When I was first in therapy I was a cutter. This meant two things, first there was a specific reason I was sent to therapy, and second there were specific steps I needed to take to be healthy again. The therapist I worked with was trained in both cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). From what I understand of them the difference is DBT incorporates more “end result” therapies than CBT. This means mindfulness techniques, yoga, meditation, things to do that don’t require medication to make you feel better. A lot of them can be used to identify emotions and feelings ahead of the inevitable feeling of being overwhelmed, and most can be used to shift your mood from the possible negative emotion to a positive one.
The basic premise of this therapy is simple. Identify and deal with the most damaging behavior first, this means suicidal behavior or self-harming behavior, followed by identifying and correcting over-reactions in emotions. I’ve been told that in order to use this technique clinically the doctor or therapist has to go through extensive training. I would imagine it’s because it was developed to help people that suffer from borderline personality disorder. When I was first diagnosed I was bipolar and borderline, the most important piece of advice I was told by my medical team was DO NOT TELL ANYONE ABOUT YOUR DIAGNOSES OF BORDERLINE BEFORE YOU ARE ACCEPTED AS A PATIENT. Honestly, I hope that advice isn’t needed any more, but when I was 18 no one wanted to treat anyone labeled borderline. The patients tend to be difficult to treat, very clingy, ridiculously reliant on others to validate their actions and behaviors, and impossible to help. Of course, if you are labeled borderline know that is not my opinion. It’s a horrifically difficult disorder to handle, and I’ve had friends that navigate life just fine while being properly diagnosed borderline because they have great treatment and maintenance plans.
I’m digressing again, eventually I’ll figure out how my writing style should sound. Today is clearly not that day. My point was that there are specific methods that have been used since the 1990’s to treat emotion regulation. While you do need a specially trained doctor to work with for this, you can do this on your own. It’s not easy, but nothing worth it ever is. There are all kinds of books available on Amazon, and places like Psych Central have overviews on the type of work that can be done. What the whole process really comes down to is having a support system that can help you stay on track with your goals. There are workbooks that are amazing, but they take consistency and usually someone that can help you identify how your mood transitioned throughout the day. My husband is really great at doing this for me, even when I’m not good at identifying my transitions for myself. I have yet to consistently use the workbooks I’ve purchased, but that is one of my goals over the next six weeks or so before baby Beastly arrives. I really want to be able to control my emotions better by the time my kid gets old enough to realize that sometimes their mom goes off the deep end.