Archive for overcoming depression
I get nasty emails from upset mothers who think I am a spoiled trouble maker whining about some fictional terrible upbringing and discounting my right to tell my own story. The truth about what I am really doing is all right here in writing. I started Emerging from Broken because I wanted to heal the world. That may have been a lofty goal but I sincerely wanted to make a difference in the lives of other hurting adult children of dysfunctional, controlling and manipulating families. I wanted to bust through the false messages about ourselves that so many of us were struggling to accept instead of to reject.
I remember my mother saying to me that she didn’t know what she did to ‘deserve’ a daughter like me. (She may have used different words like “I don’t know what I did to deserve ‘this’ but the message was the same and it’s the message that does the damage. ) She said it as a judgment; she said it with exhaustion, despair and frustration as though she was at the end of her rope, exasperated by my actions and my attitudes; exasperated with me. And I felt so bad that I was such a disappointment to her. In the past I never questioned that it was me, I just tried harder to be the daughter that she ‘deserved’ and the daughter that would make her proud and maybe the daughter that would be good enough for her to finally love. Really I just wanted her to love and approve of me.
But when I came out of the fog I had been groomed to be in for most of my life, and started to question my beliefs about myself and the blame I placed on myself, I looked at her statement through new eyes. I started looking into just what she/they did to deserve the trouble she had in her relationship with me. I started to look at the details of the message her actions communicated to me about me.
Emerging from Broken (this website) isn’t about blaming blameless parents for the mistakes that they made. It isn’t about being mad because when I was a teenager my mom didn’t let me go to the school dance or because I got grounded for smoking. It isn’t about not getting my own way and not being allowed to use her car when I was learning to drive, it’s about being told in all kinds of verbal and non-verbal ways that Read More→
Part 2 continues in this 2 part guest article by Pam Witzemann. Please read part 1 “The Process of Forgiving…” for additional information and helpful context.
My Reckoning Journey on the path to Forgiving my Parents by Pam Witzemann
Being able to forgive my parents for abusing me, as a child, came at the conclusion of my healing journey. I found the ability to forgive at the end of a long reckoning process which enabled me to forgive from a position of power that was not dependent upon any action on the part of my parents.
During the reckoning process, which must take place before forgiving an abuser is possible, offenses are named and counted. Damage caused by the abuse is assessed and culpability assigned to those responsible for the abuse. The amount of damage sustained and the number of years that healing requires, determines the length of that process. My process began when I was nineteen. Now, I’m 56 and though I believe myself to be healed, there were many plateaus, during which I believed I had conquered my past. There were many times that I thought I’d forgiven what needed to be forgiven only, to have another layer of trauma and damage revealed.
The first abuser I dealt with was me. It was through my faith that I was able to stop abusing myself, by stopping my self-abusive behavior. Of all my abusers, I think I did myself the most damage but without their tutelage, I never would have thought to treat myself, as I once did. Even though I stopped my outward, self-destructive actions, it wasn’t until I confronted the truth about the other abusers in my childhood, that I was able to stop emotionally and psychologically, abusing myself, by blaming myself for their actions. This didn’t begin to take place until about six years ago. After stopping my self-abuse, I had to assess the damage.
In my twenties, my PTSD was severe and I didn’t even understand it as emotional illness. My depressions were so immobilizing that I thought I had some terrible disease and was dying. My emotions were so divorced from reality that the depression seemed to Read More→
R.E.S.P.E.C.T. find out what it means to YOU………
A lot of my emotional healing grew out of realizing the truth about some of the concepts that I had been taught wrong. The people who were in a position of power in my life taught me a lot of false definitions of words like love, respect, relationship, trust, forgiveness and a few others. Growing up from so young with the false definitions I had been taught caused me to automatically accept them as the truth.
Yesterday on my previous post “how to recognize when your best interest are not being considered” when referring to her mother a commenter wrote “I am sure she thinks she deserves to be respected…” and it got me thinking about how much learning the truth about definitions of certain key words and concepts helped me in my process of overcoming depression, trauma and low self-esteem.
When I refer to a person in a position of power I am not just referring to our teachers, the police, or judges or government. I am also referring to “our elders” and our families. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles were all in a positions of power in my life. My in-laws were in a position of power in my marriage and in our lives. All these people were in that power position because they were “the adults” and I was a child. In my childhood that meant that they were right and I was wrong. In my adulthood, this belief didn’t change because they never let it. In both cases (as a child and as an adult) this is called a dysfunctional relationship because the elders decide and communicate that not everyone in the relationship has equal value.
It was a huge part of my survival mode to go along with these false teachings and when I became an adult I still believed the false truth that Read More→
I hear this expression all the time. I hear it used in the sentence “well he always was the black sheep of the family” and I hear it used in the first person such as “well I am the black sheep of my family.” This week I have been thinking about HOW a child becomes “the black sheep of the family” in the first place. The black sheep may be the one that rebels against the family system or the black sheep is also used to describe the one who “doesn’t fit in” with the family. Not “fitting in” with the family usually means not being accepted by the family for going against the family rules, questioning certain practices or simply for being an individual. (note: sometimes “not fitting in” is simply the feeling of not being as “good” or as valuable as other siblings or other family members.)
I am not sure if I am now or ever was regarded as the black sheep in my family, but I certainly didn’t feel like I fit in there even before I stood up and publically rebelled against the total family dysfunction I grew up with. I resisted thinking that I might have been “the black sheep” because to me it was an admission of the rejection that I had always felt; rejection that I was terrified to acknowledge. I tried for most of my young years to comply but even that didn’t keep me safe and the feeling that I was “not loved” was always lingering close by.
There were things said all along about me by my family that discredited me long before I ever exposed any of the truth about what had been going on in my childhood. From a very young age I was defined as Read More→
I am grateful and excited to have another guest post from Pam Witzemann ! Pam is a frequent guest blogger on Emerging from Broken and contributes her voice to most of the discussions here as well. As always please add your thoughts and comments. ~ Darlene Ouimet Founder of Emerging from Broken
Psycho-Tropic Medications Used As Chemical Asylums by Pam Witzemann
People who are treated for mental illness are led to believe that the medications they are prescribed are in their best interest and treat a specific disease. However, people are prescribed medication as a means of control and psycho-tropic medications are in actuality, chemical asylums.
I know what I have written in the above paragraph is controversial and I’m not advising anyone to go against their doctor’s instructions however I don’t think people with mental illness are always treated with their best interests at heart. Historically, treatment has been primarily about containment and even in these modern times, I believe that containment remains the top priority. In the sixties, many mental hospitals had to be shut down because of the expense required to run them and since that time, drugs are the primary method used to control the behavior of people with mental illnesses. From my personal experience and from my observation of others undergoing treatment, I see little benefit to the patient from the psycho-tropic medications being used today and often they seem to cause more harm than good. I don’t think these chemical asylums are working in the best interest of patients or for society at large.
In the late nineties, I underwent interferon treatment for hepatitis c and became depressed. I was given an anti-depressant that made me hypo-manic and I was sent to visit a psychiatrist who spent an hour with me and diagnosed me as bipolar II. I was told that only bipolar patients become Read More→
I saw this poster on facebook that said “PTSD isn’t about what’s wrong with you; it’s about what happened to you.” I believe this is a true statement. I believe that we can achieve all positive results through facing what happened; facing the trauma and the damage that trauma caused.
I believe that this is true for all depressions too. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the best term I have seen to describe depression. The name itself indicates that there was a trauma. After the trauma there was damage. The damage caused stress. Stress manifests itself in many different ways; depressions, dissociative disorders, physical illness and sleep disorders just to name a few.
But something happens when people actually try to face what happened. Looking back I can see how hard I fought facing it and how much I wanted to stay in the dark about the bottom line truth of it all. It’s human nature to try to protect ourselves when the truth is too painful. When we are kids it is much easier to cope by not thinking about the trauma and just “blocking it out”.
Quite often there is a terribly negative response from other people in our lives, especially from family when a survivor of trauma wants to face the facts and the truth about that trauma. When we try talking to our parents or our siblings, these people who are close to us may try to convince us that it is better NOT dealt with. We are encouraged by many to let it go, leave the past in the past, put it behind you and the list of these unhelpful trauma directives goes on and on.
Therapists will even jump on board and suggest that you have to “forgive your family” or that we should “try to understand them”, or that these parents “did they best they could” and the problem is that all this is said BEOFRE the trauma itself has been examined and Read More→
I was not always who I am today. I was not strong. I was not independent. I was not an individual. I was not often happy. I was not a voice in the darkness and although I always had a desire to advocate for others, I was not effective.
I had to become effective in my own life before I was effective in the lives of others.
I was a victim. Some would rather I say that I was a survivor but in truth when I started this process I was still a victim. I was still a victim because I was still oppressed. I was still under the law of other people. I was still compliant and obedient. I was still defined by those other people and my true identity was suppressed.
I was lost, withdrawn and depressed. I was owned by many and disrespected by most. I had three kids and when my oldest, who was 12 at the time started to treat me like I was ‘crazy’ and started using my depression as proof that I was crazy ~ just like his father (my husband) did, I knew that I had reached the end of what I could cope with. I was giving up on the fight for my life. The only decision that I had to make was how I was going to end it. I had to decide if I was going to Read More→
I am important. And so are you.
I have just as much importance as any other human being on this planet and that includes the presidents, movie stars, doctors, lawyers, teachers, my parents, grandparents, geniuses, famous inventers, authors royalty and all others. And so do you.
A job, a profession, or a gift or title does not make some people more valuable than other people.
People are People.
I am special. I am the same amount of special as any other human being. And so are you.
I am valuable. I am just as valuable as any other person on this earth. And so are you.
I have a choice. I had to learn this truth before I tried it out, but today I know that I have a choice about the way that I am treated. I have choices about where I go and who I hang out with. I am not obligated to love. I am not owned by anyone. I can choose to say yes, or to say no. And so can you.
I can think for myself. And so can you. I had to learn this truth, and I had to learn HOW to do this Read More→
Depression began at a very young age for me. I think that fact added to the belief that I was somehow defective and different from other people.
Depression always began with a sinking feeling. Sometimes I fought it. When I fought depression it felt like I was fighting in a mud bog and I was too tired to battle my way out. It felt like my legs were tangled up in vines or underwater foliage and I couldn’t get free of them. They were pulling me under. I could see and feel hands grabbing at me, trying to drag me down. “Something” or “someone” was pulling me under.
Sometimes I felt like someone was sitting on my chest and holding me down. Holding me back; Keeping me under; I felt like I was fighting just to be seen. I felt like I was drowning in a deep black swamp and people were standing around but they didn’t notice me. People, only a few feet away and they could not see how close to death that I was. And they didn’t CARE. They were laughing and talking as though they were at a cocktail party and no one cared that I was thrashing around, fighting for my life and sinking in that swamp.
Many times I thought it would be so much easier just to give in and let the dark water close over me. But it never took me completely. No matter how tired I got, I lived a partial death but Read More→
Sometimes facing the pain seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to face what I had to face in order to get on with my life. I didn’t want to feel anything. I had survived by shutting down my feelings and by shutting down my needs. I didn’t want to feel or be aware; it was much too frightening.
This was the spin; the vicious cycle.
But I must have wanted to live. There was a tiny spark in me that didn’t go out. There was a tiny flame that belonged to me and a determined little flame it was. That spark was determined to live. The “how to go about doing that” was the problem. I wanted to be free but there were certain chains that had to be broken. Certain things held me back and because those chains formed when I was so young, I didn’t realize they were even there. They were familiar; they were part of me. I thought they helped me, and even thought they were “saving me”. I was afraid to break them and emerge into the sunlight. That was the spin that I was caught in. I had lived in “survivor mode” for so long that it was all I knew.
Survivor mode is the shut down place; not feeling, not needing, not facing the truth. Survivor mode is the only way to get through any kind of childhood trauma. But as an adult it was in my way. It became one of the road blocks to freedom.
Victim mentality believes that being compliant will keep me safe. Being compliant means Read More→