Wow, where do I start? Gosh, I've learned so much. First off, I've learned that I truly am worthy of love. The people here, staff and clients, have welcomed me with open arms. From day one I have been loved and cared about. If I wasn't worthy of love, I wouldn't be so cared for by people who barely know me.
The DBT skills, I don't think I can say enough about them. What blows my mind is that when I first started learning them it seemed like so much and overwhelming. But they are actually very simple skills, most of which I can do at any time anywhere.
At one point I was here and completely overwhelmed and anxious. I went on the smoking porch and there was a little dove on the bird bath looking at me. I began to focus on her. She was so beautiful. I just focused all my thoughts on her while taking deep breaths. She is beautiful. I wonder how soft her feathers are. I wonder what she's thinking. I wonder what it feels like to fly. How does she see the world? I would love to hold her and feel her soft feathers. That little dove sat there looking at me the whole time. I don't know how long I looked at her, but then I realized I was not anxious anymore, anxiety gone. When I got up to walk back inside, she flew away. I felt like she had sat there the whole time just for me.
Another valuable lesson I learned is not to catastrophisize, but to find a solution. There was an issue with my first pass. I went to Jacqueline hysterical. She say "I want to help you find a solution, bur you need to breathe and calm down." She held my hands and we talked and came up with a solution. That night I was reading the book Calm. It suggests that we not assume the worst because it creates unnecessary anxiety. That's exactly what I had done. The next day I told Jacqueline that I had learned a very valuable lesson. Not to think the worst - 80% of what we worry about doesn't happen.
I've also learned to ask for what I need. Although it may not turn out like I want it to, I have nothing to lose by asking. Thus far, however, there has been a logical solution to what I've asked for. Maybe I didn't want to make the hour long trip to the walk-in clinic when I was sick. I did. I got medicine, and I'm well.
I've learned that exercise and sleep hygeine are as crucial to me as attending groups and taking medications. I love running with Donita, it's so liberating, and I love Zumba. I always feel so good after I do it. At first my anxiety kept me from trying, but I'm over that hurdle - thank God.
I have also reconnected with my faith in God. I feel comforted when I pray, knowing there is something much bigger than me guiding me in my healing journey.
I've learned other ways to cope with panic besides popping pills. One night I was panicked, something as simple as a breathing, a kind person to talk to and support me, and doing 5-4-3-2-1.
I have also, through projects, journaling and care, learned so much about my family. I didn't realize that the abuse I suffered as a small child influences all the decisions I make today. Inside me is a very small, wounded, broken little girl that I need to reparent. I'm very angry at my mother. I am working on this and the treatment I'm receiving here at Brookhaven, my therapist, and core are helping me to do that.
I have and continue to learn how to use boundaries. The book Boundaries really put into perspective for me how much my boundaries have been violated, and how I've violated others.
I've leaned how to meditate, blocking out distractions. This has helped my anxiety and sleep.
I'm learning how to sit alone, doing nothing but sitting with my emotions. I was so immersed in the program, groups and projects, I was using them to avoid my emotions. As I'm processing through my emotions now, I'm angry. I don't get angry often, so being able to show my anger in a safe place makes it easier, but this is something I'm still learning. When I sit for an hour, I cry the whole time. Crying is another thing I couldn't do and it's usually cathartic, although I don't enjoy the headaches and fatigue that follows, but I am aware that it is a process and a learning experience I must endure to get well.
Brookhaven and the work I've done here has literally saved my life. I was headed for a brick wall, waiting to die and my depression and anxiety were crippling. I did not want to live that way anymore. My depression has lifted. It is a strange sound to hear my own laughter, especially when I never thought I'd even smile - a real smile that is - again.
I still have a ways to go, so much still to learn. I'm getting to know myself, establishing an identity, forgiving myself, learning relapse prevention tools. I have faith that when I return to "the real world" I will be strong, whole and be able to feel hapiness - another foreign concept. So thank you Brookhaven for believing in me. I'm believing in me, and I'm ready to spread my wings and soar!