A Brief Intro To Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) Distress Tolerance Skills

Hey gang. With the holidays upon us, it’s easy to get overwhelmed so I wanted to share a quick and dirty guide to some basic Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) skills aimed at helping you withstand grating family members, travel anxiety and endless societal expectations making all of us feel stressed to the max. Of course, these tips will help you regardless of the time of year so feel free to bookmark and refer to this quick reference when times get tough.

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Yeah, we're getting older. So are our parents.

When I was in junior high and high school, my mother gained herself quite a bit of admiration from many of my friends. “Fucking Phyllis,” they used to say and laugh when I told them something wild she said. “I love your mom, dude.”

So did I. She was the one who instilled a healthy dose of apprehension in me, making sure I knew that the adults in my life were not infallible and that I shouldn’t be afraid to question them. In addition to my independent thinking, she encouraged me to become a voracious reader. It was her support of my sibling and I that brought a computer into the house, dial-up connection and all when I was barely old enough to form long term memories. The cow print on the box of our first Gateway PC became a well loved pattern in my childhood heart and it never would have happened without her insistence.

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A Brief History of My Universe

It's funny, depression/anxiety/etc was a fuel for my writing for so, so long. When I slept in a closet in California "Harry Potter style", complete with named spiders in my room, I had a spiral bound notebook tucked under my pillow that I wrote in whenever I felt lonely. Funnily enough, this first attempt at a novel shares a similar premise as the story I'm writing now. Some ideas just stick with you.

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It's hard to talk about. That's why we HAVE to talk about it.

TW: Suicide, Self harm

Someone told me once, “You taught me to love suicide.”

They went on to clarify that my intense suicidal idealization as a teenager exposed them to the fragility of life and how to face the thought of death without turning away or pretending it didn’t exist. This was a wildly profound thing to be told and obviously it stuck with me.

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BPD Trait: Treatment Resistance

A friend of mine recently asked me about boredom and quickly losing interest in things for folks with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). I figured it was probably related to the depression symptoms of BPD and didn’t think too much about it after that. Recently I’ve started to turn this question over in my head again which I’ll return to in a little bit. First a little backstory.

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BPD Trait: Idealization and Devaluation (Splitting)

Relationships are a really murky territory for people with Borderline Personality Disorder. I don't think I've really talked about "splitting" too much yet. This is a pretty commonly used term to basically describe the wild thrashing between idealization and devaluation that's super characteristic of BPD. People, things, places tend to fall into one of two categories: all good or all bad. There is no in between, no gray area.

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BPD Trait: Lashing Out

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is wildly stigmatized in our world. If you've ever read I Hate You - Don't Leave Me, you were probably left feeling very hopeless for either yourself or your loved one with BPD. It's funny to me that this book is considered the "go to" for therapists and other mental health professionals. It's spookily accurate at times, to be sure, but incredibly devoid of any glimmer of hope for recovery. In fact, since BPD is a personality disorder, there is no true recovery - your brain has been marred by abuse during formative years and as such will always bear those scars - but this does not mean there is no overcoming it.

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I’m Sorry For All The Times I Ignored You (and other thoughts on grief)

On May 20th, 2016, my best friend of eight years passed away suddenly. We were on our way to the doctor because she had some unusual blood spots popping up under her nose. Unsure of why this was happening, we walked to the office together. Usually she was totally down for the four block stroll, especially on such a beautiful day, and at first she practically dragged me along. After a few blocks, however, she began to lag behind and I became increasingly concerned.

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Empathy vs. Survival

TRIGGER WARNING: Relatively graphic depictions of assault/rape

Today I got into an argument with some fucking cab company owner about the prevalence of assault/rape cases with Uber & Lyft vs. Taxis. Like most disagreements on Twitter, it went really fucking poorly and neither one of us wanted to listen to the other. My point being that no matter what form of public transportation you use, it will never be totally safe. His point being that people should use taxis because they don't have the amount of cases documented like Uber/Lyft do. Who knows whether or not the things he said were true - that there's a FBI database and agencies have to report annually, etc etc. It still didn't make what I said untrue: I KNOW people who have been assaulted in cabs. There is no magical, infallible system that prevents dangerous people from being in charge of others. But he didn't care. And didn't believe me.

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