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Matt Sloan

Would Practicing Radical Acceptance Have Helped My Trauma?

Recently, I’ve felt like I’ve been unable to take a holiday — or even a few days off from work — without being haunted by trauma and depression as if it’s some kind of specter, rattling its chains in the attic. Case in point: I had a few days off last week thanks to public holidays in the United Kingdom, and I was determined to rest, to disallow my mental illnesses to intrude and steal more time from me, as they’re prone to do. Things started off well — I was able to rest and relax until, on Thursday evening, I spotted a message from somebody who knew me in childhood and who knows my mother — my emotionally and verbally abusive mother, with whom I’ve cut all contact. It was a reasonably simple message asking if I’m in contact with her again, but it was enough to allow trauma an opening. I haven’t had therapy to properly deal with my childhood, so until I do, anything that makes me delve into it is hazardous. I asked her not to contact me again, and then came the invalidation, telling me that there was no emotional abuse in my childhood, denying my mother’s significant part in my trauma and my depression. I was suddenly forced to defend myself, in great detail, to the person on the other end of those messages — sending voice clips to explain the many things they apparently did not see in my childhood, picking apart the lies my mother has told them, like not being there the morning my father died — a despicable lie, especially considering I was there that morning and for days afterward, comforting her through it. It’s typical behavior from my mother, spreading lies about people whom she believes have wronged her — but it packed a particular emotional punch. I felt extremely vulnerable the rest of that right, and through the whole of the following day. The specter of my trauma had risen, rattling its heavy chains in the attic, moaning and wailing in the background as I tried, desperately, just to enjoy my time off. I cursed it for once again intruding on my relaxation, my sacred recuperation. I couldn’t shrug it off no matter the self-care methods with which I tried to combat it. I woke the next day feeling bitter. It was the weekend, so the actual scheduled time off from work had largely been wasted battling a ghost that had no business there. Once again, I felt the universe conspire against me. “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” they say. Awry, they went. Maybe, when you live with trauma, depression, or any illness that can affect you when you least expect it, it pays to expect the worst-case scenario. Perhaps it’s a case of practicing radical acceptance — the idea that suffering comes from one’s relationship to pain and not the pain itself. If I had begun my time off with the expectation that my mental health would be unstable, would Friday have been such a bust for me? The message I received and my reaction to it were extraneous circumstances, yes, but I felt just as vulnerable and sickened by the confrontation as I felt bitter and angry that I was being robbed of my holiday. Removing my bitterness cuts that pain in half. It’s a lesson I’m still learning, but it’s an important lesson for us all. Mental illness doesn’t take a holiday, so perhaps we shouldn’t be entirely surprised when it shows up out of the blue like a ghost in the attic. Maybe, then, we can treat it less like an unwanted visitation and more like a roommate, ever-present, as much as we may not get along and I really wish they’d move out already because all that chain rattling keeps me up at night, and makes it really hard to get things done. The next time I have a holiday scheduled, I’ll try my best to practice radical acceptance. Will you join me?

Community Voices

Honesty, Truth, Authenticity, Acceptance

Sometimes there will be a theme that comes up for me throughout a period of time. Today's recurring theme has been Truth.

The day began with providing my partner with some peer support. They needed reminding of the Truth of how things are, and to be reminded of the Truth of who they are. We discussed radical acceptance and living authentically.

After lunch, I had a workshop on the Seven Sacred Teachings offered to us by indigenous peoples across the continent. Today's teaching was honesty, to others, to ourselves, in relation to reality, and in relation to our spiritual path and guides. Speaking and living and acting in Truth.

Before dinner, I chose to watch a nostalgic kid's movie about an important car race. One of the characters meditates on desert hill between races, seeking guidance from his ancestors. He receives a vision, an elder who speaks to him and warns him of a danger in his path. The man believes this danger to be a physical threat and continues with caution. After the next race, he goes to meditate and the elder comes to him again. When he asks the elder what the danger was, the elder replied, "The greatest danger of all is to see only what you want to see, and not what is true."

Does this theme of honesty and truth resonate for anyone else today?

And does this ever happen to you? Do you recieve thematic lessons from the universe, etc?

#MentalHealth #Spirituality #Truth #honesty #RadicalAcceptance #authenticity

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Community Voices
Community Voices

Letting Go of Who I Thought I Could Be

For the past 5 months I've been on short-term disability from work for the most intense depressive episode I've ever experienced. When I first started my leave, all I wanted was to get better, to get back to "being normal," which I haven't felt in about a decade. I know now that back then I was using negative coping methods and sheer force of will to act like nothing was wrong. But I still held out hope that I could be "like everyone else."

Over the course of my leave and intensive therapy sessions, I started (very bitterly) thinking that maybe I was just too screwed up, that I would never be that person I wanted to be. Those thoughts made me incredibly angry and sad and disillusioned with life. But the more they stuck in my head, the more I got used to them and started thinking about them differently.

Now I've given up on ever being "normal," whatever that looks like. And there's a certain relief that came with that. I don't have to expect myself to be perfect or even normal. Of course I try to do things that will help my mental health, like exercising, walking my dog, being creative, eating healthy foods, etc. But if I fall short of that, it's okay. This acceptance gives me permission to have bad mental health days without as much guilt or internal struggle.

I know that my depression and anxiety will flare up and if it ever gets as bad as it was in the spring I'll go straight back to my psychiatrist to adjust my meds (feeling that bad is not okay). But in the meantime I can give up on trying to be something I'm not and then feeling guilty when I can't be that person. It's really hard and also freeing to accept that I'm someone with mental health diseases.
#Depression #PTSD #Anxiety #Selfacceptance #RadicalAcceptance

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Andrew Lampe

How Radical Acceptance Helps Me Accept My Life With BPD

This morning I journaled a really difficult, painful week. Instead of simply doing a recount of events, people, and problems, I decided to try to write from where the pain was really coming from. I took inspiration from a New York Times article on Marsha Linehan’s own personal experience of the most unbearable psychological pain caused by “the gulf between the person she wanted to be and the person she was [which] left her desperate, hopeless, deeply homesick for a life she would never know. That gulf was real, and unbridgeable.” And this is what I came up with about my own 10 current gulfs which also left me desperate, hopeless, and desperately homesick for a life I don’t know: 1. The gulf between who I wanted to be and who I actually am. 2. The gulf between my vocation and my calling. 3. The gulf between the loving romantic relationship I wanted to be in and its absence. 4. The gulf between my gifts, personal magnetism, and my condemnation of my worth. 5. The gulf between my attractiveness and how deeply unattractive I feel. 6. The gulf between the strength of my feeling for others and the strength of their feeling for me. 7. The gulf between how easy things appear for others and how excruciating they are for me. 8. The gulf between the impact I want to have and the tepid response I get. 9. The gulf between the validation I am desperate for and the invalidation I have received in my past. 10. The gulf between how I appear and how I am. Where does the gulf come from and how did it develop? I can’t speak for others who experience such a gulf but for me, my answer is twofold. This past week, a message from my ex-boyfriend catapulted my gulfs back to the surface and made the pain overwhelm me. While the pain of a breakup is nothing to be messed with, the real source of the gulf between who I wish I was and who I feel I am goes much further back. I have previously written about the sources of my unstable sense of self and abandonment. I believe the shameful invalidations from some of my childhood and my difficulty reconciling my gay and Christian identities certainly are at play here. They created defectiveness and shame at my very core at crucial developmental times. So as a young adult when setbacks happened, where my dreams were not immediately actualized, I reacted in a very all-or-nothing way, with all being the realization of my dreams and nothing being a pervasive sense of failure and the manifestation of my core gulf. This setback interpretation and reaction led to my first episode of depression and undiagnosed borderline personality disorder (BPD). Much later, when I read about schema therapy, I immediately recognized the maladaptive core belief schema of unrelenting standards as being a further cause of the irreconcilable gulf. The gulf between what I wanted to achieve and had not achieved was severe and punitive — another maladaptive core belief. The quotation from the movie “Magnolia” rings true: “We may be through with the past but the past ain’t through with us.” What is the best way to treat the gulf? It is no accident that Marsha Linehan designed a therapeutic technique for people who experience such gulfs rooted in her own experience while locked up in a secluded hospital unit, self-harming and wanting to die, so devastating was the gulf in her own life. For me, the dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) skill that most directly addresses the gulf is radical acceptance. When I did DBT, it was the skill that I found the toughest but also had the most profound results unlocking the most breakthroughs. It went to the center of many of my wounds. And with the gulf of imagined versus reality, it goes right into the wound’s core. Through skills such as turning the mind, letting go of past wrongs or devastations, and willingly coming into the now by accepting the present moment, the gulf between two states can be addressed. It is guaranteed to be painful, you may be kicking and screaming against accepting the now for what it is, not for what you wished it was. And you may also be kicking and screaming to let go of your idealized view of who you were in the past, or alternatively the past dream of what your current reality would be. You have to let go of how you imagined your life would turn out and accept that your life is a very worthy life as it is now, and even that it could get better. Here is how I would apply radical acceptance to my current gulfs: 1. Gulf between who I want to be and who I actually am. This is tough! I want to be more successful in my career. I want to suffer less and be less reactive. But who I currently am is a beautiful thing too. 2. Gulf between vocation and calling. Certainly, there is a gulf between what I am currently doing and what I want to be doing. But let go of pity and take steps toward that calling in the now, even if it is tough in the beginning. 3. Gulf between a romantic relationship and being single. It takes time to heal past hurts. And then, when ready, try again. It is still possible. 4. Gulf between gifts, talents, personal magnetism, and my condemnation of my worth. Again, this is so tough to overcome that punitive self-critic. But give grace, be forgiving, focus on the affirmations of others, and do not discard them. Read them again. Accept all compliments. Challenge your punitive critic and expose him for the judge he is and the lack of evidence he uses. 5. Gulf between attractiveness and feeling unattractive. Many people comment on this about me and yet I often look in the mirror and can’t connect with what I see. I also counter that we as a society focus too much on physical attractiveness. Again, accepting affirmations and compliments from others is crucial. See ourselves the way others see us. 6. Gulf between my feeling for others and their feeling for me. This is classic BPD and can easily lead to splitting on loved ones if we are not self-aware. Again, we need to give people grace and the consideration that people’s depth of feeling for us may be as worthy as ours for them. Also, it is not a competition. 7. Gulf between things being easy for others but excruciating for me. This is easy to dispel. How do we really know how things are for others when still in most societies we are discouraged from saying how we really are? And what about those who are desperately unhappy but cannot bear to be vulnerable with anyone? Most people are struggling. 8. Gulf between the impact I want to have and the tepid response I get. Full disclosure: Sometimes I feel like this with my published Mighty articles. For a time, I will feel validated by the comments and likes but then other times I feel that if I had written and published a book, I would have had more impact. The solution is to keep writing for myself and keep doing whatever it is you love for everyone else. 9. Gulf between the validation I am desperate for and the invalidation in my past. This needs radical acceptance. We must deal with our past invalidations, for sure, but then we also need to let go of them, to the extent we can and come into the present to open ourselves willingly to receive new validations. 10. Gulf between how I appear and how I am. This is really difficult and not limited to BPD . The way we present a good, happy, brave face to others versus the deep pain we are in privately. I still really struggle with this. In fact, when I was in the hospital recently, I was told I was always so perky, which showed me I still have this gulf. The main solution is to try and show more how we really are or answer really honestly when someone asks how you are or how your day has been, especially if they are wanting to genuinely know.

Community Voices

Anyone with Fibro not take daily meds?

Hi everyone,

I am reflecting today about my 20 year journey with Fibromyalgia. It started when I was around 20 and I am in my 40’s now.

I had so much to accomplish, a career, raising a child, being in a marriage but each step was made extremely difficult due to all the symptoms of Fibro, including pain and exhaustion.

I pushed through it all, despite my bodies constant request for rest. I did my best to honour my body but responsibilitie are responsibilities I thought and I did not habe a support system because no one understood or validated my challenges.

Dr’s diagnosed me in my early 20’s, I know a family history of Fibro helped but they also diagnosed me with many other conditions and for each came meds.

Over the years, I gained weight, I lost weight, I had ups and downs, meds helped me push through but didn’t ever mske me fe comfortable or fully functioning and I know I am not alone.

A couple of years ago I connected with my long lost cousin who also has the symptims of fibro but she chose no meds, and used more pacing strategies.

So this leads me to my reflection. Are meds helping or hurting? One year I balooned up 70 lbs, while eating dietician approved meals, then thyroid, pcos, hernia, ect. Did meds cause? Are meds better or worse? Would my body have learn to adapt if I accepted my limitations, stopped and listen to my body? Did I have a choice financially/support wise? Anyone relate? #Fibromyalgia #chronic illness #RadicalAcceptance #Medication

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Community Voices

I hope this helps someone out there...

This has helped me, so I’m sharing in the hope it may help someone else...

I’ve been watching YouTube videos by Marsha Linehan who developed DBT. The way she talks about BPD makes me feel understood and hopeful for the future.

There is a YouTube channel called BorderlineNotes, and they have a playlist of 27 short videos which I recommend.

A quote of hers from another video on the Family Action Network channel that opened my mind was “if you mix black and white what happens? Almost everyone will tell you you get grey... but in DBT you get plaid (tartan)” this made me see that my black and white thinking needs to bring together, integrate and accept both sides of the equation rather than suppress or compromise.

I’m going to talk to my therapist about the DBT skills Marsha talks about and how I can learn them. I hope this helps even one person out there, we all need hope ❤️

#BorderlinePersonalityDisorder #BlackandwhiteThinking #DBT #Hope #RadicalAcceptance #DistressTolerance

4 people are talking about this
Heather Loeb

Practicing Radical Acceptance of My Body With Binge Eating Disorder

I had an epiphany today. I was watching an TV show where they were talking about young girls being in beauty pageants. Please note that I am not judging that — I mention it because it got me thinking about all the things girls and women go through to appear beautiful. In that episode, young girls were dying their hair, wearing corsets to define their waistlines and watching their weight. It depressed me, honestly. It brought back memories of being called fat when I was in the fifth grade — fifth grade! I should have brushed the comments off, but there were already seeds of fatphobia planted in my little head from society, friends, family, etc. That seed grew and now is a full-blown eating disorder — binge eating disorder . My worth has always been tied to my weight. The way I feel and care for myself is tied to my weight. When I’ve gained some extra pounds, I punish myself… hate myself. I eat my feelings, which leads to more weight gain. Which fuels more self-destructive behaviors. It’s a vicious cycle. To help break it, I signed up to do one-on-one coaching on intuitive eating with my beautiful and sweet cousin, who’s a registered dietician. On our last call, she told me to get rid of the ideas of “bad foods” or “being bad” or “cheating” on a diet. There are no forbidden foods. There’s fueling your body and doing everything in moderation. I have a lot more to learn and I’m eager to do it. But here’s my epiphany — what if I just accept who I am? What if I give myself some grace — some compassion? What if, when I gain weight, I just buy bigger clothes and focus on my health, not my caloric intake? What if I practice radical acceptance? I learned about radical acceptance in therapy. It’s a skill or tool that can help people face painful emotions and experiences by accepting them fully without judgment. This may not sound much different than a blog I previously posted about loving myself and body positivity. But the thing is, I’m still struggling and writing helps me come to terms with my feelings. And this is a topic that can’t be fully explored with one blog . Or three. Maybe 10. And that’s OK, too. My point is that maybe I don’t think I need to focus on losing weight or looking a certain way, so much as I need to reprogram my brain. And those of you who follow me should know, my brain is a stubborn asshole. It’ll take time. So much time. But I’m done with fatphobia, fat-shaming and all that judgment that goes along with it. I’ve had gastric sleeve surgery and a tummy tuck. Guess what? I’m still not skinny and I don’t think I’ll ever be. Why has that plagued me so much? Why are people so afraid of being fat?

Community Voices
Community Voices

Radical Acceptance in DBT

Radical Acceptance is a skill taught in DBT that allows people to move

on and fosters growth in place of stagnation and past ruminations. Hit on the link to know more-

https://www.swasth.co/blog/radical-acceptance-in-dbt/#RadicalAcceptance #Acceptance #DBT