Coping Skills

Examples of DEARMANs: Asking for what you need

When I was learning the dearman skill (a DBT skill) for the first time, I looked online for examples and found approximately… one. So, now that I know the skill fairly well, I am putting some more examples out there into the searchable world. 🙂 I find it easiest to understand how to do something when I’ve seen it done several times, so I’m sharing some examples of real dearmans I’ve used in my life!


Here is a quick summary of the skill if you don’t know it (feel free to skip). DEARMAN is an interpersonal effectiveness skill from DBT. It’s useful when you want to ask for something or say no to something (set a boundary). Each letter stands for something. The “DEAR” part is what to say, and the “MAN” part is how to say it.

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D – Describe (the facts; set the stage with something they can’t argue with)

E – Express (your emotions, feelings, opinion, or wants)

A – Assert (ask clearly and specifically for what you want)

R – Reinforce (say how this will benefit the other person)

M – Mindfully (be aware of how the other person might feel and react; be aware of your own emotions; stay focused on your goals)

A – Appear confident (be sure of yourself so that they’ll take you seriously)

N – Negotiate (be prepared to compromise if necessary)


And here are some examples of real dearmans that I have used in my life! (or that people I know have used) I’m going to highlight the parts that correspond to the different parts of the dearman — D – “Describe” is in orangeE – “Express” is in greenA – “Assert” is in blue, and R – “Reinforce” is in purple. (I think the colors don’t appear in wordpress reader; try going to the website)


Situation: I saw a nurse practitioner at my student health service. She gave me a referral to a rheumatologist for joint pain and wrote on the referral that I had a history of depression and disordered eating. I didn’t want those words to be included on the referral, so this is an email to her.

DEARMAN: “…Also, on the referral you gave me, it said that I have a history of depression and disordered eating. I don’t think that this information is relevant to my care as someone seeking help for my joints. (I also think that the disordered eating part is inaccurate.) I also think that writing those things on the referral would probably bias whoever read it, and it’s important to me to have an unbiased opinion from a new doctor. Could you please remove “with pmhx depression, disordered eating” from the comments section of the referral? I’d really appreciate it, and I think it would help me get more thorough care.

Result: “Good Afternoon <my name>, I have updated your referral on your portal with the updated provider and no previous medical history. Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns. Best, <her name>”

Comments: I was really trying to make this a good dearman because the outcome was really important to me, so I stuck to the order of dearman. I like that I included the “express” part by saying “it’s important to me.”


Situation: One of my classes is a lab that meets on either Mondays or Wednesdays. I received this email saying, “You will be randomly assigned to one of the 12 groups. A group are either in the lab on Mondays or Wednesdays. If you are prevented to work on either weekday, please let me know by replying to this email by Friday. Note, requests without justification will be disregarded.”

DEARMAN: “I don’t have a strict conflict with one of the days, but I would greatly prefer to be in one of the lab groups on Wednesdays instead of Mondays. If I had lab on Mondays, I would not have a chance to eat a meal from 11:40 until 6:15 due to classes and other commitments on Mondays. I have health issues that are very affected by how often I eat, so having a chance to eat more frequently by not having lab on Mondays would help me a lot (and likely make me healthier and better able to learn!).”

Result: He approved my request. 🙂 

Comments: The “express” part wasn’t very expressive, but I think that’s okay and appropriate for a professional-ish email. I was proud of how I snuck the “reinforce” in there. 😉 If people care about your wellbeing, then they will generally support things that will improve your wellbeing if they can see how the two are connected. That’s why it’s “reinforce” even though it’s more directly benefiting me instead of him. But as a teacher, he probably wants his students to learn!


Situation: This was an email to my professor asking for some items back.

DEARMAN: “Hi Professor <name>! I hope you had a good break! It was nice to see you at the <school event>! I was wondering if I could get my lab notebook from last semester back at some point? It has a lot of blank pages, and I’d like to use itAlso, do you have my equation sheet from the final exam? I was hoping I could get that back at some point, too. I took the exam with <my school’s disability services>, so they might have it, but I don’t know where it ended upThank you! <my name>”

Result: “Hi <my name>, Stop on by and I can find your lab notebook.  I’m around today for a couple more hours, otherwise I should be around at 12pm tomorrow.  I don’t have your formula sheet unfortunately, they didn’t include it in the packet that <my school’s disability services> sent to me.  Best, <my professor’s name>”

Comments: Since this was a simple request that I thought he was likely to agree to, I didn’t try using reinforcement or stronger language for expression. That might have been overkill and come off and too strong. Also, I tried to keep a lighthearted attitude and use the “GIVE” skill (another interpersonal effectiveness skill) because I like this professor and want to maintain a good relationship with him.


Situation: Someone that I used to be good friends with in high school stopped texting me suddenly on the day we were supposed to hang out. I sent her a couple of texts over the course of two months, thinking maybe she was just busy or had something going on, which she has not replied to to this day. This was a text I sent her over winter break.

DEARMAN: “Hey <her name>! Are you doing alright? I haven’t heard from you in a while, and I’m not sure if you’re kinda ghosting me or if there’s something else going on! But anyway I’m going back to school in about a week, so if you want to hang out before then, let me know! I’d love to see you. 🙂 ”

Result: She continued to not reply 😦

Comments: I wasn’t trying to make this a full dearman, but I did want to be skillful when I texted her, so I turned to DBT for help! That made me think to include the describe parts (in orange). I didn’t really express my negative emotions here (I was feeling pretty hurt, sad, and angry for a while), and I’m not sure if that was the right choice. Maybe if she saw how I was hurting, she would have wanted to respond? But I don’t know, and at this point I can’t change that. Also, it’s important to remember that it’s possible for someone to be skillful and still not get the result they want! That happens sometimes and is kinda out of my control. 😦


Situation: I had a crush on a guy, but I wasn’t sure if he liked me back. My friends said it looked like he liked me and was flirting with me, but I wasn’t sure. I texted him this.

DEARMAN: “Also can I ask you something? I know we’ve been spending a good amount of time together, and we’re good friends… I am sometimes bad at interpreting social things and I also just want things to be clear… so, I think I kind of “like” like you…like in a romantic way… 😬☺️🙈 and I’m wondering if you feel the same way about me? ? If you don’t then that’s fine because I like you as a friend too, but I want to know either way… thanks… :/ “

Result: He replied very sweetly and told me all the things he liked about me but that he wasn’t sure about romantically. I took that as a “no,” and we continued being friends. (We’re more distant now, but that’s for other reasons.) My goal was to get an answer, and I did.

Comments: I wasn’t really thinking of this as a dearman exactly, but starting off with the facts was helpful.


Situation: Last February, I was really struggling, and my physical health collapsed (or at least that’s my impression) under the weight of all my distress. I went to health services at my school when things were particularly bad. I went as a walk-in, so I didn’t have an appointment, and I waited over two hours to be seen. Finally, someone took my vitals and then asked me to go home and come back the next day (!) because they were closing soon. I felt angry and protested a bit, so the nurse went to get the doctor to talk to me about coming back the next day, and while she was gone, I frantically wrote the following dearman in the notes app on my phone.

DEARMAN: Describe – I’m already here and I’ve been here since 4:30. Express – Everything hurts, and I wasn’t able to go to my classes today, and I don’t feel like I’m getting better. Assert – I would like to be seen now and to get a note saying that I am sick and was here today because I couldn’t go to classes today and ended up missing quizzes. Reinforce – This way, it’s more convenient because I’m already here. 

Result: I said roughly what I had written down (not while looking at my phone though; I thought that would be weird). I had to explain my thoughts and symptoms more thoroughly and be insistent, but I did eventually get an appointment that day.

Comments: It was a helpful format to organize my thoughts in.


Situation: I was running an unofficial DBT skills group for my family at the kitchen table. We agreed that we would spend 30 minutes on it. We ended up talking for much longer, I don’t remember how long. My sister, who was young and not participating in our group, said the following.

DEARMAN: It’s 10:00 [pm], you said it would only be 30 minutes, I’m tired, and I want to go to sleep!

Result: We all realized that we had broken our agreement, stopped soon after, and went upstairs so my sister could get ready for bed and go to sleep.

Comments: I remember this clearly because I was trying to teach my family the dearman skill that night, and then, without having been taught the skill, my sister used it very effectively! She’s somehow naturally good at this sort of thing. The dearman is very simple but clear and effective for the situation!


Situation: I had to do something important at a specific time that happened to be during class. I sent this email to my professor the day before.

DEARMAN: Dear Professor <name>, My housing selection time is at 1:50 pm tomorrow, during class. It’s when the other person in my housing group and I choose our rooms for next year, and ideally I’d like to choose it as close to that time as possible so that we can get rooms that we want. Would it be okay if I leave class for a few minutes tomorrow to do that? Thanks, <my name>

Result: Hi <my name>, No problem, of course you can go and take care of this. Thanks for checking, sorry for the delayed reply. Best, <name>

Comments: Using a dearman can make you sound mature and polite! 🙂 (and using a dearman is a mature and polite thing to do!)


Situation: I emailed the director of a camp where I had been a CIT (counselor in training) asking about a job.

DEARMAN: Hi <name>! This is <my camp name> (<my real name>)! I hope you’ve been well! It’s been a couple years! I saw the <position> on the <website>, and I’m wondering if you are still looking for someone for that? If so, please let me know, and I will apply! I really enjoyed CITing. 🙂 Best, <my name>

Result: Hi <my camp name>, Good to hear from you. Hope all has been going well. I am still looking for staff for <position>! I would love for you to apply. See attachments and note below about the process.

Comments: Using dearmans really helped me when applying to jobs and reaching out to people.


Situation: An email I sent to my professor.

DEARMAN: “Hi Professor <name>, After class on Wednesday, you hadn’t received my <name of class> midterm yet, and I’m just wondering if you’ve gotten it now and graded it yet? <My school’s disability services> says it was delivered to your mailbox. I’m worried about how I’m doing in this class and would like to have a sense of how I did on the midterm. Thanks, <my name>”

Result: “Hi, I received your midterm yesterday. I will grade it during the weekend and give it back to you on Monday. Best <his name>”

Comments: I included the part about how I was worried because I was trying to make it more of a dearman.


Situation: I was depressed, dissociated, and not doing well, and hadn’t been able to do my homework, so I asked my professor for an extension.

DEARMAN: “Dear Professor <name>, I have not been feeling well recently and therefore, despite spending time this weekend and over the last few days working on it, I haven’t finished homework 4. Would it be possible, in light of this, for me to have a one day extension on the homework? Thank you for your consideration and support. Best, <my name>

Result: “Hi, sure, you can get an extension. Best <name>”

Comments: My friend helped me write this email. 🙂 I generally say “not feeling well” or something like that when I haven’t been doing well due to mental health issues. It was true that I hadn’t been feeling well, and he didn’t need to know the specifics.


Situation: This is a dearman that I wrote out on paper and planned to say to my mom during family therapy. The issue was something that had been a problem in our relationship for a while.

DEARMAN: You sometimes ask me lots of specific questions. For example, when I told you I was tracking nightmares on my diary card, you wanted to know exactly how often they were happening. I understand that you want to know what’s going on because you care about me, AND I feel overwhelmed when you ask so much. I feel scared that you will go into urgent problem-solving mode and go over the top to fix everything immediately. I also feel scared that you will tell other people what I have told you, and ashamed and exposed when you do tell them. I also feel scared that you will use whatever I tell you against me in the future. I don’t want to tell you much because I feel like if I give you an inch, you’ll take a mile. I would like it if you would ask less specific questions and just ask one at a time. The specifics don’t matter, and they’re pretty fuzzy, so it’s hard to pin down. I would also like it if you didn’t tell other people tings I’ve asked you not to say or personal things. This will make me feel more comfortable telling you things, so I will probably talk to you more. 

Result: It went well. She became aware of her problem-solving tendencies and tried to correct them. I pointed them it to her when she was doing it until she got the hang of it. A year and a half later, she still catches herself sometimes.

Comments: My therapist suggested I use a “DVEARMAN” instead of a “DEARMAN” — with a “V” for “Validate” after the describe.


In conclusion,

I hope something here helps someone.

I think one of the key things (for me at least) is to include the describe, express, and assert parts. The order can be changed around depending on the situation and the seriousness, and reinforcement can be added if necessary, but the most important parts are describe, express, assert.


Other posts on DBT:

And other coping skills:

Affirmations, Coping Skills

Affirmation #24 — I can trust myself

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I can trust myself!

I can trust myself because I have gotten myself through many awful situations.

I can trust myself because I have the knowledge of many effective skills, and I have the practice of using them.

I can trust myself because despite things, I have gotten myself to where I am today. I’m in my third year of college. I’m not new to being a student.

I can trust myself because I’m the only person on the planet that has the experience of living in my body.


I’m working on trusting myself more, so I was writing down some reasons that I can trust my opinions, thoughts, and emotions. When I am doubting myself or immediately valuing someone else’s opinion over mine, I can remind myself of why I can trust my opinions. I‘m the authority on myself.

Affirmations

Affirmation #23 — This is one day

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This is one day.

One of many in your life.

There have been many before, and there will be many after.

Some have been good.

Some have not.

That’s okay.

There are good parts of life, and not-so-good parts!

And they are both part of life.

You will make it through this day the same way you have made it through every other day of your life.

The time will pass no matter what you get done or don’t get done.

It will be a new day tomorrow no matter what.

Life

Life/blog update — semester recap, school stress, recovery

Hello! I haven’t posted in a few months! The reason why is that I had a really busy semester at school. I was taking 5 academic classes, instead of the 4 I had taken the previous two semesters, and it was a lot. They were also all hard classes; there wasn’t really an easy one I could blow off. All of my classes were for my major, mechanical engineering.

To be honest, it was a really different semester from any I’ve had in college so far. It was a lot busier, but it was often a good busy. I wasn’t as dragged down by my mental health issues! (!!!) !!! My ptsd really has been better since I did the trauma work. I was still anxious, and I had some depressed periods, and my ptsd was still there every now and then, but overall I felt a lot better than I’ve been feeling the past few years.

I was actually able to do the work! I don’t think I would have been able to handle the workload if I’d taken these classes a year ago. In fact, I couldn’t — I dropped a class both semesters to take 4 instead of my original 5. I had more free time for homework this past semester because I was spending less time upset.

I was also less lonely. I spent a lot of my time with my fellow mech e’s (mechanical engineering people) because we had mostly all the same classes. I like seeing people often, not just once a week. I like having people be part of my life and texting me to ask if I’m okay when I don’t show up to class.

It was also stressful — school itself was stressful. I know that school is known for being stressful, and many of my friends have been complaining/venting about this for years, but school had never really been that stressful for me until now. I think it’s because there were always other things stressing me out more than school. My stress about family members dying and whatnot gave me some perspective, and I prioritized other things above school and knew that if I didn’t complete my homework or do well on a test, it didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.

It was like I had peeled a thick blanket off to reveal a messy heap of broken parts underneath. I had thought that my ptsd (the blanket) was the main problem in my life (and it was a big chunk of my problems), but all my stress about trauma-related things were covering up my other stresses, insecurities, and ineffective ways of coping (the messy heap). With less of the ptsd, I could see the rest more clearly, and it wasn’t pretty.

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peeling back the blanket

It turns out I do get stressed about school. A lot. I care too much about disappointing my teachers and letting people down when they have high expectations for me. I feel pressure to do well. I’m really bad at working in a lab group.

My health isn’t great. Eating is hard and has been hard for a while, which makes my health worse. I don’t know my body very well, and pushing myself too hard in dance has led to some injuries. I missed a couple days of school because I was in too much pain to walk to class.

I’m uncomfortable with lots of things to do with dating and sex. I’ve never dated someone, and I’m not sure how I would. If that makes sense. Like, what the relationship would look like, what stuff I’m comfortable with, which stuff I’m scared of but could get over, who the relationship would be with, etc. It’s just stuff I’ve got to figure out for myself at some point.

I have a lot of social anxiety and often think that people hate me or are trying to kill me.

I’m still really sad about the losses of my grandmother and uncle last January. My family feels really small, like it has suddenly shrunken.

But…. I can do something about all of these things! I can work on these things in therapy! Little by little, it’s going to be okay! Lots of great things happened this semester, too!

I finally got to choreograph a dance in my dance group!!! 🙂 😀 I’ve been wanting to do this for so long. It was wonderful, though stressful at times, and it was really fun to play around with the formations! It looked great on stage, too, and I got a lot of compliments on it!

I have some good friends! I became closer with one friend this semester, and it was amazing. She’s really fun to be around, and we laugh a lot, but she can also be serious, and she’s helped me through some dark moments. She also replies almost right away when I text her! :O For whatever reasons, I’ve never had a friend before that both replied to my texts quickly and whom I wanted to text back quickly. Texting her doesn’t make me anxious.

I took on a leadership role in a sustainability club I’m part of, and it was fun to get more involved and have more responsibility! Plus I’m friends with almost everyone else who has a leadership role, so hanging out with them was fun, and I felt included.

And I do like my classes and my major. It took me a long time and lots of anxiety to decide what to major in, but I’m glad I chose what I did. It seems like a natural (not necessarily easy, but natural) thing for me to do. Mechanical engineering involves a lot of geometry, moving parts, forces on this and that, this goes here so that happens, this affects that, etc. and I think that’s just how my mind works. That’s how I like to think. I like making things. I like figuring out how things work. I like understanding the world around me.

So when it’s hard, at least I know that this really is what I want to do.

Overall, it was probably my best semester of college yet. 🙂 It was the hardest academically, but other aspects of my life were the best they’ve been in a while.

Anyway, I hope to have some more free time (which doesn’t always translate to me doing more with my time, lol…but maybe) over winter break, so I want to get back to writing more! I like writing. It helps me make sense of things. Sometimes when I’m thinking through things in my mind, I imagine what I would say if I was writing it as a blog post, and that seems to help me be more logical. So I already have lots of ideas in my head for what to write. 🙂

I’m also going to try to comment more on people’s blogs! I read some of them in my email, so I have been reading, but now I’ll (hopefully) actually comment, too! 🙂 

I hope you’ve all been well, and I wish everyone the best in the new year!

Life

Here are my current secrets

Hi. I’m pretty sad and lonely right now, and I feel like no one likes me. I think part of the reason why I feel like that is that I’m not telling everyone the truth. I’m hiding things from people again. I’ve done this before, and then I get better at being vulnerable, and then eventually I slip back into hiding. My secrets are piling up. I think the solution is to share them with the people I’m keeping them from, but for now, as an intermediate step, I’m going to share them here! (opposite action to shame!)

(note: mentions of eating struggles, self harm, suicidal thoughts, and masturbation.)

Things I’m keeping from my friend #1:

  • It really hurts me that you guys are in a group chat with out me and made plans without including me. I wish I could be in the group chat too. I think you guys became closer friends without me during the time I was grieving my uncle and grandmother. I’m sorry I wasn’t part of your fun activities then, but I really couldn’t be.
  • It also hurts me that you’ve been hiding this from me for months. I’ve known about your group chat! You know that I know about it! Just tell me, and I’ll be happy for you for having other friends and having fun!
  • Do you even like me anymore?
  • I wanted to tell you that I went to a peer support group for people with acquired brain injuries and people who know people with brain injuries, but I avoided it, and then other people we knew joined us for dinner, so I couldn’t say it in front of them.
  • I’m not doing well. I’m doing better than I’ve been in the past, but that’s still not good. Eating is a real struggle for me, and I wish you’d take it more seriously and help me out.

Things I’m keeping from all my friends:

  • I have self harmed in the past and been suicidal in the past, and currently I do think of suicide at times. This has been going on the entire time you’ve known me. I haven’t wanted to worry you, because I know you would worry if you knew.

Things I’m keeping from my therapist:

  • I think I have seasonal depression! What should I do about this??
  • I feel like I’m getting more depressed!
  • I’m not sure if therapy is working anymore, or if this type of therapy is working anymore.
  • There’s another bad way that I sometimes cope with things to escape for a bit. It’s masturbating, in a way that makes me hate myself afterwards and feel sick. I have never told anyone this! Please don’t hate me or think I’m horrible and weird! I wish I could stop but it’s harder than I thought!
  • I have a blog! It’s a good thing and it helps me.

Things I’m keeping from my family:

  • I wish I went home this weekend!
  • I’m not sure I like what I’m majoring in anymore! Maybe I want to be a teacher instead??
  • I went to the brain injury support group.
  • I didn’t have a good day yesterday. I wasn’t too busy to call because I was having fun like I said. I was mindlessly watching tv instead of eating because I liked feeling lightheaded. I did go out eventually to spend time with friends, but I didn’t really have fun and kept almost crying.
  • I was upset when we talked because I had just found out about friend #1’s group chat and plans without me.
  • I know I did that whole ptsd treatment thing and was doing better, but maybe now I’m not anymore! I mean, ptsd is still better, but I’m depressed a lot. More than before.
Affirmations

Affirmation #22 — Serenity prayer

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God, grant me the serenity

to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,

One moment at a time;

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;

Taking this sinful world as it is,

not as I would have it;

trusting that things will be okay.

 


 

(This poem/prayer comes from Christianity, but I think the main sentiments can be adapted for any religion or lack thereof. Personally, I don’t believe in God at the moment, so I cut out and changed parts of it to a version that I like. I kept the “God, ” part in the beginning because it felt weird to me to not address someone, but I’m thinking of it as more of “the universe.”)

I read this a lot in the time after my uncle and then grandmother died.

Affirmations

Affirmation #21 — I am capable of dealing with overwhelming situations!

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I am capable of dealing with overwhelming situations!

I’ve gotten through many situations in my life that I thought were overwhelming at the time. This past summer, I worked as a camp counselor, and there were times when we had 17 campers were running in five different directions, tripping, falling, and crying, while parents arrived to pick other campers up, and other campers were in an intense, friendship-breaking argument over trading pokemon cards, and someone else had to go to the bathroom… it was a lot, but I dealt with it at the time, and over time it got easier! I can handle several things going on at once. It’s part of learning to do the job. I can deal with each, prioritize, delegate, and politely excuse myself from things that aren’t pressing. There are ways of dealing with overwhelming things, and I can do them.

I was also working at a program recently that involved selling lots of items stacked high in a garage-sale sort of event. Things topped over somewhat regularly, and we had three things fall over within ten minutes, two with broken glass! It was very stressful! But you know what, I got through it. I dealt with each fall, asked others to help, washed the broken-glass dust off my hands (no one was hurt), and then asked the person in charge if I could take a break and if we could have more help in my section. Problems solved! I think I was able to deal with it then because of how good I got at dealing with lots going on at once over the summer.

I am also capable of dealing with overwhelming things in the sense that I’ve made it through trauma and many, many reminders and flashback-y events. I have survived all of those, too, and have improved in the ways that I deal with them.

And even when I don’t deal with things in the most effective ways, I am still dealing with them.

Yes, it may be challenging, but I am capable of dealing with it!

Life

Venting about everything bad at the moment

Hello, I need to vent. You know how your life seems to be all okay for a bit, maybe it’s not great, but nothing too bad, and then suddenly it all just collapses around you?

My physical health is deteriorating.

  • (note: talking about weight) I was supposed to be gaining weight because I am fairly underweight, but instead I lost more weight. Gah! (I am not restricting / other ED behaviors, I just have trouble getting enough food in my body and cooking and stuff. It’s more of an “it’s too much effort” thing.)
  • I’ve had my period for 13 days now.
  • I went to the eye doctor for my annual eye exam and said that I’d been getting headaches above my eyes when I read or look at things up close for too long. He took my concerns seriously, which I really appreciate, but he also seemed to think something was really wrong and said “this will really affect your career” if it gets worse over time and I can’t read and stuff. I have to go back for a 2-3 hour appointment to see what happens when my eyes get fatigued.
  • My hip has been hurting off and on this summer, and yesterday it was hard to walk comfortably at times.
  • My armpit was hurting two times earlier in the summer, and now it’s hurting again. My primary care doctor thought it was just a pulled muscle or something, but now I’m worrying it’s something else since it has happened repeatedly. On the other hand, if it is a pulled muscle, why isn’t it healing? What am I doing wrong? I know that I’m physically pretty weak and don’t have strong muscles, but I don’t know how to get stronger if I don’t use them??

Other stuff

  • I’ve been home alone all week and it’s been lonely and hard. It also makes me worried for after college if I get an apartment on my own or something and have to live alone for much longer periods of time. I don’t think I could do it. I guess I could have roommates. Well, that’s a problem for future me.
  • Since I’m home alone, I have to take care of our family’s chickens. I’m supposed to put them away at night and feed them and let them out in the morning. I didn’t put them away last night because I was in an awful mood, and it was really late and I was scared of predators (coyotes, etc.). Luckily none of the chickens were eaten or killed during the night, but now this morning I have to feed them while they’re running around, not locked up in the coop. I’m scared of doing this because the roosters are big and want to attack me! And I have to move the coop too. And it looked like they were out of water. And then after all that I have to clean the house and pack in the next two hours because I’m going on vacation.
  • I’ve started disliking my friends and this freaks me out. Does this mean I just don’t like anyone? What is wrong with me? My friends are people that I’ve really liked and enjoyed spending time with in the past. What’s going on? I’m confused.
  • (note: talking about sex) I was talking to a friend yesterday about dating and stuff, and it just really upset me. But I figured out why it upset me at least! I really don’t want to have sex and am disgusted by it and afraid of it. I don’t know if this means I’m asexual or if it’s just one of the many things I’m afraid of or ashamed of. I kind of always thought that what makes a relationship different from a friendship is sex, but I kinda want a relationship, without the sex? I feel like no one else would want that though. Now I’m thinking maybe I am ace. Hmm. Gah. I’ll think about that later.
  • I’ve been wanting to quit therapy for a while for lots of reasons that I don’t feel like explaining, but now I’m realizing that I’m still struggling a lot and could use some therapy. I guess I’m sad that I still need it. And ashamed. And confused about what to do.

So those are the things I’m struggling with at the moment. Oh and also I did not get enough sleep last night. Okay. I’m going to try again to feed the chickens and move the coop… any support or encouragement is appreciated.

Life, Positives

Recent progress and good things

Hello! Some things are going well in my life right now, and I’m in a (perhaps temporarily) good mood, so I’m going to jot them down quickly while I’m excited!

  • I got my first ever paycheck yesterday!! 🙂 As I mentioned before, this is the first real job I’ve ever had, which I was ashamed about before but am mostly not ashamed of now (it’s fine, I’ve done other stuff, I was emotionally unwell for a long time, I was focusing on school and health, there are other people like me, etc.). Anyway, I have earned money by my own hard work in a formal, official, way (vs. babysitting which wasn’t very official and volunteering things that have been official but not paying). It’s going into my bank account, and I have freedom and options — I could spend it on random things I want! :O I could spend it on things I need anyway but that I would otherwise have to use my parents’ money for, so I get to feel less ashamed of that. I can save it for grad school :O ! I can save it for an emergency and feel more prepared! I can spend it on visiting friends! I can do all of the above! YAY!!! 🙂
  • I’ve been running a DBT group for my family to teach them some interpersonal effectiveness skills, and it’s been going really well! There are fewer arguments in my family now, which was my main goal in doing this. My dad said that he loves each of us and that his top priority right now is having good relationships with each of us. He said that my mom is the most important person in the world to him, and that us kids are a super small half inch behind. I didn’t really think he loved us. I thought and was kind of hoping that him and my mom would get a divorce. I was thinking about cutting him out of my life altogether. But now he’s shown that he does care. It’s amazing, and I’m very happy and grateful that he does feel this way, and that he’s able to express it now. I feel like we’re all on the same page now because we’ve established that we love each other. So now we can address communication issues from a common understanding that we love each other. I’m hopeful about the future of my family.
  • I’ve been to my local library a few times so far this summer and am really enjoying it. I hadn’t been in a looong time. I’ve been reading some books (!), which I haven’t done much of in recent years due to a concussion, being triggered by much of the contents due to ptsd, and lack of concentration due to depression. But I found some books that I liked and really wanted to read, instead of trying to force myself to read books that I felt like I should read. I used to love reading as a child and am so glad that I can do it again. 🙂 (For anyone interested, I really enjoyed “Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman!” by Richard P. Feynman (funny and sciencey stories) and Let it Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle (rom-com). John Green is one of my favorite authors and creators, and I realized that I somehow hadn’t read all of his books! :O So now I’m doing that. 🙂
  • I’ve been having some digestive issues since January, and I am finally taking a medicine that is actually helping! :O Phew! 🙂
  • I’ve been driving into the city about 45 min. from my house. I was in a car accident before I got my license, so I was terrified of driving before I even knew how to drive. I’ve been improving and challenging myself slowly over the past few years, and I am super proud of finally being able to drive into the city. It’s a challenge because it involves merging onto busy roads, navigating intersections, dealing with other cars, driving for sometimes over an hour, and parallel parking once I get to my destination. It was really scary at first, but it’s getting better with time and exposure. Being able to drive to the city is really helpful in a practical way because my current therapist’s office is there, and most of my doctor appointments are there, too. This means that I don’t have to ask for rides from my parents, and I have more freedom. Yay! I am literally expanding my comfort zone. There’s a certain distance/time away from my house that I’m comfortable driving, and it used to be about half an hour max. Now my comfort zone includes the city. 😀

Ta da! 😀 There are also some things that aren’t going great, but I want to focus on the good for now, and I will do what I can to deal with them when I’m done writing this.

Does anyone have any good fiction recommendations?

Also, I haven’t posted in a while — What happened is that I got into a perfectionism spiral over writing/posting, thinking that what I wrote had to be good and that if I was going to write about something, I had to have fully formed ideas and that I had to write everything I would ever possibly think about it. As time went on and I didn’t post, I got more stressed out about it and avoided it more. When I tried writing, it didn’t seem “good,” and I gave up again. This pattern happens to me a lot in school, too: generate too high expectations/perfection –> procrastinate/avoid –> increase expectations because now that I’m late, whatever I do has to be better because I’ve had more time to work on it –> avoid more. I suppose some solutions could be to not procrastinate in the first place (i.e. get in a routine of just doing things right away), lower my expectations, be more compassionate and forgiving towards myself… things like that. I’ll think more about it I guess.

Affirmations

Affirmation #20 — A speck of sand

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This is a speck of sand on the seashore of my life.


This is something that my 10th grade English teacher used to say. That vocab quiz that everyone’s freaking out about? It seems important now, but in the scope of your life, it is a speck of sand. It’s okay if you don’t do that well. Applying to colleges? Maybe that’s bigger than a speck of sand — a seashell — but think about the seashore.

In high school, my friends and I would remind each other, “A speck of sand on the seashore of your life!” before tests. It just adds a bit of perspective through some nice imagery. 🙂