Pecked to Death by Ducks

As I posted a few pages ago, I am back to work a few days a week. I had naively hoped that everything would be good and everyone would be in my corner. Note the word ‘naively’.

I am not the me who was doing this job several weeks ago. Remember the woman who was able to see what she was doing? I have made some dumb mistakes I never would have made if I were still totally sighted. It’s damnably frustrating, not to mention embarrassing. While I have a steep learning curve and have vowed not to make those particular mistakes again, I anticipate I will be making other mistakes and facing other challenges.

I have made some dumb mistakes that are frustrating and embarrassing.

Locally, people are great. My coworkers are supportive.  My bosses are good. Just a little scared they may have taken back someone who will not be able to do her job. News flash: there are times I am afraid of exactly the same thing. My Blindness and Visual Services (BVS) and low vision people rock. I have all sorts of cool toys to help me. For a government agency, BVS is moving at the speed of light to get me set up with what I need. No complaints locally.

Local people and services are great!

I have contacted two large publishing houses about my need for some things in digital format. You can enlarge things when they are on your tablet, don’t you know. What I thought was going to be a simple “Hey, help me out here” seems like it is turning into a corporate run-around. They keep suggesting I purchase digital versions of materials that are, in some cases, not even on the market yet. And what, pray tell, am I supposed to do about serving my clients in the meantime? Good customer here! Cut me a break.

I’m a good customer of 2 large publishing houses and yet they want me to purchase digital materials that they should be happy to supply me with for free.

But screaming about – and at – people who don’t get a good deed is not only good for the soul but also good for business and that is probably the topic for another post. Right now I want to go back to DBT and talk about how I can get through the frustration without blowing a fuse.

DBT has some skills for improving the moment. These skills are good for getting through the rough patches when you are down or frustrated and there is not a great deal you can do about fixing things at that time. Conveniently, they are called – acronym alert here – IMPROVE skills.

DBT has skills that will help me deal with frustration without blowing a fuse.

I is for imagery. Imagine yourself someplace calm and peaceful. Take your mind on vacation somewhere you felt wonderful. Go back to that safe place where nothing ever hurt you. These places do not have to be real anywhere but in your head. My favorite place got washed away in a flood in 2004. Just the same it still exists in my head. I can go back to the ol’ swimmin’ hole any time I want as long as it is in my mind.

Imagine yourself someplace calm and peaceful even if it is not anywhere real.

M is for meaning. Viktor Frankl was a German Jew. During his time in several of the Nazi death camps, Frankl, a neurologist and a psychiatrist, spent his time ministering to his fellow prisoners. He had a purpose and a meaning to his life. Frankl also discovered the prisoners who did the best and were able to survive the camps were those who had a purpose and saw their lives as having meaning. Frankl said that people who have a ‘why’ can survive any ‘how’.

Perhaps there is meaning to your life, meaning to what is happening to you. A meaning I put to my life, my disease, is believing I will get into the clinical trials and help to find a cure for AMD. What is your purpose? Find your ‘why’ and you will more easily endure the ‘how’.

I have found a purpose to my life with the disease…what is yours?

P is for prayer. Some of you have a strong faith and some do not. It has been said there are no atheists in a fox hole. Therefore I will assume that, no matter what your religious beliefs, many of you pray.

The Serenity Prayer is nice. So is the 21st Psalm if you are of a Judeo-Christian faith or even if you are not. The Prayer of St. Francis is also good (“Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace…”). You can make one up. It is up to you.

Prayers are basically of three forms: “HELP!”, “thanks” and “nice job”. When I am in troubled times, such as now, I use the “HELP!” type of prayer a lot. However, “thanks” and “nice job” prayers are good because they remind you of what all is going right. Thanks and praise allow us to realize we have accumulated many positives. They have just been forgotten in the face of a crisis. Remember Accumulating Positives is an Emotional Regulation Skill.

There are wonderful prayers out there.  You can even make one up.

R is for relaxation. Relaxation can be anything from a massage to a hot bath to meditation or any one of hundreds of other things. What relaxes you? Indulge. Just make sure it is not a habit that will eventually be hurtful to you.

What relaxes you?

O is for one thing at a time. I adopted an expression many years ago, not even sure where I first heard it, but the expression is ‘being pecked to death by ducks’. What it means is you are being assaulted by a dozen little things at one time and you feel as if you are succumbing to the cumulative effect of the onslaught.

Some days we are just being ‘pecked to death by ducks’. We spin from peck to peck and never actually deal with any one of them. DBT says to deal with one of those unfriendly fowl at a time. You cannot fight a war on too many fronts. Decide where to put your resources and win that battle first. Then go on to the next battle.

What do you do when you are being ‘pecked to death by ducks’?

V is for vacation. Vacation, unfortunately, does not always involve flying to some sun-drenched beach in the tropics. In DBT terms a vacation can be as simple as drawing a hot bath and locking the bathroom door. Hang a sign: “I am not available to deal with any crises for the next 20 minutes. Please check back later.” Remember, as much as we wish it would be, DBT vacations are not running away to Bora Bora and making a living beach combing. They are short and assume we will get back to dealing with things within a minimum of 24 hours or so.

Finally, the E is for encouragement. Get out those pom poms and cheer your favorite player – yourself. Be the Little Engine That Could. Celebrate your progress.  Remember it is important to acknowledge how far you have come. Praise yourself for still being in the fight. Be in your own corner.

Be the Little Engine That Could.

Those, quickly, are the IMPROVE skills from DBT. They are used when there is nothing else you are able to do that moment to solve the problem. You use them when either circumstances are not right or you don’t have the energy to deal for another minute or when you are overwhelmed with the chaos. I hope you find them helpful




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