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Experiencing an Episode from the Other Side

We typically experience episodes from the side of being the ones going through the episode and what it feels like. However there are two sides to each episode, the side of the person going through the episode (self-harming, whose emotions are dysregulated, etc) and the person(s) observing the episode.

Last night, I got an opportunity to be the person on the other side of the episode. My wife had a severe episode composed of intense dysregulation and splitting. I will not go into the specifics of the episode, only that it occurred, that it was directed mostly at me and what components I observed.

You might be thinking that someone who is themselves a different thinker would be at a disadvantage and bad position in a case like this.
In some ways, being a different thinker can be an asset, in others a hindrance. Part of it depends where along the path you are and what you have learned. The more you have learned and mastered the more it can become an asset.

As a different thinker, I have had to learn several ‘tricks’ to deal with my own episodes. The same tricks, I have had to learn to cope with my episodes, work just as well in coping with another person’s episodes.

One way it can help is that when you have been through episodes yourself, it becomes easier to empathize. You may not have been through the exact same thing, but you can understand what it feels like to be dysregulated. If you can keep a hold of that knowledge, you can also use it to stay regulated.

Some of these tricks can also be applied to other people as well. For example, you can easily use something like Opposite to Emotion Action with another person.
Last night when my wife was full of anger and depression, I put on a few sitcoms and Caddyshack, a movie she likes and is funny as hell to counter the current negative emotions. At the same time that it helped her it helped me from becoming dysregulated myself.

While it is never pleasant to be on the receiving side of someone’s episode, there is another positive aspect to come out of it. The episode gives you another opportunity to practice and develop your coping skills.

Today was challenging at times. I was trying to cope with the backlash from yesterday. While my wife was in her episode, I did not have an opportunity to ‘break down. I needed to remain as regulated as possible; however, this put a strain on me. This is where being a different thinker can be a bit of a hindrance. While someone who is not a different thinker may find it ‘easy’ to let things just roll off, the barrage from yesterday threatened to overwhelm me today.
In order to counter it I had to use several skills at once. As I explained to a friend of mine, this afternoon, I was doing the following things to prevent myself from being overwhelmed.

  • understanding that how she feels does not accurately reflect the facts
  • understanding that there are things that need to change based on how she is feeling #things I can do better#
  • accepting that her feelings are legitimate feelings and not ‘wrong’
  • any number of coping techniques to prevent things from overwhelming me (e.g. distracting myself with work as much as possible for now, going outside and relaxing at lunch time, etc.)

Posted: August 28th, 2012 under Emotional Regulation, My Journey.


Comment from Richard Punko - 2012/08/28 at 18:39

I hope every thing is better and that both of you are in a relaxed and good mood.

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