To Hell With Today – and the Philosophy of DBT
Today sucks ram and ass bollocks.
My range of happy experiences since last night are the delightful following:
- The fabulous agitated depression *
- Severe depersonalisation
- Anxiety (of course)
- Insomnia (what a surprise)
- Racing and disjointed thoughts (related to, or a symptom of, the agitated depression, naturally)
- Physical restlessness – rocking back and forth, desire to pace blah blah blah
- No particularly strong suicide ideation for a change, but certainly self-harm ideation
* I wrote about this state before, calling it “Simultaneous Mania and Depression“. I didn’t know there was actually a psychiatric name for it – a Mixed State – but apparently there is. In a sense this is reassuring as I was convinced this was an infinitesimally unlikely psychological place to exist and that ergo I must be the only person on Earth thus afflicted. I am clearly not, however.
I am not anywhere near approaching the state I was in the night of my cousin’s birthday party, but what I described there is basically just a more extreme version of what’s been happening now.
I am trying to “mindfully breathe” (even the name pisses me off) and maybe I should find my stash of rubber bands or a fucking ice cube so I can feel lovely pain and maybe whilst I am at it I should paint on myself with red fucking dye or some such wank. Heh, is it really bitchy that making snide remarks makes me feel marginally better?
This leads on quite adequately to a long discussion I had with A’s friend, G, on Saturday night. As stated in the afore-referenced link, G has a degree in psychology and is incredibly clued-up on Eastern (as well as Western) philosophies.
Basically I complained that DBT and mindfulness were both a pile of patronising, meaningless fuck and that in particular even thinking about C’s particular choice of book on these matters made me angry. I also told him of my recent diagnoses, making him one of only about five “real life” people that is aware of them (though having said that, I’m sure Mummy Dearest has told half the world by now. On the other hand, maybe not, because perhaps now she knows it is not “just” depression, she is probably ashamed of me because I am certified by a consultant psychiatrist as being clinically insane. Not a good conversation starter down the golf club, is it?).
My memory is absolutely awful since I lost my marbles, so I tried to take notes on stuff G said, which he found quite amusing (as I would have done had the situation been reversed). The notes don’t grasp the conversation properly, but they do serve as something of a reminder that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.
The essence of the conversation is that G thinks this stuff has benefit. He is dubious about Linehan‘s development of the background issues in dialectics, and argued that although statistically DBT has been proven to alleviate some of the typical symptoms in borderline people, there is very little empirical research to back up the actual science behind it. Nevertheless, he claimed, the actual concept of dialectic argument has a strong and ancient philosophical background. The main philosophers practicing what Linehan tries to call radical acceptance were the Greek Stoics. I believe the argument ran that philosophical stoicism allowed the Greeks engaging in it to reach ataraxia (though if I am mistaken in this, please, please point it out. I was very brave and gave G the URL of this blog so he – or anyone else with knowledge of this – can correct me if I have remembered it incorrectly).
He also told me to look into the works of Max Stirner, his current favourite Western philosopher, and Georg Hegel, who also wrote extensively on the concept of dialectics. I haven’t done any of this, but it is my project for today and tomorrow assuming I can overcome my mixed episode and all its little idiosyncrasies.
I told G that I would review online material of all the above but that in the meantime I was still dubious about the notion of radical acceptance or ataraxia or whatever the fuck you want to call it these days. I contended, as I had done here, that to simply accept everything was to cease to have an opinion, and therefore was equal to losing a sense of self, which in my case is something with which I very strongly struggle anyway. I even went on a similar rant about Hitler, Ahmadinejad etc as I had done here.
G took my point but the man is too clever for his own good and has an answer for everything. DBT is to be taken in four stages, of which acceptance is one of the early ones. Once one has made psychological progress and is able to cope and deal with the symptoms of their illness, opinion can be reintroduced to the person By this stage you are able to see the issues with which you struggle in a more rational, less all-consuming light.
He provided some really good physical analogy for this, which annoyingly I don’t remember. My very inferior, shite and frankly airy-fairy-cunty alternative analogy is something like you have to take your clothes off to have a shower to rid yourself of dirt, but once you are clean you can put them back on again. How fucking arsey can you get? I fail as ever.
G further stated, when I whined and whined about my failure to develop a career and even hold down a job because I am mental, that if anything the intellectuals amongst us are in many ways the more hoodwinked in the world. He said, quite rightly I think, that those with lower IQs and others who happily work in what some might see as “lesser” jobs are in actual fact much more savvy than those of us that think we are entitled to glamourous careers due to having brains because – funnily enough – they simply accept their lot in life and as such are happier people. I agreed with him that oftentimes ignorance is very much bliss.
I’m not eloquent at all in my description of this conversation and for that I would proffer my apologies to G. The reality is that his knowledge and persuasiveness was as strong as ever, and he articulated himself verbally in a much superior way to the way in which I do so do via any medium.
In any case, the problem, for me, is in learning to deal with acceptance of this nature. I have already alluded fairly extensively to the fact that I have real issues with that. You can’t just click your fingers and suddenly find that everything is accepted and unjudged in your mind. So, today, I will try and read about Hegel and Stirner’s philosophies on dialectics, and indeed on the Greek Stoics. I might well end up completely mind-melted, but at least I am not likely to feel patronised in the way the tossy book from C makes me feel.
Again, a lot of my issues with DBT lie in the presentation of it. Some of the ideas have merit – though I certainly don’t think they all do by any means – but condescending wank just makes me angry and homicidal, and I would really have expected C to have been aware of this after nearly four odd months of therapy. But perhaps Messrs Hegal and Stirner can convince me, and in fact I think I am now feeling sufficiently improved from how I felt when I first started writing this entry to actually go and try and read stuff about them. In some ways writing this blog is cathartic, but in an additional way writing it serves as a decent distraction from fuckuppery. (Ha – C will be delighted, as writing the blog is one of the activities on my “distraction plan”. But on the other hand no doubt he’ll be fucking annoyed because he features so strongly in it. Can’t win.).
At the very least, I can now go to C’s office on Thursday armed with loads of intellectual ammunition. He’ll tell me that as ever I’m intellectualising matters, but at least he can’t accuse me of not making an effort to engage with this.
This entry was posted on Monday, 22 June, 2009 at 4:31 pm and is filed under Everyday Life, Moods, Psychotherapy, Random Mental Health Related Philosophising with tags agitated depression, anxiety, bipolar 2, bipolar disorder, bipolar II, borderline personality disorder, bpd, clinical depression, cutting, depersonalisation, depersonalization, depression, derealisation, derealization, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, dialectics, dysphoric mania, insanity, insomnia, madness, major depressive disorder, mania, manic depression, mental health, mentalhealth, mindfulness, mixed episode, mixed state, panic, panic attack, paranoia, psychiatry, psychology, Psychotherapy, self harm, social anxiety, therapy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.