Tag Archives: Dialectical Behavior Therapy

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.

Quit smoking the DBT-CBT therapy way: Attempt #7 – Making my “failures to succeed” successful failures

Here I go again. Another attempt to quit smoking. This constitutes try number 6 or 7 this year. However, I’m stubborn, hard-headed, and persistent…and I’ll keep trying until I make it. This is something that is do-able and something I’m able to do!

My last blog entry was a week or two ago and I had resumed smoking because of major bloating, constipation, and weight gain…like 7-10 pounds in 7-10 days. This has happened each time I have quit smoking this year.

My plan is to quit on Tuesday, my next work day. No smokes on the way to work…and none thereafter! Over the past two weeks, I’ve noticed that I’ve bloated even while smoking; however, I haven’t had the constipation and weight gain. The bloating has come and gone. So, I became mindful of the bloat patterns and noticed it seemed to occur when I drank soda and ate a couple protein bars. So, I gave up soda and protein bars for about 5 days and I had absolutely no bloating. WOW! I began eating some protein bars the last few days because I started feeling VERY tired. However, I did so in moderation and I’ve had a few sodas. Only one bloat session occurred. I’m going to practice moderation with both of these because I like them…and don’t want to have to give them up, TOO!

I am going to start exercising today. I’ll get the junk off the fancy treadmill and do that in front of the TV. I’ll ride horses with my daughter a couple times a week. I need to do something to offset the decrease in metabolism due to not smoking…and to offset a couple hundred extra calories that I might consume daily due to quitting smoking. I’ve lost more weight than I care to admit in the last four years and I have no intention of putting on a lot of weight. I can tolerate a few pounds…but then, it must come off again!

I’ve also added several servings of fruit per day over the last week. I’ll keep that up because it will help offset constipation.

If I start bloating again, I’ll buy some nicorettes and give that a try. If I fail this time again, I have a Dr’s appointment in a few weeks and I’ll try something else. I WILL make this happen.

Here’s an excerpt from the DBT-CBT therapy workbook that I wrote…and it’s something I believe in and I live by. It’s from a section entitled, “Failing to Succeed…or Successful Failures.” It’s in Chapter 7, the Rational Mind chapter…where the Emotional Driven Lies we tell ourselves are challenged through Rational Mind. This excerpt relates to the “I’ll never be able to do it.” and the “Everything I try gets screwed up somehow” type of lies we tell ourselves that sabotage our recovery.

“When we fail, we need to SEEK AN UNDERSTANDING of WHY WE FAILED. We need to LEARN FROM IT and CORRECT WHAT WE’RE DOING. We need to change or adjust our plan to deal with what went wrong. Successful “failures” start with PLAN A and go to PLAN B, C, D, E…and so on until things work out! Despite their failures, THEY KEEP ON KEEPING ON!

It’s also important to be Mindful of our successes and accomplishments and to note WE’VE ALL HAD SOME! We also need to realize that WHEN WE’VE TRIED…when we’ve REALLY STUCK WITH IT, we’ve overcome challenges…and WE HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL. Consider the 8-18 attempts at recovery that it takes people ON AVERAGE to become clean n’ sober. Through our recovery attempts, we learn about our triggers and relapse patterns. We learn we REALLY HAVE TO change the things in our life that we DON’T WANT TO CHANGE…things that we’ve refused to change, like friendships, activities, and abusive or conflict-filled relationships. Because of our repeated failures at recovery, we FINALLY SUCCEED! That’s because we’ve revised our Recovery Plan SO MANY TIMES that we FINALLY GET ENOUGH OF THE NECESSARY CHANGES made! We’re hard-headed and we’ve got to learn from OUR experiences…and in the world of recovery…these experiences ARE OFTEN RELAPSES.

Changing our LIFESTYLE and our LIFE IS VERY DIFFICULT. We need to ACCEPT OUR FAILURES and UNDERSTAND they’re a NATURAL part of the LEARNING PROCESS…IF we learn from them.

The truth is, WHEN WE KEEP TRYING, things FINALLY work out. Sometimes, we don’t succeed because we aren’t going about it the right way. Therefore, we need to get a NEW PLAN. Sometimes, we try to do more than is do-able at one time. We plunge head first when we’d be better off wading in and taking smaller steps! There are many reasons why we haven’t reached our goals. Fortunately, most of these problems can be overcome with PERSISTENCE and a REVISED GAME PLAN!”

So I will practice what I preach and I’ll keep trying until I make it. I’ll just DBT-CBT my way through it and rather than failing to succeed, I will make my attempts successful failures.

The following are some quotes off the side margin of the aforementioned section in the DBT-CBT Recovery Workbook:

“The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Failure: I expect to fail so I don’t try very hard …so, I fail.”

“If we don’t put forth a FULL effort, we’ll never REALLY KNOW if we can succeed.”

“Some of our greatest leaders and wealthiest people failed many times before they achieved great success.”

“We never fail until we quit trying. Success comes to those who are determined to overcome obstacles
in their path.”

“When we understand our failures are a part of the learning process, then we can constructively accept our failures and learn from them.”

This relates to the 8-18 tries at recovery it takes on average to recover from substance abuse: “Some say, ‘Been there, done 14, I’ve got to be real close to making it!’ Folks who are new to recovery are discouraged, ‘I don’t want to do this that many times.’ Be Mindful that 8-18 is an average. Some make it on the 1st try (they need to write the book!), others on the 25th. Some make it in 3 tries, others in 20. Bear in mind though…these numbers don’t mean it’s okay to relapse 17 times ‘just because we can’ and then work real hard on the 18th try!”

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!

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.