And if, by some miracle, a clinician were to call me, I would tell him/her this: You might think that the answer is DBT, that we have no “emotional skin” – that if we can just shut up and behave and ‘change our thoughts – perhaps ‘half-smile’-or become Buddhists and ‘meditate’ or ‘mindfully wash a dish’~ we will be well- but it doesn’t work. I would elaborate by saying that the mindfulness exercises of ‘peeling an orange’, or ‘studying a flower’ ~ using our 5 senses to ground ourselves in the present…isn’t the answer, it doesn’t really work to ‘distract’ and ‘calm’ ourselves all the time. Sometimes we can stretch, watch Ellen Degeneres & Chris Rock, back to back – listen to soothing music and repeat the 5 sense exercise for an hour. We can go down our “list” of emotion regulation skills, and positive self-talk, and distraction – and there are times when we still can’t stop the emotional pain, the flashbacks. Yes, believe it or not, there are times when we cannot proactively identify a trigger – and there really are times when eating a peppermint will not bring us back to the present from the past. Sometimes – we can check off everything on the list and it’s all still there~ and it rolls us into a cocoon of pain, anger, sadness, and fear. And that’s when we turn to list # 2 –
and list # 2 is where the self-injury, the booze and the drugs are - and it isn't because we are 'manipulative', and it isn't because we aren't "trying" hard enough- it just IS the only option left. We are all different ~ and yet we are all alike...but stop lumping us all into a "one-size fits all" group. We need you to listen to us, respect us, and treat us each as individuals. Irvin Yalom, M.D. calls it, "Therapy designed for each individual" - don't herd us into a DBT group with Marsha Linehan as the Leader Cow - guess what? Some of us find her offensive and flippant with her responses to how WE should "deal" with our emotions - what does she know about surviving what we survived?
It's no different than 'trouble-shooting' a problem with an electronic or a car. You work your way down the list and when nothing works, you "reboot" or deem it irrepairable...a 'lost cause' (which, I think some clinicians see us as irreparable and lost causes - but we aren't). And unfortunately, there's no way to 'reboot' us...can't turn us off, replace the motherboard and start over - I wish it did work that way, but it doesn't.
It just doesn’t….