I slept, but it was super restless. The duvet is basically made of plastic, and has no way of being secured within the duvet cover, so it kept slipping out. And the room was either too hot or too cold.
I woke up about 8ish, and figured someone would be in soon to get me through for meds and breakfast (I usually skip breakfast though).
Must have fallen back to sleep, because the next thing I knew it was noon, and someone was in to wake me up because I hadn’t had my meds (which I usually do about 9) and that it was lunch time.
This completely fucking threw me. I’d lost half my day, had to eat straight away or else I’d have to wait until 5PM, and no one had woken me up to give me my meds. I’ve had a chat to the nurse since, and they just want to give me the power to make my own choices (which is nice), but at the time I felt like I’d been forgotten about, almost like I was invisible.
Set me up in a really bad mood for the day. Felt really irritated, and just generally really thrown off. And everyone just kept saying to me ‘oh I bet you really needed it’, which I guess they are right about – it’s the first time I’ve slept without strangers in my room for a week. It’s the first time I’ve really slept tbh.
I decided to get showered, and dressed (in jeans, no less), put my face on, and head out to do some writing. I found a quiet chair at the end of a corridor, so I could still see people milling about, rather than being shut away in my room pretty much 24/7.
Once I’d done yesterday’s blog, I decided to go and sit in the communal area for a bit, see if I could strike up any conversations. The patients were either rambling about complete nonsense (there’s one who clearly thinks she’s actually a nurse), or just sitting in silence looking really depressed (don’t get me wrong, I know where I fucking am, I wasn’t expecting a lovely coffee morning type chat). I asked a couple of questions about how long people had been here and whether they liked it and stuff, and got very very little back.
Eventually the radio DJ turned to talking about Caroline Flack, as is the focus of the week, and afterwards a song came on the radio that reminded me of my love. It all got a bit too much, so I went back to my quiet chair at the end of the corridor. I had my headphones in, but could hear someone either screaming laughing or screaming crying pretty much constantly, even through my noise cancelling. Eventually I snapped, think I yelled a bit, and slammed my door on my way back in to my room like a mardy little teenager.
It was at that point, while I was sitting at my desk, that I decided to finally tackle my DBT workbook.
THIS IS THE THING I’VE BEEN ON THE NHS WAITING LIST FOR FOR TWO YEARS!
Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) is a type of talking treatment. It’s based on cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), but has been adapted to help people who experience emotions very intensely. It’s mainly used to treat problems associated with borderline personality disorder (BPD).
The goal of DBT is to help you learn to manage your difficult emotions by letting yourself experience, recognise and accept them. Then as you learn to accept and regulate your emotions, you also become more able to change your harmful behaviour. To help you achieve this, DBT therapists use a balance of acceptance and change techniques.
Self-Destructive coping strategies
The first part of the book was about Self-Destructive Coping Strategies, and the potential cost of them.
For example, the coping strategy might be drinking a lot, and potential costs of this are health, finances, employment, relationship problems.
I drink too much, I know this, and I know the consequences of this, so that’s not really something that upset me too much.
But some of them really fucking got me.
The ones that did were the ones that impact the people around me, the people who I love. Some examples…
Strategy – Isolate yourself to avoid possible pain
Cost – Losing friends because people tend to invite me out/text me less.
Strategy – Take your painful feelings out on others
Cost – Relationships.
Strategy – Avoid enjoyable events, because you don’t feel like you deserve them
Cost – Relationships, and general enjoyment of life.
Strategy – Cling on to people way too hard
Cost – Push people away. Suffocate them. Scare them.
So why do I do these things?
I am a self-harmer.
I have always known this. My scars are few and far between in comparison to your ‘average’ self-harmer, because cutting myself is not necessarily what I mean (although sometimes it’s totally my jam). All of these ‘Self-Destructive’ Coping Strategies though, they really spoke to me. Here is the full list that was in the book…
- Spending a great deal of time thinking about past pain, mistakes, and problems.
- Anxiety worrying about possible future pain, mistakes, and problems. (OH HELLO BOOK, R U IN MY ACTUAL BRAIN?!)
- Isolating yourself to avoid possible pain. (If you’re friends with me, you’ll know I can cut myself of for days at the drop of a hat)
- Using alcohol and drugs to numb yourself. (Oh heyyy)
- Taking your painful feelings out on others. (my colleagues know it as ‘Slammy Lucy’)
- Engaging in dangerous behaviour, like cutting, burning, scratching, pulling out hair, or other self-mutilation. (Or scratching yourself with your nails to the point of making yourself bleed, no matter how short you cut them…)
- Engaging in unsafe sexual activities, like unprotected sex, or frequent sex with strangers.
- Avoiding dealing with the cause of your problems.
- Eating too much, restricting what you eat, or throwing up what you eat. (I can often survive on just a Maccys a day)
- Attempting suicide or engaging in other near fatal activities.
- Avoiding pleasant activities, like social events and exercise. (The number of social events I have flaked out on over the past year is ridic – I’ve wasted so much money)
- Surrendering to your pain and living an unfulfilling life.
Honestly, it was like someone was looking in my brain.
Sometimes I feel thirsty, or like I need to go to the toilet, and I just ignore it, even though it’s at the forefront of my mind. It’s like a weird way of self-harming.
Although now I know, it’s not necessarily ‘Self-Harming’, it’s a ‘Self-Destructive Coping Strategy’.
See, I’m learning. Get me.
It then went on to describe the REST strategy used in Distress Tolerance Therapy (one of the four main modules of DBT)…
RELAX (take a minute to remove yourself from the situation, either physically or mentally)
EVALUATE (look at what’s really going on here)
SET AN INTENTION (what are you going to do about it?)
TAKE ACTION (do it)
Sounds easy, right?
The book then asked us to note down a time where we have struggled recently, let our emotions get the better of us, and how we could have implemented the REST strategy, and it was so so painful.
The situation I chose maybe wasn’t the best, but it was the one that stuck out in my mind.
It was the disagreement that my love and I had – the one I play over in my mind every day. Probably the conversation I regret having more than anything else I have ever done in my whole entire life. The one that two days later drove him to the point where he felt like he couldn’t cope, and said that he wasn’t sure if he could do this anymore, and maybe we should end our relationship.
Very candidly, here is how I went about answering the questions presented in the workbook.
There’s no point in hiding the shit that’s gone on. I want everyone to know how awful I have been, how sorry I am, and how committed I am to getting well.
The only way to do that is to be 100% honest, and in a sense, confess…
What happened in this distressing situation?
I became so terrified (seemingly out of the blue) of being abandoned, that I asked him to promise he would never leave me.
How did you feel?
Insecure. Terrified of being abandoned. Frantic. Panicked.
What did you do?
Persisted, and told him I couldn’t even remotely focus on getting well until I had the assurance that he would be here for me no matter what.
Did you engage in any self-destructive behaviours?
Hurt the feelings of my favourite person by attempting to manipulate and control him. Damaged the most important relationship in my life.
How could you have relaxed (R) in this situation?
Left the room.
If you had done an evaluation (E), what would you have discovered?
That he does love me, and he has proved that by being here for me throughout everything. He has supported me unconditionally, and has no intentions of leaving me.
If you had set an intention (S), what would it have been?
To not let these feelings of insecurity and fear of abandonment consume me. To believe him. To trust him. To listen to him. To love him.
If you would have taken an action (T) in this situation, what might have happened?
I would still have my boyfriend’s love and support, and I wouldn’t have hurt the person who I love more than anything in the world.
What would the overall advantages have been if you had used the REST strategy?
I wouldn’t have hurt him. I wouldn’t have ruined my whole entire life, and potentially lost the best thing that has ever happened to me.
By the end of that, I was in floods of tears. Looking at it that rationally, it would have been so easy to not hurt my love, and to not fuck up my life and my relationship.
I am so full of regret. I am so ashamed. I am so sorry.
We aren’t in contact right now, so we can both get some space to look after ourselves, but if I was, I would tell him how monumentally sorry I am for being so fucking awful.
I am 100% committed to changing my patterns of thinking – I’m basically working on it 24 hours a day (almost to the point of obsession), and in the best facility there is in the county that is going to help me heal my fucked up, ridiculously wired brain.
So I lay on the bed, and cried my heart out for about half an hour. The nurse came in a couple of times and offered me PRN, so of course, my mind just went to THEY JUST WANT TO DRUG ME THEY CAN’T BE ARSED TO TALK TO ME THEY DON’T REALLY CARE ABOUT WHAT’S GOING ON WITH ME.
Then it was dinner time. Guess what was on the menu? Chili con carne. My love’s favourite food in the world. I once made a batch of chili that was like 10 portions, and I’d planned to freeze a load of it. He ate it for 5 days in a row, saying he’d eat chili all day every day if he could. It made me so so happy to know how happy I’d made him, it made my heart want to burst. Nothing makes me happier than doing nice things for him and putting a smile on his face. Ever since then, I’ve always made sure it’s in the freezer, so I can always heat up a portion (with loads of hot sauce) and make him happy if he’s feeling tired or blue.
Considering the exercise I’d just done, it was just too raw of a reminder. So obviously I burst in to tears at the serving hatch, and when they asked me what was wrong, I just couldn’t get the words out, so I ran away.
I skipped dinner, and just went back to my room.
I eventually took the nurse up on her offer of PRN, because I knew that my parents were about to arrive, and I end up getting super anxious atm with visitors – I always end up just asking loads of questions about what’s going on outside the psych ward, like all those savage thoughts that kept whirring round my head before I went to sleep last night.
My parents arrived and bought me some more clothes. My mum stepped out and spoke to the nurses for a bit, while I spoke to my dad about my day – how emotional the DBT workbook had been, how I felt ignored by the staff and the patients, like they just wanted to pump me with drugs, and how pissed off I was about the whole meds/breakfast/lie in thing. Eventually a nurse came in and spoke with us. I apologised for being a teary little prin being like PAY ME ATTENTION, but they were like ‘uhhh, that’s what we’re here for’. I’m new here, so they were just giving me a bit of time to settle, and obviously aren’t ignoring me. It’s my stupid stupid fucking brain.
AM I INVISIBLE? CAN U C ME???? Of course they fucking can. Stupid paranoid delusions.
So yeh, today’s been pretty full on, and not all that great.
But progress has been made.
I always knew it was going to hurt. Maybe tackling stuff today, the day after my move, and waking pissed off because of my lie in was a wee bit much, but it’s done now.
Still part of the day to go.
Night times aren’t good for me, but my plan is to get in to bed and watching some Drag Race, becauuuuuse….
If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?RuPaul
That’s right, I just ‘cited’ RuPaul.