Posted in Life

Self-care Misconception

Self-care, me time, being selfish: all have very negative connotations; ironically, these negative connotations resonate with those who need it most. Most of us have never learned the sweet spot within the bounds of the selflessness/selfishness continuum and therefore fall somewhere outside of the healthy parameters.

Being out of Bounds

People of a giving and nurturing nature tend to be out of bounds when it comes to the selflessness/selfishness continuum. Why? because of their aversion to selfishness. Perhaps the concept of selfishness may inspire feelings of guilt, or feelings of rejection. It may be a concept that is just completely foreign due to cultural mores that have shaped an individual. Whatever the root of the aversion may be, it can pose a serious health risk (mental, physical, emotional – all of the above).

Continually giving and nurturing without replenishing can have devastating effects, like for example:

  • Stress
  • Decreased Immune System
  • Triggering of Underlying Health Conditions
  • Insomnia
  • Depression/Irritability

These symptoms are all interdependent. When we run on fumes doing what we do, our stress level increases, which over produces hormones like Cortisol – which, in turn, lowers the threshold of our immune system and triggering underlying health issues like: blood pressure, gastric flare ups, migraines, and fatigue. Stress can keep us up at night and if we are awake, our body is not getting sufficient rest needed to strengthen the immune system. Feeling yucky gives us a yucky attitude which is the perfect breeding ground for strife with all who come in contact with us. It’s a vicious cycle and bumpy ride that can go on for years until we reach the point of no return with our health. It is crucial to make sure we are not on this runaway train.

 

Is selfishness a bad thing?

Definition of selfish

1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one’s own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others 2 : arising from concern with one’s own welfare or advantage in disregard of others.

Notice how self-care is no where mentioned in this definition. Why? Because caring for yourself and being selfish are not the same thing! This is a major misconception that inspires all sorts of feelings that avert us from taking care of ourselves. I encourage you all to research for yourselves What Self-Care Is – and What it Isn’t.

 

Caring for self

I could provide a list from 1-10 on how to start caring for yourself, but instead, I will invoke the tried and true K.I.S.S. method. Keep It Simple Stupid. Start small by listening to your body and getting rest by avoiding collapsing into bed and making sleep a priority and before you do anything, have the same exact conversation that you would with someone you love. If you’re about to do something that you would advise your loved one not to do because they have been “burning the candle at both ends,” then don’t do it. Treat yourself as well as you treat your loved ones. If you need a starting point on how to construct a self-care routine, you can start here 14 Tips for Creating a Self-Care Routine to Nourish Your Body and Soul.

 

Posted in emotions, Expression, Healthcare, Life, Psychosis, Relationships

Basics of Trauma & Crisis

We are taught so many life lessons, but not how to deal with trauma and crisis – both of which are inevitable.  At some point in time you, or someone you know will experience trauma or crisis.  Unfortunately, we are not prepared to handle such situations.  Some of us are less prepared to support people who are going through such situations.  It is very difficult to address anything when you cannot properly if you cannot identify what it is.  Lets go over what trauma and crisis are, and discuss some things that can be done.

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Photo by Aaron Moeller

Trauma

Trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape or natural disaster. Immediately after the event, shock and denial are typical. Longer term reactions include unpredictable emotions, flashbacks, strained relationships and even physical symptoms like headaches or nausea. While these feelings are normal, some people have difficulty moving on with their lives.

Crisis

Crisis occurs when unusual stress temporarily renders an individual unable to direct life effectively.  As the stress mounts and the usual coping mechanisms provide neither relief no remedy, the person often experiences extreme feelings of grief, hostility, helplessness, hopelessness, and alienation from self, family and society. Stress can be a reaction to a single event or to several events occurring simultaneously or serially Greenstone, J. L., & Leviton, S. (2011).  Crisis can occur when a loved one gets sick, or divorce, death, loss of employment.  Sometimes these life altering events happen all at once or in tandem.  The stress of keeping things afloat through the crisis can become dangerous when it appears there is no resolution in sight and energy steadily depletes.

Isolation

photo of man leaning on wooden table
Photo by Andrew Neel on Pexels.com

When we don’t recognize what trauma and crisis looks like, we cannot manage it; nor can we provide effective support to our loved ones.  It can be difficult and debilitating; therefore, we cannot expect someone to just “get over it.”  This statement can cause further alienation.  The fight for normalcy and consistency after a traumatic even or crisis can last for a long period of time, depending on what caused it.  Healing is not linear.  We cannot place a timeline on healing and expect to be over a traumatic event or crisis after a predetermined amount of time.  It doesn’t work that way.  It’s a dichotomy of reality.  The survivor must go on in every day life: the world around them has not changed, but inside,  they have changed and have trouble reconciling having survived the event and moving on.  Their perception changes as the experience becomes a part of them after the experience disrupted their  life as they knew it.  Therefore, it is difficult for them to find equilibrium between their experience, identity and environment.

Triggers

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Photo by Elina Krima on Pexels.com

Triggers are a common occurrence for survivors of trauma and crisis.  The effects can come and go much like an ocean tide or it can be like spontaneous reaction to anything like a certain smell, or sound (like a song playing), texture etc.  The senses can trigger a flash back causing the survivor to relive the trauma or crisis all over again.  This can last indefinitely and can leave others confused and bewildered at the behavior of a survivor who was fine one minute but is not the next.  Someone who exhibits this behavior should be treated with patience and compassion because reliving a traumatic moment is not something anyone can just “get over.”

What can we do?

  1. Changing the way we look at the situation is key: this is not the type of situation someone can just get over and survivors may need more than just time to heal.
  2. Identify triggers: instead of reacting to the survivor’s reaction, ask them what just happened/what changed and listen to what they have to say.
  3. Ground them.  Triggers make the survivor relive the trauma. Getting the survivor to recognize the here and now will bring them out of reliving the moment.  A simple way to do that is to get the survivor to run cold water on their hands.  I have provided a resource for other quick grounding techniques below.
  4. Suggest they talk to someone.  There are free 24hr services provided for people in crisis or have suffered trauma via phone or via text.

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Photo by Hasan Albari on Pexels.com

This time of year can onset crisis or trauma whether it be the anniversary of the death of a loved one, or traumatic event like an assault.  Check on one another, and keep in mind there are free confidential resources that are accessible  24 hours a day if needed.   If you have any questions, concerns, or anything to add, please comment below.  Be well.

Resources


https://www.apa.org/topics/trauma/

https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/trigger

https://www.healthline.com/health/grounding-techniques#soothing-techniques

https://www.crisisconnections.org/24-hour-crisis-line/

https://www.crisistextline.org/

 

 

 

Posted in Life

Domestic Violence: How aware are we? PT 1: Emotional Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

In an attempt to provide a conceptual framework of what abuse actually is, and how to identify it, I will be writing a post on each aspect of what encompasses abuse.  Abuse is so much more than a man putting his hands on a woman he supposedly loves; while physical abuse is the most conspicuous, there are other types of abuse that are far more nefarious. Today, we will discuss Emotional Abuse which is far more traumatic and the staggering effects can last for years after the relationship has ended.

What is Domestic Violence?

Before we get into it, I would like to preface that Domestic Violence is an archaic term because it spans gender only.  A man could be abused by the woman he loves.  The violence can occur in a homosexual relationship as well and therefore we must abandon the concept that it is a “man whose being abusive to his female partner.”  An abuser can be anyone, any sex or gender.  Period!  Once we unlearn that stereotypical scenario, it is only fitting to refer to “Domestic Violence” as “Intimate Partner Violence.

Now that this has been established, please note that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has classified Intimate Partner Violence as a disease.  The CDC cites:

Intimate Partner Violence

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is a serious, preventable public health problem that affects millions of Americans. The term “intimate partner violence” describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.

CDC’s research and programs work to understand the problem of intimate partner violence and prevent it before it begins.

For more information on the CDC cite, please click -> Preventing Intimate Partner Violence

 

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure

This old proverb stands true beyond what we can comprehend when it comes to Intimate Partner Violence.  It also begs the question, “how can we prevent it?”  Well, the first step to addressing a problem is to identify it.  How can we change something if we do not know what it is?  When we think about how once humans identified the existence of germs and understood if we didn’t wash our hands, we could be infected, the same concept can be applied to Intimate Partner Violence.  When we put it that way, it make sense why it is listed on the CDC as a disease.  It can be prevented in all its forms, if we all understand what it is and expand our understanding beyond a person physically assaulting another person.  It can also be contagious.  We will discuss that at the end of the series.

Identifying Emotional Abuse

  • Being put down
  • Making you feel bad about yourself
  • Being called names
  • Playing mind games
  • Making you feel guilty
  • Humiliation
  • Questioning your identity
  • Reinforcing internalized phobias and “isms”

In my opinion, the last two bullet points should have their own category because if we find ourselves questioning our identity and reinforcing internalized phobias, it is a tactic called “GASLIGHTING.”   – click to learn more. 

I will attempt to make this post as short as possible, but to give you a quick bullet point synopsis from Psychology Today

Gaslighting Symptoms:

1. They tell blatant lies.

 

“It wasn’t me you saw”

2. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof. 

“That’s not me on the video”

3. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

“Your mom was right about you.”

4. They wear you down over time.

” I’m the only one who really cares.  I’m all you have.”

5. Their actions do not match their words.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you.  I’ll never do it again.”

6. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you. 

“After being called horrific names, you are told you are the best thing that ever happened to them.”

7. They know confusion weakens people.

The amount of effort and energy spent seeking some way to please or gain stability in the dysfunction is exhausting and eventually the exhaustion can turn into surrender.

8. They project.

“You’re cheating on me.  You’re lying to me.  You’re so disloyal”  – but it’s actually them.

9. They try to align people against you.

“See what I have to go through.  There’s always drama with him/her.  She/he always ruins the moment.”

10. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

“He/she is always paranoid about what I’m doing.  She/he is just crazy.”

11. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

“They are all just jealous.  They don’t want to see us happy.”

Abusers will often use intimate details we have disclosed to them against us to hurt us or disarm us in an argument without remorse.  It becomes a vicious cycle.

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It is a natural reaction to attempt to modify our behavior to circumvent an abusive incident.  We may attempt to identify their triggers because we believe that if we are proactive and learn to walk on egg shells or avoid doing what set them off, then it won’t happen again.  As we continue to do this to no avail, we exhaust ourselves and somehow feel like a failure.

It is a natural reaction to attempt to modify our behavior to circumvent an abusive incident.  We may attempt to identify their triggers because we believe that if we are proactive and learn to walk on egg shells or avoid doing what set them off, then it won’t happen again.  As we continue to do this to no avail, we exhaust ourselves and somehow feel like a failure.

We CANNOT “fix” anyone or “make” them do anything.

We are not responsible for the behavior of others.  Just because we love someone does not mean we must endure this behavior. If you would like more information on EMOTIONAL ABUSE, please see the links below that I have provided.  If you have the time, please read.  This information can be a matter of life and death, if not for you,… perhaps someone you know.  Knowing is half the battle.

Forms of Emotional and Verbal Abuse You May Be Overlooking

National Domestic Violence Hotline

What is Gaslighting?

Insidious Goals of Gaslighting

When Is It Emotional Abuse?

Contagion of Violence: Workshop Summary

If you or someone you know are in an emotionally abusive relationship, please visit the National Domestic Hotline or call 800-799-SAFE (7233).  This national organization is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  You can speak in confidence and they can provide you with a wealth of information.  Whether it is for you or someone else you know, please understand there is help out there and you are not alone.