anxiety, Bereavement, Borderline Personality Disorder, DBT, mental health, Personality Disorder, therapy

DBT… that’s a wrap … what a year!

On the 15th January this year I began the 7 first steps of DBT group. This was a weekly 3 hour group therapy to start treating my condition of EUPD. Tomorrow I attend my very last session of DBT, having moved to therapy twice weekly since April

Where has the year gone. It was only today when I realised that tomorrow is my last ever session of DBT, Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. I started it to battle my ongoing EUPD, Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. It is also known as BPD, Borderline Personality Disorder. This is where the real work starts.

So what is EUPD/ BPD?

  • You feel very worried about people abandoning you, and would do anything to stop that happening.
  • You have very intense emotions that last from a few hours to a few days and can change quickly (for example, from feeling very happy and confident to suddenly feeling low and sad).
  • You don’t have a strong sense of who you are, and it can change significantly depending on who you’re with.
  • You find it very hard to make and keep stable relationships.
  • You feel empty a lot of the time.
  • You act impulsively and do things that could harm you (such as binge eating, using drugs or driving dangerously).
  • You often self-harm or have suicidal feelings.
  • You have very intense feelings of anger, which are really difficult to control.
  • When very stressed, you may also experience paranoia or dissociation

(all from the Mind website)

For me the key symptoms have always been not having a strong sense of myself. I was easily persuaded or distracted. I would completely change my opinion should someone question me. I also had and still have a huge fear of being abandoned. Either by people passing away, or simply no longer wanting to be friends. My emotions and often my actions were impulsive, such as making rash decisions and I had a very black snd white thinking.

I’m aware of this and I’m a work in progress but DBT has been a huge help, as has therapy itself.

I can’t say I haven’t become a little it not a lot reliant on my therapists over the past 10 months. Not only have been in a group therapy session every week but since April, I’ve had a 1-2-1 meeting with a psychologist to discuss how to put my therapy into practice. For me this has been incredible.

This isn’t a pity party blog or wanting anyone to feel sorry for me, but since losing my mum in 2015 and kirsty in 2016, I’ve struggled to find someone to talk to regularly. I would never and could never replace either one of them, but my GP would constantly be saying, start small, go for coffee once a week with your mum, or your mum in law, or your best friend, or another friend… and I was always thinking… they are there.

I have and had friends of course, but they all live so far away. I no longer had a group of friends who were local to me. We’d meet up every 3 or 4 months for a big weekend, but I’d leave feeling deflated knowing it would be so long before I could see them again. Then I’d have an “episode” and have to cancel, postponing the very thing I desperately wanted and needed. Quality time with friends (I’ve still not mastered this in my head, but I’m working on it).

I have family, but for most of them they are fed up of hearing my same issues. I’ve been under the mental health team since I was 16. They have always tried hard to support me and listen, but they’ve had it all my life, 36 years and so many of the issues they have faced themselves.

Finally I have colleagues, and I have now made some amazing friends through my business, but I like to be able to support them and not lean on them for my often irrational issues.

So, I digress, I have become extremely reliant and thankful to my therapists for their support and tomorrow it stops. Tomorrow I have to become a grown up again and deal with stuff! I’ve been lucky that people have let me be for a while, dealing with things from my past and with the bereavements I’ve experienced. I’m not “cured” but I’m certainly aware of the skills that I need to develop to “live life”.

So what is DBT and what has it taught me?

DBT also helps you to change unhelpful behaviours, but it differs from CBT in that it also focuses on accepting who you are at the same time. DBT places particular importance on the relationship between you and your therapist, and this relationship is used to actively motivate you to change.

In a nutshell, ‘dialectics’ means trying to balance opposite positions and look at how they go together. For example, in DBT, you will work with your therapist to find a good balance between:

  • Acceptance – accepting yourself as you are.
  • Change – making positive changes in your life.

You might eventually come to feel that these goals are not as conflicting as they first seem. For example, coming to understand and accept yourself, your experiences and your emotions, can then help you learn to deal with your feelings in a different way.

(From the mind website)

Radical acceptance has been one of the biggest things for me during this therapy. It’s formed part of my Emotion Regulation. I’m allowed to be upset at things that have happened. Lots of it has been unfair. But it has happened. I can’t change it. Radical acceptance” means completely and totally accepting something from the depths of your soul, with your heart and your mind. It’s been a massive thing for me and I’m not 100% there, but I’m certainly on my way.

I’m working on my distress tolerance, but I have to make changes. Big changes and it won’t always be easy. I’ve learnt distraction techniques and self soothing techniques, but ultimately eventually we have to deal with stuff and life. I can deal with more “things” than I ever have before, but everyone has a limit.

Mindfulness is one of the core subjects and I’ve worked hard on this. I try to meditate every day and I always fall to sleep with a sleepcast. I use headspace now and conciously practice breathing techniques throughout the day. I highly recommend this for anyone, however fit and healthy your mind is.

Interpersonal effectiveness is definitely the area I still need to work on most. I struggle with being too full on and intense with friends, to disappearing and hiding away. Back to that black and white thinking. This is often worse with work colleagues or more distant family when the lines are more blurred as to the “rules” of social acceptance.

I will ALWAYS be Emotional. It’s part of me, and I’ve learnt that rather than even just accepting it, I like it. My emotions are there to protect me, teach me and to help me nurture others. The learning and development has come and is coming in the “unstable” bit.

Tomorrow and probably the next couple of weeks will be hard as I adapt to not having someone to talk through my problems with, to making decisions without always having a second or third objective opinion, to not always having my thoughts and feelings validated by someone else. I have to learn that I am human, I make mistakes, I mess up. But what I do know is I have a good heart, I want to develop, my kids come first and my husband. Family will always be my strongest why and I will continue to develop even though this part of my journey is over.

Be kind. Be thankful. Be mindful. Be present.

Sarah x

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