A few weeks ago, I was not in a good place in my mind & life. I could no longer handle my struggle alone, & chose to be hospitalized. I had no plan to hurt myself, but I no longer had the will to live. Take a minute to step back from this, because this may make you uncomfortable. Also, listen to what I'm trying to say without judging & without trying to fix.
Usually, the first response I get from people (without mental illness), is that I have so much to live for. My illnesses make it all but impossible (sometimes) to see the positives, or think clearly. Major life events (ie. loss of a job, loss of a loved one, moving, end of a relationship) can trigger a strong, unhealthy reaction. The coping skills that I had were woefully inadequate to help deal with what was happening. Also, my willfulness in not accepting what was happening caused suffering. A great quote that I've learned is, "Pain is mandatory, suffering is optional." Pain + non-acceptance = suffering. I was not accepting several things that were happening, & coupled with extremely low self-esteem, I spiraled out of control.
For the last couple of weeks I have been in a intensive program that teaches DBT (dialectal behavior therapy). Healthy coping skills, for handling 4 major areas in life. Mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, & distress tolerance.
Mindfulness - The skill taught are psychological and behavioral versions of meditation and acknowledge three primary states of mind: "reasonable mind", "emotional mind", and "wise mind". Reasonable mind is fact focused, emotional mind is when the current emotions control thinking and behavior, often disregarding facts, and wise mind is the integration of the two.
Interpersonal effectiveness - the skills taught are similar to those taught in assertiveness training and interpersonal problem-solving classes. How to get your needs met, how to say no, and how to manage relationship conflicts in a way that is "effective". Effectiveness has to do with making changes you want, maintaining relationships, and maintaining your self-respect.
Emotional regulation - The purpose of this is to learn to regulate your emotions during stressful times. this requires that you become aware of the emotions you experience and the context in which those emotions occur, and finally, the after affects of the emotions on all levels of functioning (how you end up feeling, how your relationships are impacted, how work/school is affected). After developing an awareness of your emotions you can begin the process of changing behavioral responses to emotions in a way that is more beneficial and desirable to you.
Distress tolerance - This focuses on accepting, finding meaning for and tolerating distress. The reality is that pain and distress are part of life and cannot be entirely avoided, so the goal is to learn to accept oneself and the situation as it is in the moment, without placing judgement or putting demands on it to be different. This is not to be confused with approval of the situation, but rather the acceptance of the situation.
This program, to me, is life saving. Understand though, that learning these skills isn't a one time thing & you walk away. These skills have to be used every day, for the rest of your life. Know too, that these skills work for EVERYONE. Not just those with mental illnesses. I am a work in progress. & whether I'm in a deep dark place, or feeling really healthy, my battle is an every day occurrence.
I'm working on improving myself & my skills to be highly functional on a day-to-day basis. There will be times that I may back slide, for I am human. I will need to ask for help from time to time, & that is ok. Asking for help is not a weakness. There will be times that I will start to fall into old patterns & try to isolate myself, this is the time to let me know you recognize I may need help. Have compassion & know that I am doing my very best.