Currently at work, I am dealing with a client who is demonstrating really destructive behaviour. It's very self sabotaging, abusive and rude. I identify with it all. In fact I laugh because I've done exactly the same thing. This client is getting so much support from the government with doctors, social workers, cleaners etc etc. but the woman is just refusing to do anything and is being abusive to those trying to help her.
My heart goes out to the client because I can see how much pain she is in, and those trying to help her are getting really worn out and are therefore increasing the invalidation and causing her more grief. As a peer support worker, how do I get her from, 'I won't do it' to 'I want to do it'? We have to get the client to a place of really wanting to get on the recovery journey. I remember being there myself, I was in so much pain that I couldn’t do, feel or think anything. So anyone saying, ‘come on Kate, you need to do this’….I’d tell them to f*%# off because I felt like they had no idea how hard/impossible it would have been for me to do 'that', they just didn’t understand and they must have thought I was being silly and should just get over myself (after all that’s what I believe my mother has been telling me for forty five years). The only way for the pain to have stopped would have been to exit this world. My poor client is saying I'll have blood on my hands if she is successful in this. From my experience I do know however she is safe.
In the end I had no help whatsoever, my friends were fed up with me, I was fed up with my family and I had ‘sacked’ any doctors/social workers trying to help. Typical Borderline behaviour. Perhaps my friends weren't fed up with me, but I believed they were, I didn't want that they would have to 'suffer' me anymore so I isolated myself.
Realising that I couldn’t seem to exit this world (after five attempts), meant that I would have to find a way to make life bearable. It was the first time I had reached the 'I want to do it' step. The first thing was that I had to find a way not to loose my house. I luckily found a job in which I used my experience as a mental health patient. I was a ‘peer support worker’, ‘peer’ meaning I also was a mental health ‘consumer’, a consumer of mental health services. I used my ‘lived experience’ to help others cope and recover. This was a great foundation to my recovery. I was a useful member of the community, the increased amount of time I spent with other consumers, helped me to feel less lonely and that my feelings and pain were valid. I felt so good about myself sharing my coping strategies to help others and I wasn’t going to lose my house. I was alone, but I had a great team and clients at work. My new employer was supportive enough to keep me afloat, not much more.
Finally the 18 month wait was over and I started DBT (Diabolical Behaviour Treatment…..ha ha only joking, Dialectic Behaviour Treatment). I think it was that first day in which I met my DBT individual therapist when I got to the ‘how do I do it' step. I had found someone who said, 'come on Kate, this is how you do it'. This person (Dr Fabbo), who was telling me what to do, did know how much pain I was in, did understand what I could and couldn’t do, was prepared to tolerate me when I tell her to f *^% off. God had given me the right help. This was my big opportunity. I felt confident that these clinicians were not ‘one of them’ (mental health clinicians). Well they weren’t ‘one of us’ (mental health consumers) but they were a ‘one of them’ who know precisely how it was to be ‘one of us’. We became, 'we are one'.
The first day I went to group therapy I was terrified. I hid my face and cried the whole way through it. I just knew that I couldn’t leave that room, this was 'how to do it'. My commitment to changing and beginning to live a life that was bearable depended on it. The odd thing was that the other participants and clinicians in the room did nothing about my sobbing. It was awesome. They didn’t embarrass me by saying anything, making a fuss of me or giving me sympathy. Their silence was pure empathy and understanding. It was although my behaviour was totally normal. I felt totally safe and validated. So throughout the morning my crying changed from fear tears to soothing and relief tears.
My journey to recovery had begun.