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Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Historically, I am an emotional basket case from Halloween through New Year’s Day. I am not entirely sure why. I suspect one reason is because, as a child, the holidays meant that school was not in session, which cut me off from all of the safe people in my life. I also suspect that some of the ritual abuse tied into the holiday times, but I don’t have specific memories tying into specific dates, so I can’t be sure.

Because I know that the holidays are a tough time for me, I made the decision last year to listen primarily to Contemporary Christian music. At this time of year (when I am susceptible to depression), I’ll latch onto a song with a melancholy tune & lyrics and “go down the well” of my pain. For the most part, the genre of Contemporary Christian music does not lend itself to melancholy tunes, although there are a few that I could use that way. I make sure to skip over those. (I mostly listen to Pandora.com over the Internet.)

I found that I struggled less with depression last holiday season. It was still hard, and I was still depressed on and off, but it was improved from prior years. So, I am sticking with that same strategy this holiday season.

This year, I have added the change of not drinking any alcohol. At this time of year, I like to kick back with a glass of wine at night, which is fine in the moment. The problem is that alcohol is a depressant and seems to encourage that depressed part of myself to grow stronger the next day.

I have had plenty of nights where I really wanted that glass of wine, but I am staying “on the wagon” for now. I have no issues with substance abuse, so it’s not an issue of craving alcohol. I just like “taking the edge off” in the evenings. I have decided that tonight’s “taking the edge off” isn’t worth the additional struggle with depression the next day.

So, I have made both of these positive changes, but I still feel “off.” I see both listening to melancholy music and drinking wine as ways I have added fuel to my fire. Removing the fuel hasn’t stopped the fire, only prevented its acceleration.

I don’t know what my expectations are. My hope is that I can get through the holidays without feeling out of control emotionally. I am feeling less out of control, but I still feel like I have anxiety and depression geysers going in my head. I am ultrasensitive right not to any form of criticism, even reading criticism into where I know objectively that none is intended. I am trying to be aware of my feelings without reacting to them.

Can I just go to sleep and have all of you wake me in January?

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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This blog entry is completely based on the point of view of my wounded (devastated) inner child, Annie. I cannot stop crying and haven’t for two days, and it is all because of Annie’s pain. The adult me knows that my actions and reactions are not “appropriate” ones for an adult, but Annie doesn’t give a shit. This blog entry is for her. I am posting it now, even though I have already posted today, hoping that somebody can get through to Annie because I cannot. All I can do is give her a voice. ~ Faith

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Everyone lied to me. They said it was all my fault, and I believed them. They said that they would be there for me when I needed them, but they aren’t mind readers – I have to tell them that I need them. So, I did. I told them that this period between the full moon and the summer solstice would be hard. I told them that I wasn’t sleeping and that, when I did, it was all nightmares. I told them that I was triggered by some day-to-day adult stuff that I don’t know how to handle – I am just a little girl who has been betrayed by everyone.

I thought there was someone in my corner, but they lied to me. They said that if I told them that I needed them, they would be there … but they weren’t. They said all I had to do was reach out and they would help me. I did reach out – I reached out to eight different people – but nobody was there. I needed someone to catch my fall but, as always, there was no one to catch my fall.

I have heard that, when you fall in your dreams, you cannot hit the ground because you will wake up first. That isn’t true. I do fall and hit the ground in my dreams, just like I fall and hit the ground when I am awake. There is no one to catch me. There has never been anyone to catch me.

I hate them for giving me hope. At least before, I knew I was alone. I knew it was up to me and me alone, as a little girl, to figure out how to be OK. They lied to me and said I wasn’t alone anymore, but I still am. All I needed was one person – just one person – to hold my hand, but there wasn’t a hand to hold … and I fell.

I am so tired of falling. I want to die, but Faith won’t let me, and I hate her for it. She won’t stop me from falling, either. Nobody can stop it. Nobody is there. I am tired of being all alone. I would rather die than keep falling, and I don’t want any more lies about not being alone because I am. I believed them, and they weren’t there. I won’t make that mistake again.

Everyone is always sorry after the fact. Sorry you were raped, Annie. Sorry I wasn’t there for you, but I am here now. I don’t need you now. I needed you then, and you weren’t there. Nobody was ever there, and nobody ever will be there. I hate all of you, including Faith. She’s the biggest liar of all because she said I would be OK, and she was wrong. There is only one way to be OK, and she won’t let me die.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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Over the last week or so, I have been focusing on the healing process and have stated that the healing process has its own natural rhythm. If we can identify that natural rhythm and allow it to flow, healing happens naturally.

Of course, since I wrote this, I had to put myself to the test, and it has been a tough week. I am apparently working on healing a deeper layer of myself (or another alter part for those with DID). I keep finding myself feeling intensely sad, and I have been plagued by nightmares. The nightmares got so bad one night that I kept waking myself by whimpering in my sleep. I knew that if I got up to take a Xanax or clear my head, I would never get back to sleep. So, I kept falling right back into the nightmares and finally awakened in tears with my heart pounding and my bed sheets soaked with sweat.

Early in the healing process, I would be beating myself up for this. I would assume that I was doing something “wrong” because, if I was really healing, I should no longer be having nightmares. Adding negative thoughts, self-hatred, and shame would be an impediment to the natural flow of healing, and I have reached a place where I recognize that I am not doing anything “wrong” right now.

Another common reaction is for me to throw myself into compulsive busy-ness. This can be over-committing myself through volunteer work, taking on more classes at my job, or doing other things to keep me “too busy” to have to feel this lousy. The idea is to stay too busy to feel badly during the day and then drop into bed too exhausted to dream at night. Instead, I am choosing to slow myself down, building yoga and meditation into my daily schedule and moving at a slower pace. My therapist always advises me to “sit with” the pain and just allow it to “be.” It takes a lot of self-discipline for me to do this.

Another reaction that I used to do a lot is to attach myself to those feelings. For example, I started working through this phase of healing over the weekend, which is when I was receiving all of the comments to Friday’s blog entry in which some of my readers felt “judged” by my words. It hurts me to know that I have hurt another person, so I could have easily attached my feelings of sadness to that event, but I chose not to. I was able to recognize that one was not related to the other.

When I attach my life today to the feelings I experience that are really echoes of the past, I can go downhill quickly. I take the sadness from childhood and add my experiences from today, which is like pouring gasoline on a fire. So, instead of feeling a malaise, I can feel suicidally depressed, as if I were being sucked into a dark hole with no way out. My yogi gave me the advice to think of myself as the fire hose and the emotions as the water coursing through it. No matter how powerful those emotions are, I am not the “water” – I am the hose.

So, I have gotten better about what not to do, but I am still uncertain what I should be doing right now. Until I figure that out, I am choosing just to “be.” I am choosing to “sit with” this pain and recognize that this is part of my natural healing process. It is going to feel lousy for a while, but then it will pass. I just have to be very gentle with myself in the process.

Photo credit: Hekatekris

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The past few weeks have been rough. I have not been sleeping well for weeks, with lots of nightmares when I can sleep. I finally took some prescription strength medication to get a good night’s rest a couple of nights ago. That moved into me feeling lethargic all day yesterday, like I was fighting off a cold (and maybe I was).

I got a lot of sleep and rest yesterday. Today, I just feel kind of depressed. It’s like I had all of this intensity going from the visit to my hometown, and now that the intensity has passed, it has left a dark pit of depression in its wake. The weird part is that I really thought I was okay while I was in my hometown. Perhaps I was just dissociating?? I don’t know.

It doesn’t help that we have a full moon tonight or that Mother’s Day is approaching, with my mother/abuser coming to my state. She told my sister that she might swing by my house to drop off a video whether I am there or not … should be interesting if hub is home! My son and I will be in another state. We will be gone from Friday evening through Sunday evening, so we will miss her passing through.

I have decided not to acknowledge my mother/abuser in any way for Mother’s Day. I am finished with contact. I wonder if I am dissociating my feelings about all of this. Perhaps a part of me is saddened by this decision?? I don’t know. I just know that she makes me feel crazy, and I am tired of her ability to wield this kind of power over me. I have decided to write “return to sender” on anything she sends me, and I will not be contacting her any more. So, perhaps my funk ties into that??

I don’t know. It is all very annoying. If I have to have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it would be nice to know why I am triggered so I can heal it and move on. I feel like I am trapped in this awful place of feeling pain without knowing why or how to fix it. It is very frustrating.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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I hate this time of year. Once Halloween rolls around, a funk settles upon me, and that funk will not lift until after the New Year. I call it my holiday funk. As much as I try to fight it, this is simply one of my realities. I would like to think that it will eventually change, but it doesn’t look like this is going to be the year that it does.

My father passed away at this time of year, which doesn’t help. He was the sane parent. Even though he wasn’t a great parent, he was better than my mother/abuser. He is the one who at least made my mother stop abusing me when I was six. (He failed to stop numerous others from abusing me, but at least he stopped her.) She abused me again after he died.

But I really don’t think that the anniversary of my father’s passing is what kicks off this funk. I think it is all of the terrible memories that center around the holidays. School was my lifeline, where I had friends and teachers who cared about me. I was actually safe there. The holidays meant that school would be closed, so I was stuck spending my time around my abusers.

I have specific memories of being abused around the Christmas tree. I have no memories at all of celebrating Christmas with either of my parents through age 23. I remember spending Christmas Eves at my grandparents’ house starting when I was around seven or so. However, I know we had a Christmas tree at home and opened some of our presents there, but those memories have been wiped clean.

I am fighting not to succumb to the depression, but I sense it looming about me. I need to find a way to process the grief without giving into it and letting it run my life for the next couple of months. I really do not want to resign myself to feeling miserable for the rest of the year.

And yet, it is all starting – the insomnia … the reluctance to go to bed at night … waking in the middle of the night and being unable to sleep again … wanting to stay extra busy so my mind is not idle … deep pain whenever I am not distracting myself. It just plain stinks.

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Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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One of the most difficult parts of healing from child abuse is struggling with suicidal urges. As I moved through the child abuse healing process, I would feel suicidal urges from time to time. The pain ran so deep that I was willing to do anything – A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G – to make the pain stop. Even death seemed preferable to continuing one more minute experiencing such a deep level of pain.

Also, my suicidal urges would come with very deep despair. No matter how much progress I had made along my child abuse healing journey, I could not see any of it. It felt as if I was enveloped in a dark cloud, and I could not see past my immediate pain.

If you are in this place, keep holding on. Sometimes that is all you can do when the suicidal urges wash over you. The most important thing to remember is not to act on those suicidal urges. No matter how intense they are in the moment, those feelings will pass.

For those of you who are Harry Potter fans, suicidal urges feel kind of like coming into contact with dementors. They suck all of the hope and joy out of your life, and you are left with the deepest pain that you ever experienced. Also like with dementors, eating chocolate afterward always did wonders for me in recovering from the encounter. :0)

I made a life decision that I would never attempt to take my own life. No matter how bad it got, I would use all of my coping tools to fight back. I refused to end my life in that manner, if for no other reason than to prevent my child abusers from winning. As long as I am still alive and not an abuser myself, I win. If I kill myself because of the pain that they inflicted, then they win.

If you are struggling with suicidal urges, this is a normal part of healing from child abuse. What you are feeling is not about today – you are feeling the echoes of your past. You are releasing the despair that you could not face while you were being abused. You need to pour those painful emotions out of your spirit so you can heal.

Whenever you feel suicidal urges, remove giving into them from your list of possibilities. From there, do whatever you can to ride them out. Rest assured that suicidal urges always end. It might seem like you will be miserable forever, but you won’t. Emotions, even extremely painful ones, always end.

Related Topic:

Aftereffects of Childhood Abuse: Suicidal Urges

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Cave (c) Lynda Bernhardt

I have pulled myself out of my nosedive of depression. Now I am examining how I went so quickly from being okay to spinning out of control. I am also celebrating pulling myself out so fast. (This was only a 30-hour nosedive versus the ones I usually have at this time of year, which can last for weeks.)

Vulnerability to Old Patterns

I lived most of my life feeling badly about myself, and that has only changed over the past few years. I have also lived most of my life feeling miserable during the holiday season, and changing that is very new. So, I need to appreciate just how vulnerable I am to falling back into old patterns. As miserable as I felt, it also felt very comfortable to step back into the shoes of a depressed person.

Appreciation of the Power of My Thoughts

I need to be mindful of always feeding the right wolf. My “evil wolf” is still present and waiting for some nourishment so he can take over again. As challenging as it has been, I have been keeping careful watch over my thoughts to ensure that I only feed the “good wolf.” I was triggered by this situation with my son, and I threw my “evil wolf” a big juicy steak, which temporarily gave that part of myself power again.

To feed the “good wolf” again, I did yoga and meditation. I stilled my mind because it had been racing nonstop for 30 hours (an old pattern I worked hard to break). Once I stepped back and found presence, things no longer seemed so overwhelming. I still have the “evil wolf” nipping at my heels, but I am choosing to focus on the blessings in my life.

Celebrating Success

My inclination is to beat myself up for “falling off the wagon.” However, I am choosing to celebrate pulling myself out after 30 hours, which is a new record for me. I am trying to remember that it is okay to make mistakes. Nobody is going to torment me like my abusers did in my youth. I can learn from my mistakes and, hopefully, avoid the same pitfalls.

Processing the Painful Emotions

I am now more aware of the pain that I still need to grieve. I am going to take time to honor those emotions and allow myself to feel them without attaching my thoughts to them and diving back down the well.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Storm clouds (c) Lynda Bernhardt

As I wrote yesterday, I am having a tough time this holiday season. I was actually doing pretty well, or at least holding my own, until some things blew up with my kid at school yesterday that was bad enough to involve the principal. I have spent the last 24 hours in tears on and off, and I don’t think it is just about my kid’s situation.

This time of year is simply hard for me. I suffered so much abuse in the month of December during my elementary school years, and I still have pain to grieve. I have not wanted to face that I because I don’t want to feel the pain, but I need to. I need to cry it out so there will be room inside of myself to fill back up with peace and positive energy. Right now, I have too much pain taking up all of the space.

One blessing today has been recognizing how many people in my life care about me. I really am blessed to have a lot of people in my life who are willing to take a few moments to listen and offer me a hug. I have had more hugs today than I have probably had all year, which is kind of sad but true.

I also learned about a form of spiritual healing that was new to me. I am curious to learn about it. I’ll post about it once I understand it myself.

In the meantime, I am going to spend this evening watching It’s a Wonderful Life and allowing myself to grieve by crying along with George Bailey. I have found that losing myself in a movie that makes me cry is a wonderful way to purge my own painful emotions.

I am also very proud of myself for not self-injuring because I had the strongest urges that I have had in a long time. I am learning that there is always a deeper level of healing to reach and that I have the tools to heal myself if I can just stop myself from diving down the well of despair.

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Gingerbread man (c) Lynda Bernhardt

The holidays have always been a difficult time of year for me. My friends get really busy preparing for Christmas, so I spend less time with them. I am bombarded with movies and TV shows that focus on the beauty of family at Christmas, specifically focusing on appreciating extended family, and it is just a painful reminder of all that I do not have in my life. My father is deceased, and I have not laid eyes on my mother in four years (which is a positive thing).

The holidays are supposed to be about remembering wonderful child experiences, but all I have to remember is pain. The holidays were a time in which I was cut off from caring teachers and friends and was stuck for two weeks in an abusive environment. I have some particularly painful abuse memories that happened on Christmas Eve, and I have had to work hard to push past certain Christmas songs being triggering because of past abuse.

I generally fall into a funk right after Halloween and battle depression through New Year’s Day. It is not until my son returns to school and life returns to normal that I start to feel okay again.

This year, I have decided that I refuse to surrender two months of my life to depression, so I am fighting hard to keep myself remotely sane. This is an uphill battle for me because there is so much around me to trigger the pain. Already, I am seeing less of friends. I am hearing triggering songs on the radio. If I allow myself, I can very easily spiral down the well of depression.

I am fighting back, often on a minute-by-minute basis, and I refuse to give up and accept that I must be miserable for another month. I am doing this by consciously choosing to stop all negative thoughts and, instead, focus my attention on things that make me happy, like playing “O Holy Night” on the piano. I am also doing yoga and meditation daily to help me ground myself in the present.

I was hired to write many more “How to” articles for eHow.com, and I chose to write one article entitled How to Endure Holiday Season After Child Abuse. I am following the advice I included in the article, but, even now as I write this post, I can feel the fringes of depression trying to engulf me. So, I am going to post this article on my blog and then go do something I enjoy. That is the only way I am going to make it through this holiday season remotely sane.

Related Topic:

Approach of Easter and the Abused Adopted Child

Photo credit: Lynda Bernhardt

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Scarecrow
Ever since Halloween came and went, I have been struggling emotionally. It is not a constant struggle, thank goodness, but I have definitely had my tough moments. I have noticed on my favorite message board for abuse survivors that a lot of my friends are struggling, too. I suspect all of this ties into our history of childhood abuse.

When you are a child living in an abusive household, the holidays are grueling. Your lifelines – your friends and teachers – are cut out of your life as you head home for the holiday break, and you are immersed in an abusive environment 24/7 with no hope of a reprieve until after the New Year. That’s tough for a kid.

To a certain extent, I still feel that way today, even though my household is far from abusive. My friends get busy with their own holiday plans, and I wind up feeling alone in my house. This triggers all sorts of terrible memories from childhood.

I found a way to make Christmas better last year by having my sister and nephews come for the holiday. I still have not figured out a way to make Thanksgiving more bearable. We have my husband’s family come for the meal, but they come and go in less than two hours, leaving me with a long weekend of trying to entertain my hyperactive child. But I digress…

Today is Veteran’s Day, which is yet another day that my kid is out of school. My husband is traveling – again – and that leaves me feeling lonely like I did as a child. I know I will get through the day. It just feels like a foreshadowing of the black cloud that seems to settle over me as the holidays approach.

I am trying to find a way to honor the sadness of my childhood as it applies to the holidays without making this my present. I have not quite figured out how to do it yet. I need to make it a priority to do yoga and meditation every single day. I need to give myself the room to grieve but then also find the joy, too. It’s going to be another long marathon until the New Year, so I guess I had better get started preparing for it.

Related Topic:

Approach of Easter and the Abused Adopted Child

Photo credit: Rosanne Mooney

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