Do It Yourself DBT - Guest Post by Sue Sibbald

Sue's Diagnosis

I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder three years ago when I became ill in April. It was very shocking for me,  as I was 46 years old and had managed my life up until that point. I had been very successful managing and part-owning a night club and live music venue and offering trainings at a local college. 

My thought on being diagnosed was: "What the hell is this?" I knew about schizophrenia as my mum has that but what was this? 

The one feeling I had in reaction was pure anger. I was angry both at having been told that I had a mental health problem and anger at my psychiatrist for landing me with such a diagnosis. 
I raced home and went straight to my laptop.  I began to research.  This research, I may add, hasn't stopped for three years. I have a deep thirst for learning about BPD. Initially I was out looking for a cure. Silly me.

Research and DBT

I spent my time unravelling a huge amount of information and came to the conclusion that I needed Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). It had the most research proving it worked and now has 25 Randomized Controlled Trials backing it -- more than any other therapy. 
So off I went to my psychiatrist, and told him I needed DBT.
"Sorry... no DBT in this area. You can have this therapy, that therapy..."
Blah blah, I'm not listening....

The Pivotal Moment

I think this was a key point for me, I could have:
1) sat in a corner blamed the whole world, everyone in it, and given up.
2) got up and done something about it.
So I'm not someone to give in, blame my psychiatrist , my social worker, my parents, family, the rest of the world. Oh that would have been so easy. But, no -- I was going to HELP MYSELF.

Support on The Net

During my time spent trawling the Internet I had come across a Fa
cebook  group that practiced DBT skills and supported one another. The person who ran the site also mailed out everyday a skill to practice (My Dialectical Life).   

I joined this group run by Amanda Smith (@dialecticallife on Twitter) and also bought Dr. Marsha Linehan's DBT Skills Workbook and began to teach myself DBT

That was maybe two yeas ago now and along with using the website, and more lately Debbie's site here at, I  began to learn and practice DBT skills. This was quite difficult, and I admit I get envious of people who are in actual DBT treatment. If you can access it, I'm happy for you, but if not, it is possible to learn the skills. 

(Debbie along with therapist Alicia Paz, MA, LLC also now offer an Online DBT Group , offered worldwide, as of this year.)

What I found enormously helpful was the phone app Diary Card, which helps me log the skills I have used each day. It's a constant reminder of how skillful I can be everyday. I wasn't giving up or giving in.

Advocacy Evolved into Bringing Education and Help to Others

While all of this was going on, I started to campaign via Twitter and in my local area for better services for people with BPD. I wrote letters -- not being negative,  but rather coming up with ideas about how to  educate both staff and the people with BPD. I was invited to join my NHS Trusts Personality Disorder Strategy Team and began paid work educating staff and people with BPD about Personality Disorder. The really wonderful news is I'm going to train to help teach DBT skills, I could never have dreamed of that before, but I suppose hard work pays off. 

I still suffer, but it doesn't take me down

In the meantime, yes, I've had bad times -- days where I felt  I couldn't go on.  I still have trouble coping sometimes and need support. I  sometimes fall by the wayside with unhelpful behaviors,  but yes  -- you guessed it, I get back up and carry on. I have joked before I'm like a weeble:  I wobble but I won't fall down. 

Having the skills helps me manage day to day. If I hadn't have learned them, who knows what I would be doing today.  I love Opposite to Emotion Action. That's my favorite skill. 

Additional Support For YOU

In April last  year, with a friend decided to set up a Twitterchat with hashtag: #BPDChat, which happens every Sunday at 9pm GMT/ 4pm EST, so that people with a diagnosis of BPD could get together to discuss different topics and share ways of managing day to day.
It's still going but I handed over the general running to  friend and fellow BPD sufferer and advocate, Amanda O'Connell , as I'm really busy with work. You will find me on there still, and I may run the occasional chat, or you can find me using the links below.  I'd love to connect!

My main message around all of this is:

If you can't access DBT you don't have to give in, you can learn with Peers on Twitter, Facebook or by yourself or use all three as I do. 

I'm not anyone special, just someone with a passion. Remember you are more than this diagnosis and - YOU ARE NOT ALONE : ) 

Have you got any good tips of how you learn skills, how to remember them, what works for you? Please leave a comment if you do.

Thank you,
Sue Sibbald

Connect with and follow Sue at her:
Blog: Borderline Personality Disorder and Me
Twitter: @BPDFFS
Facebook Page


  1. Thank you so much for sharing this, Sue! It's inspiring to see others making so many leaps and bounds through self-taught DBT. Sometimes, especially without available services it can feel so hopeless. Your story shows us that the fight definitely is worth it. :)

    1. Thank you for your kind words Aeshe. I know many people are now teaching themselves DBT skills and it is so worth making the effort. It can feel hopeless but once you start using skills it really does help:)

    2. So glad you enjoyed Sue's post, Aeshe. :)

  2. Thank you so much....your story really gave me the uplift that I needed. I've been searching for almost two years now. It's devastating when you see that there is the possiblity of feeling better, are willing to do anything it takes and then not having the access can really take a lot out of you. I read this the other day and it really gave me some hope. Happy Smiles, Jules

  3. I know it can feel so devastating, when you know you need DBT but just can't access it. However I think if you teach yourself the skills by using on-line support, you get more satisfaction, it's like hey I did that.I wish you well :)

  4. I'm on a waiting list...I think. Thanks Debbie.

    1. Awesome, Julie! I'm excited for you! ♥



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