If You Feel You Have No Value…

Hi and good morning! I wish for you a day filled with peace inside. I was struck by the person(s) who searched for “I have no value.” This is such a low place to be and I want to speak to it today.

If you feel you have no value, stop and think about where that message came from. Is it someone else who told you that? If so, believe, instead, that it is a lie. We each have value. You have value simply because you are a human being alive on this Earth.

You have one thing that is very special that you do, something you can share with the world around you, something you are alive to share. Perhaps it is one thing that you do, or one way of being in the world. Whatever it is, do some soul-searching and find that one thing you are special for. If you cannot think of anything, pray to the Universe to show you the one thing that makes you special.

If you feel you have no value, you can be of use to another person. Being of service takes you out of thinking about your woes, your feeling that you have no value. Yesterday I talked about this, and today I’m going to repeat it. Do something nice for someone in your life, even if you don’t know them. Smile at an elderly person, and say hello. You will brighten up their day, I guarantee you.

Find one thing about yourself and your situation for which you are grateful. Gratitude changes your mindset and begins to dispel the feelings that you have no value. I cannot recommend gratitude enough as a tool for feeling better.

You were not born into this word to feel you have no value. Identify those things that make you think you have no value and remember that they are not true. Remember that simply by “being” on this earth, you are valuable. Make your bad times into something good and be of use to another by talking how you got past it. Bit by bit, you will heal the feelings that you have no value. I wish you peace as you journey today.

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Grief Timeline and Behaviors – Part 1

Good morning to you each. I hope your day has dawned with the promise of peace. Today, I picked the topic of grief and want to look at the process involved in grief recovery – how long it takes and what we might be dealing with throughout the process.

My information here is based on personal experience with seven years of a debilitating grief from which I recovered, as well as the book, The Grief Recovery Handbook, the 20th edition, by John W. James and Russell Friedman. Some of what I say about the stages of grief are based on Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’ teachings about the 5 stages of death and dying.

Perhaps the first thing about the grief process is to know that grief is normal after loss of any sort… death of a loved one or pet, divorce or loss of a relationship, loss of a job, or a move from one place to another. The other thing to know is we are not alone. Others have also felt loss and gone through grieving.

But what do we do when we feel this acute emotional pain, this loss? We take baby steps, and we allow ourselves to feel the pain in waves, or however it presents itself to us. If we cannot deal with the pain all the time, that is normal, and need to divert ourselves, distract ourselves, that is normal. I don’t recommend using substances to numb ourselves as a healthy distraction, however.

We honor our process, the steps we make. Our feelings may go back and forth between denial, anger, bargaining, and depression until we finally reach acceptance. This is totally individual and while one person goes through these in order and not too lengthy a time in each, another may go back and forth hundreds of times and take months or years to go through.

It’s important to remember we are each unique, that the relationship we had with what we have lost is unique and, thus, our responses will all be unique. People will say well-meaning things to us which are not useful and even hurtful, like “Get over it,” or, “You didn’t need her anyway. You’ll find someone else better.”

These things are said out of ignorance of knowing what to say to someone who has suffered a loss. Try to have tolerance of these things that are said and not take them to heart. Know that we as a society have not learned how to deal with loss and so, are uncomfortable with it.

I want to continue this tomorrow but I will leave you with this thought: Alternating between a roller coaster ride and calm are quite normal and if we can see our pattern and the things that trigger us to go on the ride, plummeting, than we can predict it and not go under when it hits.

Tomorrow, I will address feelings specific to the grieving process, and ways to move through them. Please come back for the conclusion when I write about how to cope with grief and its behaviors.

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What Is Honesty?

Good morning, all, and may this be a day of great peace for you. The search term that I am going to write about today is honesty, what is honesty. When practiced, honesty brings peace and freedom to us.

Webster defines honesty as that which will not lie, cheat, or steal. That’s how I used to define honesty. Then, when I got sober, I learned an expanded version of it, which is included in Webster’s definition as free from deceit, being genuine and pure.

It is the latter that I wish to expound upon today. You see, we can be dishonest about who we are as a person, how we present ourselves to others. That’s what I did all my life… be deceitful in the sense that I pretended to be what I was not. I pretended that all was okay, for example, that I liked something, for example, when I didn’t.

Honesty pertains to portraying to people what we really are inside, letting people see our tender and vulnerable side. It also means looking with honesty at our actions, our behaviors. Let me talk a little more about this.

Most of us don’t like to admit our foibles, our faults, our poor behavior and actions. Yet, we all have these, all do these at one time or another because we are human and that’s just what we do. Honesty means admitting to ourselves and to others when we have poor or bad behavior, when we have done something to hurt another.

But when we admit to our wrong-doings, the freedom we feel is incredible, and then the peace comes. First we must admit to ourselves our poor behavior. I, for example, have a love of Haagen-Dazs chocolate and chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream.

One day, as I was slowly savoring some chocolate, I remembered how my ex-husband used to also love it, the chocolate, and I refused for it to be in the house because it was too expensive, even though we could have afforded it. Wow, what a realization. I felt somewhat ashamed to have placed that restraint on him and his likes, how I curtained a simple joy of his. As I do not have contact with him anymore, I could not bring that up to him, acknowledge it, and apologize.

Instead, I began to see how my selfishness at the time kicked into play, how it curtailed him some joy in life. I shook my head in sadness for him, for me, for all the times my selfishness hurt another, and was glad I can realize my self-centeredness today, so I can keep it in check.

That is an example of practicing honesty with myself. I had to admit to myself something I was ashamed I had done, realized why, and now can resolve to watch for that in my further dealings with others. I am willing to admit it to him also, if I had contact with him. So, not only do we look with honesty at our actions and behavior, we want to admit it to the one upon whom we have displayed our not-so-hot behavior. That is where the freedom and peace lie.

How do you practice honesty in your life? Do you admit to yourself your poor and bad behavior, taking responsibility for it by first admitting it to yourself and then to the other involved person? This is a good question to answer in a writing exercise.

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Is PTSD More Anxiety or Depression?

Hello. Today I am going to talk about PTSD, post traumatic distress disorder. It was searched for by a Vietnam vet who is still suffering from it. Ah, my heart goes out to you and to all of you Nam vets who still suffer from this, and I want to thank you for your service and say, welcome home!

PTSD is becoming more well diagnosed for men and women who have been in combat. PTSD can strike people who were not in combat, also. It can develop for anyone who has been a victim or observer of trauma, including physical, sexual, and verbal. Symptoms include hyper-vigilance, or being acutely aware of what is going on around you at every instant in time. People with PTSD usually replay the incident(s) over and over in their mind. They are highly anxious and they are depressed.

To answer the question, is PTSD more anxiety or depression, for me, they were equal. And, the depression led to despair and hopelessness. I prayed to die at that point. I suffered PTSD from a physically abusive upbringing, being both the receiver and observer of traumatic acts. I dealt with the effects of it until I was 54 years of age, which was several years into sobriety.

PTSD was diagnosed for me after I was placed on medication for depression and I continued to be highly anxious. In fact, I was diagnosed with panic disorder, which I believe was from the PTSD. Today, for example, since finding my purpose in life and forgiving my parents for the abuse, I do not feel that hyper-vigilance, that anxiety, that panic.

What can one do who has PTSD? Well, you can seek help from a mental health clinic in your county, or see a psychiatrist. You can also see a person who administers EMDR, which stands for eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. It is a specific movement of the eyes guided by a therapist trained in EMDR, and that is what helped me, in addition to talking to a therapist, and anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. You can go to this site and this, for more information about treatment of PTSD.

So, PTSD can be equally demonstrated by high anxiety, as well as depression. It is a heck of a place in which to be, as one struggles with low energy, but has the need to watch what’s going on around them. It is exhausting because of this. There are answers, and I hope you, the Vietnam vet who searched for the phrase “is PTSD more anxiety or depression,” finds those answers and some comfort and solution in this post. You deserve peace in your life and I wish it for you.

 

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Feeling Hopeless with No Purpose or Reason to Live

Good morning. I hope this morning dawns brightly, and that you aren’t feeling hopeless with no reason to live. Instead, I hope that you each reflect upon your strengths and the wonderful being that you are, and bring that to the world today.

I was struck by this search, “feeling worthless with no purpose and no reason to live” because I have been there. I have been in that place that is so low, that all I wanted to do was to die. In fact, I prayed to God several times a day to let me die. He didn’t answer that prayer…

I’m so glad He didn’t because things turned around for me, and they can turn around for you, too. With a little bit of action, you, too can feel there is purpose to your life, to your living and you can quiet those feelings of feeling hopeless.

The first action I suggest is to take the time each morning to write in a journal. I suggest writing with your non-dominant hand. I am right-handed and when I started writing with my left hand, all sorts of things, deep feelings, came up and flowed onto the page. I printed instead of writing script. That was easier. There is a soothing quality that emerges when we can express what is in our heart and soul.

The second thing to do is to seek out books written about the thing you are feeling hopeless about. For example, my feelings of hopelessness centered around my abusive childhood, so I found authors John Bradshaw, Alice Miller, and Claudia Black and I read their books. They gave voice and definition to the feelings I had but couldn’t quite name. This was very soothing for me.

The third thing you can do is to find someone to talk to about feeling hopeless, someone with whom to share your burden. This can be a trusted friend, family member, or clergy/minister. Remember, a pain shared is a pain divided. Find someone who will not start telling you what to do, but will instead just listen and offer comfort to you.

Try these three things and see if you get some relief from feeling hopeless. The secret lies in trying to get the feelings out… either in writing or by verbalizing them.

To you who is feeling no reason to live, I wish you hope to live, hope that your life is worth it. You see, each life is worth it. Each person has a gift to share with the world. You just don’t know what that gift is yet. Be patient. It will appear. You will soon discover it and feeling hopeless will melt away.

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Getting Through Grief After a Divorce – Part I

Good morning! The day dawns clear and bright, and like all days, brings the promise of peace and joy to my world. I hope this is so for your world as well. Someone was looking for inspirational sayings for after a divorce, and I can offer ways to get through your grief. You be the judge of whether or not what I say is inspirational. : )

Grief occurs with any loss we experience. In other words, grief does not only occur after the death of a loved one. Loss includes divorce, loss of a pet, loss of a job, even a move to a different location. If we recognize that we have experienced a loss, that makes going through the grief process that much easier because we are not resisting it or being blind to our grief.

Grieving is difficult, I will admit, yet, to return to whole and to get to peace-of-mind again, we need to allow ourselves to feel our grief. We need to allow ourselves to go through the process of recovery and repair of our heart. Today, let’s talk aboout the grief process after a divorce.

People are uncomfortable with another’s expressions of grief and say some pretty useless and even damaging things. Examples include: “Get over it,” “S/he was no good for you anyway,” “You will meet someone else and forget about him/her.” There are more, and these are most commonly said to us when we have gone through a divorce and are struggling with our grief. So, what can we do?

First of all, it is a grave disservice to tell someone who is grieving to “get over it!” This totally negates where someone is in the process of grieving. Obviously, they can’t, or they would! There is something stopping them from moving on. Often, that is unfinished business, anger, or guilt.

For me, after I left my marriage in 2001, I grieved the loss of my familiar routine the most. It took several months before I actually missed my ex-husband. Then I moved into the guilt phase, as I realized the ways in which I had led the marriage to demise. Occasionally, I still get twangs of grief over things I did, and I say soothing things to myself, like: “If you had known better, you would have done better, Jones.” “You did the best you could with the tools you had at the time, lacking though they were, it was the best you knew how to do.”

Sit with that self-talk for the day, and I will return tomorrow to give more information about how to get through grief. I am splitting it up, because I have a fair amount more to say and the post is getting long. Also, for the day, try to ignore what people tell you that is not useful, realizing that the person saying those things is uncomfortable. Feel compassion for their uncomfortableness and continue with your soothing self-talk. I’ll be back tomorrow morning…

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Inspirational Thoughts for Feelings of Hopelessness

There were two searches for hopelessness this morning, and I would like to address this topic today. I wish to offer some solace and comfort to those of you who are feeling hopeless.

I remember what it was like to have feelings of hopelessness. It was a feeling that what I wanted and expected would not happen, that there was no sign of a favorable outcome. It led me to great depression and despair, and I spent every day praying to God to let me die. I was miserable and did not want to continue in life.

Then something happened which turned that around for me. I listened to the people who were urging me to seek professional psychiatric help for my depression and despair. I sought help through the County Mental Health system. What I discovered was, I was suffering from major depression and panic disorder.

Ray of Hope

Suddenly, armed with this new information, I saw a ray of light, a twinkling of hope. I felt less like I was a loser, a failure. I accepted the recommendation to take medication for my disorders and I began to feel better emotionally. It was like it says in my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing:

“A ray of light across the bars of my being lights my way, instills hope in my heart.”

Just that little bit of light began the journey out of my emotional prison. But what really transformed my hopelessness was being of service to another who was suffering the way I was. I shared with them about my story, and efforts I had made to heal from my past, which is why I was feeling so hopeless. I began to feel worthy, worthwhile. From that point on, I felt hopeful that things could get better.

The thing is, I had to keep sober to get to that point. I had to maintain my sobriety. If I had not done that, I believe I would have stayed in that feeling of hopelessness, unable to get out at all. As is was, I was given the gift of continued sobriety because I worked at it.

As that ray of hope grew, I began to look at my expectations and discovered that what I was expecting was unrealistic. My expectations were too high. In my case, I was expecting to clear the pain of my past away, to wipe it from my mind. What I learned to do instead was to use it to help others, and that led me to more hopefulness.

I began to set realistic goals and dreams, based in every day occurrences. The more I helped others, the more peace with my past I began to have. It was amazing how that worked, but it did. With just that small ray of light, that ray of hope, I was able to conquer my hopelessness and that occurred because I asked for help. Asking for help allowed me to get unstuck and move forward. I stopped asking to die, and thanked God instead for showing me a better way, for guiding me to be of service to others.

Today, I have continual hope and the feelings of hopelessness have not returned. I consciously try to not have expectations for anything, and my goals and dreams are more realistic and attainable. This has led me to peace and joy.

Do you have feelings of hopelessness, like life is not worth continuing? If you do, I wish for you the courage to ask for help, to talk it over with someone else. I wish for you to be of service to someone else who is struggling also, so that you feel that your experience is worthwhile and through that, feel more hope. I wish you well on your journey.

 

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How to Stay Sober in the Wake of the Connecticut Shootings

Good afternoon. It is with a weeping heart that I write today, as I am writing to express my deepest condolences to the parents and families who lost children and loved ones yesterday. I am writing to help any of you survivors of those killed by writing about how to stay sober in the face of the acute and deep grief you are experiencing.

I do not have children, yet, I have a cat who is my child and I cannot imagine the grief I would feel if she were shot or lost in some other senseless, and devastating way. So, I can say that the loss of a child must be one hundred times more painful than the loss of my own “child,” my pet. I would want to drink to dull the tremendous heartache and grief.

This may be the case of any sober person related to someone who died yesterday. You are in such pain that the thought of drowning that sorrow in a drink or several must be tempting… oh, so tempting. Yet, with the help of your Higher Power, friends, family, and other sober people, you can get through this without a drink.

Try to separate yourself from your sorrow for a brief moment to consider where that drink will lead you… to total emotional meltdown, to possible DUI, jail, or other institutions. You could lose everything. And you don’t need that right now. It’s important to  stay present for your family, for yourself. So think the drink through.

Prayer and seeking comfort from others are so needed right now. Try not to isolate yourself; rather, talk to someone about your feelings, or go to a meeting of your support group and share about your feelings of grief. Allow your sadness, your sorrow, to surface and to be known to others. Even as I recommend not to isolate, it is important to allow yourself alone time to grieve, but don’t do it with a drink.

In the wake of this tragedy, these are a few thoughts about how to stay sober. These words seem so trite and lacking, and yet, they are the only ones I can muster at this time.

To those of you who are reading this, please join me in sending prayers and thoughts to the families of the victims, and the children who experienced this tragedy. Thank you.

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PTSD Despair – the Conclusion

Today, we conclude the post about PTSD despair. Yesterday, we ended with me saying I wanted to share my experience of what was happening at the end, when I was praying to die. Here’s what was going on for me.

I had been in a state of decreased energy, of lethargy, for weeks, feeling that my abusive past had occurred only to make my life miserable. Other than that, there was no purpose to it, there was no purpose to me, to my life. This was my state-of-mind at about five years of sobriety. One day, I was at a group meeting for that sobriety, and a man shared about the difficulties he was experiencing from his childhood that were affecting him today. It sounded like what I had been through, but I was a few steps ahead of him in the process of healing. So, I went up after the meeting and began to talk with him.

I first asked him for permission to share some things with him. After he said yes, I related to his experience by relaying some of what I had been through. Then I began to talk of the books I had read that had been helpful with the symptoms of abused people, such as Claudia Black, Alice Miller, John Bradshaw, books that had helped with my healing. I relayed how wondrous my therapist was in dealing with recovery issues, both for my alcoholism and my abusive past and the characteristics I was displaying, and was able to give him her number.

What I had to say was useful to him – I could see it in his face, in his eyes. He was so grateful for the information, he almost cried. As I walked back to my car, I realized in a flash that I DID have purpose, my abusive past WAS for a reason. That reason was to help others who were dealing with what I had overcome, even if I was just two steps in front of them in a couple areas. If I had not endured the abuse, I never would have been able to offer him anything. Therefore, my abuse had a purpose.

I had a purpose. From that point, I realized my purpose in life was to connect with people who were suffering emotionally, and relay the things that had helped me, so that the information could be of use to them.

In your case, with PTSD, let’s say you are a veteran, reliving the trauma you experienced, the terror, living in anger over the grief of premature deaths you witnessed, dealing with the guilt that somehow you could have prevented it. You are living a nightmare, and, yet, I invite you to take action to get out of the place where you currently are. Here is what I invite you to try. It worked for me.

Seek assistance from a qualified therapist, versed in PTSD issues. They exist at VA medical centers, if you are a vet, and interviewing a potential therapist about their experiences with PTSD treatment will help guide you in the right direction in selecting a well-versed therapist. I looked for a therapist that was versed in alcohol recovery and who knew the effects and treatment for being an abused child, for example, because at the time, I had not been diagnosed with PTSD.

After you select a therapist, ask about the use of EMDR, or get that yourself. It was roughly $100 a session and I needed three. I would imagine the VA centers have someone available to do it or could refer you. Do some reflection about your feelings of despair, your lack of purpose in the world, your guilts, your grief… writing, journalling was extremely helpful to me to get feelings out, and especially because I wrote with my left, non-dominant hand.  They say that writing with the non-dominant hand brings forth new information from the other side of the brain, and it stimulates you with deeper thoughts. I invite you to try it.

I invite you to stop drinking, if you are doing so. The liquor fuels the symptoms that you are experiencing, especially the anger. I know it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in the middle of it. But your world remains very small while you are drinking, filled with resentments and bitterness, guilt and remorse. You look for relief for these things in the alcohol, yet you will never find them there. It is in the absence of alcohol that you will find relief. There are many resources to help you stop drinking that are listed in the yellow pages, or on the internet. For me personally, I found getting sober to be the beginning of the process that has allowed me to find the peace I looked for in alcohol and drugs. I invite you in from the cold. 🙂

Finally, I’d like to invite you to look at the cause of your PTSD despair, and discover how that experience, the experience over which you despair, can be useful to another if you were to share with them your experience and what one, maybe two, steps you’ve taken to heal. All you have to be is two steps ahead of them in the healing process. I cannot describe the way my heart soared to know I had been of use to another and I invite you to experience it also.

I hope these two posts have been useful for you. I wish you well in your journey. May you have peace.

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PTSD Despair – the Beginning

Yesterday, there were two searches for PTSD despair, most likely the same person, yet I want to address it today and relate it to sobriety. I am thinking that whoever searched, was referring to the despair they feel because of their PTSD. So, let’s address this.

PTSD stands for post-traumatic stress disorder. According to all the information I have read, and based on my personal experience with PTSD, it is comprised of three categories of symptoms:

  • re-experiencing the traumas through flashbacks, bad dreams, and frightening thoughts about the trauma;
  • avoidance symptoms such as feeling numb, strong guilt, depression, or worry, avoidance of people and places that remind of the event, losing interest in once-enjoyable activities; and
  • hyperarousal, being on edge, getting angry easily, being easily startled.

You may be dealing with these symptoms as a result of recent trauma, or even years after an event that was traumatic for you. Or, you may be a veteran, dealing with either the long-term effects, or from the effects of recently being in service. If you are dealing with these symptoms and have not been diagnosed with PTSD, I gently invite you to seek assistance from a qualified therapist or someone at a VA Medical Center. There is great strength and courage demonstrated in the act of asking for help. For those of you long-term sufferers getting help, good for you! I applaud your efforts.

From my own perspective about PTSD and despair, I was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of about 53, and had been dealing with it since childhood, as a result of the trauma I endured and witnessed. I experienced all of the above symptoms, and I easily went to depression and despair. When I say despair, I am referring to the feelings that nothing is okay, in fact, everything is useless and there is no purpose in living. There is no hope.

In my case, I got to the point that I was praying to die because I was too scared to commit suicide. My anger had long-since been turned inward and it appeared in my life as major depression. I was a walking mess, feeling emotionally aweful. Fueled by my bitterness and under-lying anger at just about everything, I drank heavily, which only added to the flames. I felt there was no purpose in the events of childhood that had led me to misery in life. I had no purpose in life, no reason to be living.

Can you relate? if you are dealing with PTSD despair. I am thinking you are at the very hopeless stage. If this is the case, my heart goes out to you because I know how badly it sucks. Please know, however, that there is another side, another possibility. There is hope.

Hope came for me in the form of EMDR, a rapid-eye movement that retrains the pathways in the brain to lessen the effects of the trauma. With three of these treatments, my symptoms began to decrease, and even though some despair remained, I could see that there were possibilities to get out of the hole I was in. The despair was resolved in an instant, however, when I experienced the power of helping another, being of service to another.

And I’m going to address that tomorrow, because this post got to be well over 1000 words, so I decided to make it into two blogs. Tomorrow when I join you, I will be sharing my experience with you in the hopes that you may gain something from it that is of use to you.

I wish to acknowledge your pain by saying, yes, it is a very difficult place to be. I feel for you. You have great courage to face it and I invite you to keep putting one step in front of the other, doing the next thing that comes along your path to do. Writing in a journal with stream-of-consciousness writing works well. That’s where you write whatever comes into your head, in whatever order. It is very cathartic.

Join me tomorrow for the conclusion of PTSD despair. Until then, remember, hang in there. You never know when things are going to change around suddenly. Don’t leave before the miracle.

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