For days, weeks, I have wanted to just give up. I was wrong. I AM ready to fight this depression. I am ready to kick it’s scrawny little butt across my backyard so that it lands in my compost pile. I’m ready to do what it takes. Do you hear that, world? I’m WILLING. I almost forgot the word and I decided to be the poster child for willingness again after a gradual buildup of faith in myself over the past two hours (because that’s just how my mind works, ok?).
After years (like over ten) of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) training, I remembered that I have to use my skills in order to keep everything in top working condition. Okay, let’s be honest, I didn’t remember. Goddess of Mindfulness reminded me. For an hour straight. Yesterday afternoon.
Why do I always forget? Why do I always denounce DBT as something that won’t help me? For the past year, I have been running away from it. And this isn’t the first time. I’ve lost count of the times I have decided that a completely proven therapeutic program just isn’t for me.
It’s really hard to have a negative therapeutic experience with someone and continue on believing in the same basic principles that she was teaching you. The impulse is to jump away, far away, get away from demands you deem unreasonable. Burn that bridge. Decide what you need is intense trauma work. Forget mindfulness, forget self-soothe, sacred self. Stop saying loving-kindness meditations. Completely give DBT the fuck up.
Forget IOP, forget all those other great therapists. Forget hugging a tree and magically becoming the most willing person on the planet. Literally. Banish all those memories of getting better, too. Tell yourself it had to have been a fluke. Skills are for idiots. Skills are for people who aren’t smart enough for “talk therapy.”
I know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that DBT will bring me up from the depths. Again. DBT and I have an excellent track record. Why I keep dismissing DBT after falling down the rabbit hole, I am not sure. I think it has to be a subconscious desire to not get better. Or something fairly similar.
Perhaps something to discuss in my next therapy session, which I am ecstatic to announce is in two weeks. I am really trying to embrace therapy again (after the last year of having fairly terrible therapy sessions) and all the good things it does for me, and I don’t think it could be any easier to get back all those good things without the therapist I very first started with when I was 16, and then off and on until 2012. (If you’re new to this blog, her name is Goddess of Mindfulness, often shortened to GoM.)
At the mental health center where I now only receive medication services, there works the director of the intensive outpatient DBT program. She is a lovely woman and I have the utmost respect for her. She was my co-therapist (along with GoM) the first time I came to the outpatient program. She is the one who asked me to hug a tree when it was clear that nothing else was working, and she is the one who was not surprised that the tree hug led to great, great things. When I was really down, fighting, resisting, pulling away, she said the greatest thing to me:
“Imagine you are stranded in the ocean, no land or boat in sight. If you struggle, as you are now, you grow weary and die. If you float, you live.”
This therapist taught me that the best way through the stress and up/down emotions and angst was to float. “Just float.” You have no idea how many people say that to me, because I have told them that story when they were struggling, or I have asked them to say it to me when I am struggling. She was and is a powerful woman, strong words, intense, amazing in her ability to help heal even the most painful wounds.
And to float is to be mindful. To float is to be willing. To float is to use your skills and avoid a freak-out. To float is to acknowledge that pain, but then watch it float on by.
I can do those things, I know, because I have done them before. I am already feeling a great sense of calm washing over me, writing this out. My homework of 1 act of sacred self, 1 act of loving kindness to a loved one, and 1 act of loving kindness to a stranger have all been completed for the day. I feel like I am floating, having come to remember that DBT will save me, if I am just willing.