, but I was greeted with open arms by the group. My fear melted away quickly. I was treated like I was a normal person with troubles. That was important to me because everywhere else I felt treated like I was a “broken” person – made to feel awkward, sickly, different … like I was of lesser value than a “healthy” person. Not at the ARC. At the ARC, I found things I hadn’t tried yet from others in the group who shared their experience. I found HOPE again.
Though the ARC anxiety group was not traditional group therapy, I found it to be very helpful to me. Maybe even better than traditional group therapy. Better because everybody gets a chance to share. They can share as much or as little as they want to share. In the group others understood what I was going through without me having to explain myself. It felt good to belong in the group, and it felt good that others were feeling lost in the mental health field the way I felt lost. It meant that I was not alone in my anxieties.
The size of the group varies from week to week – no mandatory attendance – but we always had enough people to fill the chairs. Not too big of a group, not too small of a group. If a lot of people came we just split into two groups to keep from getting too big.
Then I started attending the other group for skin pickers/hair pullers. It was a smaller group but still quite helpful. I learned a lot in this group because no other mental health worker was able to address my skin picking issues. If I had not attended this group I wouldn’t know anything about this part of my mental health issues. I felt like finally somebody was listening to me and addressing my anxieties. This group has been combined with the regular anxiety group meetings now.
The ARC is like my rock. It’s there when I need it. In the last year I have become reclusive, hiding in my apartment with social anxiety. Just when I needed it most the ARC was there. I have been attending the new 4:30 pm anxiety group. It’s a smaller group so far but very comfortable for me with my social anxiety. It’s a big step to leave the safety of my four walls, but the ARC is the safest place I can go with my social anxiety. I get to decide how much to participate. I have my good days and my bad days like everyone else.
Pretty much attending the anxiety groups at the ARC is like the story about stone soup. Everyone brings something to the table to share and something good comes from the mix. It seems like I always come away with some new tidbit to try.
I recommend that you try attending a meeting or use the library. You’ve got nothing to lose and everything to gain.