Voyage on the DBT Enterprise - Science Fiction Meets BPD and DBT



I'm excited to share something with you.  What started out as an intention to practice the DBT skills of self-soothing, distraction, and taking a mental vacation turned into an entirely new endeavor that now also allows me to practice finding meaning and building a life worth living.

Although, up until now, I hadn't much interest in science fiction and hadn't been inspired to (aside from some poetry) write anything but autobiographical and self-help style posts and books, I am surprised to now be hooked on a series that ran for about ten years, starting in 1987, called Star Trek: The Next Generation (also known as #STNG).

Fond memories remain with me of my father watching the predecessor show, the original Star Trek series.  Tired of my favorite shows running out of episodes after binge watches on Netflix and the seasons ending on my other favorites, I wanted to find something that would last for a while... something I could get into and wouldn't run out of episodes for some time to come.

While perusing Netflix, I came across STNG.  I thought, "eh, why not?"  The first episode didn't grab me too much.  I judged the actors as overacting. I was going to delete it from my queue/list.

I decided not to give up after one episode.  I noticed my black or white thinking and thought it would only be fair to give the series a few more episodes before deciding if it were worthy of my time.  Just one episode wasn't enough to make a final decision, as I also enjoyed many aspects and liked how I was relating it back to BPD and DBT.

I kept watching and became incredibly inspired.    I was relating a lot of the characters' behaviors (such as Counselor Troi's ability as en empathy) back to Borderline Personality Disorder.  I was even observing occurrences of the characters demonstrating the practice of DBT skills -- or situations where I thought it would have behooved them to do so.

After a few conversations on the topic, a student of mine created the Facebook group: DBT and Pop Culture - Boldy Going Where DBT Has Never Gone Before.  I joined and am very active there.

One thing led to another, and the new (b)log, DBT Enterprise was born! It is my latest project -- a fusion of science fiction and contemporary theories on Borderline Personality Disorder and Dialectical Behavior Therapy.

If you have an interest in sci-fi, you may enjoy it.  You may surprise yourself, as I did, if you haven't had an interest in science fiction to date.  Perhaps you'll simply enjoy a new, interesting, and unique way of looking at the skills.

Whatever the situation may be, I hope you'll check it out and let me know what you think.  It's my latest project and my new baby. :)   Of course my personal, auto-biographical, type blog posts that you've come to know and love will remain here at Healing From BPD.  DBT Enterprise is a separate venture focusing on connecting the episodes of STNG back to BPD and DBT.

What started out as a TV series that I hoped would help me de-stress and unwind on the couch with my cats at night turned into something I could never have imagined.


May you be inspired, too!

Thank you for reading.

More soon.


In kindness,
Debbie (aka Jennivere -- you'll see if you visit the DBT Enterprise)

The Recovery Road (Beyond Typical "Therapy") - Guest Blogger Romina Avila



 
 
If you frequent this blog, you probably remember Romina. She is the kind Healing From BPD reader who translated the Open Letter from Those of Us With BPD into Spanish.  She's back to speak on her experiences on the road to recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder.  Romina is also a student at my online DBT school, DBT Path, where she is learning skills to build a life worth living.  But, as you'll see from her post, a life worth living includes many things beyond traditional methods: rich activities, interests, and things that make us smile and give us something to look forward to. Many of the activities she engages in are offered in the various groups and clubs at the Roanne Program, my sister site, which offers services to young adult men and women ages 17-28 who suffer from emotion regulation issues, such as BPD. When Romina told me about the types activities she engages in as a part of her life worth living, I instantly thought about Roanne and how I wish I had known about their program in Southern California when I was still young enough to attend. They are an incredible resource.   I hope you enjoy Romina's post as much as I did.  It's my pleasure to share it with you.  ♥ Debbie
 

Recovery is not the same for everyone. BPD is not the same for everyone. There are 9 BPD symptoms and you only need to have 5 in order to be diagnosed with BPD. The possible combinations of those symptoms are plenty. Your personality, likes, and dislikes have a lot to do with your recovery.

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) has plenty of skills to help you deal with BPD symptoms, but I have found out that not all work for everyone and not in the same way. I think that the most important thing in recovery is to learn and practice the skills, but also to get to know yourself very well and use your own personality to help your recovery. I would like to talk with you about how hobbies might help you in your recovery as they have and are helping me.

When I first began to learn mindfulness, I didn’t felt really comfortable doing it. Mindfulness is about being completely in the present moment, without judging it. To ease myself in, I first started with some meditation exercises and didn’t like them a lot. I thought: mindfulness is not for me and I should give it a rest, and I did.

After a while I started learning crochet and loved it! I then found that I was practicing mindfulness as I crocheted and I was really enjoying it. Crocheting was my entryway to enjoying mindfulness, now I can practice more formal exercises of mindfulness easier.

Hobbies can be a great way to practice DBT skills. My first found was with crochet, but since then, I have found plenty of hobbies that I can use as DBT skills, here are some examples:
 

  • Crochet as mindfulness and self-soothing.
     
    Here are some examples of things I created:
     
     

  • Coloring mandalas as distraction, self-soothing, build MASTERy.
     
    Coloring mandalas has even taught me about balance and wise mind, looking at the balance of white spaces and colored spaces, you don’t need to color each space for it to be beautiful, there is a power on blank spaces too.
     
     
  • Singing as a relief of stress, building positive experiences, build MASTERy.
     
    Some of the songs I'm singing these days are: Happy (Pharrell Williams), Roar (Katy Perry), some spanish songs from "Rosana" and "Presuntos Implicados", any Elvis song.
  • Design wallpapers as distraction, self-soothing, contributing.
     
    I list contributing here because I design wallpapers and I then give them away for free.
    Here's the link for the wallpapers: http://myhappilyevercrafted.wordpress.com/
     
     

































  • Photography as distraction, build MASTERy and contributing.
     
    I also see this as contributing because I take pictures of a daily affirmation calendar and share it on my social networks and I have found that it really helps people.
     
     
  • Repeating affirmations or reading quotes.
     
    I love affirmations and quotes and I have found the really useful to validate my emotions and use wise mind sometimes. I sometimes mix hobbies, creating wallpapers of the affirmations or quotes.
     
    Some of my favorite affirmations right now are: "I am safe", "I am enough" "May things be good today", "I forgive everyone in my past for all perceived wrongs. I release them with love."
  • Watching TV shows as distraction.
     
    Some of my favorite TV shows at the moment are Parenthood, Law and Order SVU, Modern Family, The Simpsons.
  • Looking at art or beautiful images as self-soothing.
  • Pinterest has been an amazing source of tools for DBT skills.
     
    I have boards for self-soothing, humor (is so important to have a good laugh now and then). I also have boards about recovery and psychology, I have found amazing self-help charts in there.  You can visit my boards at: http://www.pinterest.com/romina_shanti/artillustration/.
     
     

Finally, all of these hobbies can be used as practicing the skill of taking a mental vacation. I think the most important thing to remember in recovery is that everyone has their own path. We are all different.

Recovery is a very personal path. Knowing yourself and what works for you is the key to recovery. There are plenty of skills in DBT, but you don’t have to know them all or do them all. Finding the ones that work for you is essential. Recovery is about getting better, but also about honoring who you are. Hobbies are a great way to make recovery your own.

This quote best captures what I am hoping to express:
“She knew this transition was not about becoming someone better, but about finally allowing herself to become who she'd always been.” -- Amy Rubin


Thank you, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the future.

Romina

Identity Disturbance and BPD (it can be overcome!)



Identity disturbance is often one of the most troubling symptoms that many people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) suffer from.  This past week, I had an individual session with my DBT therapist, where I discussed having, against what seemed like all odds at one time, overcome this particular aspect of the disorder.

If you suffer from identity issues (feel like an emotional chameleon, feel empty and deeply afraid when alone and when others leave you, even for a short while), may you be encouraged by this post.

I truly apologize for the low level of sound on this.  You may need to really turn it up to hear.





Thanks for reading and watching.

More soon.


In kindness,
Debbie

BPD: When You Can't Bear Being Alone



He walks away... off to leave on business...or to visit his family... something that will take him away for a few days.  I'm distraught.  I'm not sure how I will manage. Alone.

As the days go by, I dread his inevitable departure.  There's nothing I can say or do to convince him to stay. He's going, and I have to somehow deal with it -- but I have no idea how.  My anxiety level is through the roof.   My appetite has vanished.  I'm waking up all hours of the night.  Panic and anxiety attacks plague me.  I can't seem to console myself.

Now he's left, and I feel completely unanchored.  Unsupported. Drifting.  The deep cavernous feelings of emptiness left by him not being here seems limitless and unbearable.

I'm terrified to be alone.  I do the only thing I know how to do to "take care of myself": I have a complete and total meltdown.   I fall apart.  I express my mental anguish and seek out emergency crisis services.  Being alone is unbearable.  

That he could leave me knowing that this would be the result, as it is every time, this thought causes me to feel more distraught. 

Off to the crisis center I go... I just can't do this on my own...

Anyone who suffers from one or more the following possible criteria for Borderline Personality Disorder*:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • Identity disturbance: Markedly or persistently unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Emotional instability in reaction to day-to-day events (e.g., intense episodic sadness, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Transient, stress-related paranoid ideation or severe dissociative symptoms

can probably relate to (or once could relate to), the account above. Fortunately, this is no longer where I am at, but at one time, just a few years ago, this was my story indeed.  I was able to tap into what it used to feel like, a few years ago, when my partner at the time would need to leave on business or to visit his family overseas.  It was emotionally devastating, exhausting, and gut wrenching, but I knew no other way at the time.

I want you to know that if this scenario sounds familiar, you are not alone, and if I could possibly have healed from the place I once was to be able to handle loved ones leaving for periods of time, I believe this can be possible for you, too.

This isn't a process that happened overnight.  I worked with a therapist and a clinical team.  I began to learn DBT, which allowed me gain skills I never before had in my life -- skills that helped me, as an emotionally sensitive, easily dysregulated, woman with deep wounds from past traumas and hurts.

I began to get to know myself better -- who I really was apart from others -- and a sense of my own identity began to develop.  This was something new to me.  I'd always thought I was simply a "people pleaser," but I came to realize that I actually was much more chameleon-like, suffering from the BPD symptom of identity disturbance.  I became so much like whoever I was with, which then made sense that I felt empty and unanchored when people left -- I felt like I had left, too, which was a very difficult thought to process. 

I worked on realizing that when people left, it was not a rejection of me, and it didn't mean they weren't coming back.  Those were fears based on old, terrible experiences from the past.  My brain was trying to protect me from further hurt by going on the defense and expecting to be hurt and rejected by people that loved me.  I learned to work through this and to consult my Wise Mind rather than believe every thought or feeling that arose within me willy nilly.  This took a lot of Mindfulness skills and practice.  I still use these skills to this day when such thoughts arise.

If you have difficulty bearing loved ones leaving, even for a short time, please be encouraged.  There is "cause" our your concerns and distress, even if we can't readily identify them (although it's often very identifiable, i.e., a past traumatic incidence of abandonment or rejection).  The most important thing is that we can get stronger, learn skills that can help us to better handle our emotions and manage our thoughts, and we can overcome this often debilitating aspect of Borderline Personality Disorder.


Thank you for reading.
More Soon.

In kindness,
Debbie



* There are other possible criteria. See BPD criteria for more information.

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