Sometimes I am not even sure how to put one foot in front of the other. After thirty-five years of walking and talking, why are there still days when I am not even sure I could chew gum and walk? This life is sure something else and the human brain has the outstanding and annoying capacity to create doubt and lowered self-worth. Imagine, there was a time when I was 125-130 lbs. after two children that I thought I was “fat”. Ha, yup I thought that clothes didn’t fit right then or that I could stand to lose a few pounds. Consider that I am now the mother of four children, suffer from depression, fibromyalgia, narcolepsy and Poly cystic ovaries syndrome, I would love to go back those days. Seriously brain, why did you not realize how amazing you were back then and right now, that’s only talking about the surface of myself.
I had no idea where my life would go or all the lessons I would learn thus far along the way. Truth be told, I am kind of scared for the new lessons that are yet to come. If the first thirty-five years have been like this, what else could possibly be on the great teacher’s lesson plan for my life in the next years to come? I dare not think about it for fear it might come true, but that’s only superstition coming through and not the truth of what life really has to offer. How on earth is that the scales so often find themselves balanced between the blessings and the lessons? Oh sure, my mother is dying a little more each day due to her dementia but look at the marriage you have now (boom, balanced scale). Kind of makes it difficult to be mad and darn it, sometimes I just want to be mad. Sometimes I just want to be angry and throw a fit. Like “a kid throwing themselves on the floor kind of fit with tears and screams” kind of fit, ending with me sitting in someone’s lap as they rub my back and I gasp for air in a hiccup manner.
I laugh slightly as I think of my kids as they allow me to calm them after a tantrum, boo boo or some sad situation that has resulted in tears. I love that part about being a mama, so why do I want to hurry up and get my license already? I know for a fact that I am a darn good mom. When I kiss my kids on the head or hold them, I know without a doubt that my love is real. When I am in the room with a client, I am not sure what affect I have really had on them. I am not sure if I can really start a successful practice. I look around and feel like people do not take me seriously. I feel like folks do not get how serious it is that I graduated from graduate school with my master’s and how dad gum big of a deal it is. I am meant to be in the mental health field, so why can I not just trust God’s will and relax a bit? Why do I know that I am meant to be in this field yet sometimes feel like I am dragging myself to volunteer at a local non-profit as a mentor? Damn depression! Sigh. This life sometimes feels like a joke, but I need to relax and remind myself that the “jokes” not on me or about me.
I wish I had a picture of the baby goats with pajama’s on because that is what the title of this post is about. Throughout life we see things that make us smile and laugh, that put us in a state of awe. And URG, we can so easily pass over these moments. The human race is really so darn blasted talented at not seeing the forest for the trees. We forget the fact that goats with pajamas do not only make a darn cute photo but serve a purpose. Them cute little goats need to stay warm and the funny thing is, those cute goats do not realize how adorable they are in their stylish warming attire. We do not get that in our pursuit to be happy and content that so many things turn out great. A lot of us forget or have never learned to be blessed, an enjoyable type of blessed.
This is me; I am guilty of this. Now, I am fair enough to understand that I have a chemical imbalance that does not make my life impossible, but a little bit more difficult. Never impossible. I have SO many wants and desires that kick-it with my depression and lounge around like teenage boys in front of a video game system and a plate of chicken nuggets. I have to fight myself, talking to myself like I have forgotten how live.
God is good.
Stop for a moment.
Ponder on that.
There you go Sara.
There you go.
One of the hidden trauma truths that is often swept under the rug is the issue of betrayal trauma. Many of the side affects and symptoms mirror very closely the affects you would find with post-traumatic stress disorder such as triggers, sleep disturbances, flashbacks and more. What is betrayal trauma; any time there is a significant betrayal of trust between yourself and someone with whom you have a close relationship with. Goldsmith, Chesney, Heath, and Barlow (2013) contributors to a journal article in the Journal of Traumatic Stress state that “betrayal trauma, or trauma perpetrated by someone to whom the victim was close, is more strongly related to anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress than is trauma perpetrated by someone to whom the victim was not close” (Goldsmith, Chesney, Heath & Barlow, 2013, p. 376).
Sara: So, here I am talking to Megan who is a fellow intern with me at Community Recovery Counseling Center and she's going to be talking about betrayal trauma, so can you give us a little idea of maybe like what betrayal trauma is?
Megan: so, betrayal trauma is when you have like a lot of trust in somebody and they break that trust in a few different ways, as in my case, it was an affair.
Sara: Okay, so your betrayal trauma was an affair and you're going share some of the things you've learned along this road. I mean your betrayal is fairly recent within a year. I know that doesn't seem recent to some people but in terms of trauma, that’s still pretty significant. What are some of the difficult things that you have gone through that relate to trauma?
Megan: So, the first one is “give people room to breathe” especially if they have not had time yet to process their trauma. People cannot make the best decision without all the information. In my situation everyone was trying to rush me to make a decision and I didn't know what to do at the time because my senses were so overloaded that I couldn't even think clearly.
Sara: Like you're not helping anybody by saying, "I got a divorce a divorce lawyer, you know number and stuff. Do you want me to go ahead and give them a call? Give people a little bit of time to process what has even happened to them?
Megan: Yes, and then the same the other way you cannot force someone to not get divorce just because they've had affair and it's not good to put pressure on the people who are going through that because they're having a hard time thinking everything through. Another important thing is not all affairs end marriages. In my case my husband and I went through therapy and we were still together still working through things but no divorce. Trust takes a long time to rebuild, some people say full trust will never return I am personally too early to tell this right so it's still some things that bothers me.
Sara: I think another thing on the flip side is the person who has done the betrayal also has to realize that trust takes a long time to restore and that yeah, You may feel like you're groveling quite a bit, but if the trust is important to restore like you have to be and not the ones like are you over this yet? like get over this move on from this this was a year ago. Well, you know what the trauma is pretty significant and one of those on the number and I think it's the next one that we're going to get to is Why you can't just necessarily get over such betrayal trauma?
Megan: Yes, Betrayal trauma is significant comparable to PTSD, certain things can trigger my thoughts back to that day especially the beginning now, it's much better but like date reoccurrence was very hard time for me. So, it's a lot who don't see house? I see him as like a physical like PTSD trauma, but definitely a lot of similar characteristics to it.
Sara: Now you just told me you had a story where your husband was putting his own account back on Facebook and you were having significant issues with that that maybe weren't even conscious at first.
Megan: Yes, it was not good at all.
Sara: Issues with anger and for you, I'm assuming that you started to feel it, you know physiologically as well.
Megan: Yeah, very anxious and going through the whole process of what is he like an ad on Facebook, is he talking to somebody else, yeah, it's very interesting. The final one lack of intimacy is not always the driving force behind affairs. It's not always sex. Sometimes it's just not having a person to connect to. Everyone has busy worlds, so if your spouse feels like they can get attention from someone else and they do then one thing can lead to another.
The important thing to note is Megan is educated and trained in mental health and her specialty is trauma. She knows the signs and symptoms, and even she had difficulties dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s serious and significant betrayal. She found herself caught between a rock and a hard place, trying to do the best she could for herself and her two daughters. Imagine how devastating betrayal trauma could be for someone who does not know or understand how similar the affects of a betrayal is to PTSD. You would think that you are over reacting, feeling alone and beaten down. You would might not understand how healing takes time and submit to things you were not really ready for.
The aforementioned article titled, “Emotion Regulation Difficulties Mediate Associations Between Betrayal Trauma and Symptoms of Posttraumatic Stress, Depression, and Anxiety” sites a lot of pertinent information regarding the emotional affects that betrayal trauma has on victims. When trust is built within the school, family or military systems, betrayal trauma may cause victims to suppress anger and sadness and victims may even take on the maladaptive truth that they deserved the betrayal (p. 376). As in an affair situation, a spouse might believe that they were the cause of an affair especially depending on how a loved one responds to the victim’s symptoms. In order to have betrayal, there has to be a level of trust that can be betrayed and thus, the impact of betrayal from a loved one is the most impactful.
It took Megan time to heal and impacted her abilities as a mother, wife and student who was working to complete her graduate studies in professional counseling. I could see psychological and emotional impacts as the anniversary date of the affair reveal loomed. She was visually upset, and it appeared difficult for her to concentrate. She jumped between trying to keep her mind off the truth of her marriage and the anger she still felt over the betrayal. A strength for Megan was the fact that she knew that she had to be honest and she was honest with those who she knew that she could trust. Understanding that such a trauma is significant and as Megan mentioned above, you have to give people time to heal.
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How do you feel about money? Stop for a minute and really think about your relationship with money, which includes your emotions towards money. What are your past experiences with money as a child, do you remember the things your parents did that surround and dealt with money? As a child, I remember that we did not have a lot of money. Looking back, I thoroughly enjoy the fact that we grew up with very little in comparison to a lot of my counter parts. My husband remembers his parents making up for not having a lot of money by gardening and picnics by the river. I remember going to non-profit organizations for clothing, food and Christmas presents. As a child, I never thought much about not having a lot of money. I had clothing and food at school, and plenty of toys. I remember a lot of great things about my childhood that included running around outside to play and fun Easter’s where we would have a fun and creative hunt for our Easter baskets. Sure, there were things that did not go quite right, but I believe a lot of this has set me up to be more empathetic and to know that extending grace is not just a choice, but a way of living.
It is no secret that I suffer with depression. Thankfully, my husband and I are blessed with financial security due to his hard work and dedication as a provider of our home. Soon, I hope to jump into that river and provide the proverbial “bacon” for our family alongside him. Now, why did I mention depression before talking about our financial state? Well, spending money for me has been a way to fill a void and I hate it. I am also working on it, but I hate how money has had a terrible hold over me. Now, I am not talking about money problems that bring one into significant debt, but enough spending issues where I know that my emotional stability was connected to my spending habits. I want to give our children the things that we (my husband and I) did not have a child, and I am willing to spend money on them without necessarily making them earn it in order to give it to them. Our kids attend camp and are in activities that get them out of the house both that cost money and are free. We participate is Boy Scouts, GEMS, Marching Band, 4H Fair activities, Vacation Bible School and go on family vacations on a regular basis. I think there is a psychological underlying factor in how we spend our money and I think that we live through our children’s delight and excitement with their activities and vacations.
Cryder, Lerner, Gross, and Dahl (2008) highlight what they call the “misery-is-not-miserly effect”, which they state is, “the tendency for sadness to carry over from past situations to influence normatively unrelated economic decisions, increasing the amount of money that decision makers give up to receive a commodity” (Cryder, Learner, Gross & Dahl, 2008, p. 525). This makes perfect sense to me because I know that I am attaching past experiences to my current spending habits. Adding on depression does not make things better for me. When I feel empty, I try to fill a void by buying things because “I simply can” even thought I could probably live without that extra trip to Goodwill or the extra things in my grocery cart. What ends up happening when I look at the amount of money, I have spent is a deeper spiral into depression. When my husband adds his thoughts and position on money and we try to talk about setting a budget, I dive deeper into depression. I believe that being a student and stay at home mom for the last few years has made this more difficult for me because I feel like I am not contributing. I know that I have given A LOT of myself over the last few years, but there is still a part of me that wishes to earn a paycheck again especially since I have a student loan that I need to pay off.
I really enjoyed reading and article from the sight, “The Simple Dollar” where Author Holly Johnson interviews Abigail Perry on the connection on depression and frugality. I will high light a few sections from that article and then have a link to the full article below. Perry high lights that even doing the simplest of task can be difficult for those with depression from taking a shower, making a phone call or even eating. The implications for this on money includes the inability to focus on the simplest of money saving and spending tricks. There might be a lot of advice on money and mental health, but the ability to follow through on which tips and tricks are best for each person can be an up-hill battle and I attest to this myself. If I have to write out a check and pay a bill, my depression can make it difficult to follow through with simply writing a check, filling out an envelope and getting it out into the mail. If I can get an automatic payment, I will surely do so. I am better at making sure all the money is in the account than actually writing a check, making a phone call or going online to pay a bill.
When debt comes into consciousness, I feel massively depressed especially since I know that my husband would love to “batten down the hatches” and live off of beans and rice to get ride of debt and I am just not on board with that. I want to learn to be more frugal, and I believe I am finally in that frame of mind now, knowing the connection I have with money, spending and depression is the first step. This is said best within the article I mentioned above, so I will not rewrite such a great bit of advice:
So, it has been 2 days since I started my intermittent fasting. I have been significantly struggling with my health, including my weight for the last year and a half now. Only recently, I have really been struck with the reality that if I do not do something now, I will regret it months down the road. I have never had to fight my body like this before, so this is a significant blow to my depression.
Below is my e-mail to my doctor.
Since our last meeting, I have been having significant issues with weight. I had a moment when things were going well, but I have since gained a significant amount of weight. I have also had issues with my fatigue (I have a sleep doctor who I met with earlier this week), which has not helped with the weight and working out. I am going back to the low carb diet even though I am not a big eater as it is. I am also increasing my intake of water to help. I also wondered if you heard much success with Metformin to help with keeping insulin in check. I have never in my life had a difficulty with weight, pain and fatigue, so this has been a significant blow and has massively increased my depression more than normal. Any suggestions or help would be greatly
Thank You for Your time
I would not be asking for your help if this was not a significant problem for me.
Response from my doctor:
Hi Sara - I am not a big fan of Metformin as the weight loss is temporary. Something that would be a good option for you is to read "The Obesity Code" which focuses around intermittent fasting and low carbohydrate diet. This eating plan works very well for PCOS patients.
So, I am going to get Dr. Fung’s book and start to save more and more low carb meals and snacks, so that I am make sure to eat low card and high protein diet. I am also going to fight myself to get into the gym again or to at least walk regularly. I feel like I am on an up-hill battle, trying to get back to my post (two children) body. I would never want to be back to my body in high school, pre-children, but how I looked after having 2 amazing children. Funny thing, back then I thought of myself as being unfit, but I was far from it. After giving birth to two more children, my body has begun to fight me. I had gestational diabetes during my last 2 pregnancies and found that losing weight was more and more difficult after the last two children. Then, after my auto accident, things just continued to go down hill. Every time I thought I was on the right track, something would happen. Now, I am terribly unfit and it makes me feel like I am trapped in my body. I am hoping that this journey will help bring my body back to some form of equilibrium, so that I can become the best version of myself. I want to share my journey to not only keep myself accountable, but to share the highs and lows of becoming a more healthy person.
Things I have done so far:
Increased water intake
Adjusted when I go to sleep
Becoming active outside while the weather is warm
Readjusting where I work out, changing gyms where I can fit more than one activity in my schedule like visiting my mom in her care facility.
So, my chosen career path is professional counseling/ Psychotherapy, which is centered around being near people, hearing from people, helping people and well, anything to do with people. I reach out regularly within my community and on occasion, I speak in public. However, the last thing I want to do on my off time is be around people. It seems like a contradiction, but quite normal for someone who is an introvert. Thankfully, I married an introvert otherwise I am not sure how our relationship would work. I supposed if God put us together, we’d work out quite well, but I think we work better because we have a mutual understanding.
Things I REALLY don’t like: talking on the phone (anything to do with calling and chit chatting). Now, when I say that I don’t like talking on the phone, I mean it. It takes real dedication or a looming deadline to use a phone, but that doesn’t mean I am not good at talking on the phone. I am professional, have a vast vocabulary and I am not shy. Shopping, I’d rather just stay home especially if there is any form of shopping with someone other than my husband. My son used to have a cute shirt that said, “a bad day fishing is better than a good day shopping with mom”. Funny thing is, I’d rather be outside fishing, standing or sitting patiently for the fish to tug at my line than in a store, picking through clothing or food. Okay, so I love Goodwill and could spend a lot of time there, but other than that, shopping is yuck. Lastly, I do not enjoy events with crowds of people. Yup, I do not like crowds of people because mostly, it drains my energy. I’m good with socializing for the same reasons that I am good on the phone. I do well with public speaking and although I love connecting with people, I will probably put off going to an event that has to do with crowds of people. I often do not feel like I fit in even when I am more than qualified to be at a banquet dinner or conference. I have yet to walk for a college graduation due to this reasoning, so it will be interesting to be in Lynchburg for my master’s graduation ceremony next month.
Why did I mention these things? Partly to explain what an introvert can do and what they really do not like to do at all. There are some introverts who thoroughly detest being around people and there are those who do well around people, but it’s not what they do to refresh themselves. Each introvert will have their own coping mechanisms for connecting and dealing with people. For a few, it’s using humor to break the ice, a laugh used as a buffer or energizer within a conversation. It might make it easier to connect with people. I am one of these individuals and so is the pastor of my church. This makes it easier to form a trusting bond.
I also mentioned some of my introvert tendencies because another one of my tendencies is the toughest one to deal with especially since I suffer from depression and anxiety. I have a natural tendency not to trust people or their motives. This means that even though we may interact on a regular basis, I likely do not trust you, your motives, an whether our interaction really even matters to you. How might this make sense? When I form a friendship, I form trust slowly. I have a handful of people that I consider true friends. These are people who I have the ability to be vulnerable with. I can cry with them, they have my well-being at heart, they get my journey without me having to explain myself or cry out in pain, and they have been vetted by my heart. “Vetted by my heart” means that I can be sure that if I need a friend, they will be there. When I am breaking down and need a hug, they will be there. When I am fighting pain and ask a friend to be with me when I plan my mother’s funeral, they are there. When I share personal details about my life, the secrets from my childhood, they will be there. When we’ve gone through a journey together, I can trust them. These are people with whom I do not question, and I trust.
What is the reason for this post? Funny thing is, I just made this realization myself. I knew that I questioned people and their motives, but I had not made the connection between my introversion and the difficulty I have with medium level relationships (people you may see on a regular basis, but with whom you still do not trust). It can be painful and exhausting to not trust people, but when you know that you have found people with whom you can trust, it's a relief.
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