Help that’s actually helpful …


When I was at my lowest low several years ago, I began seeing a personal counselor for moral support and to have someone to talk to who had expertise to deal with the difficulties I was facing. Since the emotions I was feeling at the time were so strong, she recommended I attend a DBT class (ie: Dialectic Behavior Therapy) to gain some fresh skills for handling my overwhelming (and sometimes suicidal) emotional reactions to an on-going crisis in my life.

Since DBT was so helpful to me, I thought I’d take some time on this blog to share some of the insights and skills I developed through the program. A number of followers of this blog and my Facebook page have expressed interest in hearing more about my experiences with DBT.

DBT is a six month program taught through mental health clinics which can be taken twice. I’m on my second time through. Soon it will be a full year of DBT classes. Wow. It feels like it’s gone by fast. I’m gaining further insight this second round of classes, but I’m also seeing how much I’ve grown in my ability to implement and understand the skills. The group I’m in meets once a week with a required weekly meeting with a personal counselor for follow-up in using the skills.

A quick overview of DBT:

It was developed in the 1980s by psychologist Marsha Linehan, originally to treat patients with Borderline Personality Disorder. Since that time, DBT is being used for people with all sorts of emotional regulation issues. Everything from suicidal ideation to depression to Bipolar mania. It’s useful for anyone who reacts strongly to emotional stimuli in ways that negatively effect their lives.

In my case, I’d become so overwhelmed with sadness, that life felt unbearable and utterly hopeless. I was surprised to discover that even an emotion like sadness could be regulated with the right skills. Prior to DBT, I was frightened to start crying, because I thought if I started, I’d never stop.

The main topics covered in DBT are:

  • Mindfulness
  • Interpersonal Effectiveness
  • Distress Tolerance
  • Emotional Regulation

I’ve personally found the Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance sections to be the most helpful. I’m sure it’s different for everyone since we all deal with different issues and emotionally triggering events in our lives.

My plan is to start going through my notebook from my DBT class and writing about various insights I’ve had through the program. I can’t share the entirety of the class due to copyright issues, but I can share my personal reactions to the units and the teachings.

There are a variety of books, workbooks, and other resources on DBT and I’ll probably be recommending some of those as we go along.

If someone you know is struggling with overwhelming emotions, or difficulties working through strong feelings, feel free to let them know about this blog. It won’t take me six months to get through my thoughts on the topic, so don’t worry. I’ll probably share a post once a week or so for a couple of months. Maybe less. Maybe more. 🙂

~Debi

And here’s yesterday’s watercolor project. Spring is coming!

DSCN5231

Ready?


The First Time at the First Place

But I’m not ready to go home yet.
“But you can’t stay here forever.”
I know. But I’m not ready.

I don’t even know what ready means, or what ready looks like, or how ready feels. I just know that this is not ready. Thoughts of returning to the same circumstances that sent me to the hospital in the first place bring on panic attacks. I don’t think that’s ready. When I can’t stop crying whenever I think of going home, I don’t think that’s ready, either. When I shake so much I can’t eat, I suspect that’s also a sign I’m not ready.

“All, right. You can stay for one more day, but only one more day. That’s the best we can offer. You’ll need to use that day for preparing to go home. Can you do that?”
Yes. Okay. I understand. I will.

I do understand. I do. But even so, I don’t think I’ll be ready. At least they offered me one more day. One more day of safety from myself. One more day to breathe freely without fear that I’ll give up on life again. One more day to think about the thinking that led me to thinking that I needed to be in the hospital. One more day to accept the reality of life on the outside. One more day to steel myself for returning to the grief and loneliness. To return to the reality of pain and rejection. Of never-ending sadness. Of emptiness. Of hopelessness.


The Latest Time at a Different Place

The last time I was in the hospital, they sent me home before I was ready.
“We do things differently here. We won’t send you home until you’re ready.”
But last time I was told I just had to get myself ready and I couldn’t stay any longer, even though I was afraid to go home.
“If you feel afraid to go home, then you’re not ready. We won’t send you home until you’re ready.”
How will I know when I’m ready?
“You’ll know when you’re ready. We’ll know when you’re ready. We won’t kick you out, we promise. You can stay here until you’re ready.”
Oh. Okay. Thank you.

Is it weird to say I cried when the doctors told me I wouldn’t be going home for a while? I cried from happiness. I cried from sadness. I cried from sheer exhaustion. I cried from releasing the fear I’d been carrying. The fear of having to return home too soon. Perhaps this time will be the last time if I’m able to stay for enough time to finally discover what ready looks and feels like. What ready actually means.


Reading Ecopoetry on Patriot Day While Sitting on the Back Deck


hummingbird soundtrack
distant rumbling
thunder? no
train yards
impersonating summer squalls
alone
sunlight scented skin
quiet rustlings
dry leaves
red umbrellas
Patriot flags
poetry pages
flapping open
shut open shut open shut
in a passing breeze
suspended in time
between stillness and movement
warmth and cool nights
morning and forever
mourning and
open shut open shut open shut
life’s pages flap open shut
hints of fall
uncertain futures
one more lonely pass around the sun
dandelion wishes
daisy loves
and love-me-nots
vanish for another year
deep distant rumbling
thunder? no
shuddering moments of loss
the sun shines still
quiet and still
warms this sun-kissed
tear-stained
pink-skinned mammal
one more day


No future


Yesterday, I found this in a notebook I kept about a year ago.  Don’t even remember writing it.  Must have been half asleep at the time? Such a nightmare vision that, unfortunately, has the potential to become reality in the not-so-distant future.


I don’t want to live in a world
of survivalists sitting on their
porches with guns across their laps
ready to shoot starving refugees
escaping from urban horrors as the
forests and ice caps die.

I felt saddened by being the end
of the genetic line of my ancestral
forefathers and foremothers knowing
the line stops here with my children
and their choices not to reproduce
which at first felt overwhelming, bleak.

But now, I wouldn’t want any future
descendants living in the world we
have been actively creating for the
future, a world without diversity, and
without balance, and possibly, eventually
without even life.

I have a growing sense that it’s time
for the human race to put our affairs
in order and prepare for a desolate
future without us, a future that belongs
to only whatever survives the coming
mass extinctions.

I am glad my descendants won’t be here
to see the end.


Poem: at fault

by Debi


I sat alone                with them all
my greatest fear        realized
.

alone

 

I would’ve been
.                              less alone
if I’d stayed
.                              home alone
.                              brokenhearted
is it
.                   my       fault
.                   no        fault
.                   his        fault
.                   her       fault
.                   their     fault

 

when     everyone’s
.                 at           fault
who’s    to                  blame?

 

I would say
.               our            fault
but there seems to be
.                               no our

 

is it no one’s fault?

 

I’ll take the                blame
sometimes                 it’s easier to be
.                               perceived as
.                               the one wronging others
.   rather than             convincing others
.                               you’re the one wronged

 

if it keeps the peace

.                               then

 

it’s my fault

 

(does this make me a doormat?)

Every time … but it never is


pathway (2)

Photo by Debi


 

Every time … but it never is.

Every time a car slows by the house,
I run to see if it’s you.
Anytime my phone rings,
I hope it’s you.
When Facebook says I have a message,
I pray it’s you.

But it’s never your car.
Never your call.
Never your message.

Every time … but it never is.

But it is always … sadness.
Always pain.
Always grief.
Always tears.

And every time …
it is always

alone.