Tag Archives: psychologist

How Could Someone Try to Kill Themselves: Suicide Attempts and Doing the Unthinkable – from a DBT-CBT Therapy Perspective

When Emotional Mind drives and Rational Mind is left on the side of the road…

When folks are moderately, even severely depressed (say up to an 8 or an 8.5 on a scale of 1-10), they are “Big-Time in Emotional Mind” but they still have some Rational Mind going on (say 85% Emotional Mind and 15% Rational Mind).  Through the small degree of Rational Mind, they maintain some contact with reality and have some mindfulness of the big picture of their life. For instance, they still recognize they have something to live for…they still have some holds on life…and although their grip is loosening and they may be barely holding on…with at least some Rational Mind going on, they recognize the basics…like they have kids to live for…or pets…or their dying parent (examples).  However, as the depression worsens, Emotional Mind intensifies, and Rational Mind further fades…and they lose awareness of these reasons to live.

Patients in various ways have explained how this happens.  They relate that when they made that final decision to kill themselves…to enact that near fatal behavior…they weren’t  thinking…that previously they thought about their kids, their spouse, or other holds on life and they struggled to stay alive…but then, something happened and they no longer thought about these things.

One patient so well described this to me, I haven’t forgotten it.  She said that as her depression deepened, it was like she was going further and further down a well…and the deeper she went, the less she could see out.  She related that she got so far down, she was surrounded by darkness…she could no longer see nor feel…and she lost touch with the love she had for her kids and concern about what would happen to them.  She cried intensely and said that when she did what she did, thoughts of her kids did not cross her mind.  It was utterly heartbreaking, and yes, as a therapist and despite trying to hold my tears back, they rolled out of my eyes.  I stood up and hugged her as she wept and gently rocked her to help soothe her through the pain. It was one of those heart-wrenching therapy moments when I had no words to comfort her and could only pray for her self-forgiveness and healing.  She so loved her babies and could not understand how she could have tried to end her life.  With Rational Mind going on, she realized she did the unthinkable.

I believe that she became 100% (or near 100%) Emotional Mind…and Rational Mind was essentially turned off.   Without Rational Mind, she was not connected or in contact with the reality of her life and what really mattered to her.  It was like a Rational Mind black-out.   She was no longer mindful of the big picture of her life and the reasons to continue the fight.  And we always ask, “God, how could she have done that, she has kids” or “How could he have done that knowing his family would find him.”  They weren’t thinking…that part of their brain was turned off.

Based on the recovery workbook by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D. -<span
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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!

Pride vs. Humility…You Must Be So Proud of Yourself

I’ve had to ponder an awkward moment recently.  A lady I know from the Youth Horseman Club my family belongs to asked me if I had finished my book yet.  I told her I had and she asked if I had  copy she could look at.  I gave her a copy and a few hours later, she came up to me and excitedly said, “You must be so proud of yourself.”  It was an awkward moment because I didn’t respond.  I began thinking about that.  Unless I’m really anxious, I’m not one to just blurt out an impulsive response.  The moment passed and probably due to the awkward nature of my silence, she went on to something else.  Because I don’t know her so well, it bothered me as I processed the day later.  “What did she think?  It was so unnatural.”  I pondered it of course…and I’m stunned that I don’t feel proud.  I SHOULD BE so proud of myself.  I SHOULD be walking around “with the Big-Head” for awhile.  But, I didn’t feel PROUD…and I still don’t!

Rather than feeling proud, I feel like I have accomplished something. I worked my butt off, I labored….I put in THOUSANDS of hours. I worked hard, so I accomplished something. For some reason, that doesn’t equate to feeling proud of myself. I earned it, it didn’t come easy…I accomplished something. I put in the hours, I got something done.  I feel “even”…not proud.

I also feel like it was in the realm of something I could do, that I had skills for…so it was an expected outcome…

The other thing I thought about is that I strongly dislike people who are “so proud of themselves.”  Their pride is usually ugly…it often involves devaluing others. They feel superior to others…I don’t feel superior to others…I feel like I worked my tail off and I got something done. If everyone worked their tail off, they’d get something done. It’s not a matter of being superior to others…it’s a matter of being focused and dogged determined to get something done.

I also think about this project as being God-driven…and many times, I experienced it to be a “not me” experience…a “where did that come from” experience. Sometimes, I’d finish writing a section and fall back in my chair…and I’d say, “God, that was good.” Then, recognizing what had just happened, my next thought was usually, “God…that was good! That was awesome! That was really great! Thank you, God.” I had the moment of realization that what just went through my head and onto the computer screen…DID NOT originate in MY head! I recognized who authored the passage! In case I lost you here, I recognized that God wrote the really great parts of the book, not me. So, I don’t feel proud…I just feel like I put in the labor…that I worked hard!

The other thing I think about…is that God wants me humble. He wants me to love and respect his people…not to put myself on a pedestal…and to consider other people less than me. I think God gave me these types of skills, and these types of experiences, to equip me to do this…and when I accomplish this…that means I have accomplished something that was set out for me to do. It was expected. I don’t feel proud… I feel like I accomplished something I was supposed to do.

Now that I’m finished with the task…God is giving me some rest! I don’t feel driven, I don’t feel pressured, I feel relieved.

People ask me if I’m going to write another one. Though I can’t imagine ever being driven enough or crazy enough to do something like this again…I know it’s down the road for me. “When?” they ask…”When God lays the pressure on me again…and the only peace I get…is by working my tail off.” I’ve told people before that I feel like I was born to work…but at least I get some periods of rest now and then!

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 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.