BPD, The Now - Healing

Real-life examples in emotional regulation: Using aspects of DBT

A moment ago I realised that I am using my DBT skills more now. Not all, but some of them are beginning to become habitual.

I tried to remember that time oh so long ago called yesterday. Yesterday’s emotions. Yesterday’s triggers.

I looked back at the yesterday’s posts. Poetry in the morning. Not good poetry, but poetry of sorts. Looking back helps me track my moods. It helps me to try to remember what I did to regulate my emotion.

Poetry means darkness. So I was initially feeling dark and sad. But not depressed. Depressed and sad are different. I was still carrying the thoughts, the memory of the person who told me to kill myself; remembering that I must not.

Then I worked. I cleaned, and I ironed, and I set up a room, and I shopped, and I focussed on what had to be done. I avoided music. A trigger. I am trying to be less reliant on music to get me through the day. I am trying to do it myself.

I reached borderline neutrality while I worked. I noted this. I self-congratulated.

And then I got an email; a bill I should not receive. An invoice for accommodation. I had recently been forced to turn away a guest and had tried to find them alternate accommodation. The guest would accept nothing on offer. Nothing was to her standard. She found what she wanted; eventually, but it was more expensive, and her travel agent sent me the bill.

I had lost a booking. I had lost money. I did not have enough to pay myself a wage. I had borrowed money for food.

Then I got an unexpected bill.

I was angry; so angry and I didn’t use my skills. I broke the rules; I let the fingers of fury fly toward the agent – then pressed send.

But I observed my anger; I noted it; I recognised it; I tried to accept it; but then I judged it; I judged it as a negative in me. I must observe and note and accept non-judgementally. So I judged myself further. I did not continue the exercise but indulged in judgemental self-beration.

I called a support person. I read him both emails.

He has learned the skills. He listened. He validated my feelings of anger and frustration. He validated me. He told me my response was understandable, acceptable and that anyone would do the same under the circumstances. He congratulated me on my email response. He said to me that it wasn’t full of anger, but factual and affirmative. Factual and affirmative are acceptable.

Then the storm subsided.

But I was tired. Physically from lack of sleep and emotional drain. Constant battles within myself for emotional control. I started to slide. I noted the slip; I felt the tears; I felt the lethargy creep in; I noted my body wasn’t moving; I acknowledged my emotion. My dog intervened. He knows this mood. He knows my cues.

He tried to distract me. Intense eye contact. Low, short wuffs to draw my attention away from me, yet not loud or sharp enough to alarm. He held my gaze. I averted it. He was on me in a flash. Front paws wrapped around me. Body stretched out on top of me; licking my tears, my cheeks my chin. Nudging me; digging his claws into my shoulders; shoving his face into mine. Eye contact. Eye contact.

The other dog sat motionless, staring, afraid and unsure.

The cat sensed it and came barrelling in to sit beside me. To nuzzle along with the dog.

I sat up. I turned to the computer and mind-dumped into a random not-to-be-posted document. I dumped my sadness; I accepted it; I noted my anger; I validated it; I worked on my emotions non-judgementally. I was working through it.

I received a text. A message offering me a project. A creative project. One that I would very much like to do.

I noted the sensations in my body; I noticed the tinglings; the changes in muscle tension; the change in blood flow; I felt the changes in my facial expression; the eyes; the mouth. I identified my emotions. I accepted my emotions. I did not judge my emotions. I did not judge myself. I allowed these emotions to occur.

The acceptance, the allowance the acknowledgement and validation of their existence and they moved on in their own sweet time.

I was left with a form of balance.

I was ok.

Then the dark cloak of night fell and I was tired; yet sleepless. My restless mind once again in overdrive. I noted the different emotions as they arose; the mood swings were fast and plentiful and I lay there working them; identifying them; noting them; trying to accept them and validate them. Trying not to judge.

I time travelled; I knew I shouldn’t, yet I tried hard not to judge myself harshly. I allowed myself an imaginary future but with the wonderful future came the remembrance of loss, and the lack of sharing that would be. Sadness began to swamp my mind once again. I slept at last, with tears on the pillow. Exhaustion had taken over.

Awake in the morning, yet not refreshed. Soaked and bathed in the sweat of dark dreams; sheets knotted and wet, tangled around me; hair curled, damp against my face. My stomach once again bound and constricted in pain. My morning battle began anew.

So I accepted it and remembered to breathe. To breath into the muscles; to release the tension. To identify the emotion; to describe it to myself non-judgementally; to accept its existence. I told myself it was ok to feel this way; that it was understandable. I self-validated. I brought myself to calmness. To a state of neutrality.

Four hours later I am still here. Present in this moment. Neutral and focussed on the tasks ahead for the day.

They are listed; broken into small steps. The tasks look to be too many. So I am breaking them down into more modest goals. I have shut my doors to guests. I have CHOSEN to free up my time and spread one day’s work over three.

This is progress.

I can congratulate myself for this.

It is hard work. It is exhausting, but it can bring me to where I need to be.

This is how I must make it through each and every moment of each and every day.

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