Dialectical Behavioural Therapy OR Compassion Focused Therapy?

DBT would be twice a week for the whole of next year. Imagine being stuck in Derby for a whole year. It’s a horrible thought. But it’s real therapy, at last. I’ve been badgering mental health services for 3 or 4 years, this time round. Finally, I’ve got somewhere.

As for CFT, what is it? The guy who invented it is from Derby, so that’s why it’s popular here, but it doesn’t seem hugely common. How long it’s for, how often, all of the basic practicalities of it, I don’t know. I only know that it would take place the next town over from where my parents live.

This study found  the following themes in their study of patients’ experience of Compassion Focused Therapy:  (1) the battle to give up the inner critic: who am I if I am not self-critical?; (2) an aversive and alien experience: how it feels to develop self-compassion; (3) the emotional experience of therapy; (4) self-compassion as a positive emotional experience; and (5) a more positive outlook in the present and for the future.

Aside from the ‘aversive and alien experience’, that doesn’t sound too bad. But I don’t think just being nice to myself will fix everything. I’m angry at so much more than just me. I’m confused by life. I know myself not. I’ve made great progress in getting over my previous self hatred and teenage deathwishes, but somehow that’s not enough. I’m still trapped somewhere invisible.

Is compassion the missing piece? Or do I need the DBT skills more? The four key skills are apparently Mindfulness, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance, and Emotion Regulation. All of which sound like great things to have.

I have serious problems making decisions, and even more problems with imagining, let alone planning, the future. So I have no idea how I’m going to decide this one.



I fucking love books. I did my degree in them, I want to write one, I like to smell them.

But physical books cost money and also, when you have more than about five, are extremely heavy and inconvenient to carry up and down the country. So I got a Kobo e-reader. Plenty of book snobs will now look down on me. Fuck them. I just downloaded 50 books, for free. Yes, I’m stealing books. It’s the only way. The average novel takes me only a day or two to finish. Retailing at £8 each (assuming I only read paperbacks), it would cost me £1460 to keep in books for a year. Although that does assume I read one book every two days for the whole time, with no breaks for adventures in the real world. Still, even one book per week would be £416. My only income is disability benefits, (ESA, employment and support allowance) so that is still pretty hefty.

I can afford second hand books. And I do buy them. I think the secondhand bookshop is my favourite retail experience. I could spend weeks in a single store, especially those beautiful, overstocked, crooked little shops that take up a whole shop and the house above it, and are filled with hidden rooms and corners all stacked to the ceiling with books. However, I don’t think any of the money they make (in the unlikely event of them turning a profit) goes to the authors. Same with cheap secondhand, or even new, books on Amazon. Amazon is an evil company which contributes nothing but misery along with its easy access to consumer goods. I don’t think my occasional purchases there are really helping the publishing industry either.

Shit, I didn’t think this post was going to end up as such an ethical indictment against me. I’m destroying the thing I love because I can’t help but steal. Although you can’t say I haven’t accrued a pretty impressive book collection over my life.

Photo of my bookshelf, filled with books
3 metres of literature

This is the bookshelf in my old bedroom at my parents’ house. There are also a few books in boxes, in the attic, under my desk… Indeed, I may be something of a book hoarder. It causes me great pain to part with a book. And I get deeply attached to specific books. That Naked Lunch in the middle of the top shelf? That’s been with me for a good few years now. It’s respectably battered and interestingly stained. It still smells faintly of damp and cigarettes, the scent of paper overlaid with the scent of an old flat, a flat we’ll never see again. I love that book. Somehow, by accident, I got another, newer, shinier copy of Naked Lunch. It’s in a storage crate somewhere because I never got around to selling it or giving it away. I want to get rid of it. It feels disloyal, traitorous, waiting in the wings to replace my faithful old copy with a shiny new version. The new book stays in the box so I don’t have to look at it.

I come from a bookish family. I don’t feel at home in houses without bookshelves. But now, I have no bookshelf. Or at least, I have a tiny cubbyhole on the boat, with about four books along with leaflets and paperwork. It’s not enough books, so I cling to my Kobo and fill it with literature. The wonders of technology, eh? I’ve got enough books to last me at least a year, all stored in the space of the slimmest little paperback. It might leave the reading experience strangely transient, divorced from all physical permanence, but at least I’m reading. I’m reading so, so much, and I love it.



Growth & Light

I don’t spend all my time sitting around feeling miserable, moaning at the internet and waiting to die. Especially now I’m trying not to be 100% shit, I do things in the real world and try to go outside.

Today, after the psychiatrist appointment, I chanced to read a friend’s post of Facebook inviting everyone over to do gardening. Over I went, in the beautiful sunlight, to a huge old house which might actually be the nicest home I’ve ever been in without having to pay an admission fee. The kitchen opened out onto the solid wood deck, which opened out onto the lawn and the raised beds. Four of us spent the afternoon weeding, transplanting seedlings into the beds and building cane & string pyramids for the runner beans to climb up. Then our friend cooked us a beautiful meal and we ate and chatted. I’d not met the other two plant helpers before, and their botanical knowledge was astounding.

Look at the tidy beautiful garden! I made a minor contribution to it!

I ended up spending about seven hours round there, doing useful work, absorbing the sunlight and touching the earth. Even though I knew none of the other people there well, I didn’t feel anxious or like I had anything to prove. And I’m a person who will spend days or even weeks in isolation, hiding from society because human interaction feels like an impossible, terrifying burden. Today broke my month long anti-social streak.

I’m alive!

Growth & Light

This is the First Day

Today I got confirmation of my psychiatric diagnosis.

Borderline Personality Disorder & Depressive Personality Disorder. I don’t wholly disagree with this. Although Depressive P.D. isn’t in the current DSM, and Wikipedia calls it a ‘controversial psychiatric diagnosis’. Is it even real? I don’t know. I can have a non-real disorder, that’s fine.

Even if psychiatry is a scam (and hey, it might be), I still chose their labels to signify a new time in my life. New blog, new start, right? I’m 25 and have been sad for a long time. At least now I have some kind of name for it. Names are power. Or the illusion of such.

Believe it or not from this patchy and incoherent post, I call myself a writer, sometimes. Or at least, I write poetry, sometimes. And the odd article or propaganda leaflet. For a little while, a long time ago, I wrote porn video descriptions and promo. On my CV, I call that SEO skills. I also have an English Lit. with Creative Writing degree on my CV, but none of this matters because I’ve never had a job or even passed an interview for one. Sometimes that makes me sad, but probably not as sad as work makes me.

I’m writing this blog because I got sick of writing longhand in paper books. My hand is in agony thanks to my left-handed claw-grip handwriting style. Also maybe I can entertain, inform, and generally be an insufferably self-obsessed ass in the public domain, and thus garner attention and possibly even love. Oh, and reach out to all y’all other people with a less than easy mental state, because I know it can feel pretty fucking lonely out there.

This is the First Day

I am…

I have no stable, internal sense of identity. I pick things up and drop them again. I read voraciously but without the concentrated depth necessary for true academic analysis.

I usually live on a narrowboat in North London, but right now I’m in Derbyshire at my parents’ house. I move around a lot; to travel is better than to arrive, but that does make it confusing when I have to put an address on official documents.

Interests that may appear in this blog include anarchism, environment, human rights, leftism, post-leftism, going out and getting wrecked, literature, Literature, poetry, art, performance, DIY haircuts, canals and boats, morbid curiosities, drugs, alcohol, mental health/mental illness, superstition, postmodernism, The Future, the struggle, the tentative hope that we can do better than this.

I plan to share reviews and opinions, research and creative writing, as well as my usual misery, snark and sarcasm. I’ll try and keep things on track, posts tagged and categorised, but this little corner of internet may collapse into chaos, just like any physical space I inhabit for more than ten minutes.

Just hope this blog will be neater than my desk.
Just hope this blog will be neater than my desk.


I am…