How I Used Wise Mind in Response To a Major Trigger

In DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) during the Mindfulness Module, we often talk about Emotion Mind and Reasonable Mind. Where they intersect is referred to as "Wise Mind."

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I needed to use the skill of coming into Wise Mind this past weekend and over the past few days. It's been a real help in preventing me from going into a crisis.

For those of you who know a bit of my own personal story and my challenges as a person living with and healing from Borderline Personality Disorder, you may be familiar with my dehydration trigger. In a nutshell, I still have the lingering effects of PTSD due to a literal life and death situation that I experienced as a child, during which I became dehydrated. Since then, I have self-admitted myself to the emergency room a number of times, reliving out the experience to a certain extent. June 11th of this year will be my one year anniversary of not taking that road. It's been a challenge!

I have been triggered a few times since Saturday.  The first incident was on Saturday afternoon. I agreed to go on a long, brisk walk with my boyfriend.  The farthest I've walked in recent times has been about 6 miles, but on Saturday, even though I wasn't sure if I had the stamina, I agreed to walk 8 miles.

Although I was sore and my feet hurt a bit, overall, I did well. The weather was a bit cool, so it wasn't uncomfortable weather-wise.  When we got to the 4 mile point, I saw a man and woman walking past us, and they had water bottles. All at once, I felt anxious.  Here we were on an 8 mile walk, and we hadn't brought any water.  My boyfriend assured me that under the weather conditions, we would be fine.  Even though at the 4 mile mark there was a small snack stand where I could have purchased a bottle of water at that point, I decided that I felt well, the weather was cool, and I could make it back to the car and have water then.

I was fine, but then I went into some OCD habits once I got home. I kept monitoring how frequently I urinated. I noticed if the volume seemed to be less. I looked back to see the color to see if it was too dark.  I was worried about dehydration.

When I freaked out and considered going to the emergency room, I pushed myself to go into wise mind by thinking rational thoughts. I reminded myself that I was ok.  I was drinking fluids, and my body was restoring itself. It would just take a few hours to catch up on fluids. Sure enough, this was the case. Crisis averted!

This morning, still a little bit emotionally shaky, news of the Boston Marathon was on the radio.  The newscasters were talking about how the weather would be unseasonably hot -- in the 80s...and how inexperienced runners were being encouraged to sit out the race and go for it next year. Their concern? Dehydration.  When the newscaster began, "The symptoms of dehydration are..." my heart began to race.  I wanted to turn off the radio, but I used opposite action and allowed myself to be exposed to the information, knowing that I would use Wise Mind afterward.  When the newscaster went on, "And the symptoms of SEVERE dehydration are..." I felt like I might dissociate, but I stood there and grounded myself. I tapped my feet on the floor and said, "I am tapping my foot, and it's 2012. I'm touching the refrigerator door, and it's 2012."  I was able to still listen, and I made it through.

When the topic changed on the radio, I used self-talk again:

The warning was for people running 26.2 miles on an 85 degree day, not for me, who would be sitting at a desk all day eating and drinking at my leisure.  I kind of laughed after that thought. :)

Reasonable Mind is comprised of rational thoughts based on evidence.  When I get into Emotional Mind, which is made up of emotional thoughts, I sometimes can get hysterical.  I am learning that it's important to acknowledge the emotions and then to root myself in the rational thoughts in order to find the safe haven of Wise Mind.

I hope this has helped you in some way.
Thanks for reading.
More Soon.

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