It's been a while. Five and a half months since I last wrote. Somehow it seems a lot more recent, but somehow that also seems like a million moons ago.
"Happy New Year" is the thing we're all supposed to be saying to each other for the next 6 or 7 days isn't it? I'll say it here (Happy New Year!) but if I'm entirely honest, I'm not sure I'm feeling it this morning. Anywho, I won't bore you with that, I'll try and fill you in on some of what's been going on since I've been AWOL - well, not AWOL, just living my life, and figuring out how to do it my way, and there have been some challenges, so it's taking a bit of time.
The last time I wrote, I had the rash, that finally got under control, and I had also started seeing a new psychologist, Dr R. She was doing a fairly intensive assessment of me before she went off on holiday for a month so we could agree the best way to move forward when she got back. Was kind of strange because when I started seeing her I was very suicidal, and had to promise her I wouldn't do anything in the time she was away. She had given me confidence that so long as I hadn't attempted anything, I would be safe to go to the hospital or call the police and ask for help in an emergency situation, and I had promised her I would.
We agreed that DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy), first created for those with Borderline Personality Disorder due to the high incidence of self harm and suicidal ideation general found in people with this condition, would be the best course of treatment for me. Unlike CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) where the focus is on changing your thoughts to change your feelings, somehow indicating that your feelings must be wrong, or invalid, DBT uses validation, acceptance and change together with the goal of living a life you want to live. Basically, the way I feel is valid (there are reasons that have possibly caused me to feel this way), and at the same time, rather than delving in hours of talking about how 'wronged' I've been, or how hurt, etc, I can learn skills to accept things are the way they are, and change the way I relate to people, situations, the past, the future, the present.
It is pretty intensive. The commitment was initially six months, both from Dr R and myself. It's not cheap, and being in Dubai, it's not quite run the way it's run in countries like the UK or USA. That said, it felt right, so I said yes. I was apprehensive. It is draining. It is intensive. I think in my second week I turned up to a session and told Dr R I wanted to quit because I couldn't do it. I have had one 'crisis', which lasted a total of about 10 days and is probably the worst I have ever felt and involved calling my husband to leave work and collect me from the doctors and then stay with me for the next four days because I was in a very unsafe place. During that time Dr R was amazing, and over 11 days I saw her six times. Apparently this is not unusual, and my crisis followed the 'pattern' she would expect, and I came through it very well, and there may be more of them, but I will learn to cope with them better.
I'm feeling things and noticing things that I have not felt, or not allowed myself to feel over the years, and I don't know how to deal with them, and that gets very blimin' frustrating, so I get angry, and anger is something I most definitely don't know what to do with, and I lose control. As we work through the programme, and as I learn the skills, I will know what to do in different situations and with the different feelings that come up, but have to say, this DBT is not something to be entered into lightly. It quite possibly is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.
I see Dr R twice a week. We have one skills session and one diary card session. The skills sessions are teacher/student/discussion, where I am learning something new and I get homework to try out what I am learning and we discuss the following week and add more to it, and it doesn't really feel like 'therapy', but there are some surprising 'a-ha' moments in these sessions, and we end up talking about things/situations that I've completely forgotten about, or haven't thought about for years, but somehow are very important to me and the way that I think and feel, and to my values.
The second session is the diary card, where I track every day four different behaviours that we agreed together when we started, and they are rated from 0-5 on 'urge' and 'action'. We generally pick the 'worst' day and go through a chain analysis of what lead to my high numbers, and at what stage could something have been done differently that might have stopped things getting to that point.
These sessions are interesting, because although there is a lot of 'if I had done this differently, or changed this, or thought differently, or responded differently, or ignored this, etc', I don't feel like it is all about an attack on me and how I must change everything about me, and how I am wrong in everything I do. It is about awareness. Another perspective. About options. The validation is important, because on the days Dr R tells me she'd be annoyed with xxxx too, the relief is immense. The days she gives me a point of view I haven't thought of, I sit there and go 'hmmmmmm', and I think about it. I might not immediately agree. I might disagree. We might discuss. We might discuss the following week or it might come up three weeks later. But it is all relevant. It is structured.
I believe things come along at the time that we are ready for them. I have seen counsellors, therapists, etc before, and I have sat there and done lots of talking therapy where it is mostly complaining about who did what and lots of tears, and some consoling, and I walk out with a blotchy face, and the next week I do it all again. And it has served its purpose, and I'm absolutely NOT knocking it for anyone, but this is in a whole different league entirely. I get homework and I do challenges. I get excited and feel proud of myself when I achieve them. The most exciting / rewarding has to be ordering 2oz of cheese from a deli counter. Sounds strange, kinda was, and I'll share it with you another day.
This is a rather long ramble. DBT has taken up most of my time. It has been my focus. It has been hard. It has had me up and very down. I've taken some of my behaviours to extremes (unsurprisingly, these are some of the ones we're trying to change). That's why I've been AWOL. I've been working on myself. I literally haven't had the energy or headspace to produce words.
I have been exercising, and socialising more than I used to, managed to get my weightloss over 37kg/80lbs, so am well chuffed about that (apart from the clothes situation it's causing), and broadly speaking, believe I am starting 2019 in a better place than I started 2018. I hope the same goes for you.
With love, Becs xxxx