Managing Chronic Illness Health Anxieties with DBT

Happy New Year Healing From BPD Community!  I filmed a vlog for you this week on how I am using DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skills to manage a chronic illness (MS - Multiple Sclerosis).

May you be encouraged, whether you, too deal with a chronic condition as an emotionally sensitive person or if you know and love someone who does.

As I mentioned in the video, even a temporary illness or injury can reduce our emotional resiliency and cause us to feel more vulnerable, so bring the skills to the rescue!

Watch the video now:

.... and then participate in the discussion. Thank you for these BEAUTIFUL COMMENTS coming in via Facebook, as well as your awesome comments also coming in right over at YouTube.  Be sure to add your own, and I'll do my best to reply to each of you.

Huge hugs. We are never alone.

Thanks for reading and watching.
More soon.

In kindness,

Last Minute Ideas for Coping Effectively Over the Holidays

Dear Healing From BPD Community,

Here are some last minute ideas for coping effectively over the holidays as an emotionally sensitive person.

Click HERE to read the article, featured this week over at the Roanne Program website!

Happy Holidays, dear Ones!

Thanks for reading.

More Soon.

In kindness,

BPD: There is Strength in Vulnerability

I had an interesting experience this week.  Most of you know that I co-facilitate a weekly 90-minute worldwide, online DBT class with licensed social worker Amanda Smith, LMSW over at DBT Path.   Because I am in recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and very infrequently have symptoms/criteria that show up in my life anymore, I tend to teach as someone who has "been there and done that."

This is not to say that I do not sometimes have my moments, because I do.  Sometimes my emotions get really intense, and I am not always skillful and effective in how I manage them.  Most of the time, yes. All of the time, no.

I've tended to stay away from sharing any recent struggles with my students, putting the focus on them, emphasizing the skills, and allowing them to talk about how their personal situations affect their own ability to be skillful or not.  It had been a while since I filled out a DBT worksheet and shared it with the class as a demonstration and personal example, but this past week, with the agreement of my co-facilitator Amanda, we did just that.

I filled out an Emotion Regulation 1a worksheet (now the 4A) from Dr. Marsha Linehan's new DBT Handouts and Worksheets book. I talked about frustration and anger that I recently experienced when I felt embarrassed about a typo at work and after a slew of technological nightmares, including having a work report that I worked on for an hour "disappear."  I remember deliberately "saving as" in the same folder I save my report in each week, and I even pressed the little "save" icon every few changes that I made to the document. I went back to add something to it, and it was GONE.  Even Microsoft's remote access tech couldn't restore it. There was no trace of it.  I cried.  I swore.  I got VERY upset. As a chill pill, moment of pause, I filled out the Emotion Regulation 1a worksheet because it felt to me as if my emotional response/reaction was a bit disproportionate to the incidents that happened.

Is it perfectly understandable that I'd feel embarrassed over a mistake that others saw?

Of course, that's human -- and if you have a sensitivity about that, even more so. I am thankful that a kind colleague pointed it out to me privately in an email rather than publicly.  I know I need to slow down in this respect, as this is one of my flaws. I get so excited, and sometimes my fingers move faster than my brain.., I refer to myself sometimes as the Typo Queen, and when in treatment for OCD, the CBT doc actually had me do an exposure of purposefully sending out an email with a typo to see that it wouldn't be the end of the world. It took me WEEKS to work up to agreeing to do that.   I do know that no one is perfect, including me.  I know that my FEARS were connected to my interpretations around the tiny mistake (Ha! They see you're not perfect! You messed up! You suck!), and this is what fueled my anxiety about this.

Is it understandable that I might have a mini freak out over losing a lengthy, detailed document that I needed to submit for an upcoming meeting?  You bet your bippy.

But I was REALLY, REALLY feeling upset.  On the worksheet,  I wrote about my anger, and what ended up being the most helpful was reflecting later on the Emotional Vulnerabilities section.   This is where you fill in what circumstances in your life might be influencing your ability to be emotionally resilient in this moment in time.

For me, the items included (skillfully and healthfully) reducing caloric intake to lose some weight, which makes me a bit grumpy, other technical issues that happened with my tablet the night before, and a medical appointment coming up later this week that is very scary for me.

Looking at the causes of my emotional vulnerability gave me compassion for myself. I began experiencing anxiety attacks after feeling vulnerable for having shared in class, so I quickly shifted into self-care mode.   I did a progressive muscle relaxation mp3. I stayed on schedule and focused on work tasks.  I went to yoga.  I made sure to get enough sleep and to stay hydrated and eat balanced meals.

I emailed my students for feedback on my sharing as part of a reality check. Their responses were overwhelmingly positive. They thanked me for being vulnerable. Three of them said that hearing me share authentically, to the point where they could hear the emotion in my voice, meant something to them.  They felt more connected with me and less alone in their walk.  They appreciated seeing that I am human too. Some said it was their favorite class to date. Even though I am in recovery from BPD, I still need to keep practicing the skills and be accountable to others on my own personal journey.

I found this so encouraging.  I worried that they may have been judging me negatively, thinking I was weak, or thinking "Who is she to teach DBT?", but instead I got "you walk the talk, Debbie."

There is beauty and strength in vulnerability. Being willing to share our difficulties in a safe environment while proactively working to become/stay skillful with a Wise Mind plan of action helps us and those who witness our willingness to make this healthy choice.

The anxiety has passed, and I'm feeling grateful and strong.

Thanks for reading.

More soon.

In kindness,

I wrote this article this week for the Roanne Program on BPD: Disclosure, Boundaries, and Treatment, and it's getting lots of social media love.  Check it out!

Coping as an Emotionally Sensitive Person over the Holidays

Last weekend, I had the pleasure of co-facilitating a webinar presented by Optimum Performance Institute with Robert "Bob" Fischer, M.D. (a psychiatrist) and April E. House, MA, MFT (an eating disorder specialist).

We talked about the various, usually quite inevitable triggers that we encounter over the holiday season as emotionally sensitive people. Whether you have Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) or are in recovery, you probably are all too familiar with the scenarios: needing to go to anxiety and panic attack provoking holiday events and parties that are crowded, being expected to be joyful when you may not be feeling that way, and you may also have issues around your body image and food.

In years past, I thought I needed to push myself over the holidays to endure activities and situations out of cultural and familial expectations.

I would be left feeling dysregulated and often needing intensive emotional support come January.  With DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy), I've learned that I can respect the good intentions and invitations of others while also taking care of myself as an emotionally sensitive person.

In the webinar, Dr. Bob talked about how we really need to evaluate whether it's more effective to use opposite to emotion action to attend certain events or to be present at family gatherings where there might be a triggering family member or other triggers, or whether it would cause more suffering than do us any good.  If the latter, he gave suggestions for making a "mindful exit," being skillful in respecting those who have invited us to attend while at the same time being sure to take care of ourselves so that we stay emotionally balanced.

Also addressed were issues around getting to the bottom of the issues that are causing us anxiety about the holidays and various helpful strategies for dealing with eating disorder issues.

The replay of the 90-minute, free webinar is now up and live on the OPI site.

Click HERE to watch it now.

Let me know what you think!

Thanks for reading and watching.

More Soon.

In kindness,

Hang Out With Me Online this Saturday Morning!

Want to learn about how to cope effectively with triggers this holiday season?  Check out this video, then click the link below to register for a FREE 90-minute, live, online event.

I'll be there -- will you?  :)

For those with MFT or MFTi designations, 1.5 CEU credits are available for attendance.

Space is limited at this virtual event, so please reserve your spot by clicking HERE.

It's FREE, 90-minutes, LIVE, and online Saturday, December 6, 2014 at 10 am Pacific.

In kindness,


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