Holding On Until Sunrise
I believe that most suicidal people do not want to die. What they really want is an end to their suffering and if someone can show them another way, they’ll take it. When I first meet with a client who is suicidal I ask them if this analogy rings true:
Does it feel like you are in alone in the middle of the ocean?
Are you treading water, trying very hard to stay above the surface?
Is it storming? Are the waves getting bigger and crashing into you harder?
It is night and you cannot see land or any help for miles?
Are you exhausted, tired of fighting, ready to let go and slip underwater?
Usually, the answer is a resounding “yes!” As at therapist, what I hear is exhaustion and a desperation to end suffering; and I have a life preserver. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is the life preserver in the storm of life. DBT does not teach us how to avoid the storms but how to navigate them skillfully. I typically ask my clients who agree with my middle-of-the-ocean-storm analogy if they could imagine holding on a bit longer if I gave them a life preserver, or a raft. They always say yes.
The truth is, no storm lasts forever. The darkness of night eventually heads to a majestic sunrise, and even the most turbulent water calms. The key is having the skills to weather the storm. DBT is more than just therapy as it includes skills group in addition to individual therapy to prepare you for the next storm. Clients of DBT learn skills to manage their emotions, navigate relationships, how to tolerate distress, and mindfulness. Imagine you are adrift in the ocean in your raft but you are still feeling hopeless. Well, you get a lifeline. While in DBT, clients have access to a DBT trained therapist 24 hours a day. If you can’t think of the next skill to navigate your storm, call us, and we will help you.
September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month. If you or someone you care about is struggling through the storm, please call our office and take the first step towards a skillful life.