Saturday, 1 February 2014

You mean, I have to keep going with all this Mindfulness business?


When I finished my main DBT skills group it took me some time to realise that all the benefits I had gained wouldn't magically remain without some effort on my part. It's a shocker, but no treatment for long term mental health problems will help without considerable effort from me. It's not as if I wasn't warned - we had 'homework' every week and we had one to one sessions every week to help us make the skills relevant to our real lives. So why did I think that magically, the symptoms I had suffered for over thirty years would just disappear, without some significant effort on my side?

And yet, I have found myself surprised when my negative soundtrack reawakens inside my head and I lose the balance of 'wise mind' as 'emotion mind' rears its ugly head. With a start I realise, hey 'you haven't been using your mindfulness to keep on track.' Now if I weren't being mindful, that statement would be accompanied by a hefty dose of judgement. However, just because I have lapsed a bit, doesn't mean I haven't made progress or that I should even consider giving up. Life is full of ups and downs, trial and error, failure and success. The most important thing is that I have NOTICED that I'm slipping back. Falling down is not the end of the story, I can get up again and get back on the DBT horse. It would be a waste of all the effort, all the learning to live with difficult emotions, all the pleasure I have learned to find again in life, if I just give up on the things which have helped me recover so far.

So, yes, I do have to keep going with all the DBT skills. They do help me, I know this because it is obvious when I'm not using them to manage my BPD symptoms. Full recovery will take time and effort, and practice, practice, practice. After all, I had over 30 years to hone those unhelpful emotional and cognitive habits.