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DBT also known as dialectical behavioral therapy, is a type of therapy that equips the patient with tools, strategies, and guides to handle the day-to-day challenges of living with a mental illness, or coping with emotional stress and difficult circumstance. It also is the type of therapy that saved my life.

It was my junior year of college when the darkness I held in my heart really started pouring out in my therapists office. I had the same therapist and psychiatrist for two years at that point, and I guess decided I could trust them. It seemed like an avalanche. Every thought, idea, memory or impression that I held in my heart that triggered me to believe I was worthless, unfit, ugly, stupid, bad etc. came out from that place where I had buried it deep inside and masked with eating disordered behaviors, self-injury, relational turmoil, and my attempts to be perfect.

Once they started coming out it really did resemble an avalanche or a waterfall or a volcano; it wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t stop it. Something inside of me changed and I could no longer hide or pretend. So I wanted to stop living. I didn’t know how to live and feel. I didn’t know that those two things could happen at the same time. Before that point I hadn’t let myself really feel in quite some time.

A year of back and forth hospitalizations and partial hospitalizations and lots of medication adjustments and individual therapy appointments later, I was so incredibly tired of talking. There is only so many times you can talk about the same situation, tell your story, or ponder why you did something. It wasn’t working. Talking wasn’t working.

I went to treatment in Arizona and that was my first introduction to DBT (along with many other therapies) but the DBT part of it immediately resonated with me. The individual skills and tools gave me something to do in the moments my therapist wasn’t there. It put the ball back in my court, filling my toolbox with things to fill my day.

I’ll be honest, I was in a DBT group for nine months (3 cycles) after my inpatient/residential trip to Arizona – and for the first three months, of the first cycle – I don’t think I made many changes at all. But it made and impression, and the second and third cycles I went through I made many changes, applied the tools and it saved my life. I am so thankful for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and everything it has taught me.

Below are some links about DBT. Check them out if you’re interested.

The Creator of DBT

DBT Self Help

DBT not just for mental illness