I once got in trouble in group therapy for cracking jokes about feeling bad. I was not the leader and it was the day I planned to leave the group. I don’t think the leader wanted me to go. Laughing at depression is a no-no when you are trying to learn how to actually be depressed.
I am sorry to say that I do get depressed (oddly sad, achy, grumpy, and sometimes worse). This is one of a myriad of reasons that InterPlay exists. I learned that certain behaviors empower my healthiest self like creativity, movement, surprise, big bodied expression, goofing off, silliness, spontaneity, love, affection, truth-telling, and connecting with others and with life. As you can see I am as smart as a rat tracking the cheese.
The doc called my brand of depression dysthymia. a mild case of low serotonin…a bit of sluggish mental health immunity. This explains why I need a higher power to keep myself out of the ditch, why I need to take care of myself instead of wallow, why I need to dance and sing and make jokes about depression and everything else that gets to me, and why I am a ridiculously intent go-getter. When I’m unconscious I get seriously worked up–fueling adrenalin into my system instead of a good diet of creating, resting, and playing.
Am I ashamed about depression? No. I wish I didn’t have it, but disease does not define the soul, it only informs it.
Many who InterPlay are as shocked as I am that InterPlay is like getting a multi-vitamin booster shot. Playing with five core freedoms-1) movement 2) voice 3) telling stories 4) stillness 5) connection in a reasonably safe way is sneaky deep! Bad moods and rude attitudes shift. ITS CRAZY!
Of course you needn’t be depressed to benefit! Last week a guy came to my group for the first time, a scientist who was understandably dubious. After an hour he said, “I haven’t moved like that in I don’t know how long. I felt free. It’s just good for you!”
In Kansas City Devi Whetterer led a group and afterward Laird Schaub wrote about his first InterPlay experience on his Community and Consensus blog. Over a weekend, this community networker & group process consultant gleaned the power of o Slowing Down o Moving Consciously from Stress to Grace o Working with What’s in the Room o Being Brave with Strangers o Working Inside While Playing Outside o Trusting the Body’s Wisdom o Using Movement, Touch, and Voice as the Vocabulary of Emotional Expression. He wrote
“I think that Interplay is powerful because, as a culture, we are starved for emotional authenticity, and highly inhibited in our bodies. (There are plenty of exceptions, of course, but you get the point.) Interplay tries to open both of these doors, giving us a taste of what fuller expression might feel like. Though the context of the workshop is as benign as possible, we got a glimpse of what this might look like if we approached problem-solving this way, where our voices and bodies were fully welcomed at the table.”
Someone said, “The opposite of depression is not happiness. It’s movement.” I like that–not feeling stuck in my disease or the culture’s. Making art, telling little truths, resting, singing, connecting, putting my energy into what works is why InterPlay got an innovation grant to offer wellness to homeless seniors, why its part of a social change strategy for groups and individuals who rely too much on adrenalin and not enough on
good looks body wisdom. And, it’s why helping professionals are adopting this fun, wonderful tool set for self and client care in The InterPlay Way.
It turns out play is medicine. All the smart people are saying so. And that’s pretty funny.