DBT Diaries – Week 12

*PLEASE REMEMBER NOT ALL GROUPS ARE RUN THE SAME WAY AND YOUR EXPERIENCES MAY BE DIFFERENT TO MINE. THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG AS EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, THIS IS JUST MEANT AS A LITTLE INSIGHT INTO THE TOPIC FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED.

TOPIC

This week’s topic was continuing the emotion regulation module. It covered emotional problem-solving. If you have a situation or emotion that keeps occurring but can’t be managed with the skills you already have emotional problem-solving could be your answer.

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DBT Diaries – Week 11

*PLEASE REMEMBER NOT ALL GROUPS ARE RUN THE SAME WAY AND YOUR EXPERIENCES MAY BE DIFFERENT TO MINE. THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG AS EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT, THIS IS JUST MEANT AS A LITTLE INSIGHT INTO THE TOPIC FOR THOSE WHO ARE INTERESTED.

TOPIC

This week’s topic was continuing the emotion regulation module. It covered changing emotional responses by checking the facts and using the opposite action. That may sound really simple to most people but for those with BPD who experience heightened emotions and frequent mood swings, it’s not always as easy as you might think.

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DBT Diaries – Week 10

Week ten of DBT. To be honest I was really annoyed at having to attend this week as we were supposed to start last week (on the first day of my placement) but it got canceled due to sickness. I probably wasn’t in the best frame of mind going in but I’ve committed to this therapy now and I’m determined to see it through.
*Please remember not all groups are run the same way and your experiences may be different to mine. There is no right or wrong as everyone is different, this is just meant as a little insight into the topic for those who are interested.

Topic

This week’s topic was the beginning of the emotion regulation module. It’s all about being able to understand and recognise emotions, decrease the frequency of unwanted emotions and emotional vulnerability and decreasing emotional suffering. Sounds like heavy stuff but will actually be incredibly useful once I get my head around it.

Understanding and naming emotions

You’d think learning about emotions was a bit like teaching Granny to suck eggs, but it was actually really insightful. We discussed the reasons we have emotions and the physiological response to them before moving on to identifying factors that make regulating emotions hard for those with BPD.

A model for describing emotions

Because I like visual representations of things the model for describing emotions was really useful for me. Understanding emotions in the model format also allowed me to see the various points in the cycle that I could break the ‘natural’ flow of my brain and use skills to switch the way I was thinking and feeling. I would love to post a snap of the model but I can’t because of copyright – if you do want more information I’m happy to talk through it with you  – just drop me a message on here or social media.

Thoughts

Despite being in a huge grump coming to the session it has actually been really helpful. I don’t know if it’s because I’m used to learning about models and frameworks at university so I found it easier to engage or whether it was just the content but I really enjoyed the session and understand more about why learning the distress tolerance skills first is important.

It’s also given me the chance to view my thought processes, behaviours and emotions objectively and think about what advice I would give if it wasn’t me having trouble. The blank model handout was also super helpful for working on an issue I’m having currently to try and understand it better. All in all a good session for me.

DBT Diaries – Week 8

Week eight of DBT and we have completed the distress tolerance module. In between each module, we do two weeks of mindfulness to embed it into our brains. After this, there is a Christmas break and we’ll pick up again in the new year. Instead of recapping the mindfulness info (which you can find here if you like) I’m sharing some good mindfulness resources if you want to try it at home.

Mindfulness Resources

Websites

There are several good websites with info about mindfulness, there are also a lot of youtube channels that will talk you through mindfulness. It’s all about what works best for you. I’m sharing some of the websites with downloads and printouts that you can use but feel free to let me know of any of your favourites.

https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/breathe.htm

www.mindful.org/meditation/mindfulness-getting-started/

https://bemindful.co.uk/

Apps

As with websites, there are a million and one apps that you can use to help you be more mindful. I’ve chosen three of my favourites that I have on my phone. I tend to jump between them to keep things interesting. Again if there’s any you love, feel free to comment on the post with them as I’m always looking for new ones!

Stop. Think. Breathe.

Aware

Bee Zone

Hope you find these helpful and please share your favourites too.

 

DBT Diaries – Week 7

Week seven of DBT and the week has been horrendous. I started some new medication over the past couple of weeks and the side effects floored me. Mainly extremely high anxiety which left me incapable of concentration, relaxation or sitting still. It genuinely felt like I had put my skin on backward, so heading to therapy wasn’t high on my list and I considered on several occasions not going but in the end, I did. I did find it hard to concentrate and was rather fidgety but I’m glad I went.

*Please remember not all groups are run the same way and your experiences may be different to mine. There is no right or wrong as everyone is different, this is just meant as a little insight into the topic for those who are interested.

Topic

This week’s topic was the final (I think) of the distress tolerance skills. This week we looked at willfulness and willingness and how to use half smiling and willing hands to manage willfulness and accept reality with your body. It sounds silly I know but bear with me.

Willfulness vs Willingness

Willingness is the readiness to engage with and participate in something fully – in this instance life. It’s doing just what is needed in your current situation, listening to and acting from wise mind. Therefore, willfulness in this context is refusing to accept reality for what it is or doing the opposite of what you know works. It can even be trying to fix every situation – not all situations can be fixed at least not immediately.

Half smiling and willing hands

As mentioned earlier half smiling and willing hands are ways to practice radical acceptance with the body. There is some scientific evidence (although I haven’t read it) which says unclenching your hands when angry or relaxing your face and allowing a gentle ‘smile’ or upturning of the corners of your mouth (as found in Buddist meditation) can help to turn the mind toward accepting the situation or at least relaxing.

 

Thoughts

 

I think the reason this works is you can’t say half smiling willing hands when you’re wound up without stopping to laugh at yourself because it sounds so silly. Whether that’s the case or there is some scientific reason behind it, from what I have seen so far it does actually work.

When our therapists started telling us about this I did cringe actually. I mean it sounds a bit cliche but the more I heard and tried it the more I chuckled and joined in being silly with my peers – definitely not something I expected after a week of extreme anxiety. As we tried the skills out I did struggle as I couldn’t concentrate enough to think of a recent time when I had been wilful or reconnect to the emotions I experienced. However our homework this week is to give it a go, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

I’ll let you know how I get on next week – wish me luck.

DBT Diaries – Week 6

Week six of DBT and this week has been a better one which is something to be grateful for. It’s the first time I’ve had things both before and after the therapy session which unnerved me a little bit but it worked out quite well so I know I can do it if I have to, although where possible I will always try to leave after the session free so I have time to process.

*Please remember not all groups are run the same way and your experiences may be different to mine. There is no right or wrong as everyone is different, this is just meant as a little insight into the topic for those who are interested.

Topic

This week’s topic was continuing the distress tolerance skills looking at dealing with issues from our past and possibilities in our future using radical acceptance and turning the mind.

Radical acceptance is for use when you can’t keep painful events and emotions from affecting you. It means accepting the situation and your reality exactly as it is in heart, body, and mind. It’s about understanding only realistic limitations on the future need to be accepted and that everything has a cause.

It’s important for us to accept reality because rejecting it only causes us suffering and while pain is uncomfortable it’s a natural part of life that we need to accept. If we keep rejecting reality we end up suffering. By focussing on past pain we make our selves suffer in the present and project that suffering into the future by placing limitations on ourselves. It’s a very difficult skill to get your head around but one that can be very freeing. Remember that you can accept reality without agreeing with it.

Turning the mind is a way to implement radical acceptance. If you think of it as a fork in the road, you have to turn your mind towards acceptance of reality and choosing to accept where you are. This doesn’t mean you have accepted your reality just that you are on the road to the right place.

 

Thoughts

 

I think this week’s skill is the first I’ve encountered that I haven’t come across or used before. It’s a really difficult one to get your head around and without the handouts to help guide and offer examples I really don’t think I would be able to understand it. I’m not 100% sure that I do but I think I have a good grasp. Although if you’ve read this post and it makes no sense please let me know as I probably don’t have a good a grasp as I thought.

Right, I’m off to have a look at my homework. I’ll let know how I get on next week – wish me luck.

DBT Diaries – Week 5

Week five of DBT and I think I’ve finally settled in at the new building. This week has been a distressing one for me but the TIPP skill from last week was really useful for me in my crisis situation so I was very glad and grateful I attended last week’s session to reinforce it. Once again I’m going with the view that my week hasn’t been great but it’s not horrendous either. I’m still here and working on getting better and for now, that’s what matters.

*Please remember not all groups are run the same way and your experiences may be different to mine. There is no right or wrong as everyone is different, this is just meant as a little insight into the topic for those who are interested.

Topic

This week’s topic was continuing the distress tolerance skills again moving on to look at self-soothing, distracting with wise mind ACCEPTS and improving the moment.

 

Self-soothing:

This skill focusses on the 5 senses and how you can use them to soothe yourself in difficult situations or even just after a bad day.

Vision – Look at photographs or beautiful scenery around you (if there is some)

Hearing – listen to music or the sounds of nature

Smell – Make a cup of coffee and enjoy the smell or use an aromatherapy candle or wax burner

Taste – Drink the coffee made or eat some of your favourite foods (in moderation)

Touch – Take a long hot bath or shower or put clean sheets on the bed.

 

Distracting with ACCEPTS

This does what it says on the tin. Different ways to distract yourself from distressing situations that can’t be dealt with or resolved immediately.

A – Activities: do something you enjoy to take your mind off of distressing situations

C – Contributing: volunteer, send a ‘just because’ message to a friend to cheer them up

C – Comparisons: Compare how you’re feeling now to a time you felt better

E – Emotions: Read a book or watch a film to evoke different emotions to the ones you’re feeling

P – Pushing away: Leave the situation mentally for the moment until you are able to confront it

T – Thoughts: Write out racing thoughts to get them out of your head

S – Sensations: Listen to very loud music or hold ice in your hand or mouth

 

IMPROVE the moment

Once again it does what it says on the tin. Ways to improve the current moment in order to cope with distressing situations. A lot of these overlap with both self-soothing and ACCEPTS.

I – Imagery: Imagine a time you were happy – I always go to sunbathing on the beach

M – Meaning: Focus on whatever positive aspects of a painful situation you can find

P – Prayer: If you’re religious (I’m not) this could be comforting

R – Relaxing actions: Do something that helps relax you like having a bath

O – One thing in the moment: Do things one-mindfully

V – Vacation: This is where the Americanisms come in – Take an hour break or have a late wake up on a day off worj

E – Encouragement: Rethink the situation and give yourself some encouragement – If it’s not OK it’s not the end.

We discussed various ideas for practicing these skills and given handouts, as usual, to take away and complete as homework detailing when we used the skills and how much it helped to calm us.

 

DBT Diaries – Week 4

Week four of DBT and we’re back in the new building. This week has been a horrible one for me but using the skills we’ve gone through so far and the skills I have from previous therapies has actually been really helpful. I’m going with the view that my week hasn’t been great but it’s not horrendous either.

*Please remember not all groups are run the same way and your experiences may be different to mine. There is no right or wrong as everyone is different, this is just meant as a little insight into the topic for those who are interested.

Topic

This week’s topic was continuing the distress tolerance skills from last week focussing mainly on crisis skills this week.  The skill focussed on was TIPP:

T – Tip the temperature of your face, pressure points or body with cold water or air to help calm down fast.

I – Intense exercise. Engage in short bouts of intense exercise (running on the spot, sit-           ups etc.) to calm down your body when it’s revved up by intense emotions.

P – Paced Breathing. Slow your breathing to match a predetermined pace to help calm yourself down. I use an app called paced breathing.

P – Paired Muscle Relaxation. This helps you calm down by pairing muscle relaxation with breathing out. I find this particularly helpful it racing thoughts or anxiety is me awake. Again I have an app I use called Aware which offers guided meditations and body scans.

We discussed various ideas for practicing these how skills and how effective they have been for other people in the group. We were also given handouts, as usual, to take away and complete as homework detailing when we used the skills and how much it helped to calm us. Personally I only really use the temperature and paced breathing skills but I know they work really well for me.

Thoughts

I was in a bit of a funny place before going to this session and probably didn’t engage as much as I should have done. I found some of the conversation and responses very condescending which made me really angry. I managed to control my impulsiveness in that respect but did end up not saying much at all as a result because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. Hopefully next week I’ll be in  a bit of a better place.

The skills are ones I already had in place which is good because they are already integrated into my life but I am getting a little bored of going over skills I already have. I am considering dropping out and pursuing the therapy on my own at my own pace with the handout and worksheets book but using wise mind I also know it’s probably not the best idea. I’m just going to curb that thought for now and see how I get on.

I’ll let you know how I get on next week – wish me luck.

DBT Diaries – Week 3

Week three of DBT and we’re in the new location. I was very apprehensive attending because I wasn’t sure where I was going but thankfully my husband was available to give me a lift. I’m not overly keen on the new location it’s very clinical and we’ve been told they’re not allowed to decorate or put anything on the walls. It feels more like a hospital or classroom than a therapy area but once again I’m keeping an open mind and seeing how I get on.

*Please remember not all groups are run the same way and your experiences may be different to mine. There is no right or wrong as everyone is different, this is just meant as a little insight into the topic for those who are interested.

Topic

This week we moved onto distress tolerance skills. These skills aim to allow us to survive crisis situations without making them worse, accept reality and replace suffering with the possibility of moving forward and ultimately becoming free of urges, demands and intense emotions. Just writing that fills me with hope – doesn’t it sound amazing?

The two skills focused on in this session were the STOP skill and Pros and Cons:

STOP:

S – Do not just react. Stop and stay in control

T – Take a step back. Don’t let yourself act impulsively

O – Observe. Notice what is going on and your thoughts and feelings

P – Proceed mindfully. Act with awareness and consider the most effective way to deal           with the situation.

Pros and Cons:

Exactly what it says on the tin. It can be in your head or written out on paper whichever is most effective for you. But if you’re in a distressing situation it’s a great way to gain some perspective. I tend to use Pros and Cons as a way f proceeding mindfully when using the stop skill.

We discussed various ideas for practicing these skills and were given handouts to take away and complete as homework detailing when we used the skills and how it helped us cope with a crisis or distressing situation.

Thoughts

I have found that a lot of the skills taught so far are skills I have already and use quite regularly. It’s a little bit disheartening as I was hoping to learn something to really help me, but it is only week three and I think I need to be patient and stick with it – I can’t expect miracles after all. I have decided to buy the DBT skills and worksheets handout book though as I wasn’t to have a look through and see what is coming up and if there are other handouts I may find helpful.

The building was cold and felt a bit unwelcoming, to be honest. The therapists tried their best to counteract it but I thought they seemed a little out of sorts as well. Still, at least I know to take a scarf or wear something warm when I go now. There’s a positive to be found in everything if you look hard enough.

I’ll let you know how I get on next week – wish me luck.