Tag Archives: mental health

Do Nothing

From December 28 to February 2, I seemed to do nothing but cough. Three weeks into whatever I had I was finally diagnosed with a sinus infection. However, the cough is still lingering. I coughed so hard for a month that I pulled muscles I never knew I had. For six weeks I basically did nothing when I got home from work. My weekends were spent vegging on the couch. I didn’t feel like doing anything, so I did nothing. It took that long for my body to heal from that nasty virus. (And yes, I was taking vitamins, getting plenty of rest and eating healthy.) For some reason, that virus took hold and didn’t want to let go!

Sometimes, it’s okay to just do nothing. When you’re sick, the best thing is rest and fluids. God created our bodies (if they are relatively healthy) to heal themselves. Those Green Beret white blood cells are truly strong little soldiers! Rest does incredible things for our bodies. Sleep allows healing to occur. I am not a scientist, but I observe.

We can also become mentally sick – depressed. I was depressed for a long time before, during and after my divorce. I went to see my doctor and was prescribed antidepressants. It’s okay to be on medication in order to feel better. If you have pneumonia, you get antibiotics to make you feel better, to heal. Antidepressants help in the same way – they allow you to heal.

I’ve had days when I did absolutely nothing. I was depressed, or tired, or battle weary from the divorce. I felt alone, abandoned, and sad. It was okay to do nothing.  When I rested, I healed. The peace and quiet I found after my divorce helped me to heal.

One cannot expect to be healthy, to be up and running full speed when one has just experienced a traumatic event like a divorce. Give yourself permission to veg, to do nothing. Allow yourself to heal. If you don’t take care of yourself, who else will? Be kind to yourself. Stay tuned. . . .

Advertisements

Going Through Hell? Keep Moving!

I just read about a gentleman who received the Medal of Honor today from President Trump. Army Captain (Ret.), Gary “Mike” Rose was a medic on a covert operation during the Vietnam War. Even though he himself was injured, he kept tending to his wounded comrades. Reporter Lucia I. Suarez Sang, Fox News, writes: “In spite of his own injuries, he didn’t sleep for days to make sure all 16 American soldiers deployed with him made it home. They did.” Captain Rose was going through hell, pinned down by enemy gunfire, but he kept on going.

When I was in the midst of the divorce, my sister reminded me of what Winston Churchill once said: “If you’re going through hell, keep on going.” When you go through a rough time in your life, keep moving forward, because eventually, there is a way out. Don’t turn around and go back, even though what’s behind you may be familiar. Don’t dwell in or on your past. Move forward – put your head down, grit your teeth and move!

I know it’s hard to move forward. At times, you may feel paralyzed, abandoned, unable to think through the ‘brain fog’ or numbness that has set in. Just put one foot in front of the other, even if all you can manage today is one step forward. Did you get out of bed today? Good! Did you have breakfast or fix breakfast for your children? Even better! Did you change out of your pajamas (don’t worry about taking a shower!)? Many kudos! Life will get better.

Things will never be ‘normal’ again and you will have to find your ‘new normal’. Sometimes, that takes a while. It’s okay. And it’s okay to move at your own pace while you move forward. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We all heal at different times and in different ways. Word of warning: Don’t be destructive. If you think you are facing depression, go get help. It’s okay to be on medication until you get back on your feet.

Find a support group – one that encourages its members to move forward at their own pace. Ask a good friend or two to walk with you while you go through this time. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself abundant grace. Look at that lady in the mirror and smile at her because, even though she is going through hell, she is moving forward. Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

You Are NOT Damaged Goods

My hat is off to those women who have escaped an abusive relationship. Some have walked away (barely) and some have been pushed away. No matter how you left that relationship, you are free. You may not feel the exhilaration that comes with freedom, but in time, you will.

I experienced emotional abuse. It took a while to untangle the tentacles that accompany that type of abuse – co-dependency. But I did find freedom. Please know that in no way do I want to downplay the pain of physical abuse. I know it takes a great deal of courage to walk away from that.

For several months, I felt like I was damaged – could I trust my emotions? Could I trust that I wouldn’t get angry with Cycle Dude? Could I trust that he was where he told me he was? Could I trust that those texts were only from his children and not from another woman? Could I trust that he was not going to bad places on the computer? I had to make a decision – and I had to get help.

I had to make a decision to trust Cycle Dude. I had to make a decision to trust myself with him. I had to talk to someone about my battered emotions. I had to get help for PTSD. I am so glad I had friends to help me along the way. Encouraging Friend prayed with me, she cried with me and she sent me notes of encouragement. Practical Friend dug deep into my wounded soul and spread the balm of authentic friendship and love over the pain she found there. I am forever in these two ladies’ debt – they saved my life.

Dear one, know that you are NOT damaged goods. With time and help, you will be free again, you will be whole again and you will be able to love again. Give yourself the grace and time to heal. Hugs!! Stay tuned. . . .

(The photo at the top of this post is a white trillium – a wildflower common in the mountains of this part of the country. It is beautiful and, to me, it represents the purity of hope.)

Unexpected Sinkholes

Normally, I don’t post twice in one day, but . . . . it seems I’ve done that quite frequently! I live in a part of the country known for its karst topography, or the numerous limestone caves. Limestone is a sedimentary rock. Millions of years ago, this part of the country was underwater, which accounts for the limestone. Limestone is made out of the shells of sea creatures which contain calcium carbonate. As rainwater falls, it picks up carbon dioxide and forms a weak carbonic acid. This acid eats away at the limestone, producing caves and sinkholes. Some sinkholes are harmless, but others cause quite a bit of destruction (Google ‘sinkholes’ and you’ll see the recent ones in Florida as well as the giant one in Guatamala City several years ago).

We got word today after lunch that our grounds manager discovered a sinkhole. Luckily, it is not as big as one we had a couple of months ago that closed several lanes on the freeway. We’ll see if this one expands or if it is fixable in its current state. We should have expected this because of all the rain this part of the country had over the last weekend.

Whether you are divorced or not, you will run across sinkholes in your life – things that threaten to shut down or sideline your forward progress – illness, financial problems, job issues, relational difficulties. When the sinkhole at Myjob was discovered, we called out the appropriate personnel – the Department of Transportation, the utility provider, and the management at Myjob. Each person has their own sphere of responsibility in resolving the sinkhole issue.

When you face a sinkhole in your life, call out the appropriate personnel or experts to help you shore up that weakness: illness – seek medical help or professional help if you have mental issues; financial – seek out your banker and sit down with them to determine your best course of action; job issues – talk to your boss or someone in your Human Resources Department; relational difficulties – speak to a counselor who specializes in relationship issues. And pray, asking God for wisdom in dealing with the sinkhole. The sinkhole is not permanent, but if you don’t deal with it when you first notice it, it will only get bigger and cost more to fix. Dear one, give yourself grace as you deal with the sinkholes in your life. They are a learning experience. Stay tuned . . . .

Everyone is Different

After ex’s initial foray into adultery, I began seeing a counselor. I saw her on and off for the next 10 years plus and into my divorce. When I finally divorced, she told me that on average it takes women two-and-a-half to three years to get over a divorce. It took me the better part of five years before I was finally able to let go of the pain of the divorce. It wasn’t until I saw another counselor for help with PTSD that I finally felt free of ex.

I remembered what the first counselor told me and I kept thinking, “Why can’t I get over this? Why is it taking me so long? She said between two and three years!” Sometimes, I felt hopeless. Then I realized that everyone is different.

For some women it may take less time to get over a divorce. For others, it will take longer. Why? I think your healing time depends on the size of your wound. One is able to recover from a paper cut much quicker than one is able to recover from a broken leg or major surgery. What happened in your marriage determines the amount of time it will take to heal from the divorce. If you experienced any kind of abuse – physical, mental, emotional, financial, verbal – it will take you longer to heal because abuse not only hurts your body, it hurts your soul. If you were in a co-dependent relationship, as I was, it will take a while to heal because you have to cut the chords that bind you to ex. You have to figure out a new ‘normal’. If you were betrayed through infidelity, it will take you some time to learn to trust again.

How long it takes you to heal from your divorce is up to you – no one else. There are three ways that I experienced (and continue to experience) healing from my divorce:

1. Support: I had two amazing friends who walked with me through the yucky years after my divorce. Cycle Dude was also there, but I kept as much of the yuck from him as I could. I did not burden him with how I was feeling. That was my baggage to get rid of before we got serious. I encourage you to find a support group or a couple of close friends who will be encouragers, accountability partners, and prayer warriors for you and with you.

2. Professional Help: Sometimes I just needed someone to tell me I was not crazy and would not run off the edge of the world. Sometimes I just needed someone to be objective, someone who didn’t really know me, to let me know it would be okay. Divorced women do indeed fight PTSD. Get help to heal.

3. An outlet: I journaled, I wrote poetry, I walked my dogs, I listened to music. If you keep everything that you are feeling bottled up inside of you, you will make yourself sick. He is not worth the price of your health. Physical activity is a good way to work off stress and anger. Getting your thoughts down on paper is a good way to decrease their negative power over you. Find something constructive to do with all that negative energy bound up inside of you. Let it out – but in good ways. You don’t want to hurt yourself (drugs, alcohol, overeating, not eating, etc.) or someone else because of those negative emotions. (Blogging in one of my outlets!) However, if you do find yourself in destructive behavior, please seek professional help immediately!

Remember that your healing journey is very personal – don’t let anyone put a timeline on your recovery. YOU are the one who is walking through this dark time. Dear one, know that you will come out on the other side of this a changed women (and hopefully for the better!). Hugs! Stay tuned. . . .

 

Storm Preparations

I just got an email from the emergency communication system here at Myjob. We are under a severe thunderstorm warning. So far, this storm has left quite a bit of destruction in its wake. A couple of my children live in the middle of the state and have already sent me photos of some of the destruction their areas received just a couple of hours ago. Fortunately, the local weather folks have been forecasting this storm for a couple of days, so we are prepared.

There have been times in my life when I wished I would have had a forecast of the storms to come. I would have been better prepared. I was not prepared for the pain and anger of the divorce. I was not prepared for the destruction it wreaked on my heart and soul. I was not prepared for the emotional, financial and mental destruction the divorce left in its wake. Fortunately, I had several great people in my life who walked through that storm with me.

Weather forecasters always tell you to be prepared when bad weather strikes. they encourage you to make sure you have an emergency kit in case the power goes out or goes out for an extended period of time. The American Red Cross also lets people know how to prepare themselves in bad weather. But how does one weather the severe storms in life?

1. Have a safe place to go: Seek out a good friend, a pastor or priest, a mental health professional, a support group. You will need somewhere safe to go, somewhere that you can open up and express the emotions stirring around inside of you. You will need to go somewhere where the support is strong.

2. Have an emergency plan: Divorce just doesn’t happen overnight – there are signs of the impending doom. If you feel like your marriage is headed south, I would encourage you to do the following: open your own bank account and make sure you have money in it, find legal help and make sure you are covered, obtain a credit card in your name only and resolve to use it only for emergencies, make sure you have a place to go if you have to leave quickly. Take care of yourself.

3. Keep emergency supplies on hand: Friendship is like a flashlight in that it can show you the way in the darkness. Be sure to have a good friend close by, someone who will walk through the storm with you. Keep a journal to document your feelings, thoughts and ideas. Give yourself plenty of grace because you will make mistakes as you weather this storm. Take some time to pray and be quite before the Lord. He will hear your cries and He will heal your heart.

4. Listen to warnings and take appropriate action: Do you dream about revenge? Are you close to cyber stalking your ex? Are you losing sleep or weight from your divorce? Divorce is an incredibly stressful time. It is a major life change. Pay attention to signs of depression, PTSD, anger and other negative emotions. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help.

5. Turn around, don’t drown: Give yourself grace as you weather the storms. You may not feel ready to step back out into all the activities you did prior to being divorced. It’s okay to say, “No” when someone asks you to do something. It’s easy to cover up emotional pain with busyness. Take the time to deal with the pain of the divorce and allow yourself to heal. Don’t drown in overwhelming busyness.

The weather continues to be crazy outside. I will spend this evening bundled up with my dogs – not going anywhere, not risking my safety – but taking some down time as I prepare to move and deal with some major changes in my life.

Dear one, the storms of life are overwhelming, especially when we feel like we are clinging to life as we sit on our rooftops, waiting to be rescued. Cry out to God in the midst of your storm. Give yourself grace and time to heal. There is a rainbow at the end of the storm. Stay tuned . . .

 

Stand and Stretch

Several months ago, I got a standing desk at work. It is desk addition that I put my monitors, keyboard and mouse on. I grasp it by the handles and pull it up when I want to stand and work. To date, I have recommended this desk at least 75 times (I should get a cut of the sales from the company!). The nice thing about the standing desk is that I am able to stand and stretch throughout the day. I recently read that is better for your health to stand and stretch during the day rather than sit in a chair all day. Stretching works your muscles, is good for your circulation and improves your mood.

Fitness enthusiasts also advocate stretching out before a physical activity. It warms up your muscles and prepares them to use. Gently stretching is one way to help prevent injury during physical activity. It is also good to stretch your mental muscles. Healthcare experts have found that keeping your mind engaged in critical thinking activities may stave off the onset of Alzheimer’s.

What about stretching your emotional muscles? As I was going through a divorce, I felt as if my heart and soul were being stretched beyond their capacity to rebound. I thought surely my emotions would look like a rubber band that has been stretched beyond capacity – limp, lifeless and useless. I think for many people, their emotions get stretched beyond capacity. I believe PTSD is a warning sign that you’re getting close to capacity. How do you prevent your emotions from getting stretched beyond their capacity to rebound? What do you do if they are?

1. Talk about it: One of the best ways to prevent your emotions from getting stretched beyond capacity is to talk about what you’re feeling. Find a trusted friend, make an appointment with your clergyman, or seek professional help. Don’t wait until you feel like you want to ‘go postal’. Address your emotions quickly. I have found that giving breath to my thoughts decreases their power over me.

2. Find a support group: If you try one support group and you find it doesn’t suit your needs, find another. I belong to a small group at my church. Twice a month, I have the ladies in my group over to my house for dinner and fellowship. We’ve gotten into conversations about parenting, marriage, momming. It helps to talk about your experiences.

3. Don’t isolate yourself: You may think, “No one knows how I feel. No one cares.” Hogwash! You are more vulnerable when you are alone. My mom always said, “There is safety in numbers”. Find that support group or talk to a friend.

4. Journal: Write about what’s going on in your head, in your life. You can journal as often as you want. You don’t need to be eloquent or be a good speller. This writing is for YOU. Like giving breath to your thoughts, giving words to them also decreases their power. Sometimes, it helps to see what you’re thinking.

5. Take it one step at a time: You didn’t get here overnight, so don’t expect to feel better overnight. This is why it’s so important to get professional help. You need someone who can walk with you through the small steps of healing, especially if your emotions have been stretched beyond capacity. I recommend Beyond Divorce with Jennine Lee (https://www.facebook.com/BeyondDivorce). I have read her book and it helped.

Know that you are not in this alone – whether it’s a divorce, loss of a loved one, eating disorder, etc. Please do not hesitate to reach out to someone who will walk with you through this time in your life. Don’t just sit there, stand and do something! Walk toward healing so your emotions don’t get stretched beyond capacity! Stay tuned . . . .