Posted in building the new world

9/11 The Collective Trauma We Will Never Forget

On this 17th year anniversary of the September 11th ( 9/11 ) bombing of the Twin Towers, I am reposting my article “United States of Trauma.”  I for one will never forget standing in the lab in the basement of Affinity medical clinic watching the endless loop replaying of the bombing.  I will never forget the horror that suddenly fell upon me that night as my babies lay sleeping in their rooms and realizing that they would grow up in a world knowing they might never be safe.  I cried myself to sleep that night.  17 years later I look at the world our children have grown up in and I am sad for their loss of innocence, yet grateful for the wisdom that has come forth out of our youth in having grown up in the United States of Trauma.  Perhaps they were born into this trauma so that one day we all might be healed.  Here is the article:

United States of Trauma

On September 11, 2001, the United States suffered it greatest trauma, 2996 people were killed and another 6000 wounded. As the first act of such magnitude to be committed within the continental U.S., America lost its innocence along with any sense of domestic security.  As the deadliest terrorist act in world history, the world, but most especially the United States, has not yet recovered.  I’m not sure we ever will. Since the moment the planes flew into the Twin Towers, the U.S. has been at war – first against people of color in countries made of sand and now against each other.  For the past 17 years the United States has known nothing but war, and our current cultural climate suggests that as a nation we are collectively suffering the effects of trauma.

trauma, a nation in trauma, healing trauma, PTSD, September 11, 9/11, trauma coming out sideways.

The Effects of Trauma

In the simplest of terms, when we have an experience that our mind interprets as traumatic, we are instinctually driven toward one of three survival tactics: fight, flight or freeze. If the trauma is not resolved or if the traumatic response is not released from our emotional/physical bodies, the trauma remains. When this occurs, we might find ourselves in a permanent state of fight, flight or freeze.  In this state, we respond to anything that (even subconsciously) reminds us of the initial trauma as if it is happening again.  This is known as a triggering episode.  Unless the trauma is effectively treated, we will find ourselves in an endless loop of reactionary behaviors. Until someone points out to us that our behaviors might be the after effects of trauma, we think nothing of them, often to the point where they become normalized.  I contend that our current cultural climate – defined by fear and division – is in fact, trauma coming out sideways.

United States of Trauma

Whereas September 11th initially had a unifying effect, since the decision to go to war, we, as a nation, have become increasingly polarized.  Our increasing access to information (both true and untrue) has hastened this polarization, and it seems there are those who might actually be feeding this division because it benefits them in some way, or perhaps this is their own reaction to unresolved trauma.  Unresolved trauma comes out sideway in behaviors that are uncharacteristic, often irrational and fear-driven.  We obsess.  We worry.  We fret.  We become angry. We want to fight.  We become immobile. We ignore what is right in front of us. Instead of identifying the fear that is unhealed within us, we want to make someone or something outside of us the enemy – the cause of our concern.  In the current state of our culture, many “enemies” have been named:   Republicans, Democrats, Liberals, Conservatives, Blacks, Whites, The Police, Muslims, Christians, Millennials, Baby Boomers, Screen time, (remember when TV and Rock Music were the “enemies?”) Men, Women, The Media, The NRA, those seeking gun control, Pro-Lifers, those who are Pro-choice, The Rich, The Poor, Corporate Greed, those taking advantage of the system, The Economy, Banks, Illegal Immigrants, those seeking refuge, the mentally ill, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.   The bottom line is that the fear and division that currently control our culture have absolutely NOTHING to do with all those things we want to point our fingers toward as being “the enemy.”  Instead, it has EVERYTHING to do with unacknowledged and unresolved TRAUMA.

Healing from Trauma

We are a nation in trauma. We have been for a very long time (I’m still not sure we’ve recovered from the Civil War!), but even more so since 9/11.  In order to heal from the effects of this trauma (increasing fear and division), we have to name it as such, and then do the difficult work of healing from that trauma.  Healing from trauma happens when we are able to:

  1. Name the trauma. What is actually at the heart of our fearful thoughts, reactions, and behaviors? What is the true cause of the fear? Maybe it is 9/11, or maybe it stems from something even older – an experience of childhood abuse, bullying or rejection, a devastating loss or disappointment, a past failure or betrayal?
  2. Acknowledge that the fear has NOTHING to do with what you are currently perceiving outside of you (events in the news, the disagreement with your spouse, what you read on social media), but is instead related to something within you asking to be healed. Once you are able to identify the fear comes the hard part.
  3. Instead of following our instinct which is to “make the fear go away,” (by pointing the finger of blame at someone else, ignoring or denying it, numbing it, etc.) we SIT with the fear. Allow yourself to actually FEEL the fear. Identify where in your body you might be feeling it, breathe into that fear, and then breathe out love. Remain with this practice (which the Buddhists call Tonglen), until you feel the fear change. Maybe it moves. Maybe it is resolved and you find yourself coming to peace. Maybe it changes to anger or sorrow. Whatever you do, don’t respond or react to the fear, instead, allow it to be healed.
  4. Shampoo, Rinse, Repeat. Each and every one of us is a bundle of unacknowledged and unresolved woundedness and fear. Until we are able to heal the trauma that dwells within us, we will never be able to heal the fears that have placed fear and division as the rulers of our country.

Healing from trauma is difficult and challenging work, but enormously rewarding. Freeing ourselves from the effects of trauma empowers us to see our world through a different lens, allowing us to come to the discussion table where we are able to effectively work together for justice, peace and reconciliation.  Until we can heal what is broken within us, we will never be able to heal what is broken in our nation or our world.

NOTE: The practices shared here are for the purpose of addressing normal, everyday fear.  If you find your symptoms persisting, please seek additional support through spiritual counseling, traditional counseling, self-development courses, or through any of the methods of intervention which have proven helpful in healing trauma:  EMDR and Brainspotting to name a few.

 

Posted in Inspiration, mental illness

Married to a Narcissist?

It seems like every day another person crosses my path who is looking for support in recovering from being in a relationship with a narcissist. Whether the narcissist was their parent, boy or girlfriend, wife or husband, or boss, it seems that the number of people suffering the after-effects of being in a relationship with a narcissist is epidemic!

(If you believe you might be one of those who has suffered from being in a relationship with a narcissist, learn more HERE.)

In my experience working with those who have been in a relationship with a narcissist, there are two kinds of narcissists – those who were likely abused themselves and who are suffering from an extreme case of arrested development and who are narcissistic in their behaviors, but not necessarily intentionally cruel. Then there are those who are true sociopaths and who engage in their narcissistic behaviors so as to purposefully do harm to another person.  Narcissism is a clinically defined mental illness which unfortunately, is difficult to diagnose because narcissists are masters of disguise.

Narcissists, usually because of a very deep inferiority complex, likely unknown to them, create an external persona that they present to the world and that they have convinced themselves is their truth. Only those closest to the narcissist, or the unwitting and innocent victims of the narcissist’s truth when it comes out sideways, are the wiser.  To everyone else, the narcissist is the kindest, most generous, thoughtful, helpful and supportive person on the planet.  To the innocent, narcissists are nothing if not charming!  To those who have been caught in their web, the narcissist is a monster.

maskpixabay

It has been said that there are three stages of being in a relationship with a narcissist – idealize, devalue, discard. Narcissists are magnetically charming to those they are trying to bring into their web.  They will convince you and others that you are the greatest thing since sliced bread.  You rock their world and they have been waiting their whole life for a child, lover, employee, like you.  Typically, narcissists seek out those they know they can manipulate – typically those who are truly generous, kind, helpful, supportive and empathic.  Once they have charmed you into their web, the abuse begins.  Slowly, subtly, surely, the narcissist begins to devalue you, whittling away any sense of self-esteem, confidence and self-worth.  Everything you do is wrong.  Everything you say is wrong.  Nothing is good enough.  If you wake up and begin to take care of yourself, learning about the abuse you have been in and work on getting help, when you can no longer be manipulated by the narcissist, they start to look elsewhere for their “supply.”  (narcissists are parasites, succubi who “feed” on other people’s kindness, goodness, generosity, etc.) Once they have found someone else to manipulate, then you will be discarded….left with what remains of your soul (if there is any left), and wondering what the hell happened.

Narcissist cannot be cured because they do not believe there is anything wrong with them. (a “cure” is only possible when the narcissist admits they have a problem and are willing to do the work of stripping off the mask to unveil the vulnerable truth within and then work to heal those vulnerabilities, unhealed wounds, etc.) To themselves and those who do not know their truth, narcissists are perfect.  They are the masters of their destiny.  Everyone loves them.  At least that is what they believe (and what they want others to believe).  Only you (and others who have seen the truth behind the mask) know differently.

Recovering from a relationship with a narcissist is not easy. First, one has to realize that the symptoms of narcissistic abuse are akin to PTSD and require the same kind of support.  A combination of therapy, trauma release (EMDR, Brainspotting  and SEVA Acupressure have all been shown to be effective in releasing the effects of trauma) and medication may prove helpful.  Secondly, in recovering from a relationship with a narcissist, one has to accept  all the things they cannot and will never be able to heal or change in the relationship:

  • An active narcissist will never admit they are wrong or at fault and will never say they are sorry.
  • A narcissist will never let you win. If you were married, plan that you will be financially devastated and never get your “fair share” of the assets, etc.  Know that it will take years to rebuild after leaving a narcissist and that you will probably have to go into debt to get there.
  • The narcissist will never stop trying to manipulate and control you. In their eyes, you will always be wrong and everything you are doing will be wrong.  (For the sake of your own mental wellbeing, ZERO contact is recommended when leaving a relationship with a narcissist.  If zero-contact is not possible, then minimal contact is advised).
  • If you try to defend yourself, speak your truth, ask for what you deserve, the narcissist will retaliate. You will not be heard, you will not get what you want and the narcissist will use what they know about your vulnerabilities to reduce you to nothing for trying to name and claim your needs, your opinion, or assert your value.

In short, with a narcissist you can never win (not in the way that winning is measured in our culture anyway).

justice pixabay

But, there is karma. There is justice.  And the Truth always wins out in the end.

In the end, the narcissist will always dig their own grave. Truth cannot remain hidden forever and the narcissist will eventually be found out for who they truly are.  The narcissist can only create so much carnage before others become wise.  Their “success” begins to fail. Their “fame” begins to fade.  Their charm no longer works because too many people have viewed the carnage in their wake.  While this does not heal the pain of being in a relationship with a narcissist, it does provide a measure of comfort in knowing that truth will win out in the end.

And, you will be the ultimate victor for having the courage, stamina, self-love and tenacity to successfully leave, unravel from and heal after being in a relationship with a narcissist.

If you are or have been in a relationship with a narcissist, please seek outside support in dealing with and unraveling from the relationship. Seek out mental health professionals, a good attorney and financial advisor to help you in unraveling and recovering.  Narcissistic abuse is real and if you have suffered from this, please get help! 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Being Human, Discernment

Why I’m Choosing Prozac

 

Trauma

A creeping sensation crawling up the length of my spine,

Arriving at the base of my skull,

Gripping my head like a vice,

Wrapping its tentacles around my ears and jaw,

Pain creeping over the top of my head.

Eyes darting,

following the anxious thoughts in my mind

My consciousness on hyper-alert

Attentive to

Every

Subtle

Tiny

Thought

Movement

Change

Shift

Sensation

Emotion

Awareness

Breath.

Did I remember to breathe?

A flood of chemicals pouring through my entire being

Paralyzing my mind.

Gripping my sight

Fretfully seeking out the next possible threat.

Image: Pixabay.com
Image: Pixabay.com

Anxiety and panic attacks accompanied by migraine headaches and depression. It hasn’t always been like this, but for the past 12 years, since I had my first (known) panic attack in 2004, this has been the preoccupation of my waking (and sleeping) mind and the lived experience of anxiety as it floods my body.  And when anxiety isn’t flooding my body, all my energy has been directed toward trying to prevent its onslaught.

It didn’t used to be this way. In fact, I remember a time when I simply enjoyed life.  Yes, I put a lot of pressure on myself to achieve and succeed, but I used to remember how to have fun…and how to play.  And driving used to be one of my most enjoyable tasks, relaxing even.  But when panic attacks happen while driving, driving becomes something you dread, equating driving with death, because when you are having a panic attack, it feels like you just might die.  And when you are driving a vehicle at 70mph as your vision is closing in and your heart is pounding, it just doesn’t feel very safe.

It didn’t used to be this way. But, couple the genetic predisposition to the Irish curse (depression and anxiety) with 25 years of on-going and relentless trauma, and panic is bound to happen….and anxiety….and migraine headaches…and depression.

At first I was in denial. “Oh, it’s just low blood sugar, an endocrine imbalance, the wine I had last night, the lack of sleep, blah blah blah.

Then I bargained. Yoga helps.  Meditation helps.  If I eat the right foods, get the right amount of sleep, learn to be present with my emotions, let my Soul’s purpose come forward, allow 30+ years of suppressed emotions to find their expression, engage my creativity, dance, move, run, drum, scream, chant, etc. etc. etc.

While all of this has helped, and given me relief from time to time, mostly I have spent the past 12 years trying not to have anxiety or a panic attack – scrutinizing every thought, feeling emotion, social situation as potential triggers, forcing myself to BE MY TRUE SELF….watching all the while as my world gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Avoiding social situations because I might feel anxious.  Choosing not to drive….or making excuses, so I won’t have a panic attack.  Then feeling guilty as hell for depriving myself and my children of a life that should be about enjoyment….not imprisonment.

It isn’t even the panic attacks that are the problem – because in truth, I’ve only had a few. It is the on-going fear and protective measures taken in the hopes of preventing a panic attack, measures which ironically are most likely an enormous part of the problem.

So what does one do? A few years back when panic attacks were waking me out of a dead sleep, I tried Lexapro.  Yes, it silenced the other voice in my head, the panic attacks stopped and I even began to feel some measure of joy.  But the entire time I was on it, I felt like shit.  I felt hung over and nauseous every day.  I was tired and I gained weight.  This was not how I wanted to live my life.  Then the Lexapro stopped working and I forgot to take it.  For a time I managed on my own, but was I really? I’m no longer sure.

Because now I see it plainly. This past weekend I took my son to the mall, which required driving on the highway I’m most afraid to travel.  I employed every tactic I could to “make” myself able to do it.  I breathed.  I drummed.  I took a flower essence.  I listened to a comedy CD to distract my anxious thoughts.  I did it.  But instead of feeling victorious, I felt like hell.  I felt sick, I felt exhausted, I felt worn out.  Then I examined what I had been feeling in preparation for the drive and how my body truly responded….and then wrote the poem above.

This is not a life. Making myself do things I am currently unable to do…and making myself sick in order to do them.

This is not a life. Using all my energy to “manage” symptoms I ultimately have no control over.  Anxiety.  Depression.  Migraines.  Panic Attacks…..all the after-effects of trauma.  You could almost say I earned these symptoms.

This is not a life. When all my energy is directed toward managing these symptoms, I have nothing left to give to the things I want to enjoy in my life – creating, nurturing, nourishing, enjoying, playing.  When every ounce of psychic energy is directed toward treating anxiety, depression, migraines and panic attacks, I have nothing left to give to anything else, and this is not how I want to spend my energy – especially when Western medicine has tools to help ease, and maybe even heal the trauma that caused these symptoms in the first place.  Because again, when all my energy is directed toward managing these symptoms, my body is not able to heal – and I want to heal because I am more than the trauma that I have experienced and more than the anxiety that has since defined my life.

This is why I am choosing Prozac (or whatever else my doctor might recommend in helping to treat the after, and ongoing effects of trauma).

Posted in Teenage Suicide

The Causes of Teenage Suicide

The topic of teenage suicide has been high on my list of concerns since the first of two suicides of girls my daughter’s age in the seventh grade. Six of my children’s peers have committed suicide in the same number of years.  When the national statistic for teenage suicide is 7 out of 100,000 students of the same age, the suicide rate in my daughter’s class alone is alarmingly high!  FIVE OUT OF 250!  As a parent, and a psychological and personal development professional, I am deeply concerned!  What is happening with our children and how can we help them?

Teenage suicide is an enormous topic and one that will not be solved through a single action (or blog in this case). But as a dear friend and respected colleague recently stated, our goal around the topic of teenage suicide should be ZERO TOLERANCE. None of our children should be left to believe that suicide is the only way out of whatever difficult situation is troubling them.  Preventing teen suicide and providing support for those who have lost a family member or friend to suicide requires the collaborative efforts of many people, social service, educational and government entities.  Before we can solve the problem of teenage suicide, however, we must first explore the underlying causes of suicide.

CausesofSuicideVisual

While this list is by no means exhaustive, it gives us a glimpse into many pieces of a complicated puzzle that when added up, might lead one to believe death is the only possible solution.

STRESS

Our teens are under an enormous amount of stress. Stress related to:

Relationships – peers, friends, family, cliques, boyfriends, girlfriends, breakups, heartbreak, unrequited love, divorce, etc.

Pressure to Achieve – school, pressure to do well in school, decisions about college and career, pressure from the media, friends, family, pressure to belong, pressure to conform, etc.

The World – as I mentioned in a previous blog, “Our Kids Are Not Alright!,” our world is a mess!  Our children have NEVER not known a world at war!  Our economic and political situations are the worst they’ve ever been.  The educational outlook (the reason for pursuing education post-high school) is grim.  Our children know that the promise of a “financially rewarding career” after college is a lie.  They are facing the very real possibility of not being able to afford college (tuition rates are at an all-time high), and that the only way to attend might be through student loans which will leave them forever indebted to the government and never able to buy their own home.  This is real folks!  And our children know it!

Stress untreated = more stress = apathy = anxiety = depression

 

GRIEF

Every death, change, disappointment, hurt feeling, divorce, physical move, school transfer, breakup, change in the status of friend relationships, etc. triggers grief. In our culture we don’t know how to do grief.  We don’t even know what grief is, let alone how to deal with it.  This is no different for our children.  They are grieving, they might not know they are grieving (or the symptoms of grief), and there are few there to help them (we can’t help them if we don’t know how to grieve ourselves!).

Grief untreated = anxiety and depression

ABUSE

Abuse is rampant in our society and many of our children are living in abusive situations – physical, emotional, mental, verbal, spiritual, sexual, being bullied or neglected. Whether they are being abused, or someone else in their home or close-knit circle of friends is, they suffer the effects of abuse.  On-going abuse can lead to PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other “diagnosable” mental illnesses.

Abuse untreated = anxiety = depression = PTSD = panic attacks

 

POVERTY

While teenage suicide is not unique to any specific socio-economic category, poverty adds another dimension of stress– poverty, hunger, homelessness, poor nutrition, access to quality healthcare (or any healthcare for that matter), transient families, etc. all contribute additional stressors in an already difficult situation that might lead to believing death is ones best option.

Poverty = anxiety = isolation = depression = helplessness = hopelessness

 

LEARNING DISABILITIES, PROCESSING and SENSITIVITY ISSUES

According to the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual), this category should fall under that of “mental illness.” I refuse to put learning and processing issues under this category as it would only reinforce the false perception that if we learn differently from what the Common Core says is the “norm” there is something “wrong” with us.  While some “learning disabilities” are readily identified and accommodations are able to be made (because this is mandated by the State or Federal government), most are not.  Dyslexia, for example, is one processing issue that often falls through the cracks.  This does not even begin to touch learning style differences and sensitivity issues.  HSP’s (highly sensitive people) are not identified in education, neither are accommodations made for them.  When our children learn by seeing or doing and teaching is not adapted to meet their needs, or accommodations are not offered to help them learn, they can’t learn.  And when they can’t learn, they cannot succeed in education.

Not learning=not achieving=not succeeding=feelings of failure=stress, depression, anxiety, etc.

 

MENTAL ILLNESS

See above! No wonder the number of children who are being treated for symptoms consistent with mental illness – depression, anxiety, panic attacks, PTSD, etc. is at an all-time high.  Our children are suffering and much of this remains unrecognized, unacknowledged and therefore, untreated.  Throw in access to healthcare (or rather, the lack thereof) and a culture that is incapable of processing grief and you have a MESS!  Our children need our help!

Depression    Anxiety    Panic Attacks    PTSD

SuicideMindmap

Preventing teenage suicide begins by treating it at its cause. When we go directly to the cause we effectively eliminate the issues that would lead one to believing death is the only answer.  While this approach ultimately means widespread systemic change, the resources are already here, if we know where to look and if we can figure out how to work together toward this common goal.  While we might not save every life, our goal should be to make teenage suicide rare, instead of what has already happened in Oshkosh where teenage suicide has become expected and almost normal.  This is wrong….way wrong, and as parents and professionals, it is our responsibility to do something about it!

.

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Authentic Freedom Academy, Being Human, Empowerment, Lessons, mental illness, teachers, temptation

Panic Attacks – the Devil Inside (Part I)

Panic Attacks – the Devil Inside (Part I)

On Saturday, June 13th I had three full-blown panic attacks, the third so debilitating I was not able to drive myself and my son home from a shopping trip 30 miles from home.  As I mentioned in my blog on Monday, panic attacks suck…..or do they?  What if panic attacks are not here to harm or torture us, but are instead, here to teach us?  What if instead of judging them as harmful, rushing off to medicate them, or wanting to push them away, we welcomed them closer and allowed them to be our teacher?  What, you might ask, could a panic attack teach us other than, “life sucks and then you die?”  Let’s find out… 

panic

There is always more to the story…

As much as I hate having panic attacks, and they are terrifying while they are happening and every moment in between, for me, and I suspect many others who experience anxiety, depression and panic attacks (note:  the three are closely related), there is always more to the story.  Panic attacks don’t simply show up out of nowhere (though they sure seem like they do).  They always have deeper roots.  As I sat in the fog of the post-panic, post-Xanax hangover, I had ample opportunity to sort through all the potential precursors of panic (while trying not to get too much into old patterns of self-deprecation and negative self-judgment of thinking I did something wrong to bring on this panic and that there must be something wrong with me…).  In the search, I discovered there was a litany of potential “causes”:

Wine – ugh!  One tiny glass of wine the evening before (and as I noted had happened before every panic attack or near-panic I’ve had).  Wine=yeast=triggering my candida allergy.  Apparently there is a tie between candida and panic.  SIGH.  No more wine for me.

Keeping a lid on it!  Tending to a friend who received a medical treatment.  Helping another friend who received a cancer diagnosis.  Being present with a friend whose mother recently passed.  Lots of travel.  And just life in general.  Lots to carry.  Lots to hold.  Throw in some good old fashioned money fears…and….NOT TAKING CARE OF MYSELF in the midst of it all!  TONS of emotions were bottled up in me that needed to find a way out…..and boy did they!  (And let’s not forget the link between panic and past, unresolved trauma!)

STEPPING INTO MY GREATNESS!  The week leading up to the panic attack was a HUGE week for me.  I stepped into my new venture as Authentic Freedom Academy.  I put AFA out into the world.  I formed an affiliate program and sent out invites.  I completed the most recent Resurrecting the Magdalene course and ordained (yes, I said “ORDAINED!”) four women into The Order of the Magdalene/Christ. I received an important message about my beloved partner.  And finally…..through the support of some shamanic journey work, I rediscovered some very ancient methods of manifestation (ie: magic) and for bringing the new world into being.  Hint: “The Law of Attraction” is OUT (truth be told, it was never in for me anyway…more on that later).

Gethsemane

The link between panic and POWER

As much as we don’t want to admit it, there IS a link between panic and STANDING IN OUR POWER.  The way I understand it, the link between panic and power is two-fold:

Ignoring the voice of our Soul:

First, panic (and its precursor – anxiety) arises when we ignore, silence, suppress and repress our POWER, our truth, our gifts, our call, our purpose and our passions.  When we ignore the voice of our SOUL is will do everything in its power to get our attention.  The more we ignore the voice of the SOUL, the harder it works, sometimes having to resort to desperate measures to get our attention – even if it means panic.  This has definitely been the case for me.  When the truth is in my face again and again and again and I choose to ignore it, panic steps in.

Stepping into our power:

Panic attacks can also arise as a form of temptation.  The closer we get to our Soul’s purpose, God’s call for us in our life, the path of our highest Self, the harder the ego works to thwart us on our path.  Our Soul longs to be free – to have a life of fulfillment, expansiveness, meaning, peacefulness and love.  The ego wants SAME, status quo, what is old and familiar.  Think of Jesus in the desert and Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  In both instances, Jesus did battle with “Satan” over the path before him.  Heed the voice of fear and make himself equal to God (as was the discussion in the desert) or heed the voice of fear and recant his truth (that he was One with God but not necessarily equal)?  The ego does not want us to enjoy the path of our Soul or to embrace our gifts or our true power.  Instead, the ego wants us to remain small, in a place and situation that is familiar.  Toward that end, the ego will resort to all sorts of ministrations to keep us from our power – even panic attacks if it needs to.

Power and panic in proportion

I can think of two situations in particular (this weekend included) where a powerful moment of stepping into my power presented itself and panic stepped in.  In both situations, and army of support presented itself and I eventually figured out the true source of the panic – not in something I had done wrong, but in something I had done right!  Talk about empowering.  It is interesting to me to note that the degree to which we are stepping into our power is equal to the degree to which the ego fights to keep us from it.  From the degree of the panic attacks I experienced this weekend, I’m guessing I’m getting pretty dang close to the purpose of my soul and to the root of my true power.  How about you?

Stay tuned Panic Attacks, the Devil Inside Part II where we will learn how to embrace temptation (ie: panic attacks) as our teacher instead of our tormentor.

Authentic Freedom Academy provides resources and support for those wishing to heed the voice of their Soul – for those who know they are here for a reason, who want to know what that reason is, and who wish to contribute to the betterment of themselves and the world through their own unique giftedness.  Call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@autheticfreedomacademy.com to learn more.

Posted in Being Human, codependency, Relationships

Second Most Common Reason Relationships Fail

Last week I wrote about the number one reason relationships fail.  (Read that post HERE). Today, I am writing about the second more common reason for relationship failure:

Unmanaged Anxiety

Anxiety is Normal!

First of all….anxiety is normal and we all have it!  Anxiety can be mild as in the case of “butterflies” before an important event or severe as in the case of a full-blown panic attack.  Anxiety can manifest in a simple case of nerves or escalate into emotional collapse or mental paralysis.  Anxiety has many faces and degrees of severity and it arises out of a multitude of situations.  Sometimes anxiety is situational and at other times, it arises out of unhealed emotional wounds or physical trauma, as is the case with PTSD.  Anxiety also acts as an alert system notifying us that there is something within us that wants to be known – our truth (ie. Kundalini Awakening, Ascension symptoms) our desire for a life of meaning, the longing for fulfilling work, needs that are not being met, etc.  Anxiety is normal.  We all have it, and anxiety, in and of itself, is not bad.  Instead, anxiety is there to help us understand something deeper that wants to be known.

stress

The Problem

The problem is that in our culture, we are not taught how to identify anxiety or what to do with it (except numb it through medication, alcohol, drugs, sex, shopping, etc.). Not knowing how to identify anxiety or what to do about it would not be so much of a problem if we only have ourselves to deal with.  As human beings, however, we live in community. If we are not identifying and managing our anxiety properly, it tends to come out sideways, doing damage to ourselves and the people around us (Where do you think wars come from???).

The Blame Game

The most common way that unmanaged anxiety “comes out sideways” is in what I call The Blame Game. When we have unidentified and unmanaged anxiety, the go-to place of this anxiety is most often projection.  We feel unease, but we haven’t taken the time (or don’t have the skills) to identify what we are feeling and why.  So, instead of taking responsibility for our own inner terrain, we are certain that the people around us are responsible for our unease (our husband, kids, roommate, parents, co-workers, etc.).  We blame them for our feelings, then we either lash out in anger or turn the unease inward and harbor resentment toward “the other” for making us feel this way.

Healing our Relationships

One step we can take toward healing our interpersonal relationships is to learn how to identify and manage our own anxiety.  When we take care of our inner terrain, we no longer have the need to make “the other” the enemy. Taking care of our anxiety facilitates honesty in relationships which thereby cultivates intimacy. Managing our anxiety also gives us the tools through which we can cultivate healthy communication with others who have also learned to manage their anxiety – making overall better relationships….period!

 

Need support in identifying and managing your anxiety? Call Lauri Ann Lumby (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com to schedule an appointment.

Or check out our upcoming e-course, Happily Ever After – from Co-dependency to the Fulfillment of Love which explores all the reasons relationships fail and provides tools through which healthier intimacy can be attained.

 

 

Posted in Body/Mind/Spirit connection, mental illness

Are Panic Attacks Our Soul Trying to Wake Us Up?

It seems that panic attacks have become epidemic in our society.  Having experienced them myself and having worked with others in successfully reducing, if not eliminating, incidents of panic attack, I have come to believe that many, if not all panic attacks are our Soul trying to WAKE US UP!

lightlady1

Soul

I define Soul as the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to find meaning, purpose and fulfillment in our lives.  The Soul is there for our own fulfillment, specifically when engaged in service to the betterment of the world.  The Soul is God’s way of living in and through us and it is through the Soul that we participate in God’s on-going plan of creation – specifically, it is through the Soul that we become the people God made us to be and it is through the Soul that we assist God in making the world a loving, peaceful, harmonious, healthy and safe place where the needs of all species are met in abundance.  Since the Soul comes from God and is indeed, the Presence of God within us, it is a force to be reckoned with.

Soul Drive

The Soul’s desire is for one thing only – that we become the fullest expression of the unique person God made us to be.  Unfortunately, we live in a world where we all see our life experience through the false perception of separation.  As a result, we live in fear.  Fear thwarts our ability to hear, see, and know the Truth of our Soul.  Our own fears are then compounded by the fears of others who might attempt to suppress, ignore, criticize, or condemn our Soul.  We all experienced direct experiences of being shamed or punished for trying to express or live our truth.  As a result of these experiences, we hide our Soul away.

Soul Shouting

As we work toward locking our Soul away, the Soul fights back.  And the ways in which the Soul fights back are not pleasant.  As I mentioned before, the Soul is a force to be reckoned with.  She might start her fight quietly through withdrawal, mild depression, a series of mild illnesses.  But the harder we try to silence the voice of the Soul, the louder she becomes.  Chronic pain, unexplainable illnesses, ulcers, digestive disorders, auto-immune disease, anxiety, high blood pressure, clinical depression, panic attack.  People have even died in their attempts to silence their Soul.

Soul Waking

Many of these symptoms, panic attack most especially, is the Soul trying to wake us up.  Even for those whose panic attacks come as a result of trauma (PTSD), I would suggest that the panic is there as a way of encouraging you to get help in releasing and healing the trauma so that your Soul can lead you to the life you were meant to live.

Soul Truth

One thing I have learned about the Soul is that it never lies.  In fact, the Soul is all about the Truth and is impeccable with Truth.  Truth, more than anything, is what the Soul wants us to know.  As such, in the birth of the Soul, Truth is what the Soul is trying to help us see – the Truth of our pasts, the Truth we’ve covered with deceit, the truths we’ve rejected or suppressed, the Truth of who we are and who we were meant to be and in coming to know our own Truth, we come to know the Truth of others.

Panic Attacks

So, if you are experiencing panic attacks, or know someone who is, you might consider the possibility that the panic attacks are a result of your Soul trying to get you to know your Truth, and then seek support in getting to know your Truth.  Some truths may be difficult to see and to know (like past experiences of abuse or trauma), but it is only in naming and claiming ALL your truths that your Soul can find its place in the world.  You were made to know joy, to experience love, to know peace, to feel safe, and to find fulfillment through your own uniquely creative gifts through which you find meaning and purpose in serving the betterment of the world.

Lauri Ann Lumby assists men and women in the birth of their Soul through one-on-one mentoring, classes and workshops.  Starting July 7, 2014,  Lauri will be offering a Soul-Support class specifically for “The New Grown-ups” (also referred to as Millennials, Indigos, Crystals, New Kids, etc.).  To learn more, click HERE. 

Posted in mental illness, Midlife Journey

Mental Illness Awareness Week and Midlife

October 7th began the recognition of Mental Illness Awareness Week.  In honor of this very important drive for awareness and advocacy in the field of mental health, I want to address some of the mental health issues that tend to show up during the midlife and menopause transition.  Join me in building awareness of mental health issues and the valuable resources that are out there to support those who struggle with mental health concerns.

mental illness awareness week

It Might Not Be PTSD

I recently had a conversation with a friend in which they shared their recent journey through their father’s death. This friend expressed feelings of being “wrecked” and suspicions that the symptoms they were experiencing might be a form of PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  As a Spiritual Director and Midlife Mentor, I have witnessed many who have experienced similar symptoms – anxiety, sleeplessness, depression, mood swings, obsessive thoughts, even panic attacks which have mysteriously surfaced during similarly significant losses.  While I am not able to diagnose the existence of lack thereof of PTSD, what I suspect about my friend, and what I have witnessed in both myself, and others I have accompanied through the transitions of midlife, is that more likely than not, what we are experiencing is ultimately our truth trying to find its way out, and that the harder we resist our truth, the more persistent and painful are the symptoms that present themselves.

Mental Health Issues

Anxiety, depression, panic attacks, obsessive thoughts, mood swings and sleeplessness all fall under the category of mental health issues and depending on the degree to which we suffer from these complaints, may qualify as mental illness.  It is NOT a bad thing to experience mental illness.  In fact, the benefit of having a diagnosis is that we can then find effective treatment, support and medication where necessary and appropriate.  It is imperative, if you are experiencing any of these symptoms, to SEEK SUPPORT and then, to become your own advocate in the way of education, treatment and insurance coverage (where available).  Mental illness is treatable and many experience satisfactory and enduring results which greatly improve their quality of life.

A Complement to Mental Health Treatment Options

As a complement to traditional interventions for symptoms of depression, anxiety, panic attack, sleeplessness, obsessive thoughts, mood swings; and the oft-experienced physical symptoms of acid reflux, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, auto-immune disease relapses that often show up in conjunction with midlife, it may be helpful to begin to explore your own inner truth.

  • What are the past losses/changes/transitions that are in need of identification, grieving, healing and release?
  • What are the heretofore ignored or suppressed dreams that might be trying to find their way into the light?
  • Have there been past experiences of sexual, emotional, mental, physical, verbal or spiritual abuse that are calling to be revisited and healed at a deeper level?
  • Are there sexual orientation issues that are seeking to be known and lived freely in the world?
  • Are you being invited to realign your life choices and direction with your own desires instead of those of some outside perceived authority?
  • Are you being invited to identify and claim your own needs?
  • Are you being invited to take responsibility for your own life instead of being the hapless victim of some outside malevolent force which seems to be out to get you?

Midlife, unparalleled with other periods of transition, seems to unleash within us all the hidden and unspoken truths that we have silently hidden in the darkness.  If we have to COURAGE to go into those places of darkness and EXHUME our unrecognized truths, in seemingly miraculous fashion, we are often freed of the previously judged as unpleasant symptoms.

If you are looking for healing and support of mental health related issues, contact your local NAMI chapter, ask your physician for assistance, find a mental health professional in the form of a psychotherapist, behavioral counselor or therapist, and if you suspect your symptoms may be related to truths unexpressed, contact Lauri Lumby at (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com or find a spiritual director/life coach/personal mentor/ anam cara near you.

Posted in mental illness

Mental Health Week(s)…..Let’s Get Started!

Welcome to Mental Health Week(s) at Authentic Freedom Ministries and Your Spiritual Truth.  During the coming days, we will have an opportunity to read contributions by those who have suffered with mental illness, those who have survived and from practitioners who help to provide support for those experiencing mental illness.   The goal of these coming days is first and foremost to support and secondly, to educate and inform.  A BIG thank you for those who have been willing to come forward with their own stories and for those in the helping fields who have provided information and support.  Let’s get started, shall we?

What is Mental Illness?

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI); mental illness is:   a medical condition that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Mental Illness covers a broad spectrum of diagnoses including:

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) states that 25 percent of adults and 20% of children and adolescents are experiencing mental illness of some kind.  Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. What is important to know is that mental illnesses are treatable and that most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.  According to NAMI, an effective treatment plan can include:  medication, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and the use of other community services.  Diet, exercise, adequate sleep, intimate friendships and meaningful paid or volunteer activities can also contribute to the overall success of any recovery plan.

Obstacles to Diagnosis and Recovery

Perhaps the greatest obstacle to effective diagnosis and treatement is the negative stigma associated with mental illness.  It is important for us to know and to share with others that mental illnesses are serious medical conditions. Contrary to some schools of thought, mental illness cannot be overcome through “will power” and is not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence.  Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, gender, race, religion, income level or  intelligence.  Stigma erodes our ability to recognize that mental disorders are real, treatable health conditions and often halts our search for diagnosis and treatment.  This is a tragedy because the best treatments for serious mental illnesses today are highly effective.  NAMI estimates that between 70 and 90 percent of individuals have a significant reduction of symptoms and an improved quality of life with a combination of prescription medications and psychosocial treatments and a variety of other supports.

Symptoms of Possible Mental Illness

The symptoms of possible mental illness vary on the type and severity of the condition.  WebMD cites the following as general symptoms that may suggest a mental illness is present:

In adults

  • Confused thinking
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  • Extremely high and low moods
  • Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there)
  • Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Many unexplained physical problems
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol

In older children and pre-teens

  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Changes in school performance, falling grades
  • Inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical problems
  • Defying authority, skipping school, stealing, or damaging property
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Long-lasting negative mood, often along with poor appetite and thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger

In younger children

  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience and/or aggressive behavior
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Where to Go for Support

If you believe that you or someone you care about may be experiencing symptoms of a possible mental illness, early identification and treatment is of vital importance.  Early access to the treatment and recovery supports that are proven effective can accelerate recovery and reduce the potential of further harm related to the course of untreated illness.  For treatment and support, the NAMI website is a great place to start.  Or, talk to your doctor, ask for a referral from friends or relatives (chances are, they are either suffering themselves or know someone who is), talk to your Pastor, seek the help of a professional Counselor.  Whatever you do, get help and seek out support. Current treatments are effective, recovery is possible (especially in cases where the symptoms are largely situational) and you deserve to experience your best life possible.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com