So I started DBT group therapy like a month ago. I was a little excited by the opportunity to learn some pretty basic mental health skills. I've always been really good at taking care of everyone else's emotional shit. The cost to me was most of the time my needs are dead last on my own list of priorities. I was a good friend to others just maybe not so much to myself. So, as the group facilitators explained it, it's learning ways to help you think about your mental health differently. A lot of the skills are pretty basic elementary school level self soothing, mindfulness, emotional regulation - stuff like that.
At my last one on one session with my counselor I had a bit of a breakthrough. I was explaining how sometimes "checking the facts" is a multi step process. It not just one and done. Poooof, you're cured! No. Most of the time the "facts" I come up with first are just self judgements. It starts with feeling a bit anxious about whatever, and then to slow it down (so I don't drown in the flood anxiety I feel is building off in the distance upstream from me) I check the facts. But sometimes where my mind goes is very self blame oriented. Like maybe if I were a nicer person my BIL wouldn't hate me so much...maybe I deserve the shitty way my nephew treats me and I wouldn't have such a strained relationship with him if I was just better, and...here's the real killer - I'm not strong enough to get better, if I would just try harder I'd be in better physical health and wouldn't be hobbling around on crutches with my broken-ass body. If I was stronger I'd have enough self love that I wouldn't have all this shit to deal with. I'm physically broken because I'm not physically or mentally strong enough to get better. I deserve this for being weak.
It all just came tumbling out of my mouth. All this stuff, all this toxic self hatred bullshit, before I even censored it. I was shocked. There it was, in the light of day. I had said it.
So if I heard someone else saying that about themselves, I would for sure chime in with some personal peptalk cheerleader type shit. The thing is that I don't just tell myself this, I BELIEVE IT.
So we rephrased those broken-logic toxic thoughts -
I don't have any control over BILs feelings towards me. He's in charge of those. He may just be a grumpy person, maybe he's angry and I'm a good scapegoat. I am "good enough" to deserve to be treated with respect.
My nephew's behavior towards me isn't personal. Sure, he very much blames me for everything I am here for - having to wake up to go to school, having to do basic household chores, etc. But he'd be complaining about ANYONE who asked him to pick out clothes and a mask for school tomorrowor reminded him that Wednesday is the day that he vacuums under the tablet and the rug by the front door. He's mentally in that stage where he's trying to push the limits to see what he can get away with. If he was at daycare before and after school he'd be doing the same thing to them.
Now for the big one. To paraphrase - "I'm not strong enough to get better. If I just worked harder I wouldn't be sick. If I hadn't been so depressed...If I'd just taken care of myself two years ago, I wouldn't be so crippled now. Im physically broken because I wasn't strong enough to take care of myself. I deserve this."
Yikes! This is huge.
So rational thinking RR volunteers to tackle this beast-
I am literally one of the strongest people I know. I know how to survive. Ive faced quite a few of my own demons and came out scarred but stronger for it. Yes, my body is weak right now. That doesn't mean that I am weak. Mentally I have not given up. Sometimes being strong is just about not quitting when you could. It's about not giving up. Going to fucking excruciating physical therapy appointments weekly is not giving up. Talking to my doc to explain what I'm going through is not giving up. Taking a weekly injection is not giving up. Trying unsuccessful LY to self soothe when I'm in full out panic mode is not giving up. Being open with my sis, son, counselor, bro, friends, and Dr about how the antidepressant isn't working any more is not giving up. Sure, right now my body is not strong, but my mind is strong and that is the strength I need to see me through this rough time. I have always used my skills to help others, but now it's time to turn that superpower on myself. Because -
Ok, that was super cliche. But so true.
Thanks for reading,