Tag Archives: DBT-CBT

Willfulness and Willingness…Fighting for Recovery…From My Overeating Disorder!

“You get skinnier every time I see you.” That’s what my friend said to me today…and I thought, “Fat chance of that!”

Weighed this morning – 128. Not horrible, better than 129 the other day…but lots worse than my monthly average the last few months (125 range) with lows at 122-123.

Getting dressed, I put on my size 10’s…my larger pants since I’m not in the 125 range. Oh my God, they were tight. I am not doing tight first thing in the morning, else by mid-afternoon seams will be a-bursting! Went up a half size bigger…ahhhhhh…and to think I was going to put those in storage just in case I started to get fat again. I shouldn’t need to wear those. I wore those at 135. But…if the pants fit, wear them!

I was feeling despondent, helpless, out-of-control…desperate…hopeless. Then, anxiety hit. I realized this could easily be a relapse point. Eating out-of-control…felt discouraged…was bloated…and having to wear “fat pants”…everything was just right for an Emotional Mind recovery sabotage.

My first panic thought was to strictly reduce my calories to 1100…to punish myself. (Emotional Mind thinking).

Rational Mind said, “That’s too low…and punishing yourself will backfire..it’s not a good thing for you.”

Wise Mind said, “Chill out Mel…work to maintain calories in the 1200 range…that’s very do-able for you…you can tighten up a bit.”

Thank God I’m into this DBT-CBT thing…and I live, eat, and breathe it. And thank God I caught myself in the middle of this serious Emotional Mind game. I thought, “You know, I’m not going there.” Then I thought, “I think I’ve just entered a fight for my recovery. It’s at that point now.”

I then recognized I felt a bit angry about this eating thing…frustrated, just tired of it. Then another thought flew through my mind, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” This is usually a negative, revenge type of Emotion-Driven thought, a self-destructive thought. However, for me…today…it was more like, “It’s time to kick this in the ass…I’m tired of it.” “It” being…”I’m tired of my crap”…it’s like “Shit or get off the pot”…or…”If you’re serious about this diet thing, then make it happen already…Get control or lose control. Game’s over. It’s time to get serious.”

I thought about DBT and “Willfulness vs. Willingness.” Well, one is usually bad – the stubborn, willfulness one…and willingness is usually good – the “I’ll do whatever I need to do to be okay”…it’s the “I surrender,” “I accept,”…the, ”I’m ready and willing” one.

Well, for me today, Willfulness was a positive thing. It was the stubborn and determined part of me…that fight from deep inside…being willful in a survivalist type of way…the, “I’ll be damned if this kicks my ass” type of fire from within!

Willingness was there, too. They stood side by side. I was willing to do what I needed to do to get this eating thing going on. I surrender my will to eat whatever I want to eat. I surrender to setting limits for my eating.

Well, I’ve done very well today with just a minimum of distress. Ended the food day at 6:30pm with 1185 cals. For breakfast I had 1-1/2 fat free turkey sandwiches (double fiber whole wheat bread) and drank coffee with about 25 calories of flavored coffee creamer. I had a can of green beans for lunch. That held me over until my mid-afternoon can of black bean soup which kept me from leaving work starving to death and ready to eat everything in sight when I got home from work. Upon arriving home, I had 3 black cherry yogurts (80 cals each and quite a treat) and a Snickers 290 calorie chocolate protein bar (quite a treat…like a candy bar!) I picked at leftovers and had a couple bites of chicken with green peppers. SUCCESS. Had to forego fruit and sunflower seeds today, but I’m fine. Started the sunflower seeds in the evening when I quit cigarettes a few months ago…and also added a lot of fruit then to deal with the nicotine withdrawal CONSTIPATION! Did just fine though without them tonight.

Now…today I went back to some of the dieting basics like I resolved to do a few days ago…yesterday…whenever it was. I kept a running tally of my calories through the day…and emailed them to my home! I was mindful of what I would eat (for the most part), planned my food day (for the most part) and I did the “think through before you do” thing. Now, tomorrow is a new day and I sure hope I experience that fire from within…and fight for my recovery all over again! I hope my battles help you in your fight.

DBT – CBT and dieting: Counting Calories…and They’re Adding Up!

I did good with my eating ALL day…until the bowl of Stouffer’s lasagna just a little while ago. Boy, it sure was good! Enjoyed every cheesy bite! Didn’t need it, just chose to have it. Put me about 200 calories higher than desirable for the day…makes for a “bad” day. Total calories today – 1465. Month average is now 1265 which is perfect for me…just where I want to be. Allows me to lose about a pound or two a month.

I’m bothered by eating more than desirable today. Did well with mindful eating ALL day…until the lasagna! However, I haven’t given up on me…yet. I’m determined to figure this out. A part of me says, “Maybe your body is just ready for maintenance eating” rather than losing weight. That’s probably Rational Mind! Emotional Mind says, “Well, I’m not ready for that. I still want to lose about 10-15 pounds” (Yes, I’ll still be within ideal body weight and more where I was most of my life before I got heavy in my late 20’s.)

The Wise Mind thought crossed my mind, “Just exercise some each day, that’ll take care of those extra calories.” My stubborn, Emotional Mind responded, “Nah, I’d just rather try to eat less.” In other words, I’m too lazy to exercise…I have other interests and things to do…I want to do the diet my way…not the way I know is best. So, I’ll persist in my stubborn ways and see how it goes.

Rational Mind says, “You can continue to try it your way, but if it isn’t working, you’ll have to try something else.” And, Wise Mind says…”See that bowflex and stepping machine behind you…” I think I’d rather give up that chocolate Snickers protein bar (290 cals) rather than exercise an hour! I’d much rather do that!

Touchdown Minnesota…Can’t help to favor Favre!

Tomorrow I’ll eat like I did today, but not allow myself to have the Snicker’s protein bar.

My God, what an awesome play by Green Bay…major pass from Rodgers…touchdown Green Bay. Score is tied. Exciting game!

Using DBT and CBT to lose weight

I’ve lost 145 pounds and now I have to go on a diet! That’s where I’m at right now. I have steadily lost a ton of weight in 4 years and I find myself in need of going on a diet! September was a VERY bad month for me. I had many more bad days with very high calories than usual (in the 1800-2100 range with one day even higher!) Such high calorie days typically happen just a couple times a month…not many times! Last month (September), I ended up with almost 200 more calories per day than typical. May sound like nothing…but, that adds about 1-1/2 pounds to me over the month…and it kept me from losing any weight.

That may not sound bad…but, the problem is…I really struggled this past month. I was “out-of-control” with eating. I’d pig out some days…and then work hard other days to get my overall monthly calorie count lower…only to have more pig-out days…followed by major attempts to control my eating…which still very often resulted in more calories for me than usual. Overall, I did not have a natural eating pattern this month…it was a time of out-of-control eating.

I recognized that I was in a period of early relapse with my eating disorder (over-eating)…and that if I didn’t gain control, I would lose control, and end up “out-of-control” and back in a cycle of weight gain. I was mindful that I could end up gaining a bunch of weight and perhaps end up fatter than when I started. Scary. Don’t want to go there on purpose.

Because I live, eat, and breathe the teachings of the DBT-CBT “Out-of-Control” Therapy Workbook, I began dealing with this early relapse and my neurotic self. Towards the end of the month when I thought,

“Oh my God, I’m going to gain all my weight back”

and various other statements of an Emotional Mind panic, Rational Mind came to my rescue.

“If I don’t gain control, I will lose control, and gaining weight is certainly likely. I’ve done well with this diet thing for 4 years. I’ve been within ideal body weight for a year now. I’ve been losing weight up until this month. I’ve got the skills, willpower, and know-how to get control of myself. I’ve just gotta tighten up and get a Game Plan for getting through this.”

Wise Mind clicked on and I thought, “I’ll just go back to the early days of my diet and start over. I’ll do things like I did back then. I’ll just start from scratch.”

Emotional Mind clicked on, “I can just not eat much tomorrow and the next day, that’ll cut my calories down a lot for the month…and more in line with a normal month.”

Rational Mind and Wise Mind jumped me, “That’s a bad idea. You know better. You’ll just end up pigging out again. You can’t do that. It’s certainly tempting, but not the way to go. I just need to tighten up and do things like I did in the early days of my dieting.”

Emotional Mind reared up again, “Well, I can just starve myself tomorrow and the next day so my calories won’t be bad for the month and THEN I can start over. I don’t want to have such a bad month…and show a 4-pound weight gain this month. That’s awful”

Rational Mind said, “What’s done is done. It’s just numbers. You’ll show a gain this month, and then next month, you’ll go down again. It’s not real weight, well, just a pound or so. You don’t gain 4 pounds eating an extra 5000 calories a month, that’s just a pound and a half or so…and really instead of losing a pound n’ a half this month, you’re just breaking even. You’re on your period so the extra weight is probably just water.”
Wise Mind said, “Chill, you’ll be okay. This is just temporary. Let’s just get a plan.”

So, I began thinking of how I used to do things. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to be on a diet! I had developed such good eating habits that it became a natural part of living, more a lifestyle than a diet! I actually eat a very healthy diet…I’m just eating more…more yogurt, more fruit, more chocolate protein bars!

Part of my diet basics is to let the people I’m around know about my struggles and to solicit their help. So, I told the family I had a very bad September, that I need to tighten up…and that I don’t want to start the weight gain cycle. I asked them not to offer me food and to put their food up when they’re done. Of course, they’re not perfect in my recovery, so when I notice they’ve left something out that could be tempting to me, I put it up!

I’m also walking past temptation telling myself, “I can’t just eat that, I’m on a diet” instead of having a couple bites, a bowl, or a handful. I’m setting limits because my wants now are much greater than they’ve been for a long time…and I guess I’ve slacked off too much. I find myself eating because I feel like it, rather than eating when I’m hungry.

I’m also setting limits and making choices about when I’m going to eat…not just allowing myself to graze.
I also decided that I would count calories through the day instead of just doing it at night. This will increase my mindfulness of calorie intake throughout the day.

This morning as I was waking up and thinking about my day, I decided what I would eat. Since I slept late, I’d eat two meals and an evening snack.

I’ve also thought about the work week because my calories are higher during the week than on the weekends. I will bring a limited amount of food to work. For instance, instead of a huge bag of grapes that should last a few days, I’ll bring about 100 calories worth. I’m in the process of figuring out what my food day will be like at work and what I’ll have at home in the evening.

So, I’ve gone back to some of the basics, but, I’m not perfect in recovery. I’ve had one “bad day” this first four days of October, but three very good days. My overall calorie count is lower than desirable, but I have faith in myself, I’ll be able to get it up without any problem!

FYI: DBT-CBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy)

A Quit Smoking Success Story…and I’m Even Losing Weight!

I thought I should write a follow-up to the “I Quit Smoking” blog entries over the past few months. So, here goes!

I’m pleased to say that I’ve successfully quit smoking! It’s been about 5-6 weeks now. No constipation…no bloating…and I’ve actually lost a couple pounds! Life is good. I’m still eating Activa type yogurt – about 2 a day and I’m chewing the nicotine gum – about 4-5 pieces a day. I have continued to have less soda per day (about 2 cans per day now) and have a protein bar about 5 times a week (the mega Snickers 21g protein ones!) instead of about 2 per day! Those are a treat and usually take care of chocolate or sweet cravings. I don’t think I’ve done a sweet binge in months since I’ve been eating them! I have been eating a ton of fruit though…that probably helps with the sweet binges! I have lost almost 150 pounds in the past four years so controlling the diet thing is very important to me. Yes, I was QUITE HEAVY, but part of that 150 was pregnancy weight – had an unexpected pregnancy during those four years! However, most of the 150 was part of a slow, insidious weight gain over 12 years! Do you know 100 extra calories a day adds about 1 pound of extra weight per month…and 12 per year! That’s probably how most of us end up so heavy…slow and steady! I’ve written the DBT-CBT Workbook (Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Workbook) which focuses on life-destroying addictions and behaviors like drugs and alcohol, self-injury (like cutting), verbal and physical aggression – but it only touches on eating disorders – like anorexia, bulimia, and overeating. I wish I had the energy to write a DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook for losing weight. Sure would be helpful to A LOT of people. I have certainly used the skills and understandings in the workbook to quit smoking and to get through this weight loss thing! I have to live, eat, and breathe DBT-CBT on a daily basis to deal with myself! I am a full-time job!

Oh, one other thing…I’ve been eating a lot of sunflower seeds in the evening, that helps to bind the hands and the mouth instead of smoking. I don’t have salt issues, so the seeds work for me! I’m at the point that I rarely think about smoking…can get into the car and take the 23-minute drive to work (or home) and it never crosses my mind. I did think about smoking last Saturday morning…that was a nice smoking time for me…get up, relax, have a few smokes…and start the day! However, got through the thoughts and urges to smoke by reminding myself how glad I am to not smoke…and to be free of that addiction. It also helped that I had lost a “new pound” that morning when I weighed…so that was certainly a positive!

I expect this will be my last “Quit Smoking” blog…and maybe I’ll make myself start writing a Diet Tips one!

I Quit Smoking and Got Around the Bloating, the Constipation, and the Weight Gain

I FINALLY quit smoking. I FINALLY DID IT on attempt #6 or #7 this year! I found a way to get past the bloating, the constipation, and the weight gain. Granted, kicking the habit kicked my butt for 6 months…I persevered through the process and made it through! I have almost three weeks under my belt…and for me, that means I’m done. All’s going well…my weight is excellent…no bloating issues…and no constipation!!!! YEA! I’ve fought through this…and finally won. It’s been a tremendous struggle. I’ve always had an easy time quitting in the past and staying quit for long periods of time (years)…however, things are obviously different now…perhaps it is part of the aging process. I’m not sure I will ever take up smoking again…because it is not “easy come, easy go” anymore. I don’t want to have to fight this battle again.

It was awful to “have to smoke again” to get control of the bloating, the weight gain, and the constipation…however, each time I did so, I was aware I’d get soon and try again…as soon as everything went back to normal. I have lost about 140 pounds in the last four years and I was not willing to start the weight gain cycle…and gaining 7-10 pounds in 7-10 days was not okay…and it happened each time I quit smoking this year. I did not believe that my weight was dependent on smoking because I lost the first 100 pounds without smoking…and I’ve been thin before in my life without smoking. I knew I could have one without the other…I knew I could manage my weight without having to smoke. I knew something was wrong because of the tremendous gain in weight so quickly…I knew it was not REAL weight…because you can’t gain 7 – 10 pounds of fat that quickly…eating 1500 calories or less per day. I knew it was something else…but I didn’t understand it. I blamed it on a high nut diet, birth control pills…and various other things…until I finally learned that people bloat and get constipated when they quit smoking…and that it was an effect of nicotine withdrawal. Talking with friends clued me in…so I began to read about it on the net…and then started to do things to address this. What I did is described in the other “Trying to quit smoking” entries in this blog. Read the most recent ones to find out what the last things were that helped…or read them all to learn about what I experienced throughout this 6-month process! What an ordeal this has been. It’s been such a struggle…and now, it’s a burden relieved!

I’m in the process of writing “Ten Tips for Quitting Smoking” to show how I used DBT-CBT therapy principles , skills, and understandings to recover from this addiction. So, that is yet to come…I wish you success as you make it through the process to quit smoking…just don’t stop trying. Recovery from drugs and alcohol takes 8-18 attempts on average…and it’s very likely that breaking the smoking and nicotine addiction is little different.

Why Do Borderlines Do Such Crazy Things?

This question was asked…and I couldn’t help to respond. One person responded to the question with an excellent description of the pain and trauma a borderline has experienced…a “well if you went through this…you’d be that way, too” type of response. It helps to make the non-understandable…understandable. It certainly helped to get a sense of the pain someone with bpd goes through…and has gone through.

To his response, I added the following information.

The term borderline originated because in the days of old, folks considered this to be borderline psychosis…because of the seemingly insane, crazy type of behavior…the OUT-OF-CONTROL behavior…behavior that oftentimes makes little sense to the observers and the targets of the behavior. Many times, borderline people don’t understand themselves because of their out-of-control emotions and behavior…imagine how hard it is for someone else to understand their behavior…especially someone who has little or no experience with this kind of stuff. At least the individual asking the question is asking…in a quest to understand the seemingly un-understandable!

From a DBT-CBT perspective, when we’re “Big Time in Emotional Mind,” we have little to no Rational Mind going on…we’re like 95% Emotional Mind and 5% Rational Mind. We’re not thinking straight…we’re not rational…we’re just BIG TIME IN EMOTIONAL MIND. Our emotions are intense…they are driving our perceptions…they are driving our behavior…they are driving our thoughts…we’re not dealing with reality or the way things really are…we are reacting to things based on our emotions, our fears and traumatic experiences, and our emotion-driven beliefs. Our emotions have “done gone crazy”…and we say and do irrational things in such an intense emotional state. But the truth, it’s not about being crazy…or stupid…or anything like that…it’s about being overwhelmed with emotions, memories, fears, trauma…it’s about being desperate…desperate for relief, desperate for comfort, desperate for a continuing relationship, desperate for assurance of safety…and it’s about desperately seeking to reduce our emotional intensity to a level that is more tolerable.

Everyone gets “Big Time in Emotional Mind” now and then…and when we are…we all do crazy, irrational things…we all lose control now and then…and we say and do all kinds of things…that afterwards we say, “What was I thinking?” Well, we weren’t thinking…rationally. We were just reacting emotionally. Emotional Mind was controlling our thoughts and our behavior…and we did some really desperate things to meet our perceived needs in the heat-of-the-moment.

With borderlines (and like the rest of us now and then), the past slams into the present…and it’s really hard to deal with the here-and-now as it is in the here-and-now. They react to today’s situations with the anxiety, intensity, fears, unmet needs, rage, and the memories of all the pain and trauma from the past. I’d venture to say that all borderlines have full-blown PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)…or many features thereof…and they react to the present…and live the present as if it was the past. It’s like they expect the present situations to be a repetition of the past…because the past repeated itself so many times before.

An Intro to Recovery from the Out-of-Control DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook

Welcome to DBT-CBT! This is an exciting time! You’re about to embark on a journey that CAN change your life! The original DBT program developed by Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D. was designed to treat some of the MOST DIFFICULT to treat individuals…and the results have been ASTOUNDING! This program, DBT-CBT, is based on Dr. Linehan’s work, but it has been GREATLY modified! It includes many original concepts, principles, and techniques developed during 24 years of patient care. MANY PEOPLE have described DBT-CBT to be LIFE-CHANGING, so HAVE GREAT HOPE! Applying the principles of DBT-CBT to your life CAN BE LIFE-CHANGING…but only if you’re WILLING TO MAKE CHANGES in your life. I assume you have great interest in changing your life…in feeling better, in responding to the world better, and having better life outcomes and experiences… else, you wouldn’t be reading this book…especially an Intro!! You’ve already taken the first step on this journey…and the Road to Recovery! WELCOME ABOARD!

This workbook is written for people who are hurting and suffering the pain of life. It’s about bringing hope and peace and the life-changing gift of healing and recovery. I hope you heal and recover. I hope this workbook leads you there. Even if it’s just about “planting seeds” or watering the seeds of recovery that were planted before, then, IT IS GOOD. This workbook CAN BE life-changing…AND HOW I HOPE…it is YOUR LIFE that is changed!

Think about this…if we do not make positive changes in our life, our life will NOT change for the positive. Please remember this. Repeat it over and over…”IF I DO NOT MAKE POSITIVE CHANGES IN MY LIFE…MY LIFE WILL NOT CHANGE FOR THE POSITIVE.” Let that penetrate your soul. Making major life changes is hard to do, BUT with effort, support, and the grace of God, MANY people RECOVER! We all know these people or we’ve heard their stories. They’re RECOVERED drug addicts, alcoholics, career criminals, “treatment failures,” and “hopeless cases.” They’re people with long histories of depression, anger, anxiety, suicide attempts, self-mutilation, abusive relationships, aggression, eating disorders, Bipolar Disorder, codependency, Borderline Personality Disorder, and other major life issues. Something Happened and they became disgusted enough or slowed down long enough to Think Things Through. They set their heart, mind, soul, and spirit on recovery…and THEY RECOVERED.

Think about people you know who have recovered…or recovery stories you’ve heard. How did they do it? What changes did they make in their life?

Recovery Requires Us…

    …to make major life changes…including changes in how we think and respond to life…our life in the past, the present, and the future.

    …to turn away from old ways and respond to life in new ways.

    …to use Life-Enhancing Coping Skills to deal with tough and trying times rather than our preferred Self-Destructive Coping Behaviors.

    …to make changes in what we allow in our life and what we allow ourselves to be involved in.

    …to remove toxic people and situations from our life…and add life-enhancing, recovery-supporting people and situations.

    …to fill our life with meaningful activities and relationships…things that give life meaning and value.

    …to have hope and faith that things will get better as we get better.

    …to accept that life isn’t easy or always enjoyable.

    …to accept and deal with the difficult things that Come Our Way.

    …to give ourselves time to grow into and be…more and more the person we were designed to be.

People who recover make many changes in their life. They realize recovery is a process…a lifestyle…and NOT a one-time event! Recovery requires work. It’s work worth doing…because we’re worth the work and the people who love us and depend on us are worth our work and sacrifices! Recovery requires dedication and perseverance to live, eat, and breathe the principles, concepts, and skills for living a Recovery Lifestyle. This workbook also requires dedication and perseverance to work through. It’ll teach many principles, concepts, and skills for living a Recovery Lifestyle.

Our Humanity
It’s important to accept we’re human…and because of our humanity, we’ve made many errors and bad decisions. Most of us have done some pretty stupid and shameful things…and many self-defeating things over and over! We’re human and we have a record of our life to prove it! If you find yourself wearing these shoes, realize you’re not the trailblazer. Many have come before you…and many are walking the same path right now. You might say, “Yeah, some more than others!”…and you’re right!

We’re a product of our past experiences and the environments we were raised in. It’s RARE that a kid with a stable home environment, emotionally healthy parents, positive role models, and good self-esteem begins to live a troubled life. Something generally happened that led the kid off course. RARELY do kids with “good enough upbringings” just “go bad.” This isn’t meant to minimize OUR RESPONSIBILITY for our behavior and choices, but it’s important to understand “why we are the way we are” is because Something Happened in our life, be it one very difficult situation or many.

On Acceptance
Recovery requires us to accept what has happened…has happened…and what we’ve done, we’ve done. These things are of the past. They’re over and they’re done. Nothing we can do now will change the past. It’s history. It’s our history. Today is the present…and the things we do today CAN CHANGE our life…our today and our tomorrows. Focus on today and plan for tomorrow…and live the wisdom of “The Serenity Prayer” – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This workbook will help us develop skills to manage our life in the here-and-now. We’ll learn skills to cope effectively with our problems, to set boundaries to prevent and minimize emotional distress and problems, to gain peace and acceptance, and to make lifestyle changes which will gradually lead to relief, peace, then satisfaction, and finally, joy. Some people recover on the first try; however, recovery usually takes many attempts over many years. Some days may be easy…and some more difficult. Recovery hinges on minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour decisions to remain on the Recovery Path. We can help ourselves along the way by seeking people who will support and encourage us along the path of recovery…AND BY AVOIDING people who are critical or negative BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE ARE TOXIC TO OUR RECOVERY.

On Recovery
We can be “straight A” therapy students. We can earn extra credit on every assignment. We can have all the answers and understandings possible. However, to recover, WE’VE GOT TO BE WILLING TO APPLY THE PRINCIPLES OF RECOVERY TO OUR LIFE! Knowing what to do is one thing…actually doing it is another! We must DO recovery things and LIVE a Recovery Lifestyle. This often requires us to STEP OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE AND TAKE THE STEPS NECESSARY TO CHANGE OUR LIFE. The question is…“WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP OR CHANGE IN ORDER FOR YOUR LIFE TO CHANGE…FOR THE BETTER?!!”

That’s a difficult question. Honestly reflect on it a minute. What are you WILLING to give up or change in order for your life to change?

No doubt you have some things in mind…and heart…that YOU KNOW MUST CHANGE…in order for YOUR LIFE to CHANGE and your LIFE SITUATIONS to IMPROVE. There are many things we need to give up and change. These are often things we have NO DESIRE to give up or change. That’s where we run into problems. We have the gut wisdom TO KNOW what these things are…they’re just hard to look at and deal with! What do you NEED TO CHANGE? This question will come up many times during this study. The answer you write today may be very different from your answer later. That’s because this study will help you gain insight and learn more about the things that mess up our lives and keep our lives messed up.

Take a few moments and reflect on your thoughts and feelings about this opening reading. Does it make you excited? Uneasy? Anxious? Does it bring a sense of hope and peace…and light at the end of the tunnel…or does it bring a sense of dread…or some of both?

How do I recover from Borderline Personality Disorder: A DBT-CBT perspective

Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It will require a lot of perseverance and focus…and Mindfulness every waking hour. It will require great effort to gain control of out-of-control emotions, behaviors, and thought processes. Then it will require great control to MAINTAIN control over time. You’ll have to want recovery more than anything else in life. Just like the alcoholic…to recover they have to want recovery more than anything else in life. You’re attitude will have to be “Recovery is my #1 priority” and then you’ll have to act in ways to make it so.

The question of how to recover from BPD was posed to me and I wrote a couple paragraphs to give the person an idea of what it would involve. I did not spell out a comprehensive treatment program, just an overview of some things it would involve. BPD is a severe personality disorder that requires a comprehensive treatment plan and years of therapy…and years of practicing new behaviors and skills to undo and change years of dysfunctional responses. So consider the following information to be an overview of the process and know there’s more to it!

Some aspects of recovery include:

    Therapy
    A support system
    Mindfulness
    Practicing life-enhancing coping skills to replace self-destructive ones…and using these in the heat-of-the-moment…and on a day-to-day basis to keep negative emotional levels as low as possible.
    Challenging self-destructive Emotion-Driven Thoughts with Rational Mind thoughts. Rational Mind thoughts relate to the unchanging TRUTH and facts about a situation, our life, other people, etc. Our Emotional Mind thoughts are based on our “in-the-moment perceptions”…or the way we think about things when we’re in an emotional state. For instance, when we’re upset, we may think and say, “Nobody cares about me.” This will be a habit…so we’ll have to catch ourselves (Mindfulness) and turn on Rational Mind and say, “Many people love me and care about me. I’m just thinking that because I’m upset right now. That’s just stinkin’ thinkin’” If we think, “Cutting would help me to feel better.”…we must catch ourselves and say, “Cutting helps in-the-moment, but it ends up causing me more pain and problems. Calling a support person and working through the moment will help me NOW and in the future. Cutting is relapse for me and will only bring me down and land me back into the Cycle of Suffering. I want recovery and I’ve got to use life-enhancing coping skills.” Wise Mind is already kicking in and will be offering some suggestions for getting through the moment.

Borderline Personality Disorder also involves dysfunctional relationship dynamics and patterns. Part of the recovery process is awareness of our sensitivities and our typical responses in relationships. Mindfulness is essential here. When we catch ourselves responding in old dysfunctional ways, we’ll have to use Rational Mind and Wise Mind to alter our responses. Like when someone hurts our feelings, we might think, “She is such a b—-. She was never my friend. I’m never going to talk to her again. I don’t get mad, I get even.” That’s Emotional Mind thinking…it’s Emotion-Driven Thinking…thoughts that are driven by or are caused by whatever emotions we are experiencing. We’re thinking that way just because we’re Big-Time in Emotional Mind. So, we’ll have to catch ourselves and challenge that thought with Rational Mind. For instance, we might remind ourselves of the truth about her and other people, like “She’s usually nice to me. Maybe something’s going on with her and she’s not in such a nice mood right now. She’s been friendly and she’s been my friend. Everyone has their moods…and I guess she’s in one right now.” Wise Mind would kick on and make some problem-solving suggestions, such as, “I’ll pull myself together and go on with my day and TRY not to worry about this. I’ll check back in with her later and see if she’s okay. If something is troubling her, I’ll offer to talk with her about it. If it seems like she’s upset with me, I’ll let her know I appreciate her friendship and I’m sorry if I did something to upset her…and I’ll encourage her to talk with me about it…and I’ll work real hard not to be defensive! I’ll try to smooth things over with her so I can maintain this relationship.”

There’s a lot to working through and changing a lifetime of experiences, habits, thought processes, reactions, etc. Therapy, support groups, a support system, mindfulness, following through with life-enhancing coping behaviors and problem-solving, and an attitude of “Recovery is my #1 priority” are some key elements to recovery. READ self-help books too…and learn as much as you can about recovery. Know that it took a lifetime to get us to this place and time…and it will take a while to recover. It’s step by step, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day…month after month..and year after year. I think it is reasonable to expect that even though we get to a point of being “pretty well recovered” things will still come up…things that will bring up old feelings, insecurities, and issues…that we’ll have to deal with. But, by then, we’ll be real practiced at it and it won’t take long to set ourselves straight. Honestly, I am “pretty well recovered” but I still have to deal with myself on a daily basis. I consider myself to be “a work in progress.”

Another thing to think about is that it is normal to be “abnormal.” Most people have issues and concerns that bother them. Some struggle to get better n’ better…and others remain in denial and blame others, avoid their issues…and remain in a Cycle of Suffering.

How to Get Control of the Quit Smoking Bloat, Weight Gain, and Constipation! Must DBT my way through it!

I teach DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy)…in fact I wrote the DBT-CBT Recovery Workbook, “Out of Control.” I have the skills and understandings for behavioral change…I’ve recovered from many things…and I’ve kicked many habits…but this one is kicking my butt this time. This is a follow-up to two previous “I’M TRYING TO STOP SMOKING” WordPress blogs. It’s been about two weeks since my last blog on trying to quit smoking and the bloating and weight gain that compels me to resume smoking. So, I’ve been smoking again for the last two weeks. It’s really a love-hate relationship with smoking…I love to smoke, I hate to smoke. I hate it more than I love it and I’m determined to quit. My plan continues to be to get a Game Plan for quitting. I am going to a conference tomorrow in California on risk assessment, the Reid Meloy PCL-R one. I didn’t want to suffer the agony of being three sizes bigger and “feeling fat,” so I’ve allowed myself to smoke for this period…two weeks plus the conference.

Folks in my DBT Group would say I am just sabotaging myself and falling into the trap of Emotional Mind by coming up with Emotion-Driven Lies and Excuses to continue smoking…that my excuse to smoke is nothing but an excuse to smoke. Alike many people who sabotage themselves this way, I would say, “I’ve got a plan to quit and this is part of my plan. If you knew me, you’d know I was going to quit…and this is part of my quitting plan.” And everyone else would say…”Bull Sheets…that’s just bull, Sheets!” And I would say…”Just sit back and watch. I’ve quit many things in my life and I will quit this…come hail or high water…I’ll find an umbrella to make it through this storm.” And, I will. I’m determined to quit and I’ll find a way. If I knew that smoking two more weeks and through the conference would cause me lung cancer, I’d put this cigarette out right here, right now, and call it quits. Glad I don’t know that! I do think about it though and I’ve asked God to see me through this…and keep me safe while I get ‘er done.

I sent an email out to the Docs and nurse practitioners at the hospital yesterday and was just about desperate enough to send an email out across campus. I explained this bloating – constipation – weight gain problem and I asked if they knew of a medication or patch that would minimize this. I read a bit about Chantix and stopped at the side effects of constipation and gas! I haven’t studied any more…so, I don’t know if Nicorette gum or other nicotine replacement therapies will help. I’m hoping some readers will share their experiences and we can figure out what to do. Many people are reading this blog, so many are struggling with the same thing. Please leave some comments and let us know what works and what doesn’t. I’d really like a magic pill or patch so I can easily quit smoking. I’ve quit 5-6 times this year and I’m fine mentally, emotionally, and psychologically after the first couple days…until this bloat thing happens and my weight soars…and my pant size increases by 2. So, if I can get this bloat thing figured out, I’d be quit again in no time. I seek the “No pain…big gain” method of recovery!

So, if I don’t know of anything else to do when I return from the conference, I’ll set another quit date, try Nicorette gum or something similar and go at it again. I understand that the gum is expensive…and I did try to sabotage myself with that excuse…but, my Rational Mind isn’t going to put up with that crap and quickly reminded me that smoking is more expensive. Ended that. I do have a doctor appointment set up in early July and I can get some information from my PCP at that time if Nicorettes doesn’t work. I’ve also become Mindful that my current diet is very high in fiber and protein and that may be why I am having this new problem with quitting smoking. I’ve always been able to quit for long periods of time and have never had this problem…until this year. Maybe I have to change my diet and eat more roughage rather than soft protein bars. Maybe I have to exercise more often. Do you know that riding a horse burns about 200 calories an hour? All I have to do is to go outside, sit on a horse for an hour, and let it take me for a walk! That’s sure a lazy woman’s way to exercise. If I can hold on while the horse gallops, I can burn about 500 an hour! I thought about putting a sign on my horse’s butt and trotting past power-walkers on the road or galloping past a jogger that says “I’m burning more calories than you!” FUN-NY! Yes, I know I’m not getting the same cardio benefits…nor pulmonary…but the mental picture is quite amusing!

Long blog short…I’m still smoking and I’m not done quitting! I’ll keep folks posted on this journey and what I learn as I go…and what I have to do to get there! Hope there’s a magic pill!

Working Through the Pain of Verbal and Emotional Abuse: Self-Disclosure in Therapy…A Question of Professionalism…Does It Hurt More Than It Heals?

Someone who loves me and supports me told me that I’m making myself look bad and unprofessional by writing these blog entries and sharing so much of my personal neurotic self. She questioned how I think I can look professional and be a respected author of a therapy workbook if I am presenting myself as so messed up. I’ve thought about this all along…and I did expect this point to be raised. I haven’t thought through it at a deep level though…so my thoughts about it aren’t so organized…so what I write now will be pretty raw…but here’s what I think at this moment in time.

I teach my patients that most normal people are messed up in some ways…that there are few VERY NORMAL PEOPLE who have no major emotional issues and concerns. I believe that ALL PEOPLE struggle with themselves in some way or another…at least at some points in their life. I don’t think that NORMAL people are perfectly normal. I think the kinds of emotional issues and concerns that I struggle with ARE NORMAL…that many people struggle with the same things…or similar things…or other things that dog them just the same. I think that normal people are messed up…I think being “ABNORMAL”…IS NORMAL. I think that people who are putting on a PROFESSIONAL FRONT are PUTTING ON a professional FRONT. I know that some people are highly self-controlled and very tightly wrapped…and, that’s ABNORMAL.

What’s wrong with them that they can’t admit or reveal their humanity, their weaknesses, their struggles…Why is it that they feel so strongly about presenting to the world as SO PROFESSIONAL and SO NORMAL? What is it that they don’t want people to know about them…or what are they so ashamed of that they’re hiding…or what is it that they don’t want people to think about them? What is so bad about their true self? Why do they have to hide their humanity and who they are as a person? Why is it that they feel the need to separate themselves from humanity and place themselves on a “I’ve got my life VERY WELL TOGETHER and I’m better than you…or different than you…I’M PROFESSIONAL…I’m DISTINCT…I’m in a different social class…I am one that is respectable…I have overcome my humanity” pedestal?

Boy am I going to piss these people off!

I think that if we can’t accept ourselves, our weaknesses, our humanity, then we have major, big, emotional issues and concerns. I think that if we have to put ourselves on a pedestal and create a facade of absolute professionalism and perfection…then there’s something wrong with us…something wrong that we feel we have to distinguish ourselves from humanity…from the “common people.” Has our sense of self been so beaten that in order to FEEL OKAY…we have to be SO self-controlled…and maintain such a professional self-image and presentation to others…so that we can feel a sense of integrity, wholeness, togetherness, and acceptability? Why would one have to distinguish and separate themselves from humanity in order to feel okay? Do we feel so bad about who we are…and our humanity…that we have to distinguish or separate ourselves from others…and humanity?

Why can’t I just feel okay about myself…and accept that my emotional and psychological weaknesses are okay and acceptable…and normal? Why would I have to CHEAT and DECEIVE my patients and book readers…and put on this facade of PERFECTION or near perfection…and interact with them in HIGHLY PROFESSIONAL ways…in order to gain their respect by deceit and trickery? Is my sense of self-respect so low that I have to heighten my sense of self-respect by conning other people into having over-esteemed respect for me?

Do I have to fill up my empty tank of self-respect with THEIR RESPECT for me? If my tank of self-respect is filled enough…I don’t need others to fill that tank for me…because it’s already filled enough. Granted and obviously…my tank of self-respect falls below what is healthy because I struggle with it so. However, I’m not going out in the world trying to get others to fill this tank for me. In order for my tank to be filled adequately and to stay that way, I must have the resources to fill it on my own…rather than begging, borrowing, and stealing respect and self-esteem from others.

I continually work on myself and continually struggle with my humanity and my emotional beatings and slaps from the past. I don’t want my reservoir of self-respect to be so vulnerable to the destructive whims and neuroses of others. I continually work on myself so my reservoir of self-respect increases over time…so I am not so needy of being filled with respect by others.

If I am truly to experience self-respect, it needs to come from within…it needs to be mine…else, the amount of respect I have for myself is going to be ever vulnerable to the waves of approval or disapproval from others. I’m tired of living that way. I’m tired of my sense of self being tied to what others think of me…because not everyone is so healthy as to treat us or to regard us consistent with our level of deserving. We all know that other people put us down in order to feel better about themselves…that others may blame us for things instead of blaming themselves…that others criticize or find fault with us because they don’t want to acknowledge or deal with their own faults and weaknesses…that they make us look bad so they don’t have to look bad…and they take credit for what we’ve done so they look better…or they don’t brag on us like they could because somehow it makes them feel less than.

I have received many emotional beatings and slaps in my journey through this world. I’ve had many people in my life that have been very emotionally unhealthy and have been emotionally and verbally abusive and hurtful to me. I have sucked in…and have personalized what they’ve said to me, how they’ve responded to me, and how they’ve treated me. I derived a sick sense of self-respect and self-esteem as a result…a level of self-respect and self-esteem that does not match the reality of my life, my talents, my accomplishments, etc.

I have been very hurt by several authority figures. Some have been victims of emotional abuse and have come to derive a heightened sense of self and empowerment by putting others down…they feel powerful and in control when they weaken the self-esteem of others…they feel in control by overpowering and beating others….and some of these people are filled with so much unrestrained pain and anger…that they have major Emotional Mind eruptions…and they spew the hurtful and the ugly all over their environment.

I have also been subjected to some very narcissistic people as well…people that are so sick inside or so emotionally unhealthy that they interact with the world and present themselves…and on the surface think of themselves…as superior to others. Instead of giving other people due credit, instead of speaking of others in the positive ways they deserve, they demean us, take credit for our work, and don’t show us the positive regard we deserve. They psychologically esteem themselves at our expense. They so much need this to feel okay about themselves. This is a defense mechanism for them…a defense against experiencing their humanity and emotional vulnerability…and the pain and ugliness they feel inside. This is a destructive coping behavior…it is a narcissistic defense.

I have been so beaten and demeaned by my interactions with some of these people that I’m tired of it. I’m tired of feeling this way. I’m tired of the anxiety, self-doubt, insecurities, and all the crap that I’ve felt and suffered through as a result. I’m so tired of the Emotional Mind beatings that I put myself through…that I’ve had to turn on Rational Mind to take a true look at myself…and to decide for myself who I am and what I have to offer to this world. I’ve decided to appraise my own self-worth and to protect my vulnerable sense of integrity. I’ve decided to minimize the impact these emotional unhealthy people have on me…and to rely on the positive regard other people have for me…and the positive regard I have for myself.

This psychological issue is something I will no doubt struggle with for a long time…it’s not an easy thing to overcome. I’ve spent most of my life tied to and deeply affected by how these people have regarded me or have treated me…that it is a rather engrained way of regarding myself. I am working on it…and I will continue to work on it. I will be affected by future insults…but, I will work to minimize the impact they have on me. When one of these insults comes my way, I will work to be Mindful of how it’s affecting me and I will work to disseminate the truth from it. I will ask myself, “Did I do something to deserve this? Is it undeserved and an unrealistic appraisal of me?” If I did something, I will own it…and I will work to continually improve myself in that area. If it makes me feel bad about myself that I keep doing things that cause others to have negative regard for me, I will work to soothe myself and to remind myself that I’m not perfect and that I’m a work in progress. I will try to come up with a Game Plan or a plan of action to better control myself so the same thing doesn’t continue to happen in the future. That’s all I can do. I refuse to destroy myself and my sense of self over it.

I write the things I do in this blog to reach out to other people who are hurting and are struggling with the pains of life…to recognize that in their abnormality, they are perfectly normal…that everyone or most everyone struggles with things…and that what separates the so called normal from abnormal in our mind is how much we know about them…and how much they are willing to know and acknowledge about themselves. I believe that in my abnormality, I am very normal. I feel defective, but I know I’m at a level of good repair…perhaps even better repair than most people…and that, I am a work in progress.

Further, I feel that I have the level of knowledge, skills, understandings, and achievements to be thought of by others as a “professional” and that if people know me, are around me enough…they will easily have that respect for me. I no longer feel the need to ACT professional so people will respect me. I think I can be myself and share myself…and do so while carrying out a professional job. My profession is to help people to achieve self-respect and to gain relief from all the pain and turmoil that drives destructive coping behavior, self-destruction, other destruction, and life destruction…so that they can feel okay about themselves and will begin to interact in the world in a productive, life-enhancing fashion. If I achieve that, then I’ve done good…and I’ve fulfilled my professional responsibility. If being “unprofessional” in appearance by revealing my struggles and weaknesses and my recovery journey…helps to reach a subset of hurting souls, then it is worth being regarded as “unprofessional.” Really, the unknowing opinions of others matter little in the big picture of the world…and any help given to tormented souls matters most.

Now, all this is not to say that I NEVER ACT professional. My profession requires I abide by an ethical code of conduct…and I am very invested in acting professional in that manner…because those things make a major difference in the care and treatment of those I serve. Further, when I’m around people that I am expected to impress or need to impress with my professionalism…I can generally do a good job of pulling that off. I CAN ACT professional for the sake of making a professional impression when I have to…I just don’t choose to live that persona otherwise.

Quit Smoking and Bloating, Constipation, Reduced Metabolism, and Weight Gain!

The same thing happened again…I got bloated, constipated, and my weight went up. I gained 6 pounds and 2 pant sizes. Not a happy moment. Good-bye slim fit Wrangler size 9 and hello size 11 regular fit! That’s going from a size 7 to a size 11 with just 6 pounds…6 pounds in my stomach and waist area that is! If you read the other blog post I wrote recently about my struggles to quit smoking, you’ll know that I’ve quit smoking 5-6 times this year…and each time I got bloated, gained a bunch of weight REAL FAST…returned to smoking…and lost it all real fast.

One time I was eating a lot of nuts and blamed it on the nuts. Another time I blamed it on starting birth control pills. This time, I didn’t change anything in my life…but, the same thing happened. As is typical, I talk to my friends when I’m in distress. Today, I spoke with a friend…and he said the same thing happens to him…the bloat, the constipation, and the weight gain when he quits smoking. I told him another friend told me that smoking increases metabolism…so I assumed not smoking results in decreased metabolism. Well, knowing he’s had the same experience, I googled and read about what happens when you quit smoking. This pattern is typical. It’s not just about eating more, it’s about the GI tract slowing down, constipation and bloating! So, I learned something new today.

Well, I started smoking again this morning…because now I have gained 6 pounds and I went up two pant sizes. My plan…get a Game Plan, just like I teach in the DBT-CBT class. Obviously, recovery from smoking is more than just stopping smoking…it’s going to involve some major life changes…some of which I have no interest in changing. I have to decide what to do. I already drink quite a bit of water and I eat a LOT of fiber each day. I guess I have to add regular exercise…URGH! I am also going to visit with the doctor and see if there is a magic pill or patch that will help me transition from smoking to non-smoking without all this bloating, constipation, and weight gain. I can deal with a little weight gain…but not something that makes me feel totally Out-of-Control.

So, my plan for now is to smoke for a couple weeks, let my body readjust to all the toxins and poisons in the cigarettes, and…enjoy it as my weight goes back down and I get to smoke again. Then, with increased knowledge and a different plan, I will try again…and I will keep trying until I make it. I sure hope cigarettes don’t kill me in the meantime.

One thing I have to think about is that when I stop smoking, my caloric needs will go down by about 150 calories a day because my heart won’t be pumping so fast. My metabolism will go down because I won’t be smoking and causing my heart rate to unnaturally increase. If I’m eating 300-400 extra calories per day because I’m not smoking…then that’s about 500 extra per day…and one extra pound of true fat per week. I am going to have to do something to offset that! It will be hard to reduce caloric intake by 150 calories a day because I normally eat about 1200 calories per day! So, I have a definite problem.

Another thing I have to keep in mind is that I lost the first 100 pounds without smoking and I have been slender before without smoking. Somehow I did it then, and I have to do it again.

Copyright Statement: Material contained within this blog is copyrighted protected with all rights reserved © Melanie Gordon Sheets commencing in 2009 and through the present age. Please request permission to quote or otherwise use material obtained from this blog by emailing: service@dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Please visit the website http://www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com for more information about the DBT-CBT Workbook – full title “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior.

Trying to DBT-CBT My Way Through Quitting Smoking – The Battle Between Emotional Mind and Rational Mind

This is my 5th or 6th time to quit smoking this year. This is something I’ve always been really good at. I’ve successfully quit smoking over a dozen times in my life. No joke…I really mean it! I’ve quit for long periods of time, like years at a time…and then, I pick up a cigarette…and here I go again!

I have most often quit when I’ve gotten sick. It was always a “planned quit”…”I’ll quit next time I get sick and cigarettes taste horrible.” That was a very effective plan. The problem this time…is that I haven’t gotten sick enough to quit and I’ve had to find other reasons to quit. No, please don’t pray for me to get so sick that I quit! Don’t want to go there on purpose…especially in this age of swine flu!

I’ve also quit several times due to pregnancy. I’ve also quit before when I dated someone who didn’t smoke…I knew what it was like for a non-smoker to kiss a smoker…been on the receiving end of such a kiss…and it’s plumb nasty! All in all, I’ve smoked and have quit many times over my 40 year smoking career.

Because I didn’t get sick over the last 18 months…well, not sick enough to quit smoking…I’ve been smoking for 18 months now…with the exception of some short periods of not smoking over the last 4-1/2 months. I did a planned quit on Jan. 5th – the day I went back to work after the holidays. I did fine for about 5 days…my weight had been going crazy and I gained about 13 pounds REAL FAST…like over a two-week period when I was eating 1200-1300 calories a day. Being a professional dieter (like I am a professional smoking quitter!)…My Rational Mind knew that weight wasn’t REAL weight…that it was water, poop, whatever…but, it wasn’t FAT. However, given I’ve lost a ton of weight over the last several years and the last thing I want to do is to gain all my weight back…my Emotional Mind was going crazy…and I was freakin’ out…

I was telling a friend about the weight gain…the bloating…and all the concomitant gas. I told her I shouldn’t be gaining weight because I wasn’t eating that much. She asked what I was eating…and I bragged on eating a very healthy diet of nuts. Well, thank goodness she knew a little something about nuts. She told me that nuts cause bloating…and can cause all that extra gas! I told her I sure wanted to get rid of all the bloating but I was rather enjoying having the ammunition to get even with my gassy family. Well, I did a bunch of googling and found out she was right! So, I got off the nuts and took up smoking AGAIN. My weight dropped as quickly as it came on…and I was RELIEVED!

My Dad was hospitalized for a stroke on Feb 1st…about 3 weeks into my most recent smoking indulgence period. Baylor Heart Hospital in Dallas is NO SMOKING all over the campus…there are NO smoking places…inside or out…imagine that…a heart hospital that does not support smoking. So, given we were living at the hospital for a week, and given my father was a long time smoker and obviously just had to quit cold turkey, I had to give up smoking AGAIN.

That went just fine for a few weeks…and since I wasn’t smoking, I figured it was a good time to start the birth control pills my doctor has prescribed for pre-menopausal hormone replacement. I tried them about two years ago…but my weight went crazy and I quit. Well, this time wasn’t any different…my weight went crazy again. I was gaining 1-2 pounds a day…and about 8 days, 12 pounds, and two sizes later, I quit the pills three days early and started smoking AGAIN!

As expected, my weight went right back down…and I lost a few more pounds. YEA! Well, after about two weeks of enjoying this most recent smoking binge, I set a date to quit smoking AGAIN…on my next “return to work” day. I did just fine for about five days. I quit at the wrong time of the month…the part of the month for me that my weight goes up about 5 pounds…regardless of caloric intake. My Rational Mind knows it’s just water…maybe some extra poop…but, I’m bloated and I have to wear a larger size…and that’s NOT okay. It was also Easter time and my child brought a large bag of some VERY FRESH chocolate covered raisins home and of course, she had to show me what she had. Okay, those were consumed the first night, but I skipped dinner to offset the increased calories. The next day, my friend visits and brings over Easter candy that she found on sale…of course, it’s chocolate stuff…and of course, I consume that…however, because I missed nutrition the night before, I ate real food, too.

Okay, we’re doing “the weight done gone crazy” thing again. My Emotional Mind was freakin’ out…so I asked my husband to bring me some smokes on his way home. I told my family and my friend that I would quit smoking AGAIN once my weight was under control and to NOT BRING SWEETS INTO THE HOUSE if they wanted me to stay off smoking. Our recovery has to be a family affair…our support people need to support us and to help keep our environment as temptation free as possible. Very few people will recover if they live in an environment filled with temptation. That’s why we’re told that we have to change people, places, and things.

Okay…a few weeks went by and I quit again. I quit for five days and I started smoking again because I was stressed out at work…and just because I wanted to. It wasn’t about weight…it was about MY WANTS. I WANTED to smoke.

So, now here we are at Saturday, May 23rd, 2009. I’ve quit AGAIN. I’ve been off cigarettes since Tuesday, May 19th when I went back to work after a long weekend. The week went well, though Tuesday at 4pm when it was getting close to quitting time (at work), I was thinking about the 23 minute drive home and how I could stop off and pick up some smokes…and how nice that would be. I thought about how much I REALLY WANTED a cigarette…and how I was really “Jones-ing” to smoke.

As I sat on the pot at work…my Emotional Mind and Rational Mind was battling it out. My Emotional Mind desire was to smoke. My Rational Mind was fighting hard to talk me out of it and my Wise Mind was telling me to GET THROUGH THE MOMENT…go straight home…you’ll be alright…you’ve done great all day. My Emotional Mind was coming up with all these schemes to smoke, like “I could just smoke at night…and not smoke during the day.” and, “Remember, I don’t want to live ‘til I’m 90 and have to live in a nursing home…if I smoke, I’ll die in my 70’s and not have to deal with that misery…and it’ll be better for my family that way.”

Well, Rational Mind fought back and told me, “It’s an Emotion-Driven Lie to think that you’ll just smoke in the evenings…that may work one day and then you’ll be back to smoking full-time AGAIN…that’s bull Sheets.” Finally, after conducting this fierce battle over the porcelain pot, my Rational Mind spoke again in my sister’s tone of voice…and said, “Think about what you’re doing to your lungs.” – oh thanks a lot for that Rational Mind…spoil my fun. Then, my own voice kicked in with Rational Mind and asked, “What do you desire more…to be a smoker…or a non-smoker?”

Well, that was a defining moment for me…and I said in a strong voice (inside my head)…”I most desire to be a non-smoker.” and…that was it…I sighed deeply, flushed, and went on with my evening. I drove right home and it was wild…while I waited at the Walmart light, it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought about cigarettes until just that moment when I thought about not thinking about cigarettes. That was pretty cool!

I’ve done great until today, Saturday…the 23rd as referenced above. I’ve gained three pounds because it’s that time of the month. At the beginning of this most recent non-smoking attempt, Wise Mind suggested that I wouldn’t start freakin’ out until I gained 8 pounds…to give myself a larger window before taking action! I weighed one more pound on Wedn morning, one more on Thurs…and one more on Friday. I was the same weight this morning.

That should be exciting because maybe the monthly weight gain is slowing down…and the eating an extra 100-200 calories a day not smoking isn’t adding up too fast. My Emotional Mind was a bit disappointed…because if I would have gained another pound or two, I could have smoked again. I was actually disappointed. I even weighed a second time just to be sure. Aren’t we sick?! I say “we”…because we folks who struggle with recovery do all sorts of things to sabotage ourselves…so we can return to our habits and addictions.

Of course, I was Mindful of my mind games and reminded myself that I want MORE to be a non-smoker, save the money, breathe better, it’s more professional, I don’t want to be burdened with the habit and the NEED to smoke when it’s inconvenient and I’m going to be late for a meeting, I’m smoking up my book profits, God’s been good to me and look how I’m taking care of his blessing….etc. I also reminded myself that I told my Group on Wednesday about what helped me to win the relapse battle on Tuesday (what do I desire more)…and how awful it would be…to have to let my Group down by telling them that I’m smoking again. What a horrible example that is. What a hypocrite I would be. I’m encouraging them to change everything in their lives as they try to quit life-encompassing habits like drugs and alcohol…and I can’t overcome smoking. All these Rational Mind thoughts attacked that sick Emotional Mind Game…but, I did think that I could just not smoke in the mornings…that I wouldn’t smell like smoke during Group…and if they asked, I could lie. The faces, the stories, and the hearts of some of my Group Members flashed through my mind…and the guilt trumped my desire to smoke.

Today is Saturday and it’s a time when I spend long hours on the computer. It’s a time when I really enjoy smoking…one cigarette after another. It’s a very convenient and relaxing time to smoke. So, today has been tough. I’m glad I have no smokes at home, I’m glad the store is about 10 minutes and a major hassle away…and that I hate leaving my home on my day off…and my husband hasn’t said, “I’m going to the store, want anything?” I did hear my boy ask his Dad if he was going to “Buffalo Fina” after he drove to a friend’s home to feed their horses. Thank goodness, my husband said, “No, I haven’t thought about it.” Thank goodness I didn’t say, “Hey, could you pick me up a pack of smokes.” I’ve had to remind myself so many times today what it is that I really want…and it’s to be a non-smoker.

I ate fine today…but a part of me wishes I will have gained an extra pound in the morning. I did pray this time around for God to help me through this. I told him that unlike in the past, I may not be able to do this on my own this time…that it was getting harder. I’m off work tomorrow and Monday…Memorial Day weekend. Lord, keep me focused…keep me Mindful of what my goals are…help me through the rough moments…and help me to be bursting with pride and excitement on Tuesday when my Group asks, “Did ya’ smoke?”…and I can say “Came close…came real close, but worked through the moment…for hours and hours over that long weekend!” See me through this Lord, Amen. This makes me smile and gives me hope that I’ll make it through. I don’t want to be a disappointment to others…I want to be an inspiration.

UPDATE: 5-26-09 (Tuesday)
I think I made it through! Got through the long weekend WITHOUT smoking. Had several tough moments each day…really desired to smoke…but used all my Rational Mind – Wise Mind – Talking Myself Through the Moments skills to make it through. Been off cigarettes 8 days now…guess I saved about $40. Almost enough to purchase another pair of boots off Ebay! I’ve probably made it through the toughest point…the long weekend. I bet I can be done with cigarettes…if I choose to be.

Something my patients taught me is that we don’t just relapse when bad things happen…we also relapse when positive things happen…that fun, excitement, good news, and similar positive experiences are also a relapse trigger. I’ve twice experienced this during my 5-6 attempts at not smoking this year. About 2 weeks ago, I relapsed into smoking following an exciting event (good news) and great news this weekend just about sent me to the store to buy some smokes. Celebrating, partying, drinking….and smoking all go together. Add to that the memories of the best times as a kid…often involved smoking, too…and drinking…and partying! It’s just Emotional Mind experience that we have to talk ourselves through. Some Rational Mind statements for me include…”That was then, this is now…those WERE some fun, carefree times. Life is different now. Smoking is a bad thing for me now.” “I MOST DESIRE not to smoke. I want to be a non-smoker more than I want to smoke.” “This moment will pass…I’ll get my mind involved in my work in a few minutes…and I’ll be okay for awhile.” “I want to be an inspiration to people, not a disappointment.”

By the way, my weight is good…have only gained 1 pound during “this time of the month.” I worked harder on my eating this weekend so I wouldn’t have an excuse to start smoking! I was very Mindful of my Mind Games! I made a point of putting up food my family left on the counter so I wouldn’t snack on it all day! I also ate a bunch of sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds SEEM to reduce my appetite. They’re also good cuz they give my mouth and hands something to do…a fine replacement for cigarettes. You know what else I might try…pomegranate seeds. They make for quite a bit of hand and mouth work!!! I haven’t eaten those since I was a kid! Oh Lord, I cannot cycle back to fond memories as a kid and smoking! Man, our Emotional Mind is relentless!

Copyright Statement: Material contained within this blog is copyrighted protected with all rights reserved © Melanie Gordon Sheets commencing in 2009 and extending through the present age. Please request permission to quote or otherwise use material obtained from this blog by emailing: service@dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Please visit the website www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com for more information about the DBT-CBT Workbook. The full title is “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” – Recovery Works Publications, 2009.