I agree to try some skills on the phone

I agree to try some skills on the phone

Michael asked me to look around the room and tell him some of the colors I could see. I started with the purple of my bedspread, and the shades of blue in my favorite picture on the wall. He asked me how many different shades of blue I could find in the picture; I said about seven. He asked if there was anything else blue in my room, and I said there were lots of blue things, because blue is my favorite color. He had me describe each item, and then asked me what I noticed in my body.

I was surprised to discover that I felt calmer, and even a little excited, like being on an Easter egg hunt. But I wasn’t sure I was ready to tell Michael that, so I said, “I don’t know”. He said, “Okay, your voice sounds a little more relaxed, but let’s try another exercise.”

He asked me to listen to the sounds in the room as if I was at the symphony. He said there would be different pitches, high or low, there’d be rhythm of sounds occurring, there would be the timbre of whatever was making noise, just like in the symphony there’s the difference between an oboe and a tuba. He suggested I try to move beyond identifying what was making the noise to really listening to the sound, just for a couple of minutes.

That one was harder for me to get into, because I kept getting distracted by remembering what Cheryl had said to me. I told Michael that when he asked me after a minute or two what I had experienced. He asked me if I had been able to listen to any sounds at all, and I reported hearing a clock, the sounds of traffic outside and the faint sound of my neighbors’ radio next door. He said that most people reported noticing more thoughts in this “sound symphony” exercise than in the “counting colors” one, but that it was very good I was able to come back to noticing some sounds.

He asked me whether I felt a little better than before we started trying the skills. I had to admit I felt calmer. He asked me where I was on the 0 to 5 scale of urges to die, and I said I was down to 3.5, which is where I almost always have been since Peter left me six months ago. Michael asked if maybe I could take my evening medications, go to sleep and be safe through the night, if we agreed to figure out what to do about Cheryl in our appointment on Thursday.  I thought about it for a minute, and said that I probably could do that.

He asked if I could promise to be good to myself, and avoid doing anything to hurt myself until our Thursday appointment. I said I wasn’t sure I could be safe that long, so he said how about until tomorrow evening. I said okay, I could promise for that long, and we agreed to talk tomorrow night at 9 after his last client.

So I took my sleep meds and went to bed. I still have a fairly constant urge to die, but at 3.5 on the scale, I’d rather go to sleep right now than do anything else. I’ve still got Tina’s pills, and can kill myself if I have to. But I do secretly hope that Michael is right when he says I can have a life I’ll want to live if I work hard enough at DBT.


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