Sometimes you feel like
you want to run forever
away from yourself.
Others you want to
curve inwards like a black hole
away from people
or stay forever
in fluid space between thoughts
where you don’t exist.
Sometimes you feel like
you want to run forever
away from yourself.
Others you want to
curve inwards like a black hole
away from people
or stay forever
in fluid space between thoughts
where you don’t exist.
This is a bit of an unfocussed post so I’ll apologise in advance for that. I’ve been feeling intense vertigo and stinging in my chest over the last few weeks which are hard to explain properly, and this post is kind of about that and the loss of a close friendship and ways I’ve been trying to deal with it. A lot of it will be about DBT skills because I’m finding more and more that it’s the only approach I’ve found that really does seem to have any sort of positive effect and at the moment, my life feels like a constant attempt at emotion and occasionally crisis management which is EXHAUSTING and horrible but I’m trying to trust the DBT philosophy that emotions eventually peak and subside and I’m trying to be mindful of that and the way it’s affecting my body and thoughts as well instead of acting instinctively or impulsively to reduce the intensity. It’s been a bit up and down but I’m still writing blog posts and haven’t totally quit everything so that’s a definite positive!
This scene from ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ is, for me, one of the most emotional scenes of the whole HP series and one that’s definitely underrated. It’s from the end of the book after Sirius has died and Harry’s struggling to cope with the loss and with his guilt about Sirius’ death. In this scene, Dumbledore is annoyingly calm and detached which makes Harry feel even more angry, hurt and alone and when I first read it aged 16, I could completely relate to Harry’s violent urges to hit Dumbledore and smash his things because that intensity of emotion is HORRIBLE especially when it involves feelings of hurt, guilt and loss which are three of the hardest negative emotions to manage even on their own. Harry’s reaction of ‘I DON’T CARE’ is a completely natural and typical response to being unable to deal with intense and conflicting negative emotions in a situation that you don’t understand and can’t control, but Dumbledore’s reply of “You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it” describes exactly how that intensity feels physically. There’s so much emotional complexity in this scene that goes far deeper than the loss of Sirius- Harry’s feelings of intense hurt and confusion from Dumbledore’s apparent indifference towards him over the year, his guilt in being a part of the situation that killed Sirius, his fear of being completely alone. It all culminates and builds up inside him in a way that he can’t express or manage, and his experience of intense emotion is something that a lot of people who experience intense, overwhelming or conflicting emotions that they can’t understand or express can relate to.
A while ago, a close friend asked me not to keep contacting her which really, really hurt, and I’ve been finding it increasingly hard to manage my feelings about it. At first, I felt really upset and cried a lot which was (I think) a typical reaction to the loss of a close friendship, but it started to hurt more intensely as time went by and the urges to contact her again became stronger. It felt like intense vertigo and like there was a ‘vacuum’ inside me as though someone had sucked out all my organs and gradually that emptiness became filled with a heavy, cement-like feeling which is still there. I started to feel more zoned out and ‘slowed-down’, and have found it hard to concentrate on anything much over the last few months which hasn’t helped with starting a new job (which, thankfully, I’m nearly at the end of the contract for now). Then, over the last few weeks, I started to get a stinging feeling in my chest which feels like someone’s opened a wound there and is tipping salt into it, and I keep randomly crying with no real trigger or becoming so exhausted and overwhelmed with the feelings that I fall asleep which is both a massive relief and annoying because I feel zoned out for the rest of the day.
It also hasn’t helped that there’s been a lot of (unrelated) stuff going on recently which has involved a lot of things that remind me strongly of my friend, and that’s made the urges to contact her so strong that they’re sometimes so overwhelming that I’m physically hitting the side of my head to try to get rid of them and last week, I acted on the urge and sent her a message which she didn’t respond to and although it helped to reduce the urge at the time, I felt like the worst person in the world and so guilty about it the next day. The feelings are so horrible at the moment that I can totally relate to Harry’s ‘I’VE HAD ENOUGH…I WANT OUT, I WANT IT TO END’ but I know there’s no constructive way to do that apart from the obvious which isn’t an option because of children I’ve worked with and am very close to, and the possible impact that could have on them. I’ve also had a lot of thoughts recently about distancing from the kids and from the two people I’m currently ‘friends’ with, but I think that could hurt them even more and I don’t want to hurt anyone at all. So I’m not really left with many options but I REALLY needed to do something because I genuinely can’t deal with it much longer and I’m scared I’ll do something impulsive and stupid to manage the feelings- I’ve kept it at low level bingeing/purging and superficial cutting at the moment (using DBT skills to manage the intensity which I’ll come to later) but I’m a bit worried the bingeing will swing to full-scale bulimia if I’m not careful or I’ll stop eating completely in the hope of getting rid of the emotion completely (see Obsessions for more info about that).
It’s been particularly bad over the last couple of weeks and I’ve been thinking a lot about unfriending my friend on Facebook so that I don’t have her updates on my feed but also so that I can’t act on the urges to keep messaging her (I don’t know her current email or home address and she lives abroad so texting’s out). It was a really difficult decision for several reasons- I didn’t want to completely lose touch with her because even though she’s hurt me a lot over the last year or so, I still really miss her and the connection we had; I really, really don’t want to hurt or upset her, or make her feel the way I have done over the last few months and I’m not sure I could cope with the guilt if she did; we were friends for nearly 20 years which is a really, really long time and she knows more about me than anyone else ever including mental health professionals I saw for seven years; it’s my fault the friendship broke down because I was too intense/clingy and I really don’t want her to be upset because I’m shit at managing relationships and get paranoid. But last night, I spoke to an old friend I haven’t seen in nearly ten years but who I was close friends with at school and she pointed out that if my friend had realised the impact asking me not to contact her would have, she wouldn’t have said it the way she did and that shows that the close connection we had’s already broken, and that made so much sense so last night, I unfriended my ex-best friend.
It was genuinely one of the hardest things I’ve ever done and I feel like such a bitch about it. I couldn’t stop shaking and spent most of last night fighting urges to email her via her old email address, send her another friend request or try to message her but someone I really trust told me not to email because it would make her more upset so I didn’t contact her but I feel like the worst person in the world and a really, really selfish, bitchy and horrible person for unfriending without an explanation. I’m feeling less shaky today but still really, really guilty and a bit zoned out. I HATE my brain and how selfish I am. I know that now it’s up to her if she wants to contact me and that she knows my email address and phone number so if she wants to, she can but I’m really, really hoping she won’t be feeling upset or hurt that I’ve unfriended her. It’s not that I don’t like her- I do, but I can’t cope with this sort of feeling any more and I need to do something for self-protection and so that I don’t lose any relationships I currently have. But I hate myself so much at the moment- I know it’s totally my fault and if I wasn’t so selfish, clingy and paranoid, it wouldn’t have got to that stage in the first place but this happens with nearly every relationship I have and I don’t know how to stop it. I hate the way my brain (and body) react to situations like this and how intense it is, and I especially hate the intense urges which swing from ‘I need to contact this person NOW’ to needing to binge/vomit or cut to try to force out the guilt and horribleness inside my body. I HATE MY BRAIN and I hate the way my body reacts physically.
Since I unfriended her, the vertigo has intensified and it feels like someone’s trying to pull my stomach out through my chest, and the intense stinging is like my heart’s being twisted and ripped out. It’s horrible and it’s affecting the way I’m feeling in general- it took four attempts at getting dressed this morning to find something I felt OK in to go out the house and my mood’s even lower and more ‘shaky’ than it’s been over the last few weeks. I’ve slowed right down to present moment and thankfully I don’t have work today, and I’m focussing on getting through each hour at a time. I still feel like such as bitch though and I really, really want to apologise but DBT interpersonal skills say that you shouldn’t apologise unnecessarily even if it feels like you should. So that brings me to the first DBT skill I’m going to look at- FAST.
FAST stands for fair, apology, stick to values and truth. The aim of the skill is to manage interpersonal relationships without compromising your own self esteem or emotional wellbeing, and I think it’s a really useful (as well as really difficult) skill to use. Being ‘fair’ applies to the other person but also to yourself, and involves being assertive and also listening to the other person. I’ve tried this already and although I haven’t been as direct as I’d like to have been with her, I’ve been open with her in the past and she knows me well enough to know that I wouldn’t unfriend her in a passive-aggressive way. It’s self-protection and although I haven’t said that directly, it would probably make things worse if I did. I genuinely have tried to be as fair as I can.
According to DBT, over-apologising when it’s not completely justified can have a detrimental affect on self esteem and self respect, and make negative emotions worse. It also points out that by apologising unnecessarily, you negate the effect when you actually do apologise which is something I hadn’t really thought about but is probably true. I’ve been thinking about the situation a lot and although I still think I should apologise for unfriending her, I can see that by doing that, I’m emphasising my ‘fault’ in the whole situation and that’s not going to be helpful for trying to reduce guilt and get over it. So I’m trying to be mindful of the guilt and urges to apologise without acting on them which is HARD but I think that if I can manage it, it could be a really positive thing.
Sticking to values means keeping to things that are important to you. I find the concept of values hard but I know that being fair, direct, accepting, honest and assertive are qualities that I really respect and value in other people so I’d hope that they are values I can try to embody too. In this situation, I don’t feel like I’ve really stuck to those values but I can’t see any way I could do without actually contacting her and explaining. I have been accepting of her decision to stop the contact though and I think I’ve been as fair and direct as I can be, so maybe I’m halfway there. It’s a hard skill though and I think I need to practise it a lot more before I’m able to actually use it properly.
Truthfulness is something that’s really important to me anyway and I think I’ve been as truthful as I can be. Before we lost contact, I had mentioned to her that I was getting paranoid about people not actually being friends with me or wanting to keep in touch and I’ve always been open and honest with her, so I think she knows enough about how I think and react to know why I’ve acted like this. If not, I’m h0ping she also knows me well enough to know that I’ll always be honest and truthful in emails so she can email me if she wants.
I’ve also been using a LOT of the emotion regulation skills to try to deal with the intensity of emotion, both physical and emotional, I’ve been experiencing. I won’t go into opposite action because I’ve already talked about it a lot in Opposite Action in action- more DBT!, but I’m going to look at other strategies such as seeing emotion as a wave and being mindful of emotions. Both of these involve trying to distance from the emotion and seeing it as something that happens to you rather than being a part of you which I find really hard to get my head around in relation to emotions but I’ve managed in relation to thoughts via the bitch in my head (Inside my head…), and I’ve been trying to link this to emotions by seeing my emotional state as something that the bitch in my head can hijack and gain access to via a skeleton key she’s got which gives her direct access to my feelings and emotions which she can then use to her advantage.
So for me, a big part of emotion regulation is trying to prevent her from having access to my emotions by accepting what she says without believing it, talking back to her and trying to be more compassionate towards her so she’s not as angry and sometimes that helps but sometimes she gets in before I’ve realised it. That’s when the DBT emotion regulation skills come in and they’re a lot easier to apply when the emotions are a result of the bitch in my head rather than being an intrinsic part of ‘me’ and how I’m thinking or feeling. Seeing emotion as a wave is based on the idea that emotions peak and eventually subside so if you try to distract or tolerate the emotion, it will eventually ease off to a more tolerable level. I have a distress tolerance card which I’ve been relying on a lot recently to try to manage emotions, and it’s something I would recommend to anyone who experiences intense emotions- the idea is that you do at least two things from the card before any unhelpful behaviour and sometimes it does distract for long enough for the emotion to start to subside and (for me) the positive feelings associated with not acting on the emotion are often enough to help it subside completely to a point where I can manage it more easily. It’s definitely worth making a card if you don’t already have one. Mine’s colour-coded to make it easier to use when I’ve feeling intense emotion and that can help for some people.
I’ve also been trying to be mindful of emotions which is really hard but it’s a skill I’m finding increasingly useful the more I practise it. The basic idea is to observe and be aware of your emotions (even if you can’t identify what they are) and not judge them, and just ‘let’ them rise and fall. It links to the wave idea and I’ve been trying to imagine emotional intensity rising and falling like waves, and sometimes this is easier than waiting for the wave to peak because it often feels like it won’t! It’s really hard not to judge emotions though especially guilt or anxiety, and DBT thought and emotion defusion teaches you imagine the thought or judgement like leaves on a stream- recognise and acknowledge them but let them pass without fixating on them and this takes a LOT of practice but I’m starting to find it useful, especially with obsessive thoughts.
Outside of DBT skills, the other thing I find really useful for managing difficult emotions and trying not to act on them is use fictional characters as a sort of ‘channel’ or outlet for that emotion. I’ve been doing this in various ways ever since I can remember but the most useful ones at the moment are the Sims and through Carrie Mathison from Homeland (I did a post on this a while ago called Learning emotion regulation via Carrie Mathison). The Sims is a bit of a weird one because it can either be really, really useful or makes things a million times harder so I’m always a bit wary when I use it, but sometimes it can be really useful. In a situation when I’m missing someone but know that contacting them would be too much, it’s actually really beneficial to ‘talk’ to that person on the Sims because it really does feel like you’re actually communicating with them and it can help you feel less lonely. At the moment, that’s not a good idea in this particular situation because even seeing her as a Sim makes me feel really upset but what I have found useful on the Sims is creating an ‘ideal’ version of me and levelling up skills and career roles so it feels like I’m actually achieving something and that stimulates the same dopamine release as if you were actually doing something positive. I know it’s not ‘real’ but as a short-term emotion management technique, it’s pretty useful and doesn’t involve annoying other people.
The other thing I’ve found really useful is rewatching parts of Homeland season five and trying to learn about relationship skills and emotion management from Carrie’s relationship with Saul. Throughout the first few seasons, Saul is Carrie’s mentor and close friend and she really respects and looks up to him in a way she doesn’t with any other character, and there are several examples where they save each other’s lives or connect with each other on a deeper, more personal level and in season four, Carrie is described as “his child, practically”, and that really is the kind of relationship they have (although much more from Carrie’s perspective; there are also examples where Saul has ‘used’ Carrie to suit his or the agency’s needs). But in between seasons four and five, Carrie and Saul have had a breakdown of their relationship and are no longer talking. Carrie finds this difficult to deal with, particularly as Saul’s values seem to be diametrically opposed to her own, and throughout the season she attempts to reconnect with him. When she is led to believe that Saul is trying to kill her, she describes their relationship as “someone I trusted more than I’ve ever trusted anyone” and there are a lot of examples of this throughout the series and of their mutual trust and respect for each other which, in some places, borders on an almost familial love.
In the other post, I wrote that “We don’t find out in Homeland what could have happened to make them split so intensely but I think from a self-protection perspective, Carrie couldn’t allow herself to become so emotionally vulnerable again which is why, when Saul tried to make up with her, she wouldn’t let him, telling him, ‘I’m not that person any more.’ When I first saw this, it genuinely made me cry but I really do accept why Carrie made that decision- she needs to protect herself and she’s come so far since season one/ Sometimes it’s really hard but you need to move on and accept that sometimes even very close, long term relationships end. People change and you can’t do anything about that . It’s horrible, genuinely feels like you’re being punched repeatedly in the stomach and your chest is being ripped open but staying attached to the person that someone used to be isn’t helpful for either person. Carrie made what is for her the right decision, and Saul needed to accept that. It’s not going to be easy for either of them and there is an intense part of me that really, really wanted them to make it up but I know that wouldn’t have been possible and that one of them would have had to change and compromise themselves which wouldn’t be the basis for a healthy relationship. Saul helped Carrie to grow and develop as a person and she provided him with emotional support and trust when he needed it, but they both changed and it was time for them to move on.”
I’ve been watching that scene over and over and although it’s made me cry and feel as though my heart’s being ripped several times over, I can see how Carrie needs to completely distance from Saul in order to rebuild emotionally and to protect herself from that intensity of feeling. I’m guessing she must feel as guilty as I do at the moment, especially when Saul says, “Goddammit Carrie, I need you” and she replies, “And I said, I’m not that person any more”, and it must have been so hard for her to make that decision knowing that it was partly because of her that the friendship broke down and that she’s hurting Saul by cutting him off emotionally, but I think it really was the right decision. She needs to protect herself and not allow herself to become emotionally vulnerable, and she can’t risk the same friendship break up happening again. The emotional bond broke when they first became distanced from each other and that would be impossible to rebuild.
I found that really, really useful to think about because Carrie was as close to Saul as I was to my best friend, and they were close for a similar length of time. Like me and my friend, they were very different people and the friendship was intense but also dependent on mutual communication. Saul changed and moved on in a very similar way to my friend but Carrie stayed in the same emotionally intense state she’s always been in even if she’s learning to manage it more effectively now, and I think Saul just got to a point where he couldn’t tolerate it any more. As Carrie grows, both as an officer and as person, she starts to act outside of Saul’s influence or instruction a lot more and doesn’t need his approval as much as she did in the past and Saul’s focussed on his career progression and the agency, so once they’ve split it’s really difficult for them to bond in the same way again. I think it’s similar with my friend- we’ve both gone in very different directions over the last few years (or, more accurately, she’s moved on and I’ve stayed in the same place) and we don’t have the same sort of mutual connection any more that we had growing up. It’s really hard to deal with and it really, really hurts but there’s nothing I can do to change that and that’s where the DBT skills come in.
It’s still hurting too much to draw any sort of line under it and I’m feeling like a mess of intense vertigo and stinging pain at the moment, but I’m hoping that I can get to the point that Carrie reached where, although there was a massive part of her that wanted to reconnect with Saul, she realised that it wasn’t possible, ‘real’ or healthy and made the decision to consciously distance herself and move on from it. I have no idea how this will turn out and if my friend will even realise I’ve unfriended her, but I can’t do anything more and I need to distance from the whole situation. So I’m going to try not to fixate on it or obsess over possibilities, and I want to eventually move on and accept whatever happens from here…
Last weekend, I took part in an amazing ultrarunning event called Hope24 which was an event to raise money for a charity called Hope for Children, organised by an awesome man called Danny Slay. WOW. It was seriously the best organised and friendliest running event I’ve ever taken part in- the marshals were AMAZING, the route was clearly marked and easy to follow, the scenery was incredible, the tent area was accessible, everyone was super-friendly… Such an awesome event!! It was the most technically difficult event I’ve run so far- five miles laps with lots of steep hills (up and downhill, including one HORRIBLE incline that felt more like climbing than walk/running between miles 2 and 3!), uneven ground and the obvious darkness at night but it was so, so worth it for the scenery. Bluebells, woodland, tall trees, morning mist, sunset and sunrise, stream, sheep and lambs, horses…it was like running in a magical fairyland! AMAZING.
Before the race started, I was really, really nervous and seriously thinking about pulling out. I’ve not been feeling great recently after a friendship break up (which I’ve talked about a lot in other posts so won’t go into detail now) and not had a lot of motivation to run, so my ‘training’ had been sort of non-existent and I hadn’t run much more than a few miles in months and even that’s been a struggle so I knew that physically I wasn’t anywhere near as prepared as I should be. But I’ve already pulled out of the London marathon this year (anxiety about crowds and being in London as well as ‘can’t-be-botheredness’) and I usually love ultras, and a friend mentioned a few weeks ago that running another one might help to get back into running again so I decided to go through with it based on the reasoning that it’s an ultra, not a marathon, and there’s no pressure to run any distance at all so you can stop after one lap if you want to. So, having travelled to Devon and bought a RIDICULOUS amount of food (which brought back horrible memories of teenage binges and I nearly had a panic attack at the supermarket checkout), I didn’t really have much choice except to run…
I got there Saturday morning and set up my tent close to the start line so I wouldn’t lose it in the middle of the night (I was on my own with no support crew, so the likelihood of getting completely confused mid-ultra was pretty high) and walked around the campsite until the race briefing. Right before an ultra is always the most horrible bit- the nerves kick in, you feel sick, there are SO MANY PEOPLE (although minimal compared to a road race), everyone seems to much fitter and more prepared than you… The bitch in my head started up, reminding me that I’m lazy for not preparing, I’m way too fat to take part in any athletic events, people must think I’m delusional for even entering, I’m not good enough to be there and a million other things to make me feel even more nervous than I already did so I tried to ‘ground’ myself in the moment, counting the amount of people around, listening to voices, race announcements, cars and dogs, really focussing on smelling and tasting the coffee I was drinking for energy, squeezing marathon foot and my angel stones. It helped a bit and the pre-race nerves started to overtake feeling guilty and paranoid, and I put on a Harry Potter audiobook to distract which really helped. Then it was the (thankfully short) race briefing and, at midday, the race finally started.
The first couple of laps went surprisingly well- I felt OK physically, had my ‘mood stabiliser’ Spotify playlist on my ipod which has everything from Alanis Morissette and Disney to Pink Floyd and Green Day, the weather was nice and not too hot, and people spread out pretty quickly so there weren’t too many people running any given part of the course. The course itself was awesome- there was a bit of a long hill at the start but the views from the top of the field were incredible and a beautiful run through woodland with bluebells (bluebells remind me of my Granda Sam who loved them, and I always try to channel his enthusiasm- he was one of the most enthusiastic people I have ever met, loved dancing and kids and was just generally awesome, which definitely helped). Then there was a steep downhill through more trees towards a stream then up a mega steep hill, down briefly through more trees and up towards the field again, awesome path running through the field with sheep and horses then back down towards the campsite, out into the woods again with another, less steep uphill and along a flattish path through trees to a field leading back to the campsite again. Wow!! Some seriously incredible scenery and I found that I actually really enjoyed the first few laps which was pretty amazing because I haven’t enjoyed a run in nearly six months. So I’m definitely going to keep hold of that…
Laps four and five were pretty uneventful- I met some awesome people including a lovely man I ran/walked with for a while without actually finding out his name who gave me some really good advice about managing anxiety around crowds and several people whose life stories and jobs seem way more interesting than mine! Then, after running nearly six hours, I took a short ‘break’ to have a coffee and some peanut butter (I’d been a bit rubbish at fuelling up to then and had basically survived on Haribo) before setting off again. It was definitely getting harder by that point- my legs had started to seize up a bit and my right knee (which I’ve injured in the past) was starting to twinge so I slowed down and started to walk a lot more of the laps than I had done up to then. I switched back to Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and tried to relax into it but it was so hard to get motivated and every part of my body wanted to stop. I’d told myself I wasn’t going to have a proper ‘break’ until 10 laps (50 miles) in, but at about 10pm I was ready to quit and getting serious urges to fall off the high paths which scared me a bit so I decided to have a break, get some porridge and try to figure out what to do.
It was dark by this point which really didn’t help and it was getting cold so I put on some extra layers and ate the porridge which helped a bit. I was a bit scared about running in the dark but there were people crossing the start line at regular intervals so I kept reminding myself that there would be people all around the route. I really, really wanted to just quit and go to sleep and the bitch in my head was yelling at me that I was simultaneously too rubbish to complete the run and that I was lazy for wanting to quit so my head was like a whirling mess of confusion, so I put Harry Potter back on and forced myself to go back out. The next couple of laps were- I hate running in the dark anyway and was scared of falling so I kept slowing to a walk but just after midnight, the ultrarunning paranoia and hallucinations kicked in (which is pretty usual for me mid-ultra) and I was convinced I could see Death Eaters hiding behind trees and that someone was going to kill me. I got really freaked out and ran more than I probably should have but every time someone came up behind me with a head torch which added extra shadows, it was so scary and a lot of the time I was sure I could see someone next to me although logically I knew it was just my shadow from the headtorch. Not nice! And looking back, I don’t think listening to the end of OotP was a good idea running through woods in the middle of the night which is creepy enough anyway so I put on some Disney instead and tried to channel that.
But then my ipod cut out so I had a couple of laps in complete silence which really wasn’t ideal. I did some stargazing which was pretty awesome- I couldn’t find Orion which panicked me more than it should have (especially since, thinking about it rationally, it’s nearly summer and Orion is a winter constellation so it’s much more likely it’s not visible in May rather than I’ve really annoyed God somehow and that’s why I can’t see Orion which is definitely mid-ultra paranoia!), but I saw the Plough, Cassiopeia and the Pole Star which did help to ground me a bit. I love looking at the stars because wherever you are, the stars are always constant and that feels safe. Orion’s my favourite because he was the first constellation I ever learned to recognise and I used to talk to him when I was little, and I still feel safe whenever I can see him in the sky. Running through an open field under a clear sky of stars with minimal light pollution is pretty incredible and I turned off my headtorch so I feel like I was running through space.
Once I’d got back into the trees, I started to feel bit creeped out again and without music or audiobooks to distract, I decided to try Occlumency again (sensory grounding really didn’t seem like the best idea given that it was the environment I was in that was freaking me out). I’d been running close to 14 hours by this point and my brain was a bit fuzzy which weirdly helped with trying to detach from emotion and stop the bitch in my head from being able to access my thoughts and feelings. It felt very surreal but genuinely did help, and I think that the concept of Legilimency/Occlumency (the idea of someone trying to penetrate and alter your thoughts and emotions) is really, really powerful and can be relevant to so many mental health issues. I started to think of the bitch in my head as Voldemort trying to alter Harry’s thoughts and emotions, and that was really helpful because in the Potterverse, there’s an actual technique you can use to manage that AND IT SORT OF HELPS! That was one of the main things I realised during the run and, for me, it’s so important. Definitely going to keep up practising Occlumency and I’m going to explore the link between that and the bitch in my head a lot more because I found it really, really helpful.
I finally got back to the campsite around 3am and decided to take another break. I was FREEZING by that point- the temperature had dropped massively thanks to the clear skies and there was condensation inside my tent, so I wrapped up in my sleeping bag and fleecy blanket and tried to stop shivering. It didn’t work so I put on three more long-sleeved tops and two pairs of gloves (four of my fingers were white and so were my feet), and curled up as small as I could to try to get some body heat. It was SO COLD; my whole body was shaking and my teeth were chattering audibly. My chest hurt and I could feel my heart painfully with every beat, and it felt like my bones were made of ice. I genuinely thought I was going to die of hypothermia (more mid-ultra overreaction!) and it was so, so hard to motivate myself to actually going back out there. Even though I was freezing in the tent, it was even colder outside and I was scared I’d collapse or die but I forced myself (literally- it was like forcing every muscle to move individually) to get moving and back out on the course. I wore five tops, a puffa jacket and both pairs of gloves, and told myself I could walk the next lap because I felt too cold to move. So, so hard to get going again but probably the best idea- staying in the tent would have been dangerous cold-wise, and moving did help to get my circulation moving at least a little bit.
Thankfully around 5am, it was getting light enough not to need a headtorch and that really, really helped. There’s something about running through the night and the sun coming up which makes you feel surreal and connected with the world around you in a way I’ve never experienced any other time, and suddenly you realise that you’ve done the hardest part of the run and all that’s left is to just finish. My ipod and phone were both dead by this point which was frustrating because I wanted to take photos of the sunrise, and the AMAZING marshall at the first hill (the awesome guy with the pink/purple beard called Kevin) was chatting to me when I passed and offered to charge my phone for me so I could take photos- SO NICE of him! He was seriously awesome throughout the whole event and deserves a million thank yous for how enthusiastic, nice and just generally amazing he was. I walked most of that lap, partly because I was still freezing and shivering and partly because I was totally bloody knackered by then, and I met an amazing woman called Vicky who I walked a lot of that lap with. She was so nice and friendly, and was the lead woman at that point which was pretty amazing! Was so nice to meet and chat to her, and really helped my motivation to not just quit after 50ish miles.
After that lap, I started running a bit again and picked up my now-charged phone from Kevin, and took lots of photos of the sunrise which was pretty incredible. The light was amazing, it was starting to warm up and I was feeling a lot more real and alive than I had done over the previous 6-8 hours, and I started to realise that I might actually make it to midday without collapsing or quitting which felt almost achievable. I put Harry Potter back on and thankfully the battle at the Ministry was almost over and I had the really emotional scene between Harry and Dumbledore at the end to listen to for the next couple of laps. It’s a pretty emotional bit anyway but I was crying by the end of the book, partly because of Harry’s guilt and loss, partly from Dumbledore’s amazing strength given his own family history which he didn’t tell Harry and his real affection for Harry himself, and partly because the lambs had woken up and were leaping around in the sunlight, and the horrible realisation of why I’m vegetarian suddenly hit me in an intense wave of guilt. Ultrarunning over-emotion!
At about 9am, I took a quick break to have some more coffee and porridge before starting up again. I was getting really tired and sore by this point, and the hill from hell really felt like it was killing my legs every time I attempted it so I took it really slowly and tried to enjoy the course. I was chatting to a few more amazing people over the next couple of hours, some of whom had managed a mind-blowing amount of miles, and there was another amazing marshall near the bottom of the bluebell trail who put on rock music and was awesome and encouraging. All the marshals and organisers were so nice!! Made such a massive difference to the run.
The last couple of laps were HARD. The sun had come up properly and it was getting hot which made it really hard to run, especially when all your muscles are so sore already. I realised that I’d already covered 70 miles which was way more than I thought I would so slowed right down, took lots of photos and tried to enjoy the last lap. It was painful, especially the horrible hill from hell, but worth it to finish on 78 miles which is weirdly only two miles less than the 24 hour run I took part in last year and which was much, much easier terrain. Crossing the finish line at just gone 12.30pm was pretty amazing and everyone was so enthusiastic and encouraging even though most people had been awake and/or running for over a full day and night by then. WOW. Seriously amazing atmosphere!!
I was pretty zoned out afterwards and didn’t really process it properly until later, but WOW. It was an incredible event and thank you so much to everyone who organised and helped with it- you are all amazing people!!! I found out afterwards that I’d somehow come 6th out of 76 female solo runners and I seriously have no idea how that happened but felt amazing, especially considering how hard I found the run and how unprepared I was. But I learned so, so much over the course of the 24 hours which I’ve been trying to distil into some sort of coherent thoughts…
I love the stars. There’s something amazing about looking at an endless expanse of everything and nothing, something impossible to fully comprehend. It alters your perspective somehow, fear mixed with awe in equal amounts and suddenly everything fits. It’s the rush of infinity, the realization of your insignificance and contingence in the shifting universe around you. A sense of vertigo in nature as the sky stretches endlessly into the vacuum of space and the vast ocean depths echo below. It’s strange how sometimes the more alone you are, the less lonely you feel. Floating in the ocean with the stars for company, there’s a sense of cosmic belonging, a sort of oneness.
Quick disclaimer: I am a massive Homeland fan. I love the show and have a website and blog dedicated to it (Carrie Mathison’s Diary), and I’m particularly fascinated by Carrie Mathison as a character. For people who have never watched Homeland, she’s a CIA intelligence officer with bipolar affective disorder and this is an integral part of her character and how she reacts to situations both at work and in her personal life.
There are lots of different aspects of Carrie’s character which are useful and interesting to look at in the context on managing mental health issues such as her obsessive tendencies, difficulties with empathy, extreme mood swings, medication management and so many others which I might write about in later posts, but the most beneficial one for me is her emotion regulation skills, or lack of. Carrie’s character has changed a lot from season one to season five (the most recent season) and she’s learned a lot of new and helpful coping strategies to manage her illness as well as becoming more aware of her own thoughts, feelings and behaviours, and it’s useful to look at this in the wider context of managing emotions in everyday life.
Throughout season one, Carrie is aware of her bipolar disorder but attempts to manage it through medication obtained from her psychiatrist sister and without disclosing it to the CIA because she would lose her security clearance. Her emotions are intense and unstable which is clear from the first episode where we see her on a night out, coming home to change, wash and take her medication before arriving late at work for a briefing meeting. She’s volatile and intense and seems to live in a state of almost constant hypomania, fixating on her ‘work’ as she sees it and obsessing about the possibility of Nicholas Brody working for Abu Nazir, who has been the subject of her intense fixation for several years. She appears to be constantly on edge and hyped, working fast and intensely and impatient with other who do not see things her way. This culminates in a full-blown manic episode near the end of season one where she ends up in hospital after an explosion without her medication which triggers her mania.
Carrie is unable to manage her mood and emotions effectively throughout the first few seasons of Homeland and this leads her to losing her job at the CIA, attempting suicide after being rejected by them once again and finally being reinstated after her obsessive theories are proved to be true. It’s hard to watch as you see her trying desperately to contain her emotions, listening to jazz music and breathing deeply, taking her clandestine medication (clozapine) but it’s so hard for her to manage on her own and she ends up in hospital again which was partly a result of CIA intervention to use her as ‘bait’ but also taking advantage of her mood and emotional difficulties. The benefit to this is that she finally starts to take regular, prescribed medication (lithium, a mood stabiliser) and this does seem to help her to manage her extreme moods more effectively. There is a brief period when Carrie stops taking her medication to manage it herself through meditation and exercise but this does not work fully and she returns to taking the medication.
From the first few seasons, we learn with Carrie the importance of understanding your own experience and symptoms, and ways to manage them to minimise their interference with your daily life or work. Carrie realises gradually that by taking her medication every day, sticking to as much of a sleep and healthy eating routine as she can, having a ‘higher power’ (meditation or God), and taking time to destress through listening to music or running, she can learn to stabilise her moods as much as possible and so that they don’t interfere with either her personal life or her work at the CIA. There’s a conflict with her in that she believes that the medication ‘dulls’ her judgement and prevents her from working as effectively as she could do but she also realises that on balance, it is more beneficial for her work and for her mental health long term. Bipolar affective disorder is a lifelong condition that needs careful management, and Carrie recognises this.
Season four is an interesting season in relation to Carrie because although she’s taking her medication regularly, she’s based in a volatile environment in Pakistan as station chief which triggers the return of some of her difficulties with mood regulation. There’s a brief time when she uses sexual inhibition as a way to persuade an asset (a young man called Aayan) to cooperate with her operation which shows again how she can have difficulties with empathy, boundaries and not fixating on the ‘mission’, and later that season her medication is tampered with resulting in full-blown mania and psychosis. It’s a very intense and volatile time, and this has an impact on Carrie’s mental health as she swings from hypomanic fixation on her role in the mission, intense emotions as she becomes over-attached to Aayan and he is subsequently killed, her ethical conflict about completing her mission to kill Haqqani which would also kill Saul, and her emotional outbursts of anger, frustration and loss. By the end of the season, she’s back in USA and trying to readjust to a more stable life and by the time season five begins, she’s managed to find a routine that works for her and keeps her moods stable.
In season five, we see a massive change in Carrie’s emotional state. She’s living in Berlin, bringing up her daughter (a result of her intense relationship with Nicholas Brody in the first three seasons) and in a seemingly long-term relationship with a man called Jonas. She’s taking her medication regularly, attending church, taking Frannie to nursery and working for a security company called the During Foundation. She appears to have good insight into her illness and how to manage it, and her moods are more stable than we’ve ever seen them. But, in typical Carrie style, this doesn’t last and soon she’s off her medication which results in intense mania and psychosis with extreme paranoia and hallucinations. She learns from this quickly though and is taking her medication by the next episode although by then, she’s already involved in a complicated series of events which I’m not going to go into detail about here- see my Homeland blog if you’re interested! Season five is hard to watch because Carrie is so painfully aware of her illness and how it can affect her, and although that’s vital in keeping her emotions under control, it’s also hard seeing her trying to have a ‘normal’ life and relationship which she’s never managed before. There are some really positive changes- her reversion to Catholicism and repeated praying, taking her medication regularly, trying to be a good mother, doing deep breathing when she gets worked up or praying, trying not to act on impulses. All of this is significant because it shows how her awareness of and commitment to managing her moods really does help with emotion regulation and she is a much more stable and resilient person than we’ve seen in previous seasons.
Carrie’s attempts to manage her moods mirror a lot of skills used in DBT. One of the key emotion regulation skills in DBT is called PLEASE, which stands for treat Physical iLlness, Eat healthily, Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs, keep a regular Sleep pattern and Exercise. In the first few seasons, we see Carrie frequently neglecting to sleep or eat properly, drinking large quantities of alcohol, self-medicating and only focussing on work but by season five, she’s sober, taking her prescribed medication every day, sleeping and eating apparently regularly (as much as her work permits), taking time to take care of herself and running as exercise. And those skills are useful for anyone, regardless of mood disorder or not. Carrie also appears to have a lot more awareness of her own emotions and acceptance of them which helps her to recognise and manage them more effectively instead of acting impulsively.
Another DBT skill is ‘connecting to your higher power’ as a way to ‘improve the moment’ and manage intense emotions. Carrie has reverted to Catholicism in season five and this appears to be a major part of her life- we see her in church taking communion and praying when she’s feeling overwhelmed or desperate whereas a few seasons previously, she’d have been downing pills with a bottle of wine or making herself sexually available to men. Carrie’s style of prayer fits with the DBT idea of radical acceptance- accepting the moment as it is without judgement and accepting distress or emotions without acting on it. This is such a massive shift for Carrie and shows how far she’s come since season one, and the same skills are relevant for anyone to try. Higher power doesn’t need to be God- it can be nature, spiritual, feeling connected…anything that takes you out of yourself. For me, it’s long distance running or looking up at the stars- you’re insignificant in the best way and nothing really matters.
The other part of Carrie’s character development that really got to me was her relationship with Saul Berenson. From the beginning, Saul was her mentor and friend which was consistent throughout the series- for Carrie, possibly the only consistent thing and it’s always Saul who Carrie would go to for help, advice or reassurance. Saul was also self-focussed though and in season three, he began to take advantage of Carrie’s vulnerability by using her bipolar disorder as a way to gain a valuable asset. But in season four, we see again how Carrie’s more than his protégée- as Haqqani said last season, she’s “his daughter, practically” and they’ve both been there for each other in so many crisis situations. Even though Saul has used Carrie (or allowed her to be used) in so many horrible ways- sending authority figures after her in season one, going to Beirut in season two, being admitted to a psychiatric ward in season three- he’s also supported and guided her throughout her career and it’s always been Saul she’s gone to in crisis.
In season four, it was Carrie who talked Saul through being targeted and recaptured, and Carrie who talked him down at the prisoner exchange. Carrie said several times, even after their relationship broke down, that she trusts Saul more than she’s ever trusted anyone. We still don’t know exactly why they aren’t really talking but it doesn’t really matter- the connection is still, and always will be, there. There are so many examples in Homeland of how close and mutually reliant there are- Carrie asking for Saul’s advice in season one, Saul telling Carrie she’s “the strongest person I know” in season three, Carrie urging Saul to trust her in season four, Saul visiting Carrie in hospital in season one, Saul watching over Carrie when she was depressed and unwell, Saul’s hurt when he found out that Carrie had concealed her bipolar from him… We don’t find out in Homeland what could have happened to make them split so intensely but I think from a self-protection perspective, Carrie couldn’t allow herself to become so emotionally vulnerable again which is why, when Saul tried to make up with her, she wouldn’t let him, telling him, “I’m not that person any more.”
When I first saw this, it genuinely made me cry but I really do accept why Carrie made that decision- she needs to protect herself and she’s come so far since season one. I wrote a post yesterday about friendships (Friendships and mindfulness) and this really links to the same idea. Sometimes it’s really hard but you need to move on and accept that sometimes even very close, long term relationships end. People change and you can’t do anything about that. It’s horrible, genuinely feels like you’re being punched repeatedly in the stomach and your chest is being ripped open but staying attached to the person that someone used to be isn’t helpful for either person. Carrie made what is for her the right decision, and Saul needed to accept that. It’s not going to be easy for either of them and there is an intense part of me that really, really wanted them to make it up but I know that wouldn’t have been possible and that one of them would have had to change and compromise themselves which wouldn’t be the basis for a healthy relationship. Saul helped Carrie to grow and develop as a person and she provided him with emotional support and trust when he needed it, but they both changed and it was time for them to move on.
I think this is maybe the most important lesson I’ve learned from Carrie Mathison- that people change and move on and that’s OK, it isn’t your fault, people need different people at different stages in their lives and that’s normal because people change at different rates. It’s OK to be upset or to miss the friendship but it’s also important to accept the change and move on from it. Carrie was given the opportunity to reinstate the friendship but she chose not to, not because she doesn’t still love or value Saul but because she needs to protect herself from that amount of hurt again, and both she and Saul have changed and moved on. Their relationship would never have been the same and it wouldn’t be healthy for either of them to try to recreate that. Being mindful of your emotions and learning to regulate them is so important, and I think Carrie can teach some really valuable lessons about techniques and practical applications of emotion regulation skills.
I really, really wish I could believe this! This quote came up on my Facebook feed recently and it got me thinking again about how DBT skills (particularly mindfulness) can relate to and be helpful for managing friendships and social relationships. I find friendships particularly difficult, both the practical aspects like actually meeting people and making friends as well as the confusingness of boundaries, knowing what is a friendship and what isn’t, managing paranoia or intense feelings of guilt about social interactions, and keeping a friendship in a healthy way. Some of the interpersonal skills from DBT have been really, really useful for this (particularly DEARMAN which I’m going to talk about in more detail in another post) but also, surprisingly, some of the mindfulness skills. To be completely honest, mindfulness is the aspect of DBT which I find hardest and often miss out, partly because it’s more abstract and not as ‘practical’ or logical as the other components (distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal skills) and partly because it’s genuinely HARD and takes a lot of practice to actually have any effect at all. But recently I started to fill in a DBT diary every day which has a checklist of skills from every component of DBT so I’ve been reading more about the mindfulness skills, and one in particular really got to me and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. I would never have thought to look at friendships in this way but it really makes sense- here’s the extract from the book (‘The Dialectical Behavior Diary’, Matthew McKay and Jeffrey C. Wood):
I can really, really relate to this! Even though I’ve done a lot of work on black-and-white thinking over the last fifteen years, in therapy and trying to apply it to life situations, I still find it really difficult not to think of everything in extremes. This is especially true in friendships and I know I tend to either over-idolise people and think they’re amazing in every possible way or think that they hate me, aren’t talking to me or don’t trust me, and there’s very rarely anything in the middle. I’m not as bad with it as when I was a teenager (when nearly everyone I knew fell into one of the two categories and I was in a state of constant paranoia about upsetting people) but it’s still something I find hard to balance.
There are so many useful points in this extract and I’m going to look at them one at a time. The first one is the main point of the section- the idea of beginner’s mind. Beginner’s mind is where you try to look at a situation or interaction as though you’ve never experienced it before and that counts both for the actual situation and for the people involved. So there are no judgements, preconceptions or anxieties about it at all- it just IS. This is really hard to get your head around (at least for me!) but it basically means that you don’t have any expectations at all about how the situation might go (I did another post on this recently- see Celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare with DBT skills…) and in theory this should reduce any anxiety around it, stop you from acting according to emotions or judgements, and minimise negative interactions that could come from anxiety or paranoia. I really like this concept but it’s so hard to do in practice!
The next part which I find particularly useful is how this concept links to black-and-white thinking. The part about best friends really, really got to me and I can relate to it so much, and hadn’t thought about it in that way at all but it makes so much sense. I recently lost a very close friendship and I’ve found it really, really hard to deal with. It happened in December and it’s now May but the intense feelings of guilt and hurt, the inner ‘vacuum’ as though someone’s punched me in the stomach and sucked out my insides, obsessive thoughts about wanting to contact her or get back in touch, and the bitch in my head telling me constantly that it’s completely my fault, I’m horrible and obsessive, and that I don’t deserve any friends haven’t eased off at all and sometimes even seem to be getting stronger. I’ve tried distress tolerance skills to manage them which work temporarily but after a few months, it’s starting to feel like I’m just ‘existing’ and that there’s not really any point because my default state is paranoia and I don’t have the energy or motivation to keep fighting it, so I really need to try a different approach.
I think that one of the reasons the loss of the friendship hit me so hard was because I genuinely thought that the friendship could never break and that we’d be best friends forever. We’d been friends for 19 years which is a really, really long time and although we didn’t see each other much in person (she lived a long way away from me), we texted and emailed regularly and she’d always be the person I’d message in a crisis or if I had any particularly exciting news that I wanted to share. I think that’s the part I miss most- being able to message ANY TIME about basically anything without it seeing weird or inappropriate and I still get urges to text her about something on an almost daily basis then have to cope with the fact that I can’t, and the hurt hits all over again just as intensely (if not more) than it did the first time.
This is where I think the mindfulness idea is really, really useful- one of the reasons it hurt so much was because of the ‘expectations’ from how I saw the friendship. She was my ‘best friend’ and I thought we’d ‘always’ be friends, and we would ‘never’ fall out or lose touch. It really was a black-and-white perspective and I think that’s something that made the friendship break up really hard to deal with. In the Shakespeare post, I talked about putting people on a pedestal and how that means it hurts more if something happens to knock them off the pedestal and the same idea applies here. It’s really important to realise that people are people and no one’s perfect, and that sometimes friends change and move on and that’s OK, and part of life. It’s not realistic to see any relationship as ‘perfect’ or faultless, and disagreeing is part of any social relationship. It’s important because it shows you that you can disagree on something and still be friends, which helps to reduce unrealistic expectations about the friendship. It’s hard because, for me anyway, there’s a big part of me that thinks that I’m lucky that person wants to spend time with me in the first place but that’s not a healthy relationship.
I like the concept of beginner’s mind in relation to friendships because it takes away anxiety/paranoia about how a friendship ‘is’ or what the other person’s thinking. It’s impossible to be paranoid about upsetting someone or what they think of you when you’re taking the friendship as it comes, treating every interaction like a new encounter and trying not to fixate on the friendship when you’re not actually interacting with that friend. It’s really, really hard and you can’t ‘stop’ yourself from thinking about it, but another DBT skill which can be helpful with this is the ‘leaves on a stream’ thought defusion exercise (also a mindfulness skill) where you acknowledge thoughts but don’t fixate on them, and visualise them like leaves floating down a stream- you’re aware of them but not focussing on them. By trying to get rid of thoughts, especially obsessive thoughts, you actually reinforce them so this is a really useful skills to practise although, like nearly all the mindfulness skills, it takes a lot of practice to actually have an effect.
This whole idea reminds me of a Harry Potter quote from Prisoner of Azkaban where Sirius says to Harry, “Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.” Even though I’ve read the book over and over since it was released in 1998, this quote still really gets to me and can still make me cry. And it’s so true- no one’s perfect and it’s important not to expect people to be. People have different perspectives and grow and change, and sometimes that means that a friendship can break down not because of anyone’s fault, just because of natural growth and change. In the book, Sirius was betrayed by Peter Pettigrew who he had considered a friend but who had chosen to act on his ‘dark side’. I think talking about Snape would need several posts to itself but the whole concept of friendship, love and change is prevalent throughout the Harry Potter books and it’s really helpful to look at it sometimes. I love Luna’s quote “I liked the DA meetings. It was like having friends” and for Luna, people accepting her and spending time with her is enough to count as friendship. She doesn’t fixate on the relationships and genuinely does have a ‘beginner’s mind’ approach to friendships, and that really seems to work for her and she ends up with several ‘real’ friends which means more to her than it does to any other character (the linked pictures in her bedroom still make me feel emotional).
I’m going to finish by reposting the list of things I’ve realised recently about friendships from the Shakespeare post. Hopefully some of this has made sense!
Seeing as I live in the Midlands, it was pretty much impossible to miss the celebrations of 400 years of Shakespeare’s legacy, particularly as I was working in Stratford this afternoon. I did an English degree and was particularly interested in Shakespeare at one point (although via science fiction- long story) but I haven’t had much exposure to his work recently. I was googling quotes that might be interesting to share, and this one really got to me. I know my mind’s a bit DBT-focussed at the moment but this quote (which is actually a paraphrase of a quote from ‘All’s Well That Ends Well’) really does seem to link to some of the mindfulness and interpersonal skills from my DBT workbook.
One of the aspects of mindfulness in DBT which I’ve been working on really hard recently is mindfulness in relation to friendships. The basic concept is that a lot of people who experience rigid or ‘black-and-white’ thinking can often extend this to areas of their lives like social relationships and this can be damaging not only for the relationship itself but for the person’s emotionally wellbeing. The example given in the book is thinking of your best friend as someone who would never hurt you or let you down. This puts a person into an idealistic perspective which isn’t real or feasible in every day life meaning that if that person does upset you (which is pretty much inevitable at some point in any relationship), it really, really hurts to an unbearable extent and often the friendship is lost. The idea is to try to be ‘mindful’ of your friendships- take them at face value and don’t put unrealistic or extreme expectations on them, and try to look at it non-judgmentally.
It works both ways- you try not to have rigid views on what the friendship ‘should’ be and at the same time, you don’t jump to conclusions or make assumptions about what the other person might be thinking. You take every interaction as it comes and try to stay in that moment instead of overthinking or judging what might or might not be happening, and don’t have any expectations about it. In theory, the anxiety and/or paranoia about the friendship should subside which minimises the possibility of a negative reaction from the other person and the actual impact of a negative interaction should also be reduced because there are no unrealistic or ‘pedestal’-like expectations towards the other person. The cliche about ‘the higher the pedestal, the further there is to fall’ really is true, and it’s taken me nearly 30 years to realise that.
I can relate to this a lot at the moment because I recently lost a very close friend who, for nearly 20 years, I saw as my ‘best friend’ and often referred to her as someone who would never hurt or judge me. Just before Christmas, she ended the close friendship which really, really hurt and it’s taken a long time to come to terms with. I think in part this was because I genuinely thought we’d be friends forever and that we would never have any sort of disagreement (on reflection, this is partly because I always avoid any sort of conflict which I know now isn’t healthy in any relationship), and it really was was one of the hardest things I’ve ever dealt with. I had her up on the highest pedestal possible and the force of the hurt almost crushed me- figuratively, but it’s the closest I’ve come to totally giving up for nearly ten years. I feel like my insides have been sucked out and I’m left with a vertigo-y vacuum, and I still feel like I’m running on autopilot a lot of the time. BUT the most important key to surviving it (literally) is to accept and learn from it, and that’s where DBT comes in. So, things I’m learning…
Not sure how much of that makes sense but hoping it’s useful anyway! Thank you Shakespeare for helping me link DBT skills to real life 🙂