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"My Experience in DBT"

About: Sligo Leitrim Mental Health ID service

(as the patient),

At the end of November 2023, my DBT journey officially came to an end. I have had very mixed emotions as it was a journey that has made me the person I am today which is why it has taken me a while to actually post this. I can’t express enough just of how grateful I am for the opportunity I had to be referred for the program and have had such positive impacts on me throughout the year of being part of the DBT programme. It was a very rocky journey but over time there were so many improvements along the way which for me really outweighs the challenges.

I wasn’t expecting a journey that was going to be plain sailing but I also realised that even with the difficulties I encountered, it really showed me how capable I was from coming out the other side. All the things that I thought I couldn’t do, I tried and actually surprised myself with just of how much I worked hard on and benefited me greatly. I think back to the day I started DBT, I honestly refused to engage and tried so hard to opt out but when it came down to a decision about it, I decided that nothing will change if I don’t give it a go and what’s the worst that could happen being in DBT. I was so scared of allowing myself to feel vulnerable and open myself up with trusting another person with my story and life challenges/ trauma.

As part of being in the program there are 1:1 sessions along with group skills sessions weekly. Going to group was probably the hardest thing for me as I felt so overwhelmed and anxious at the fact that it would mean interacting with other members and giving feedback on in-between practice that had to be completed over the week. When I started off, I could not identify emotions. All I could express was that I felt overwhelmed but the question I had to ask myself was “but, what am I overwhelmed by?”.

The structure of this kind of therapy is so incredible. It definitely has special powers. When I think back to even 6 months ago, I never would have thought so much has changed and made me feel the way I feel now. It’s exactly what I needed in order to heal and take control of my own life and manage my own emotions and behaviours without being so destructive and actually punishing myself for things that were NOT my fault. Something I’ve had to learn is that we can’t change other peoples actions but we can change ourselves which is something that IS in our control. I have had a lot of realisations over the year and it has been very hard to process but worth it at the same time.

I had mixed emotions about graduating DBT because it honestly had a special place in my heart but most of all, not having anymore conversations and connection with my therapist but I strongly believe we will cross paths again someday. I am so happy too that I am at a place of comfort. One thing I’ll say is that not every day will feel great but it’s always how you manage it that matters more and it’s safe to say that I haven’t self sabotaged myself in so so long which is such an accomplishment. I have scars on my body but I see them now as healing and that there’s nothing to be ashamed of and it shows that I encountered a really horrible stage in my life and still living and it took me so long to love myself in that way and feel proud.

I have learned so many skills since being in the programme that helps me on a day to day basis. I will always have those skills at hand whenever I may need them and something I will never forget either. It took a lot of practice using them but I will never regret having the knowledge I have now. Having those life skills have saved me so many times and now that I’m no longer a high risk to myself, I am in a better position to using skills. I always thought that my difficulties were going to be the way life is for me until I discovered that it doesn’t have to be my life and that there’s room for change no matter how hard things get and that there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, which my therapist really helped me believe.

Something I use a lot is the self soothe skills, it really helps me regulate myself whilst being caring towards ME and that I don’t deserve to punish myself for ANYTHING. Being in the programme was a huge commitment and that really frightened me at first because I didn’t think it was achievable but again I surprised myself. I was on this journey when I felt like my life was coming to an end, but it saved me. I was in a therapy programme before called the self harm intervention program and that was not near as half as intense as DBT but I think what I needed was something more than that.

I struggled so much transitioning and the reason for that was the structure and the timing because the day I finished SHIP, I literally had my first pre treatment appointment in DBT the exact same day. I’d say in a space of 2 hours. I was so hard on myself but I actually needed to be compassionate towards myself given the circumstances. I knew it was going to be a long journey but never did I think it was going to be worth it and here I am saying how rocky and beautiful it was (both can be true). It made me realise later down the line that no journey where there’s major problems, is going to be linear. There will always be ups and downs along the way but we always learn which is what is so important.

One thing I would say to somebody starting off on this journey would be, go in with full force and yes, allow yourself to feel but don’t be afraid because everybody that is on the DBT team are so well trained and experienced. They are amazing people and they will support and guide you in every way possible. They will always believe in your ability and continue to face the challenges with you together. It is a safe space for individuals and they will always ensure that they do everything they can to help you feel comfortable and safe. They would not be in their jobs if they didn’t like it but from my experience, they are all so dedicated and passionate about their jobs and are definitely in it for all the right reasons.

My life has completely changed and I challenge myself every day, and making difficult steps and flourishing each day! All of which wouldn’t have happened prior to entering the programme🥹

My therapist Niamh helped me get here and I will be forever grateful to her. I learned SO much from her. She’s amazing. Anyone who gets lucky enough to have her, they are in safe hands. 

I hope my story helps at least one person, and gives some kind of hope for them

Again, thank you so so much❤️

Do you have a similar story to tell? Tell your story & make a difference ››


Response from Aine Finan, DBT Team Leader, Sligo Adult Mental Health 2 weeks ago
Aine Finan
DBT Team Leader,
Sligo Adult Mental Health
Submitted on 02/04/2024 at 10:25
Published on Care Opinion on 04/04/2024 at 13:53

Dear puppisgs39,

Thank you so much for sharing your heartfelt journey with us. It's truly inspiring to hear how DBT has positively impacted your life, despite the challenges along the way. Your courage and perseverance shine through your words, and we are honoured to have been part of your healing process.

We are thrilled to hear that you found value in the structure and support provided by our program, and we are incredibly proud of the progress you have made. Your willingness to embrace vulnerability and engage fully in the process is commendable.

Your message of hope and encouragement to others embarking on a similar journey is incredibly powerful. We wholeheartedly believe in the potential of DBT to transform lives and are committed to providing a safe and supportive environment for all individuals attending our program.

Thank you for entrusting us with your care. We wish you continued growth and success in your journey ahead. I'll be sure to pass on your kind comments to the rest of the team, and to Niamh in particular.

Best wishes,

Dr Áine Finan, DBT Team Lead,

on behalf of the Sligo-Leitrim Adult DBT Team

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