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