Judging your trauma

Don’t judge someone else’s trauma or compare your own.

That’s the point of this post.

Trauma is one of those things that I totally understand. I’ve lived through trauma, experienced it, suffered from it, and grew from it. One thing that saddens me about trauma survivors is there judgment regarding either their own trauma or someone else’s.

For example, someone discusses their trauma and another person wants to “do them one better.”

By doing so, you just totally invalidated the first person’s experiences. Regardless if you feel your trauma was worse, it doesn’t matter. Theirs was still traumatizing.

Each person has a different threshold for pain. Some people go to the delivery room and need medications, an epidural, etc. Some don’t. Some go in and give birth like it didn’t make a difference in the world. Push and done. We are all different.

The one thing that is the same for everyone is that we all experienced trauma. Some people’s trauma is different than others, but when push comes to shove we’ve either all dealt with it or will at some point.

I’ve heard people judge themselves saying, “I know I should feel happier because nothing big has happened to me, but for some reason, I feel so…”

The truth is, you need not judge yourself. There is no way you should or should not feel. You’ve dealt with stuff that is hurting you and it’s okay.

Just because you weren’t kidnapped in your life, or tortured, doesn’t mean you didn’t experience things. For example, I’ve never experienced a house fire. I’m glad, I don’t want to experience that. I hope I never have to. That said, because I never experienced a house fire doesn’t minimize the fact that I experienced other things. Each person has their own struggles to deal with. I don’t want someone else’s struggles and they don’t want mine. We were not meant to be the same.

So, feeling bad because you “should” be okay because you haven’t really gone through anything and you feel bad for not feeling good about life, is simply nonsense. Don’t compare your trauma. Don’t minimize other people’s struggles either. If you’re not feeling great, don’t feel bad for getting help, just get help. It’s okay.

What’s not okay is ignoring your trouble. It’s only going to get worse. You will feel worse. My point, if you need help get help. If you don’t, don’t talk about those who do. My belief is every person in the world would benefit from “getting help” and don’t judge yourself or anyone else for handling or not handling their problems. Each life is built differently.

Make sense?  

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Let's talk love

Thoughts to ponder…

Did you know love is one of the strongest emotions? In my opinion it is only second to hope, but just a little stronger than hate.

Did you know that even though love is often depicted as glorious, it’s often not good for you?

The emotion of love is simply an emotion. A feeling. Similar to nauseas. It means nothing but is depicted as meaning so much more than that.

It truly means nothing.

We describe “that amazing butterfly feeling” as love.

Again, this is not the case. That’s just anxiety.

Love, in all its complexity is simple, really.

Most people I’ve counseled in the past were shocked when I said that love could be unhealthy. That is was just an emotion and not that big of a deal.

I think that’s important to know, because like any other emotion, it goes away.

In my opinion, the love for a child should be titled something else, because there’s something more innate to that. However, romantic love is not the same. It leaves, just like any other emotion out there does.

That’s why they say marriage is hard work.

Some days you feel the emotion of love. Others, as most of you know but don’t want to admit, have also felt the same feelings with your partner as hate, anger, jealousy, etc. Love is no different.

The reason I say this is not to discourage love, the Lord knows I’m a romantic. No, it’s to encourage people who are in an unhealthy relationship with love to realize that they can actually control this.

Our society has extremely unhealthy visions of love. Admit it, we were all a little infatuated with the Twilight Series. However, we didn’t want to think about the fact that it was actually disturbingly horrible if you go to the root of it.

As kids grow, they too learn to depend on this unhealthy situation, thinking it’s supposed to be like this because it’s ‘real love’.

We talk about mental health in regards to anger, pain, trauma, grief, etc. Perhaps it’s time to work on the emotion of love.

If that’s the case, we’re here to help.

Give us a call, walk-in, message us, whatever works for you. We can set something up. As I said, love isn’t always your friend, it’s only an emotion, and it can be controlled. We can help you with that. <3

All the cool kids are doing it

“All the cool kids are doing it.”

This was a saying I remember hearing a lot about in the 80’s/90’s. I tried to use it on my mom numerous times to no avail. My mom was relentless. It sounded something like this…

“Mom, can we have a boy/girl sleepover? The  boys can sleep in my brother’s room.”

“NO!”

I whine. “But Mom, EVERYBODY has boy/girl sleepovers. You just want me to be a dork! You HATE me!”

“No, but I’m no fool either. Now if you don’t quit now, you will NOT be having a sleepover!”

(I sigh, roll my eyes and stomp off to my room- making sure she hears my door shut).

“Cool kids” or “everybody” often lead us to things that weren’t necessarily good for us.

We came from a generation where ‘no means no’ with no explanation needed and ‘because I said so’ was good enough.

Things have changed.

My daughter came home from a friend’s house. I asked her why she came home early. It sounded like this…

“Mom, I need you to come get me.”

“You okay.”

“No, just come.”

“I’m on my way.”

She gets in the car.

“What’s going on?” I ask.

“They were vaping.”

“Oh…” I looked at her confused. My friends smoked, did drugs, drank, I didn’t always leave, I just didn’t participate if I was uncomfortable. If it was too bad, I left.

“Mom, I HATE being around vaping! It’s disgusting. It smells disgusting…”

“I thought it doesn’t smell?”

“Mom, I can smell that crap a mile away. It makes my breathing hurt, just when they do it. I can’t imagine doing it myself!”

“Wow. So you decided to leave?”

“Yeah.”

“Will your friends be upset at you for leaving so soon?”

“I don’t care what they think. Mom, I don’t like it so I’m not going to be around it. That’s my choice.”

“Nice! I’m really proud of you. Thank you for being so strong!”

Another circumstance looked like this…

My son comes home from school with a strange look on his face.

“What’s up?” I ask.

“Mom most my friends don’t believe in God.”

“Okay, so how does that work for you?”

“I pray louder when I eat.”

“Huh?”

“They always ask me what I’m doing so I tell them I pray.”

“You’re not ashamed to pray in front of them?”

“No, just because they don’t believe in God doesn’t mean that I have to be stupid too!”

“Nice. That makes good logical sense. I think you are very brave!”

“I’m mad at them.”

“Why?”

“They’re going to the devil.”

“Whoa. Don’t assume that. People can change. How about you pray for them too?”

“Yeah.”

The irony, is it’s not just my kids. I talk to a LOT of kids. They are warriors for their beliefs. Often, I hear people talking about this generation in a negative way, like they’re soft. They may not be as rough and tumble as we used to be, but they are standing up for themselves when they are brave. That is amazing!

How does this tie to mental health?

Back in the day, we swept our feelings under the rug. Boys didn’t cry, girls weren’t taken seriously. People would turn a blind eye to trauma. Like this generation, things have changed.

The cool kids, well they’re seeking help when they need it.

Therapy isn’t just for insanity, or extremely mentally ill as some people may think.

People come to therapy for a variety of reasons and not just for depression.

They come to therapy for:

Financial advice

Talking about how to make friends

Dating advice

How to achieve goals

How to tell their family they want a change

How to propose to the person they love

For someone to listen to anything they have to say, without being judged

My point, EVERY PERSON IN THE WORLD could benefit from therapy.

So, this time I agree. All the cool kids are doing it. Especially the ones who want a positive future.

It’s time. The New Year has come. Make your appointment today.

Holiday Depression

Image result for free pics of depression

The unspoken truth of the holiday season…

Depression.

Let’s face it, the expectations are high, kids compete with kids and parents compete with other parents. Commercials don’t make it any easier. Go into a store and there’s a constant reminder of what the expectation is whether you can afford it or not.

You can’t escape the demands of the holidays. Religious or not, rich or poor, family or none, Christmas is expensive and can be awfully lonely.

So many discuss who they spend their holidays with. So many others discuss what they’re getting their loved ones or not.

People forget that there are people out there who feel fortunate to get a single phone call for Christmas.

I’ll never forget counseling a guy one time. He was thrilled. Happy as can be. I asked him what the cause was for so much happiness and he told me, “Well, I didn’t think I was getting anything for Christmas. My family disowned me due to the alcohol. I am too poor to cook. So, I went to the church dinner, played some cards, and the next thing I know, someone handed me a gift. They knitted me a hat!”

He pointed toward his head and showed me the blue and white knit beanie that he had on. He then said, “You know, Christina, this is the best Christmas I’ve had in ten years!”

A knit hat thrilled him. Weeks leading to that day, I was talking to him about ways to pass the holiday without focusing on his own demise. That’s right, Christmas brought on feelings of depression that were so thick he wanted to die.

Being a hundred percent honest, the holidays are very hard for most people. There’s hustle and bustle combined with a ton of pressure and a lot of feelings of loneliness and despair.

Every life has value and purpose. If you find yourself struggling through the holidays, find a local church to eat dinner at. Call an old friend. Write a letter to someone serving in the military. Find a way to distract yourself from the season.

If it’s due to money, please don’t hesitate to ask for help. There are a TON of programs out there. Don’t worry about your pride, we all need help sometimes.

If you’re one who loves the holidays, don’t forget to reach out to people who may be alone on Christmas. A phone call or two. A plate of food for a friend can make a huge difference. Remember all it took was a knit hat to make someone’s holiday special.

A Frame of Mind wishes everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and healthy holiday season!

Holiday Grief

Image result for free cats and dogs pictures

Today, I would like to discuss a thought on grief.

It seems everyone realizes that grief is about the experience of loss, however, this loss isn’t always the same.

Grief doesn’t have to mean death. It could be someone grieves their loss of home, youth, marriage, or life as they once remembered (think empty nesters).

On the flip side, and what I kind of want to focus on today, is when grief does mean the loss of a life, but in this case not a human life.

As the holidays approach, I would like to remind everyone that the loss of an animal is also a great cause for grief. I think we need to be more mindful of people going through these types of losses.

I hear people (and I’ve been guilty of this myself in the past) kind of snicker when someone is grieving a pet. They may think to themselves that it’s not like they experienced a “real loss- it’s not like they’re human”. The truth is, they have.

Some people only have their pets as companions. Some people may not have been able to have children and so their pets are their children. Sometimes pets are the only family members they have. Others, the pet is their best friend. Perhaps the pet was their children’s best friend and so it’s another member of the family. Not everyone feels that way and that’s okay. What’s not okay is not acknowledging the person’s grief who did lose a furry friend.

Think about the commercials for a moment. I see just as many people getting puppies on Christmas type of commercials as I do engagement ring commercials. That’s how prevalent animals are to our lives. Cats or dogs are often a child’s first friend.

I guess my point is to encourage everyone this holiday season to remember their friend’s who’ve lost pets. They are struggling just as much as people who’ve lost people or relationships and sometimes that can be overlooked. Remind them that it’s okay to feel their grief without shame.

Christmas Magic

Green Christmas Tree With String Lights

I was feeling a little nostalgic yesterday. I was thinking about Christmas as a kid and how magical it was.

My parents were “extra”. They went all out for Christmas. I never had a bad Christmas. As kids, we were NEVER spoiled, except at Christmas time. My parents were so clever that I think I believed in Santa until I was a teenager.

In my mind wandering, I kind of started to think about how nice it was to have so much magic in our home. The excitement, the anticipation, the true knowledge that this one time of year was going to be a spectacular event. From sleigh prints outside to Rudolf’s nose lit in the house, Santa was something else.

I know I was fortunate to have magnificent Christmas’ as a kid. In some sense, I try to do the same for my kids. However, the truly magnificent part is the knowledge that Christmas doesn’t have to be exciting for just a child. Just because Santa kind of goes away, doesn’t mean Christmas isn’t magical.

In some ways, Christmas is even more exciting. You get to be that magic that people feel. And the cool thing is, it doesn’t have to be limited to Christmas. You can bring the joy, surprises, and warmth that so many don’t feel. Even better, it doesn’t have to cost a dime. It comes from a place so much deeper than that. It comes from your heart.

So, like the Grinch’s heart grew three times bigger that one magical year, mine will too. Who would have thought? The magic of Christmas time not on Christmas. What a concept! I hope that you will join me and offer your loving kindness as a little Christmas magic throughout the year.

Exciting News!

Exciting News!!! A Frame of Mind is at it again! We are adding Single Session Therapy to our practice!

What?!

That’s right! Starting Wednesday Nov. 20th if you want to talk to a therapist, but don’t want to commit to THERAPY, we have what you need! $50.00 is the price, you have something going on in life and want help RIGHT NOW, come on in. No assessment, no telling an entire history of personal business, no diagnosis, no loads of paperwork, no dealing with insurance, no appt. reminders and scheduling conflicts. Zip, Zero, Zilch. You need a listening ear and you want it now- We’re here. We’re available.

*Scheduled appointments are our priority, walk-ins welcomed around scheduled appts. Want to know how long the wait will be (if any) you can call ahead. Or stop by. 2836 E. Apple Ave. Muskegon, MI (231) 340-2263

A Frame of Mind has therapy the way you want it.

We’ll post a lot more about this in days to come! Stay tuned…

The Grief of a Miscarriage

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It was Monday, January 14th.

A day that I never once even considered the vs. in Jeremiah (1:5). Nor have I ever considered Psalm 139:13. However, after feeling a little strange while doing group at work only to find myself bleeding at 5 weeks 4 days pregnant, the verses became a strange reality.

The baby’s name was made official that morning. We were excited to be parents again. We were making arrangements for what to do with the furniture in the house. I had already bought the paint for the living room. Each night, up until that date, me and my husband stayed up fantasizing on what this child was going to be like. We would debate over baby names, what sex it was going to be and why, and how we were going to tell the news to everyone.

They say there’s a glow to you when you’re pregnant. After Monday, January 14th, I started to speculate on that glow. “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you.” I was sitting in the hospital, tearful, because I knew what was going on and I didn’t want to experience it. The hospital staff were arrogant and rude, treating us like we were ignorant. That’s very typical for the hospital when they see me and my husband together. They assume we’re on Medicaid and that we don’t understand things. Making comments like, “Good thing you have three at home. You’re almost 38 it’s not like you needed another one.”  “Is this the baby daddy?” Or the, “Christina, you probably tested early, it’s not going to be any different than your period was.” I’m not dumb. That was all I could think. My doctor knows. Stop patronizing me.

I stayed silent, focused on that glow. After the medical staff left the room, I looked at my husband and said, “It’s because you’re carrying two souls. That’s where the maternal glow comes from. The mom is no longer sheltering her own soul, she has the baby’s soul too.” My husband thought that was an interesting philosophy.

On the car ride home, I was silent. My husband was surprised I didn’t give the hospital staff a piece of my mind, like I typically do. I just wasn’t feeling it. My heart was hurting. I went to bed, exhausted, drained both emotionally and physically.

The next day I wasn’t prepared for what I experienced. I never could empathize with a woman having a miscarriage before. I knew they had to experience grief of some sort, but I never truly understood how it felt. I remember sitting on the couch willing myself not to have to use the bathroom. I think I went twice that day and that was only because I couldn’t wait any longer. Each time you go, everything maternal fights with everything physical. Your heart tries to hold in what your body is getting rid of. It’s a conflict of interest.

You’re ingrained to protect your young and so you try with all your might. The agony of having to use the bathroom forces you to give in to what you’re opposed to. With tears, you feel the glow start to leave you. It’s not instant, it takes a little bit of time. A couple of days. But you feel it slipping away. You’re left feeling empty, hollow even.

The whole time, I was cursing the hospital. I felt bitter, angry, that they could say some of the dumbest things ever. It was nothing like having a normal period. This was far more intense and to be quite honest, never had I had a period where I saw the sac of a fetus and an umbilical cord before. It was a ridiculous statement on the doctor’s behalf, and I hated her for minimizing my pain and every other woman’s pain who has experienced this as well.

That Tuesday is when the phone calls and comments were made. First thing’s first. I have never experienced real grief for someone extremely close to me before and I don’t wish to. I’ve cried at every funeral I’ve ever attended, since I was a small child. I am a true empath and can understand and feel pain regardless if it’s my own. I have learned that if I ever experience grief of someone close, I know I will isolate. I didn’t want to see the comments. I didn’t respond. I avoided. I hated seeing the words I’m sorry. I didn’t believe them. They felt fake. Perhaps not fake, perhaps distant or obligated. Almost like, “I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, glad I’m not.”  Or “I have to say something because I’m her friend.”

My daughter convinced me to post it on fb. She was frustrated with me for not sharing my feelings with her or anyone for that matter. I am used to being the one that people talk to. I’m not comfortable being the one to talk. I write. That’s how I experience emotion. I write everything. I had written a little. She wanted me to share, so I could avoid the texts. That sounded reasonable and like a relief, so I did. I never read the comments. I left them alone to sit.

When I started to talk to people, I realized I wasn’t the only one in this position. I realized that most people have a difficult time identifying what it is they’re feeling. People don’t feel that grief is real when it comes to a baby one has never physically held. Abortion is legal and people do it all the time, it’s not a big deal. But the truth is, it is a big deal. When you are expecting, everything changes. Life styles change, plans change, your body physically changes. It’s with you constantly and on your mind even more. When that gets ripped away, it’s difficult.

So many women are talked to like they’re dumb for caring. I was told, “It’s not a big deal, you have time make another one.”

My thought was, “And risk going through all of this again?”

I was perplexed. I was told, “Well this one didn’t work out, hopefully next time I see you, you’re actually in labor.”

“Um thanks.”

“Good thing you have three!”

“Again, thanks.”

“I’m glad this isn’t your first at your age.”

My thought, “Would you say that to someone where it was?”

“30-50 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.”

“Thanks.”

“Good thing you didn’t need another one.”

“Thanks, but really who NEEDS one to begin with?”

These are normal “condolences” to women who are in the process of grieving. Sure, the grief may not look the same, that’s okay. It doesn’t have to. I’m sure grief doesn’t look the same from when your parent dies to when your dog dies, but guess what, people understand it’s still grief.

What’s worse. When a woman suffers with a miscarriage, they then have to tell the people they let in on the secret. It’s humiliating because one day you were all excited, the next time you see them you’re empty- like you lost your glow.

Does life go on? Yes, it does. Me and my husband are okay. In fact, we’re happy even. We had a really tough week that week. It took two for me to decide if I wanted to try for a fourth child or not. I talked to the doctor and let her know my concerns. She assured me I was healthy, able-bodied, and should have no problems carrying a child full-term. But the choice is mine.

When and if we decide to try again, and when and if we get pregnant, I will pray everyday that this does not happen to me again. I will not give it another chance if it does. I don’t think I would be able to. It hurts too much.

However, through this experience I have learned that it’s better to not say anything than it is to try and help when you don’t know what to say. If you know a woman going through this experience and you don’t know what to say, but feel you must say something, here’s a list of a few things you can say.

“I’m sorry for your pain.” (be sincere)

“I’m sorry for your loss.” (be sincere)

“Dude that really sucks.”

“Is there anything I can do to help you feel better?”

“I bought you a candy bar.”

“Make sure you’re taking care of yourself.”

“Screw the doctors! They’re dumb!”

“Did you watch ___________ tonight? It was hilarious!” (This is my personal fave. Takes your mind off the crap your mind is focused on).

Regardless, just because you don’t understand what they’re going through, doesn’t make it okay to say whatever you please. The woman you’re not understanding is losing her glow and it breaks her heart. Remember the human.

Mindfulness

As a DBT therapist the practice of mindfulness exercises is a regular part of my daily routine. The way most of my consumers experience mindfulness when they first start looks a little like this:
They picture themselves walking down the beach with a warm breeze enveloping them. “Oh I forgot to pull the meat out of the freezer. Crap! I am supposed to be mindful for 5 minutes, let me start over”.
They, again, are walking down the beach. “The beach seems sunny. I want sun but it’s supposed to rain today. When in the hell is spring finally going to be here? Shoot. I wasn’t mindful. Grr. Okay, I’m on that stupid beach again.”
The feel the warm breeze against their face, the sand on the bottom of their feet. “The floor needs vacuumed. Maybe I’ll do that when I’m done being… You’ve got to be kidding me. What’s wrong with my brain that I can’t be still for not even a single minute? I hate Mindfulness!”
The problem with this is a few things:
1- Visualization like that is only one method of mindfulness. Mindfulness exercises can be anything that gives one hundred percent of your focus to the actual moment you’re experiencing. When I paint, I’m focusing one hundred percent on the canvas and what I’m experiencing with the canvas. Every brush stroke, every detail, my mind is clearly focused. That is mindfulness. It can happen with any platform. It just has to be purposeful and focused.
2- Mindfulness takes practice. One doesn’t just wake up and stop the hustle of their brain just because they want to sit and clear their mind. Thoughts happen. Accept that and watch them exit as soon as they enter. It’s okay. Why are we judging our thoughts? As you see in the above examples we tend to start judging our thoughts and then that leads to judging ourselves. How is that beneficial to anyone?
3- Mindfulness isn’t as weird as people think. I’ve had a ton of people ask me if mindfulness was Buddhist practice or against Christianity. The answer is, all religions practice mindfulness. All mindfulness is, is focusing on the present moment. What am I doing right here and right now. Or, what can I focus on right here and right now. For example, if you happen to like imagery, you don’t have to be on a beach, but only picturing yourself on one. On the flip side, if you’re in Walmart buying bread, you can focus on the very floor tile you’re standing on, purposefully noticing each scuff mark and mouse dropping you can see.
I encourage everyone to practice mindfulness. Eat something with purpose. Pay attention to things like texture, smell, taste, the sound of it, and sight of it (this can lead to weight loss!). Practice when you tie your laces. Imagine trying to teach a two-year-old the hows and whys of tying a shoe. Practice while you’re stressed. How does my body feel, where is my tension? Etc.
Mindfulness is amazing because you actually get to experience life instead of just exist in it.