At last, the day came that should mark the beginning of the rest of my life.
I had an assessment for Dialectical Behaviour Therapy in the afternoon, which took place at the private hospital where the programme is run (I’ll call it Arkham in future for the sake of brevity).
It was another hot day, so no one could have known whether the perspiration on my forehead, as I sat patiently in the waiting room, was nervousness or simply a natural reaction to the unbearable heat. I’m not sure myself.
Thankfully I didn’t have to wait too long, and after my therapist introduced herself she led me and my fiancée to a meeting room. She got straight to business by asking me what I thought my main issues were. My explanation, in brief, was that I:
- Have interpersonal difficulties and find it hard to make and keep friends
- Catastrophise over the smallest detail
- Worry about the future and about unimportant aspects of my day to day life
- Sometimes experience paranoia and become suspicious of others
- Have low self esteem generally yet sometimes I feel superior to others
- Experience extreme emotional swings from anger to seeking forgiveness
- Have not wanted to exist and felt a constant underlying gloom since my early teens
She then asked me what I expected to gain from the DBT programme. I had previously thought at some length about this question so I found that I could answer without pause. I stated my expectation that DBT will provide me with the tools I need to help myself live a better life.
This was followed by a fairly detailed discussion regarding the issues I’d described, the provision of a complete list of the medication I presently take, a risk assessment and details of programme admin and cost.
My therapist also explained that the programme runs for one day a week over 18 weeks, with each day consisting of a two and a half hour group session in the morning followed by a one hour one to one session between patient and therapist after lunch. There is an optional mindfulness group in the afternoon but as I’m self funding it’s an additional expense I can’t afford – as it is the programme will decimate my savings and likely result me losing a fifth of my income each month. I was also told that I will be given a fair amount of homework each week that I will be expected to complete, which will be used to track thoughts, behaviour and the efficacy of taught techniques.
Overall my therapist believes that I will benefit from the programme and has arranged for me to see her again next Thursday to complete the assessment process. I assume in order for me to provide more detail about myself so that she can tailor her support to my needs.
The programme itself begins the following Thursday. In the meantime I need to start practicing mindfulness which is a good thing as it forms a large part of Buddhism. I can kickstart both my therapy and my spiritual journey at the same time.
I feel a great eagerness for this therapy. I know it’s going to be hard work but if I can learn to control my mind then I see a much brighter future. As much as I’ve been trying to do so lately, and over the years, the old ways of thinking and behaving are right there outside the door just waiting for the smallest opportunity to get in – and it usually doesn’t take long.
I think that I deserve to feel unfettered happiness. Although, maybe ‘deserve’ is the wrong word, as it implies I have committed effort towards it. I’ve certainly committed effort towards things I have perceived would provide happiness, but I see now that I have done nothing to tackle the underlying issues. So maybe it should simply be that I deserve the chance to know the way.