Finally the day arrived. Time to start my DBT therapy. I was sick with nerves. Actually it was more than that; I was frightened. I cycled to the place. It’s a big house, Victorian maybe, on a busy road. I’ve been there before for my DBT assessments and now I’ll be there twice a week for the next 14 months.
The receptionist was really friendly. I was nervously saying hello when the nurse therapist appeared. I’d never met her before and she introduced herself with a handshake. Let’s call her Sally. I didn’t take to her. I don’t know why. She was earnest and friendly. Maybe that was it. I didn’t trust her friendliness. Sally ushered me into a room, pointing out tea and coffee as she went. It was unwelcome babble. I was trying to focus on walking, not listening. There were some group members already on the room. I said hello and we all sat in silence staring at anything except each other. More people arrived. Each time the new arrival was greeted with the same babble and then silence. Awkward awkward silence.
Sally then moved us through into Room 1. It was set up meeting room style. A large table filled the room and there was a whiteboard at the front. We all took seats. Sally handed out name cards. I felt really bad. Like I wanted to scream, run escape or break the glass windows behind me. Instead I just tried to disappear inside myself. There were folders and pens and worksheets at each place. We started by filling in questionnaires about ourselves. Sally apologised over and over for this explaining that it was to measure the course effectiveness. I didn’t care. I was glad of something to do. It was all the usual crap about feeling suicidal, feeling like you don’t fit in. Tick this box, rate this feeling. Yada yada yada whatever.
There was another facilitator there, a psychologist. We’ll call her Amy. After we’d completed our questionnaires Sally welcomed us again. She told us how lovely it was to see us all. Right. Lovely to have you you bunch of suicidal nutters. Simply charmed I’m sure. She talked a lot about the rules. I was truly bored out of my skull. Frustrated too. Fucking hell! Monica (my DBT therapist) had already thoroughly gone through the rules AND they’d been sent in the post! I was difficult and sullen. I avoided eye contact, even putting my head on the desk. A dickish move I’ll admit but I was feeling so trapped and invisible and was really struggling. The first any of us spoke was to discuss which swear words we wouldn’t allow. I didn’t contribute to the conversation just sat there seething get-the-fuck-on-with-it. Everything was so slow. The swearing conversation drew to a close and I nearly announced THANK FUCK FOR THAT. Sally repeated some of the rules about leaving the room (we can’t be trusted on our own for any length of time?).
Then Sally was showing us our diary sheet that we get to fill in every day. Don’t worry! I know it looks complicated! She reassured. Sally love, I thought, it’s a chuffing table and it’s pretty self-explanatory. You tick the boxes and rate the things like self-harm urges. Anyway the whole thing had to explained and, in fairness, I did have a question. There is a box on the diary sheet where we rate (0-5) how strong our urge to use drugs is each day. My question was what counts as drugs? For example I don’t drink alcohol so say I have a really strong urge (e.g. a 4/5) to get absolutely hammered but I don’t do it, does that get recorded as an urge to use drugs (i.e. is alcohol a drug)? Well, this flummoxed them. Amy piped up that there was a section to record how much alcohol I drank. No, no…the point is that I resist the urge…so there’s nothing to record in the actual number of alcohol box….Frustrating? Only completely. Round and round the conversation went. in the end Sally said yes, record it in the urges box. Right. We moved on. The absolute importance of this diary sheet was hammered into us time and time again and I couldn’t help but ask what is the point of the diary sheet? Sally and Amy exchanged blank looks as if it was a strange question. It wasn’t a strange question! If these sheets are so important then why? What is the point of them? What will they be used for? They sort of mumbled about monitoring progress. Oh right I said. Strange I thought because all the questionnaires at the start were about monitoring progress but whatever. I’d lost the will to live so I didn’t really care.
Then it was break time. Big collective sighs of relief. Escape. And coffee. Thank fuck for coffee.
In the afternoon we were treated to what is mindfulness? Now I know I’m going to sound an arrogant arse here but I discovered mindfulness back in June 2015 (15 months ago). To have to sit and listen to all of this was so dull. The boredom made me frustrated and I felt so trapped. The only way out of being ill is through this DB-chuffing-T so no matter how bitter the medicine I was going to have to take it. We did a couple of mindfulness exercises and that just ratcheted up my annoyance: they were exactly the same exercises Nora had suggested to me. This was not moving forward. Argh.
Still, I committed to the exercises. When I add up all the hours I will spend doing DBT it will literally be days. If I’m going to spend days of my life doing something then I want it to count so, no matter my frustration or anger, I gave it my all. Homework was set and we all escaped.
When I got home the futility of the last 3 hours got the better of me and I scraped my knuckles along a wall to hurt myself. I instantly felt better. Ha! Screw you DBT facilitators! You can’t control me! I am still bad, still rotten. Ha ha ha. I know that’s a pretty stupid mindset but if I was sensible I wouldn’t be doing DBT would I?
So my overarching feeling about my long awaited, precious, first DBT session was: what-a-crock-of-shit.
Fuck off wise mind.