“Vacation, all I ever wanted…..”

Many women I know have a personal care “to do” list that they check off prior to going away on vacation: manicures and pedicures, perhaps a new bikini and the accompanying wax job, maybe even a haircut and highlights. Everyone wants to look their best before embarking on a sunny beach getaway, am I right?

I used to do all of those things, too. But in the last 18 months, the only “personal care” I cared about was making sure I had ECT as close to my departure date as possible. ECT seemed to calm my nerves and relieve a lot of the pre-vacation jitters many of us experience under the duress of trying to get a large family packed and organized to ensure the perfect, stress-free getaway. Ironic, isn’t it, how much stress a mom can endure just trying to make sure everyone else has vacation without it? Add bipolar disorder to the mix and that stress level is amplified tenfold.

I have traveled quite extensively since starting ECT in 2011, and I have found that making sure I underwent ECT was as essential to my state of mind as making sure I have Dramamine and an early boarding pass. I would have ECT three or four days prior to leaving for my travels and it made those pre-vacation annoyances and stresses seem less annoying and stressful. It had a calming effect, slowing down my thoughts and quieting my brain so I could stay organized and on track.

But this time I forgot. I simply forgot to make the appointment and have that essential ECT. And by the time I remembered, I had already left. Remembering that I forgot did cause some initial stress. I was traveling alone with my children for the first time since my separation from my husband, and the first day or two I think I let my loneliness for him be confused with anxiety and annoyance. I didn’t know how I’d get through the week. I was worried about how I would keep them happy and occupied for seven days without their dad; I was worried I would let my emotions get the best of me; I was worried I might move toward a manic state and ruin the trip for my kids. But surprisingly, I got over it pretty quickly. I tried to use some of the tools I’ve been learning with DBT, and found that I could calm my nerves in a timely manner.

So, I’m kind of proud of myself. Now that’s an emotion I don’t have very often. Between getting through an ECT-free vacation, and my kids not getting kicked out of the “all-you-can-eat” complimentary breakfast at our hotel for gorging themselves on a pound of bacon and a dozen pastries each morning, I’m doing pretty well. Back to my “real” world tomorrow night, but pleased I got through this week without ruining it for my kids. Yay me!

Advertisements

DBT, anyone?

I’m being “required” by both my ECT doc and my psychiatrist to try something called “DBT” (Dialectical Behavior Therapy). They even wrote it out on a prescription pad and handed the “Rx” to me with a warning that if I didn’t try the 10-week program, they would no longer be willing to treat me. I don’t think that’s actually true – I think they were trying to force my hand because they believe this will really work for me.

It had its desired effect.

My teenage daughter saw the “prescription” and because it was written in typical illegible doctor handwriting (no offense, Ted Danson….), she thought it said, “DiaBOLICAL Behavior Therapy”. I suppose that wouldn’t be much of a reach, considering a lot of my past behavior.

So, I’m now 3 weeks into the program. And I’m curious: have any of you done this? Your thoughts? Has it worked? I’d love some opinions and maybe some personal insight into DBT.

And if it was diabolical, well, I guess I’d be interested in hearing that, too.

Thanks in advance.