Sunday, March 28, 2010

March 28th - April 4th, 2010

Sorry we missed last week! My computer had issues. :)

THIS WEEKS POST MAY HAVE TRIGGERS. I MADE A SERIOUS ATTEMPT TO NOT BE TOO DETAILED, BUT IT DOES CONTAIN SOME TOPICS THAT SOME MAY FIND DIFFICULT TO READ ABOUT, PLEASE USE DISCRETION.

Consequences. There are two types of consequences, short-term and long-term. I can do something now and it will have a consequence. Like, for lunch I had that one extra donut. What is my consequence? Short term, I feel over full. Also short-term, I might not progress as well this week with my weight loss, long-term? Probably not much of an impact will be felt long-term. Although, looking into the choice a little further, do I regularly overeat? Is it a habit it of mine? If yes, then a long-term consequence for having that extra donut is that I am making a bad habit even firmer. It will be more difficult to unstick it.

So if  eating an extra donut can effect so much, then think how much more so will over drinking, dangerous sexual activity, anger acted upon, misuse of prescription drugs, self harm, etc.

These very things are often what we are experiencing when we decided we needed change in our lives. Reflecting on consequences can help us to set up boundaries. These boundaries can help to reduce the amount of suffering we are having.

I encourage each of you to mentally note (or literally) two behaviors are marked for change in your life. Make a list of their short-term consequences, and then list their long-term consequences. Make a note of some actions we can take to help break us of this target behavior. Now, those action we have chosen to help break us of the target behavior, we also need to understand their consequences. Are we simply exchanging one bad habit for another? One dangerous action for something else equally dangerous?

For example: Let's say a girl has a target behavior of self harm,  she has taken care to educate herself of the consequences of this action. Based on the long-term consequences, she has decided that instead of causing lasting damage to herself, she will instead inflict minor pain, with less permanent damage.  This seems to be a reasonable first step in recovery, and it is, however, if she goes about her recovery without addressing what sort of consequences her alternative action can have, is she really recovering? The notion that she needs physical pain to cope is still being used. She is still training her body to respond to the emotional pain, by inflicting physical pain. The nature of that pain, and the magnitude of it have changed. Which for the short term is great! It is exactly what she needs in order to get the ball moving. But the long term effects are just as damaging.  She is setting herself up for failure if she doesn't understand that since her long-term consequences have not changed, then what she has chosen to do needs to be temporary. Allowing the alternate self harm for a time is a great idea. It can help her to still relive her suffering immediately, not cause morbid damage and leave her mind clearer to learn more tools. Those tools will be what helps her to find yet another alternative to the self harm, and yet another one and another one, so on and so on, until she has one that does not have damaging long-term consequences.

This idea works the other way too. Let's say a guy uses his prescription drug to calm his nerves, but instead of taking the prescribed dose, he doubles it, even triples it in order to get the desired effects. Clearly this target behavior needs to be changed. What sort of steps can he take? He can try to take half of what he is used to each time he feels he needs some. That may work, sort of as a stair stepper. But ultimately he will need to take the prescription as it is or he will no longer get refills. Refusing himself the extra doses has horrible short term consequences. He is irrational, easily frustrated and hard to be around. However, he has carefully weighed his options, continuing to use his prescription outside the prescribed boundaries will in the long term harm him. He will no longer be allowed the drugs. However, his choice to stop overusing, his short term consequences are severe. Of course the long term for using only the prescribed amount benefits him well.

Each one of us has a responsibility to seriously reflect on our course, and meditate on consequences, short and long, for our choices.  Knowing how each choice we make in this recovery process will impact us can be a safeguard to our mental health.

MJ

Friday, March 26, 2010

My DBT Life is back - Virus FREE!!

We are so sorry for not posting our group BLOG this week!  It seems that our Computer contracted a smart virus  that was posting on our other Face Book accounts and sending direct messages to our friends with bad links, so of course we did not want to risk spreading it to any of you.  We have reformatted our hard drive and killed the virus!  So we will pick back up this Sunday!

Thanks a lot!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

MY DBT LIFE's computer got sIcK!

Sorry everyone, it seems our computer has acquired a virus so we are unable to post this weeks group BLOG. Please feel free to post comments referring to last week, and hopefully we can get our system VIRUS FREE in time for next week!

Thanks for you're patients!

Monday, March 15, 2010

March 15th - 21st, 2010

Wow! This last week came and went in a flash, so I am a day late on this weeks post.

Last week we tried a different approach to discussing DBT skills and unfortunately I don't feel it went all that well. We did get a great response from Stacey and the challenges to last weeks myths were clearly DBT skills based! Thank you Stacey! However, outside of that, there were no other comments.

Definition of Crisis: Along with Stacey's definition, I have also been asking that question with those of you in the immediate area and are not using the internet solely for their participation, and one of the most commonly left out part of the definition is that a crisis is temporary. A crsis is a crisis because it does not last forever. It is also all of the other things that many have said, "a time when you engage in target behavior", "intense heightened emotional state of being", etc. But we cannot leave out that this Crisis is temporary.

The temporary part is what can anchor us to a skill. Going forward with our recovery we can assure ourselves that when a crisis occurs, it will pass. Therefore, logically then, it is only a matter of finding a way to tolerate while we are waiting for it to pass.

Sometimes tolerating is what fails us. What I have noticed working in this field and going through my own personal recovery is that we can go to a class, group, therapy and learn a new skill to prevent a crisis and feel totally jazzed about it. We can put in place and wait. . . what if though for some reason, the prevention skill did not work? What then? Naturally I am speaking of after we have set up many antecedents, we can keep building this wall of prevention skills, but life is life and nothing is 100%. What happens when those prevention skills falls flat? This is when a crisis becomes even more intense. Now we have a crisis, we have engaged in target behavior after we have learned skills, so now failure is on board. Before we agreed to the recovery process many of us were in denial, or perhaps we knew and understood what we were doing but felt so hopeless that we just didn't care anymore. All that changed as soon as we agreed to recovery. We started educating ourselves, we started being prepared, we started reducing vulnerabilities where we could. That first crisis that was prevented was a victory so sweet. Yet, when that first crisis hits that we were not able to prevent, hurts with more intensity than the crisis' before.

This failure is what blinds us to the reality that the crisis is temporary. First of all, as Marsha says: "FAIL WELL" next week we will discuss a little more in-depth what that might look like for each one of us individually. Secondly, funny enough we are going to talk a bit about a prevention skill that will help us, if our prevention skills fail us!

P.L.E.A.S.E.  S.I.R.  Yes, the first word is exactly what Marsha outlined it to be:

PL ~ Physical illness - care for any physical illnesses you might have, headache etc.

E ~ Exercise

A ~ avoid mood altering drugs or alcohol.

S ~ Sleep, proper sleep hygiene.

E ~ Eating, be sure to be having regular meals and eat them mindfully.

This is the part that is different:

Structures In Routine.

S ~ Structure, Structure, Structure. Your life needs to have structure. We learn we need a schedule, a plan for the day. Being aimless is unhealthy and ineffective for our mental health. In order to have a schedule or a routine, we need structure.

In ~ try to have a routine without structure, doesn't work.

R ~ routine. We all know exactly what a routine is. It is something consistent, something you can count on.

If you place this entire concept together you will reduce your vulnerabilities to your environment, in an effort to stave off a crisis, but in the event of a crisis anyways, you will have a structured routine to fall on. What does that mean?

It means that in your preventing skill you have built in your first line of defense against the debilitating shame that may be mounting in connection to a failed attempt to avoid a crisis, by giving yourself an exact action to do immediately following your crisis.

Write out your desired schedule. Structure it to your life, try it out. Figure out what does work and what doesn't. Tailor it until you can make it a routine, keep a written format of this structured routine. Be sure and practice mindfulness each step along your routine. You want to train your body to be comfortable with this routine. Your teaching yourself repetition. Then, what happens when this crisis hits? You fall on your routine, you can rely on your routine to carry you through. You can be on auto-pilot so-to-speak. Of course, this prevention skill naturally sets you up for next weeks topic of Failing Well. Any comments on this or what is to come next week, please offer them. We love to hear from you all, and we benefit so much when we have others comments.

TRY THIS: Write out your preferred routine, practice it. Start small, perhaps each day before bed you could reflect on the day and write down how you would like to see your next monday go and so on. At the end of the week you would have a potential routine, the next week try it out. Write down your success with it and plot a way to handle your failures with it.

Talk to you all next week! Hope to hear from you!

MJ

Sunday, March 7, 2010

March 7th - 14th, 2010

THIS WEEK: Mindfulness will be our goal, not in another practice per say, but rather an attempt to become more mindful about some of the most common things in our vocabulary. I want to get us in touch with some of our thoughts and feelings on matters that perhaps we aren't spending much time on thinking too deeply about. So, we will be more interactive this week!

For starters, I want to hear what the definition of CRISIS is for each one of you. I will share mine later this week.

Next, I will list some myths about emotions and what I would like to hear are some ways that we can challenge those myths.

1) For every situation I have, there is right way and a wrong way to feel about it.

2) I should be able to control my emotions.

3) Frustration equals anger, just miniaturized.

4) Avoiding difficult emotions is a survival safety feature.

5) All emotions require some form of action.

6) It is destructive to have negative feelings.

7) I didn't control my negative thinking well enough if I have a painful emotion.

8.) I am out of control if I am emotional.

9) Some emotions are useless.

10) I should find a way to stop having emotions that get in the way of my relationship with other people.

(although these myths are not copied, some are taken from those of which Marsha Linehan uses in her Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder, and the idea may be repeated)

Let us know what you think! I will check back in a few days and expound on our comments! Can't wait to hear from you all

MJ