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DBT Skills in Action

As part of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), my therapist (Doug) has me fill out a weekly diary card to help him assess where I’m at each week. Doug sees how much distress and joy I felt each day, if I have any intent on harming myself, whether or not I took my medication properly, and which skills I used to deal with the stresses I encountered.

Most people fill the diary out on paper. I hate using paper. 😒 Not only do I have to keep track of it and a writing utensil, but I also have to remember to bring both with me each week to my one on one with Doug. Uh uh. No thank you! I’d much rather fill it out electronically. ♻ (I’ve always been that way ever since I had a decent computer to work with.) I now have the diary card as a pdf and fill it out in an app on my iPad each week.

The problem I’m facing is that ever since I started DBT at the end of April, I’ve felt like I’ve had to keep my iPad with me at all times, mostly so I can fill out my diary card and the explanation pages I include with the diary. The explanation pages help me remember the details of each day, why I felt the way I did. My brain has become so muddled in the last couple of years that I forget things and I need the prompts to help me answer Doug’s questions in our weekly one on one sessions.

Because I feel like I need to keep my iPad with me at all times, I’ve had a hard time doing things I enjoy. I mostly focus on things I can do on my iPad or computer, like blogging, journaling, and drawing. I haven’t played Animal Crossing, or my Nintendo Switch for that matter, since April 25. 😳 I also haven’t worked on my LEGO grand piano, read any books, or crocheted/knitted since then either. I need to figure out a way to overcome my dependency on my iPad so I can do more things I enjoy.

I’ve realized my dependency on my iPad is actually anxiety or fear. If I were to use DBT skills to help me, I’d first check if my emotion (fear) fit the facts. According to the DBT manual, fear fits the facts when:

1. There is a threat to your life or that of someone you care about.
2. There is a threat to your health or that of someone you care about.
3. There is a threat to your well-being or that of someone you care about.

My fear doesn’t fall into any of those categories. The next step is to act opposite of what my fear is telling me to do. Normally fear tells you to run away or avoid. Acting opposite would be to approach or not avoid. Easy, right? 😬 No, not even. My fear’s telling me to avoid the other things I enjoy doing in favor of keeping my “safety blanket” (iPad) with me. How do I stop avoiding? Fortunately, I can make this a little easier at first by still keeping my iPad near me when I do other things. As I get more comfortable with doing other things, I can hopefully leave my iPad behind until I want or need to use it.

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