Each time a new segment of DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) begins, our group gains more members. The largest number of new group members we’ve ever had joined our DBT group therapy last week. As I listened to their fears and doubts about starting DBT, I empathized with their concerns on a personal level. I felt like I was listening to myself on the first night. However, I also could challenge them with my own experiences from the past six months in the DBT program.
When I first began DBT, I attempted to have an open mind, but was also terrified that it would be just as disappointing as the past failed therapies I’ve had. I’ve done Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Biofeedback, Acupuncture, many different medications, was hospitalized four different times, and some helped temporarily, but I found myself exceedingly distressed afterwards realizing nothing provided long-term relief.
After my first night of group therapy, as I was packing up my bag about to leave the room, one of the female doctors asked me how I was feeling. Immediately, I broke down in tears and told her, “I just feel so hopeless. I’ve tried so many things and I just really need this therapy to work or else I don’t know what I’m going to do…” She responded with, “I know it’s hard now, but it takes time for DBT to work. Stick with it.” I left feeling a diminutive sense of hope, surrounded by a cloud of bleakness.
I heard new group members say the same things that I thought the first night of group:
“This is my last hope. I feel like I’ve tried everything. I’m scared to get my hopes up because it this doesn’t work, it’s over.”
“I know this program is supposed to be really effective, but I just know I’m going to be the one person it doesn’t work for.
Six months ago, I believed my destiny was a continuation of my dark childhood, a string of painful moments leading into my adulthood. Once the hopelessness grew to become intolerable, my life would end in my inevitable suicide.
During excruciating moments of darkness, I would write a list of reasons to continue living. Marriage, a career, my family members. But my symptoms of BPD thwarted any reasons to hold off ending my life. My anticipation for marriage crushed by the realization I could never fully trust men or feel secure in any relationships. A career in Social Work annihilated by my inability to support myself financially or handle the pressures of my demands on myself for academic perfection. I believed in the depths of my soul that I was a terrible daughter and sister who would help those around her by leaving the earth.
I believed I would never recover from the PTSD from the military. Daily life would be a constant reminder of my suffering. My anxiety from loud noises, inability to tolerate people standing or walking behind me, nightmares, and tormenting thoughts.
I believed I would never be able to claim control over my actions, I would forever be a slave to my emotions, hurting those closest to me and driving myself deeper into loneliness.
I believed happiness was for others, not someone like me who had BPD.
I believed my relationships would always be constant storms of obsession followed closely by pushing others away.
I believed I would never be able to love myself, or feel like I’m deserving of others’ love.
The above was my truth for years and years. Now, I know those are lies that contradict God’s will for my life. I have proof refuting these lies from the Bible, DBT, and my personal experiences. Now I strive to live my life based on facts backed up by The Word of God. God has made miracles happen in my life through DBT.
As I continue with DBT, my mind opens to a new understanding of myself and the world. I experienced, possibly for the first time, self-love. I discovered a new way of interacting with my boyfriend that didn’t result in constant arguments. I learned about how to simply observe my emotions without acting on them impulsively. The changes came with hard work and many failures, but soon they became more and more automatic that I don’t have to think as much about them.
I’m living a life I never knew I could have. A life with purpose, gratitude, joy, hope and compassion. I still stumble often, but now I can get up and continue forward.
I hardly recognize the way I behaved six months ago. I hope I will say the same thing six months from now because my growth will continue to progress. This is not an attempt to glorify myself. My progress thus far is a direct result of God’s powerful hand in my life through DBT.
I believe that as part of my purpose on this earth is to be a testimony to those suffering with BPD and other mental illnesses of God’s love, hope and joy. I believe God led me to this specific DBT program to meet others fighting a similar fight as myself and to encourage me. This blog is a way I communicate what I’m discovering along the way. If it brings encouragement to anyone at all, I will feel thankful that I could help someone.
Our Father in heaven encourages us to seek him and he will always provide. I’ve been in the darkest pits of loneliness and desolation. Even if I thought I was alone, God was with me and brought me out safely. It’s possible I could not be alive right now. I hope my life can be a testimony to others that God truly saves. “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.” Psalm 34:18