When You Neglect Your DBT Skills

Almost all of the DBT skills I’ve learned have been done 100% on my own. I was lucky enough to attend a small group therapy at the local mental health center, where we went over some skills which definitely tie in with DBT, but unfortunately I have been told I am coping well and don’t need the actual DBT class, so I’ve done it all on my own. Over the last (almost) 4 years I have got quite the collection of DBT books, PDF’s, diagrams and much more. So I can learn them on my own, but the thing with DBT is that you can’t just do each exercise once and expect to be done and retain the skill for later. And some of the skills and exercises are a bit tough to do completely on your own, at least for me. Sometimes it’s really handy to have someone let you know how you could improve how you’re doing something, or suggest alternative methods that might not be in the books, etc. And it’s always nice to have someone in your life who is seeing the hard work you’re putting in and making note of your progress.

In my journey coming to terms with my BPD I haven’t had much of that outside support. Sure, my family is supportive but they don’t really understand at the same time. I can tell them I remembered to use a skill today during a tough time and how proud I am of myself, and they can pat me on the back and say I did a good job, but they don’t understand how big of a deal that can actually be sometimes. There are some skills I can do now without even thinking, but there are still a lot that fall by the wayside so when I realize I used a skill in a situation and did it quite successfully, it’s really nice to have someone other than yourself recognize the effort and how far you’ve gone to get to where you’re at.

The last few months I haven’t even looked at any of books, I haven’t worked on any skills or exercises…I haven’t made an effort at taking care of my mental health at all. Instead I have been distracting myself constantly, and ignoring my needs. Of course I didn’t realize I was doing it, and now that I have I feel really horrible about it. Right now it feels like there are a lot of little problems that have popped up that wouldn’t have become problems at all if I’d kept taking care of myself like I should be.

But…constantly working on yourself is also incredibly tiring and sometimes you just don’t want to do it anymore. You don’t want to change to suit the world, and it feels frustrating that you have to or you pretty much suffer. I wish that wasn’t the way it was, but it really is. I constantly seem to sabotage myself when I don’t focus on my mental health. There is not a single hour where I don’t let negative self-talk get in my way, sometimes to the point where I become suicidal over something that honestly is not a big deal (like accidentally burning some food, or having a pot of water boil over).

Part of me just wants to give up. I want to give up on all of my progress so far, and I want to give up on my relationship. I don’t want to go back to living in my sisters basement and sneaking out randomly whenever a guy texts me to do drugs or get drunk so I can feel something different for a little while. I really just don’t want to do anything at all. I wish this was just depression and anxiety getting to me, but I know that my depression & anxiety are due to my BPD. When I don’t focus on myself and work on my mental health, my BPD symptoms start to flare up badly, and when that happens my depression and anxiety also flare up because I am falling back into old habits.

It’s hard. It’s hard to keep pushing yourself. To keep going over things you’ve gone over a hundred times, to keep trying a skill until it becomes second nature, to keep reminding yourself that things will be okay and if you calm down you can see it in a more positive light. It’s hard to try to explain to your partner why you’re depressed, especially when the reason is because you’ve neglected yourself. It’s hard to be selfish and throw yourself back into taking care of yourself. A lot of people don’t realize why you need to do it, and why it can take so much of your time. They don’t realize why you are saying ‘no’ again instead of agreeing to do things you don’t want to just so they’ll like you. They don’t realize that you aren’t crying because of what they said, that you’re crying because you’re exhausted and your brain took what they said and twisted it into something horrible that you know isn’t true…but you’re having a hard time getting that to stick in your brain.


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