Or the trouble with Tribbles. Or DBT as a zombie survival skill.

Often when I'm in my DBT group learning some new skill I need to think of an analogy to understand the skill. Here's some context.

I've always had nightmares the content occasionally changes but for the most part if I dream it's a nightmare. It sounds weird, but I've gotten use to it. For the longest time it's been a dystopian world with zombies. (It's changed now, most of nightmares are screaming at family members who don't listen to me). Zombies over the years have meant many things to me: mindlessness, anxiety, and society.

(^โ€” Just ignore it. It will go away right?) In the Walking Dead, one zombie isn't a problem. It's pretty easy and quick to deal with. A few more isn't a problem if you think clearly and maybe team up with other survivors. It's when you leave the zombies alone, believe the fence will hold them, or don't clear the room, that's when you are fucked. The rule of zombies is deal with it right now. Clear the room.

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Tribbles are kinda of the same but adorable. One isn't a problem, but if you leave it alone, it will breed in to thousands and become a huge problem. Once again, don't leave things on their own.

In therapy we talk a lot about staying in the present. Anxious folk tend to stay in the future the "what ifs" and PTSD people tend to stay in the past "I should have" Or you are a combination of the both. I'm the "This happened in the past, so the future will also be the past because things can't change" The point is you need to stay in the present and deal with what you can in the moment.

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(^ oh fuck, I knew I forgot something)

Sometimes we don't want to deal with things because it's hard, awkward or scary, so we leave it. So that lone zombie or tribble is basically placed behind a fence. And we keep avoiding the problem, so the tribble makes more and the zombie calls some of its friends. The fence is still holding, and we think it's okay, the fence has got it, we are dealing with it, but we aren't. Eventually the fence breaks the tribbles eat all your resources and the zombies eat you. (Why they don't eat each other, I don't know)

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What you are learning in therapy is to build fences (make boundaries), but go out every day and kill that damn zombie and tribble (fear and anxiety) behind the fence. And to be okay with taking care of yourself. Eventually you'll find your old failed fences and repair them or make new ones. That also means you might need to revisit the past and fight old monsters. However, you'll be stronger because you'll now have a team to support you and skills to get you through the fight. You might find whole buildings that you've forgotten about or you retreated from because they were infested. Or hot zones that benefit from nuking from space.

In real life:

I hate when people recline their seat to the point that I can't open my laptop. This a very common on older buses and trains where the seats recline further than modern day ones. Normally, I am bothered but I say nothing. It tell myself that I'm not allowed to be upset, that their comfort is more important than mine, that I am a burden, maybe they have back problems, they won't like me if I say something, I'm so bitchy, that I shouldn't speak up. It bothers me more and more until I can't function. So today, I asked the person in front of me to recline their seat less. I didn't wait or over think it, and they moved their seat. The problem was solved quickly, because I choose to deal with it right away. I didn't let my emotional zombies stack until I froze. I went out, I put myself first, and I cleared the room.

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I didn't think about the past or getting yelled at for making boundaries, I just dealt with the situation without judgement.

(<โ€”- see easy peasy! My fence (boundary) that I am important, my stabby weapon was my request to move the seat forward.)

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It's been helping me to think of problems like zombies. Someone does or says something, we often say nothing, but it's a zombie it calls more friends and then the problem become bigger. The sooner you deal with it, the easier it is.

(^why the fuck can you run? I can't run when I am hungry. Assholes.) Of course, some zombies aren't simple and require strategy. E.g if you are locked in a room with a zombie, the zombie is someone you know and therefore have a history with that zombie, things are slightly difficult and you might need to do something else or bring in that team we talked about earlier.

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Or those 28 days later rage running zombies, that shit is scary. I still think being grounded is a decent way to kill those zombies.

But the everyday small problems are easier because they are the slow walker zombies. It's hard at first, because zombies are scary but with practice and guidance you'll get through it.