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Learning How to Survive Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy at Skyland Trail

June 03, 2013

Learning How to Survive Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy at Skyland Trail

By Shelley W., former Skyland Trail client

As the result of a major manic episode and subsequent hospitalization, I entered Skyland Trail in May 2011. I had been grappling for some months with medication changes and stressful life circumstances (specifically, the consequences of poor financial decisions and my work as a college English teacher). I would end up on the bathroom floor, sobbing inconsolably, or staying up until 3:00 a.m. cleaning the house. Mentally and emotionally, I was in shambles.

I entered Skyland Trail on the Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) track. For the first time in my 25+ years of living with bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder traits, I began to learn practical coping skills for handling extreme sensitivity, mood swings, and how to survive – a word used often in DBT – emotionally difficult or painful circumstances and events without hurting myself or those around me. Additionally, my medication finally got stabilized. My time at Skyland Trail literally saved my life; getting up in the morning – simply existing day-to-day – no longer felt like an insurmountable struggle.

It’s been almost two years since I started at Skyland Trail. I shortly realized post-graduation that recovery begins after completion of treatment. I began to deal with the everyday realities of my marriage and my job – feeling like a newborn colt on shaky legs – and very uncertain I could actually manage life’s quotidian details. Fortunately, my DBT skills held true, and I was even able to manage the details of a long-distance move from Chicago to Atlanta without falling apart.

I’ve learned it’s good to reinforce my DBT skills whenever I can. Currently, I’m enrolled in group DBT classes and see a therapist at the Atlanta DBT Center. Thursdays have become my DBT days, and while I’m a limp noodle by Thursday afternoon – the work is often arduous – I’m thrilled to be continuing the recovery process I started at Skyland Trail, to be even more adept at using my DBT survival skills, and to see the life I have wanted for myself for many years to finally be taking shape around me. 

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