Children and Teens

Helping Adult Children of Mentally Ill Mothers

I’m not a psychotherapist. But I’ve sat in front of one. It took me decades to find the chair in front of the psychotherapist and maybe that’s got something to do with me being the adult child of a schizophrenic mother.

I think it took me a long time to sit facing a psychotherapist because adult children of seriously mentally ill mothers are trained since they were young to believe three things:

Chaos and crises are normal.
The focus is not on me. The focus of care is on my mother.
Don’t speak too much about what goes on at home -- people don’t like it, it’s too much for them.

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General

The Beauty of Intentional Forgetting

We store memories using a variety of contexts -- sights, sounds, smells, who was there, the weather, etc. Context helps us retrieve these memories later. For instance, my husband recently made roast chicken and collard greens. It was a normal Sunday night, then the collards hit the iron skillet and I was transported back to 1994. It smelled just like Tuesday night dinner at my Maw-Maw’s house. Walking into the kitchen, I fully expected her to be there at the stove stirring a pot of red beans with ham hocks.

The next morning my home still smelled like it, and it was like she was with me while I showered and got dressed. It was comforting. Of course it was, I love my grandmother very much. But what about the memories you don’t love? What about the times you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth? What about the time you were tyrannically insistent about something and turned out to be wrong? What about the time you cheated on your significant other? What about the time you were dumped?
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Addiction

How ‘Mad Men’ Taught Us about Trauma, Shame & Healing

Don Draper, a character on the TV series "Mad Men," was a survivor of childhood trauma.

But when we first met Don, we met a man who had it all. He was at the pinnacle of his career, happily married to his gorgeous wife, Betty, and father of two adorable children. His haughty, arrogant and aloof facade was easily mistaken for genuine confidence.

We soon found out, however, that Don was a man with flaws. An alcoholic, a womanizer and an adulterer, he lied about things, not the least of which was his fake identity. These flaws, or what a therapist would consider symptoms, were an indication that Don was unwell. Symptoms are often brilliant clues that let an individual know they have underlying yet blocked emotions, often from the past, that need attention and release.
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Anger

Spanking: 50 Years of Research Shows How Detrimental It Is

Children who were spanked are more likely to defy their parents, exhibit antisocial behavior and aggression, and experience mental health problems and cognitive difficulties, according to a recent study from the University of Texas at Austin which analyzed 50 years worth of research involving more than 160,000 children. (Researchers defined spanking as an open-handed hit on the behind or extremities.)

The use of spanking to discipline children had the opposite effect.

"Our analysis focuses on what most Americans would recognize as spanking and not on potentially abusive behaviors," Elizabeth...
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Family

Child Abuse Survivors, Victims Need You to Talk About It

How do you recover from childhood abuse? Is healing possible? Will the shame ever go away? Will I always struggle with depression or anxiety?

These are important questions as we enter April, National Child Abuse Prevention Month. While the answers to these questions are different for everyone, sharing our stories can inspire hope and help other survivors heal.
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” - Nelson Mandela
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Children and Teens

Could Childhood Emotional Abuse Lead to Migraines Later in Life?


Say what?!

It isn't an exaggeration to say that people who get migraines suffer. Migraines are more intense than regular headaches and can last for hours or days. Any movement, bright lights or noises can make the pain worse. When you're having a migraine you might feel nauseous or have to vomit.

Some people only occasionally get migraines, while others seem to get them all the time. And since they're so debilitating, you may miss work or an important event because all you want is for the pain to go away.
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General

When a Trauma History Feels Like Unlimited Limitations

Sometimes I try to do things that regular people do, people who don’t have a trauma history, and my PTSD steps in and says, “No, no, sweetheart. I don’t think so.”

I listened to a podcast recently where a handful of people kept dream recordings for a few months and then the most intelligible ones were made into an episode. It required participants to record themselves talking about their dreams with as much detail as possible as soon as they awoke, which could mean in the morning or in the middle of the night.

It was fascinating. Lots of dreams about bosses. Obviously there’s something there, something to be examined. I wanted to try it. I went to bed on a normal, comfortable Sunday and kept dreaming of being raped.
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Anxiety and Panic

4 Things I Learned in Trauma Group Therapy

I never wanted to go to group therapy, especially for my trauma history. Child sexual abuse didn’t seem like something I was ready to share with a group of people, even if they had walked a mile in my shoes. As long as I didn’t reveal my dark secret to anyone else, they saw a normal woman before them. If they learned I was abused, I thought for sure they’d see me as some kind of festering wound on society, a reminder that there are perverts among us, operating beneath the otherwise cheerful and wholesome social world.

I'm sensitive about my faults. In fact, I'm sensitive about everything. I didn’t want to take what I considered to be by far the ugliest thing about me to a group of strangers on a weekly basis as if to say, “Here it is again!”

Sadly, I never considered the fact that I didn’t feel that way about other people who had been abused. Why would I ever imagine they’d feel that way about me?
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Bipolar

Is Depression Always a Disease?

Like most mental health writers, I have compared depression to illnesses like diabetes in the past, and stressed the biochemical aspect of mood disorders in my efforts to reduce stigma. Somehow talking about the gene G72/G30 located on chromosome 13q (that may predispose individuals to depression and bipolar disorder) makes it more legitimate, as if the gene proves we aren’t making it up.

However, the more I read about how abuse, trauma, and chronic stress --unresolved issues of all kinds -- can cause and aggravate depression, the less I want to compare it to diabetes.
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Family

How Childhood Emotional Neglect Affects Relationships

Childhood emotional neglect (CEN) is a deep, long lasting wound that is not easily detectable in adults or by those in close relationships with them.

When you have exposure over time to an adult with childhood trauma, you will notice that the person has trouble communicating emotions or feelings, constantly withdraws instead of exploring feelings, and uses only functional, simple sentences. At first, you may wonder if you have harmed this person by something you’ve said, but when it becomes a continual pattern, it’s best to understand the underlying elements before thinking it’s something you can fix or change.
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