Dawn is a DBT Success Story in New Jersey

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Name, age, city/town:

Dawn, 47, Jersey Shore

What was the most rewarding thing about learning skills?

DBT Skills literally saved my life and have given me the opportunity to believe that I am worthy of a life worth living.

What are your favorite skills to use?

I have anxiety so I use the breathing skills daily. My favorite is 4-squared breathing and observe and describe. I also use ride the wave to sit with the emotions that have historically caused me to spin out of control. I know now that these emotions will not hurt me if I just sit with them and let them pass. 

What advice would you give someone who is starting to learn DBT?

This sounds simplistic but I would say to make a binder. Organize each skill into a separate section and do a "sheet of homework" every night so the skills become second nature. Homework doesn't have to be written, it can be a breathing exercise or explaining one of the skills to a family member.

How has your life changed since learning DBT?

My life has changed significantly! Before DBT I thought someone else would save me. I was stuck in shame. I blamed everyone else for my problems and I set fires all around me and found that I had to constantly go back and apologize to people for my unstable behavior. DBT taught me not to take things personally. It taught me that I am in charge of my emotions (not other people). It taught me to sit with an emotion and not dig a deeper hole when an issue came up. Before DBT I couldn't hold a job for long periods of time. After DBT I was able to fight a horrific episode of cancer with strength and power. I have been in the same career now for six consecutive years and I also worked really hard and got my Masters Degree in Psychology. DBT gave me the skills to push forward each day. 

How are you creating a life worth living today? 

I am creating a life worth living by creating a career goal for myself. I will use my DBT skills (soothing skills) to study for the Board exam that will take my career to the next level. I am also focusing on creating volunteer opportunities in my community. The next one is the MLK, Jr. Day of Service. 

If I could meet Marsha Linehan, I would hug her and thank her for finally creating a type of therapy that works for me!

Thank you, Amanda, for all you do to keep my on track!


Dawn has been a subscriber to My Dialectical Life since 2011. She’s one of the most skillful women I know. Thank you for sharing your story, Dawn. —Amanda

Debbie is a DBT Success Story in Sacramento, California

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Name, age, city/town:

Debbie, 41, Sacramento 

What was the most rewarding thing about learning skills?

The most rewarding thing for me with learning skills was realizing I actually do have choices and power, even in those moments when my emotions are intense or thoughts are distressing. Before learning the skills, I believed I was doomed to continue to repeat the self-sabotaging behaviors I'd been doing for so long. The skills offered me another way.  

What are your favorite skills to use?

My favorite skills to use are the ones that help me the most even to this day: checking the facts, radical acceptance, and distracting through self-soothing or activities. 

What advice would you give someone who is starting to learn DBT?

Really, truly give it a chance. It's taken likely decades to develop the patterns you've been doing for so long. It is going to take time to practice making new choices and creating new pathways in the brain so that choosing skills becomes more and more accessible and the desire to repeat old, self-sabotaging behaviors lessens. It's worth the effort!

How has your life changed since learning DBT?

I no longer meet the criteria for a Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) diagnosis after learning and integrating the skills into my life. I am able to keep important relationships and make choices that support my well-being. 

How are you creating a life worth living today? 

I now teach the skills I've learned in my online DBT course at emotionallysensitive.com. I've become a DBT-trained life coach and will be celebrating the 6 year anniversary of my online school for emotionally sensitive people in the spring. Teaching what I've learned creates accountability for me on my own journey of continued personal healing, and it allows me to be of service in a very meaningful way with others.

I am now happily married and spend lots of time playing and resting with my amazing partner and our two furbabies in our home in sunny Sacramento, California.



Debbie has been a subscriber to My Dialectical Life since 2012. She’s someone I deeply respect and admire. Thank you, Debbie, for allowing your light to shine in what is sometimes a dark world. —Amanda