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The Difference Between Feeling Better and Getting Better

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Feeling better seems to be a universal goal of humankind.

When we’re experiencing physical, emotional, or spiritual pain, the instinct to feel better can take on a life of its own.  Most of us don’t even realize our subconscious is in overdrive doing whatever it takes to avoid bad feelings.

The problem is this:  what makes us feel better usually isn’t what makes us get better.

Feeling Better More

Anger -Constructive or Destructive?

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Anger with a D is Danger.  That’s the kind of anger I used to have.  The Destructive Kind.

Anger was my best friend.  Always accessible and purposeful, it was my go-to response to many of life’s situations.  It didn’t take much to justify unleashing on all the irritating people of the world.  And those irritating people were everywhere!

Anger suited me well –I felt strong and powerful when I was angry.  People kept their distance and I was safe.  I got kudos growing up for being angry; as long as it wasn’t with anyone in our house!  I’d come home with stories of mouthing off at teachers and be commended for it.  Dad would laugh and give me the rare praise I coveted.

It wasn’t until I finally heard myself More

The Best Way Out Is Always Through

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Robert Frost
March 26, 1874 -January 29, 1963

 

I used to plead with my therapist for an easier way to process and heal my past. Feeling the feelings is really hard work, and incredibly painful. I wanted a short-cut, some magic wand to fast-forward me to the finish line.  I Wish.

Turns out Robert Frost had it right all those years ago. The best way out really is through.

If we don’t feel the feelings and process them –at least enough to heal and move forward they will continue to haunt us in hidden and mysterious ways.

I’ve learned and re-learned the frustrating truth that we can know something in our heads, but if don’t know it in our hearts it doesn’t translate to change.

Without a doubt it has to start in our heads. We need to think, consider, and chew the facts a while. But the only way I’ve seen knowledge migrate from the head to the heart is through feeling the feelings. Processing emotions like loss, anger, and truth is draining, even excruciating at times, but it’s eventually very freeing.

The most tangible way I’ve seen my life changed

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Rocks of Reclamation

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Following a 14-year absence, my husband and I went to Alaska to visit my mom last year. Dad had passed away in those years, while I’d still been estranged. His passing allowed me the freedom to return to my roots and rescue my younger self in a very tangible way.

As part of my healing, I brought some rocks to leave behind.

 

 

For me, rocks symbolize strength and power.

Think David and Goliath, Alcatraz, Stonehenge, the Pyramids.

My rocks were that important to me. They would declare my presence, my survival; even after I departed once again. More

From Estrangement to Reconciliation

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Estrangement stories cross my path often lately.  It’s a painful and sensitive topic, for both sides.  Some people are hurting because they’ve chosen to estrange themselves, others because they don’t understand why a loved one has estranged.  Still others long for the relief of estrangement, but the pain of setting that boundary is clearly too difficult.

The journey of coming to terms with why we need to estrange ourselves can be grueling, depressing, and exhausting.  Desire for belonging to family is strong, and it took considerable pain – and 3 attempts – before I was finally able to definitively draw my line in the sand.  More

Change Of Plans

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In 2009 my husband and I realized time was running out for taking a family vacation –at least for our existing family unit.  Both kids were seriously involved with their significant others and we knew it wouldn’t be long before there would be wedding bells.  Change was fast approaching for family as we knew it Happy for our soon-to-be-growing family, the vacation would be a bitter-sweet and symbolic farewell to the existing family structure.

Thus began the plans for what seemed like a fantasy trip for 4 to Scotland and Ireland.  None of us had been to Europe and we all agreed experiencing a bit o’ Irish sounded like a lot of fun.

The planning was both exciting and stressful, as vacations are prone to be.  However, stressful took on another level when my dad died during the planning stages and my PTSD symptoms exploded.  His death launched an entire new wave of nightmares and flashbacks.

I struggled mightily to focus on planning the trip, not wanting to disappoint my kids.   My mental state became fragile, my work suffered, and I spent many hours crying on the couch trying in vain to figure a way to escape my anxiety and not give up on the trip.

Somehow we got our itinerary finalized and bought the airline tickets.  Three days later the Eyjafjallajökull volcano erupted in Iceland.  The volcano may as well have been inside my head because my brain felt like it exploded too.  I hadn’t realized how close to the cliff I’d been until the volcano blew. More

How To Help Your Depressed Friend

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Friends and family were often at a loss of what to say or do around me when I was at my lowest points of depression.  Though it may have come with the best intentions, people would sometimes trivialize my feelings or give me a checklist of things to do ‘move on.’  They would also suggest I be more appreciative that things weren’t worse.  These responses actually worsened my state of mind.  The people who helped me the most responded far differently. 

The effects of depression/abuse/trauma trickle down to every layer of life.  In general, depressed people have great difficulty with relationships; this includes marriage, parenting, friendship, work, and church.  Those of us who have been abused have been taught that intimate relationships of all kinds, not just sexual, are dangerous.  We have been deeply hurt and instinctively keep our emotional distance in order to be safe.

Speaking from experience, though, I can happily assure you change is possible.  It’s because of a certain key people in my life that I’ve been able to make it this far.  I’ve been on both sides of the coin –the one being helped and the one trying to help –and I wanted to share some ways I’ve learned to help.  

Important Distinction

Some people respond to their depression by being very needy.  This personality type needs support, but they also need firm boundaries.  They need to be treated as if they are capable.  Do not rescue or coddle them, as this only enables them to remain victims.  It can also create caregiver burnout or resentment.  Help them learn healthy independency.

Other people respond by being very self-sufficient.  This personality is often very hesitant to ask for help.  If they do ask, it is a sign they may be feeling accepted by you.  No matter how small the request seems to you, it is probably a big step for them to ask.  Help them learn healthy dependency.

Here are ways to support either type of friend:

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