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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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The Old Violin

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While joyful and exciting, the holidays can also be a difficult time of year.

There were many Christmases I bounced between having fun and enjoying the season with my husband and kids while struggling with deep-seated depression.

My lack of family-of-origin connection during the holidays magnified feelings of rejection and worthlessness; especially related to my dad.  A sweet and tender story about an old violin touched me many years ago during an especially difficult time of depression.  Though not a cure, it was balm to the soul.

If feelings of loneliness, worthlessness or rejection plague you during the holidays I offer you this story.  I hope it reminds you that you are indeed worthy and loved.

The Old Violin

~Myra Brooks Welch

‘Twas battered and scarred, And the auctioneer thought it hardly worth his while to waste his time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile. More

Incredulous

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Once again, an ignorant comment about rape is in the news. 

Disbelief rose as an offensive headline jumped out at me recently.   India crime chief causes outrage with ‘If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it’ comment.”

According to a EuroNews report, Ranjit Sigha –the chief of India’s equivalent to our FBI – made a comment last week during a conference about illegal sports betting and the need to legalize gambling to make revenue from it.  “If you cannot enforce the ban on betting, it is like saying ‘If you can’t prevent rape, you enjoy it.’”  Now he’s crying foul, saying his words were taken out of context.  Even if they were, the fact that someone in charge of sexual assault investigations would use such an analogy is outrageous and unacceptable.

To even entertain the idea that being raped is like betting or any other illegal behavior that is hard to enforce is insolent at best.

It reminded me of More

Still Here

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Four times I could have died, yet here I am. 

My kids have told me I’m like a cat with nine lives; maybe there’s something to it.  As I got older, the accidents got more serious.  Sometimes I wonder why I survived; but mostly I’m just grateful. 

When I was 11, a neighbor girl ran over me with a snowmobile.  She knocked me over from behind and proceeded to drive across the entire length of my body.  I was compressed face-down into the snow as the track rolled across my back.  She slowed down as she realized what she’d done, but it was the wrong time to slow down.  I couldn’t breathe under there. More

Letter to My Younger Self

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theindiechicks.com

theindiechicks.com

Dear Denise,

I understand how trapped, lonely, and sad you feel right now.  Being ten years old is hard enough without the added burden of an abusive home.

Dad is a mean and angry man.  He takes it out on anyone he can overpower, and many times that ends up being you.  This isn’t your fault -it’s not because of anything you’ve done, or not done.   I know how hard you try to do the right things so he’ll say nice things to you.  I know how much it would mean to you for him to say he’s sorry for the awful things he’s done. He is supposed to take care of you, not hurt you.

Mom doesn’t protect you because she’s busy surviving him in her own way.  Unfortunately, that means she can’t let herself see what’s happening to you.  She uses the wine to escape into her fun, happy world.  It makes things easier for her, but harder for you.  I know one day you will be angry with her about this, but then More

How to Overcome Shame

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Have you ever felt worthless, damaged, or unacceptable?  If so, you may be struggling with shame.

There are two types of shame;

Guilt and Embarrasment.

They both have their place in society and relationships, but when they are out of balance or undeserved, either can be destructive.

A healthy example of Guilt is More

How To Forgive The Unforgivable

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…and How Forgiving Brings Freedom…

The decision to forgive my dad was borne of a long labor.

Although I’d always felt and said I wanted to forgive him, I couldn’t seem to actually do it.  Maybe my mind hadn’t transferred the abuse from something to survive into something to forgive yet.

spirituallythinking.blogspot.com

spirituallythinking.blogspot.com

I’d hidden the abuse for so long, it became acceptable in its own sick way.  I compartmentalized the abuse and split my dad into two people.  There was the dad who abused me; but then there was the dad who played cards with me, taught me to fly his plane, and took me fishing.  As children, we are dependent and vulnerable; we have no choice but to find a way to accept the abuse in order to survive.

All I ever wanted was to have a happy, loving dad/daughter relationship. It took me years before I admitted to myself just how wrong and destructive his abuse was.    I wanted to forgive him, but for a long time I thought I could only forgive if I had his apology first.

Through a long, difficult journey of self-discovery and spiritual maturing, I began to realize forgiving him didn’t even involve him. More

Kinship With Cleveland

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***Caution:  There are graphic descriptions in this post.  If you are concerned about being triggered, please do not read this.***

When the news broke of the three women in Cleveland who’d been held captive for ten years, I felt a rush of sisterhood.  I was never chained in a room or beaten, so I cannot relate to these aspects of what Gina DeJesus, Michelle Knight, and Amanda Berry went through.  Their nightmare is a unique and horrific one I cannot fully fathom.  But there is much of their story I can relate to.

They have been heavy on my mind ever since the story ran, but I’ve been hesitant to write about them.   I’m aware the more ‘normal’ response is shock; but I feel this kinship instead.  I desperately want to be ‘normal,’ but my history has robbed me of many aspects of normal.  After much reflection, I sensed a calling to share my perspective in the hopes of giving every outraged person a way to use their anger for good. More

Life Lessons From Forrest Gump

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It didn’t take long for me to realize “Forrest Gump”, would become one of my favorite movies.  There are so many layers of raw emotion and humanity; I glean something new each time I see it.  It’s one of those rare movies that makes you laugh, cry, reflect, and quote for years to come. 

Forrest Gump

From the get-go, Forrest captures the heart of anyone who’s experienced bullying.  His best friend, Jenny, does her best to help him when she famously says “Run, Forrest, Run!” to escape his tormentors.  Forrest takes her advice and as he struggles to run, his leg braces miraculously fall off.  This is such a marvelous visual: struggling, leaving our comfort zone, shedding our shackles, and moving forward.  More

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