We are very excited about our blog post today! Today's post comes from Lauryn Pyatt, whom has completed DBT and is now writing about her experiences. Lauryn also has her own blog, so check the bottom of this post for that address. We are expanding how you might think about Mindfulness today. See, in DBT, they are called Core Mindfulness Skills because you will need the mindfulness skills in order to practice any of the other skills. So, enough from me, let's get to our guest post:
Battling Suicidal Thoughts: Using Skills & Becoming Resilient
I remember the times where my brain was constantly swarming with suicidal thoughts. It was a daily battle trying not to listen to the evil voice inside my mind. Insecurity, hopelessness, and self hatred are what consumed my head and my heart. I was suicidal during my freshman and sophomore years of high school. I harmed myself because I truly believed I deserved to feel pain. I simply did not want to live. I was in a dark place, yet I kept on pushing. I never gave up. I went from hating and hurting myself to building self esteem and developing healthy coping mechanisms. I went from wanting to die to wanting to live and thrive. No matter how badly I didn't want to be here, I gave it my all into getting better. I tried even when I didn't want to. Because of my effort, I'm here. I am resilient. I am Lauryn Pyatt, and I overcame being suicidal.
I conquered suicidality because of DBT skills. Sure, you can learn them; yet, what makes a difference is applying them to life situations. The skills I used to deal with suicidal thoughts are thought blocking, affirmations, and fact checking.
Let’s begin with thought blocking*. This DBT skill is where you force yourself to stop thinking a thought and replace it with a productive thought. As an example, whenever I would think that life was pointless, I would tell myself to stop. Then, I would replace it with something positive like “Life is worth living”. Thought blocking is easier said than done, but I’ve done it so much to the point that my brain automatically does it.
Next, we have affirmations*. Ladies and gentlemen, this skill was HUGE for me. Practicing self affirmations is basically what built my confidence. Affirmations are positive, uplifting messages. Everytime I looked in the mirror, I complimented myself. I started out with little compliments such as “I like my eyes” which eventually turned into “I love my smile and I’m very compassionate” as my self esteem grew stronger. I can now comfortably compliment myself without feeling embarrassed, awkward, or ashamed.
I remember an exercise my therapist did with me in my first year of DBT. She asked me to list 10 things I liked about myself. When I tell you the struggle was real, oh boy, it was incredibly difficult for me to find anything I liked about myself. Self esteem is absolutely essential to believe in self worth and to build self respect. To build confidence, it comes from within. It starts with you. Treat yourself as someone you love. You deserve it.
Now, onto fact checking. In all honesty, this is my favorite skill. It has helped me numerous times. Fact checking brings back all rationality. Fact checking allows you to evaluate and see if what you’re thinking is true or if it is irrational. Stick to what you know. Don’t interpret feelings. Just observe the facts. For example, say your friend is quiet around you. You may think they’re upset with you or they don’t like you. What do you know? All you know is that they’re quiet. You don’t know why. The most productive thing you can do is avoid assuming people’s feelings. Perhaps your friend was daydreaming, was going through some tough times, or was just tired. You don’t know what people are thinking. That evil little voice in your head will assume and will assume the worst.
Resilience is key. You have the ability to overcome anything that comes your way. Help at Lifework is always accessible.
*Thought blocking is technically a CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) strategy, and while DBT uses all of the concepts of CBT, some of the terminology is changed. In standard DBT (as Marsha Linehan researched it) the STOP skill is probably closest to thought blocking. Affirmations are called “Encouragement” but are the same thing. It probably matters less what all of it is called and more that the skills are put into practice, just like Lauren says here in her blog entry.
A huge THANK YOU to Lauryn for putting herself out there and giving us all examples of using skills in the real world!
For more skill coaching, check out our coaching videos featuring LifeWork staff walking you through many DBT skills www.lifeworkstl.com/courses
Bottom right item is our videos.
As always, please feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with us. We'd love to hear from you.