It's strange the things that can bring on the melancholy. My stepdad bought a dvd today, of Simon & Garfunkel's Concert in Central Park (1981 I think) and has been playing it while I was in the kitchen cooking. For a lot of different reasons, the songs brought up memories, mostly sad. When I was about 10 years old I found an LP record in my parents' collection that had a handwritten name on it I recognised. It turned out to be (as I suspected at the time), one of the few things my mother kept that had belonged to my father - a Simon & Garfunkel record that I would secretly play when my mother and stepdad weren't around. Over the years I became more and more enamoured of them, and folk music in general, and I ended up buying the Concert in Central Park album in about 1987. Hearing the songs again reminded me of how in those days, at 17, I was still under the misapprehension that being depressed was something I would "grow out of". I believed that all the low moods and suicidal thoughts were part of my groovy & creative personality and I channelled them as much as I could into writing songs, stories, poetry.
What struck me the most today was that I could recognise melancholy approaching, and rather than eagerly laying down and becoming its mistress, I fought it and won. I used Mindfulness to view the feelings objectively, and could see clearly (maybe for the first time) the two paths on offer. I could either go with the sad memories, and add to them in the same way I was adding ingredients to my vegie soup, ending up with a confusing mess of mixed emotions and general blah. Or, I could feel and acknowledge the sadness/loss, briefly revisiting the memory of the past before letting it go.
Half an hour later, instead of being bedridden, binge eating, self-harming or bawling, I was finishing off making my soup and starting on brownie cheesecake (as my birthday treat for tomorrow). All the while still singing along with Simon & Garfunkel (that's one long concert lol).
I used to think that my over-emotional or extreme reactions to songs, films, books, etc were part of my personality. With DBT, I view it differently -- the reaction is the first, "normal" part of the equation, and the BPD encouraged me to take the reaction to the extreme and let it overwhelm my thoughts and (therefore) my emotions. With the new filter of my Wise Mind I'm learning/trying to enjoy the reaction to the song (for instance), but keep it in context and balance. It's still not second nature to me, but I know it gets easier to practice DBT/CBT skills.
One of my all-time favourite songs, and my favourite S&G tune, is "Kathy's Song". I used to cry when I heard it, especially the lines:
"I sit and watch the drops of rain
Weave their weary paths and die
I know that I am like the rain
There but for the grace of you, go I"
Forgive me if I've misquoted, I'm writing them from memory! Anyway, today I heard those words in a completely different context and they didn't make me sad. I even half-jokingly substituted "DBT" for "you" in the final line. This morning could have ended up very differently, much bleaker, without my new therapy. A few people I know who have done DBT call themselves "DBT Geeks", or DBT Obsessives - experiencing it work really does make you a convert/true believer! I hope I don't come across as simplifying Borderline, or other mental illness, and I am definitely not saying Dialectical or Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is the only way to treat these things. They have just worked for me, after many years of NOTHING working. And I wanted to share it.