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Blindsided and Bedridden - More Support and Treatment Options

Blindsided and Bedridden — More Support and Treatment Options

{8 minutes to read} The shock of an unwanted divorce is one of life’s great stressors. No one is expected to cope effortlessly. Understandably, an imminent, unexpected divorce would leave anyone flabbergasted and distraught. While the first weeks (and even months) after receiving such life-changing news may be challenging and demanding for some, for others, it may be more than they can manage.

Having overwhelming negative, even frightening feelings and thoughts can certainly occur in the immediate fall-out of a relationship ending. For some, it is a quintessential trigger with which they are ill-equipped to cope.

A significant life event can strike us in unexpected ways. Depending upon our personal histories, biological makeups, and a thousand other yet-unknown factors, each of us copes uniquely. A challenge to one person may appear insurmountable to another. Social and moral biases, ever unhelpful, tend to shine upon those who brush themselves off and shame those who are volitionally unable to get themselves back on their feet. This antiquated attitude is of no use.  

Those considered emotionally fragile or psychologically labile have given the world its most inspired creations, from works of art to literature, symphonies, and abiding structures. Indeed, our sensitive, emotional comrades help us experience our lives with greater color, poetry, and depth. If we were all stiff-upper-lip by-your-bootstrap types, what a diminished world this would be!  

So, with greater appreciation and [self-]compassion, consider those upended by divorce who find themselves unable to cope as they expected — unable to return to work or enjoy their regular activities.  Consider those who see no relief in sight. 

When suffering is not abating, and ordinary strategies are insufficient, it might be time to consider a higher level of care.  Therapeutic resources, called “day programs,” “partial hospitalization,” or “intensive outpatient” treatment are available and offered in many hospital and clinical settings. 

Treatment options when more support is appropriate

Intensive outpatient programs are suitable for anyone having difficulty functioning at their normal capacity and suffering from overwhelming emotions.  Regardless of the triggering event, individuals in these programs are working to regain mastery of themselves and higher functionality in their lives. The programs provide dependability, community, and immediate care, so individuals reeling from unexpected life events can recalibrate and regulate their systems through attendance and participation in the program. 

Often these types of outpatient programs, called “partial hospitalization,” (meaning the client spends a portion of several scheduled days onsite, participating in the program) or “intensive out-patient,” (again referring to the number of days or partial days the client will participate in the program), serve populations with mental health issues such as substance abuse, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, or stressful life events such as the loss of employment, or loss of a loved one due to death or divorce.  

What happens in these programs?

These programs provide a comprehensive therapeutic setting.  Most importantly, they offer a regular place to go to receive connection and care with relative immediacy.  An initial intake with the client and a treating professional determines an initial treatment plan — primarily which days and times the client can attend and what is recommended based on factors such as current symptoms, other available supports, ability to take time off from work, etc.  

Programs usually have weekly morning and afternoon sessions.  A client in an acute state would likely begin the program attending most days, then schedule down to fewer days, and then partial days as the client regains stability and requires less external support of this kind.

The treatments generally include a curriculum of individual and group therapy, skills classes, and activities. Educational classes, or “skills” classes usually focus on cognitive behavioral-based coping strategies such as effective communication, stress management, and other well-being life skills.  Activities, such as playing board games, drawing, and writing, also are used to teach skills of distraction, grounding, engaging, and interacting. Classes provide not only a place to learn and practice skills but also an environment to further process and discuss what is happening for individuals. Implicitly, even the participation in structured, simple activities, serves clients to regulate their nervous systems, and bring their systems more fully into balance and back “online.”  Since crises send people into survival mode (fight, flight, freeze, submit, collapse) integral portions of their minds are unavailable and must be invited back in through safety, consistency, and simplicity.  

The scaffolding of these programs creates an environment for clients to restore healthy functioning. Clients reacquaint themselves with managing time in small chunks; breaks are taken predictably, and working sessions such as group therapy or trauma education are alternated with lighter activities, reintroducing a gentle structure to those whose lives and systems are grappling to synchronize with life’s rhythm and beat.  The program’s schedule, and its clinicians, hold a calm and dependable meter so clients, over time, can reset and rejoin the larger world around them.    

Who are these programs suitable for?

These outpatient programs are generally for individuals who would not require a level of care such as hospitalization, designated for those who pose an imminent threat to themselves or others, such as those struggling with suicidal or homicidal ideations, or requiring significant, ongoing medical attention; rather, these programs are tailored to people for whom inpatient hospitalization would be overkill and so extreme as to be unresonant with their actual need. Candidates are people who require more support than the one or two weekly therapy sessions they may currently have; and more support than that which usually suffices in difficult times. 

It is nearly impossible for individuals in crisis to construct a suitable level of support by simply stringing together multiple weekly sessions with individual healthcare practitioners. It would be too costly to be sustainable and too logistically burdensome to be practical.  

Who is in these programs?

These programs, tend to serve populations of highly functional, successful individuals who are temporarily dealing with things that have become too demanding to handle within their usual systems of support and threaten to interfere with activities of daily living. Programs with this structure are popularly known for treating eating disorders and addictions, but also, increasingly, for clients coping with trauma and situational crises. 

Partial day and intensive outpatient programs tend to be lesser known to those not intimately involved in the mental health field, so it’s important to be aware of these alternatives when identifying the necessary level of care.  

Of course, programs vary in quality, but ideally, these programs provide emotional safety and support when other care is insufficient.

Clients blindsided by divorce would likely enter such a program voluntarily, and participate in the decisions regarding the level of care they need and for how long.  Programs of this type can be good options for those who wish to maintain a high level of control and involvement in their treatment with minimal disruption to their daily lives. Many clients work while in programs or return to work shortly after entering the program while continuing with treatment. 


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