“I have learned,” she writes, “that when you teach kindness and compassion to students and they really understand the concept, everything else falls into place. This should be the first lesson of every teacher.”
Looking at other people with kindness prevents the kind of dehumanization that I’ve written about before. It’s when we see other people as being “less than” that we see all sorts of abusive, anti-social, and sometimes violent behavior. In general, we don’t treat other people that way when we are looking out for their best interests.
That is what makes me better now, why I seem happy. I try my best not to listen, and some days I am really strong. I push it down with dreams of the future, of a life where I might one day be happy. I know how to fix myself now, I know I will beat this. However, I need you to understand more than anything that everyday is still a battle for me. It may seem silly to you, but for me this is all so real and so difficult. So when you say I am lazy or weak or pathetic you cut deep into my wounds. You make me doubt everything I am trying to do, and you become just like those voices. As well as shouting at me, telling me to snap out of it, telling me the voices are my fault, you might as well be a part of my illness too. You may forget your words or your actions, but depression takes great satisfaction in storing it and playing it back to me. I don’t expect you to fully understand, but can you please just accept this is happening to me? That alone will make me ten times stronger. That is all I need from you.
So many people feel like they have to do something to help their loved ones “snap out of it” when it comes to depression, when really, don’t you think anyone who could snap out of it would be trying to do that? Just be there and accept the struggle, that is all you have to do to make a huge difference.
An alcoholic home is chaotic and unpredictable.
This is something that has a profound effect on the development of children. We see it among abuse survivors, and we see it with kids who grew up in broken homes, and dysfunctional families. (And the fact that there is a lot of crossover in those groups, should tell us something about how kids grow up in these situations and where they will struggle in adulthood.)
I recognize a lot of myself in these.
You Don’t Outgrow the Effects of an Alcoholic Parent
The TraffickCam app enables travelers to submit pictures of hotel rooms around the world. The images are matched against a national database used by police.
“You just enter your hotel room, and your room number. You take four pictures, and you submit them to the website,” Washington University Researcher and TraffickCam developer Abby Stylianou said. “And then those become part of the pipeline that law enforcement can use to track down where the victims are being trafficked.”
As a frequent hotel visitor, this is something I plan to take a look at. I have no idea how well it works, or how effective it is, but if something as simple as taking a few photos and uploading them can even potentially help, it may be worth it.
“Discrimination by therapists compounds the already steep obstacles Americans face in accessing mental health care. There are shortages of mental-health providers even in wealthy areas, and more than half of all counties in the U.S. have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists, or social workers. In any given year, about one in five Americans has a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, but nearly 60 percent of those people don’t get services.”
As the article states, finding a therapist for anyone is difficult, especially for minorities and working class patients. How disappointing it must be to finally muster the strength to ask for help, and then not get it.
We need a way to do better. I don’t know what it is, but we need to be looking at it.
Mental illnesses don’t discriminate based on socioeconomic status, gender or race. It can befall anyone, for any reason, at any time, and they’ll hide it. They’ll hide it because they know our society thinks they don’t matter. We’ve been telling them that for years. Weird. Crazy. Odd. Quiet. Not normal. And we judge. We judge so much that they are unable to beat what seems inevitable to some of them.
We judge, and people die instead of getting help.
The Hidden Face of Mental Illness
“Now consider our abuse occurring during this childhood developmental stage, before our little brains have opportunity to grow, develop and experience different perspectives. We are stuck and frozen in a time continuum with one-or-the-other or black and white thinking. Our world partly becomes defined by the perceptions we held during the abusive experience. These perceptions, fueled by pain, guilt and shame, follow us into adulthood. As male survivors, no room for gray thinking often leads to lives devoid of supportive male relationships.”
I’ve seen it myself many times with survivors, and I’ve even seen it in myself. There is no gray, people are either good to me, or bad to me. They either love me, or are out to hurt me.
The truth, however, is never that simple. People are complicated. Some should be avoided, but most come with a mix of fun, supportive, occasions, and other occasions that involve personal drama. That is life.
Not all men are out to abuse me. Being a man now, how could I logically believe that? That would imply that I am too. That’s silly.
Go read the challenge to this black and white thinking put forward in the article. It may help you get out of that rut!
The problem with this is, that I spend so much time figuring out how to deal with the bad that could happen, that it becomes exhausting. It causes anxiety, stress, worry, and takes up so much time that it’s mentally and physically draining. So if something bad does happen, I have less energy to work the problem because I’ve spent so much time beating myself up and over thinking it in the first place. What exactly does it accomplish other than causing me more anxiety when the anxiety is one of the major issues I’m trying get a handle on in my healing journey?
When you say it like that, it makes sense. For me though, it’s hard to grasp. It’s so much easier to just stay stuck, to embrace that comfortable, familiar, thought process that I’ve perfected for decades.
Consequently I have to work twice as hard to retrain my brain.
I’m not suggesting that we should just run rough shod through life and never prepare for the future, but if we take a more positive approach to dealing with the good or bad that might happen, we can be better equipped and confident to handle either situation.
I’ve said it many times, while you don’t ever want to run into things without any planning, survivors do tend to have a problem with wanting to be prepared for every possible bad outcome, and so wind up thinking about all the bad things that can happen, and wind up too exhausted to do what they were thinking about to start with.
How about, if we work on our skills and practice getting in some slightly uncomfortable situations, thereby giving ourselves the confidence to know that, if things do go badly, we can deal with it and keep moving forward.
Because, that’s what life is.
Preparing for the worst, doesn’t prepare you for the worst.
We are who we are because we are better than those who abused our innocence. We might wake each day in a fog begging ourselves to not dwell on the past, to not allow one memory to ruin a day—but even if we do, we have not lost. Surviving it is not losing.
We are grieving for what we will never have. And that is okay.
So true, we have not lost, we have survived. We get to live on, we get to overcome, and we get to spend years living, with the good and the bad days.
Go read the whole thing, including the 5 things Antanika did get her life back.
The Grief only the Abused Know.
So yes: those of us that are hurting want you to pray for us. Pray for your family member who’s depressed. Pray for your fellow church member whose anxiety has kept then from attending in weeks. Pray for the person who you’ve heard is battling an addiction or a manic episode or any other thing.
And then offer to drive them to a counselor.
Pray, and then move.
When I was in the worst of my struggles, I appreciated the people who said they were praying for me, that was nice. I appreciated more the people who prayed for me, and then sat with me, or brought me lunch, or offered to drive me where I needed to be.
If someone around you is struggling with mental health issues, or healing from child abuse, or anything else, by all means pray for them, think good thoughts for them, or anything else. But also do what you can for them, even if it’s something small. You’re not there to cure them, you’re there to do what you can to support them.