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Bipolar Disorder Community
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678330 tn?1274156607

I'm beginning Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

After years and years of living a completely unstable life, full of missteps and bad calls, I arrived at the point where I feel that I cannot beat the beast in me. Bipolar disorder is like electricity -- people tell you it's there, even though you can't see it. It costs a lot and it runs everything in your world; when it goes out, it's dark and nothing works. If you don't respect it -- it will kill you. I am beginning Dialectical Behavioral Therapy next week.

Essentially, I'm saying that I cannot get a hold of BPD because it is so complex. At times, I love it -- the mania makes me feel like I can do everything, all at once because I am enhanced me, version 2.0. More-than-human, confident, quick-witted, creative, funny and oh-so-charmingly handsome. Who would wanna shake that feeling?
It's only when things come crashing down do I wanna deal with the disease head on, but it has such a stranglehold on me that it has separated me into different mindsets. I think about and look at everything -- every single aspect of my life -- differently, depending on my mood. Essentially, BPD has split me into two separate people and these two components of Me, cannot seem to team together to steer the ship. The tail side of the coin is a person who withdrawls from Everything important; who will not communicate to anyone, no returned phone calls, emails, texts -- completely vacant and disconnected. Not terribly depressed, just unmotivated, void of esteem and energy and in the throes of deep thought.

Years of therapy, with great therapists and consistent medication are just enough to keep me alive and out of jail. My foundation is flimsy because I NEVER had anything concrete in my life because BPD has been flipping the switch from dark to light since I was a kid. My Mom, who loves me unconditionally and who I love with all my heart has untreated BPD. I learned everything from her and she is the smartest person I know; but the inconsistent and completely un-coping skills that come with the disease have been instilled in me since I was a little baby.
The fact of the matter is, not only did I miss the opportunity to develop coping skills, structure, routine, responsibility in life and relationships and rudimentary stability -- I learned the complete opposite. UN-COPING skills of life.
I will not survive if this continues. I will loose everything if I cannot gain control of the beast in me. I can have a good life, like the people I see on TV, but I can't do it alone; and I can't overcome it with the therapy and medication I have been relying on for the past 5 years.
In search of the one true fix, I hit Google HARD, and found out about DBT. Everything I read sounded like just what I needed to fix my broken. I found a place that looks really strong. It has a year commitment with one individual session a week; one group per week and weekly phone sessions. My intake appointment is coming up next week.
Is there anyone, who can relate to the Rock'em-Sock'em robot lifestyle of the Borderline/BiPolar mash-up who has any experience with Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)? I would love to hear from someone who has walked in those shoes.
Thanks.
6 Responses
505907 tn?1258372940
  I'm sorry not to be able to tell you anything. This sort of treatment for B.P. is a new thing to me. Please keep us updated as to how it works out for you. I'm also nearing my wits end as I have tried so many meds and keep having "rare" side effects that make have to quit them.
678330 tn?1274156607
So I've been in DBT since late November and I must report that I have a new lease on life. I have been busting my hump working on my DBT skills and I am feeling the positive effects. Wow, I feel like I'm getting a grip on life.
871545 tn?1240728029
I googled DBT and found it really promising.  Like I hope my new therapist is open to it, whenever I find one.  I consider myself a (horrible) buddhist, and DBT seems to really speak to me.  I think you can do it!
674607 tn?1240020832
It's great to hear that DBT is working out for you!  It is indeed a powerful method if you devote yourself to the many different exercises.  I find myself in the same BP/BPD mess which you describe, and struggle with a good shot of ADHD to boot.

In a theoretical way, I am thoroughly familiar with Dialectical Behavior Therapy, but I have never had the self-discipline to implement any of it in my everyday life.

Now here is the good news: Recently we moved from the big city to a semi-rural area.  Strangely I had not been able to locate a DBT group in the city.  My psychiatrist there dabbled in it but did not offer a structured program; nor did anyone else, it seems.  I had little hope of finding a program in our new place of residence, but there it is!  It is run by two competent and qualified ladies who work out of the local Mental Health Center.  Just as you describe, there are group sessions and individual counseling.

After barely a month, I can say that I already notice an improvement in my ability to cope with distress.  (There happens to be a huge pile of it right now--very serious stuff that threatens to plunge my wife and me into financial ruin--long story....)

The regularity of the sessions, both as one-on-one counseling and as group therapy, turns out to be just what I needed.  They provide me with a firm structure without which my ADD would never let me stick with the program.  The daily record keeping sees to it that not a day passes without some practice and some thought.

So, congratulations to you (and to me).   And hopefully, your post will prove helpful to many others as well.  DBT is something which, I believe, almost  anyone can benefit from, regardless of the precise diagnosis or no diagnosis at all.  You don't have to be crazy to benefit from the techniques (but it helps.)  I am not suggesting, of course, that DBT alone will single-handedly defeat psychosis.  But it is one very useful thing we can do for ourselves in addition to whatever other therapy we make use of.  
678330 tn?1274156607
So it has been more than a year since my last post and I truly have to say that I am changed. For the better, I might add. I spent a solid year in a DBT program, going to group once a week and individual therapy once a week on top of my monthly Psychiatrist.
I must admit, I really didn't think it DBT was going to work for me. I was months into it and I didn't see or feel a change. THis was frustrating and I was paying a lot of money. like, all. my. money. The people in the group weren't really what I would consider my peer group. Their problems were different than mine -- some more severe, some seemingly less serious. I can't explain exactly what happened but I slowly but surely began feeling more in control of my life. Every day I had been working on my skills and slowly, it began adding up.
Since that first day, I have put a lot of positive energy into the process of mindfulness, building my DBT skills and I listened to A LOT of Tara Brach's dharma talks (Google Tara Brach and download the free "teaching talks" -- they are amazing and they will help you in many ways beyond mindfulness. It is free, and it is not creepy brainwashing weirdness -- she just has an amazing way of explaining things and her dharma talks are a critical part of my treatment. If you are suffering and need to build a new, positive life-skill set, check her out).
I am not in DBT anymore but I use my DBT skills every day. No, I am not "cured" and have some really, really nasty days -- sometimes end on end on end (just like before) -- but I deal with my moods way more effectively. Mainly, I try not to judge myself to harshly and forgive myself. I also realize that a mood may appear without a reason. For example, I may wake up feeling blue or sad but I don't need to go searching for the reason why I feel that way. It may simply be my biology and not my life that is out of whack.
Regular exercise (even just a little bit) is good, eating well and eating breakfast (something I never did before) and trying to go to sleep at the same time every night. Routine, routine, routine helps big time and isn't boring because it opens up time to do so much more (and do it more effectively). Sticking to my bipolar medication is key as well but I must admit that I am way less interested in the labels associated with my diagnosis and am really just focused on treating the symptoms.
While I do credit DBT as truly helping me get my life more emotionally regulated, I truly feel that it was (and is) the quest for help and improvement, the building of positive skills and the practice of mindfulness coupled with the forgiveness that I allow myself when I do fall (or feel broken), that is what helps my everyday. I say this because if you can't access a DBT program because of the cost or their isn't one offered in your location then just try to work with what you've got available. See a good doctor/therapist and if they don't feel right to you, maybe get a second opinion. Build a routine. Slow down and allow your mind to quiet every chance you get. Even for two minutes -- it helps. Eat well. Sleep regularly. Look at art, listen to music, smell flowers. You will feel better.
Avatar universal
Hi beepie,
I have exactly the same '2 sides ' of me depending on my moods
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