Link – Kayla Harrison: Victim, survivor — and now two-time Olympic judo gold medalist – The Washington Post

Never let it be said that being a victim of child abuse is a life sentence to misery. Survivors have gone on to do amazing things, just like any other group of people. Overcoming isn’t easy, but thanks to survivors like Kayla who are willing to share their stories, and their triumphs, we can all take heart that overcoming is possible.–and-now-two-time-olympic-judo-gold-medalist/2016/08/11/c784dc1e-6007-11e6-8e45-477372e89d78_story.html

Link – Why Openness About Mental Illness is Worth The Effort And Discomfort

“You can make a difference. You can be open about how you’ve fought depression and anxiety. You can talk about how you felt hopelessness. You can talk about how you reached the point where you got help. You can describe how you had doubts about the point of getting help, too. You can talk about how getting help has changed your life — even if the process hasn’t been smooth. You can convey to people out there that they aren’t alone, that other people have felt the way they feel, that there is life and love and fun and success and normality following treatment for serious mental illness, and that it’s achievable. You can spit in the face of the social stigma against mental illness and its treatment. You can defy the trolls and assholes who will mock you and use your openness against you — because what’s their opinion worth, anyway? You can show that it’s possible to get better even if you’re broken, flawed, afraid. You can show that a setback isn’t the end of the road to getting better. You can help them understand there’s no magic instant cure, that recovery can be a lifelong process.

Your — you personally, not the collective you — can make a difference. It might be your story that connects with someone, that helps them imagine getting better. It might be someone in your social circle who is suffering and doesn’t know anyone else talking about these issues. It could be your take on this process that tips the balance towards treatment for someone you’ve never met or heard of. Your story counts. Tell it.”

Such a great reminder of why it is important to tell our stories. Because too many people don’t believe there is hope, or that they are not alone.

Why Openness About Mental Illness is Worth The Effort And Discomfort

Link – Depression Is NOT Just A Mental Disorder, Review of 29 Studies Concludes

“3,961 people from 29 different studies were included in the analysis.

Depression is more than a mental disorder, it affects the body’s ability to detoxify itself.

It should be seen as a systematic disease that affects the whole body, argues a new study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.”

And yet, there are still far too many people who think it is “all in your head”. No, depression is a disease that causes the body itself to malfunction, and should be treated. Getting treatment for it should be no less embarrassing than taking an antibiotic.

Depression Is NOT Just A Mental Disorder, Review of 29 Studies Concludes

Link – Child abuse: One in 14 adults ‘abused as children’ in England and Wales

“According to the Crime Survey for England and Wales, about 11% of women and 3% of men said they had been sexually assaulted during childhood. “

That’s how many said they were. There are probably more who did not say they were.

Either way, think about it. If you know 14 people in the UK, you probably know at least one child abuse survivor, probably more.

Tell me again how this doesn’t affect anyone you know?

Link – 7 Things We Have to Stop Telling Ourselves About Other People

“We have to stop telling ourselves that the rude people of the world are personally targeting us. – We can’t take things too personally, even if it seems personal. Rarely do people do things because of us. They do things because of them. And there is a huge amount of freedom that comes to us when we detach from other people’s behaviors. So just remember, the way others treat you is their problem, how you react is yours.”

This article, while helpful, isn’t really about child abuse or mental health. However I really think this advice is something that abuse survivors really need to take to heart. Abusers don’t target a specific kid because of some defect in that child. It’s more about opportunity and circumstances that are completely out of the control of the child. Most of all, abuse happens because there is something wrong with the abuser, not the victim.

But that’s not the story our underdeveloped brains tell us, and the truth gets harder to believe the longer we hang on to this believe that we somehow “deserved” this.

We didn’t. No one does.

7 Things We Have to Stop Telling Ourselves About Other People

Reviews Elsewhere – Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living with Mental Illness

Spotted another book review over on PsychCentral that I thought you might be interested in:

What comes to mind when you think of the term mental illness?

Do you think of individuals who are thriving, successful, independent, and happy? Or do you picture individuals who are locked away from society because of dangerous hallucinations and delusions? Either perception is skewed not only by preconceived notions of mental illness, but also by a lack of knowledge, education, and sensitivity. Mental health challenges can occur in any culture, age group, and socioeconomic class. Struggling with mental illness does not mean an individual will never “measure up.” We’re all susceptible in some way. Sadly, a lack of sensitivity and knowledge about topics involving mental health can lead to months, years, and even decades of isolation, pain, discrimination, and suffering. It is a painful reality.

That’s why Lee Gutkind compiled a great book of examples of the lives of those suffering from mental health challenges. His compiled work, Show Me All Your Scars: True Stories of Living with Mental Illness, awakens readers to the depths of the abyss for so many sufferers who are not only afraid to reach out for help, but who also struggle with the reality that their lives may never be free of pain and suffering. Each story outlines the barriers, fears, confusion, tribulation, and even danger of mental health challenges.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it?

Link – Best way to tackle suicide rates is to be honest about our own mental health

“Suicide is the leading cause of death for 15 to 44-year-old Australians, but it is not something we talk about very often.

According to the Deputy CEO at Suicide Prevention Australia, Kim Borrowdale, that lack of talking is one of our main problems.

“We need to talk about it more not less. We need to talk about it in a way that encourages safe conversation and help-seeking and doesn’t sensationalise,” she said.”

Not talking about mental health is killing people. People who feel like they can’t ask for help, or should be ashamed of their struggles instead of understanding that they aren’t alone, and should feel no shame at all in seeking help.

How many more people must we lose?

Link – Former Victims Try to Reduce Child Abuse in the Central Valley

“When Alexis Gonzalez tells her story about overcoming child abuse, she’s surprised by how many people it resonates with. At one event after another in the Central Valley, she’s approached by audience members who can relate.

“People would disclose their own abuse and that they had never told anybody,” said Gonzalez, now 21. “People are actually taking something away from these public speaking experiences, and it’s started to become a natural part of my healing process. At first it was something that was part of the process to help myself, but it’s also been inspiring to do this for other people.””

It really is amazing how often I come across people from this site, or in person, who hear my story, and tell me about their own. There are just so many survivors out there, and yet many of them still feel like they are doing this alone.

Link – Depression: Feeling Lonely and Tired at Night

“Because as much as I hate the night, as much as the darkness weighs on me and maybe on you, as much as I rail against the quiet and the still and the loneliness, this remains fact:

The sun does rise.

The sun does rise tomorrow and the world sings with alarm clocks and morning news and cities burst to life and I am still here. Even when I haven’t wanted to be, I have managed to still be here, and that is no small feat. If that is you, if you feel like all you’ve managed today is to still be here through a night when you wanted otherwise, please know there is no small victory in that. There is large, loud, celebration-style victory.”

Interestingly, I had the opposite feeling about night time when I struggled with depression. Night time was the one time I could actually be quiet, and at peace. There wasn’t anyone else around to pretend for, no one else to impress, or hide from. I could just relax, and feel safe, because there was no one else around.

Now, part of the is being a child abuse survivor, and part of that is because I’m simply different than Robert is, and so my mental health needs take on a similar, but not exactly the same, set of problems. Yes, my mental health is at risk when I’m tired and lonely, but when it’s the middle of the night, being lonely feels somehow normal. It’s when I feel lonely in the middle of a crowd that I’m in trouble.

How about you?

Link – 1in6 | An Old Photograph Around My Neck

“Looking at it now, face on, I am not ashamed of carrying it around my neck. It may not match my face, but I will carry around that young boy with me for all time. He is hurt but recovering, small but enduring, and loved. Most of all he is loved. He has someone to take his picture and feed him sandwiches cut into triangles and lay him to rest. Not everyone has such loving assistance. To help heal the men who have been ashamed to carry around their childhood, we must show them it is a badge of honor, not a scarlet letter. We must love them, no matter what the sign around their neck says.”

Abuse survivors tend to struggle mightily with how to see ourselves. Old photographs can be especially troubling because we are forced not only to see ourselves, but many times, see ourselves during the time we were being abused. I know, for example, that there are many photographs from my own childhood that I feel absolutely no connection to. It’s as if I’m looking at a photo of a stranger, when in fact, it’s a photo of me. I now know why that is, because I was spending so much of my childhood dissociated from my own mental state. But it took time before I could understand that.

What Landry writes though, is very true. When you survive abuse, one of the hardest things to learn as an adult is how to view yourself. Am I a victim? Am I “damaged”, did I do something that caused this? Was it really because I am bad, and so on.

We spend so much time trying to figure out what we did to cause this, or deserve this, and thus trying to hide it, instead of understanding that surviving and overcoming is truly “a badge of honor”.

The why of our abuse lies in the abusers choices and actions, not ours. We deserve not shame, but credit for surviving it.

You’re still here, in spite of what happened. That’s something to be proud of.

An Old Photograph Around My Neck: 1in6 Thursdays on the Joyful Heart Foundation Blog