Tag Archives: DBT skills

Therapy 2020: Session 3

Date of session: 16/09/2020

Please be aware some content may be triggering. This post will be discussing self harm. Though I will try to avoid discussing methods it may become apparent with other things mentioned. Please take care. 💚

Today’s therapy session has left me feeling annoyed and frustrated. If I’m honest there is also a bit of resentment in there too I think. I feel like I’m repeating everything from my assessment and it has become obvious that this is because the psychologist has not read the background mentioned in the assessment. I understand have to explain a little but when she said she had no awareness of my living situation or my issues at home this annoyed me. Why did I bother with the assessment? Surely it’s there to help them know something about me before it is discussed. Like I said I understand going through some things but the basics at least should be noted.

I also feel I’m getting no new methods to help me. Everything is a repeat of things I already know and understand. For example today when asked at the beginning I mentioned my issue with sleep. She then asked if I knew about and used sleep hygiene to which I responded that yes I did know about and use it. We then spent nearly fifteen minutes going through each item of sleep hygiene to find out I’m doing it all, which I’d already said, and that it was not something we should focus on. When a session is limited to 50ish minutes and there are a finite number of sessions this feels wasteful.

We also discussedy self harm. This was also documented in my assessment but seemed to be a revelation to her. We discussed the seriousness of the current level of self harm. We looked at how things could go wrong with the self harm I am doing and how even a slight mistake could end my life. In all honesty I think she was expecting this to bother me. It didn’t. With my current mood that would be a blessing. She asked me how important stopping was to me and the honest answer is that at this time it doesn’t bother me that I’m self harming. Then I think she wanted to make me bothered by telling me we would definitely not be doing trauma therapy with this level of self harm. I’m angry about this as the assessment knew all this and still recommended trauma therapy. Plus my psychiatrist believes without trauma therapy the things they want to be better for me to do it won’t get better without it.

With regard to the self harm we also discussed about the use of DBT skills to help, in particular distress tolerance skills. I was able to explain that I find this unhelpful as my self harm is not impulsive which is what these skills seem to be aimed at. I was grateful that the psychologist agreed with me on this matter. I’ve not had much support with this idea elsewhere.

Currently I’m feeling trapped in a cycle which I don’t know how I can get out of. I feel like noone is taking into account what needs to happen to move things on or it is not being discussed between professionals. It’s making me lose hope. It’s making me wonder if there is any point to anything. We shall see how it goes I guess.

Technology was an issue again today with us being cut off but I did receive a phone call after this.

I was lucky that straight after I was able to have cat cuddles to help me calm myself.

Therapy 2020: Session 2

Date of session: 09/09/2020

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering.

Today was session 2 of this round of therapy. And my goodness was it hard. The build up was very much part of the difficulty. I found last week extremely difficult and was scared what may come this week.

This week though the psychologist wanted to discuss whether I should even do therapy. She was unsure if it was the right time which confused me a bit as I had my assessment which was then discussed with others who agreed on therapy and this was done by someone I knew so could talk to more openly. I felt like I was going to lose the therapy before it even started and I could feel the panic in me rising. While doing therapy is hard the thought of not getting it just made me feel totally hopeless.

The psychologist decided we should do a pros and cons list for doing therapy and not doing therapy. They were as follows:

Pros of doing therapy:

  • Reduce flashbacks
  • More aware of causes of issues
  • Reduce self harm
  • Improve things

Cons of doing therapy:

  • Relapse may occur
  • Feel like a failure if I don’t achieve anything
  • Painful to do

Pros of not doing therapy:

  • Don’t have to deal with things
  • Don’t have to change

Cons of not doing therapy:

  • Lose hope

I then had to score how important each were and it came out that I really wanted to be doing therapy and trying. This is true. That con of not doing therapy was for me the biggest thing. Losing hope. If I don’t do therapy I don’t know what will happen. I feel stuck if I don’t as everyone is convinced in order to sort anything out it is what I need.

So it was decided I should do therapy but maybe not trauma based. This is disappointing in some ways as it’s what I feel is holding me back but as I’m self harming and hearing a voice she is not convinced I’m stable enough. The thing is the psychiatrist is convinced I need to do this therapy in order for these things to be help. So yeah… Where do we go to from here? I feel trapped.

I started to feel like I was dissociating during this session. I think it was self protective as I just wanted to cry but not in front of someone I barely know. I cried after.

So that was session 2. I think I’ve got a lot to process still. I’m feeling very vulnerable. Also a lot of pressure to stay stable. I’m not very good at that at the best of times. Thing is I feel BPD doesn’t help with stability. Who knows what will happen next?

Mask Anxiety

This is a tricky post to write as I’m sure I’m going to get very mixed responses. All I ask is that you be kind and respect others.

What I want to talk about comes in light of the new guidance on face masks and the rule in the UK that they are compulsory in shops except for those who are exempt from wearing them. The topic is the anxiety that comes with wearing a mask.

I know I’m not alone in having anxiety when wearing a mask. I’ve shared about this on Twitter and had responses from others who are having similar difficulties. There are many reasons for the anxiety I have with wearing a mask.

My first reason for anxiety is that I feel I’m suffocating in the mask. I know this is not the case but it is the feeling I get. I’ve always had difficulties with things around my face or neck. I can just about manage a loose scarf in winter and at school I cut the top buttons of my shirts so they couldn’t make me do them up. It feels almost like a form of claustrophobia. I feel trapped and like I can’t breathe even though I know it is not the case. This leads to panic which makes it harder still to breathe and a cycle is created.

Another reason for my anxiety with wearing a mask is other people’s behaviour. I have noticed that masks seem to make people feel they are invincible and less likely to social distance even though that is still necessary. As well as this people seem to struggle with using them correctly or fail to carry out other hygiene routines. This makes me feel that the risk is higher and I’m terrified of people I care about getting ill.

I understand the reasoning behind mask wearing and appreciate that it’s for everyone’s benefit but there are people who are exempt from wearing a mask and that includes people with mental illnesses especially anxiety. However I know people who are truly struggling with wearing a mask but are scared not to due to the comments people have been making about those who don’t wear them, calling them selfish. Until it was made compulsory I was not wearing a mask. I took all other precautions but I just couldnt bring myself to do it due to the above feelings. I read all the comments from others about how awful people who didn’t wear masks were and I felt awful about myself. The thing is although it seems selfish it’s actually self care and a benefit to others. If you have someone have panic attacks in shops that is not going to help the situation. As long as people are still taking precautions and using good hygiene practices they are not being selfish.

If you are in aa shop and see someone who is not wearing a mask, it is not your role to have a go at them or ask why they are not wearing one. Be kind. You do not know what they are going through. If you are struggling with wearing a mask please look after yourself. You are not selfish. Here is information about wearing face masks and there is a link on there to exemption card templates if you feel this would help you to have on you. This information is by the UK government.

Remember you are not alone. Take care. 💚

Positives From Lockdown

Lockdown has been a hard time for so many people, myself included but I’ve also found some positive things have come from lockdown too. Therefore I thought I’d look at my positives.

1. A lockdown birthday

I had my birthday in June when everything was still pretty much shut and we could barely see anyone. It was one of my favourite birthdays. I went for a picnic and a walk and then went home and did what I wanted. No pressure whatsoever. So I reckon on my birthday we should have a lockdown each year.

Birthday walk and picnic

2. The 2 metre rule

Yep it’s been the bane of so many people but I want to keep this forever. I now have a reason to tell people to get out of my personal space or to move away from them without appearing rude. Long may it continue with people we don’t want to be near.

Picture from Pinterest

3. Wildlife returning

During my walks I have had great pleasure in spotting different wildlife that has returned to our local park. We had a regular heron (named Herbert by me and adopted by others). We also had some Little Egrets. We also got to see the regular geese, ducks and coots have their offspring. I got particularly involved with one pait of coots who had a tragedy when their nest was destroyed. Wildlife is amazing.

Herbert

4. Finding new hobbies

I have taken up drawing again. It’s something I’ve not done in years but I seem to of improved over the lockdown period. I’ve enjoyed extending my range and developed some confidence in this area. I even set up Facebook and Instagram pages for my art. I’ve also managed to do more Lego building, which I love but just could never find the time for. I’ve adapted my routines to incorporate these things.

A drawing of mine

5. Getting things done

I have managed to get so many jobs done. Things I’ve always put off as I’ve been to busy or tired to do them. I’ve enjoyed them too. It’s not just been the mundane daily life jobs but things I wouldn’t normally get to do. I built my mum’s Christmas present from 2018 for her which I’d been meaning to do since she received it.

Making Mum’s Christmas present from 2018

Overall lockdown has been tough for me and many others. It has by no means been a positive experience fully but there are positive bits in there. Sometimes we forget these among all the talk of death and failing businesses. What have been your positives? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Will I Recover?

“Will I recover?” is often the first question you think when you get ill. You wonder whether things will ever be the same again. You wonder what the future holds. This is the same whether it is a physical or mental illness, but it seems less clear cut when the illness is mental (though I know many physical illnesses carry the same ambiguity).

I have a mental illness for a long time. In fact in my head I don’t ever remember feeling OK mentally. This has meant recovery to me has always felt unclear. The major thing with the question “will I recover?” is defining recovery. This is tricky in mental illness, maybe more so than physical illness, where the lines aren’t always obvious.

Recovery for everyone is defined differently. For me the definition below is what I feel I aspire to most.

My reason for identifying with this most of all is that it is not about going to a state where my mental illness is completely gone to be “better”. My recovery will be about managing my condition.

However… I have still gone through the “Will I recover?” question looking for the answer that says my illness will be completely gone. I think that’s what a lot of people want. It doesn’t seem fair that managing a condition is all we can hope for. It’s not like the broken leg that is often used in the analogy of getting treatment for a physical illness versus a mental illness. It is not clear cut. It takes a lot to feel well with a mental illness.

This is still a complicated idea as recovery is still what is aimed for in some mental illnesses like depression where complete recovery is possible in some cases. I’ve even been told that those of us with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) may be classed as recovered as we won’t meet the criteria for a diagnosis with time and treatment. However for many of us it will be about management more than being completely better so for us this is our recovery.

So back to our main question “will I recover?”. There is no simple answer. Will we ever be how we were before our illness? Probably not as it changes us and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Will we be able to live a decent life? Yes. It won’t be easy but there is hope. Its not easy to see in the midst of mental illness. I struggle with this most days and even as I write this it’s something I’m struggling to believe but I’ve seen others manage so that’s my hope. Hope for recovery, in whatever form, is what we need to keep. We may just have to adjust our thoughts on what recovery is for us.

I’d love to hear your ideas on this topic. Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

N.B. Since writing this post I have come to dislike the word recovery with a passion. I’ve decided it is not the word for me and I don’t wish to use it in relation to dealing with my mental illnesses. I know this is a personal choice and I respect other people’s choice to use the word recovery.

My Saturday Night

Trigger warning: please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. There is discussion of self harm.

It’s Saturday night and I feel awful. Current time at writing is 22.53 and I’m laying in bed. I hate myself. That’s what I can identify. Pure hatred. I hate myself so much it hurts.

The evening involved trying to be positive. Or rather not admitting the negativity. I messaged some friends. I asked them how they were and they reciprocated. The thing is I just ignored the question. I diverted the conversation to discuss them or other things. And to be honest all I could say is I feel bad.

Emotions aren’t my strong point. Identifying them seems impossible and it’s bothering me more and more at the moment. I want to make people understand me and I can’t when I can’t understand me. The feeling is that I’m trapped alone. I’m trying to work on it but it feels scary and I feel like I should of done this as a little kid not as a 31 year old.

Since I’ve come to bed, I’ve self harmed. I tried a new area on top of the usual and felt a failure when I couldn’t do what I needed to achieve. My thoughts spiralled again and what I was trying to escape intensified. The hatred for myself at my failure is immense. I just wanted to destroy myself. Self destruction seemed a good option.

The voice is back as well. We’ll it’s never really left just subsided slightly. Not over the last few days or tonight. It’s telling me people hate me and want me dead. People are fed up of me and want me to die. I should do them all a favour.

So yeah that’s Saturday night. A night of mental illness taking over. A night where I hate my existence. And tomorrow will be another day the same. Waking up with blood on your hands will do that.

I’m sorry to anyone reading. Take care.

Picture from Pinterest

Losing People

Today has been tough. Several people have left my life to an extent. It might seem irrelevant to the loss others are feeling in these times but these have led to my mood dropping.

At the moment I wouldn’t really be seeing these people but they were people I was looking forward to seeing after this current crisis was over and today those hopes seem to of been crushed. The feeling of loss is overwhelming. I know this is intensified by the symptoms of my diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), where a fear of abandonment is strong and emotions are intense.

Hearing the news about these different people had an immediate effect on me mentally and physically. I felt sick to my stomach and my temperature rose. My chest felt tight. My mind started to race and try to work out what I could do with this situation. Could I rectify it? Could I stop the loss? What had I done wrong? Was this all my fault? Would it be better if I was dead? Yep suicide came up. Welcome to my mind.

Pulling myself back is easier these days than it used to be. Making myself take a step back is important. I have to make myself take another look at the situation and all the facts (DBT: check the facts). In this instance it is not my fault. It is the life situation of one person and it impacts on many. I’m not alone. I can make new links. I do not need to die.

The thing is I tell myself all this. But there is doubt still there. I still feel bereft. It seems ridiculous. These are not close relations. But it feels like I’ve lost everything. And it scares me for losing someone in my immediate family or close friends and how that will go. And this is where my brain spirals again and becomes overwhelmed. The physical symptoms reoccur. And I have to go back again. And again. And again. It’s exhausting.

I have no answer for how to deal with other than to keep check of the facts and what you can realistically do. If you have any more tips feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

You Want To Know What It’s Like? (BPD)

Please be aware that some of the content may be triggering. Please take care when reading.

People always want to know what it’s like to have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). They want to know how I live with it and what’s going on in my head. They want to know what is me and what’s the illness. So I thought I’d try to put into words some of these things and few other bits. It may not be succinct or always easy to follow but that probably says as much about this disorder than anything else.

I hate being in my head. Life is exhausting. I second guess myself all the time. I know there is something wrong with me. For years now people have officially known that doctors see my personality as screwed up. Thanks!

The thing is I’ve thought I’m screwed up for a long time. I’ve always felt on the outside. I’ve never felt a part of the group and for years it’s bothered me. I couldn’t work out how people made friends so easily and even more how they kept friendships without coming across as totally needy and to be called “a sheep”. Believe me it’s happened.

To begin with I tried my best to fit in. I rejected things I liked in favour of what others liked. This included music and television shows. It included the way I behaved with others. I just wanted to be “cool”. It didn’t work. I was seriously unhappy and it was totally unnatural. I hated myself. And I lost myself.

That’s part of BPD, lack of a sense of self. Knowing what I like and who I am is hard. Do I like something or is it just because someone else says they like it? Obsessions come and go often depending on other people’s feelings towards them. With age there has been a bit more stability in this area but it can still fall apart. I will allow myself to like things that others close to me don’t now. It’s quite freeing but hard as I fear my likes will make others dislike me.

The fear of being disliked is strong. The fear people will hate you and leave you very much in evidence. This can lead to desperate behaviour. This is where the term “manipulative” comes out. We can appear manipulative because we are desperate to hold on to people so can make what appear as threats of harming ourselves. But we don’t use it in a manipulative manner. We are scared. We don’t know how to keep our fear under control (and this fear is strong and terrifying) so we want to hurt ourselves as we can’t imagine being without the other person and we are hurting so much. We don’t want to hurt you really. We want to stop the pain. However we can learn to deal with this better but it takes time. And the fear doesn’t seem to ever leave. At least that’s my experience.

I talked about overwhelming fear above. All our emotions though can be overwhelming. I can feel physically sick with fear over something others would feel vaguely scared about. If something apparently trivial goes wrong that can lead to suicidal thoughts taking over. It may seem silly and overdramatic to you but to me these are my real feelings. Saying they’re silly and overdramatic to me just invalidates me. I already do this to myself. I know it sounds silly to you. I know I sound overdramatic. But it’s how I feel and it takes me time to work out if that’s justified and change the feeling. For most people this is an automatic process. For me and others with BPD it takes using therapy skills and many checks. We may even have to get notes or a book out to help us deal with it.

Self harm and suicidal thoughts can be a daily occurrence. For me they definitely are. I wake up wanting to die and go to bed wanting to die. I can be smiling but planning my suicide inside. I can be making plans for the future while wondering if I’ll be alive for them. Self harm feels like my main coping mechanism. It’s been there most of my life now. Losing it in favour of other skills is hard work. Self harm works for me in a way they don’t. It’s easier than going through multiple skills or sitting with the feelings. And when feelings are overwhelming it can feel like you want to be rid of them as fast as possible. I’d rather feel the pain physically than sit with an emotion that is painful.

Another reason sitting with emotions or dealing with emotions is hard for me is that I struggle to identify my emotions. I can maybe go as far as good or bad emotion but finding other words is more challenging. It’s frustrating not being able to express yourself and how you feel. To only be able to guess at an emotion. I want to tell you how I really feel but how? What. Words do I use? Will you truly understand how I feel? What if you don’t and it all gets confused and taken out of context? How do I sort this mess? Easier to keep it inside and deal with it how I normally do. It’s nothing personal. I promise.

There’s a lot of things from the past I’ve expressed here. The thing is they all build on each other until it becomes a complicated web. Untangling it by using different skills takes an awful lot of time. I want to make it so these skills are second nature and I don’t have to sit up with a big manual so I can discuss and deal with emotions, or interact with others, or stop myself trying to kill myself. I feel an idiot.

The thing is I feel a screw up but it is an illness. It’s the illness that makes me feel that way all the time. That’s the main thing that’s hard living with it. The self hatred. The constant need to apologise. It’s hard to break down these walls.

So that’s a small insight into what is going through my head a lot of the time. It can all be in there. There is also probably a lot more that adds in too. It won’t make you feel like I feel. No one can do that for anyone else fully. Even others with BPD will have different experiences. But this is me.

I’d love to hear your views. Feel free to use the comments or share on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Self-kindness

Being kind to others is important but there is someone we tend to overlook when we are sharing kindness and that is ourselves. We deserve to be kind to ourselves however alien it may be and how little we feel we deserve it. Believe me I’m the first to admit I’m far from kind to myself with negative self talk and lack of care for myself. But there are some ways we can all be kind to ourselves and I thought I’d share a few.

1. Getting sleep

Our sleep routine is really important to our mental health. By getting sleep we are being kind to ourselves. Staying awake to get things done can feel like what we need to do but if we show ourselves kindness by at least trying to get some good sleep then we will be more productive.

2. Eating well

We’ve all heard this one I’m sure. But it is true that it makes you feel better and allows you to fight other illnesses more effectively. This is showing a real kindness to yourself.

3. Exercise

Again we’ve heard it lots but it can really help our mood to stay active. I’m not saying run a marathon (believe me I can barely run a mile) but just a short walk can help. It is kind to ourselves although it may not feel like it before we start.

4. Positive self talk

This is a huge one linked to kindness. It’s also one I struggle with on a huge scale. If we are kinder in the way we talk to ourselves it can improve our mood and motivation. But boy is it hard. Everyone has told me to either imagine talking to a friend or to the child I was. Would you say the mean things you say to yourself to them? Like I said I really struggle with this one. Maybe we can start by saying one kind thing to ourselves a day.

5. Showers/baths

As well as keeping you clean they can be relaxing. Show yourself some kindness by giving yourself some time to look after your body. Make it feel nice. Embrace it.

6. Treating yourself

This is the kindness that a lot of us can’t allow ourselves but we are allowed nice things. We are allowed that bar of chocolate or that new book. There doesn’t need to be a special occasion to make ourselves feel OK or to treat ourselves.

Being kind to ourselves is alien. Society has made us think it makes us selfish. It’s not. It’s self care. It’s looking after yourself which in turn helps you look after others.

What ideas for self kindness do you have? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lost In Lockdown

So it seems like the world has been shut down for forever. Everyone is finding it tough. People are losing loved ones or being kept away from them at least. Life is restricted. Unfortunately my mental illness has decided to take advantage of this situation to cause ultimate unpleasantness.

I know this lockdown is not fun for anyone. I’m not pretending that I’m the only one negatively effected. Everyone seems to be in the same boat. But unfortunately that doesn’t help make it easier. In fact it’s making it harder. I feel guilty that I need support. I feel like a burden when I know so many are struggling to deal with this. I hate myself for being able to access support yet still feel on the edge.

The thing is I know I would tell any of my friends who are mentally ill and struggling that it’s OK and mental illness doesn’t make it easier but harder. That it will impact you more as you have to work harder than everyone else to stay well. I’ve even said these words to others. But I can’t apply it to me.

I think also that as things that help keep me more stable have been removed temporarily due to the lockdown this is going to make it harder. I’ve been lucky that my mental health team have given me permission to exercise more than once a day. This is allowed for medical reasons. (For more information click here.) But there are other things I’m missing that I’d not even realised I needed.

Social contact for me has always been exhausting and something I need a break after. I thought I’d be OK without it as I still can contact friends and others through social media or WhatsApp. But it turns out I need to physically see people. I need hugs. I need to be closer to them. I miss them. Yes I may need quiet time after but I still need the contact.

While we can all say lockdown is not our ideal situation I have found some things that are helping keep me a little bit saner (never completely sane, that ship sailed long ago). I’ve rediscovered things I liked doing. I’ve discovered I’m more skilled in them than I thought and that they can help others feel better. Drawing has been a major one for me, with me drawing animals and characters for others and children.

I’ve also found it useful to set myself projects. I’ve put together things I’ve been meaning to do for ages, I’ve built Lego I’d been meaning to make or made friendship bracelets for others. Focusing on this one thing has helped me keep moving and not dropping into deep despair.

The thing is it’s not always helpful. I seem to have a regular Friday night meltdown at the moment. I just disintegrate. My anxiety at times is so high it gives me chronic chest pain. I’ve got an almost constant headache. These are things that I’m struggling to manage. I’ve had a lot of anxiety that I’m going to infect my family. Hair pulling and skin picking have increased along with self harm. Things are not ideal.

Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to make this go quicker but we can help each other. Just checking in is helpful. And we need to ask for support when we need it. Fingers crossed we’ll be able to have some normality soon.

To keep in contact please feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.