A Year to The Day…

On December 1st this time last year, I was admitted to the intensive DBT residential unit in Boston which I so often refer to on my blog.

I have been admitted to many hospitals in my time, some more helpful than others; but really and truly, none have been quite as significant as this one. This unit was hands down the one which saved my life – and the one which started to help me make that life a life worth living.

In the days leading up to today I’ve been feeling very nostalgic, sad, and pained thinking about what this anniversary represents to me. I had quite high urges which I won’t go into now because I am currently feeling more peaceful and don’t want to upset the balance. But basically, it’s been a long time that I have stayed out of hospital for me, and this brings up a whole host of emotions and thoughts – some of which are very conflicting and confusing for me.

I was worried that today may not go so smoothly considering all I built it up to be in my head. However, so far I feel quite grounded and calm, which though confusing, is certainly a relief.

I used the DBT skill of making a Cope Ahead plan to structure and prepare for my day and any difficulties that may arise. I have put some pleasant activities into my day to help me stay connected and grounded.

I also had a therapy session this morning which went very smoothly. I successfully pitched a relevant DEARMAN to my therapist, which went something like this:

Describe and Express:
Recently I have been struggling with loneliness and have found my self-soothing efforts to be unrewarding. I have been feeling very young, sad, vulnerable and in need of affection and soothing. I have also experienced a lot of shame on top. It has led me to reach out to you more than I otherwise might have.

Assert:
Something I found helpful when in Schema Therapy was having a recording of my therapist on my phone for times such as these. I was hoping that you could replicate this with me – recording a message for me for times I am struggling, letting me know that you are there and that we can get through this one moment at a time.

Reinforce:
When I am struggling I can listen to the recording and know that you are there and feel comforted without having to reach out to you with the same immediacy, so that our relationship doesn’t have extra strain put on it. And I can commit to still being effective. 

Mindfully:
Respectfully, fairly, calmly, talk slowly, keep it simple, try not to fall into judgments or let shame overwhelm.

Acting Confidently:
Eye contact, smiling, not picking, not shuffling.

Negotiating:
We could set a date to reassess whether it has been helpful or not, and can reconsider our options if you deem necessary.

It went well and we are going to try it out – so that was a huge relief and great comfort especially on a day like today.


I am now in the library, working procrastinating! I have volunteering with Rethink at 4pm, and am then meeting one of my best friends. We are going to an event at my university where 6 well-known psychiatrists will be sharing stories with us about their most challenging cases – something I am very much looking forward to! (Pretty sure that something BPD-related will take centre stage at some point in the evening!)

A dear friend from the unit in Boston shared something very fitting with me this morning which I would like to share. She said something like this:

Despite the fact that things may be going pretty well overall in my life, it is really easy to forget that when in the intense moments of pain. I’ve been trying to hold onto the bigger picture and realise that if I take a step back and access my Wise Mind, I can see that things might actually be okay after all – that my life really is worth living.

So, overall, whilst parts of me are noticing this underlying sadness which has been bubbling around for a few days in relation to the anniversary and what it represents, there is also a part of me which has been able to STOP and find the gaps within the challenging thoughts, feelings, and urges that have come up – and know that I really am going to be okay.

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