Introducing #DBTDay

Hello everyone!

I’ve fallen off the wagon of my #MentalHealthMonday posts, so I decided to revamp that, and add something new!

Once a week, I will explore a DBT skill on the blog! For those who don’t know, DBT stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and is used by many treatment centers and therapists across the country. It is a cognitive behavior therapy developed by the extraordinary Marsha Linehan, Ph.D.. As its name suggests, DBT is focused on dialectics; balancing opposites, and using “both-and” ways of thinking rather than “either-or.”

There are four sections of DBT: Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Each section offers unique skills to help you stay in the present moment, tolerate stressful situations (without making things any worse), manage intense emotions, and communicate effectively in relationships.

In an effort to raise awareness about DBT, and increase my own personal use of the skills, I will strive to post about one skill per week. If anyone has heard of DBT and would like to request a particular skill, or if you are interested in any of the four models mentioned above, just send me an email from my Contact page.

I can’t wait to refresh my memory of DBT; these are skills that saved my life. I hope they will have some effect on you, too.

Intuition: My Sixth Sense

I recently started a new job that I expected to love. I ended up quitting after two days of orientation.

I originally wasn’t going to blog about this; I felt incredible shame and embarrassment and I didn’t want anyone to know that I had failed.

But now that I have done some reflecting, I don’t believe I failed at all. In fact, what I really did was trust my gut and made the right decision. And there’s hope on the job front! Keep reading to learn more…

 

I have had multiple therapists tell me that I have a great sense of self, and a great intuition. This week, I was able to use that intuition in a sticky situation. I started off being very excited about this job; I had an idea of what it would be like, and I was thrilled to start. However, when I did, I learned things about the hospital that sounded like they would push me to an unhealthy place. On my second day, I worried if I had made the right decision. The hospital seemed intense, and I was slowly feeling myself breakdown under the stress of it all. On my lunch break I had a full-fledged meltdown.

I managed to stick around for the rest of the day, all the while convinced I would not be returning once I left through the automatic doors that evening. I was a wreck that night and the following morning. After turning it over and over in my head, talking to my parents and one of my best friends about it, I decided not to return to work.

I was in agony, convinced I had failed and that no one was going to take me seriously in the mental health field anymore. I was relieved that I wouldn’t have to go back to that place, but devastated that I lost out on an opportunity to grow in this field.

A day after I quit, I started thinking about opportunities elsewhere. And then I felt guilty for thinking those things. Who was I to start looking for another job, when I had just quit a perfectly good job? I started worrying about what other people would think, especially after my very public announcement of my new job. I knew I had a shot of interviewing at another hospital for a similar position, but I didn’t want people to think I was just going to quit that job, too, or not be able to hack it in a similar environment.

What I explored in therapy, today, however, is that doubt is the main thing that gets in my way. My fear of what people think stops me from doing great things. I think this other position will be a much better fit for me, and so I was able to set up an interview. After session today I am feeling so much more positive and confident in my ability to nail this interview and rock this new job. Much more comfortable than I was at the old job.

I’m trusting my gut.

My intuition has never led me astray before. I feel as though this is a “when one door closes, somewhere a window opens” thing. The job I left was not a good match for me, and I had an uneasy feeling going in. But this new potential opportunity feels totally different to me. So I’m running at it, with open arms.

My interview is next week…wish me luck!

Reframed: The Series of Hope & Bravery

My big exciting news that I mentioned in yesterday’s post has to do with my Reframed photo series (found here).

While I can’t say what the news is specifically (yet), I will tell you that the series is expanding! I have around 20 new models- many strangers- who have agreed to share the most vulnerable parts of themselves with me and my camera. It has been so inspiring.

I’m meeting so many people who have been brave enough to share their story with me; I can’t wait to share them with all of you. This has been an incredibly moving process, and I can’t believe that my small project may make such a large impact on others.

I want to thank those who have, and who will, participate in this project with me. I applaud your bravery for coming forward and making a difference in the world. This series is doing huge things when it comes to breaking down the stigma of mental health, and I am so happy you are a part of it.

Bouncing Back

Well, I’m back at day one after my relapse and feeling good! I know now that I don’t want to relapse again, and I’m going to work harder than ever to achieve success in recovery from self-harm.

I start my new job in less than a week, and I have just started a Perfectionism Group on Facebook to continue working on challenging my perfectionism! Lately, I have been taking a lot of photos, and there are a lot that I find imperfect in some way, only to be told that folks actually love the photos.

That being said, I am going to throw a photo on this post, as well as link you to my 500px profile, and my Perfectionism Group on Facebook! Feel free to peruse/join either or both!

Happy Tuesday!

-K

 

500px: https://500px.com/kelsgillyphotography

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1839577182756698/

relapse

trigger warning: self-harm

 

it’s hard to admit, but i’ve relapsed in self-harm.

Sasha found a weak spot and she took hold of me. I didn’t want to admit that she’s been running the show lately, but she has. And when I was all alone, she found me in the darkness and whispered dirty lies in my ear. She tricked me into giving up 10 weeks of no self-harm. Now I am back at square one; hour one with no self-harm.

I know I shouldn’t have let her in. I have ways of shutting her up. But she was so loud and alluring, I didn’t want to use my skills. I didn’t have a frozen orange to squeeze, and the rubber bands seemed too far away. I didn’t care about doing something else. So I gave in to her.

I have been really proud of how far I made it without self-injury. Even when I went to the hospital I managed to stay clean. A good friend of mine reminded me that what I did is now in the past, I shouldn’t dwell on it. But I should remember this feeling, of guilt, embarrassment, and shame the next time I want to hurt myself. Because it’s not worth it. No matter what Sasha tells me.

 

To find out more about who Sasha is, click here.

10 Weeks is a Lot of Weeks

Today marks 10 weeks free of self-harm! I can’t believe I made it this far; some days it seems impossible, but I keep pressing on.

A couple of weeks ago I went to the ER and was admitted into a psychiatric hospital for the next few days. While it wasn’t super helpful, it reminded me of the tools I have, and reminded me what I had to live for. Also, I managed not to relapse in self-harm, which was a huge win for me.

It also gave me insight into the field I’m now pursuing, and made me realize that a hospital is where I want to be working. Not only that, but getting a job in this field is great incentive for me not to self-harm. I don’t want to be hypocritical by helping others who are struggling with self-harm if I’m secretly doing it, too.

That’s not to say that I don’t still struggle. On my darkest days, when depression rears its ugly head, I wish I had something to relieve the nothingness that seems to fill me to the brim. But I don’t want to ruin my streak. After all, 10 weeks is a lot of weeks.

Breaking News! (don’t worry, it’s good!)

It is with insurmountable joy and gratitude that I’m announcing I have just accepted a position at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute as a Psychiatric Technician. This job is a dream come true, and I’m hoping it will lead me to more work in the mental health field. I’ve been exploring careers in the mental health field off and on since I was bullied in middle school and developed a relationship with my school counselor. I used to want to grow up to be just like her, and I’m so thrilled to finally be making some moves in that direction. I am equally as thrilled that the job is located here in Nashville, so I can still be with my family!

I want to thank the mental health professionals who have taught me and inspired me; it is because of you that I aspire to work in this field. Thank you so much for everything you do.

 

 

Seasonal Depression…or is it?

I don’t remember the last time I felt like myself.

Great way to start off a blog post, right? Well, it’s true. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about seasonal depression; I thought it was something I’d face upon returning to a city that actually experiences changing seasons. And, while I have been struggling with depression, it certainly isn’t seasonal.

My previous therapist said to look at depressive episodes like I would a cold. They last for a period of time, usually a couple weeks, and then they end and I go back to my regularly scheduled life. Well, I don’t remember the last time I felt particularly motivated to do anything. It took me landing in the hospital to realize how little I was taking care of myself.

Of course, some of that was due to the fact that I wasn’t taking my medication as prescribed (meds are no joke, friends, don’t mess around with them) and therefore was messing with the chemistry of my brain.

Every day I struggle to get out of bed, and every day I have to fight myself to get through the day, at one point or another. I was reading the graphic memoir “Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, & Me” about a young woman dealing with her diagnosis of bipolar disorder, when I realized I was actually jealous of the author. Because with her, at least she experienced episodes of mania, where she was productive. Granted, I don’t really wish I had bipolar disorder, but the days when I start crying on a hike I forced myself to go on, or when I wish I could stay in bed all day, I miss feeling “normal.” I don’t even remember what “normal” is nowadays. I don’t remember a time when I didn’t have trouble showering every day, or when I didn’t have any issues taking medication. Now even taking Advil feels like I’m climbing Mount Everest. I wish my depression was seasonal. Because then I could at least foresee an end to all of this.

That’s not to say that I haven’t had any wins lately. I’m fast approaching 10 weeks with no self harm, and I’m using skills every day that I’ve learned in various treatment centers to push past the depression and continue to fight for my happiness and my life. I’m proud of myself. I even think soon I will reward myself with the semicolon tattoo, because I’m still here; my story is not over.