I’ve been writing things on sticky notes or scraps of paper and posting them around my room for a while now. Sometimes when I pull myself out of a bad place, there’s some nugget — thought, belief, or quote — that helped me out of the darkness, and I jot it down so that I’ll remember it in the future. I’ve amassed a nice collection and would like to share them.
Here is one (fyi, with a swear word):
This has been inspiring me and giving me hope and confidence recently. I have been met with lots of challenges, but I have survived all of them.
I like It’s Okay Not to Be Okay‘s daily motivation quotes and would like to do something similar, so I will schedule these to be posted once a day for the next two weeks. Yay 🙂 I’m trying something new here in my blogging!
DBT connection: This is like the E in the “IMPROVE the moment” skill: Encouragement.
Today I made the decision to do exposure therapy for my PTSD!
Prolonged Exposure (PE) is offered as an optional part of the DBT treatment program I’m doing (so it’s DBT-PE if you want to be technical). My prior-to-DBT therapist and my DBT therapist have both been talking to me about doing exposure or processing through my trauma in some way for a while. I’ve been very hesitant to try it because it sounds so scary to expose myself to the things I fear most.
There’s a part of me that really wants to do the exposure therapy so that I can finally get over the trauma and leave it behind me. This part of me, my wise mind, knows it will be good to process it through. It knows that the symptoms are taking a toll on my life.
There’s another part of me, my emotion mind, that has an intense gut reaction of “NO!” to the idea of exposure. Exposure sounds terrifying. It sounds dangerous.
My wise mind argues back that a memory isn’t dangerous. I will not be put in any objectively dangerous situations as part of the exposure. And my reluctance to do the exposure is another form of avoidance, part of what exposure is trying to solve (so meta!).
Still, my emotion mind is strong. I have a lot of fear.
My DBT therapist had me do a pros and cons of continuing to avoid the trauma versus doing the exposure for it. Even after doing the pros and cons and seeing how much of my life I could get back by doing this, I wasn’t sure.
After showing my completed pros and cons chart, discussing it, and getting some more info about DBT-PE, I left therapy feeling kind of sad and hopeless. A lot of hope had been riding on this treatment program and especially the PTSD treatment (the prolonged exposure). I was really hoping this would “cure” me, if not fully, then at least a good amount. I started feeling more depressed than I had been before. I didn’t want to do anything. I saw no future for myself.
I kept thinking about it, and a few hours later, I sat down and wrote my decision below my pros and cons list.
Decision: Do exposure stuff.
I’m sick of this!
It’s been too long
I could feel better
It’s worked for other people
I could be more of myself
If I don’t, I’ll probably keep being like this, and that makes me sad.
I can use skills, so it won’t be THAT that bad.
My therapist can help me. I won’t be doing this alone.
Wise mind me wants to do this!
I am doing this because it is safe to do, and I want to feel better, not because I’m being forced into it by anyone. This is my decision.
Memories aren’t actually dangerous!
I can always decide not to do something later. I am in control of the exposures and the pace, and I can always say no.
Exposure therapy sounds like the obvious choice when I write it out like this. But I’m writing this from wise mind. It was really hard to think about this and to even consider exposure when I was in emotion mind. And I kept getting drawn into emotion mind every time I tried to think about this.
I don’t know exactly what made me switch into wise mind and finally be able to consider this rationally. Maybe the organized pros and cons list helped. Maybe all the handouts and diagrams and evidence helped make it more empirical. Maybe I needed enough time to think about it. Maybe seeing how sad I felt when I thought about deciding to not do it showed me how essential this treatment is for me right now.
This was a really hard decision, but I feel so much more hopeful now that I’ve made it.
(Please be aware that the first part of this post has to do with life/death and wanting to die.)
It’s the name of my blog, so I might as well say why…
I believe something is better than nothing. That’s why I’m alive. If you’re dead, you have no opportunities, no chances, no smiles, no sunny days, no cute babies, no flowers. None of that. If you’re alive, you might have a lot of pain. It might take up almost the entirety of the day. Or the week. Or longer. But it is not like that all the time. There are still some good things. There are some good moments.
Once, when I was having a bad day, had been in the throes of a flashback all morning and part of afternoon, was overwhelmed by school and life, and wanted to die, I had a meal with my friend, and she asked me what good thing had happened that day.
I nearly started crying at the question. I thought there was nothing good. Everything was horrible. But I thought about it. It took some time, but I came up with an answer. I had had peanut butter on my bagel that day, and it tasted good. I told my friend this. She smiled, and we talked about how good and versatile peanut butter was. It was a lighthearted conversation. It lightened my mood and made me realize what other good things there had been that day. I had had other good foods to eat. I was currently talking with my best friend, an amazing person.
There were a lot of things going wrong, but it wasn’t all bad. There were still things I could enjoy in life. As long as there is still something in this life for me (and I think there always will be, since even if nothing else good happens in a year, spring will always come), I. am. staying. here.
I also remind myself that something is better than nothing when I start to worry about making things perfect. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be good enough.
In school, it’s better to submit an incomplete or imperfect assignment than to submit nothing at all. It’s much better to fail an assignment than to get a zero. I’ve been there and done that! Zeroes affect the final grade so much more than even a 50%. I once spent a whole year trying to bring up my history grade from one zero on a summer homework assignment at the very beginning of the year. If I’ve been in class a little and done some work on the assignment, I can make something. It’s much better to submit what I have than to not submit anything. Even if it’s below the minimum page length. Even if my code doesn’t execute. Even if I know it’s the wrong answer. I tried. Most teachers give partial credit. Some are even understanding when I explain that I couldn’t do it or haven’t been in class all the time because of mental health issues. Some will give me an extension so I can bring up my grade from at 50% to a 70, 80, or even 90%. Partial credit exists and is beautiful, and teachers are humans and understand struggles.
I often worry about sending the perfect text or email, too. I delay replying until I know what perfect thing to say. But at some point, a quick, short, not-the-best-but-okay reply becomes more valuable than the perfect reply a week later… if I even send it a week later. Sometimes it’s just better to send something and let the other person know I’ve read their message. I can give a quick answer, or maybe say that I’ll get back to them later. But I’ve said something, and that counts for a lot. It’s better communication.
Even with this blog, I could have waited a few more months, or years, before starting it. But who knows what will happen in a few years?! I can do what I can and learn more as I go along. But I’m starting something now.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe
Under the snow Beneath the frozen streams
There is life
You’ll have to know
When nature sleeps she dreams
There is life And the colder the winter The warmer the spring
The deeper the sorrow
The more our hearts sing Even when you can’t see it
There is life After the rain The sun will reappear
There is life After the pain The joy will still be here
There is life
For it’s out of the darkness
That we learn to see
And out of the silence
That songs come to be And all that we dream of Awaits patently
There is life There is life
“You’ll Be in My Heart”
by Phil Collins from the “Tarzan” soundtrack; listen to it here
lyrics from https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/philcollins/youllbeinmyheart.html
Come stop your crying
It will be alright
Just take my hand
Hold it tight
I will protect you From all around you I will be here Don’t you cry
For one so small, You seem so strong My arms will hold you, Keep you safe and warm
This bond between us Can’t be broken I will be here Don’t you cry
‘Cause you’ll be in my heart Yes, you’ll be in my heart From this day on Now and forever more
You’ll be in my heart No matter what they say You’ll be here in my heart always
Why can’t they understand the way we feel? They just don’t trust what they can’t explain I know we’re different but deep inside us We’re not that different at all
And you’ll be in my heart Yes, you’ll be in my heart From this day on Now and forever more
Don’t listen to them ‘Cause what do they know (what do they know)? We need each other To have, to hold. They’ll see in time I know
When destiny calls you You must be strong (you gotta be strong) I may not be with you But you’ve got to hold on They’ll see in time I know We’ll show them together
‘Cause you’ll be in my heart Believe me, you’ll be in my heart I’ll be there from this day on, Now and forever more
Oh, you’ll be in my heart (you’ll be here in my heart) No matter what they say (I’ll be with you) You’ll be here in my heart (I’ll be there) always
Always I’ll be with you I’ll be there for you always Always and always Just look over your shoulder Just look over your shoulder Just look over your shoulder I’ll be there always.
Do you have a favorite song you listen to when you need some comfort?
I wake up slowly to the sun streaming through the windows. My body is still, and my heart is calm. I stretch out in bed and smile at the wonderful dream I had. I am excited to start this day. I stand up and methodically make my bed. It’s all closed up and put away. I open the windows and reach out my hand to feel the warmth. The birds are chirping good morning to me and to each other. Each tree rustles as a soft breeze passes through. Fresh, lime green leaves stand out in front of a pure blue sky. My geranium has a new delicate pink bloom. Everything is going to be okay.