Monday, 10 December 2012

Compassion for my Past Self

What if we looked at emotional sensitivity as simply another way to experience life? I would like to live in a world where there is more than one way to be social. 

The expected way to relate to others comes through external channels, such as other people, home, school, work and the general public. These come with a prescribed way of acting and being. 

But what happens if it’s impossible for you to swallow an approved social remedy? We feel like we are missing out on life because there seems to be a piece missing. We compensate for the overtly stimulating world with coping strategies. I turned to food, study and avoidance. They became the rules by which I could function for a time. They were my compensatory methods for living in a world full of difficulties. In a world which is overwhelming, emotionally over-stimulating, and just too demanding, this was a smart strategy; I had to establish a way I could live amidst a world of social encounters I couldn't relate to. 

Food was my numbing essence, it was comparable to a resolved hug from a caring parent, full of comfort and compassion and unconditional love. I ate until my world made sense again, until I felt the familiar pain and stretch in my stomach that reminded me that I was a living, breathing human being. The food passed my lips like smooth caramel that cascades from high up off a wooden spoon as it’s ladled from a hot sauce pan and falls back into the sweet sticky mass.. I ate to fill the missing piece I lacked in life. I ate until I felt like a full person. 

The release after overeating came like the shutter release on an old manual camera. All it took was one finger gently pressing down on the right spot. The picture of the inside of that toilet bowl will be burned into the back of my mind forever. 

wasn't a natural academic. I worked hard to find the peace and control good grades offered me. It was a steady focus I could control. It also gave me an excuse to practice my third coping method; avoidance. I arrived to school early most days, and rarely went home before 8 pm  The library and study rooms became my best friends. I loved the stillness; I loved the silence they offered. Finally I found a place that didn't overwhelm me. I had my own small place which I inhabited. Yet due to dyslexia, I couldn't always concentrate on school work for long periods of time, so often I would read or day dream about the stories I read. I became aware through literature how the characters in the books dealt with life. I was drawn into the safety of the stories and the friends I gained by scanning each line. I learnt how to be from those books.

Even when it came to sport, I avoided team games and opted for swimming. It was a solitary exercise. When I put my head under the water, the world became still and quite. The gentle echoes were comforting and safe for me. And this way less people asked questions as to why I came into school so early. I could cry easy in the pool and nobody knew. 

As I look back at my teenage years I can see clearly that I have always been a very sensitive person, easily overwhelmed and highly emotional. I didn't know that then though. I just thought that my general ‘being’ was wrong and non-functional. 

Okay, these coping methods were never going to useful forever, but in a way I am sort of proud of my little adolescent self. She found a way to survive, to live and to get by in a scary lonely world. So now I don’t look back with scorn at my past behaviors  I look back with compassion for a girl who didn't know any other way to stay alive. And in twenty years I will look back on what I will have learnt and see that right now I am doing the best I can do right at this moment. I will always face difficulties, I don't like to think I will be this way for ever, but the harsh reality is that

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Thoughts are not always facts!

Living one day at a time 
Enjoying one moment at a time 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace 

Taking this difficult world 
As it is 
Not as I would have it. 

And in this way 
Opening to Grace 
And the Joy and Peace that comes with it.

Thoughts are not facts. They may not always be your friends.....

In the midst of a full blown emotional dysregulation attack I find myself so much estranged from my heart, body, and spirit, relying almost exclusively on the thoughts in my head for guidance, companionship, criticism, and comfort.

To hear “your thoughts are not facts” was scary to me. If I couldn't trust my own thoughts, was there anything trustworthy I could count on?

I slowly began to understand more about thoughts during the summer (and a bit) I spent inpatient at a hospital in Dublin, their nature and purpose, how they arose and where they went after I stopped paying attention to them.

Along the way, I learned that thoughts were not necessarily my enemies either.

They were just my thoughts.

And even the “my” was up for debate, because technically they belonged to no one until one floated by in my mind and intrigued me, at which time I reached up, nabbed it, and claimed it with a triumphant  “Mine!”

Thoughts, one kind occupational therapist explained, are like clouds. Only much closer to the ground. 

We snatch them up as if it they are the last pair of jeans on sale in our size. We are afraid it will get away before we decide if we want it or not.

I feel I know so little about myself that I seem claim anything and everything so that I will not be left with a shell where a personal identity should be.I must be choosier, I have the right to question each and every thought – to turn the tables and become the exclusive commodity that my thoughts want to hang around!

I am the one who is in demand. I am the one that keeps my thoughts keep hanging around. I have limited capacity for thoughts, and only want the cream of the crop.

Therefore, each thought must go through an extensive screening process, much like a job interview. “What can you add to my life?” “What have you come to teach me?” “Are you here to uplift me or drag me down?” “Are you telling me the truth?” If I see a thought float by that looks interesting, I can pause it, circle its perimeter, ask it a few questions, then decide whether to pull it down into my awareness for further scrutiny and conversation, or just motion it along.

I realize now that I have the right to question my thoughts – but my thoughts do not have the right to question ME. WE choose them, and not the other way around.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Mindful Moments

The time of your life?
How do you experience time in this season?
Are you in control of your time? time as a whole?
or does time control you?
How do you relate to time?

When I don't want to deal with something I seem not to experience time accurately. I block time out, dissociate from it, try to run away from it. Days or weeks can slip by without me taking stock, and I find it hard to recall memories with much detail. 

Now, after almost two years of therapy, I try (but don't always succeed) to take in each moment for what it is, not run away from time, but experience it.

This is the essence of what I have come to know today as mindfulness. Learning to let go and be without thought, without judgment, without mind, to really be present with each and every moment.

This is easier said than done. Instead, I waste my time either ruminating over past mistakes or worrying about future catastrophes. But I have learned that I can’t change the past. So why live in it? There are no guarantees for the future. So why jump to conclusions? Of course it is intelligent to plan for the future. It is also smart to learn from my past mistakes. However, it is irrational to worry about that over which I have no control – e.g., the past and the future.

Living in the “now” allows me to be present, mindful, and experience the passing of time. Whatever emotion or thought I am experiencing, whether positive or negative, over time, has to pass. The moment I wrote these words has just passed. Try to hold onto it… I can’t. The moment I write THESE words has passed again. And so on and so forth. This is what is meant by “This too shall pass.” Every moment is moving toward the next moment. Being present in THIS moment as it occurs leads to mindfulness.

The only time we have control over is this very moment. So If I live each moment as it is, life seems less overwhelming. I can always manage what the next 60 seconds will bring, and then I move on the the next moment and so on.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas Flashbacks

What does December/Winter mean to you? 

This is a really hard post for me to write. December means painful memories and flashbacks full of grief for me. When I was 4 years old my little world came crashing down around me. My sense of safety, of consistency, of stability was all destroyed when my father fought his last physical fight with my mother, packed up his possessions and left us. He walked away from my mother and abandoned me and my sister. 

I didn’t understand what had I done? Was it something I said? How could I make him come back? It must have been because I wasn’t well behaved, because I talked too much, because I annoyed him, because I wasn’t the perfect child. 

My memories of the separation are patchy, but the emotions attached to them are real, and are important; really important. I was scared that my mother would leave me next or my sister. I turned from an out-going child to a needy and serious little girl within days. I carried a furrow on my brow and a lump in my throat, and somehow, Christmas just didn’t seem all that exciting anymore. 

As the years went by my father compensated for his lack of emotional attachment to me and the non-existent yet much needed expressions of love with sensational, expensive gifts. It was as if he was showing up my mother who just about managed to put food on the Christmas dinner table, and keep us excited about getting a token from Santa. He picked us up on Christmas morning and showered us with gifts our mother dreamed of giving us, but couldn’t because my father lied and cheated his way out of paying child support. 

I knew something wasn’t right, but I couldn’t articulate my emotions the way I can now. I should never have been used as the pawn in my parent’s war. It was not the way a child should have been treated. It affected me deeply and Christmas was always a constant yearly reminder of how other happy families and tight nuclear formulation contrasted sharply with my broken home where sadness reigned and fear propagated like rabbits. 

So December means difficult emotions for me. Sorry no Christmas cheer is this post, but I thought that writing a bit about my story might give you some insight into what went on for me so you can see that these things can be processed and that there are ways to overcome painful memories. 

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Great Expectations

Blogging for Well-being - Advent Blog - 2nd December

Christmas is a special time of the year for us all. It's especially a time for family gatherings and while it may be wonderful to get together and mark the passing of another year there can be many stresses about it too.

Christmas is also a time for remembering and while for many their memories of past Christmas' are filled with joy for others these memories may not be as happy. If this is the case for you it may influence how you approach planning for Christmas

We human beings are always "expecting." In other words, we are always having expectations. Lots of expectations. Some we are consciously aware of. Many others, we are not.

Expectations are always there, however, in the background of our daily experiences. Whether we are attuned to them or whether we are oblivious to them--which too often is the case--our expectations come into play in a multitude of subtle ways.

Why focus on expectations? The main reason is that expectations are a common source of stress in our lives. They frequently create all sorts of mischief, including emotional distress, relationship conflicts, communication breakdowns, misunderstandings, distrust, and a wide range of other common problems.

Expectations produce stress in two main ways. One is that they are frequently untrue or unrealistic. The other is that most of the time, we are completely unaware of them. Individual expectations are not very complicated. They often consist of simple ideas such as "life should be fair," "people should be honest," etc. It's the fact they are hidden from our view that gives them so much power over us.

Many of my emotionally dysregulated periods have been because I have expected something that may have been unrealistic, and when people or situations don’t live up to my expectations coupled with a less than mindful approach, I become very disappointed and upset, causing my emotions to fluctuate and spiral out of control.

When we consciously or unconsciously harbor expectations that are much too high, we set ourselves up for failure. As a result, we end up feeling frustrated, angry, and personally demoralized.

Once you become aware of an untrue or unrealistic expectation; YOU gain the power to free yourself from it.

It's really just that simple. But "simple" doesn't always mean "easy"--unless, that is, you have the expectation that it does! It's one thing to become aware of your unconscious expectations. It's quite another to know which ones are realistic and which ones aren't. This takes wisdom, yet most people have far more wisdom than they usually give themselves credit for.

Social and personal expectations are a major source of holiday stress. The holiday season is not a happy time for everyone. Yet we all tend to feel compelled to look and feel merry during this time.

The mass media and happy Hollywood movies fuel these expectations. If you are single, alone, or recently divorced or separated, the social pressures at this time of year can be quite stressful. Similarly, we all have expectations of how our friends and family members should behave during the holidays. When these expectations are not met, stress and interpersonal conflicts can easily arise.

All families experience tension to some degree. But there is a DBT skill that may help you; I know last year it really aided me. COPE AHEAD. Part of the reason why Christmas time can be so stressful is the unrealistic expectation of coming together as a happy family on this one day of the year. Suggestions for coping ahead with Christmas include:
  1. Keep realistic expectations. If your relatives tend to fight throughout the year, they will most likely fight on Christmas Day as well. 
  2. Appreciate that everyone is under stress to a certain degree. For example, one relative may have worked overtime to get everything done before their office closed for Christmas, and may be feeling exhausted and harried. Another may be anxious because they overspent on their credit cards. Be as understanding as you can of people's situations. 
  3. Consider breaking up the celebrations to keep 'warring factions' apart. For example, you could see one group of relations on Christmas Eve and another on Christmas Day. 
  4. Family members involved in after-lunch activities (such as a walk by the sea) are less likely to get into arguments. Plan for something to do as a group after lunch if necessary. 
  5. Use relaxation techniques, distraction and group activities to help steer around stressful situations. 
  6. Avoid overindulging in alcohol – the reduced inhibitions could contribute to (or cause) an unnecessary argument. 

Be MINDFUL of your emotions and feelings today and over the next few weeks, and don’t let your expectations rule your enjoyment of what can be a very happy time of year. It's all part of creating a LIFE WORTH LIVING.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

OBSERVING the Christmas Challenge

Blogging for wellness - Advent Calender - Christmas Countdown - December 1st

A dear friend Tracey Weldon came up with this blogging idea, where for every day of advent, I will post about ways to manage and enjoy Christmas without letting an emotional vulnerability cause a crisis or unnecessary suffering.

This way of blogging is a little bit different from my normal manner of expressing myself. But I need to challenge myself into action. I am setting challenges in my recovery and in my hobbies and now, this here is another fun challenge to help ease the stressful anticipation of Christmas.

I have had a few years of having to learn to manage coping with the Christmas run-up, the actual event and the after mass. It's like walking on a tight rope full of obtsicules such as family gatherings, trigger foods, flash backs, over-stimulation, financial worries.....Yet the view from up there while you are balanced on the rope is wonderful. Yes its hard, and really challenging, but the key is to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Stay focused on the moment your are in right now. It a balancing act of vulnerabilities and happy times.

The dialectic here is that yes Christmas can be hard, but at the same time it can be a really nice time. When you allow yourself to feel and process the distress that Christmas may evoke, you make room for POSITIVE EXPERIENCES and new happy memories to be created. 

The MINDFULNESS skill OBSERVE is really vital here. You can't just by-pass the negative emotions, you need to feel them, and deal with them. Trust me, I have spent so much time running away from my emotions, wishing so hard that they would just go away entirely,  but that is not reality. 

Check in with yourself regularly over the next 24 days, be kind and compassionate to how hard this time of year can be for everyone, not just those with an emotional vulnerability. Just don't forget that the holidays can also be full of beautiful moments, look out for those too. Its all part of creating a LIFE WORTH LIVING.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

The Art of Being Average

"Having excellence as a goal doesn't mean that we always achieve it. It can be difficult to achieve excellence in all major areas of your life simultaneously. Most of us have a few areas of life where we try especially hard to do our best. As a consequence, other areas receive less attention"

Average is Actually "Normal"

Humans can't be excellent every day. Everybody is just average some days.

There are days when we're under the weather, we're distracted by troubling events, or circumstances just conspire to make the day tougher.

It is not necessary that our work -- even our important work -- always be excellent. Often, just showing up is 99% of what we need to do.

And, to be honest, some days we are even worse than average. It's unavoidable. It's the law of averages -- double meaning intended.

But if you're like most people, and you're faced with a whole lot of things to do, some of them perhaps stressful or challenging, then let me be the first to wish you a very happy, average week.

Perfectionism can be paralyzing and is certainly stressful!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Fitting in

I would like to feel that I was a piece in their puzzle.

I want my own little slot to slide into where only I fit, where I am received, not in spite of my unique edges, but because of them.

I want them to feel incomplete without me, for them to feel the empty section which distorts the finished image where I am missing, and for them to spend countless hours tenderly searching for me under chairs and rugs, and squeal with delight when they find me and promise not to ever lose me again.

My family is a crackled jigsaw missing lots of bits. It’s not a faultless conclusion. It’s a child’s discarded toy, too difficult to complete, and too tedious to resolve.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


As the leaves fall and the trees turn bear in anticipation for the ice queen to spread her frosty breath, I have settled down calmly with recognition of the change of the seasons. I do mourn the balmy summer nights where the sun's rays stretch so generously into the evenings giving endless days and shorter dark, scary nights, but as sure as summer must end, winter will also pass in time.

DBT has thought me that rarely are things permanent. The gift of acceptance (when I can practice it) has allowed me to live a life less terrified by despairing thoughts and emotions. They do pass, maybe not quick enough, and maybe not for long enough, but the brief respite between the terrors allows us to reach deep inside ourselves and enjoy the time when we are in control. When the haze of distress lifts, it provides a short period of wisdom where preparation can take place, where gratification can develop and life can be lived.

Recently I have been living in an all too common mist of fear and anxious thoughts. It’s a fear fog which has established itself atop my recovery mountain. It’s holding me back from seeing the view from the top. I am out of breath and exhausted from climbing so high and so hard. Each step developed my emotional muscles and built my tolerance to exposure. I have had to face tough terrain and steep cliffs. Now as I reach the top, I am so so close to achieving the glorious moment of breathtaking beauty, the stunning view from the peak of the mountain. Yet my view is clouded with terror, and I am waiting for it to clear…..

Monday, 22 October 2012

Battling With Self Hatred

It is far from easy to change my time-honored abhorrence to myself. When asked to choose three words to describe myself it would always have been a hateful expression of self disclosure. Mistake, awkward and failure would be ones that would instantly spring to mind.. Self-negativity just comes more natural to me than self-kindness. I can’t tell you an exact time when my thinking began to deviate towards such a spiteful disgust for all that is me, but I can honestly say I don’t have childhood memories where I ever looked at myself with compassion or kindness or self validation. 

So, now that it comes to using the DBT skill of SELF SOOTHE and ACCUMULATE POSITIVE EXPERIENCES I shudder at the thought of doing something for me, only for me. The only way I can describe it is; it’s like trying to be kind and professional to a really nasty customer in a shop. All you want to do is clobber them. You are forced to be nice to them through gritted teeth because you are obliged to, and because the security cameras would capture your every move! 

That is how I feel today. It’s been a rough few weeks since finished the skills group. I feel so despondent and isolated from the only thing that gave me some sort of a life. My mood has been near to the ground and I have been clinging on to every resource and skill base I can access to keep my emotional boat afloat. 

I strained myself to do something nice for myself today. I went and got a massage. I did enjoy it, but found my automatic negative thoughts overtaking any pleasure that was coming through my senses. I was so worried about taking my clothes off, as I have put on a considerable amount of weight since stopping the disordered eating behaviours. For so long I punished my body physically with food and exercise, I ravaged my muscles and bones and skin. So today, when the therapist’s warm hands glided over my body and caressed each part so tenderly, it felt unnatural and wrong. The juxtaposition created by the comforting touch and the undeserving thoughts was too much to contend with. I found it hard to settle into the hour and really relax. Instead my mind was racing with spiteful digs of unworthiness and unpleasant sensations of guilt. 

I guess I can say I was at least WILLING to use DBT skills today, but this one created a worrisome chain of thoughts which I did not intend.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Is life about seeking happiness or embracing life's inevitable challenges?

Without a doubt, my life has procured an innumerable amount happy times. Times filled with smiles and giggles and the excited squeals of childhood birthday parties.  Times filled with warmth and nurture and the encouragement of educators and mentors. Times I lock away as if  precious jewels, in my vault of memory, so as never to lose them. Yet it is often very hard to find the key to this vault, and to the positive times I describe, when your mind is polluted by a haze of mental illness.

I earnestly try to recreate these happy times each and every day, only to become compounded with distress as my life fails to reproduce them, fails to provide the embrace of contentment they produce, leaving in their place an empty, hopeless void of distress.

Have I got it all wrong though? Am I chasing the wrong thing? Am I casting shadows on my immense intrinsic power by seeking to recreate happy times?

Tonight I am lying in my bed eating frozen blueberries to tolerate the distress I am experiencing. Savoring the bitter coldness in an attempt to survive the moment. I am not enjoying the warmth of those happier times. I am frozen in the chill of distress. I can't see where my life is leading or fathom as to why I should keep trying.  Something is not right about my pursuit of happiness, and I think I am beginning to understand why.

Implicit in the phrase of 'overcoming an adversity' such as mental illness is; that success or happiness is about emerging on the other side of a challenging experience unscathed, unmarked by the experience. As if successes in life have come about because of an ability to side step, or circumnavigate presumed pitfalls of a life with mental illness.

But I am marked, I am changed, of course, by a challenge. I am starting to think that adversity needn't be an obstacle I need to get over in order to resume living a happy life. It's part of our life, part of who I am as a holistic being. I tend to think of it as a shadow, sometimes I see a lot of it, sometimes there is very little, but it is always with us. 

Now, in no way am I trying to diminish the impact, the weight of a persons struggle. What I am trying to say is that there is always going to be adversity and challenge in life. Its very real and relative to every single person. The question is not whether you are going to meet adversity, but HOW you are going to meet it. 

So the responsibility is not simply to be shielded from the adversities and challenges we face, but to prepare us to meet it well. We do a disservice to each other when we make others feel like they are not equipped to adapt. There is an important difference and distinction between the objective medical fact of psychiatry and the subjective societal opinion of whether or not we are are mentally unwell. But in reality the only real and consistent adversity I face is the world ever thinking that I can be described as disabled or unable to contribute to society.

In our desire to protect those we care about by giving them the cold hard truth about their medical prognosis, or indeed the prognosis of the excepted quality of their life, we have to make sure we don't put the first brick in a wall that will actually disable someone. Perhaps the existing model of 'what is wrong with you and how do we fix it!' serves to be more disabling to the individual than the pathology itself. By not treating the wholeness of a person, by not acknowledging their potency, we are creating another 'illness' on top whatever natural struggle they might have. We are affectingly grading someones worth to our community. We need to see through the pathology and into the range of human capability. And most importantly, there is a partnership between those perceived deficiencies and the great human creative ability. 

So its not about devaluing or negating these trying times we want to avoid or sweep under the carpet, but instead to find those opportunities wrapped in the adversity. The idea I want to put out there is not so much overcoming adversity as it is opening ourselfs up to it, embracing it, grappling with it as Katie Taylor would do in the boxing ring, maybe even dancing with it. And perhaps if we see adversity as natural, consistent and useful, we are less burdened by the presence of it. 

In my own experience, adversity is simply change, to which I have not yet adapted, and the greatest adversity we have created for ourselfs is the idea of normalcy. I mean, who here believes them self to be normal? There is no normal. There is 'common' and typical, there is no normal.would you want to meet that poor beige person if they existed? I dont think so.

If we can change this para-dime of achieving normalcy, to one of possibility or potency, we can release the power of so many people and invite them to engage their rare and valuable assists with the community.   

Friday, 14 September 2012

WISEMIND Reflections


Here I am, sat so leisurely, so relaxed, drifting in and along to the smooth background music in a funky hipster vibe café in the south of Ireland. As I nibble at a sweet homemade rhubarb bun, washed down with a silky milky coffee, settled into pretty stratums of caffeine rich liquids of different density, I realise I am happy for the first time in weeks. I am doing everything my heart desires today. I took the 2 hour train ride down here to escape the stress of Dublin, of work, of life, hug my Mother and feel her nurturing impression. A brief respite.

In this veil of contentedness requires me to listen to the WISEMIND voice in my mind that tells me that this internship is just too much for me right now. I am only weeks out of my DBT group; I am still a DBT novice, an apprentice of life. Yet despite all that I am stuffing down my true emotions and all I know is right for me by working 40 hours a week in an internship I am not able for, I can’t manage life and work that much without running myself into the ground. I have no time for writing, my very own creative Prozac. Without my nurturing my creative side, I may as not be taking my medication because, Writing, drawing, taking photos have been an integral part of my recovery.

I have a lot of thinking to do this weekend, but for now I am going back to riding the wave of this emotion of contentedness as I know this too shall pass and the next one might not be so pleasant.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Apparent Competence Vs Unrelenting Crisis

 So much has been going on over the last few weeks. I have been earnestly applying for internship posts, which finally paid off as I got the precious news that I have been accepted to a great service here in Dublin. 

I am still riding the wave of progress and have realized that if I allow myself to just go with the crashing, foaming tides of negative emotions that sooner or later the tempestuous waters become calm and bearable again.

Anxiety is my constant companion once again, making simple everyday tasks extremely difficult. I was startled by the stunning resident robin in my garden yesterday. He sings a morning tune to me most days yet as he fluttered up to graze on the crumbs I left for him on the window sill, I saw a black ghostly shadow then screamed aloud and scared my poor feathered friend away. Then on the bus into town this morning I felt the all too familiar experience of an oncoming panic attack. I froze. I couldn’t move from the spot I was invisibly glued to, which would have been fine if it were towards the back of the bus, out of the way, but no, I froze right in the entrance passage way staring ahead like I was witnessing a murder! Grumbles and rants from tarde commuters finally brought me to my senses and I ran off the bus and into the quite street around the corner. I burst out crying, snots and all, at the realization that my emotions are starting to control me again rather than me controlling them.

But being the borderline that I am…. my apparent competence shines through whist the unrelenting crisis’s fester away under the surface threatening to assault my passive attempt at creating a life worth living. 

You see, when I find myself amidst of fog of fear, it tends to stay with me for much longer than would be expected in those without an emotional vulnerability, making the next onslaught even more unbearable. Slow return to emotional baseline is the problematic cornerstone for me. Typically, a crisis will occur before I get a chance to return to my emotional baseline, which results in me staying very highly aroused emotionally on a continuous basis.

My therapist and I developed a plan to tackle the anxiety ambushes. I am to do a CBT thought record each time I notice a negative automatic thought. I must fight back with evidence which does not support the thought yet still validate where the fear might be coming from too. Then I create a balanced thought taking all evidence into account. This is proving to be a fantastic way to battle the thoughts.

Next I must reduce my tension through visualization and become more mindful of my body and cultivating compassion for myself. This is done with formal mindfulness meditation. I am loving John Kabit Zinn at the moment. His voice is so soothing and comforting.

Finally if I am to live the life I want to live, I must tackle the behavioral outcome of my anxiety. This involves the graded exposure I so dearly HATE. I mean I just don’t get how exposing a borderline to heightened emotions is a good thing! My heart is even racing now as I type this! I guess going for the interviews did help me get over my fear of interrogation, but I felt HORRIBLE the whole time I was doing it. Truthfully, I am pretty sure I will always feel some degree of dread when it comes to interviews, but least now I know I won’t actually DIE from them like I thought I would before. I will though, still be going as far out of my way as possible to avoid another one in the near future.

I have come to the conclusion and have RADICALLY ACCEPTED that I am always going to feel emotions to the extreme. I will always have to manage and control my urges and behaviors, but like anything; practice makes perfect.

Monday, 25 June 2012

Wherever You Go, There You Are

‘Guess what? When it comes right down to it, wherever you go, there you are. Whatever you wind up doing, that’s what you’ve wound up doing. Whatever you are thinking right now, that’s what’s on your mind. Whatever has happened to you, it has already happened. The important question is, how are you going to handle it? In other words, “now what?” ‘
                                                                                                                                                                                       Jon Kabit-Zinn.

I spend so much time contemplating what I will do with my time and not enough time actually doing what I plan to do, living with my head in a tomorrow which never arrives because my incisive worry quells any chance of the present moment enjoyment.

My quandary is; that I allow my sentiment control my day. If I rouse full of wakeful slumber or drudgery, I permit the emotion I encounter in that sleepy moment dictate my plan for the day. ‘Oh it’s much too cold and wet to traipse all the way into town today…’ Ah sure I will stay home and write…’ (That’s a personal favourite of my morning lethargy, and of course nothing gets written!)

I guess the point I am trying to arrive at with this post is that I must tune my mind to the present moment, live in the day I am in and make full use of each precious hour it contains. My goal this week is to make a weekly plan of activity in which I embrace the wonder of each moment. Then I must actually DO what I have set out to do in a mindful manner, just experiencing, not judging. If I feel sad or lonely… so be it… just notice the emotion.

See, what I tend to do and can foresee happening this week is; me doing anything to escape experiencing the negative emotions that plague my daily existence. My favourite method at the moment is to blank out in front of Netflicks with my cat and a gallon of tea, oh I even found myself the full price section of a clothes store riffling through dresses I can’t afford, not to mention facebook…. As I say, I wonder aimlessly though my day and then get a shock to see the day is almost over. I tut to myself how unwonderful my day has been and make a wee vow to change my behaviour tomorrow only to experience an all too familiar sense of déjà vu come four o’clock the next day.

It must end. So I am off to experience the next moment as mindfully as I can and will be back to write soon. Adios amigos. 

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Yes I am Still Alive.

Oh how neglectful I have been to my dear readers. I apologize from the bottom of my heart. So far on here I have been as brutally honest as I can be without intentionally hurting anyone, and I guess I want to tell y’all that the number one reason for my absence has been due to fear. Some people that I know in my day-to-day life (including some of my treatment team!!) are now reading my blog and I just needed sometime to process it all, to reflect on how it could potentially affect me and those close to me. 

The conclusion I have come to is that I am not going to stop writing, and using this space as my outlet. I will not be censoring my topics, but I will be much more mindful about maintaining confidentiality and ensuring that nobody gets hurt by what I write. 

From the comments and emails I get from you guys, I gather that having such open access to my therapy journey is helpful. I know I would have given anything for this information before I started DBT. 

Anyway to keep this short, I’m back. I’m sorry I was missing for so long and I really hope to hear from you all. Ask me anything by the way, I have 10 months of DBT under my belt now!!! I do like pop quizzes!

Tuesday, 15 May 2012


I get little fits of 'energy' from time to time. They scare me, yet paradoxically they motivate me into productivity. Its like I realize that; all too soon I could be back in the familiar haze of depression, so in a fury of energy, I have to take full advantage of any brief respite from the emotional hell when it comes. 

Yesterday the two girls I lived with moved out. They were students and had finished their exams, so have now moved home for the summer. For at least the next three months it is just me and the landlady living together in my house. I like it this way. I really do not enjoy living and sharing my space with other people, yet financially I have little other option. Call me anti-social, I don't mind. I agree!Anyway, back to the topic at hand; It gave me a perfect opportunity to give the kitchen well over due clean. As you can imagine; cleaning is not high on any students agenda. The place was festering with months old grit and grim. 

The most outstanding part to this idea was not that I found the motivation to clean, no. It was that I wanted to clean it for me, not anybody else, so that I would have a nice comforting environment to live in. When I realized this, I sort of stopped in my tracks. I can't remember the last time I was this kind to myself, this compassionate. I see it as progress, I really do. I know from previous 'healthy' periods in my life, that when I take pride in my own choices and in my environment that I am doing well. I am living for myself again now, heck, I want to live! That's a big difference from a mere month ago...

With regards to DBT, I can most certainly see a noted improvement of late also. There are so many things I know have contributed to this bout of wellness, all of which I feel have been needed in conjunction with each other rather than in isolation.This includes my very successful treatment stint in the Center For Living, also I am now attending OA regularly and have started eating and sticking to a food plan daily, my sleep has vastly improved due to a more structured routine, and I am volunteering twice weekly and meeting new interesting people and most importantly I am making friends and family a priority again, I am resisting the urge to isolate. I have reduced my vulnerability factors drastically by really concentrating on PLEASE. By doing this I am giving myself an opportunity to have happy, or 'normal' life, or if we go all Marsha on it 'a life worth living'.

That is not to say that all is peachy all of the time. I had a good chance to practice self soothe only hours ago. I was at a public lecture tonight in a private hospital here in Dublin. The same hospital where I spent five very unwell months two years ago, and where I received my  BPD diagnosis. Even though I loved the security this hospital offered me from reality, the 'bubble' effect I like to call it, I also have very negative memories of the treatment I received there.

One incident in particular involved the very Doctor who was giving the lecture tonight. He was not my Consultant, but he was on call for the night in question when I became very dysregulated. I had not yet received a formal diagnosis at this stage and had no idea what was going on with my emotions. I thought I was a horrible person, my self worth was nonexistent and I was seriously contemplating ending my life. Now, obviously being in hospital, this wasn't really a viable option and thankfully I at least had the sense to express my thoughts to the nurse on duty. 

Little to my knowledge at that time, the formal protocol for suicidal initiation during the night is to page the on call Consultant. I got the addiction specialist, who, in my opinion didn't know any more what to do with a Borderline any more than a man does with a bottle of moisturizer. 

In retrospect, all I needed was to talk, to distract, to be thought distress tolerance. Simple as. But instead I got put in the high security ward as I was a potential danger to myself. I cried and shouted and pleaded and begged, until this Doctor was left with no other option than to sedate me, and turn me into a deserving zombie. I fitted right in on that ward then. 

I was so angry at him. I felt let down by him. All I wanted to do was get relief from the hell going on inside my mind. I needed someone to explain what was happening to me. I needed validation that at that time suicide was the only coping method I possessed. 

So to get back to the present moment, I was taken aback when  this Dr strolled up to the podium and began talking. I had no idea he would be speaking. I got flashback of me, the bawling, screaming mess sitting in-front of him as he sent me 'down stairs'. Down to where the real crazies were.

 I wanted to yell at him "DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID TO ME!" "DO YOU EVEN KNOW HOW WRONG YOUR TREATMENT PLAN FOR ME WAS!!!!!" "STUPID IDIOT!"  I sat stewing in my anger for at least 15 mins. I couldn't take in a word of the lecture. 

Then suddenly, my WISE MIND kicked in. "He was only following procedure, he was doing his job. He didn't know the correct way to deal with an emotionally sensitive person. He was making sure I was safe. " 

My anger started to decrease slightly. I then reminded myself that I was not under his care and that I had a wonderfully supportive treatment team who specializes in treating BPD. I used OBSERVE to bring myself back into the present moment and really paid attention to what he was saying, letting all judgement flow through me. I then took out my hand cream from my DBT emergency kit and soothed myself back into calmness by gently massaging the cream into my skin. 

It was only on the bus on the way home that I reflected on my fantastically skillful evening. Who would have thought that the quivering wreck of a girl in that ward nearly 2 years ago would be able to mange her emotions in a such a skillful way! I really wanted to go up to the Consultant after the lecture, to show him how far I have come. I imagined the wonder and pride on his face and hoped he would feel humbled by my progress. Maybe I even wanted an apology from him. But once again my wise mind took the driving wheel and stirred me away from confrontation by asking what I really wanted from him.

I wanted validation and I know well enough now that looking for it from others is not as reliable as giving it to yourself. So one blog post and a very skilled evening later, here I am patting myself on the back, and forgiving myself for the chaos I created that faithful night 2 years ago. I didn't know any other way to manage my emotions. Thank God I do now. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Darkness into Light....

My Father and I took part in the Pieta House Darkness into Light 5K this morning. The walk is a really beautiful way to bring people together in support of their work. Pieta House is in existence since 2005, and has helped guide over 4000 individuals including myself out of dark times. The walk kicked off at 4am at different locations around Ireland,  and you can find more information on their website

I am reminded of the wonderful Sylvia Plath, whose walk didn't find the way back to light. We have been gifted with her many words. They stay with us. 

"I love people. Everybody. I love them, I think, as a stamp collector loves his collection. Every story, every incident, every bit of conversation is raw material for me. My love's not impersonal yet not wholly subjective either. I would like to be everyone, a cripple, a dying man, a whore, and then come back to write about my thoughts, my emotions, as that person. But I am not omniscient. I have to live my life, and it is the only one I'll ever have. And you cannot regard your own life with objective curiosity all the time..."

Taken from The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Scared Shitless

Today started out with scary thoughts, insidious negative thoughts which infested my mind. I have a social welfare inspection tomorrow morning. I am so unbelievably scared. I have canceled this appointment so many times already. I even let her turn up to an empty house on Tuesday as I chickened out last minute and fled, pretending that I didn't know about the meeting.

Why I am so terrified? I have no idea. I cannot for the life of me figure out a plausible reason. I did a chain analysis on the event on Tuesday. I am stilled at a lose. So all I can conclude is that my fear does not fit the facts. But this annoys me, this fear is so real to me. I can't just will it away by standing up straight and acting as if nothing is wrong. 

I am confused as to what skill to use for tomorrow. I have tried COPE AHEAD by getting as much documentation gather as I can.I have a letter from my landlady, a letter from the bank and asked for a letter from my therapist.

Other than that I just don't know what else to do! I think I will go hide in my nest of a bed until the time comes that I have to leave its safety!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Distress Tolerance IMPROVE Imagery - Safe Place

Jack's Hole Beach, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
The first letter in the anagram IMPROVE stands for IMAGERY. 

I personally like to build a safe place inside my mind, when I am doing well and NOT in distress. This way I have a ready made place to retreat to when I need to escape a crisis or distressing situation, and I do not have to think too much about it.

There is a beach in Co. Wicklow, Ireland where I was brought to as a child during the summertime. It is a private access cove where only residents can gain admittance to its gloriously sandy shore. Luckily a close family friend lived near the entrance and allowed us to park in on their property. I felt so safe there, it was nearly always empty, and the water was clear and clean. There were no scary caves or strange fish. My mother would allow me the day off school if the weather was unseasonably warm and we would drive the hour journey down south towards my coastal heaven. It is where some of my most treasured memories were made. This is my setting for my safe place visualization.

I find this a great way to gain a moments respite from intense emotion. I like that I can do this anywhere, anytime, on the bus, in a busy shop (I find the dressing rooms a good place to practice it). I also like to sit in a quite church  but in reality, this can be used in any situation. Even 3am in the morning!

Try the little script below to help you build a safe place in your own mind.

Allow yourself to create a place of safety and peace that is always yours, always safe…. And breathe in the safety. And breathe out the fear. And breathe in the safety. And breathe out the fear…. As you breathe in, you can even smell the smells of safety…. Perhaps salty air, or the sweet smell of a flower…. Breathe in the smells of your safe place. It’s so safe here that you can even taste it as you lick your lips. Let yourself bask in the safety and the peace…. Allow yourself to walk around, to be in this place, to notice more and more, to create more and more in this place…. Perhaps you would like to build a shelter of some kind, a cottage, a tent, a tree house. And if it’s already there, you may add to it…. Plant flowers, adding a splash of color. Add special places or rooms to your safe place…. Create anything that you would like. [Long pause.] Create special places for special kinds of feelings that need to be healed, special places to wash away fear and pain…. Create a waterfall or a pool of healing water. Stand under the waterfall to wash away the fear…. Let the healing waters wash away what you’d like to be finished with. Each time you come to the waterfall or the healing pool of water, you can wash away more and more of the past…. Each time you come, you are cleansed and rejuvenated, the shame is washed away. Wash away the pain. Wash all of it away, as you are ready. [Long pause.] When you are finished, step out of the water and you will find a robe or a towel to dry and warm yourself.

Now allow yourself to continue walking around your safe place…. You find a place for a healing garden, a place that is just for your healing. You can plant anything you would like…. You can plant wishes and

dreams for the future. You can plant seeds of your healing. And you can weed out what you want to be finished with. Take some time to work with your garden now. [Long pause.]

And now, find your favorite place in all of safety. Walk around until you find just the right place. [Long pause.] Sit down, and get comfortable…. Breathe in the safety and the peace. Breathe out the fear…. Breathe in the safety and peace. Breathe out the fear…. Breathe in the safety and peace. Breathe out the fear…. And just be in this place as you breathe and heal…. Stay in this place as long as you would like…. And when you are ready, simply count yourself out by counting from one to five. When you reach the number five, your eyes will open. And you will be awake and alert, and feeling safe and at peace. One…. Two…. Three. Take a deep breath…. Four…. And five.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Pros & Cons of Tolerating Distress

I will keep this short. I have been putting off doing this for so long. It's fairly self explanatory in it's title, but the problems lies in ACTUALLY doing it. I have been avoiding doing this for my target behaviors for months now, so here it goes! I am only able to do one for the moment, but I have five behaviors I need to do this for!

Target behavior #1 - Binging. 

Resisting binge.

  • PROS:
  1. Feeling of accomplishment over skill use.
  2. Saves money.
  3. Healthier body and mind.
  4. I eat to give myself MORE energy. When I become too full, I LOSE that energized feeling.
  5. I might be able to change my state of mind and continue my life normally without putting on excess weight
  6. I will learn to experience the distress and deal with it in time.
  7. Feeling of self control.
  • CONS:
  1. I will feel the emotion I want to avoid. I wouldn't feel the 'food high'
  2. I will be irritable.
  3. I will feel deprived.
Giving into urge to binge.
  • PROS
  1. Instant relaxation.
  2. Comforted.
  3. Get medical attention
  4. Escape emotional suffering momentary.
  • CONS
  1. Will trigger an urge to purge.
  2. Waste of food/money.
  3. Weight gain.
  4. Self hatred
  5. Only hurts me, pain, digestive issues.
  6. Does not solve problem

Target behavior #2 - Purging

Resisting purge.

  • PROS
  1. Will keep the nourishment from the food.
  2. Will learn to deal and manage 'full' feeling.
  3. Will give myself a chance to use DBT skills.
  • CONS
  1. I will feel very high anxiety.
  2. I will feel dirty, lazy, ugly, fat.
  3. I will have to sit with the distress, and feel all the food in my stomach.
Giving into urge to purge.
  • PROS
  1. Get 'rid' of food and not gain weight.
  2. It is a quick and easy way to get the food out.
  3. I feel in control.
  4. I know my stomach is empty.
  5. Its a way to punish myself for negative thoughts/behavior.
  • CONS
  1. Will damage teeth.
  2. Does not get rid of all of the calories.
  3. Makes me feel week from dehydration.
  4. Dizziness and headaches.
  5. Heart palpitations.
  6. Gives me spots, dry skin and causes my hair to fall out.
  7. Sleep issues.
  8. After a few days - swelling in legs
  9. Constipation.
  10. Reduced appetite which will lead to further foody behavior 

Monday, 30 April 2012

Impermanence - Finding the Dialectic of Emotion

Nothing is permanent. The goodness in life passes in the same way the bad periods slithers by or sticks to our awareness. Positive emotions and experiences leaves a good taste long lingering in my mouth, but it can be rudely interrupted and all too quickly be contaminated by the next onslaught of pessimism. 

I swing widely between the poles of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ judgement, rarely receiving the respite which a balanced, middle ground provides. Take for example the last 24 hours. This time yesterday I was curled up in bed, steeped in self pity. I felt so ashamed and selfish wasting a whole day doing nothing to help make me feel better. I knew I needed to do the housework, go food shopping, have a shower, go for a walk, meet some friends, go to mass, send emails ….. the list went on and on. I was feeding my negative emotion and allowing it to gain nourishment from each moment spent lying in that bed. I was down in the depths of my emotional rating, and I honestly thought that I was the biggest failure on the planet that I should just give up on life and that nobody would care if I was gone. 

Then I wake up today, still feeling the hangover of negativity surround my aura. I dragged myself to an interview for some potential writing experience with a local newsletter. It took every morsel of energy to find the motivation. It was raining, ‘typical’ I thought. I missed the Bus; I was convinced it was a sign. I didn’t have the full address; I should just give up, it’s not going to work out anyway. It really was a miracle I got there in the end. I hadn’t even researched the organisation, certain that it would be a waste of time as I would never get the job. 

If I look back and evaluate the emotion I was experiencing, I was really nervous. Fear wanted me to run home and hide away, to avoid, sabotaging any chance at a life worth living. But being the suborn mule that I can be sometimes, and because I had told some people about the interview, I felt I must go, even if to say I went. 

I actually found the place with relative ease, and was greeted by two lovely ladies who seemed interested in me and appreciative of what I could potentially bring to the organisation. We brainstormed ideas and I felt excitement build up in my tummy. The more I talked to the two lovely ladies there, the more confident I felt in my abilities. I could really do this. They really do like my ideas. To my delight, they asked me to contribute to the June issue and gave me a deadline for submission next week. 

Walking towards the bus stop I felt elated with happiness. I felt like I had overcome the fear which stops me from doing so much in my life, like I had climbed a personal mountain. I was propelled into a heightened state of positive emotion, a world away from the foul mood I had been in only hours before. I grinned childless to the bus driver and sent a barrage of texts and emails to friends and family bombarding them with my good news. 

Now that the initial exhilaration of this morning’s achievement had subsided slightly, and I am not so ruled by my emotional instability, I can see how exhausting this yo-yoing of emotion is to my emotional stamina. If I try hard to be dialectical in my thinking about today’s events, taking into account the importance of living in the moment, I guess the middle ground might be as follows; 

I spent the day resting in bed yesterday, even though I had a lot to do. By doing this I was reminded that staying in bed all day negatively affects my mood. I do need to lie in sometimes, but next time I might only rest for the morning, and get some tasks done in the afternoon. I allowed my bad mood to continue into today. Each day is a new page in my life. I can start afresh if I do not hold onto the past. It was a great achievement to obtain the job this morning. Congratulate yourself. Now move on to concentrating on the rest of today’s tasks. 

I aim for this balanced way of thinking in all my endeavours. When I read it back I don’t feel any overwhelming emotion either positive or negative. I just want to move onto this afternoon. I have a focus group to attend which has nothing to do with the newsletter. 

Have you ever had a similar experience? How do you stay centred?

Friday, 27 April 2012

Upgraded Armour. Reflection on The Center for Living

I abilities feel stronger, robust even. My suit of armour has been fixed and polished. Inside the suit I am vulnerable, full of emotions and open to triggers, but now that all the chinks and dents have been smoothed out, I am prepared for the onslaught of emotion, armed and ready with more skills. I feel humbled and so glad that the Centre for Living proved me wrong. It’s not easy for me to say that. I like to be right, but I was really mistaken about the programmes ability to help me evolve in my understanding of DBT.

The most valuable morsel of information I am leaving with today is that my life is never all-or-nothing. Just because I had a bad morning, say I eat more than I planned, it does not mean that I need to discredit all the other good things I achieved that day.

One particular therapist was really wonderful. It’s not that she thought me anything new; in fact at first I found it hard to participate in her sessions as I thought I had heard it all before! But the longer I sat there, the more everything just ‘fell’ into place. It’s about using the DBT skills together, in tangent with each other, it’s about weaving the mindfulness skills into everything I do, not just sitting quietly observing my thoughts for 10 minutes a day. It’s about noticing the grumbles of anxiety before the fear takes over and I loss control. It’s about catching the little niggles of frustration and quenching it with self soothing skills, so that intense anger stays at bay. It’s not about the food, or the behaviours. I need to be mindful long before I get to that stage. It’s always about the emotions. This therapist clawed me back to WISE MIND and is a perfect example of the therapy really working, of it making sense.

I found such great validation in the other service users I met over the last 2 weeks. We were all at different stages of our recovery journey. Most were at the beginning of treatment, just becoming accustomed to the structure of DBT, and still exploring the diagnosis. Some had accepted it, others were still fighting it. Some simply didn’t understand it and hence couldn’t make an informed decision either way! We were all sitting in that room because of a common link. We all in some shape or form lacked the ability and skills to deal with our emotions. I found comfort in being reminded that I was not alone, that there are other people out there going through this hell. 

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Distraction. ACCEPTS, Distress Tolerance

Everyone loves progression right? Well I know I do in any case. Today in group we finally moved onto the next module: DISTRESS TOERANCE. Again, this is a nice inoffensive, non triggering topic. This time round anyway. Last time I found it hard to accept that these skills won’t solve all my problems straight away, as in right now! But rather they are designed to help you to bear pain skilfully without making the situation any worse. (Marsha Linehan 1993)

This set of skills is for when in the throes of an emotional crisis. When the problem can’t be solved, or if it can, maybe it is simply not the right time to solve it in that moment. It may not be the right environment to try to solve the problem either; for example, I am not skilled enough yet to stay emotionally regulated around my family during disagreements, so for now, using the DISTRESS TOLERANCE skills is the best solution for me. When I am in a food crisis, where I am trying really hard not to binge or purge, then being at home or around food is most defiantly the worst environment to be in, so some skills might not be as effective. And parallel to that, sometimes I can’t get away from situations involving food; this is when I find DISTRESS TOLERANCE skills really help. I like to think that my cue to use the distress tolerance is when I reach my complex skill breakdown point. It is also a way for me to find wise mind and calm the moment so I can try a solution focused skill like OPPOSITE ACTION, because it’s really important to not spend all my time self soothing or distracting! I would never get anything done!

What I picked up from today’s group is that PREPERATION is the key for these skills to REALLY work, and to allow myself to gain maximum benefit from them. We are always being told to practise the skills in less emotionally intensive situations so as we are familiar with them when we really need them when deregulated. So that is the aim of this post. To put together a list of distraction ideas based on the skill WISE MIND ACCEPTS.

DISTRACTION for CRISES SURVIAL is not the same as ‘zoning off’ when a problem CAN be solved, like staying in bed watching Disney films and avoiding the real world for days on end. That will just make it worse! WISE MIND ACCEPTS is for when you have to tolerate the situation in a way that is not harmful to yourself or others.

A – Activities
C – Contributing
C – Comparisons
E – Emotions
P – Push Away
S – Sensations

These are some of my own ideas; things which I know will help me during a crisis. Again, it is a work in progress and as always I would love to hear all your suggestions.

Activities Throw self into the moment.
·         Reading books – Silly novels, short stories about unimportant topics, Sci-Fi, Harry Potter. NO non-fiction. Magazines, trashy or glossy! Read recovery Blogs, Karyn Hall, Audio Books
·         Exercise - Get active, something intensive which demands focus and attention. Zumba class, Yoga.
·         Hobbies – Music, learn a new song on the guitar. Art and crafts. Writing, blogging. 
·         Mental activities – Word games, scrabble on phone, Memorize a poem or prayer. Write a poem or short story.
·         Cleaning – Bedroom, Kitchen, Bathroom, Make-up, Wardrobe, Cooking, Washing
·         Events – Go see a movie, a play, a show, a lecture. The Silent Room, Meditation class. Google, Hospital lectures.
·         Friends – Meet up, text, call, chat, email….. But DO NOT talk about crisis.

Contributing - Focus on something/someone other than yourself.
·         Volunteer time, Hospital, Church,
·         Do something nice for another person. Bake, cook, send letter/card
·         Surprise someone, pay for coffee, buy something
·         Send nice text, Email, facebook
·          Smile at shop assistant, people on the street.
·         Give money to charity, buy food for homeless person
·         Visit Nana, Granny, Someone who is sick
·         Say prayers for the well – being of others

Comparison – Remember, it could always be worse
·         Compare myself to myself this time last year, a few months ago, even a few weeks ago!
·         Compare myself to others in my situations who are coping worse than me.
·         Compare myself to the rest of my family who have the same condition who are not accepting and coping with the disorder.
·         Be thankful for what I have

Emotions – Create opposite emotions to the one you are experiencing.
·         Music – create ‘happy’ playlist, ‘upbeat’ playlist, ‘relaxing’ playlist
·         Movies – Disney, Comedies, Period Dramas, Scary films
·         Comedy show
·         Read romantic books, thrillers
·         Read inspirational stories or poems

Push Away – Allow yourself a break from the emotion/thought
·         Mentally leave the situation, go to another ‘room’ in your mind
·         Give it to God box
·         Do a guided visualisation on Youtube

Thoughts – Focus mind on thoughts, Take a mental ‘Time-Out’
·         Count to ten
·         Count your breath
·         Visualise STOP! Sign
·         Look around, observe the things around you, and name them.
·         Say the same thing over and over in your mind. Breathe in WISE breathe out MIND. Over and over

Sensations – Interrupt physiological action urges with something intense which will not harm
·         Have a very hot or cold shower. Alternate between the two
·         Hold ice, eat frozen fruit
·         Go swimming, use the steam room
·         Suck on a lemon/lime
·         Snap a rubber band on your wrist

I cannot stress the importance of being prepared ahead of a crisis, and also it’s so important to find what works for you. It took me a really long time to figure out that these things work for me.