Sunday, December 26, 2010

December 26th, 2010 - January 2nd, 2011: Skill of the week

  • Distract is not the same as avoid.
  • Fighting the past only blinds me to my present.
  • All events have led up to this very moment.
  • The present moment is the only moment I have control over.

What do all of these cheer-leading statements have in common? Time-traveling. 

Carrying on with our discussion with Radical Acceptance, since this skill is one of the more difficult ones I thought this week we would look over factors that get in the way of acceptance. One of them is time-traveling. What happens when we time-travel? Well, this reminder says it best: 

I do not need to suffer the past or suffer what I think to be the future. 

Friday, December 24, 2010

How high of a higher power?

If this were just about me and my opinion, I would give a resounding answer that there is in-fact a higher power of Divine magnitude. Yes, I mean I do believe in God. However, there are a lot of readers out there that do not and when it comes to DBT when we reference a higher power there are layers to be looked. These layers include learning a skill that whether you believe in God or not you will use the visualization of a higher power. Let me explain. 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Practice makes permanent

That is really true. Practice does make permanent. All this hollering I have done about practicing your mindfulness exercises, I have a case in point as to why it is so important to have it down before you need it.

Now please understand, I am not this good all the time. In fact when it comes to the four of my children making noise...well I am pretty impatient and snappy. I rank up there pretty high, so when I do have a success, I am going to celebrate it, big time!

Picture the scene, all four of my lovely children want to play with play doh. Home-made play doh at that. This is pretty cool for them, they realized they don't have to buy the stuff at the store, that they can use what is in our kitchen. I am not sure what this has done for me in the long run, I mean, no more telling them, "Sorry, kids, I don't have any play doh." busted. Anyways, so they are playing away, did I mention that all four were in the kitchen playing? huh, together. That gets pretty loud when you have an 11-yr old, 9-yr old, 6-yr old and a 4-yr old. Believe it or not, they were not fighting. They played this way for about a half hour, then it was time for me to make dinner. I was making an easy casserole. Throw a few ingredients together and poof! Dinner is served. Prep time would take me 15 minutes tops. The problem? I had to prepare dinner in the kitchen!

Sitting in the living room while they played, loudly, was one thing. But being in the same room with them would  be something entirely different. I decided a little exposure therapy is exactly what I needed. Now, please understand in most circumstances I would have cleared out the kitchen and prepared food, alone. Or, I would have "ssh'd" the heck out of them. Because chaotic noise is the surest way to get me to flip out. I don't know what the deal is, I just cannot seem to cope with it. It drives me insane.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ecstasy makes a difference

Liberation tried to commit suicide when he was seventeen. Things got even worse before they got better. He was married to Terror for nearly ten years. One day when he was wandering famished and half-crazy in the mountains, he bumped into Ecstasy. Ecstasy wept to be reunited with his old friend and taught Liberation a simple prayer. After that Liberation was free to leave Terror.

~ The Book of Qualities - J. Ruth Gendler


Monday, December 20, 2010

Turned around?

How often do you feel like you are too different for anyone to relate to you? I know when I feel all turned around, I would swear that there is no one in this world that has the same thought processing as I do. That is probably why learning about Borderline Personality Disorder was such a great relief. I don't buy into the whole diagnosis of the masses, but I do find it fascinating to learn about mental illnesses that fit my experiences. This same relief came when I started to see the effects of DBT. Why? because I was regularly reminded of the truism that I am not alone.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December 19th - 26th, 2010: Skill of the Week -

The thing about Radical Acceptance is that when done properly it will motivate you to action. It is quite the opposite of what you may think it to be at first. I know I envisioned me laying down and "taking" it like a door mat. Completely helpless to the ensuing pain from the "acceptance". In reality acceptance is more like taking in the facts, looking for the grain of truth in it and analyzing what can or cannot be done about it. Then the key to it, doing something about it.

So what is it that you are not accepting? It became obvious to me that radical acceptance was going to be a challenge when I found myself making the same requests over and over to AJ in a particular aspect of our life. We had reached what some couples would view as a stale-mate. This particular topic was directly linked to triggers to my target behavior, so I felt completely justified in my request, where-as AJ felt differently. Regardless of the details in this situation, the bottom line was I was not going to get what I was asking for. My mind kept getting stuck on the, "He must give it to me!", "this isn't fair", "how could he claim to want to help on not give me this", etc. etc. What not accepting this was doing was blinding me to the choices and options I had. I had no options in the situation I was making for myself.

Friday, December 17, 2010

I love me...I love me not...

Sometimes no matter how much I try, my head is louder than my mind. Sounds crazy, I know. My mind is what I attribute the thoughts and ideas that come out and are wise mind justified. The term "my head" is usually used when what it produces is ineffective and not even close to wise mind justified. So, again, my head gets loud sometimes...really loud. My mind tries to match it's volume. At times though, it doesn't matter how much I can turn up my mind, it doesn't seem to be enough. The worst part of it is this, when that happens the ideation always turn towards suicide.

My insides twist and turn...and fight. It's as though I am having an out-of-body experience. I can see myself waffling back and forth between, "I can't do this anymore" and "MJ, Love yourself enough to keep going!" The petals are falling off of the flower - which petal will I land on..."love me not"?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Some qualities have only images, not words.

Ecstasy builds slow fires, but they burn for a long time. His eyes are the color of the clear summer night. He loves the drum and the flute and the dark winter moon. He knows many things, but he does not talk much. If you try to pin him down, he will answer you with music. You have to decide for yourself what he really means.

Ecstasy runs an inn for travelers high in the Turquoise Mountains. It is an interesting job because he is never quite sure who will turn up. There are no reservations here, and the meals are free. The mountain air brings clear dreams, and some of the guests start to settle in. Ecstasy insists that no one stay too long. He is running an inn, not a boarding house. He also leaves the inn from time to time.

The inn is not always easy to find. It is not on the main road, and sometimes the signs disappear. Don't attempt the journey if you are in a rush or are scared to be by yourself. Even Ecstasy loses his way if he has been gone for awhile.

Ecstasy was a jeweler before he came to these mountains. His jewelry has always been simple. The designs are completely right. His lines are true. He especially likes to work with amber and jade and diamonds. It was his search for crystals that first brought him to the Turquoise Mountains.

~The Book of Qualities - J. Ruth Gendler


Sunday, December 12, 2010

December 12th - 19th, 2010: Skill of the week

I have read, and/or, heard people comment that DBT doesn't work. My question is, what is it about DBT that doesn't work? Seriously, I am not challenging them at all, I am just wondering what about it that doesn't seem to work. I do however challenge anyone to show me a person that couldn't benefit from learning how to be in the moment that they are in, learning to make balanced wise-minded decision about life in general. What kind of person would you be if you didn't have any need to learn how your emotions work, what emotions accomplish and what can be done if emotions start to take over. Who of us doesn't have any need at all to have assistance with interpersonal relationships? Who out there never has any issues with other people, who can get along with anyone and never has a problem with prioritizing and setting goals. Everyone of us could use a boost in the self-image department, whether it be something that re-enforces what you already know about yourself, or learning how to love yourself. DBT is just so practical for everyone. With or without a mental illness. How much more so for those of us out there that do have a mental illness?

I am certainly not saying DBT is a cure or is the only form of therapy that can help. Obviously there are all sorts of therapeutic ways to handle your mental illness, or life in general. But honestly, DBT is something that can accessorize any persons life. Personally, I feel that it is something that our children should have to take as a class course before being allowed to graduate high school. It has that much of an impact on life skills. I feel that it is so practical to use for a productive life. But that is certainly my opinion. I recognize that. My guess however is, for most persons with a mental illness who are finding that DBT isn't not working, I venture that it is they themselves that is not "working". Ouch, that is a really judgmental statement, right? Not so. I am not judging a single person. When I say that they perhaps are not working, I do not mean that they are not fighting like hell for their life. I am certain they are. They are taking every last vestige of life inside of them and fighting tooth and nail to make it one that is worth living. What I mean when I say they are not "working" is that working the program is a must. This means, practicing, analyzing, assessing, reassessing, record keeping, journaling, goal setting, positive affirmations...DBT is not for the faint of heart.

There is so much work involved in making positive use of DBT that it often gets dumped early on and labeled as "not working" This is a fight for our lives, and it is going to take work, no matter what form of therapy is chosen. The other culprit I believe comes into play when someone feels that DBT isn't working is when they need something more, or different. Someone can be a veteran at DBT and still be very symptomatic with their mental illness. They need more. They either need something altogether different, or something more intense with DBT. Chances are if they have been working with DBT for some time it is something altogether different that is needed. Does this mean they can't use DBT? Absolutely not! Another wager I would make is that with DBT they have probably seen improvements, they just need something to take them the final lap in recovery. DBT is great maintenance and rather than dropping it as something that isn't working, I suggest it be embraced and kept as something that has already helped and will continue to help and complement whatever other therapy that is chosen.

Alright, I will get off of my soap box about DBT. I say all of this because I have spent time with quite a few people that bring on DBT and enjoy the improvement and then they get stuck in their tracks as if someone yanked the emergency brakes when they are introduced to Radical Acceptance.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Look at me! I am a helicopter!

OK, so honestly AJ and I are the epitome of the drill sergeant father and helicopter mother. That is the truth of it, whew...I am so glad I got that off of my chest! Seriously, we aren't "out-of-control" with it, I mean it doesn't cause arguments between least not anymore. But, we have recently taken a "Love and Logic" parenting class. It was wonderful. Both AJ and I are true believers in the idea that each person is someone who is constantly under construction. We can never learn enough about how we can be improving ourselves. So, we took the class, it has given us some strategies for us to come off victorious with these four angels and not end up duct taped in the closet after a weekend with them!

This is where I have determined that I need to work on not being a helicopter mom. I want badly to "make it all better" for my babies, and I never want them to suffer. I honestly feel as though I have suffered enough for everyone in this household, and I truly don't like seeing my children hurt. Even in the little things. I already have a decent balance with it I just need a bit more. Hang-in there with me, this will work its way around to DBT, I promise.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Readers questions and DBT answers!

"Thanks for this, MJ. The link to the chain handout is really useful, especially the filled in example! Some really helpful prompts to make sure I've covered everything. I've never really brought body sensations into chains, but will start this as I think it will be helpful.

Something I'd like to hear your opinion on MJ is whether you fine tune your target behaviours, or even change them altogether, over time. The 'big' risky ones seem to have died out for me, so I'm filling in a diary card each week which is mainly 0 urges and no behaviour. Should I be starting to think of more specific things I'd like to work on e.g. specific patterns in IP relationships?"


Yes! Yes! and more Yeses! We will be constantly assessing our target behaviors. This is part of recovery. What we set out to change, we will eventually meet that goal and then we move on. We stay mindful of course and re-address those target behaviors in the event that we backslide. Be kind to yourself if this happens! Backsliding is part of our recovery as well. In fact - 

Monday, December 6, 2010

December 5th - 12th, 2010: Skill of the Week

The behavior in which you would like to reduce, or the behavior that you have decided is ineffective for your life that is worth living will be referred to as your "Target Behavior". This target behavior does not come out of nowhere. It is always triggered by something in your environment. This trigger or prompting event will elicit problem thinking and problem emotions, which will in-turn produce your target behavior. Do not be alarmed, you will no doubt have several target behaviors.

Your hope is to learn mindfulness well enough that you will give yourself a moment between the prompting event (because you cannot stop these from happening, you can reduce them, but you cannot stop them) and your problem thoughts and emotions. If that fails, which it will at times, your mindfulness has a second chance to give you that moment, but it would surface between the problem thinking and emotions and your target behavior. This moment, at whichever place you are able to make it for yourself, will afford you the opportunity to insert a skill. This skill will either A) prevent the target behavior altogether or B) reduce the damage in the target behavior. Of course, ideally you are looking to prevent the target behavior altogether. Be kind to yourself, when you are able to prevent that target behavior for the first time, be very aware that this does not mean you will miraculously be able to do it from that point on. It doesn't work that way.

Imagine if you will a rural road that is only traveled by you. You have taken the same path on this road with your rugged truck day-in and day-out. Through the many months of varying weather. At times the rain and storms have made this dirt road very muddy and messy. Yet, you relentlessly truck through the mud making the ruts in the road deeper and deeper. One day you decide that your traveling destination is no longer effective and you need to veer to the left or to the right before you come to the end of your deeply rutted road. How easy will this task be? Not very easy at all! Your first few attempts will only be met with the ruts in the road keeping your truck on the same path as it has traveled so many times before. With hard work and persistence you will eventually be able to flatten some of those ruts in various places along the roadway. Eventually you will succeed on crossing over those ruts and carrying yourself off to the left or to the right. Now what do you have? You have one path that you have created spurring off of your deeply entrenched path. To make this new path usable on a regular basis without much resistance you will need to reinforce it by use. Repetitive use. Regular use, just as you had done to create the road with the deep ruts. Since it would be impossible to predict every trigger in your environment ever, your spurs that you have created, to the left or to the right, will need to be made in various places along your dirt road. The only way this will happen is by practice and diligence. Each time you successfully take those spurs you should celebrate your efforts. Fuel yourself to keep up the fight and before you know it, you will be taking the spurs more and more often and taking the old rutted road will be more of a rarity than the norm.