I am Melanie Gordon Sheets, a clinical psychologist in Texas. I have authored a therapy workbook, “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Workbook (CBT) for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior.” It’s based on the teachings and process of the DBT-CBT Group I do with the patients at Big Spring State Hospital. Group Members continually requested material to read outside of Group and material to send or take home to their families. They loved the Group, were greatly benefitting from the material, so, I felt intense internal pressure to provide this for them. I began writing the Group material up in 2005 and FINALLY finished in December 2008. It’s written the way I would teach it in Group, so it’s rather informal and down-to-earth…not a lot of fancy, clinical, or intellectualized “Doctor speech.”
I chose to do this blog to share the new understandings that the Group Members teach me and those I acquire through my ongoing life experiences. Information about my personal struggles will also be included as an account of our humanity and the normalcy of daily struggles with our emotional issues and concerns. This blog is about DBT-CBT “In Action” and how the DBT-CBT recovery process is lived out in day-to-day life.
I’m 20 years married with two teens and I reside outside a small Texas town. I was raised in a big city, but have comfortably adjusted to small town living. We’re blessed to be able to provide for and love nine family dogs, five horses, and 1 cat. If I wasn’t consumed by my literary project, I’d love to play games and cards with lively friends, play video games, watch movies and reality shows, do large jigsaw puzzles, hit a bunch of garage sales, visit family, do crafty projects like scrapbooking and making jewelry, take up bowling again, totally organize my house, and overall, spend more time with my family and live life.
I attended several undergraduate colleges and universities because life dynamics required several relocations. I attended the University of Texas at Austin for the first two years, Richland College for the first two summers, the University of Missouri – St. Louis for the third year, and the University of Texas at Dallas for the last two. Yep, it took me longer to finish because of switching schools. I worked at Richardson Medical Center in Dallas as a Mental Health Technician for almost 4 years prior to attending graduate school at Texas A&M University. I earned a Masters in Psychology in 1990 and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 1992. I completed my internship at the Dallas Veterans’ Administration Medical Center. I went on to work at Wichita Falls State Hospital (now called, “North Texas State Hospital”) for three years and transferred to Big Spring State Hospital in 1995 where I continue to be employed.
I am certainly a person in recovery. Substance abuse started at a very early age…age 6…and was heavy by age 12…and became very heavy by age 15…and stayed that way until I was about 23. It’s gotta be a God-thing that I was able to do well in school…that’s just about a miracle. By time I cleaned up, I had almost 20 years of substance abuse/dependence. Not good. I also struggled with overeating and binge eating, was chubby at points in my childhood and later, slender at other times. However, I became VERY heavy in my late 20’s and stayed that way until I got it under control and began losing weight in 2006. I have also struggled with smoking…and have quit about 20 times…and sometimes for 3 years at a time (I started at age 6!). I like to smoke and in my Emotional Mind, it is the least of evils for me…but I know better!
Over the last couple of years, I recognize that this workbook is as much an account of my recovery process and addiction issues as it is those of family and friends…and the patients I have worked with over the years. I am exceedingly passionate about recovery because I have experienced it personally and I’ve witnessed the pain and suffering of others’ addictions and their transformation into a recovery lifestyle. Just like someone who is a born-again Christian or someone whose life has transformed through AA, I want everyone to get this recovery thing and to experience the joy and satisfaction that comes with recovery. It is “New Life.”
I understand that this workbook is not a cure-all, it isn’t for everybody…but, it is something that has helped and is helping a whole lot of our people. I actually have a hard time taking credit for it because in my heart, it was very God-driven…and for most of it, I feel like God wrote it and I was just the scribe. This book took 2-1/2 hard years…almost 24-7 outside of my day job…over a 4-year period to write…and at times, my family was very frustrated because of my work habits. I remember telling them at those heated moments, “I HAVE TO do this.” I really don’t think I had much of a choice. It was either to get the book done or to have no peace. I went through periods of feeling tormented with pressure to “get ‘er done” and I perceived and continue to perceive the pressure was from God. Who knows, that was just my experience.
I hope the writings in this blog are helpful to people to understand the struggles of people in recovery and skills used in the fight for recovery and recovery maintenance. I believe recovery is the hardest thing we will ever do…and that recovery isn’t something we do or did at some point…but something we continue to do all the time. I have not mastered recovery, I am a “work in progress.”
This workbook is dedicated to all the individuals I have worked with over the years who have taught me infinitely more than could be learned through books, classes, and workshops.