Over the last month, I’ve been considering what I want to accomplish with this blog. Over the last two years, I’ve tried to show what life is like inside a bi-polar mind – the good and the bad. When I embarked on that writing plan, I had several goals in mind: a) show people they are not alone in their internal pain and struggles, b) help people put words to their struggle, c) share new insights into coping strategies, d) help people better understand the struggles of those they love. Based on feedback, I’ve at least partially achieved these goals.
But – and this is a big but – if I can share not only my struggle AND my process for working through the pain AND how I use my ‘problems’ to meet my life goals then so much the better. I still struggle – daily – with excess emotional energy (my term) and when I let this energy take over, I lose sight of myself and often make bad, painful, hurtful choices for myself and others. My goal for myself is to continue to intentionally seek balance between ACCEPTANCE and TRANSFORMATION. My goal for this blog is to help anyone who also needs or wants this balance.
The next few paragraphs may be boring … but I think they are necessary as an explanation for how this blog will change and hopefully become more useful to all of us.
Do you know what the DSM-5 is? It’s the manual of “mental disorders” physicians use to designate the proper diagnoses for you and me. Can you guess how many pages are in the DSM-5? Seriously, jot down a guess.
The copy I most recently held has 525 pages … and the print was so small I had to find my strongest reading glasses. That’s 525 pages of labels. Just the eating disorder section has 10 different codes and a myriad of subcodes.
The table of contents is 9 pages. Take a look at the table of contents – it’s fascinating: https://www.psychiatry.org/File%20Library/.../DSM/APA_DSM-5-Contents.pdf.
Once the proper (hopefully) diagnoses are assigned, the provider moves to the ICD-10 code book. This huge book assigns each diagnosis an alpha-numeric code. It is primarily used for insurance reimbursement.1
For example, I have two DSM-5 labels and these have associated ICD-10 alpha-numerical codes:
If there are 525 pages of diagnosis options, then how many treatment options must exist? I suppose it’s unlimited. So far, in my various treatment settings, I have been exposed to: ACT, DBT, CBT, EMDR, RAIN, EFT. That’s just the treatment modalities that use an acronym. Alphabet Soup. I’ve also learned about schema theory, Jungian theory – etc. etc. etc.
What I’ve discovered is that NO MODEL is the answer to all problems. YET EVERY MODEL has something of value to offer. Thankfully, I have been able to pull nuggets from each treatment modality to put in my toolbox. But, over the last year or so, I’ve forgotten about these tools, these techniques, these helpful nuggets. It’s not that I’m not using any skills – I have to actively use skills in order to have quality relationships with myself and with others.
But, I have gotten into a rut and therefore my coping mechanisms have become less effective, less interesting. In a word: boring! Therefore, I’m going to revisit all the wonderful – helpful – healing techniques my great therapists have taught me. I’m going to crack open the pages and pages of notes. I’m going to re-read the books on my suggested reading lists.
Reading about a strategy is educational – but not transformational. My life goal – and one of my most important values – is to attempt to see myself honestly and ACCEPT all that I am. It doesn’t stop there. I also seek to improve my life and my relationships. I strive to TRANSFORM.
I’m hoping you’ll come along with me on this re-discovery journey to healthy strategies. Each week, I’ll continue to write about a specific painful struggle I’m facing. But I’ll also present a strategy to implement. It is my hope that these strategies will help me reduce suffering and direct me to a positive outcome. Maybe the strategy will work – maybe it won’t. Either way, I’m meeting my goal to hold all that I am with tenderness.
I have so many books that therapists have recommended. Some of these are now sitting in front of me and I am committed to re-reading them and using the author’s expertise. I’ve included that list below2. My shelves are full but I’ve selected these to get started:
These resources were not chosen at random. They are on my shelf only because a professional recommended it to me.
I am not a therapist. I have no relevant diploma. I have no fancy letters behind my name. I am a sufferer with years of therapy. I am an expert only in the sense that I am enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks. But hard knocks are an excellent teacher. If you suffer, I highly recommend you find a professional to help you and develop a personalized treatment plan. This blog is MY experience and while I pray it’s helpful, I am not qualified to diagnose or treat anyone for anything. (Well, I am a great math teacher—especially fractions! J).
1 The DSM-5 and the ICD-10 system are used for insurance reimbursement. This, of course, assumes you have insurance coverage. We all know that insurance coverage for mental health issues in the US is either wholly inadequate or non-existent. That is a topic for another day. Whether you have insurance or not, your provider will use the DSM-5 and ICD-10 system for your records.
2 There is also a tab on my website. I will keep this tab updated with any resource I utilize.
In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....