PLEASE take care of Physical Health for Emotional Resilience (DBT)

Physical pain and illness — you’ve suspected it, and you’re right — affect our emotional resilience and can cause us to be more emotionally vulnerable.  Fortunately, there are specific DBT skills to help cope effectively when we are not feeling well.

So what DBT skills did I end up following, and how can they help you if you are dealing with physical pain (whether it is a migraine, jaw pain, chronic pain, or other sickness) if you also have Borderline Personality Disorder or are an emotionally sensitive or dysregulated person?  Read on…
Lately, I’ve been dealing with a lot of physical pain.  I’m awaiting test results for related medical issues, and in the meantime, I also unfortunately popped my jaw.  Between TMJ from clenching my teeth at night from stress and a medication that made me so hungry that I attacked a vegan sub like a cheetah on the Serengeti, I added a lot of pain to an already difficult physical situation. 
Even though my dentist wisely recommended that I use a hot compress and take something to help with the inflammation and pain, but I didn’t take it too seriously.  I did unfortunately NOT listen and did NOT attend to a physical need. 
I was on heavy duty medication for another issue. When I came off of it, it was clear it had been helping to mask the pain of my jaw, which at this point was brutal. 

I began having very intense panic and anxiety attacks. I wondered if the pain would ever go away. It was interfering with sleep and eating, which led to more intense anxiety, which exacerbated all of the physical symptoms — a very vicious circle.

Last week after a long work day of three online DBT groups, I broke down and went to see an urgent care doctor.   I told her that Tylenol did nothing to help. Neither did Aleve.  I was very concerned.  She prescribed something stronger.  I began to take this in conjunction with treating the area with a warm compress according to my dentist’s instructions and also lots of rest and a soft food diet.

I began to feel better physically.  I’m still in pain, but not nearly as much.  I’m managing it a lot better emotionally, too.  Far less anxiety.

The set of Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills that I used primarily was: PLEASE.
The acronym stands for:

from Dr. Marsha Linehan’s Training Manual for Disordered Emotion Regulation

The other skill I used comes from the Distress Tolerance module, and it is prayer. (I wrote this post, a while back about using this particular skill.)  I am not a religious person but felt comfort in reaching out to a higher power while feeling unwell.

Being stubborn and not attending to our physical body’s needs can have a negative impact on our ability to tolerate distress and regulate our emotions.  Our emotional resiliency is reduced. 
By being willing to address any physical concerns we have by using the skills above and any other DBT skills that we find supportive and comforting, we give ourselves the advantage of not having our emotional strength compromised in this way.

I hope this post helped you or someone you care about today.

Thank you for reading.

More soon.

In kindness,

6 replies
  1. wanderinglonelyasacloud
    wanderinglonelyasacloud says:

    This was really useful – thank you. I have just started a blog about my recovery and would appreciate feed back on my first post. I am finding it useful to get my thoughts down onto paper (or computer!) and would be good to be in touch with others who are in a similar position.


Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.