This journey from Survivor to Thriver and Then Beyond, is in no way easy but it is truly within reach of each of us. Myself, I am between the Survivor and Thriver Stages and I work every day to take the necessary steps to keep moving more forward that backward. This road is often bumpy and there are many days I just think "Maybe I am good with just being a survivor. Why do I need to thrive anyway and is the beyond really that amazing? I am happy as I am now. Why do I need to keep pushing myself?"
The simple answer to all this is: I am meant to do MORE! My journey hasn't ended so why should I just stop working to achieve the ultimate life I am meant to live? I survived sexual abuse! I survived suicide! I survived a life of negativity. Why? The only logical explaination I can come up with is that I am meant to THRIVE and even more importantly reach BEYOND! I am meant to share my story so that others can survive themselves and know that if I can do it they certainly can. If you have done the work to survive your past regardless of what it held, be sure you are working toward thriving and living this life you have, to it's fullness without regret.
I want to discuss Post Traumatic Stress and how it feels as though our souls have been stolen after a traumatic event. There are of course various levels of Trauma but no one can really say that one level is easier than another. It truly depends on a multitude of variables and it really isn’t anyone’s place to determine how each traumatic event will effect each person. Two people can go through the exact same event at the exact same time and each will process it all differently. No one person has the knowledge or power to determine another persons thoughts or emotions. Everyone of us is unique and need to process things in our own way. For society to tell us we need to just accept something and get over it isn’t realistic in a lot of cases.
I battled with PTSD myself after I was raped at the age of 12. I repressed the incident so that I wouldn’t have to face the truth and continue to relive the act over and over in my nightmares. This is how I dealt with the trauma and it almost killed me as I dealt with suicidal thoughts and attempted, thankfully I failed. The one thing in my life I can honestly say today that I am proud of being a failure at. Those thoughts can really get the better of you and for those not having them you have no way of comprehending what it is like. The only way I can try and describe it would be like this… Have you ever had a recording of something you hated play over and over and you couldn’t get the player to shut off? You feel anxious because you want it to stop but it just continues no matter what you do? It is kind of like that but the voices or images are inside your head and there is no off button to push, or power cord you can pull. Think of it like those battling with those voices and images in their head finally have enough and they make suicide their disconnection from the ultimate power source of life. Typically, they resort to these measures because they believe there is no other way to get them to stop and no one can possibly understand what they are going through. Those battling with memories of a traumatic event, continue to replay that event over and over in their minds because their brain is trying to resolve the issue and can’t change the outcome. They are the star of their own personal thriller movie in their minds and they are often scared to share with anyone for fear that no one will believe them or will believe they are weak.
No matter why, it is wrong that they should be made to feel they are the ones that did anything wrong. They need to be ensured that they are loved and that they will not be judged for the acts of others choices or even their own in some cases. Things that have happened in our past, whether that is yesterday or several years ago, can never be changed or taken back. We have to learn to acknowledge those events and history and accept who we are today. In order for us to overcome our past we have to put it in the past and not allow it to continue to tear us down in our present and definitely not let it hold us back from our future. We are on this journey together and we all need to help one another achieve the future that we were meant to have.
What is it depression? A feeling of loneliness? A feeling of there being no hope and not being able to change what has been done? It is a feeling no one wants but just about everyone has experienced at some level in their life. Some of us have been able to get through it, some of us have not. For a certain percentage of people, it was too much to handle and they cut there life short. For others they are still fighting it. It’s a long battle and some start to feel it’s a war they are losing but they are keeping their head up and thinking positive.
Then there are the strong ones who were able to see the good things in life and pull themselves out of it and move on. They put a smile on their face and said it is staying there no matter what happens. We can all hope we are these lucky ones that can pull themselves out of it. Some things are just too difficult to pull yourself out of for some. Death of someone held close to the heart or the loss of a loved one due to break up or divorce can be things that are just too much to pull yourself out of. Bullying and shame will cause people to do things out of desperation as well.
The key to pulling yourself out is knowing no matter what situation you are in, you have support groups. Some lean towards music, others lean towards their friends. Then there are those that have lost all friend or family support and can’t find happiness in music so what do they lean toward? Counseling or psychiatry is always a good choice. Your counselor and/or psychiatrist should know somewhere that can get you help or they personally may know how to help. The key is do not give up; suicide is never the option. No matter what you may think, your death will affect someone. There is always someone, somewhere that cares about you, whether it is a friend, family, or someone you would never have thought of. DEATH IS NEVER AN OPTION TO FIX DEPRESSION.
Remember your life matters and if you are having suicidal thoughts or know someone who is call your local Suicide Prevention Hotline. There is always someone out there that wants to listen.
May is Mental Health Awareness Month and this has a special place in my heart as my regular followers know. I am the mother of children living with mental health challenges and I know first hand what this does to the individual living with the disorder and their family who would love them no matter what. Mental Health Disorders are invisible disabilities that most can’t even imagine how it impacts the thoughts that go through their heads. Often those suffering have no idea that they are even battling in the moment and those around them deal with the consequences. Society has labeled these battling with these disorders and made them out to be monsters or crazy, which then feeds the negative thoughts already tearing the sufferer apart from the inside. They want to just be “normal” and when they are constantly told they can’t be they often get discouraged. Society puts on the pressure and the result becomes rages, manic episodes, suicide, among other destructive results. Why can’t we get these suffering the proper help and stop stigmatizing them?
Can we take a bit of time this month of awareness and find out how we can all do our part to help and share awareness. Educate yourself a bit this month and try to understand what these battling are going through instead of hiding them and being ashamed if you have family members. The biggest thing these people need to be surrounded with are positive thoughts and lots of support. Show them that people do care about them and that there are people willing to listen.
How does Anxiety in Our Society effect our day to day lives? I think about this often with both my children having anxiety based disabilities. We have so much going on in our lives that I see that we allow anxiety to become a greater impact than it really should.
Kids have higher anxiety in school because our system is setup to make everyone the same instead of the individuals they are. With larger class sizes, teachers are forced to streamline course outlines and this just leaves those who don’t learn in that particular way struggling and in return their anxiety levels are increased and then the potential of anxiety based disorders is increased. We have seen a rise in suicide and attempted suicides year over year. Depression and Anxiety are serious and should not be taken lightly. Our children need to be supplied with the tools necessary to manage these times without feeling it is unmanageable and choose to end their lives as what they believe is their only option. Why aren’t coping skills and stress relief techniques part of curriculum also?
We focus so much on academics and extracurriculars that our children become overwhelmed with, what they feel, is expected from them and what they can actually achieve. We as a society need to work more on focusing on the individuals ànd stop judging based on what the majority believes to be the “norm”. What would the world be like if we were all doctors,or lawyers,or astronauts, etc? There is a place for us all and that doesn’t make any of us necessarily “better” than others. We all have our strengths and our purpose. By judging those that aren’t like us we are creativity a society in which those who are creative and musical may feel they aren’t as important as say a doctor who saves ànd patient. When in reality medicine is a science and is not perfect either.
I want a world where we all are free of anxiety and we are able to support one another no matter what we choose as our path. Our children need to accept one another and learn to start working together to build a world where they accept each other for their individual strengths and stop seeing their weaknesses as character flaws. If we teach our children to see one another as our equals and just because one is great in math and the other loves art doesn’t make either better or worse. We are just all as different as our fingerprint. We need to accept that and learn to live in a positive manner where we fight off anxiety because we know that with a clear mind and low stress level we can tackle obstacles and address them in the manner in which is right for us.
While sitting in a Senior High School Class listening to a couple guest speakers talk about their son being molested by their babysitter, I had an unusual feeling of understanding come over me that I somehow knew the pain and confusion this child must have been feeling. Feeling that no one understood what you were dealing with and the deep ache to rid yourself of an unknown secret. I really didn’t know why I had these feelings, but I sat in that classroom almost in tears and amazement on how these people were talking so freely about this traumatic event in their son’s life. Luckily this was the last real class I had that day because I was not able to focus on anything but the words these people talked about and how they were very clear that this is not the “Victims” fault that these people do these things. They also explained that if we knew anyone who had or was being hurt by someone we needed to speak up and not allow them to continue to make that person or yourself the victim any longer.
I walked around in a fog most of the rest of the afternoon and into the evening. I had trouble going to sleep that night with strange thoughts running through my head. Once I finally fell asleep I was restless and the next thing I knew I awoke screaming, “NO! STOP! YOU’RE HURTING ME!” The memories came flooding back to a horrible night in my life that I had somehow blocked from my subconscious. It was now back and I was never going to forget it again.
I had been molested with inappropriate touching and actions by a man close to our family. He made threats that I would be hurt or that my family wouldn’t believe me if I were to even tell them. This went on for several years and I just allowed this man to treat me like my feelings meant nothing. At age 12, I finally got the courage to stand up to this man and tell him “NO” and that I wouldn’t allow him to treat me like that ever again.
I thought that everything was going to stop and that I had finally been able to take control until I went to sleep that night. I awoke to the most excruciating pain and my head being forced into a pillow. I was on my stomach and I couldn’t move and at times could barely breathe while this grown man raped me and said horrible words to me while shoving my head further in the pillow so I couldn’t scream. I must have blacked out because I don’t remember anything after that.
From that day forward I was a different young lady. I went from being very outgoing and high spirited, to a tomboy and guarded. I wore clothing that didn’t flatter me as to not attract males. I became just one of the guys in my group of friends and started pushing those who were close to me away so that I couldn’t be hurt like that again. I didn’t speak of that night because I just remembered him telling me that no one was going to believe me. I eventually completely blocked it from my memory as a way to protect myself. I also felt there must have been something I had done to deserve this and that maybe I done something to encourage him. He made me a victim and by allowing that I empowered him.
This all came back to me 5 years later, yes I blocked this horrible event out of my memory for 5 years and all it did was tear me up from the inside and created insecurities and depression that I could not truly understand. I had thoughts of suicide and the feeling of just being completely alone and misunderstood. Once this all came back to me I decided I would never keep silent about it again. I pulled myself together and wrote it all down in an anonymous letter to the class, we had a drop box that was in the room that we could put questions in and the class would give their opinions and advice. I didn’t hold anything back in that letter, well nothing but my name of course. I asked if they could help me to determine what I needed to do next to overcome this and how I could stop from being this victim and now take control of my life, once again.
When I got to school that morning I dropped the letter in the box while no one was in the class and proceeded with my school day feeling a bit of the burden I had carried so long, lifted from me. When I arrived to class that afternoon the teacher was standing at the front of the class with his stool and asked everyone to please take their seats. I knew what was about to happen. We all sat down and he sat on his stool and proceeded to tell the class that he had something very serious to read to them and that their help was very important. I gathered all the strength I had in me and listened to the words read back to me that I had written that morning. It all truly became reality at that moment. There was no going back.
After the teacher read the letter he looked to the class for their words of wisdom and guidance. I continued to not show signs that the letter was from me and I even asked and answered questions. These students were so helpful and they didn’t even know that the person who wrote those words was me. We discussed how this is something that is history and by continuing to allow it to fester was only hurting me and holding me back from my future. They talked about how this is not something I did or could have stopped. We discussed that my taking a stand was a good thing even though it caused this to escalate. This was the man’s burden to bare not mine.
After class let out I walked up to the front of the class to talk to the teacher as I did every day. He looked at me and asked me how I thought he and the class had done with the letter. I responded, “You did great!” He said, “You think so?” I looked him in the eyes and said, “It helped a lot!” His eyes changed and started to fill with tears. “I didn’t know,” he said, with the tears starting to flow. I looked at him and said, “I know that is why you helped so much.” If he would have known it was me he may have not been so open about his responses. He gave me a hug and for the first time in many years felt the warmth in another person’s hugs without being scared.
I will leave this story with this for now and will continue with stories that came from me deciding that I was not going to continue to be the victim of this man and that I would never be silent about it again. All being silent did was hurt me and the negativity of the secret was like a cancer in me and was just spreading and once I refused to allow it anymore my life changed. I won’t tell you it was always perfect after that day but it was the strength that I pulled from and continue to pull from today when things get rough.
In closing, don’t read this post and pity me for what happened in my past. My past is my foundation and what made me the strong independent person I am today. I want to share this story so that maybe I can reach others that are going through, or have gone through, similar times. Maybe, just maybe, you can see that you are not alone and you too can find the strength to be “THE VICTIM NO MORE”.