If you want to understand how events or trauma from your childhood affect your current behaviors, I suggest this book! Oprah writes about her upbringing and connects events from her adulthood to her childhood. And Dr. Perry shares his findings from over 30 years of neuroscience research and different stories from clients he’s helped. He breaks down how the brain stores memories and where in the brain they are stored. It’s truly an insightful book.
Few things I learned:
Our viewpoint of the world starts as soon as we are born, believe it or not.
Infants can sense the environment, for example, if there is tension or if they are in a loving home.
Our brain associates trauma with our senses – like touch or smell.
How we were cared for as infants and children affects our brain development, and not only that – but also the timing of when the trauma happened is important and impactful. Since children’s brains develop the fastest before the first two years – that is where the event affects the brain most.
Trauma affects our health (from mental health or physical health).
Few things that stood out to me:
Dr. Perry writes that therapy is more about building new associations and making new, healthier default pathways.
When he talked about implicit bias – he said, “These beliefs and values are stored in the highest, most complex part of your braid – the cortex. But other parts of your brain can make associations – distorted, inaccurate, racist associations.” He explains that a person can have anti-racist beliefs but still have implicit biases that come with racist comments or actions.
His definition of racism is, “In the U.S., racism is the marginalization and oppression of people of color by systems created by white men to privilege white people.” Yup, that is systemic racism, and that does fall into CRT.
The last thing that stood out to me was how Dr. Perry says we can heal as a society. “How can our society move toward a more humane, socially just, creative, and productive future without confronting our collective historical trauma? Both trauma experienced and trauma inflicted. If we truly want to understand ourselves, we need to understand our history – our true history. Because the emotional residue of our past follows us.” – Dr. Bruce Perry.
Overall, this book is about changing the question from “why are you like that” to “what happened to you.” Because our upbringing has a lot to do with who we are.
This book is a great resource, but I still fully believe in therapy and doing the work to heal and better ourselves.
This book was impactful for me because it gives a lot of resources to help with mental health, specifically depression. The book starts very relatable because the way he mentions his depression episode was exactly how I felt during mine.
Chris provided information I had not known about depression and even talked about the music genre “the blues.” He informs of the genre’s origin and how it relates to depression. This reminded me of the Spanish music genre “Bachata” because usually, the lyrics are very miserable.
One thing that stood out to me was that he talked about vulnerability and mentioned that there are two people we cannot lie to ourselves and God. He knows everything; he knows us from the inside out. And another thing that stood out to me was when he wrote about needing balance in our lives. We need to stop and check ourselves to see where our life is when we feel depressed. Is our work, family, hobbies, etc. balanced? What can we do to make sure it is?
“Stop trying to do everything and focus on what God wants you to do.” – Chris Hodges
Whether single, dating or married, you should read this book. I loved how honest he was and that he included his wife in the book. He provides practical biblical advice about being single, dating, and married. And there’s a chapter about sex, which I find very important. I know some Christians don’t like talking about sex, but sex is something that God created to be enjoyed between a husband and wife; we can talk about it.
I highly recommend this book to everyone.
With Love Heidy
Have you read either of these books? What were your thoughts on them?
Hey everyone, I’m not sure if you’re aware, but May is Mental Health Awareness Month! So, I am bringing you a guest post from counselor Cherese Allen in honor of that. And she brings you 7 tips for mental health. Enjoy!
Physical health has always been discussed as a vital tool to incorporate in one’s life, while mental health has taken a back seat. Yet, over the last few years, mental health awareness has increased in the nation, which is such a positive notion. Personally, I am an advocate for mental health, taking a priority in an individual’s life just as much as physical health. However, one question that is posed is, “What are some tools that I can use to have better mental health?” I got you COVERED (lol). Below you will find a few tips and strategies that you can incorporate into your daily routine, to have improved mental health!
Understand yourself – One important thing is to identify your needs, fears, desires, triggers, joys, and every other intricate detail of what makes you, YOU! By knowing this information, you can create systems that help you protect your peace and mental health. For example, suppose you identify that a particular show causes you to feel a distressing emotion such as anger or anxiety. In that case, you can then implement a routine to alleviate those emotions (such as decreasing the time you watch the show or completely no longer watching the show).
Self-care – Most have a busy schedule during the week, whether it is working, family, school, organizations, or all of the above. At times, one can become so busy pouring out into others that you forget to fill your cup back up. Remember, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Look at your life as a battery; once the battery runs low, you have to hook up to the charger to fill up. Now, self-care is your charging station. Engage in activities that you enjoy (spa, walking, warm bath, exercise, listening to music, etc.) and ensure that you take care of yourself so you can relax, recharge, and gain momentum to take on future tasks.
Change your focus – It can be so easy to focus on all the things that are going wrong in your life that you could neglect to notice all of the things that are going right. Focus on the positives daily. You can jot down at least three things in your journal/notes that went well in your day to help build gratitude and shift your focus. Another idea is creating a gratitude jar; this could also be a fun family activity. A gratitude jar is where you write something positive on a slip of paper and place it in a mason jar. You can open it up at the end of the week or the end of the year (or whenever you choose) to reflect on all of the great things that occurred.
Strengths- Have you ever noticed times when you are being extremely self-critical? (I am definitely guilty of that) We can literally be our worst critics. Try writing down all of your strengths that you carry and ponder on those attributes when you find yourself being overly critical. Speak to yourself nicely!
Balance- Balance looks different for everyone, but the key here is to list out your priorities from greatest to least. Once you have done that, create a pie chart and separate the priorities into their respective percentages totaling 100%. For example: Work 50%, Family 30%, Organization 15%, Exercise 5%. If your workload happens to increase, and the other percentages do not decrease, then that is where an overload and unbalance occurs (you tipped the scale over 100%). Every percentage has to shift to remain at 100%. Therefore, if work increases, then time in another area will have to decrease to maintain balance. Remember balancing may look different per day, week, month, or year. It all depends on what your load looks like, so be willing to be flexible and adjust as necessary. Most importantly, remember some days, it just won’t all get done. That is perfectly okay!
Boundaries – Boundaries are essential for your mental health. Ensure that you create healthy boundaries with your friends and family to maintain dynamics that benefit your mental health. So that may look like saying “No”! Ouch. Yes, it may hurt, but you may not be able to go to every event, talk on the phone, or do everything for everyone else. Analyze your relationships and identify areas that may need boundaries, and try to implement them as time progresses.
Therapist – Many people believe in the myth “You are crazy if you visit a therapist .”I want to encourage you to go against that statement and remind you that you are not crazy for seeking therapy. The stigma has been that you have to have something “majorly” wrong in order to go to a counselor. However, you can visit a therapist just to speak to an individual that has a neutral perspective regarding any situation you are facing. It is always good to have someone to talk to, and sometimes your friends and family are not fully equipped. Find a therapist in your area by searching on Google or using Psychologytoday.com to gain the insight and wisdom you may need.
These are just a few tips to aid you in your journey towards good mental health. Our inner thoughts always reflect through our actions and speech, so be sure to take care of your innermost self in order to produce healthy outcomes. Cheers to taking charge of your mental health!
Remember, we are in this journey together!
I hope these tips will help you with your mental health. I know I’m going to apply them – there is always room for improvement in our lives. Thank you so much Ms. Allen for these tips!
Cherese Allen is a graduate from Houston Baptist University and holds a Master’s in Counseling. Upon graduating she completed and passed the board exam, NCE. She is now a licensed professional counselor associate in the state of Texas, supervised by LaQuondra Patterson, LPC-S. Currently, working at a private practice, she specializes in depression, anxiety, life changes, couples therapy, self-esteem and more, for teens and adults.
And if you are interested in guest writing for my blog please contact me! I would LOVE to work with you.
They say that no two pregnancies are the same, and boy, they were not kidding. I’ve struggled a lot, physically and mentally, with this pregnancy compared to when I was pregnant with my daughter. Let me say pregnancy is hard! Shout out to all the mamas with multiple kids; my hat goes off to you. I know that not everyone experiences pregnancy the same but still, I salute all the moms.
With my daughter’s pregnancy, I went through a lot, but it was all outside factors; nothing, health wise came up during the pregnancy. Thanks, God. And you can read all about it, here. But this pregnancy was completely different, (which gave me the first hint that it was a boy). First, this pregnancy was planned, so I knew I was pregnant before symptoms started. Symptoms started around week six, morning sickness, but it would last all day, throwing up (I even ended up in the hospital once from throwing up so much), I felt weak, and when I would eat, my stomach would hurt shortly after. I slept a lot because I was miserable all the time.
I couldn’t eat salmon anymore, and certain smells bothered me. I cried multiple times because of how miserable I felt, and I also felt like I was slipping into depression. I was not motivated to do anything, all I wanted to do was sleep, but I think it was because of how sick I was. I felt like there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Whatever symptom the baby app would tell me I was going to experience that week, I would. I was counting down the days for the second trimester, which was when morning sickness subside.
I also felt guilt. Guilt because I couldn’t cook, certain smells were a bother, I couldn’t clean, I felt like a lousy mom because my daughter also needed me. My husband picked up a lot of my slack during these months. The guilt was coming from myself my husband never made me feel bad; he just kept reminding me that this was all temporary.
Fast forward to the second trimester. I am no longer as sick, and I say as sick because I’ll still get nauseous from time to time. But my struggle with this trimester was seeing my body change so much and feel like I didn’t recognize myself. I had already gained weight last year during quarantine, but now being pregnant, of course, I’m going to continue to gain. I look in the mirror and see that my thighs are enormous, my arms are massive, I feel like my face is huge, especially when I smile. I have stretch marks EVERYWHERE, oh and I almost forgot, my boobs are disgusting. I know, I know, my body is creating a miracle, but this is how I feel.
Along with all this, I’ve had a UTI, which showed no symptoms, so it caught me off guard when my OB sent antibiotics, I have low iron, so I must take supplements every day, and I was diagnoses with gestational diabetes. This puts me in the high-risk pregnancy category. You can see the video on how I found out about the diagnosis on my YouTube channel.
I am VERY grateful to be carrying my rainbow baby, do not get me wrong, but pregnancy is no walk in the park. Creating a human is hard, and this is a way for me to express my struggles. I thank God every day for my baby, and I continue to pray for a healthy baby, delivery, and speedy recovery (feel free to join me in prayer). Hearing other women’s pregnancy stories lets me know I’m not alone in this struggle and adjusting to all the changes we endure during this time is challenging. I want to end this by saying women are amazing!! 🙂
There’s such a stigma with mental illness that I was afraid to say and admit I needed help. I’ve suffered from depression, and I’ve suffered from anxiety. Although it wasn’t until I got into a new relationship that I realized I need to get help if I want this relationship to work and flourish.
So did I do it for myself, or did I do it for the relationship? I’m not entirely sure, but I’m glad I got the help, and I believe I needed his support to get the courage to do it.
Prior to the relationship, I had started in-person therapy because I needed answers about my depression. My mom was bipolar, but no one knew until she got diagnosed about a year and a half before she passed, and from my own studies of psychology, I learned that bipolar disorder could be hereditary; I freaked out. During one of my therapy sessions, I asked if I was at risk of developing bipolar disorder. She informed me that my depression seems to be more situational than inherited. That was a relief because I, too, would experience mood swings. So bad and to the point that my parents would tell me that no significant other would put up with that. But little did anyone know that God had a person for me who would help me get the help I needed to figure out why the mood swings. 😉
I had just always thought I was moody, that having those mood swings was a part of me, and that’s it, but that wasn’t the case at all; it was all tied to my trauma. But of course, no one was going to tell me that unless I went to therapy and talked with a professional. And bipolar disorder is much more than just mood swings, which of course, I learned about later.
I could also connect where my anxiety came from, and it’s all from my upbringing and not having stability with my mom or security. You see, our childhood plays a significant part in our personality and who we become as adults. Something probably a lot of people don’t understand.
I love psychology, and I love learning about how the brain works, which is why I decided to get a double major in psychology and healthcare administration. I am also a therapy advocate because of how it helped me. But you have to be willing to put in the work in order for therapy to work. You have to be able to really open up and be honest about your thoughts and feelings, which is completely hard because being vulnerable is hard.
The in-person therapy finished after a few sessions because I didn’t feel a connection with her. Not saying she wasn’t a good therapist, but you don’t have a connection with everyone. I decided to do online therapy, which I had done years prior when I found out about my ex-partner’s affairs. BetterHelp.com is the online therapy platform I used. It was beneficial, so I was hoping for the same results this time around.
Since I wanted to start from childhood, we would schedule one-hour phone sessions every week until I had told my story entirely up until that point in time. She was amazed at all I had been through at such a young age and told me she was surprised my mental state wasn’t worse than what it was. She also mentioned that I should write a book about everything that she knows it could be a best-seller. I’ve kept that in mind but haven’t started.
She made me feel comfortable; she never judged; she acknowledged how I felt and validated it. It was nice to talk to someone who didn’t judge and didn’t try to minimize my trauma by comparing stories or telling me that others have or had it worse. After each session, I would talk to Jonathan about it and how I felt. It was like he was included also.
Sharing your story is a personal choice. Everyone goes through challenges in life, traumas, and bad experiences, but all those situations shape us somehow. They make us stronger, learn lessons, and know what not to do if it ever comes up again. By sharing your story, you can heal from it, and you can help others who might have gone through similar situations. You might be surprised at how many others understand how you feel or understand the situation you went through. We are all trying to figure this thing called life together.
Resources for mental health help:
SAMHSA’s National Helpline 1-800-662-HELP (4357) – from there website, “SAMHSA’s National Helpline is a free, confidential, 24/7, 365-day-a-year treatment referral and information service (in English and Spanish) for individuals and families facing mental and/or substance use disorders.”
At the start of this quarantine, I thought to myself, “this is good, this will be good, like when have we ever had a pause? When have we ever had the time to slow down and just stay home because we are always on the go?” And 3 weeks in of working from home, while teaching my 6-year-old and finishing up my Master’s Degree, it was getting to me.
I was enjoying that right after I finished my work, I was able to get dinner started early, start my homework, and have more time available to do whatever I wanted. While working, I was helping my daughter with her school work because I needed the afternoons to do my own school work. During my morning break, I would take a walk around my apartment complex with my daughter, get fresh air, and give her a break from being stuck inside. During my afternoon breaks, I would do quick exercises. My husband bought me a treadmill, so I started running or power walking, about 3 times per week. I was reading more, still doing my daily bible readings, praying, devotionals, listening to praise & worship music, meditation, still listening to podcasts, but I wasn’t writing as much, for some reason, I couldn’t find any inspiration, and I didn’t want to write about COVID-19 because that’s what you saw EVERYWHERE.
Right off the bat, I decided that I would take a break from social media. I mainly did it because I kept seeing negative comments, posts, people arguing, posting the same article on all different platforms, and it was getting to be too much for me. I took about a 2-week break straight of not going into social media at all, and then I started to go on like 2 or 3 times a week. That was different for me because I’m very active on social media, but since I knew I would be at home all day, I didn’t want to spend the majority of my time on my phone, especially since all I was seeing was negativity.
Quickly, I realized that once you’re off social media, not that many people check up on you. Although, you would hear on the TV or radio, etc., “check up on your loved us, connect with each other, and we are in this together,” it didn’t seem that way to me. I’d sent a few text messages to my friends, making sure they were okay because this pandemic is global; it is affecting everyone in the world. So, even family members in the Dominican Republic, I was texting to see how they were doing, but for some reason, I felt like no one was checking up on me.
My husband noticed the change in me right away, and he suggested I start therapy again. The very next day, I received an email from BetterHelp.com offering me free therapy sessions until the end of April. I signed up, and they connected me with a therapist fairly quickly. I had emailed customer support asking If I could be connected with the therapist I had worked with before, but they told me she was unavailable at this time, so I worked with the one who they connected me with.
She asked me if there were friendships or people I used to talk to every day but no longer speaking to once the quarantine started? I told her that not really, I still text the people I usually talk to on a daily. She asked if I was still connected with my parents, and I told her yes, we talk, or call each other on the video chat. I told her I was off social media and that I was still doing things I ‘enjoy’ doing, so I’m not sure why I was feeling like this. She told me that it seemed like something was missing – there was a connection I needed that was missing. I do remember my old therapist explaining to me that my depression was situational, and what was happening now completely changed my life, it makes sense as to why it’s come back again. But what was frustrating is thinking, “I’m healthy, my family is healthy, we are safe, my husband and I are both working, there are people who are sick, and others are losing family members so why am I feeling like this?”
Speaking to the therapist did help, but once April ended, I closed my account, and I felt like I didn’t need it anymore since I was good for like 2 weeks. I had finished my Master’s Degree at the end of April, so now I had even more time to do things. But another struggle during this time was parenting. Oh my goodness, the battles I’ve had with my daughter, it felt like it was endless. I didn’t want to be too hard on her because she’s stuck inside, and for a child, that is not easy, but I also didn’t want her to keep disrespecting me by not listening to me or talking back. I tried taking away her tablet, that didn’t help, I tried time-outs, that didn’t help, she was “grounded” that didn’t help, I eventually had to take everything, all her privileges away. That meant, no coloring, no books, no tablet, no TV, no playing with her toys, nothing. She had to earn everything back, and she spent a whole day sitting next to me on the couch, doing, you guessed it, NOTHING. Towards the early afternoon, she told me she was bored, and I was like I know, it’s not fun, is it? She eventually gained her stuff back, and she’s doing much better now. But on top of everything else that was going on, I was trying to figure out how to approach the disrespect I was getting from my daughter.
All this to say that I’ve had a panic attack, I’ve had a few breakdowns, I’ve had moments where I felt so blessed, and moments where I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, but here I am writing my journey through quarantine. Things will not get back to ‘normal’ we will have a new ‘normal’ and we will have to adapt to the changes. We all deal with changes differently and our bodies react differently too, but we have to listen to our bodies and know when to ask for help.
If you are struggling through his pandemic please know that there are resources out there to help. Seek help, ask someone, but please do not struggle alone, you are not alone.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
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Sometimes you’re washing the dishes and your mind wonders to that place where the hurt happened. And you replay it in your head.
Or you could be driving and one thought goes to another and another and then you go to the hurt and then another hurt and maybe another, depending on how many you’ve experienced.
You replay the whole scenario again. What was done, what was said, what you saw, how you felt, parties involved.
Or you could be listening to a song, or a podcast episode, or watching a movie, even reading a book, and a similar situation is being talked about, so of course you relate because you’ve been through it. And you go back to that place of hurt.
A certain song you no longer listen to because it reminds you of the person, or place, or situation .
And when the wound is deep the hurt is deep.
Process through the hurt, work through the hurt, talk through the hurt, write through the hurt, cry through the hurt.
Don’t put a time limit through the hurt. There’s no time limit to healing.
I’ve been familiar with therapy since I can remember, although I didn’t know it was therapy until I was older. I was about six or seven years old when I had to see this older man with big glasses, and he would ask me questions while I played with the toys in the room. He would ask me questions about my parents together, then separate questions about my mom and separate questions about my dad and questions about me. I had no idea really what was going on, but I remember meeting my mom’s lawyer and having to go to court, but I didn’t go inside; I stayed outside the courtroom with my maternal grandmother. I remember the therapy was in the same building where my father’s attorney’s office was, and I recall one day asking my dad why he was writing a check, he told me for a visit, and I asked him how much, he said,,, $100. I asked him, surprised, every time we come, it’s $100? He replied, yes. Of course, I was in complete shock. I had already been there multiple times, and for a 6-year-old, $100 is an enormous amount of money. A few years ago, I recently tried to retrieve those therapy notes, but since it has been over seven years and the practice went to electronic medical records, they no longer had them.
The next time I had to go to therapy, back to the same older man, was when I was thirteen years old after an incident occurred that ended me getting into a physical altercation with my mother. This incident also introduced me to depression; it introduced me to not eating for days, not sleeping, chronic fatigue, and paranoia. I remember just wanting to be home to Michigan, where I felt safe, with my father. I was on the next flight home to Michigan after the police report was filed in Florida, and I remember at the airport, as soon as my step-mother saw me, she cried. I had to go to my primary care doctor to get checked up, and they also made notes of the incident I had just been in because I had to explain the bruises I had on my arms. Then I went back to the same older man from before. These therapy sessions I don’t really remember; I believe it’s from me trying to block these memories out altogether. I just remember getting tired of repeating this horrible story over and over again.
Since the first time I fell into a depression, I remember it coming and going, like whenever something happened, I would get extremely sad, but it wasn’t just feeling sad; it was also feeling like I had no purpose, like I was worthless, and also not having any energy to do anything. I constantly compared myself to my friends and never felt good enough for anything. My self-esteem dropped drastically, and I felt like I needed reassurance from others to feel good about myself, and this went on for years.
At the young age of twenty-three, already living in Florida by this time, my mother passed away, and this is something I didn’t think I would have to deal with so soon. Your parents will pass, but at a later time in life, unfortunately for me, I had to deal with this now. Grieving and mourning my mother’s death during the beginning of the year and towards the end of the same year, I found some devastating information about being betrayed for years prior. This shook my core. I turned to try online therapy with BetterHelp.com; I don’t remember where exactly I had found out about this service, but my first therapist responded to my messages reasonably quickly, so we were messaging multiple times throughout the day. She had suggested couples therapy at one point, but it would be face-to-face because online wouldn’t work, and I went for two sessions. After the second session, this therapist wanted only to see me work on the loss of my mother and everything else. I only went to one session because my insurance changed the following year, and they didn’t accept it.
Last year in July, Lia’s father was arrested, another situation that took a toll on me. On top of his arrest, I started a new position at work and was an Office Manager, and this position was not a walk in the park. While this was going on, I also had school, and Lia started school also, and in the first week of school, Lia ended up catching lice from one of her classmates. I was slowly shutting down again. I decided to go back to the same therapist, but I only did two sessions out of the three that I was approved.
I started therapy in November, and I told myself I would continue this time around until I felt better. BetterHelp.com was the one I did again, and this therapist didn’t respond as quickly as my first therapist because she had her practice during the day that she had to go to. We started with messaging for the first two weeks, and then we did phone calls weekly for an hour. I told her my entire life – from the beginning until now. It took several weeks of course, because it was only an hour a day, weekly, but it felt amazing to let it all out finally, everything. She gave me exercises to work on when I would feel down and always reminded me to be kind to myself. She also told me she was surprised I wasn’t worse than I was with everything I had been through at such a young age. And now she understood why I said I felt sooooo much older than what I really am.
Since I had finished therapy about two weeks ago, I have felt so much better! I don’t have any mood swings anymore as I used to, and if I do feel down, I am now able to recognize what triggered it, unlike before where I just thought that I was a moody person, I always thought my drastic mood swings were a part of who I was. I’ve never in my life have felt like I do now. I genuinely believe that anyone who has been through some trauma or just needs anyone to talk to should try therapy. Honestly, you’re not crazy, and it helps! Therapy opened up my mind to many different things and connected the dots to many things I had questions about myself before. It was completely unbiased, I could open up to her completely, and I never felt judged. The first therapist you go to may not be the one for you but try another one, don’t give up on it because it really does help.
The great thing about BetterHelp is that you take a survey when you sign up for it, and they ask you what type of problems you’re going through and what you need help on. It also asks you what kind of therapist you would like to be assigned to and what specialty you would like for them to have. I had picked a Christian therapist, and I feel like they really connected me with the perfect therapist to help me with my issues. Its been a challenging journey for me, but with God, by my side, I was able to overcome all of them.
Thank you for taking the time to read my therapy journey, and I encourage everyone to seek help if they really need it or even if they don’t think they need it, just being able to let out your feelings to a professional and all you need is for them to listen, they will. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. 🙂