Fibromyalgia | Feeling Stuck? Try These 3 DBT Tips

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It’s no joke when you wake up to feeling that there is nothing you can do to make your life better. This may be especially so when you have a chronic illness like fibromyalgia.  There are just sometimes when your life seems to be going nowhere and the only thing you have to look forward to is another day of symptom management.  Such moods can pass quickly, i.e. given your temperament and support network.

Still, what if it doesn’t?  What if you continue such negative self-talk and feel unable to break the cycle that you’re in? Well, the outcome surely isn’t going to be of benefit to you, your self-esteem, and achieving your goals.

So, before you get to that point, I wanted to share with you 3 tips from DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) that may get you out your rut.

I’ve discussed DBT in various posts, so I won’t go into full details here. Suffice to say that DBT, developed by Marsha Linehan, is a form of therapy that uses the Buddhist practice of mindfulness and incorporates a cognitive behavioral approach to making positive change in your life.

Of course, there is a great deal more that goes into DBT.  The 3 tips below, however, might just be ticket to making this day one that lives you feeling inspired to do more and experience more in your life.

  • Opposite to Emotion Action – Although one of the last suggested techniques to changing your emotional circumstances, Opposite to Emotion is the first technique I turn to when needing to motivate myself.  Opposite to Emotion (from the Emotion Regulation skill set) asks of you to do the contrary action to your present emotion/thoughtsSo, let’s say that your mood is so low and the last thing you want to do is to take care of yourself.  Well, do exactly the opposite, i.e. take care of yourself. In this case, taking a shower, eating well, taking a walk, etc.


  • Nonjudgmental Stance – This is one of the last skills that is learned in the first DBT skill set of Mindfulness.  Taking a Nonjudgmental Stance means taking an objective distance from your present circumstances.  It asks of you to 1) observe your experience nonjudgmentally, i.e. without trying to change them, 2) describe your experience nonjudgementally, i.e. without condemnation or praise, 3) participate in your experience nonjudgementally, i.e. allowing yourself to be wholly involved in whatever you are doing.  I use nonjudgmental stance when I find myself in confusion about the actions or inactions I’ve taken in my life.  I aim to get at the heart and mind of my present circumstances, so that I can better understand how to change them.


  • Improve the Moment This is one of the four basic skills learned in the Distress Tolerance skill set.  Simply put, do what you can to make the moment better and not worse.  Focus on decreasing levels of stress and, if possible, removing yourself from the environment that may be contributing negatively to your experience.  This is where techniques such as imagery, finding meaning in the moment, utilizing prayer, practicing relaxation skills, taking a one thing at a time approach, taking a literal vacation from the place, seeking or remembering encouragement. 


Individually, each one of these 3 tips works wonders.  However, when put all together, I believe that you may experience even a greater shift.  I would add to the tips helping others.  I find that when I take the time to help someone else, it helps me to feel less stuck and more motivated to experience positive change.


Until Next Wednesday,


[Reblog] When the Borderline Becomes the Therapist

[Reblog] When the Borderline Becomes the Therapist

Article by Gerri Luce

“My cousin and I were shopping for work clothes for my new social worker job when I pulled a long sleeved blouse from the rack.

“How’s this for my first day?” I asked her.

“You’ll sweat to death.”

I looked at her.  “I need to cover my scars.”

I had scars on both my arms, on my forearms and upper arms. I had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder about 20 years ago following two suicide attempts. I had been cutting myself for years before that. When I was in a particularly fanciful mood, I would slice words into my flesh, such aspig and cow, becauseI was also anorexic and imagined myself to be round, like those animals.”

Never hold your breath: Finding space, sentences & self

From Florence to Rome, photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

Nine months ago, I began travelling once again.  It would seem that much of travelling would involve rapid movement.  Perhaps each day, waking up leads to seeing a new city, or being in a completely different time zone, or realizing that only one hour has passed of a ten-hour flight.  The actions of packing and re-packing and saying goodbyes and hellos only reinforce the notion that time is moving quickly – It becomes a continuous cycle of beginnings and endings.

Then there is the “stuff” in the middle: the time spent experiencing a new culture, new people, or returning to the familiar.  Quick or slow, the hyper-awareness of passing time has become, perhaps, a universal experience for travellers.  For myself, practicing mindfulness has been integral in being able to manage time-based anxiety, to slow down, and to keep myself “in the moment.”

I wrote about mindfulness in other postings, but I thought to share mindfulness expert Dr. Marsha Linehan‘s words on the goal of practicing mindfulness skills.  In her Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder, she states the goal of mindfulness skills is “learning to be in control of your own mind, instead of letting your mind be in control of you.”

Dr. Linehan’s dialectical behavior therapy treatment (DBT), in which mindfulness is the core skill, has been proven to be effective in helping a person gain a more adaptive method of dealing with his or her life.   Just imagine what it could do for managing anxiety related to travel? 😉

On the way home, photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

Never hold your breath…

In a recent New York Times article, Dr. Linehan revealed her own struggle with mental illness (borderline personality disorder), and how these struggles helped her in developing DBT.  I was not shocked, or even mildly surprised, by this article.  I imagine that there are some within the field of psychology, who are now balking at her decision to publicly disclose her illness.  After all, based upon my own experiences, I would say that there is a good deal of conservatism on the subject of disclosure and just how “human” (read: have struggles of their own) therapists can reveal themselves to be.

After reading this article, one thought struck me – How terrified Dr. Linehan must have been over the decades because she thought it professionally better to keep her struggles secret?  What does it mean for the field of psychology that one of its most prominent members has only now felt safe enough to disclose her struggle?  Is the field still so rooted in psychoanalysis, in the Freudian desire that therapists be a type of tabula rasa (“blank slate”), wanting for clients to experience transference? Of course… there is a reason for the experience and acknowledgement of counter-transference… Right?

I like the idiom “don’t hold your breath.”  Traditionally, the meaning refers to impossibility of something happening.  What I like specifically is the coming together of stagnation and the flow of time.  For me, the expression reads more like “It is important to continue living, even when waiting for something or someone, because the only actions that can be controlled are your own.”  In the article on Linehan, she states clearly that she did not want to chance dying and not have been brave enough to step forward.  In terms of travelling, it is the idea that focusing on either the beginning or end might cause you to miss the important moments of the middle.

It is the middle, the moment in which the understood and well-regulated reality is held in abeyance, that creates the opportunity for new experiences and self-development.  So, focus on the moment, this moment, because the beginning and end come sometimes faster or slower than can be imagined.

Go, photography by Diedré M. Blake (2011)

Finding space, sentences & self…

I took some time away from the blog to become more settled (it’s a process), to lend support to both my family-of-choice and family-of-origin, and to gain more complete understanding on my reasons for sharing my thoughts with a larger audience.  Like the process of self-understanding, this blog is steadily finding its path.

Taking space has meant the opportunity observe life and experience living without constant analysis, which is its own type of judgement.  Moreover, at the end of the day, if the few or many words I choose to share offer comfort and encouragement to any individual, then I am satisfied.  Remember…

The path to self is never clear, and thus it remains important to “stop, look, listen… and think,” in order to keep living.

  Best of regards to everyone.