Posts Tagged ‘Emotional self-regulation’

 

One of the things I love about my therapist is that she checks in with me every so often to make sure we’re on the same page.  Do I know what her goal is?  Do I know what my goal is?  Are they the same?  Are we in the right stage, going in the right direction?  Are we moving forward or standing still?  How do I feel I’m doing now as compared to a month ago, 2 months ago?

            Today was one such day where we kind of looked at each other like, okay wait, what are you saying?  Where are you going with this?  I told my therapist that I kind of felt like we were in a holding pattern.  She didn’t necessarily agree with that assessment.  So that is why we stepped back and looked at our game plan.

            To me it feels like I’m playing the waiting game… again.  Waiting for the consultation with the DID specialist.  Waiting to see if she accepts me as a full time client.  Waiting to see if I’ll be continuing with my current therapist in some capacity.

            My therapist explained that even if we do continue seeing each other she wouldn’t be digging into trauma work with as of yet.  She feels that I still have a ways to go in achieving higher functioning in my daily life.  After dissecting what exactly she means, I have to agree with her standpoint.

            The goal now is to achieve some sort of structure in my day to day life.  I don’t have much of a schedule that I follow right now.  And what little scheduling there is certainly doesn’t include things like exercise, getting out of the house, regular meal times etc.  I’m very isolated at the moment which is partly to do with the season but I have been making strides in that department.  I try and accept invitations from friends more often and even initiate an afternoon out for coffee.  But there are other things such as volunteering that I have yet to follow up on.

            So the idea is to make up a schedule of an ideal day/week that strikes a balance between those things we must do and those things that are pleasurable, and then add those things into my actual schedule.  That means scheduling a shower, doing the dishes, vacuuming, going for a walk, going to the dog park, spending meaningful time with my wife.  Scheduling absolutely everything.

            But everything has to start somewhere, so much against my all or nothing nature the one thing I choose to add this week is going to the dog park at least 4 times.  Should be doable right?  I’ll keep you posted.

            In the end, my session with my therapist was quite productive today.  I like knowing where we stand.  It gives me that sense of control over the process that I so desperately crave in my life.

            After all, that’s what therapy is about right?  Building a sense of mastery in one’s life.

Remember, it’s okay to ask in therapy, “Wait, what were we working on again?”

Advertisements

So yesterday in therapy we talked about the darkness and the light.  We talked about how life has both, needs both, to balance the other out.  The reason we were talking about this is because I have been in a bit of a lull. A period of calm you might say.  With the exception of feeling a little melancholy here and there I’ve had mostly good days.

            I’ve written about this before in a slightly different context.  It is in these times that I find I can’t enjoy myself too much.  I can’t relax too much.  To let my guard down that way would be dangerous and ill advised.  It is hard to accept that things are okay without feeling that the other shoe could drop at any moment.  Of course, this all fits in with the PTSD and so, is somewhat inherently part of my makeup.  But what my therapist would like me to try and realize is that I don’t need to waste the okay times anticipating the bad.  The bad will come eventually whether I am prepared for it or not.  So why not just relax and basque in the glow of happiness without judgement?

            That’s where the DBT skills come into play as well.  Being mindful, present, doing one thing in the moment.  Filling up my time with pleasurable activities and being mindful of what exactly this emotion is.  I guess I truly am learning a few things in DBT.  I still don’t believe it’s the be all and end all that some chalk it up to being but it does have some useful ideas.  I guess really I’m a fan of anything I can do to keep out of the hospital.

            I know that many, if not most DID people have been in and out of the hospital at least a couple of times.  I’ve been close to being admitted a couple of times myself but in those moments of evaluation I was able to pull it together enough to receive outpatient care instead.   Being put in the hospital terrifies me.  I don’t know that I would even stabilize me in a time of need or if it would just scare me to death.  So I hope to avoid that eventuality at all costs.  Perhaps this fear even keeps me from reaching full healing potential.  For if I dig too deep I risk destabilizing and leave myself vulnerable to the need for intervention.  Unacceptable.  Maybe one of you can explain to me what happens in the hospital to take the mystery out of it for me.  Fearing the unknown is a huge issue in my life

            Fear in any form has been a huge issue in my life.  What to do about that?  What to do?

So I received some news this past week that I haven’t shared yet.  My therapist tried contacting a colleague of hers to see if she had any experience treating someone with DID.  Her colleague did not but pointed out that there is a new psychiatrist in town that specializes in trauma.  My therapist just happens to have other clients that go to this psychiatrist so she felt comfortable enough contacting her about me, minus the revealing details of course.  IT turns out that the new psychiatrist worked in a large city and was involved in a women’s program that dealt extensively with trauma which inevitably included patients with DID.  Imagine that! A psychiatrist in our little city with such experience.  It’s like winning the lottery in a way.  My therapist was glad to find this out so she set up a referral for me.  The new psychiatrist has agreed to do a consultation to see if she’d be willing to take me on as a full-time client.  She is now in private practice which allows her to be selective about her caseload giving her more control over her schedule.  I understand this.  I just find it quite miraculous that I’ve finally found someone who has seen this disorder before.

My current therapist is a social worker with 20 years under her belt dealing with all manner of things.  She understands trauma and has been really good for me so far.  The new psychiatrist indicated that she would only consider taking me on if I was fairly stable and had a good sense of grounding and being present.  So my current therapist and I are working on making sure I have the grounding down pat.  As we went through a few techniques together I was actually surprised at how much I knew already.  Of course knowing it intellectually and putting it into practice are two totally different things.

Anyway, I’m very excited about this new development.  It will likely take a couple of months to get the actual appointment but that’s better than the years I waited for my current treatment.  I’m so very thankful for my current therapist.  If you are reading this… please know that.

Until next time,

ppp

So we talked today in therapy about the loss of connection I’ve been experiencing with my emotions.  If you remember in my last post Icky Sticky Feelings, I was talking about how to sit with your feelings.  reading back I guess I never really completed my thoughts on that.  I AM indeed trying to sit with those feelings and it’s true that I want to lessen the burden of my insiders, but it seems in this endeavor I’ve managed to shut down my emotions completely  instead.  I am in a state of non-feeling.  That is aside from the anxiety I’ve been feeling about a volunteering opportunity that’s come up.

This means that yes, there are words of the day.  Compartmentalization and containment.  We followed the trail of breadcrumbs, my therapist and I .  It turns out the non-feeling is my way of working the skills I’ve been trying to learn.  Emotion regulation, check…  no emotion at all.  Distress tolerance, check…  no emotion at all.

I’m not doing this consciously mind you.  It also has to do with the phase of treatment I’m in.  We aren’t dealing with yucky trauma stuff right now.  Not until we can be reasonably sure I have a grasp of grounding skills.  Things like staying in the moment, being present within myself and also being able to tolerate intense emotion.

This is where the containment conundrum comes in to play.  If I practice feeling a little more intensity than what I can currently tolerate I slip away and an insider takes over for me.  which ok, hey I’m used to that.  But with most of my insiders comes trauma content and very intense emotions.  Flooding, a bunch of past events rushing to the surface, they start to spill over into everything.  It’s not a pretty sight or a comfortable place to be.  So in essence I’ve compartmentalized each emotion into a different insider.  Shitty job they have right?

In the back of my mind I carry around this containment field that automatically switches into action any time I reach my tolerance level.  So how does one practice feeling a little more, a little more, a little more when the switch is not under your control?  Any ideas on that would be great.

The whole thing becomes an inescapable loop.  Feel–>Switch–>Trauma–>Shut Down.  Maybe it’s not so much a loop as it is a squiggly line.  Unless, of course, the containment field is somehow breached so that the feeling comes roaring back, then it does become a loop. Ugh!

Coincidentally on a final note for the night, we went through a list of feelings I can tolerate and how much of each.  Anxiety is something I tolerate quite well.  Which yuck! Why would I choose that one to be MY job?

So I’m supposed to be learning how to sit with my feelings.,  You know, distress tolerance, emotion regulation, all that jazz.  My therapist explained to me after I told her that I tried sitting with my feelings and felt stupid, that I am the opposite of most others in the DBT group.  She does not know this for certain, she is basing her opinion of averages.  A lot of people go into a group like this because they can’t contain themselves, can’t contain their sadness, their anger, their rage.  My problem is that I’m too controlled.  I’m bottled up so tightly that the second I start to feel something I run for the hills.  I don’t really feel comfortable with sadness and I certainly don’t do anger.

However, through my healing journey, that’s what people call it right?  Through this journey I’ve discovered that others contain these feelings for me.  I’ve decided that it isn’t really fair that my insiders have to carry that shit all the time.  God knows I would hate it.  And they are part of me, so I can only imagine they hate it too.  A topic for inner discussion one of these days.

I’m learning more and more about how to have these discussions with the insiders.  Not everyone is willing to participate yet but you can tell there is some curiosity there. Shhh… don’t tell them I said that. Ha! As if I could hide it.

Anyway, here I am….  sitting….  with no feelings.  Weird.

ppp