Archive for the ‘Depression’ Category

The “Heart Work” of Resuscitation When Life Knocks The Breath out of You

September 19, 2016

I’m now recovering from a “Prozac” week–or two.
Even healers need to “resuscitate and breathe” to heal and re-heal for optimal health when it feels like the wind has been knocked out of you and like you’re suffocating.

Experiencing both human and non-human losses (relative and pet), while witnessing others maneuvering through their losses as well as fighting not to lose themselves and their own lives can at times be, and has been, overwhelming. Each loss we experience  accumulates on top of others.

Not only are there the loss of lives, but the the loss of connectedness with friends and family; loss of value, quality and security of life amongst our children and youth, our families, our communities, our leaders, etc.

Sometimes it’s necessary to just shut it down for a bit–which I’ve pretty much done over the past couple of weeks.

This morning I awakened to the sun shining and a warm breeze from the oscillating fan which remained on throughout the night.  Many don’t appreciate the higher temperatures, especially this time of year, and long for Winter to come, but this is like a warm embrace to me in what can sometimes be experienced a cold world–both literally and figuratively.

As I started my day today I discovered some previously unseen messages in my FB inbox.
In them were messages from total strangers commenting on the positive impact my online presence and audio messages had on them; and an invitation to speak to a parent organization–all breaths of fresh air.

Then I read an OWN article written by Glennon Doyle Melton, which contained so many nuggets, however the following paragraphs spoke directly to me about who and what has come and gone from my life:

“Who do I love? but also What do I love? What feeds my soul? What is beauty to me and when do I take the time to fill up with it? Who is the woman underneath all these roles? What does she need?  [This applies to men too]

I want every woman to answer those questions now, before the tide comes. Building sand castles is beautiful. We just can’t live inside of them, because the tide rises. That’s what the tide does.

When it rises for you, remember—you are not the sand castle. You are the builder. I am not, at the end of the day, a mother, a wife, a writer, an activist, a friend. I am a Child of God. That’s who I was when I came into this world and who I’ll be when I leave it. No one can take that from me. ”

And so I continue the heart work:  breathe in, breathe out…
Who is the person underneath YOUR roles?

heart-resuscitation-image

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Mothers, Foster Care, and Mental Health

May 21, 2013

Brave Heart Lioness-Reduced Heart Work Photos of Bryant & Branden4

The Month of May recognizes and celebrates three important events and causes which are close to my heart: Mothers’ Day, National Foster Care Awareness Month, and National Mental Health Awareness Month. Already more than half way through the month of May, I’ve had ample opportunity to reflect upon personal experiences each of these brings  as both Mothers’ Day and Foster Care have each had a significant impact my Mental Health. Let me count the ways!

One of my earliest memories of Mothers’ Day, sheds a prevenient look at my sensitivity, as well as the temperamental relationship I had with my mother, even at an early age.  When I was about 9 years old I walked the couple of blocks to the neighborhood five and dime variety store to purchase my mother a gift for Mother’s Day. With my two or three dollars I selected a box of beautifully decorated and arranged handkerchiefs.  Somewhere between my purchase and Mothers’ Day my mother did something which made me angry (I don’t even recall what) and I decided that I wasn’t going to give her the gift so I hid it inside my room.  The details are blurry but I do recall that she demanded that I find it and give it to her. I felt entitled to give on my own terms just as she had ‘taught me’ when she withheld my gifts at Christmas because she thought I’d been behaving badly.

Most Mothers’ Days after that weren’t as noteworthy except for the sense that most times she didn’t seem to be as happy as I’d like for her to have been in my giving. Then there was MY first Mothers’ Day as a mom to my 9 year old adopted son. Dressed up in coordinating colors we drove the 50 miles to join her for Mothers’ Day service at her church. I knew it would surprise her and make her proud to have us there with her. The look on her face was priceless! This was the best Mothers’ Day ever for me, until…the minister asked for all grandmothers to stand.  My mother did not stand.  I waited for it to “click” for her that she was now a grandmother, but it didn’t. I looked at her and looked at my son and my heart sank. The gift of grandparenting wasn’t acknowledged and/or accepted by her. I felt hurt and angry and sad for my son.

As I share in my memoir, it was “Heart Work” being a Foster/Adoptive Mom myself as it was exciting, heart-warming, and challenging. Inasmuch as dealing with my now, TWO sons, dealing with the Child Welfare, Mental Health and Social Services took a toll on my own Mental Health.  Understanding that many of the behaviors exhibited by my sons were an expression of the impact of emotional and physical abuse and separation and losses experienced in their early childhoods, I found it difficult to get both the intervention and support needed to meet their needs while at the same time provide them with consistency, stability, and opportunities of a “normal” childhood. I even fought to keep my youngest son from being “medicated” for behaviors which I felt were unreasonably labeled as being “pathological”. Any of us would have acted the way he did if we’d been through all he’d been through. What did they expect?!

Feeling attacked, unsupported, and pathologized myself, depression set in and took me down a path I’d not experienced before as intensely.  I’d experienced bouts of depression before but not at this level. For the first time ever in my life, my sleep pattern was “off”, my desire to socialize with others was none, and rather than overeating, I stopped eating and began to lose weight.  I sought out my own therapist, going through a few until I found one I felt comfortable with, and who was a huge support during this time in my life. My feelings were validated, which in itself was major, as no one else seemed to understand; and I was encouraged to continue being my authentic self—which I’d begun to question.

I’d always wanted to be a mom, and thought I’d be a good one, having learned from both the good and the not so good characteristics of my own mother, who was an excellent provider but lacked in the area of “emotional nurturing”. Even in the midst of this extremely painful period in my own parenting she voiced that I’d brought it upon myself and that she didn’t think it made sense for me to invest my time and energy into them. Her advice was “let them go and go on with your life”. Of course this did not improve our relationship at all because I stopped sharing with her any of the details of my parenting struggles.

Feeling like a “motherless child” and a “childless mother” the depression deepened. My therapist explained that my depression was situational, however being in a prolonged negative situation had a significant impact on my body and brain chemistry. We also explored the correlation between my relationships as a daughter and a mother, and how my fear of becoming like my mother was a strong factor.  It was during this time the notion occurred that perhaps my mother had been depressed during my childhood. and that perhaps I was even biologically predisposed to depression myself. That made a lot of sense to me!

He recommended that I try a low dosage antidepressant, which I initially rejected but eventually decided to try.  Although I don’t recall feeling much different, I was able to get out the bed and as I look in retrospect, do some amazing things. I do know that my and others’ prayers and faith in God were all a part of it.

I’d tried to get my mother to join me in counseling previously, however was told “I don’t need counseling, you’re the one that’s crazy!”  When I shared with her my thoughts that perhaps our relationship struggles could be related to her relationship with her own mother, who died before I was born, she was in total denial, forgetting some of the stories she’d told me before about growing up. However, when I shared with her about the discussion and prescription for depression, surprisingly she was open to it and followed through with her doctor.  She later reported that she did indeed feel a difference.  Wow, who KNEW?!

My mother passed away six years ago at the age of 82.  During the later years of her life she experienced depression and anxiety attacks, which as a practicing therapist myself, I was able to recognize and discuss with her doctors.

As I’ve gotten older and experienced many losses and stressors of life as a single woman and caregiver, I have continued to battle cycles of depression which, though not as frequent, have seemed to intensify the older I become.   Being both a therapist and a Christian I’ve found myself again struggling with the idea of taking antidepressants or not.  In my journaling I frequently quote the phrase “Physican heal thyself”; and have questioned myself:  “Am I placing judgment on being depressed?” and/or “Am I placing judgment on how to HANDLE” the depression?” My conscious conclusion (which was subconsciously present all along) was that I  FEARED that others would think I was not a “good enough” Christian or Therapist if I needed to take medication myself.

My thinking is that like hypertension and many other physical conditions, there are certain biological as well as lifestyle factors which contribute to both, and even medical doctors receive diagnoses of conditions they treat patients for.  However it does no good, and can potentially become fatal, to refrain from treating those conditions—whether through Westernized or alternative medicine. We all have choices to be and feel better.

So in the midst of a recent “dark hole” of depression, the triggers of which I was very much aware and which were beyond my control, I made the choice to return to Western medicine,  in addition to prayer, reaching out others and making some changes in my daily practices. I’m glad to say I’m feeling more like my old (or should I say younger) self now!

I realize this may not be the choice for everyone, but the main thing is to choose to DO SOMETHING!  Just as with other areas of my life I’ve decided that “what you see (and don’t see) is what you get”!  Take it or leave it–no poll necessary!   The most important thing is that we make a choice that makes us feel better and stronger to fulfill our purpose and dreams—as long as it is not at the cost of the well-being of ourselves and others.

As far as my “mothering” and foster care, my boys are now grown and not necessarily making the life choices nor as close as I would like for them to, I did speak to my oldest by phone on Mothers’ Day this year–I called him.  I remind myself that although I may not always feel celebrated, neither do all biological parents, and that my purpose is fulfilled in having given them the gift of being two less “motherless children” in the foster care system.
I remain passionate about the hearts of youth in the foster care system; and  through the texts and couple of cards I received in the mail from those I’ve loved as an advocate and mentor, it was confirmed that I will never really be “childless” because they’re ALL “my children”.
Ending on a funny note, my favorite Mothers’ Day card read:

“If it takes a village to raise a child…
…where the HELL did EVERYBODY ELSE sneak off to?”!!

Don’t sneak away—hang in there, the children and village need us! 🙂

 

 

 

 

SPEAK TO MY HEART: WHAT’S YOUR LOVE LANGUAGE?

February 25, 2013

Amazingly the new year has taken off without skipping a beat; and Valentine’s Day, my most cherished holiday being “The Heart Lady”, came and went without much more than a faint heartbeat.  As a matter of fact my heart tank has been on “E”—and that’s not for Evelyn this time.

 Not by coincidence, I’ve been recently re-introduced to “The Five Love Languages” written by Gary Chapman who identifies the 5 Love Languages as being:

            Words of Affirmation

            Physical Touch

            Receiving Gifts

            Acts of Service

            Quality Time

Re-taking the Profile Survey I realized that during the months leading up to and throughout the holidays (in addition of a physical condition which significantly altered my daily activities), my heart communication had been pretty much mute–there being little to no communication in either of my primary love languages.  

Contributing much of the effectiveness of my work in the healing profession to the genuine and authentic empathy gained from my own personal experiences and emotional pains, I often refer to myself as a “wounded healer”.  However, it’s one thing to draw upon and share one’s wounds from past experiences but quite another to share those being experienced in the present. 

Acknowledging and healing one’s emotional wounds can be very difficult because generally when others don’t see any physical evidence of pain, they either totally miss it; ignore or dismiss it, giving simplistic and superficial advice; or just back off and avoid it waiting for you to get through or “over it”.  This is even more difficult when you’re the “go to” person for others when they are in pain and/or need.

Through my prayers and introspection I have been reminded of one of my most recent inspirations to speak on the topic of “Healing Your Heart & Following It”.  I also recall a colleague’s question after reading the manuscript of my memoir “It’s Heart Work…”  “Have you healed yet?” Wow…

A firm believer of “walking one’s talk” I recognize and embrace this most recent experience as the bridge to effectively delivering that message I’ve chosen or been chosen to share. 

Oftentimes we feel unqualified to declare any sense of authority or expertise in the areas through which we may struggle, and we back away.  However, I believe in my heart that when we receive these challenges and trials as gifts and tools with which to work, they are actually the stepping stones to following our hearts and fulfilling our purpose. 

Are you ready to follow your heart? Are there areas in which you recognize a desire and need to heal in order to move forward?  Do you trust someone who knows and walks the talk?

I’d like to offer you an opportunity to be the first to take advantage of my “Speak To My Heart” coaching series and begin healing and filling the receptive and expressive love tanks of your heart.    

If you will send me an e-mail with “Speak To My Heart” in the Subject Box to ME@TalktoMsE.com I will send you information about the outline and registration options to take part in this 8-10 week series. 

I look forward to walking along side you in learning and practicing the steps to better speak to and from the heart and follow it. 

Hearts & Blessings,

Ms. E “The Heart Lady”

REFLECTIONS OF 2012: God Laughed

December 31, 2012

On this last day of 2012, as many probably are, I’m reflecting upon my life over the past year as I prepare for the the new year.

With the upheaval of tragedy and discord of the last couple of months it’s easy to become distracted and focused on the sadness, anger, and pain in the world, and possibly our own lives; and to quickly discard of the old year for the new.

I’ve taken the last few days to “Unplug” from the world of telephone and internet to just “be”.   I think sometimes we just need to do that to reconnect with ourselves and The One whom we believe to be the true source of our lives.

I’m a goal and action-oriented person (when “D” elements—depression and disconnectedness– aren’t wreaking havoc with my emotions).  I enjoy and am energized by setting goals, planning, and taking account of where I am in light of where I’ve been and where I desire to be.

Many of my goals and expectations weren’t met this year.  However, when I think about it,  in many ways, in lieu of some of my stated goals many of the events of 2012 exceeded my own expectations.  I can’t help but think of the scripture which says “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, and above what you can think or imagine”.   I use to say that God would have to be doing an awful lot because I have a pretty big imagination”.

My mentor and friend Michael Pritchard says “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans”.  Well I must say, God “do be” doing a lot; and I think He really did laugh over my life in 2012.

A year ago today, little did I know that in less than 90 days I would be spending my birthday in the rainforest of Sao Paulo, Brazil as part of an International Symposium on reducing trauma to children, before, during, and after birth; and a few days later visiting an orphanage where I’d meet and fall in love with a precious little boy who shared my birthday.

Neither did I know that on Mothers’ Day, one of the most depressing holidays of the year for me, that I would be served breakfast, along with flowers and card, and spend the day with my youngest son who has spent most of the Mothers’ Days of his adulthood incarcerated, and most times my having no idea where.

Thinking about ending my bi-weekly internet radio program in October, I had no idea that the more than 3,000 listeners to my September program would be beyond any of the programs of the previous two years.

Nowhere in my conscious dreams did I see myself appearing in a “2013 Calendar of Alopecian Beauties” after watching a Sistah on PBS* who literally “flipped her wig” and released me to finally triumph in my challenge with Alopecia and “bare it all” myself, with the support of a network of sisters online who shared the challenge as well.
*God bless you Ms. Sonya Renee Taylor.

Then in November, National Adoption Month, I found myself sitting on the set of a San Francisco affiliate of  a major network, baring my heart (and feeling  no shame, my head) about the joys and pains of being a mentor and foster and adoptive parent to many youth who had/have been written off.

Just imagine…none of these were even a part of my goal plans for 2012!!! Well let me reframe that: My “objectives” may have been slightly different, but overall I believe my primary goal –to fulfill my life purpose—actually was met.

Looking at this overview of my year, one might think “Wow, what a wonderful year!”  Yes, it has been; but it has also included heartache and tears, loss, grief, feelings of disappointment, rejection,  aloneness, loneliness, fear, financial gaps and sinkholes, and sometimes even doubt.  However, even in these times, I believe the purpose of my life was/is being even more clearly fine tuned, and my goal being met.

You might wonder if I will even bother to set goals for the New Year? and if so, why??? The answer is a resounding “YES”!  Because, if for no other reason, I want to make God laugh –some more!  Because when He laughs I eventually laugh too!  😀

Looking forward to laughing with you and God in the New Year!


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