This week I graduated from my DBT skills group after a whole year. I was the longest running member as I started at the same time the DBT skills group did; so I am the first person to ever graduate a whole year (2 rounds of DBT) with them – which feels good!
To mark the ending, I baked some goodies which I brought in for everyone to eat. It took a lot of Turning The Mind, Cheerleading Statements and Opposite Action (to fear and shame) because I was so worried that the cakes would not be nice, or that people would only eat them out of guilt or obligation. Luckily everyone seemed truly happy and grateful and said that they were delicious.
I was also asked to run the Mindfulness activity, so I chose “I went to the shops and bought….” as it is one of my favourite participation exercises. I was pretty happy with myself as the feedback I received was very positive; and lots of people said they wanted to use that exercise again because it really helped them be totally in the moment. So hopefully I have left the group with an activity they can continue to use, and think of me whilst doing so!
At the end of the group I was asked to say a few words about some skills that I have found to be the most helpful. I felt anxious and on the spot and struggled to think of my *favourite* skills, but I talked about some that have been helpful this week.
- Opposite Action – because even though in the moment it feels like the most challenging thing ever, most of the time it really does help me in hindsight to get closer to the person I actually want to be.
- Turning the Mind – because even though it can feel validating to go with emotions, thoughts and urges when they arise, it is often not effective (e.g during exam time!). And so, noticing when my mind takes me away and pulls me into unhelpful patterns, and then gently steering my mind in the direction of what actually is needed in any given moment, has been really important.
- Breathing – I carry a lot of anxiety in my body. Paced breathing is something I use pretty much every day in order to calm myself down on a physiological as well as psychological level.
- I also said something about Self Validation and how even though it is a concept I still struggle with hugely, I am definitely less of a bitch to myself, and much more tolerant and forgiving (toward myself), than I used to be.
I said that the main thing I still need to work on is relying less on others (especially my therapist) to regulate my emotions; and to become more self-reliant and autonomous in effectively regulating myself. I also need to work on my Willingness around this – because when I want others to help me, I do not even let myself consider the possibility of giving that help to myself. It is a work in progress. But this is definitely something I struggle with to a great degree.
At the end of the group, one of the therapists presented me with a book that everyone had signed for me behind my back. I felt touched and deeply appreciative. They have all seen me in many states and never once judged or rejected me – even when it would probably have been so justified for them to have done! They have put up with so much from me as I have not been the easiest client. But regardless of this, all in all, everyone said they could see my progress over the months and year – and many other lovely points of feedback.
I will be sad because it is the end of yet another era. For the first time in years, I will not be in any formal treatment. I will still have therapy but I won’t be part of an official programme of any kind – and that is a Big Deal for me considering my treatment history and reliance!
Unfortunately, after group I got drunk with one of my friends and was quite ineffective. I sent messages to my therapist which I really regret. I am worried that because of this, it will take away from the genuine gratitude I have towards her and the team that I want her to see. Our relationship is fragile as I am constantly pushing her to the limit, and that is something I really want to change. Often how I behave is not in line with my values – and with her this comes out to quite a significant degree.
The truth is I have had a really difficult week, and when I explain it to her, my behaviours will probably make a little more sense. However, this is no excuse – I think if I were her I would feel disappointed, irritated, saddened and tired at my behaviour. Especially after a week when she has done so much for me.
So I want to prove that I am working hard and trying to change my ways. I think that maybe instead of channeling even more of my energy negatively into self hatred, blame, judgment and shame, I will try and use my mistakes as things I can learn from and channel positively – and try and repair the situation with my therapist and also myself.
I am commiting to:
- Not text her ineffective texts
- Do Pros and Cons before contacting her to work out what is effective
- Work on being direct in all communication
- Try and channel the anger/ guilt/ shame at myself into making positive changes instead of beating myself up incessantly
- Reduce reassurance seeking – instead label it as an urge and process that with her
- Explain in session what has been going on for me even though I really don’t want to, remaining descriptive
- Ask her what she would like to see from me and what I can do with regards to maximising the repair
- Use the STOP skill