A Safe Place for Cutters Blog


Warning: Worrying About Stress is More Damaging than Stress Itself.
May 11, 2010, 10:03
Filed under: Coping Skills, Tools | Tags: , ,

In his book Ageless Body, Timeless Mind, Deepak Chopra says that worrying about stress is more damaging than stress itself. Which brings me back to something I have said previously: It is not events that shape your world. It is your thought processes.

When you learn to control your thoughts, you reduce the power that negative influences have upon your life. Remember, no matter how long a list of stress reducers you compile, your mental state will always be the most important factor when it comes to achieving peace of mind.

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!



Turning Darkness into Light
March 8, 2010, 10:11
Filed under: Tools | Tags:

The silver lining in the painfulness and loneliness of human plight is the awe inspiring creativity that it brings out in people.  This in turn brings hope and inspiration to others.

The following photo was taken by one of the members of my Facebook group, “The Safe Place for Cutters.” The caption is hers.


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A blood- red sky. A delight for those who know the darkness brings worry and strife. A bother who know that the Light will be gone only for a short time. But the colors are always to remind us that life is a blend of color and picture. We are to cherish it, whether you are afraid of the impending darkness, or take joy in the Light to come.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!


Proven Steps to Stop Those Powerful Urges
September 13, 2009, 21:53
Filed under: Tools

SocratesA young woman who is a member of my private group for cutters in Facebook* wrote to tell me how proud she was that she had not cut herself for three months. I love to hear stories of progress and asked her what had helped her stop cutting herself for so long. She replied that outside of having been hospitalized for that amount of time she was not sure. An alarm went off in my head. If you do not understand why you do a certain behavior or why you have stopped for a period of time you are doomed to repeat it. As the ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said, “Know thyself.” It is really important that you understand yourself in order to stop a self destructive behavior.

In an earlier blog, I discussed my use of the Chain Analysis of Behavior with my individuals at the state hospital. On my resource page, you will also find a taped interview of me discussing this. This is a great way to learn why you do what  you do and what helps you to stop behavior that harms you and sets you back. It is not a one time use of it that will make the difference but the repeated use of it over time. In other words, every time you cut yourself, don’t beat yourself up. Look at it as a sign that there is something you need to learn and do a Chain Analysis. Over time you will come to understand yourself better and better.

Another ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates once proclaimed, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!



How To Practice Being Mindful
August 17, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Tools | Tags: , ,

FiveSensesI run a group therapy for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. We always start the group off with a mindfulness exercise that I will elaborate on later on in this post. Many of these individuals have also been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to early childhood trauma such as physical or sexual abuse. .Using mindfulness for PTSD may be a good way of coping. Mindfulness has been around for ages. Mindfulness benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is about being completely in-touch with the present moment. So often in our lives, we are stuck in our heads, caught up in the anxiety and worries of daily life. This exercise will introduce you to mindfulness and may be helpful getting you “out of your head” and in touch with the present moment. The following story will highlight how powerful this exercise is.

A couple of weeks ago, I had missed a group session when I was on vacation. In my absence my co-providers, a psychiatrist and a social worker were left in charge. At the next group meeting, I was informed that the group had erupted in chaos. That stuff doesn’t happen when I am there so what took place? I found that they hadn’t started with the mindfulness exercise. I start the group off by telling them to focus on their five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and vision. When you are centered on your senses you are in the present.  Your five senses will tell you what is happening right now, not in the future, not in the past but in the moment. After the exercise, which lasts for about one to two minutes, everyone shares what they experienced during the exercise. It is amazing how this exercise calms everyone down and prepares them for participating in the group process.

Here’s How You Can Do This at Home:

1. Find a comfortable position either lying on your back or sitting. If you are sitting down, make sure that you keep your back straight and release the tension in your shoulders. Let them drop.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Focus your attention on your breathing. Simply pay attention to what it feels like in your body to slowly breathe in and out.
  3. Now bring your attention to your belly. Feel your belly rise and expand everytime you breathe in. Feel your belly fall everytime you breathe out.
  4. Continue to focus your attention on the full experience of breathing. Immerse yourself completely in this experience. Imagine you are “riding the waves” of your own breathing.
  5. Anytime that you notice your mind has wandered away from your breath (it likely will and this is completely normal!), simply notice what it was that took your attention away and then gently bring your attention back to the present moment – your breathing.
  6. As you experience the awareness of your breathing, start to notice what you are experiencing with your five senses. You probably have your eyes close so you won’t to notice what you are seeing. What do you hear? Are there people chatting nearby? Traffice sounds? Birds singing? Do you notice any smells? Perhaps you smell someone cooking or a person’s  perfume. What does the couch you are sitting on feel like? Notice the texture of the leather or nappiness of the upholstery. Are both your feet on the floor so that you feel grounded? Do you discern a taste in your mouth? Sometimes people can taste their breakfast or their morning medication.
  7. Continue for as short or as long as you would like!

Tips:

  1. Before you try this exercise, it may be useful to first simply practice breathing. This may sound silly, but many people don’t breathe properly, which can fuel stress and anxiety (more on this later).
  2. Make this a habit. Practice this exercise at least once a day.
  3. At first, it may be important to practice this exercise at times when you are not overly stressed-out or anxious. When you were first learning to drive a car, you likely didn’t start out on the highway during a thunderstorm. The same goes for mindfulness.
  4. Remember, it is normal for your mind to wander during this exercise. That’s what it does. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, at times like this, it may be useful to think of mindfulness in this way: If your mind wanders away from the breath a thousand times, mindfulness is about bringing your attention back to the present moment a thousand and one times.

Next: How to Breath Properly

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!



How Can I Be Grateful When Nothing is Going Right?

In my last post I discussed the importance of being grateful. Have you ever noticed how pleasant it is to be around people who are grateful for you or what you have done for them? That’s how you will know the following exercise works.

gratitude2

Something that will help you in practicing gratitude in your life and thus being present and in the moment (also known as mindfulness) is to make a list of 200 things that you are thankful for. Take 20 3×5 index cards and write 10 things from your list on each card. Carry these around with you and focus on one card each day.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised to find out how much is really going right in your life.

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!



Did You Know that Exercise Can Reduce the Urge to Cut?
July 24, 2009, 11:00
Filed under: Borderline Personality Disorder, Coping Skills, self-harm, Tools

ExerciseOne of my assignments at the State Hospital where I work is running an exercise group. I used to take the individuals to the park on the hospital grounds and have them walk around it at least twice which is about a mile. Oh, the moans and groans I would have to endure as I insisted they get up off the grass, where they were spread out like fleshy mushrooms, and get moving. I felt like a cruel taskmaster.

Today, an individual told me that she remembered how she had hated it when I persisted in my efforts to get her to walk around the commons. However, over time she began to enjoy the walks and noticed some delightful benefits that included: weight loss, increased energy, motivation, and self-esteem and much to her surprise in a decrease in her urges to cut herself.

Exercise, does have an antidepressant effect making it another important tool for your toolbox.

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend.  Click here!



July 22, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Borderline Personality Disorder, Coping Skills, self-harm, Tools

Nia Misses from Toronto, ON and a member of my Facebook group The Cutters Safe Place* says that she often feels like she is drowning in the seductive urge to cut hrself. She claims that she finds the 15 Minute Rule helpful for such torrid moments.
She explains, “You tell yourself that you can cut, only if you wait fifteen minutes.
If you wait fifteen minutes, you have to wait another fifteen, just to see how long you can suppress the urge”. She finds that typically, after the first 15 minutes, the urge is gone and adds, “The things that you do to distract yourself from cutting in that 15 minutes tend to also help you get rid of the drowning feeling”.

Nia illustrates her use of 15 Minute Rule by explaining that she had gotten herself addicted to reality TV and using this to occupy herself during the !5 minutes. She has her favorite reality show on her Ipod as well as on DVD so that any time that she wants to cut, she is close by to something that will play an episode for her. She then stops feeling like she drowning, and stops wanting to cut, and then starts YELLING at the Survivors.

Yelling at TV

This is a good use of the Distraction technique that I discussed in an earlier blog.

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!