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