How many of us living with a mental illness live what appears (dare I say) “normal”, successful lives? Many of us have not been in the habit of announcing to the world that we have a mental illness. We’re busy going to work, raising families, going to school, paying bills – all the while there is this underlying storm of emotional darkness that would quickly overwhelm almost anyone. We continue with our day to day lives because what choice do we have? We have a mental illness, okay fine. There are still things that have to be done, so we do them.
“There’s a tremendous need to implode the myths of mental illness, to put a face on it, to show people that a diagnosis does not have to lead to a painful and oblique life,” said Elyn R. Saks, a professor at the University of Southern California School of Law who chronicles her own struggles with schizophrenia in “The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness.” “We who struggle with these disorders can lead full, happy, productive lives, if we have the right resources.”
There is a great (my opinion) group therapy called Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT). It was created by Marcha Linehan, a Professor of Psychology at the University of Washington. It has four modules of study:
1. Mindfulness – being present in the moment
2. Interpersonal Effectiveness – asking for what on needs
– saying no
– coping with interpersonal conflict
3. Distress Tolerance – emphasizes learn to bear pain skillfully (ability to accept current situation (acceptance is not approval)
– crisis survival strategies
4. Emotional Regulation – identifying and labeling emotions
– identifying obstacles to changing emotions
– reducing vulnerability to “emotional mind”
– increasing positive emotional events
– increasing mindfulness to current emotions
– taking opposite action
– applying distress tolerance techniques
I found this mode of therapy to be quite helpful. Like any therapy, a refresher every few years may be needed, just as a reminder. It was about 10 years ago that I did this and it has helped me through some extremely stressful events. I found as I was writing the “cliff note” version of DBT that I could use a little more. My point being, forgetting some of the therapy is not failure. It’s an opportunity to learn something you may have missed the first time around. I think it’s definitely worth checking out. If you do, I’d love to hear what you think of it.
As always, thank you for reading!