Hi there curious person!
A bit about me: I’m a sassy chick/woman/girl who has been a servant to my emotions, and reacting to them, for as long as I can remember. I’m very, very sensitive, and have an extremely difficult time `shutting things out’. I don’t have the `filters’ most people seem to have – whether it’s to insults, criticism, or seemingly innocuous sounds or smells. My life, since about age 14, feels like it has been one crisis after another – always being at the center of a tornado. Drama seemed to follow me wherever I went, and I really felt as if I was a victim of `the universe’.
I had unrelenting panic attacks and generalized anxiety disorder, god-awful depression, chronic insomnia…and later, a chronic pain condition. Do I identify as having Borderline Personality Disorder? I think it depends on the situation. In my last relationship, I would have said `yes’ – but it seems to depend on what’s going on in my life. I’m also not particularly fond of labeling myself, although I’ll do it if it’s helpful to get treatment or relate to others. I recently heard a term that I actually like: `neurologically atypical’. It makes me feel special. 😉 I mean, my goal here isn’t to be `normal’; it’s to be a more functional and happier `me’. I’m pretty quirky, and have no intention of changing that!!!
Medication helped with the panic attacks a bit, but my life was still hell. No one believed me though because I was still getting straight A’s. They had no idea that the only place I could function was in the classroom. My relationships were wrecked, and I spent every evening sitting on the window ledge of the high rise that I lived in wanting to jump – not because I wanted to die, but because I needed help. Maybe if I broke a leg, at least people would be able to see the pain. But what if I broke my neck? Then I’d be worse off than I already was. My life really was a living hell and the only way I knew how to get help was to create a crisis. So I started admitting myself to psych. wards, threatening that if I didn’t get admitted I’d harm myself. Once in the ward though, I was so terrified, my only goal was to get out. So, usually before the day was over, I would be back out of the hospital…and back at square one. Maybe even at square zero, since going into the hospital actually made me more hopeless, and terrified that nothing and no one would ever be able to help me. I have had a lot, a Lot of suicidal thinking since age 14 – but am terrified of dying. And I also have a child-like `wonderous’ side that really can see beauty in the world to a degree that most people who aren’t highly sensitive cannot see. I didn’t want to kill that.
After 15 years of talk-therapy, I really was `over’ talking about my mother, and dredging up issues from the past. I wanted to move forward with my admittedly crappy life. I was stuck, and needed to be in a treatment that helped me accept the past, but not focus on it. I needed something pro-active, that would give me some hope that my life could and would be less `crazy’ and more fulfilling. Thank god, I had a doctor who got so tired with my demanding his time, he said that he would only see me if I also went to a dialectical behavioral therapy (dbt) group. And so it began…
I’ve been practicing dbt for a little over 4 years. The first couple of years I went to dbt groups, but did not have a dbt therapist. For over a year, I have been lucky enough to be in a dbt-intensive program. That means I attended one skills group a week, and had a private dbt session every week. I’m out of treatment now, but am obviously still very intent on practicing dbt. You can read more about my dbt group time-line in one of the first blog posts.
I want to add that I have spent quite a bit of time in Buddhist monasteries, and had already experienced being able to change my own brain chemistry through meditation and mindfulness. That really gave me a head-start, because I didn’t question the basis of dbt, which is mindfulness practice.
I had also `reached the end of my rope’ by the time the opportunity to do the intensive dbt program came up. I had gone through so many doctors, therapists and medications. I’d tried Western medicine, Eastern practices, and many things in between and outside any `box’ of traditional healing practices.
I was willing to throw myself into the program. What did I have to lose? A crappy life. A chaotic, terrifying, unfulfilling life. I really threw myself into this. Without Willingness, and constant, constant re-commitment to Willingness (which trust me, I questioned many times), I honestly don’t believe the program would have been effective. You’ll read more about Willingness in the blog: It’s a skill. Yay! 🙂
To actually improve your life thru dbt is hard, hard work. I am no longer in a dbt program – but am practicing `the skills’ daily. In fact, I’d use the word `minute-ly’ if it existed. I use the skills every waking minute. Not always well or effectively – but they are popping out of me and into my life. And that’s what this blog is about: My daily efforts to be a DBT Skill Monster. (I use the term `monster’ with tons of affection and humour. Raaawr! I’m also really sarcastic, so consider yourself forewarned that there is dark dry humour ahead). Mwahaha! ; )
So, I hope you’ll just dive in with me. I’m not going to do much explaining of what dbt is, although I will include some educational and hopefully inspirational *nuggets* throughout the blog. I’ll also be talking about potential pitfalls, and anything and everything that helped me stay with the program. Some of the words I use may be strange at the beginning if you’re not familiar with dbt.
If you want to get a general working knowledge of what dbt is, what the skills are, and why they work, I highly recommend immersing yourself in a website: dbtselfhelp.com. Lisa Dietz is the founder and administrator of the site, and she has done an amazing, amazing job. Please also do consider buying the cd from her, which has more Dbt information on it. Lisa puts lots of time into the site, and needs us to support the operations cost of the site by making donations. You can get the cd if you make a $20 donation.
One caveat I want to mention is this: I don’t know why you are here, or whether you have been diagnosed. Originally dbt was developed for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. But dbt is beneficial for anyone who is `pushed around’ by their emotions. I honestly believe that most people, especially those living fast-paced lives in the West, can benefit from practicing dbt skills. Check out New Harbinger Press for the wide range of dbt-related books they have published.
Okay, time to get started on my first blog! I’m really nervous! I’ll use my dbt skills to work with my anxiety, and hopefully you’ll be reading my blogs soon.
If you have questions about dbt-and-me, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Let’s get started on this windy, bumpy ride! I guess we’ll see where we’re going…Together.
Take care of your special self!