This afternoon, I was hit with a wave of exhaustion. I feel like I have been working non-stop on my DBT targets and skills. I have been exercising self-restraint, practising not surrendering to unhelpful urges and doing mindfulness and emotional regulation skills multiple times per day.
One of my DBT targets is to not seek reassurance.
That means, not asking people I love if I have upset them, or asking them if they still love or like me. It means not engaging in 'checking behaviours' and instead doing mindfulness skills to prevent myself analysing a situation for 'signs' that 'things are going wrong'.
Because my urges to seek reassurance are very strong- and are twinned with incredibly strong emotions- these urges can be hard to resist. I have been working on the DBT skill 'urge surfing' with my therapist for a few months.
The theory behind this skill is that urges are like waves. They build and build in strength, until they reach a peak. When a wave reaches its peak- the time when the urge feels the strongest- it will then come down, until the urge is either non-existent or minimal, like a wave breaking on the shore.
By using the DBT skills 'opposite to emotion action', 'distract' and 'mindfulness observe and describe', I have been able to reduce the frequency with which I am asking for reassurance.
I have been putting things in place, with the help of my therapist, in my close relationships in order to support me with reducing my reassurance seeking and checking behaviours.
When I don't manage to surf my urges to ask reassurance and end up asking someone close to me, I struggle with feeling like a 'failure' and judging myself harshly. I felt upset today because I hadn't been able to resist my urges every time.
Objectively, I know that I'm not going to be able to change a behaviour that I have been engaging in for years. However, deep down I feel sometimes that I am not 'doing well enough'. Even though, objectively, I have been doing really well.
Today I felt exhausted with feeling like I constantly have to do things to reach my targets and change the way I do things.
Life, undoubtedly, has become easier since I started DBT, but today I felt fed up with having to constantly 'try, try, try'. I had a cry after lunch- it all just got a bit much for me.
I wanted a day off from trying.
I felt flawed and like I wasn't 'good enough' for being engaged in this process of trying to change. I wanted to be seen as 'good enough', even without changing the way I do things and the way I respond to my emotions. 'Why am I not acceptable the way I am?' I thought to myself.
DBT is about finding a balance between acceptance and change. It's also about being able to hold two opposites in mind at once, something which I struggle with.
For example, making a mistake does not make me a 'bad person', or being angry with someone does not mean I will never love or like them again.
I think part of this exhaustion was needing some recognition for how difficult it is for me to be constantly driving myself towards my DBT targets and using my DBT skills. I don't want to feel sorry for myself, pitiful is not how I feel, but it's nice to have my difficulties and efforts acknowledged.
It really helped me today when someone close to me validated my experience and told me that I'm doing well and that they can see how much of a struggle it is for me.
If I had one tip for people who love someone with BPD, it would be validation. For some reason, it soothes the emotions, helps to bring the emotional intensity down.
Do you relate to feeling exhausted from your hard work in therapy or meeting your targets? I would love to hear from you.