I am tearful listening to and watching Scandal portray trauma and victims of trauma as weak and vulnerable and easily manipulated. Trauma can cripple but trauma exposure can also make us stronger. Not everyone has to stay a “victim.” Not every survivor is a wounded, weak, easily manipulated person changed by time and experience. There is so much research that trauma changes our brains and our ability to function but doesn’t always make us weak and easily manipulated. Trauma is an event that challenges our spirit and our definition of ourselves. It shapes our minds and shifts our core. But it can also make us compassionate, intuitive, and deeply passionate. Our minds can be sharp and strong. Empower survivors. Encourage survivors, uplift them for they have faced what so many cannot fathom. Not to be distorted by media or manipulated for entertainment but celebrated in life and and the thriving that can come from surviving.
The year is coming to a close and everyone is in the hustle of the holidays. Last minute shopping, Christmas parties, grocery shopping and meal planning, and making rounds to family friends.
Staying physically healthy at this time of year is closely linked to remaining emotionally healthy. Our immune systems respond to emotional stress. Our digestive system is intertwined with our levels of anxiety and depression. (To enjoy the great food you need to digest it well).
- Emotional wellness:
- Healthy boundaries with the loved ones that are pulling us in so many directions
- Not overdoing it on gifts that will leave us financially stressed later
- Staying aware of when we feel stressed so we can take a step back and regroup
- Awareness of why we are feeling negative or positive so if its negative feelings we can self protect and if we are feeling positive we can nurture that emotion and help it grow.
***Laughter is to your mental health like an apple a day is to your primary care. (Hope that made you laugh) ***
After you make it through this season emotionally and physically well, make a new years resolution on how your take better care of yourself. Think about how you can continue the emotional wellness and hopefully make 2015 even better than 2014. I will attempt to do Yoga once or twice a week and blog at least once a week.
Hold me accountable on January 2nd! Happy holidays and have a healthy 2015!
Eating disorders used to be looked upon like a disorder for young, Caucasian girls. That is changing. Many boys and races other than Caucasians suffer from eating or exercise disorders. The excuse is and as always been “because the media portrays the ideal as rail thin.” And, predominantly, the individuals featured in the media were young, Caucasian females. But that’s changing. There are many women of color on the covers of magazines, male models are preferred for their athletic builds, and the “plus size” model is coming IN.
So, why is the disorder growing? I think, both professionally and personally, it’s because we live in a society that values one another based on another person. What I mean is we don’t value or celebrate our differences as what makes us amazing. Our sizes and shapes are compared to food shapes (ironic I know) — the apple and the pear being negative comparisons. Our body size is described with negativity. To the point where when I say I’m “thick” or “curvy” or “healthy” to my teens one of them laughed and said “that’s just a nice way to say overweight.”
Why don’t we value what our bodies are capable of versus our weight, shape, and size? I believe its because those things aren’t directly measured. People say “I don’t see color”. They should also be saying “I don’t see size” because who we are is so much more than the package we come in. Eating disorders are beginning to be seen and treated as an addiction. That is fabulous news to me treatment wise and I have seen the addiction model work effectively in treatment. But, I think our desire to compare and measure ourselves and others needs to be addressed as well. Eating disorders reach across age, gender, race and socio-economic status because it’s a disorder of people and society. The people we live amongst and the society we are raised in. So, it’s not just an addiction disorder, but a societal disorder.
So, trreatment needs to address our society. Let’s stop living in secrecy. I had a family ready to pull their daughter from school so her peers and teachers would not know she had an eating disorder. I say tell them and don’t allow her to hide in her addiction. “Hello I am ___ and I have an eating disorder.” Therapeutically, it calls attention to her internal negative voice and challenges the comments and beliefs of others. Also, the addiction model is about living a life of secrecy. However, with open and honest conversation about your addiction, you are more accountable to yourself and others. Don’t hide in the secrecy because if there is one girl or boy suffering, there may be more than one. That builds awareness, treats the group, and works to end the negative stereotypes around how we see each other.
This is only the start. But if eating disorders are seen as more than a dirty secret of not feeling good enough but rather as an addiction encouraged by society; it’s a good start
This is for the family members of folks with mental illnesses. Please hear me when I say I understand that you too are affected by your family member’s mental illness. Mood, anxiety, and addiction diagnoses require that social, educational, and/or occupational functioning is negatively impacted. If the external world (i.e. work, school) is negatively impacted, then family must feel the negative impacts as well. That being said, as the family member of a loved one with mental illness, it is important for you to practice healthy self care.
As a family member, try to set reasonable and healthy boundaries with your ill family member and others. Do not overload yourself with tasks and risk becoming so overwhelmed that you experience burn out. I encourage all family members to have at least 30 minutes of down time for themselves to recharge their own batteries.
If you read my first entry, the following recommendations will make sense: take your vitamins daily, exercise (e.g. park at the back of the lot and walk to the building or take the stairs), and get restful sleep. Stress, anxiety, and depression weaken your immune system, over time put strain on the heart muscle and circulatory system, and increase pain. Practicing good self care can strengthen your immune system and heart and help with pain management, keeping you, the family member, in good health
On top of these things, talk to a friend (not another family member) to vent and seek support. If you still need more help seek the help of a professional therapist. If you take of yourself and charge your battery you will be better equipped to be involved in your loved one’s treatment and help them take care of themselves.
Why do the holidays give us so much stress and anxiety and even sadness?
Is is that we worry about planning and the details? Is it that we associate the holidays with bad memories and become depressed by the overwhelming sadness of holidays past? Is it daylight savings time steals out sunlight? (seriously, there is a type of depression validated by science related to seasons and sunlight).
There are too many reasons to list but here is what I think.
Whatever it is we are in that “season” now. Mental health is not always chemical. It can also be situational and never in our control. Control is often an illusion…I like “manageability” better. Take some time this holiday season to see what you can really manage at this time. Maybe, you are not up to traveling all over and sleeping for days or weeks outside of your home. Maybe, you are not in the place to host anything. Instead of that, take the pressure off and do only what you can manage. Set boundaries with friends and family and most of all set boundaries with yourself. Manage your mental health by listening to your feelings instead of dreading them; avoiding them until you’re are overwhelmed and pushing past your own limits. I wonder if changing (there is that word again) how you approach the holiday can change your holiday in a positive way. Your mood may still not be the best it has been or can be, but hopefully you will come out of the season in “the light”…or, at least, not in a darker place than before you entered the season.