More connecting of the dots (or, the elegance of the avoidance dance)

When you’re “allergic” to dbt, you and your therapist have to get creative about integrating ideas from it into therapy.

Yesterday, I was having trouble identifying what was causing my rollercoaster emotions. Dr C and I came up with a chart to help figure it out… she used the dbt diary card and the behavior chain as a jumping off point. We had events, people around/involved, emotions, sensations, and thoughts as the first level. Then another two levels of emotions, sensations, and thoughts, and finally a level of just emotions and sensations. I could fill it out haphazardly and incompletely, then she helped fill in some of the blanks & connect some of the dots… at the root of everything behind the emotional ups and downs is terror (and the avoidance of it)… it’s weird, because the word doesn’t do justice to the overwhelming and crushing nature of the feeling, but it’s the closest word for it.

I’ve been trying to keep up with filling out the chart more often, but I’m finding that it becomes pretty triggering to look at the things I’m trying to avoid (duh!). At least in therapy, it was safe to open up that can of worms. Dr C kept talking with me about it, and that prevented me from getting too lost in the bottom layers. I’m kinda worried/scared that looking at it at home wouldn’t give me the same ability to pull out of what is stirred up. Yeah, it’s probably a cop-out to avoid addressing it, but I need to keep functioning this weekend. There’s work and social stuff happening. I can’t be a wreck… so I keep avoiding.

There’s a fear behind the avoidance: what if it overwhelms me? What if I can’t regain control over the impulsive thoughts? What if I fall back into a cycle of hospitalizations?

Sure, I could reach out to Dr C for support, but how much can she really help if the panicked child and the angry teenage are both triggered and overwhelmed at the same time, and I lose my connection to my adult, competent understanding of things? I know I’ve come a long way since the last cycle of hospitalizations, but the potential of it coming back scares the crap out of me.

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