Day 1 DBT…


(This blog is in no way meant to discourage anyone from DBT, please remember it was my first day and I am praying for me and everyone who is going through this process.)

I have been through DBT before, never stuck with it and tonight I realized why… I walked in as usual full of pain, wanting someone to tell it to.  My therapist seemed to be a very nice girl, and I call her a girl because I do believe she was younger than me…intimidating factor#1.  I was being videotaped because, as you know, this is a research study.  My mind was a jigsaw puzzle that I could not put together.  My body was exhausted as I hadn’t slept the night before… my soul was crying, bound by feelings SUFFOCATING it.  Matter of factly, she stated what DBT does and how it helps my condition.  Matter of factly, she gave me the rules… Matter of factly, I wanted to run out screaming…but I didn’t.  I heard what she had to say, but I wasn’t truly listening, the voices in my head were too loud, and they wanted to talk, but I wasn’t permitted.  Matter of factly, she ran down my suicidal history as if taking a survey… Suicide attempt #1, check, Suicide attempt # 2 check…etc.  She asked me my goals.  My goals?  Heck, if I knew that I wouldn’t be here, I thought.  How could I know my goals when I don’t even know who this woman is?  I rambled on making no sense, my goals?  TO BE FREE… TO MOVE SOMEHWERE WHERE NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN AMBULANCES OUTSIDE MY HOUSE, TO KNOW WHAT MY GOALS ARE… With that I shed a tear, nothing more, I didn’t feel I was allowed.  When was it going to be my turn to talk, when was she going to hear my story, Fact: she wouldn’t.  “We can’t change the past, but we can change the future,” she said.  “These skills will help you cope.”  She asked me finally what I was thinking, again I rambled… “I’m helpless.” “I’m alone.”  “I can’t do anything.”  She allowed me to continue, seeing that I was yearning to be heard.  “Explain why you think you’re helpless?”  I almost laughed.  The night before I had a complete breakdown because I was unable to hook up my printer to my computer, this proved what a worthless, weak, helpless, pathetic person I was.  Imagine, fits of hysteria because I can’t hook up a printer.  She told me it was perfectly normal, people get frustrated, I just escalate my frustration instead of solving the problem.  In front of her was my complete history, a shattered girl/woman incapable of living.  I felt shame.  “Knowing your past, it is perfectly understandable why you are where you are, ” she said.  And, so with that, we went into skills therapy.  I became the shy child I was in school.  I said nothing, while everyone else was talking about how they used skills and how it worked for them.  They laughed, they joked, they seemed like “whole” people.  The lesson was on interpersonal relationships, might as well skip over that, I thought, for this girl/woman has no interpersonal relationships, so who could I possibly practice these skills on.  The others did.  They talked of how they used skills on friends, boyfriends, husbands… my heart wept, perhaps I could practice on my dog, I thought.  And so I listened, said nothing  but my name, but wanted desperately to share my life story to everyone there, but that’s not what DBT is about, I assumed.  My eyes began to close… exhausted from the sleepless night before.  Finally, the session ended.  I walked out and a woman approached me, I think she sensed how scared I was.  I don’t know what I said, but something to the effect of, “I don’t think I belong here.”  She answered saying she had been there for 2 years, and was a disaster when she first came in.  I couldn’t imagine it.  She was tall, thin, a dancer, long blonde hair with a carefree air about her.  Again I felt shame.  We exchanged goodbyes and I noticed how quickly she found her car.  Frazzled as I am, it usually takes me 20 minutes to figure out where I have parked, but I found it, started the engine and began to cry… alone.

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6 Responses

  1. Ah… the ‘informed consent, explanation of treatment’ can seem so cold… but it’s important to get the facts out in front so that you can start doing the work. I feel for you, I can tell that you were extremely frustrated by the process and by your feeling that you didn’t ‘measure up’ to the others there … but here’s something for you to think about until your next session… the dancer with the long blonde hair and carefree air is probably just as scared as you are… she is just able to put on a public face better than you feel you are able to right now.

    I’m proud of you and your willingness to try DBT and to continue to get yourself out there… what you are is a SURVIVOR… maybe you can’t hook up a stupid printer.. and neither can I, by the way… but you continue to pick yourself up and keep trying! In that way, you’re already a success!

  2. excellent writing , the person seems to really be able to express her feeling in writing very well i am reading and actually feeling the writing (suffocating) good use of the word i dont have any of these feelings that you have it’s almost as if i dont feel anything sometimes , detached looking forward to more writing .

  3. Hey –
    What you’re feeling is NORMAL. I feel more pain when I’m super emotional sometimes around situaitons that are UBER Rational and around WISE MIND stuff. At first, or at certain times. I descend it feels like, into fear. When you’re on your own, and everything is emotional, it’s REALLY scary being around people who are healthy (then i’ve felt i don’t measure up – I can relate to the shame you’re feeling) or people who are so extremely rational that they inspire me to be extremely emotional….WOW the trap doors with this ilness is immense. I’ve done 2 sets of DBT 12 weeks at a time. From my research, group is the BEST way for a person to get perspective. “If these people are suffering and showing coping strategies, they I can do it too”. When I heal one layer another comes. It sounds like your group facilitator is very validating. I’ve found that group is one of the safest environments to try new skills. Yes, it’s scary. My target behaviour was to NOT talk for the first 15 minutes – the urge to tell the story to have my voice heard was so great, that it took up too much time in the group. WOW – experiencing myself holding in the story brought up so much! WOW. Anyway. Stick with it. It’s one of the ways to heal and it can help you pull out of hurting yourself again. I feel lucky to have had the chance to learn all the things I had there. I ha to drive 2.5 hours just to go to DBT once a week. Three hours in DBT and then drive home. Exhausting. I’d cry on the way there, I”d cry or sleep on the side of the road on the way home, yet it set my healing in motion.
    YOURE DOING THE BEST YOU CAN. I’m looking forward to reading more from your blog. Thanks for sharing. It gives me hope and i don’t feel so alone and misunderstood.

  4. I totally understand what you’re going through. I’m not in DBT (they only offer it on Mondays, and I work Mondays) but my therapist uses DBT-esque stuff in our therapy sessions. I still have no clue what my goals are. I told her my goal is to be a normal functioning person and she said that I had to break it down. The problem I have with DBT is that I feel like it’s so simplistic that it doesn’t validate my complex emotions and reactions. I know “intellectually” that is has to be simplistic since the coping mechanisms we don’t have should have developed when we were kids. But, as someone who is relatively intelligent, it over emphases my weaknesses and points out that I can’t do simple things like not take everything to heart. And, because the DBT activities seem to “drain the emotion out” I get even more confused because I’m always working with some emotional way of understanding the world. For instance, how can I look at an object and not have an emotional reaction to it? Like, why can’t I think a flower is pretty and nice? That was one example she used… just “notice” the flower.. don’t judge it. I’m sorry, but doing that is like trying to pull my mind apart. Good luck to you… keep us updated!

  5. The whole Dbt program is CRAP!!! The reason it has such a good success rate is because so few people stay for the course of the program and if they do they must be pretty damn able to handle anything. So take into account those who don’t finish the course which were more than half in my case just in the first semester it has a very very bad!!!!!!!!!! success rating. All it does is reinforce our bad feelings about ourselves for not succeeding in or staying with something and invalidates us once AGAIN!!! They think that giving us a HUGE dose of what we’ve had in life with make us punch drunk do they? They’re the weirdo’s. They are the one’s that need help those psychs that endorse and make up such rubbish. For those that it has helped God bless you. I believe you but I find it hard to believe if you get that.

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