{August 17, 2012}   Distress Tolerance

I started DBT group classes 3 weeks ago, yesterday was my 3rd class.

Two days ago I cut myself again.

We are learning in DBT to be able to separate the emotion out of the equation in the situation by observing, describing and participating. Which in practice in a controlled environment with a single focus and stressor is easily doable. Then with Distress Tolerance you are supposed to bring to mind the pros and cons, specifically the cons of going through with the destructive behaviour, yet again, makes sense but very hard in actual situational application.

I cut myself after feeling stripped to the bone by Hugh, he’s a strong personality and when he chooses to use his words, its lacerating. When I am hit with accusation and the worthlessness of my actions, or what seems to me is so, my soul shrivels and the pain is outstanding it takes all senses away. What comes to mind is having a knife stabbed repeatedly into my chest and there is nothing but a crippling inability to speak or defend because the pain and the noise inside of me is deafening and chunks of emotion are tearing off my skin.

Frantically, I am trying to take a step back from the anger I can feel him throwing at me to try and bow down and separate, no matter how much I know I was not entirely wrong or the words are painfully unjust I cannot argue, I’d rather just accept because I cannot find the conviction to stand up and defend myself. With Hugh I feel like I cannot win against the judgements, when he is mad there is nothing to do but accept and on the flip side DBT says for me to be non-judgemental to curb the emotion and not let mine exacerbate, so all there is to do is wait and listen holding as tight to control as humanly possible to not crest the edge.

But how do I do this when the pain is coming in waves as the words don’t stop to let me breathe, each judgement is another nail in my coffin towards cutting, and I in turn am looking for the space to not react, to stay non judgemental of him which makes me all the more judgemental of myself and my weakness. And when I am able to swallow all my pain to show externally it is OK, that I am OK with his perception of me, inside I need to cut to give myself the release to keep going without falling apart. And I am supposed to bring to mind the repercussions but in the moment i would rather cut the pain out and deal with the repercussions another day so we could go on and not continue in that space that would make him upset even more that I could not snap out. It takes us longer to come down and re-stabilize and so when we are dealing with normal people, how can we find the time we need when they are watching and judging, what else is there to do but the quick fix?

We did the matrix of destructive behaviour yesterday and I am looking forward to doing the homework with my cutting as the center piece. She rightfully pointed out that each time i do it, I am giving myself affirmation that it is OK by it giving me the release. Positive affirmation in the negative sense. But what do I care more about? When I look back I would rather appease Hugh than myself, so in my mind to bring things to equilibrium, I had to cut and it was worth it because I dont think he could see it from my side so it was up to me to fix me.

Its all fucked up and this is why I am in class. I don’t judge others, I do in silly materialistic ways, but true judgement I leave for myself, there is no harsher critic of me than me, and hence when people beat me down, I tend to believe them and absorb it.

Take a look at the example below… if I had said  “I’m noticing that you are raising your voice. Why are you doing this?” to Hugh, he would have blown my head off with all the reasons he was, how would this have helped me?

See if you can observe and describe in more emotionally charged situations. Remember to notice your judgments, but not get caught up in them. Notice the judgment in the same way that you notice tone of voice, for instance. See if it is easier to let go of volatile reactions when you withhold judgments. Part of observing is also withholding assumptions. Describe your observations to the other person. “I’m noticing that you are raising your voice. Why are you doing this?” Does the situation seem different to you? Are you seeing it in another way? Is the other way more healing?

“Although the stance advocated here is a nonjudgmental one, this should not be understood to mean that it is one of approval. It is especially important that this distinction be made clear to clients: Acceptance of reality is not equivalent to approval of reality.

“…. The distress tolerance behaviors targeted…are concerned with tolerating and surviving crises and with accepting life as it is in the moment. Four sets of crisis survival strategies are taught: Distracting, self-soothing, improving the moment, and thinking of pros and cons.”

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Life after Borderline Personality Disorder; making a life worth living through love, laughter, positivity and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy

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