I look at the skin that has grown up and around the wounds you have all along your arms and legs. I see your truth. I see your pain and those emotions you have expressed in your own way. Although who am I to say I know your truth when, for so many years, I buried mine in alcohol and antidepressants. I know this, my Grace, I have taught you to keep it all in. And as a result, your pain kept all deep inside of you has built up into tremendous heat. You have found a way to relieve yourself of this pain by taking those razors you hide under your bed or carefully placed in the books on your shelf into your hand. You slash your arms and legs to let out the pain, to release the heat of all those emotions.
Saying sorry to you seems unjust, ugly and so little of me, but those are the words that slip from my mouth quietly moving quickly through these hands and onto this page.
I am sorry, I am so sorry. I am sorry for hurting you through my angry words. I wish I could do things differently. I thought I was. My reactions to act as a caring mother have led to unruly, unkempt expressions of control and rage when all it really was – was fear, my fear, fear of losing you or fear of you getting hurt.
So today, my Grace, I am going to hit that pause button and listen, listen carefully to you and get out of your way. Today, I am going to honor your strength, to acknowledge that you have lived the toughest year of your life. I honor that you have found your own way of letting go of those emotions with those razors hidden under your bed. You have found your way to heal and your wounds that are more visible than most people’s. I will gaze at those scars with love and amazement because those scars tell me your truth. I trust in your path. Just stay alive, just live.
Amazing talk-learned so much about the recovery movement!
My Grand Rounds talk at OHSU Department of Psychiatry was both video archived on their website, as well as live broadcast to several remote sites, including Oregon State Hospital. Much of the presentation followed my APA talk last October, compressed into an impossibly short timeframe made even shorter by a late start. With one or two exceptions, the crowd filling the lecture room was very welcoming and positive; it was an overall inspiring experience for me to see so much openness to change. A special thank you to Dr. Neil Falk, who helped out when OHSU asked that I have a doctor as sponsor for my talk.
There was one comment at the end that took me a bit aback with its forcefulness. I invited the person to contact me so we could continue to dialogue, and haven’t heard from them. I think if I was a bit more collected…
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Beyond Meds challenges those of us to advocate by developing agency in our healing process.
I present myself as the “empowered patient” on this blog for a reason. I advocate for many who are being harmed and need to learn how to advocate for themselves. The reason I do it well, however, is because I was a mental health professional for so many years. That means I know how professionals think and I know what and how much it takes to become empowered as a patient. The result of this for me, and it’s very sad really, is that I continue to be treated like a patient by far too many of my colleagues. It’s really very depressing that there is such a thing…”being treated like a patient,” that is. But it’s really clear when one is approached with that undeniable sort of sickly sweet condescension or alternately, complete dismissal when I’m presenting with my “patient” hat on. I am never treated this way if…
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Beyond Meds is such an inspiring blog! For those of us searching for answers about depression, anxiety and suicide ideation, the author of Beyond Meds provides thoughtful and provocative ideas regarding treatment and recovery!
I’d like to note that the message in this video can be generalized to all kinds of loss and trauma too. Not just the loss of a loved one.
We must feel our emotions!! And embrace all of life! Psychiatry is a whole field of medicine dedicated to the suppression of emotions and the darkness of our psyches. The healing involved in coming out of decades of this suppression is phenomenally difficult and perhaps sometimes impossible. This is why I do the work I do, that people today learn to embrace their lives rather than drug it away. If you block the negative emotions you in turn block all the positive emotions.
This video is genius and true.
Psychologist, writer and innovator, Geoff Warburton has spent the last 25 years studying love and loss. Geoff challenges conventional apathy about grief and loss by offering an approach that evokes curiosity, openness and compassion…
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Anger: Family rage outs. Family screaming matches. Family arguments. Accusations made by everyone. Teen vandalizes. Teen self-injures. Teen refuses to do chores. Teen is moody. Everyone is easily frustrated. Teen is easily aggravated.
Isolating: Teen texts all day. Teen Facebook’s all day. Teen stays home all night Friday. Teen sleeps till 3 in the afternoon on Saturday. Teen crawls into parents’ bed in middle of the night. Teen doesn’t see anyone on Sunday. Parents don’t see anyone because teen cannot be left alone.
Worry, Fear and Too Much Thinking: Parents worry. Parents wonder if their teenager has friends. Parents are tense. Parents are exhausted. Parents are short tempered. Parents blow up. Parents push buttons by stating, “clean your room,” or “you haven’t bathed in 7 days, take a bath,” or “do your laundry,” or “is your homework done,” or “get up for summer school,” or “clean the cat box.” Parents do not remain above the ‘proverbial’ fray and engage in fights. Parents lose control and yell and scream after the 8th request to remove the bowl of full of uneaten mushy Raisin Bran from the dining room table. Parents think too much and get caught up in the actions and statements that occur in the moment rather than listening, observing and interpreting the all of the signals.
If I could scream out for help it would be, “throw us a life boat, my family’s relationships are drowning!” Perhaps I’d yell out, “Danger! Family engaged in World War III” Or I might shout, “Enter our home at your own risk, relationships are imploding!”
Just the other day, our home became a war zone, a theater of soldiers battling about grades, chores and money. The screaming and crying that went on between the four of us made me want to run, run as fast as I could, as far away as possible from this family of mine. I wanted to cover my ears, shut my eyes and disappear. The yelling made me shake inside and all I could do was swear under my breath about how outrageous this argument was.
After the height of this battle, there were four casualties. No one had any sense of self after what was said. Doors slammed as we went off to our own rooms to lick our wounds. Grace cried herself into a deep nap and the tense silence that remained between my husband and me was nearly unbearable. What was it over? Shopping money so Grace could meet up with friends she hasn’t seen in three weeks, 2 weeks of laundry that remains all over her floor and studying for a summer school world history quiz. Grace has to repeat world history after a disastrous final and too many missing homework assignments.
The question that remains; what was this fight really about? There was the hook-some kind of statement that got her going. We put the bait out there – unknowingly.
Then there was the fact that Grace’s friend list has slimmed down considerably this year. Who wants to be friends with someone who they fear will commit suicide or cut themselves if you upset them? Was she frightened that they might not show up? Anxiety again.
How much of loser does my kid feel for flunking World History? Probably quite a bit. No kid wants to take a summer school repeat course. What a great way of covering up fear of flunking again. So why not refuse to study? It is code for some other message I need to decode.
And what about that room full of stinky laundry? Screams classic teen to me. In this case, we could probably read more into it.
Why can’t I have this kind of ‘Oprah aha’ moment when the heat begins to build at the beginning of a fight? Maybe if I did, I could at least do something else other than nag or yell or accuse or give dirty looks. BLAH!
What would I do differently anyways? Would I say, “Grace, you sound angry…worried…et cetera, et cetera…” Would it have worked? No reason in asking that question. What was it all about? Do I readdress this at some point?
- Navigating the Relationship with your Teen (transitionalmoment.wordpress.com)
- Teens Are Getting Over Facebook, and Not Just Because Their Parents Are On It (socialmediatoday.com)
- Letter to my Teen (ctworkingmoms.com)
- Mommy Breaks Up With Her Therapist, a Rant (parentsofteenswhoselfinjure.wordpress.com)
- Pastor as Surrogate Parent (other-words.net)
- Teen Depression-Editorial (teendepressionblog.wordpress.com)
Leaving no stone unturned! As a mom of a beautiful child who injures, I intend to continue researching ways that help my Grace. Today I have decided, instead of looking to those “experts” who
treat our children who mutilate their bodies, I am reading stories of hope and recovery. Therefore I will turn to those amazing experts who injured themselves and found ways to recover.
This article is just one of many telling the stories of strength, the ability to overcome depression and how self-injury was a tool that helped them fight their way through their depression. It is not a recommended form of practice from this mom. However, it is critical that I find ways of looking through my daughter’s lens. This article deepened my understanding and pushed me to ask; how is cutting a form of treatment when one in so deep inside their heads that they need to bleed themselves? What does my Grace get from this practice? Lastly, how did others find their way out of self-injury?