Just go take a walk…

First, I want to acknowledge that today is a holiday and for many, holidays are hard. I’m alone today and instead of dwelling on the fact that I’m not with my son enjoying the festivities of the day, I’m going to keep it a bit light.

I used to get so mad when people who I felt understood nothing of the serious anxiety and depression I was experiencing would say, “just go take a walk. Fresh air will help”. I wanted to roll my eyes and yell at their lack of understanding, but would be complicit and thank them for the advice that was just so absolutely insightful.

Taking a walk will not cure your depression or anxiety, but getting out and getting gentle exercise and leaving the confines of prison (how I felt about my house those days I could never get out), is one piece of healing that is composed of a complex matrix we must all figure out on how we heal.

Most people I have found with trauma, PTSD, introversion, or anything not completely normal think dogs are better than people. I’m going to write about the benefits of taking a walk from how it affects my dog, Napoleon.

A bit of background on my sweet little guy is that he spent at least 3.5 years of his 5 years in a shelter, to be rescued just before his scheduled execution. I adopted Napoleon from a local rescue organization. It’s said he’s a chihuahua, but everyone says he looks like a min pin. I don’t know, I just love him. Napoleon is extremely insecure and has to be on a human at all times to the point it gets a bit annoying. He is always laying on me or my son or the tiny amount of humans he has let in his circle. He also loves to snuggle to the bottom of the bed underneath the covers and stay there if I’m too mobile for him to lay on. I think it’s his sulking place.

When I come around jingling the leash, I swear Napoleon rolls his eyes at me and will try to hide deeper under the covers. I can hear him thinking “mom, I can’t face the world”. As Napoleon is a dog, he doesn’t get much choice in his life, so he walks anyway, and usually because I need to. Napoleon will often park himself and make himself as heavy as possible to not go outside once the leash is attached. He’s not so great at it is seeing as he only weighs 9 pounds and even in my weakened state, I can overpower his unwillingness. Please remember, my dog has serious trauma, which is why I’m taking the time to bloviate about this.

The sweetest thing happens once we actually get out the door, my sulky, dependent dog turns into a master of the universe. His confidence grows with every rock and bush he lifts his leg on. He wags his tail as he sees the other dogs out in the world. He will happily give the leash a little tug in hopes of chasing a nearby bird or squirrel. He just turns into pure joy! The transformation of “just taking a walk” makes Napoleon come out of his shell, and he loves being out in the world.

Upon return of home, he again tries to become very heavy to not have to go back in. Napoleon loves being out. Getting Napoleon to get out isn’t easy. I think his anxiety sky rockets when he hears the leash. I can’t force all of you to take a walk or get a breath of fresh air, but just ponder for a moment the reluctance Napoleon has EVERY time and how he also loves it EVERY time.

So I encourage you to “just go take a walk”, but I also encourage you to eat healthy, get good therapy, talk to supportive people, engage in all kinds of good self care, and if you are lucky to have a pet, spend lots of time with them. I can’t tell you what will make that heavy cloud that weighs you down lift, but it’s complex, and it’s work. Work at it though. The life you can live will be incredible.

Love

Lizzie

Happy Anniversary to the Saving of Me

My last post about my mom was extremely raw, but I received more likes and more people read it over any other post. I am again going to be a bit raw and extremely truthful without writing something triggering.

One year ago today, I entered inpatient psychiatric treatment that was specifically trauma focused. The way I ended up there was not so great.

I had been talking to this place for a couple weeks, but they kept telling me I wasn’t severe enough to enter their program, despite the fact that it is all a voluntary admission. I have a tendency to make things look way more rosy than they actually are.

The night of October 16, 2017, I was trembling with horrible anxiety for what I realized was 21 days in a row. It was constant shaking and feeling like I was suffocating and dying for 3 weeks straight. I couldn’t eat or drink anything and made several trips to the ER for IV fluids for dehydration where the ER docs kept giving me Valium, but it didn’t help. Some pretty nasty things had happened with my family that day, and I decided I was completely done. I had access to a weapon, I was going to kill the people that hurt me, and then myself.

Obviously, I didn’t follow through with that plan. I ended up doing a whole lot of self talk that night that I am not a violent person (I don’t even kill spiders) and that maybe, just maybe there was a glimmer that life could improve? I called the local crisis line, and the lady spoke to me for over 3 hours and encouraged me to get to the trauma program the next morning. It was the longest and hardest night of my life that I ever had, especially with trying to keep myself alive as my plan was lethal, not just an overdose as I had tried several times previously.

The next morning, October 17, 2017, I called the trauma program at 8 am, as soon as they opened. I told them about my homicidal and suicidal urges. The lady told me to pack a couple things and start driving immediately. I threw some things together, said goodbye to my family, and got into my car, a shaking and terrified mess. It was about 5 hours away, but I had to stop several times along the interstate for air as I felt like I was going to suffocate in the car even with all the windows open.

I finally arrived at the trauma program. It is within a regular psychiatric hospital, so there was all of the indignities associated with being a psychiatric inpatient, but I was met with LOVE! So much love and validation that my shaking was normal and they were going to help. They promised, and they did!!

So happy anniversary to me for being more scared and feeling the lowest point in my life and creating a new beginning, instead of a horrible ending.

Did that program cure me or the subsequent residential care I transferred to? Absolutely not, but I listened well to what they told me. I met people who validated me as someone who had experienced horrible things, but best of all, I was absolutely believed and loved even more for being truthful. Life has certainly been difficult this year and horrible in so many ways, but all this darkness has allowed me to see light in certain circumstances that people who haven’t experienced tremendous pain will never see. Sometimes, I almost feel like I can see the world more in depth with more colors than before. I certainly have plenty of moments where I want to give up and life hurts more than I ever think I will get through, but I made a commitment to all aspects of me that I will persevere and live the best life I possibly can by doing things differently than before and being authentic.

Am I proud of myself? HELL YES!! This is one trauma anniversary I will celebrate every year. As I reflect back on my year, I realize it is MY hard work that has made this happen, of course with some pretty amazing support. That is what makes me most proud. I did something for ME and now I live a life worth living.

Please see that from the depths of extreme horror, hardship, anxiety, homicidality, suicidality, and all that other terrible stuff, a seed was planted that I could grow and blossom and become a person I want to be around and so do others.

I love you all. Keep going. If I could make such a change, I know anyone can. I believe in me, and I now believe in you too.

Love

Lizzie

PS I apologize to people who know me not as a trauma survivor for not being truthful about what happened last year. I think you can understand why I don’t discuss certain things. I still love you all, and I hope you still love me too!

Released from Her

(Kind of a difficult post, so just a rainbow from when it rained the other day)

My mom died 12 years ago this week. I can’t remember the exact date, but it was a day of release for me.

My mom was the most horrible person I ever met. We didn’t just have a “difficult” relationship because I was spoiled or didn’t get what I want. My mom taught me that I was horrible and that my pure essence was nothing but evil, which she reinforced as often as she could. My mom wasn’t just someone I disagreed with, she treated me as less than human, forced me to do unimaginably hurtful things, and abused me in every way a human could possibly hurt another, torture you really could say.

I looked for a quote on the internet about daughter’s moving on from being horribly hurt by the first person you are supposed to attach to, but I couldn’t find anything. All that is on the internet is how horrible adult daughters hurt their moms for not appreciating them enough.

My mom did teach me things. She taught me how to hate myself. She taught me that I was worth nothing. She taught me that no one would ever love me. She taught me that I would always be alone, a nothing, not even good enough to be considered dirt.

I overcame a lot of her teachings, and I still continue to work on it as healing from these things is a lifelong process of self examination to discover what the real truth is about myself.

For many years, I thought I was the damaged one. I truly believed that if my own mother didn’t love me, and told me how awful I was and abused me in horrific ways that I must be a truly awful and damaged person and not at all worthy of any love from someone else, let alone myself. I have come to figure out that SHE was the damaged one. She probably came from a long line of traumatic history that she sometimes alluded to as I grew older. She didn’t take the time to self reflect though and figure out how to be a mom that could mold a daughter to be independent and in love with herself and possibilities and feel secure in this world. She just raised a girl who turned into a woman that hated everything about herself and doubted her every move.

This past year has been a huge shift for me in terms of how I relate to me. I’m realizing that I’m loveable and that my trauma isn’t the only aspect to me. It is a huge part of my history, but I know it will NOT be a part of my future. My future is going to be abundant and made by ME for ME and those that support me and are willing to ride along this crazy ride with me.

I AM going to become a success, and I already have in my own eyes. I am loved. I am surrounded by love. The best part, is she is gone. Her body was released from this world 12 years ago this week, and I was released from her abuse. This year I truly embrace the wonder of the creation that I am. This is something she would never recognize.

For those traumatized horribly be a mom figure or your actual mom, you don’t have to love her because “she’s your mom”. That kind of doctrine just led me to more self hate as if I hated my mom and she hated me, then I’m just bad bad bad. I call BS on this. Anyone in your life who is abusive towards you needs to go or some serious boundaries need to be set. If it’s your mom, it will be hard to explain to most people, but I have found a community of women horribly harmed by their mom. We don’t usually go public with it as I have received a lot of scorn for sharing that my mom was not great. I’ve been told to “get over it. She was your mom” and “of course your mom loved you”. I’ve watched friends and others interact with their moms, even through difficult times. I could have dealt with all of that. What my mom did is almost unexplainable.

If your relationship with your mom is hard or perhaps you may even have a ton of resentment towards her, you are not alone. If your mom hurt you in ways that the outside world will never make sense of, you are not alone.

I hope people talk about this issue more as there is a sisterhood of motherless daughters (in the sense they were horrifically hurt by their mother). I don’t necessarily mean you need to go public about it around the water cooler at work, but in small ways, honor your story and please have the courage to say that your mom was not ok.

On a more positive note, mom’s that have suffered childhood trauma and actively work to break the cycle with their own children are my sheroes! I strive to be one of them!

Do your best. But remember, just because she’s your “mom” doesn’t mean she’s your mom.

This was difficult post for me to be honest about. Please email or comment if it struck you. I definitely need reassurance that breaking the silence is the right thing to do!

Love

Lizzie

Show your Emotions in Front of Others, Especially Children

Last week, there was this one day that every time I answered the phone or tried to deal with the outside world, it just turned to crap. I was sitting at the dinner table with my son and opened a letter stating that my income source had been cut off. It was something about me not being disabled anymore. Anyway, I started just sobbing. My son immediately came over to me to hug me and just pat me. I knew it was going to take me a bit to get myself together, so I sent him into the other room to go do something to distract himself from my emotional mess.

The next day, the school counselor called and said my showing my emotions was scaring my child. I think the point of the call was to be supportive, but it was extremely demeaning.

I honestly feel that my son seeing me have healthy emotions about a situation that was sad and stressful is not only ok, but a good thing. I didn’t do anything outlandish. I was simply crying, and as I said, after a couple minutes, I sent him to go do something else while I gathered myself.

In my home growing up, the only emotions I ever saw were intense rage and intense happiness. Maybe if I would have seen my mom cry when she was stressed or sad about something that was worthy of these feelings, I wouldn’t be so terrified of emotions now. I think it’s good to show sadness to others when something is legitimately sad, especially our children. I put on a persona of everything being so happy in my life. Not showing how hurt I was is probably a huge factor in why I had extreme suicidal depression up until I really decided to work on it about a year ago. Stuffing my feelings also came out as awful anxiety that I couldn’t do anything to get rid of, well, until I started crying and showing real emotions.

How do you feel about this? Do you feel it’s important to show others that you may be hurting? Do you think healthy examples of crying in front of your children is a good thing?

I’m really interested in what others have to say as being a survivor of extreme trauma, sometimes I don’t really know if what I’m doing is right? I do know that it is healthy to have a range of emotions and express all of them!

Love

Lizzie

Find Love

My big Thailand adventure ended much earlier than I expected. I was starting to get a huge flare from my autoimmune diseases, and chose to be prudent and changed my ticket to fly home the next day. That was actually over a week ago. I was shedding lots and lots of tears over the very real fact that I am a disabled person. I was going back into that pit, and then I realized, I don’t have to!

I made a conscious choice to take active steps towards getting my mental health on track again. I made my weekly goal sheet above and as an amazing support person has continued to remind me, I’m going to feel tired and awful all the time, so may as well live life! I use little sticky notes to mark off my progress during the week. I have no expectation to fulfill all of this every week, but it’s more of a self accountability that I at least tried to do a few things!

I’m doing it. I’m still living life. I’m reconnecting with myself as a person I love (I know so cliché). As I love and accept the beauty of who I am, I can love others, who can then love me too. My circle is small, but so solid and so much more authentic than I ever have experienced or thought possible.

Several really crappy things happened over the course of 24 hours that would have sent me into a suicide attempt just months ago. Instead, I melted down, cried several times, then took action or made plans to do things about it. These things are HUGELY upsetting, but I am feeling centered and grounded as that whole love thing has given me my tiny circle to support me through it.

I always felt I had to do it all alone. I still feel this way most of the time. I am also learning that leaning on others, even the tiny amount I am beginning to tolerate is causing me huge growth emotionally, and definitively giving me lots of inner peace and contentment.

Again, it is so cliché to say “reach out when you are hurting”, but it actually works. I know it’s difficult and there seems to be this general consensus that people aren’t interested in our difficulties, but if you pick the right ones, the reward of support on your psyche is intense.

As I said, the sheer amount of things I’m dealing with right now would have just made me give up before. Instead, I feel I’m getting stronger, and I’ll face whatever comes my way with mostly me, and a bit of love I allow front the outside world.

Love

Lizzie

Not Much to Say

Hey Everyone! I don’t have much to say today. I just gave myself my B12 injection prescribed by my doctor to help with my energy levels. It makes me a little sick for an hour, so thought I’d take my “sick time” to say something or nothing!

If you keep up with m blog, you know I traveled to Thailand on a spur of the moment. I got a second of energy, was feeling a little brave, a lot crazy, and here I am.

As with anything in life, being here has had ups and downs and lots of middle. I mostly want to motivate people who are afraid to follow a dream due to fear, trauma, societal pressure… If I hadn’t had the courage to follow my dream and take my moment, I wouldn’t be experiencing what I am now. It’s hard to put it into words as I’m traveling alone and most of my experiences will be held within myself as I’m experiencing it with just me. I will say that pushing myself beyond what I ever thought I was capable has been completely transformative, life changing, and incredible for my mental health.

It’s not to say that any of it is easy or simple or that what I deal with has been anything less than completely complex, but taking a moment to do something truly for myself and grasping an opportunity that presented itself is what we are all meant to do.

Once again, I tell everyone to be “selfish”! It just may be the best thing you ever did. Being called this is now a huge compliment as I am happy to know even people who strongly dislike me acknowledge the huge amount of self love I’m engaging in.

So that wasn’t much, but keep going. Be good to yourself and be mindful of the good.

Love

Lizzie

Why I will never tell you to “be happy”!

(Having peace and contentment today without being happy.)

As I have hinted at in a previous post, I decided to go on a grand adventure. It is very early on Saturday morning where I’m at. I’m actually in Thailand. I booked my trip with three days notice. Spent the 72 hours packing and figuring out how I would ever make this work and with much trepidation, I was on my way. Chronic illnesses set aside and knowing I was bordering on completely crazy for doing this, I boarded a flight in San Francisco.

It’s been interesting so far. I have been out of my country, but never to the East. There have been some very warm hearted moments, like watching a Japanese family sit in front of me on my flight to Tokyo care for their toddler so lovingly on a very long flight. The couple also were extremely loving towards each other and watching them work together to get a toddler calmly through a nearly 12 hour flight was awe inspiring for me and healing as I saw the way parents are supposed to do it. This tiny little boy was probably the most loved child I ever saw. For the first time, I saw a child being parented, and I didn’t have any worries about “Tiger” as they called him. It was also fun for me and my own inner children to play peek a boo with him and talk to him despite that fact that he didn’t speak English, and I know nothing of Japanese. Sometimes playing with small children just for fun is nurturing for the soul.

I’ve had some not so nice moments too. As much as I’m finding some peace in Thailand, and even a touch of energy, I was reminded today by a very subtle cue that the sex trade industry is illustrious and cruel here. It made me intensely sad and heartbroken and angry that the abuse of young women and girls (probably boys too) is just accepted here and part of normal culture. I guess I didn’t expect it to be so obvious and public. Nonetheless, I found myself in a deep funk as being reminded that people are being currently traumatized is very hard on me.

I did do something good for me and different. I reached out to people as I was extremely jarred and having a huge trauma response to this. I got some not so great feedback like “you’re overly sensitive”, “be happy you get to go somewhere”, “my life is more difficult than yours as at least you are away”, and probably the worst offender, “get over it”. On the flip side, I got some pretty amazing feedback. A friend told me to light some candles and say a prayer. I texted an old therapist who sent a decent length text that I can’t make a synopsis of, but it was very supportive, and my meditation guru scheduled with me to do meditation via FaceTime in just a few hours from now to become recentered and back to my place of peace.

With all of this, I realized I came to Thailand to get back to my middle path. It was validated for me and I validated for myself that it’s ok to have intensely sad feelings for people being traumatized, but it’s also ok for me to have peace in myself and be on my healing path. I can have both, which is the center in my eyes.

I love that I just reached out. I love that I got feedback, helpful and angering. I just love that I tried something new instead of sitting with my intense feelings as I am literally alone thousands of miles from home.

So the point of this post is to tell you why I never tell people to be happy. I tell people to be peaceful, content, have abundant hearts, follow their path, and the list goes on, but I will never tell you to be happy about something. I’ve touched on this a few times in this blog, but happiness, at least for me isn’t real. It’s an extreme that I’m not striving for. As a child and into adulthood, my family always told me to just be happy with what I have. To be happy about everything no matter how awful life was. I pretended to be happy really well. People thought I was happy. Reality is that I was a suicidal mess most of the first 40 years of life.

It’s why I now strive for contentment and peace and abundance and even some elation at times. It’s the middle for me. It’s real. Peace inside is real for me. Contentment is real and feels better than the emotional extremes I experienced before.

So today was hard. It was also insightful as I realize I feel others pain so deeply that I take it on myself to the detriment of myself. I feel it could be a clue into why I’m so sick. Taking on the world’s pain is an underlying major stressor I have always dealt with. It’s a big reason why I never completed my Ph.D. In clinical psychology. At that time, especially, I couldn’t have had any separation between my pain and others. I’m learning though.

Today was hard. It was also full of lessons. I recognize the beauty of my feeling for others, but today I also recognize the beauty in caring for me. I also recognize that more people support me than I realize if I just allow it.

So have a peaceful and content day that is full of the middle. I am going to.

Love

Lizzie