Archive for depressions
Even as an adult, in a dysfunctional family system I did not even have permission to decide who I didn’t want to be around anymore.
Having been denied permission to exist as an individual as I mentioned in the previous blog post, I grew up a mal functioning adult woman not knowing my own identity. Being denied autonomy, I also grew up without personal boundaries. I struggled with depressions and was taken advantage of by most other people and really didn’t have a clue why any of that was my lot in life. I kept trying harder to please everyone.
I believed that if I was compliant that everyone else would treat me the same way back. In truth, accepting devaluing and unfair treatment, gave the message that I would accept devaluing and unfair treatment.
When I began to try to face the truth about some of the past, I was told by the rest of the world to “just get over it” and “put it behind me” all the while being told and taught contradicting statements. One of these statements that kept me the spin of confusion was Read More→
“Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding” Khalil Gibran
I struggled and fought for some sort of “place” in the world for a very long time before I began to find my way out of that darkness that I talked about in my last post. I felt as though I didn’t belong; as though I was different then everyone else; as though I was somehow on the wrong planet. My healing began when I was able to face the causes.
That was where I found the answers to all my questions about why I had struggled so long with low self esteem, depressions, and dissociative disorders. It was scary to face the truth about my past, but looking back what was scary was that I thought “the truth” was going to confirm what everyone ELSE taught me about me. And what I had been taught about me was NOT the truth. I had been taught through actions, inaction, voice inflictions, direct statements and indirect statements, inference and intolerance, nurturing or lack of nurturing as well as rejection and that others WERE more important and therefore more valuable then me, all went into a big melting pot that became the collection of all the experiences that made up “my life” in order to form my belief systems.
The ways that I was treated and not treated, communicated to me that I was not really a valid person
And then on top of being defined as invalid, I had been taught, mostly in non verbal ways, that I was the only one that felt that way. That “my problem” was something that was Read More→
I believe that depression comes from somewhere and that it starts somewhere. I don’t believe that I was born with it, or that I was born with something missing in me that would later determine that I would struggle with depression. I don’t believe that my mother, who struggled with multiple depressions, passed her condition down to me. I believe that my mother had her own post traumatic stress and abuse that caused her struggles and break downs, and that because she didn’t have the tools that she needed to raise an emotionally healthy child, I too was placed at risk. I was not protected from the things that caused my trauma; both me and the trauma were neglected. My self esteem and personal value and individuality was never established.
I would even go so far as to say that my depressions were a coping method. They were a way for me to shut down and to get through the overwhelming circumstances in my life. They were a way that enabled me to survive.
That is what I have come to understand now ~ that is my NEW belief system, and coming to understand this and all my other false belief systems greatly assisted me in overcoming my constant depressions and in living beyond depression. That is what I used to believe about depression, so now what about the old belief system that I broke out of?
The Stigma of Depression
There is a huge stigma in our society about mental health struggles. There is a universal judgment about depression and about Read More→
I came across this quote, and at first I loved it; “If you put a small value upon yourself, rest assured that the world will not raise your price”. ~ Author unknown
And then I thought about it a bit more deeply ~ For the most part on “emerging from broken” I am not talking about the value that we put on ourselves, I am talking about the value that was put on us by others and that same value that we accepted. We do need to raise our own value however we can’t do that until we understand how we received our value in the first place. There is a step that has to happen before we can follow the above quote!
The last blog entry was about a coaching session that I did with Carla Dippel about her belief system when it comes to the concept of love. In my recovery, one of the most powerful things that I discovered was about how these false definitions form and how discovering and changing my belief system contributed significantly to my complete recovery from depressions, low self esteem and so many other difficult struggles that I lived with.
We all have beliefs about many things that we don’t realize we have. We don’t even really realize that we have these “wrong ideas” about certain things because we have had that idea for so long it has become our normal. But for me, most of my beliefs were a “false normal” or a “false truth” In the coaching session that I did with Carla, I asked her specific questions that enabled her to discover her beliefs about love and she discovered her “false normal beliefs” when it came to love. These beliefs come from many influences, not just from our families. They can come from anywhere and from a multiple of experiences; we learn from teachers, neighbours, books and media. We learn our “normal” from many places and combinations of events…. continue Read More→
“The best way to keep relationships happy, healthy, and supportive can be summed up in one word: appreciation. What you appreciate, appreciates. When we demonstrate our appreciation for the support we receive from others, it reinforces that behaviour and deepens our connection to them.” Marci Shimoff
This is a beautiful quote. I tried to live my life by these types of quotes in the past, never realizing that they were extremely conflicting for me. Today, this quote works for me in the relationships that I have now but in the past a quote like this actually caused internal, subconscious, harm.
Without realizing it, I was trying to appreciate people who were treating me badly. I didn’t think that I deserved support; I don’t think I even knew what it was so I didn’t see that key part of the quote. Instead, I kept trying to see the positive in abusive people and overlook the negative. That was how I viewed quotes like this one. I thought it meant that I should just ignore the mean stuff. But trying to overlook someone’s ill treatment of me was the same as agreeing with them that I wasn’t really worth being treated properly.
Trying to appreciate a person who devalues you is conflicting; it’s like putting a band-aid on top of a severed limb that requires surgery, stitches, recovery time and then rehabilitation.
I am one of those people who fought against depression all my life. I was bi-polar, likely from a very young age and depressions were connected to my dissociative identity disorder issues. I began seeking solutions in self help programs, seminars and self help books when I was eighteen years old. I started in 12 step meetings when I was eighteen too. And for reasons that I could never understand, no matter how much I tried to work those steps, they too were like a band-aid when I needed surgery.
In the past when I read a quote like this one by Marci Shimoff I tried to focus on appreciating the people in my life that were devaluing me, defining me as not good enough, controlling me and squishing me into the ground. I tried to concentrate on how wonderful they were and thought that if I was more appreciative ~ which in a victim mindset means more compliant and more subservient, that they would finally reciprocate and appreciate me. This was all part of my victim mentality which whispered in the deepest part of my mind and belief system, that if I could just find the magic secret recipe for how to make them LOVE me, that they would stop hurting me and love me.
Today I understand and appreciate quotes like this one. I had to get the victim mentality (that I lived in and survived by) sorted out and set right first though. I had to clean up the old foundation ~ which was rotting and full of gaping life sucking lies and build a new strong and sturdy foundation before quotes like these could serve me. Trying to implement positive thinking quotes in the past added to my already low self esteem. Subconsciously I just jumped to guilt, shame, self blame and failure thoughts.
Having realized my own value and truly embraced it has enabled me to appreciate the people in my life today from a more truthful and equal viewpoint and THAT has deepened the connections. Appreciation is no longer a one way street. Now that I know my own value, it is easier to appreciate others for who they really are too.
Please share your thoughts about one sided appreciation or about how this article resonates with you.
It makes sense if you think about it, that a child victim of any kind of abuse or a child, who has been devalued in any way, is likely to have a lower self esteem and self image. So if we go into adulthood with a lower sense of self, really believing that we are not as valuable as others, then it stands to reason that we will continue to accept the devaluing behavior that we have become accustomed to as children.
That is one of my most foundational messages of recovery from trauma and depressions and other mental health issues.
Realizing that our belief system is skewed in the first place, that we are not starting from a “fair” place when we are supposed to become mature independent adults, is an important truth to realize if we are to make a new beginning.
One of the most important discoveries that I have made is that so many of my problems as an adult had their foundation in the fact that I had been invalidated and discounted for so much of my life. Because I had been invalidated (and also defined) by other people from such a young age, it stands to reason that I believed validation would come from others. In other words, I thought that validation would come from somewhere else or from someone else because invalidation came from somewhere else. (Not from me)
A close relative of this problem is that we constantly hear statements indicating that we “should” be able to move on, and that our “issues” are the problem when in fact the ABUSE we suffered was really the problem that CAUSED the issues. There is a huge difference between these two things.
The key was actually in self validation. I was angry at myself because I could not seem to make my life work. I had trouble coping, I was messed up. I had to realize that it wasn’t my fault.
The pathway to freedom for me began when I validated myself. This was a process that can be looked at in stages.
A) I was mistreated. Abused, Devalued.
B) My belief system developed in an unhealthy way and it was therefore formed full of lies.
C) I had to identify those lies
D) I realized that I was not to blame for those lies or for the mistreatment.
E) I had no choice in accepting the childhood abuse because I was a child.
F) I also had to realize that I had carried my childhood acceptance of abuse with me into adulthood.
G) I came to understand that I HAD to develop coping methods (what others often called my issues) as a child in order to survive.
H) In realizing those lies and then validating myself I was able to understand why I needed all those coping methods.
I had been trying to skip the step of realizing that there were reasons for the way that I was and for why I had trouble and needed coping methods. I believed that I was a failure.
So the key was to go back and figure out where I was invalidated, AND what I came to believe about myself because of it and validate
A) first the abuse,
B) that it was wrong and I didn’t “deserve” it
C) that it was not my fault
D) that I was in fact valuable and worthy
This enabled me to make a beginning when it came to validating myself. It is important to validate ourselves because as I said earlier, we have not been validated by others in the ways that we needed to be validated and we have to stop thinking that others are going to finally give us the “stamp of approval” that we long to have.
We need to approve of ourselves, but we can’t because we never learned how and because we are stuck with never having been helped with dealing with the abuse, mistreatment or the way that were not valued in the first place. We have also been told all our lives (usually not in direct words) that we are the ones at fault because we can’t move on. I am referring to statements such as “are you still going on about that??” or “when are you going to move on?” or “that happened years ago”. SO WHAT? When something didn’t get dealt with properly, it didn’t get dealt with properly! It has nothing to do with how much time went by, but we accept those statements as the truth. Somehow we believe that the defect is ours. That we “should” be able to move on and very often we don’t even know that our depressions or other mental health struggles had to do with abuse, emotional disregard, and the way way we were not valued in the first place!
The abuse has been so downplayed that often we can’t even validate it ourselves! For many, when they finally do tell, they are heaped with more guilt and shame or blamed for it in the first place. Some mothers will take the focus off the event and change the focus to HER feelings instead. Statements such as “how do you think I feel?” or “I can’t listen to this” are designed to throw us off and to once again make us think of someone else’s feelings before our own. They are invalidating statements.
As with every other process, there is always more than one major issue that is in the way. We have been so accustomed to being the one to try harder that many of us myself included, got lost in a sea of making excuses for the people who devalued us in the first place ~ which makes it even easier to stay stuck in self blame. ***YES the people that discounted me had huge issues of their own, but SO WHAT? That didn’t change what happened to me. I am not suggesting that we have to stay in a place of placing blame on others; I am just saying that I had to stay there long enough to be able to validate myself.
I had to believe that I was worthy and valid before I could stop expecting someone else to tell me that I was.
Please share your own experience, struggles or victories with me and the other readers.
Exposing Truth, one snapshot at a time;
Inspired by comments from posts; “How do I recover from emotional and other abuse?”
Tomorrow, December 01st 2010 ~ this blog ”Emerging from Broken”; my baby is one year old. Emerging from Broken was born out of my life long pursuit of freedom and recovery from multiple depressions starting in childhood and dissociated identity disorder which resulted from the trauma of abuse. I was fortunate enough to find a therapist who believed in working on emotional healing and recovery from the root of the problem. The transformation and emotional healing was so profound ~ so liberating, that I quickly developed a passion to share the message of wholeness with others who struggle with mental health issues, dissociative issues, post traumatic stress disorder and bi polar disorder, but to name a few. I started to speak in mental health seminars about my recovery process. I went back to school and obtained certification in life coaching, eventually specializing in “new life story” coaching and I became a mental health advocate.
I pursued work in the mental health field. While speaking in mental health seminars and working as the director of client relations for a counselling company, I noticed that when I spoke about certain subjects, people’s eyes would light up as though they comprehended something amazing for the first time. I realized that there were some hidden truths that others, like me, had not ever realized. I started to comprehend that not very many people understood the truth about the foundations of depression, mental health struggle and abuse because no one was talking about it. I knew that this was the truth that set me free. After a few years of speaking, I developed a passion to share my message with an even larger audience.
Emerging from Broken was the platform that I chose with which to do just that.
It has been an exciting year! Emerging from Broken has gone from zero to having over 7000 readers a month. According to Alexa, Emerging from Broken ranks in the top quarter of a million for all websites worldwide! EFB has an interactive page on facebook which has over 1200 members. But to me the most amazing and wonderful part is the comments. Emerging from Broken has generated thousands of comments now averaging 1000 comments every 8 weeks. People are sharing their lives here. People are having breakthroughs here! My goal to have my message of freedom and wholeness after depression and abuse, delivered to a larger audience is being achieved!
This week I am celebrating the first year anniversary of Emerging from Broken. I am celebrating freedom from depressions, wholeness and living life to the fullest. I am celebrating that there is a solution and full recovery from abuse and trauma is possible! I invite you to celebrate with me.
Tomorrow, I am flying to Mexico with my daughter where we are spending two whole weeks vacationing in Puerto Vallarta. I am excited to be publishing a special series about anger and to have some special guest bloggers joining me this next two weeks. The blog will run as always and I will check in frequently.
In honour of EFB being one year old, I am excited to welcome the first guest blog post from Carla Dippel, who co-authored EFB for the first 6 months of its life. While I am away I will be checking in here frequently.
Thank you all for being here. Thanks to everyone who has ever shared my blog posts on Facebook; to everyone who has ever shared using the share button or the “like” button; to everyone who passes this blog along through twitter. Thanks to each one who had shared it with a friend who is not online and to everyone who comments and keeps the conversation going! Thank you for sharing your heartaches and your breakthroughs your wins and your devastation; all of it makes such a huge difference to the other readers. I would also like to extend a big thank you to every guest blogger who has ever posted and to all the readers. I am so blessed by each one of you. Together we can overcome. Together we are so much stronger. Together we can take back our lives and live in freedom.
Please help me to celebrate this one year birthday and milestone by leaving a comment. Please feel free to share how Emerging from Broken has impacted your life, a special memory or breakthrough, or just say hello! I look forward to hearing from you!
Freedom is on the other side of broken!
With love, gratitude and appreciation;
Please join us on Facebook ~ Emerging from Broken page
When we are not heard as children, then naturally we learn that we are not important enough to be heard. Every action has a reaction. Having no voice ~ not being heard~ naturally results in having lower self esteem. Trying to accept that I had no voice which equals having no value is not a very healthy place to be mentally but as a child I had no choice in how I arrived at those conclusions.
Believing that I didn’t count and actually accepting that I was not heard lead me to many unhappy places and resulted in many depressions, low self esteem, relationship struggle and trust issues. I made choices based on what I believed about myself as a result of accepting that I did not have equal value to others.
When I was in my early twenties, I met a really charming and extremely good looking young man who I would say I had a “red flag” feeling about right from the start. I ignored it. He was working with the security team in the major hospital that I worked in. He told me that he was a city police officer who had been laid off due to cutbacks. Everyone knew about the cutbacks so I had no problem believing that. I started to date him.
I was pretty messed up about the guy that I had just broken up with because I found out he was cheating on me and I used my pain over that relationship as an excuse to ignore the red flags that I was getting over this new one. And this handsome man said he was a cop… which for some unknown reason in my mind made some sort of difference when it came to trust. By the time I thought about escaping this relationship, I needed police assistance. My beautiful boyfriend wasn’t a cop or anything else he pretended to be. He was a compulsive liar and a murder suspect.
So what on earth made me ignore those red flags that I got from the very beginning?
It is a natural progression to go from believing that I am not worth being heard, to going on to have self doubts such as not believing in my own feelings and not listening to myself; no one else was listening to me either. Can the majority be wrong? Eventually I started to ignore my own feelings… telling myself that my feelings are wrong. And pretty soon I was also ignoring danger signals, because I must be wrong about those too. Although I had trust issues in general, not trusting myself is an entirely different problem then not trusting others. Survivors are groomed not to trust themselves.
I was taught in the cycle of abuse to discount my own feelings. Then I was taught to discount myself and my value. Then I naturally accepted that I didn’t deserve a love relationship that was mutually beneficial, fulfilling or even safe. Remember that this was a coping method. We are not at fault for accepting that we are not valued. I accepted it as a way of surviving. I was just trying to make sense of my life. It is much easier for a child to decide that he or she is “wrong” than it is for a child to decide that the “all powerful” adults are wrong. If we decide that the adults are wrong, where does that leave us? (Abandoned, rejected and even more alone then we already are. When we blame ourselves, we convince ourselves that we have a chance, ie: I can be better.)
If you combine the facts that I had learned to discount myself and my feelings and I had learned to ignore all my intuition with the fact that I learned to accept the false definition of love, it is understandable that I ignored the red flags that I got when I met an attractive man who just happened to be a compulsive liar and a murder suspect. I was flattered that he was interested in me. At the same time I had learned to be thrilled by danger. (abuse grooms you for that too) I only wanted to see that he seemed to be this dream come true kind of guy, very attentive, soft spoken, a real knight in shining armor and prince charming type and I believe that he would sooth my aching heart and he was “the one” who would take me away from all this. (and that was exactly what he had in mind too except that it involved my death) It wasn’t long before he was telling me all his hurts and problems I went from the “treasure” to the emotional hostage, but it was too late. I thought I could love him enough to take his hurt away and then I would be the “treasure again. Isn’t that what I had been trying to do with the people in my life that had taught me that I was unworthy?
On this journey to emotional healing, I had to undo all of the past false belief systems and coping methods and survival modes, in order to get my life and myself back. I had to learn NOT to discount danger signs and my own feelings, intuition and emotions.
Today I don’t ignore those red flags because I successfully re wired my belief system. I don’t believe that I deserve less than anyone else. I am no longer attracted to danger therefore I no longer discount my intuition. I don’t believe that I am the answer to someone else’s pain, OR that they are the answer to mine.
The follow up to this post with the actual story is here: Dangerous Men, Red Flags, Victim Mentality.
I welcome your comments and contributions as always,
related post ~ Emotional Healing and the will to go forward
When I accomplished something I was told in so many ways that it didn’t matter, it was no big deal, or the credit was given to someone else. This was a big part of my continuing depressions; that I was just so “nothing” and that I didn’t count. I was used to it. Although in some small ways I still fought to be validated, I gave up pretty easy. I was used to being “not important”.
On your journey to emotional recovery and wholeness, have you ever spent any length of time living with the validation that YOU WERE actually a victim? It was exploring this fact that changed things for me. This was the real beginning of emotional recovery. All my life I was squished; I was told that I was nothing and that I would amount to nothing. I was told this, not so much in words but in the way that I was disregarded, brushed aside, not heard and mistreated and by the way that I was taught false messages about love and by how I was defined by everyone else rather than accepted and encouraged to be ME.
I had to realize that I had become comfortable with wrong treatment. Being unimportant and always trying so hard to find someone to say that I was important as I had no way to validate myself (I had no frame of reference for that) I became comfortable with being discounted and unimportant.
I started to beat myself up; I started to reprimand myself about the things I did wrong, told myself to try harder, told myself that I was lazy. I took over invalidating myself. And there I sat. Stuck. Wanting someone to TELL me that I was worth loving, but never believing it if they did tell me. The big dark secrets of having been sexually abused and chronically depressed had long ceased to be anywhere near what I thought to be the real problem because I was still very young when I believed that the real problem was me.
I was in my forties when I finally really looked at things from the perspective of having been a victim. Finally, I validated myself as someone that had been unfairly treated; a child who had been violated; an innocent person that had been taken advantage of. A child that had not been empowered to know she had any worth. That was when the real emotional healing began for me.
I stayed there in that place of validation, realizing that I had been a victim and placing the blame of the responsibility in the proper place, (not on myself) for as long as it took for me to get to a new place of understanding. I had to look at my life through a new grid; a more truthful grid and had to validate myself without any self blame, long enough for me to be ABLE to move on.
There were times that I felt guilty and full of shame for allowing myself to indulge in feeling sad for myself and the life that I had lost because of this, but I kept going; it was what I had to do ~ validate myself and the trauma that I went through.
This was a key part of the journey to wholeness for me. I tried to get over it and let go of it for over 25 years… but until I faced it, relived it and validated that it happened, that it was WRONG and it was not my fault etc… I didn’t seem to be able to move forward with my real life.
The point of the process towards recovery and emotional healing is not to blame ourselves. And it is not to blame everyone else either, at least not forever. I had to place blame/responsibility where it belonged long enough to find a way out of that darkness by recognizing the truth about HOW I got to the state of emotional brokenness and chronic depression in the first place.
How do you feel about this first step in your own recovery journey?
Related posts ~ When inspirational material triggers self blame
I understand wanting to give up. I understand what it feels like to lose hope and I am very familiar with that sinking feeling that there is no way out of the darkness, the depressions, and oppression. I remember feeling hopeless and believing that trying harder or even trying at all anymore, was just pointless. I was too tired of the fight. I didn’t see any way over it or even through it anymore.
And now that I am on the other side of all that, I realize why I felt that way. I know why I almost gave up my life and home, my husband and children and the will to live.
Although there are many factors that contribute to coming to a place of hopelessness, in this blog post I am only going to talk about the loss of my identity and the loss of my choice.
I had already lost my identity when I was still very young. By the time I was in my thirties I was finally convinced that I wasn’t worth saving. It wasn’t hard to convince myself of this because it was more like I just “agreed” with the opinions I had grown up with. I had been told in actions and in the reactions of others that I wasn’t really worth saving. Patty Hite from the website Overcoming Sexual Abuse just wrote a really insightful and excellent blog post about how she learned about her value. This post gives some foundation to the statement I just made.
There are some foundational reasons why I came to this drastic conclusion. It wasn’t that I had given up my identity. It was taken from me. I had slowly and over time been defined by other people. I felt as though I wasn’t worth the air I breathed, because when other people define you, THEY teach you that the real you isn’t worth anything. That is the message that I got every time I did something I was told I was “wrong” “bad” or when I got that look of disapproval. That is the message I got when I was told that I was exaggerating or lying, and when I was told that what was happening to me WASN’T happening to me. That is the message that I got when I was not taken care of properly. That message is that I wasn’t worth it and that I didn’t matter. My identity was not approved of; I was invalid.
It wasn’t that I had given up my choice either; it was taken from me. I didn’t DO something to be defined as unworthy; something was done to me FIRST ~ way before I ever added my own crimes to that list. But as soon as I added something that is viewed by the world as a “choice I made” (drug use, alcohol addiction, sleeping with a boy, swearing, stealing, hitting someone even if that was in self defence) I instantly believed every unworthy statement that had ever been assigned to me by someone else.
No one encouraged me or empowered me to be myself. I realized as an adult that I had a choice BUT it took me a long time to realize that I had a choice, because nothing was ever about ME growing up. When we grow up with all the decisions being made based on the motives of others, we don’t realize that we have a choice of our own in life. It wasn’t my fault or my defect that when I was an adult I didn’t know I had a choice. I was a product of my environment. A lot of my recovery was about realizing the sequence of events and the foundation that was set for me to arrive in the mess of emotions and confusion that I was in.
Eventually I did realize that I had a choice; I could give up or I could decide to empower myself. I could make a difference in my own life. I could choose to stop believing that I was unworthy. It was just a small decision at first but I got a glimpse of how I could change my own life and I chose yes. I decided that I was worth it. I made that decision on my own. I decided to take my life back. I decided to go on the journey. I picked ME. That was the first choice I made on this new path that had nothing to do with anyone else’s definition of me, or with someone else’s motives.
(And then the real work started… and there are lots of other blog posts about that!) .
So what do you think? Did your identity get squished along the way? Can you see the value in taking your life back and redefining yourself?
Related posts ~ the little girl who cried wolf and belief system development