Some People Can Thrive After Depression, Study Finds

Author Article
We may think of depression as a recurring condition with a gloomy prognosis, but findings from one study indicate that nearly 10% of adults in the United States with major depression were thriving ten years later. The findings, which appear in Clinical Psychological Science, suggest that some people with depression experience more than a reduction in depressive symptoms over time – they can achieve optimal psychological well-being.

Writing for The Conversation, lead investigator Jonathan Rottenberg, a researcher at the University of South Florida, discusses how clinical scientists often neglect the potential for positive outcomes among individuals with depression.

“Depression can be a lifelong problem. Yet as we dug deeper into the epidemiological findings, we also saw signs of better outcomes – an aspect that we found is rarely investigated,” he says.

Although current clinical practice emphasizes symptom reduction and achieving an absence of stress, evidence indicates that patients prioritize other measures of well-being.

“They want to love and be loved, be engaged in the present moment, extract joy and meaning, and do something that matters – something that makes the pain and setbacks of daily life worthwhile,” says Rottenberg.

Rottenberg and his colleagues found that a substantial percentage of those with depression can achieve just that.

Using data from the Midlife Development in the United Stated (MIDUS) study, the researchers examined outcomes in a nationally representative sample of middle-aged adults. The participants completed phone interviews and questionnaires, including a measure of depression and a battery of nine facets of well-being including autonomy, environmental mastery, personal growth, positive relations with others, purpose in life, self-acceptance, life satisfaction, and negative and positive affect.

A total of 239 participants in the sample met the criteria for depression, meaning that they experienced depressed mood most of the day or every day, as well as additional symptoms, for at least 2 weeks out of the previous 12 months. The researchers reviewed data from the initial screening and a follow-up survey completed 10 years later.

At the 10-year follow-up, half of the participants reported experiencing no major symptoms of depression in the past 12 months, and almost 10% of the participants with a history of depression were thriving. To count as thriving, a participant had to show no evidence of depression and score higher than 75% of nondepressed MIDUS participants on the nine factors of psychological well-being.

Higher well-being at beginning of the study predicted thriving 10 years later, but severity of depression did not. Specifically, depressed adults who reported higher well-being at the beginning of the study had a 30% chance of thriving, compared with a 1% chance for participants who had low well-being when they began the study. Depressed participants with higher well-being at the beginning of the study and who were thriving at the end of the study had larger increases in well-being over time than did other depressed participants.

These findings could influence how mental health professionals think about the prognosis associated with depression, as well as how they communicate this prognosis to patients. The study suggests that treatment could focus on strategies for optimizing well-being optimization that go beyond just managing symptoms.

“The task now for researchers is to follow these encouraging signs with systematic data collection on how people thrive after depression,” says Rottenberg.

Reference

Rottenberg, J., Devendorf, A. R., Panaite, V., Disabato, D. J., & Kashdan, T. B. (2019). Optimal well-being after major depression. Clinical Psychological Science. https://doi.org/10.1177%2F2167702618812708

Healing From A Toxic Relationship Won’t Happen Overnight

Author Article

Healing from a toxic relationship takes time. It takes effort. You have to make the conscious decision to change, to better yourself, to put your past in the past.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to accept your ex is in your past. You have to delete their number from your phone. You have to avoid the urge to reach out to them when you are drunk, when you are lonely, when you are scared you’ve made a mistake by leaving them. You have to remind yourself they are out of your world for a reason. You have to remind yourself you are better off without them weighing you down.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to forgive yourself. Forgive yourself for accepting such poor treatment. Forgive yourself for staying for such a long time. Forgive yourself for growing distant from family and friends who were only trying to help you. Forgive yourself for ignoring the red flags, ignoring your gut.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to grow comfortable with the idea of being alone. You have to accept the single life is better than life with an abusive ex. You have to get used to being on your own. You cannot rebound with the first person who treats you better than your ex treated you. You cannot jump into a new relationship without working on ridding yourself of the baggage your last relationship brought you. You cannot assume a brand new relationship is the only thing that will make you feel better. You cannot let yourself believe happiness and relationship status are linked.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to raise your standards. You have to rediscover your self-worth. You have to practice self-care. You have to treat your mental health as a priority. You have to realize you are someone worthy of love and respect. You have to promise yourself you are not going to take crap from anyone anymore. You have to recognize what you deserve. You have to fight for what you deserve.

In order to heal from a toxic relationship, you have to remain patient. You have to remember results are not going to be seen overnight. It’s going to take a while to trust again. It’s going to take a while to love again. Your struggles are valid and so are your emotions. No matter how long your healing takes, you cannot give up on yourself. You cannot swear off of relationships. You cannot hide yourself away. You cannot assume you are unlovable and will never be happy again.

Even if it’s hard to believe right now, you are going to heal from this heartbreak. You are going to reach a place where you feel confident and strong again. You are going to mean it when you say you are okay. You just have to have faith in yourself. You are more resilient than you think

How Narcissists Keep You from Grieving

See Psych Central Article Here
By Christine Hammond

Margie was devastated when her mother passed away. Her mom was diagnosed with cancer one month and then gone by the next. She had a close relationship with her mom and frequently leaned on her for support in her marriage, parenting her kids, and balancing family and work. The loss left a huge hole in her heart that she tried to grieve but couldn’t.

The day of her mom’s funeral, her husband complained about being sick and asked Margie to go to the pharmacy for him. His “sickness” prevented him from helping her get the kids ready, straighten up the house, and answer phone calls from relatives. The one day she wanted to spend celebrating her mom was overshadowed by his neediness and refusal to assist her. When friends would express remorse for Margie’s loss, her husband would interrupt and talk about how much he was going to miss her. She tried to get away from her husband but she would find her and talk about how bad he was feeling. There was no show of empathy for her.

Years later, during a counseling session, Margie’s therapist pointed out that she had not yet grieved her mother. Within months of losing her mom, her husband got a job change and moved the family from Margie’s childhood neighborhood. Margie was thrust into doing all the arrangements for the move, finding a new place, transferring school records, and establishing their new residence. After that, there was one thing after another that keep Margie from taking the time to grieve. Worse yet, every time she tried, her husband would make things about him. It wasn’t until counseling that Margie realized just how narcissistic he was.

While the narcissism alone was difficult to manage, Margie had not realized how he had prevented her from grieving. Looking back over their marriage, there were other times when Margie had significant emotional responses such as joy, anger, excitement, fear, contentment, and sadness but she never felt the freedom to express herself. As a result, she shut down emotionally and appeared in therapy with a flat affect. How does this happen?

The Narcissism Mask. At the heart of every narcissist is deep-rooted insecurity. Their grandiosity, superiority, arrogance, and selfishness make up the mask the narcissist puts on to hide their pain or fear. This mask makes the narcissist look perfect, charming, engaging, and even entertaining. But it is a façade and they will do whatever it takes to protect it including lying, deceiving, manipulating, and taking advantage of others. However, their insecurity prevents them from caring for their mask alone. Therefore, they need help from others to keep the mask in place. The only help they want is daily attention, affirmation, adoration, and affection. This feeds their ego, protects the insecurity, and solidifies the mask.

The Narcissistic Threat. Any event, circumstance, trauma, or even abuse that could detract the narcissist from getting their feeding is a threat. When their spouse has arranged a gathering of their friends, the narcissist will often throw temper tantrums just before leaving. Knowing they will not be the center of attention at the event, they draw attention to themselves prior to the event. Even though the narcissist has a wonderful time at the event and finds ways to absorb attention, they still repeat this pattern the next time. This is especially true when the event is about their spouses such as a funeral, awards ceremony, or office function.

The Narcissistic Cycle. Any attempts to call the narcissist’s attention towards their selfish behavior will be met with quick abuse such as a verbal assault of name calling – “You’re a …”, a threat of abandonment – “Fine, you can go without me”, or the silent treatment – “I’m not going to say anything.” When their spouse fights back, the narcissist becomes the victim and guilts the spouse into apologizing, acquiescing, and accepting responsibility for the narcissist’s behavior. This is sometimes repeated numerous times before an event. It is an abusive pattern designed to remind the spouse that no matter what happens during the event, it is still all about the narcissist.

The Result. The spouse shuts down. After numerous cycles before, during, and after an event, the spouse concludes that it is better to not express any emotion or even tell their spouse about achievements or successes. Because the narcissist treats all events with the same resistance, drama, and abuse cycle, the spouse stops engaging. This is where the marriage begins to fall apart as the spouse becomes a shell of their former selves. The narcissist has successfully molded a mask for the spouse to wear so they too can share in the façade. Having someone join them in mask wearing is comforting at first but ultimately becomes a new source of jealousy. And so it all begins again with another cycle.

Margie finally got it. She started seeing the cycle, ignoring his threats, calling out his abuse, and refusing to accept his responsibility. More importantly, she began the grieving process of her mom’s death, from the move out of her childhood neighborhood, and from the realization that her husband was narcissistic. It took some time to process all of this but as she did, she got stronger and stronger. Eventually, her strength became unattractive to her husband who moved onto a new relationship and then filed for divorce.

Some Things To Remember When You Think You’re Not Doing Well Enough

See ThoughtCatalog Article Here
By Kovie Biakolo

What do you measure yourself by? Your bank account? Your job? Your “stuff”? The number of people you know and/or know you? Your accomplishments? Whether you’re meeting and checking the timeline and timetable of society’s social requirements for who you should be? All of the above?

It’s hard not to feel like life is some sort of race. After all, if there is one thing all of us can agree is a limited resource, it’s time. And because of our uncertain relationship with how much time we have, we can feel that what we want, what we aspire to do or own or be, can only be achieved within the frame of this limited resource – time.

There’s a pressure in being cognizant of time. A pressure that causes us to look at ourselves and compare our lives to others’ – even with limited information. A pressure that at times makes us resent our circumstances, present or past. A pressure that can feel crippling and infuriating and unjust. And sometimes it can feel that no matter how hard we try, how hard we fight, how much we work, and how badly we want it – we’re just not there.

And sometimes it can feel that no matter how hard we try, how hard we fight, how much we work, and how badly we want it – we’re just not there.

There is a place, that though mostly is a figment of our imagination, it feels as real as anything tangible. There is the place that we dream of, the place we tell ourselves that our happiness and desires can finally be realized. There is the place, we think, we will be satisfied and full and accomplished.

The reality of there, however, is that it always seems to change. The more success you have, the more you’ll likely want. The closer you are to the life of your fantasies, the greater those fantasies become. It’s human nature but it’s also simple economics: human wants are insatiable. And especially when you’re young and privileged and bright and have been told the world is at your feet, you work for and hope for and want all those things the world said you could be.

But experience hits you. The reality of what it takes to be those things in spite of your talent or hard work or circumstance, hits you. And it hits you over and over again, each time chipping away at those dreams and desires. But you resist, after all you’re young, and you’re resilient. Still, no matter how much hope you hold onto, you question: Can I really do this? Is it really worth it? Am I just not good enough?

That question can be crippling – “Am I just not good enough?” But I wonder, good enough for what? Good enough for the societal standards we are all meant to live by? Good enough for the aspirations you have set your heart on? Good enough to be the person that you’d always said you were meant to become?

That question can be crippling – “Am I just not good enough?”

The truth is maybe you are and maybe you aren’t. Especially when it comes to society’s arbitrary rules on who you should be and what you should want, and how your dreams fit into all of this. It’s difficult to know whether to call it quits and find a new dream, or whether to keep fighting the good fight. It’s difficult when you know the odds are against you, or that “the rules” are designed to make winners and losers, or that luck exists, or that life is unfair and unevenly cruel. It’s difficult, in spite of the words of poets and artists and intellectuals, to believe that your dreams can really come true. Instead it feels more than anything else, that all dreams have done, is made you crippled with anxiety and dissatisfied with life. What does one do in these moments?

One thing that helps me in such moments is to focus on the task at hand. I’ve learned to focus on what I can do today every time I feel crippled by fear and anxiety and the unrelenting desire to be more than I am. Because the truth is that we must put in the work, but we must never be so pompous as to believe that the work in and of itself is enough to get us where we want to be. We are not in charge of it all, and that’s not superstition, that’s fact. We might need someone to take a chance on us, someone to believe in us, a stroke of luck, or the intervention of divine providence. And knowing this can be freeing, it can be the liberty you need to do your very best, while knowing that the world too must do its part.

Above all, the thing I find the most helpful when I feel defeated is to remember the previous time I felt like this. The last time I thought I wasn’t good enough, the last time I felt crippled by fear and anxiety of not being good enough – did I not survive it? Is it just not a temporary feeling like anything else? Indeed it was, indeed it is.

Chances are, as I realized in those times, when you think of time andthere and experience, and the reality of how much is in your hands, and how much is not, you need to remember that even in those moments of what feels like crippling defeat or failure or the feeling that you are not enough – you’re probably doing much better than you think. And should you ever forget that, close your eyes, and listen to the sound of yourself breathing; that reminder of your life force. My dear friend, that is hope, and as long as that remains, you are enough.

The Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing: How To Spot A Covert Narcissist And The One Thing That Always Gives Them Away

See ThoughtCatalog Article Here
By Shahida Arabi

The term “wolf in sheep’s clothing” has biblical origins and is used to describe someone who pretends to be outwardly innocent and harmless. However, within, they are predatory “wolves,” ready to devour their prey. Who they present themselves to be is far different from who they truly are. Many wolves in sheep’s clothing disguise themselves as upstanding citizens and pillars of their community, all while they commit heinous crimes behind closed doors.

I’ve come across many convincing predators in my lifetime, but perhaps none are more skilled and dangerous than the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. This term’s origins goes as far back as the bible: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). It is used to describe those who appear to be harmless but are actually sneaky, conniving saboteurs looking to fulfill their own selfish agenda at the expense of everyone else’s rights.

This term is quite fitting for the toxic manipulators, covert narcissists or sociopaths who dress themselves as innocent, charitable people while committing unspeakable acts of violence behind closed doors. These predators can come across as agreeable, kind, successful, giving, even shy, insecure and introverted; they can also have a deeply seductive charisma that draws people into their toxicity. Yet their glowing public image is no match for their nefarious private deeds. These wolves lurk anywhere and everywhere, waiting to ensnare their victims into their twisted web.

Another word for the wolf in sheep’s clothing is “the covert aggressor.” Dr. George Simon, the author of In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding And Dealing With Manipulative People, notes:

“If you’re dealing with a person who rarely gives you a straight answer to a straight question, is always making excuses for doing hurtful things, tries to make you feel guilty, or uses any of the other tactics to throw you on the defensive and get their way, you can assume you’re dealing with a person who — no matter what else he may be — is covertly aggressive.”

There is no limit to where these covert manipulators and aggressors can be found. They may be drawn to careers that distinguish them as givers rather than takers, but ultimately, their own self-interest takes precedent over the welfare of any of the people they purport to help.

They could be the head therapist of a counseling center; they may be the pastors at your church, the leaders of altruistic companies, passionate advocates of the local charity. They could be the seemingly benevolent social worker, the compassionate teacher, the seemingly selfless counselor.

According to Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, covert manipulators rely on our empathic nature to get us to fall for them. They prey on our sympathy and our compassion, our willingness to give toxic people the benefit of the doubt. That is why wolves in sheep’s clothing get away with their behavior, time and time again.

Yet there is one thing that can distinguish them early on.

Aside from their use of pity to make you feel sorry for them and their inability to correct their toxic behavior or own up to it, there is one thing I’ve noticed that consistently exposes wolves in sheep’s clothing and differentiates them from those who are genuine. This can help distinguish them even in the early onset of any sort of relationship or interaction with them.

Contempt. 

Initially when a wolf in sheep’s clothing tries to “groom” you into making you their victim, they may act humble, generous, soft-spoken. They are heavy-handed with their compliments, their praise and their laser-focused attention (also known as love-bombing). They are seemingly empathic. Yet their true self is always eventually revealed once you get closer to them and actually realize they lack the emotional equipment to follow through with their promises or perceived character.

If you observe a manipulator closely, they always display micro-signals of contempt when they are speaking. No matter how hard they try to disguise these beneath their façade, their disgust for the human race and the silly “morals” of lesser mortals seeps through every pore of their skin, every shift in their tone, every twitch in their gestures. It seeps through their proposed principles and exposes their real feelings. It finds its way into their rhetoric and the ways in which they talk about the world, the way they speak about others, and eventually, the ways in which they’ll come to speak about you.

Whenever you’re in the presence of a ravenous wolf, you will at some point notice a look of disdain, or a haughty tone of voice when they talk about people they consider “beneath” them. It’s the air of perceived superiority that distinguishes them – and they can’t keep the mask on for long, either.

They may suddenly speak rudely about a friend who they once praised (who you later find out they are envious of); they may abruptly devolve into a scathing manifesto about the waiter who ‘failed’ to give them the right order; they may suddenly start to attack an ex-girlfriend or ex-boyfriend who left them with a shocking hostility that seems altogether out of place with their sweet nature.

You may witness them giving the cold shoulder or cruel, undeserving reprimands to the people who have been nothing but kind and loyal to them. And undoubtedly, you will be placed next in their queue of unsuspecting victims.

When the person who once soothed you with sweet nothings, grand gestures and loving support morphs into a person who is speaking with excessive hatred or disdain for people they don’t know, or people who they do know all too well, watch out. You’re probably in the presence of someone who will one day look down upon you, too.

Contempt is also prominent throughout the abuse cycle with a covert wolf. In the devaluation phase of any relationship with a narcissist, this type of perpetrator who once made you feel like you were the only one in the room – suddenly swoops you off the pedestal and makes you beg for their approval.

They do this by dishing out intense contempt and dislike targeted towards you periodically throughout the relationship.

Where once they couldn’t get enough of your personality, your talents, your attention, now they act as if everything you do makes you beneath them. They once celebrated your achievements; now they act as if you are a burden.

They pin the blame on you for things that were their fault. When you speak out or protest their unfair behavior, they make you out to be the “troublemaker” when you are actually just the truth-teller. They blindside you by making you the scapegoat, the black sheep they must persecute and devalue so no one realizes it is they who are the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Wolves are out for blood, for live prey, and malignant narcissists are no different. They will treat you appallingly once they’ve gotten you hooked on their praise and presence.

They will treat you are like you are nothing to them, even though they initially pretended you were everything.

To wean yourself off from any sense of self-blame you may be feeling, remember that the way a predatory individual idealized you and any other victim is temporary – it is used as bait.

Once wolves have trapped their prey, they have no mercy in devouring you. This is just their nature and it has nothing to do with what you might have done or who you are. It becomes clear that you were not the woman or man of their dreams as they claimed you were: you were just used as sustenance.

To detach from a wolf? You must develop a sense of “contempt” or disgust for their wrongdoings and the holes in their dubious character. Replace your once idealized fantasy of who they were with the truth, and you will find yourself less likely to fall prey to their schemes.

Once a wolf, always a wolf – but you don’t have to remain their sheep.

30 Healing Quotes On Self-Forgiveness

See PsychCentral Article Here
By 

Just as mantras are helpful for me to process emotions, so are quotes. I often turn to them for wisdom and inspiration. The following sound bytes have been especially helpful in trying to learn how to forgive myself.

Like most people I know, I judge my own indiscretions with a different standard than those of others. While I can often separate the kindness of a loved one from the wrong she did, I make no such distinction for myself. I become my mistake.

The words of the following writers, philosophers, psychologists, and theologians encourage a gentler, kinder perspective that fosters healing. Their sage sayings prompt me toward self-compassion, which paves the way to self-forgiveness. May they do the same for you.

  1. Forgive yourself. The supreme act of forgiveness is when you can forgive yourself for all the wounds you’ve created in your own life. Forgiveness is an act of self-love. When you forgive yourself, self-acceptance begins and self-love grows. — Miguel Ángel Ruiz Macías
  2. When we give ourselves self-compassion, we are opening our hearts in a way that can transform our lives. – Kristin Neff
  3. Forgive yourself for not knowing what you didn’t know before you learned it. — Maya Angelou
  4. Lack of forgiveness causes almost all of our self-sabotaging behavior. – Mark Victor Hansen
  5. Our sorrows and wounds are only healed when we touch them with compassion – Buddha
  6. We all make mistakes, don’t we? But if you can’t forgive yourself, you’ll always be an exile in your own life. – Curtis Sittenfeld
  7. Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of the spiritual life because it contradicts the sacred voice that calls us the “Beloved.” – Henri Nouwen
  8. There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love. – Bryant H. McGill
  9. The most terrifying thing is to accept oneself completely. – Carl Jung
  10. I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than him. – C. S. Lewis
  11. Forgiveness is choosing to love. It is the first skill of self-giving love. – Mahatma Gandhi
  12. We can make ourselves miserable or we can make ourselves strong. The amount of effort is the same. – Pema Chodron
  13. In order to heal, we must first forgive … and sometimes the person we must forgive is ourselves. – Mila Bron
  14. You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens. – Louise L. Hay
  15. Feeling compassion for ourselves in no way releases us from responsibility for our actions. Rather, it releases us from the self-hatred that prevents us from responding to our life with clarity and balance. – Tara Brach
  16. If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete. – Jack Kornfield
  17. You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of you love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection. – Buddha
  18. Love yourself instead of abusing yourself. – Karolina Kurkova
  19. Your inner critic is simply a part of you that needs more self-love. –Amy Leigh Mercree
  20. You forgive yourself for every failure because you are trying to do the right thing. God knows that and you know it. Nobody else may know it. –Maya Angelou
  21. Be kind to yourself, dear – to our innocent follies. Forget any sounds or touch you knew that did not help you dance. You will come to see that all evolves us. –Rumi
  22. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves. – Pema Chodron
  23. You don’t want to beat yourself up for beating yourself up in the vain hope that it will somehow make you stop beating yourself up. – Kristin Neff, Ph.D.
  24. We cannot change anything unless we accept it. –Carl Jung
  25. If you want to fly, give up everything that weighs you down. – Buddha
  26. Once you’ve accepted your flaws, no one can use them against you. – Anonymous
  27. It’s not about worthiness, it’s about willingness. – R. Alan Woods
  28. The true measure of success is how many times you can bounce back from failure. – Stephen Richards
  29. Peace is letting it be. Letting life flow, letting emotions flow through you. – Kamal Ravikant
  30. Sometimes when things are falling apart they may actually be falling into place. –Anonymous

How Narcissists Conduct Psychological Warfare

See Author Article Here
By Erin Leonard

Narcissists often lack a conscience, so climbing in the ring with one is like bringing a knife to a gun fight. Wielding cruelty and abuse like it’s their right, the narcissist easily wounds a person with a conscience who often feels guilty for firing back. The guilt perpetuates feelings of responsibility and self-doubt, frequently causing the person with a conscience to surrender. So how does a person create a fair fight? The most effective way is to fully understand the narcissist’s most lethal weapon, projective identification,and to disarm it.

It’s truly amazing how unfair, underhanded and malicious a narcissist can be, but rarely do they feel true remorse for their deeds. Readily deflecting, distorting, and projecting, they alter their perception of reality, freeing themselves from accountability while simultaneously projecting blame onto another. Their line of unconscious defense mechanisms operates like a force field around their ego, excusing them from deep and sincere feelings of remorse, insight, introspection, and accountability. Thus, they feel like they are never wrong.

Occasionally, when their back is against the wall, the narcissist may act as though they feel sincere remorse. However, this may be a trick to regain the trust of the person whom they are manipulating. Also, operating from a victim stance assists him or her in controlling others through guilt.

Projective identification is the most powerful psychological mechanism in a narcissist’s arsenal. It is what creates the toxic chemistry that psychologically chains an empath to a narcissist. Projection, which is the first component of projective identification, is a psychoanalytic term used to describe the unconscious process of expelling one’s own intolerable qualities and attributing them to someone else. For example, an individual who routinely acts rude may call someone else rude. This person does not see the quality in himself or herself but perceives it in others. Narcissists utilize this defense mechanism routinely. In couples counseling, for example, I often hear the narcissist in the relationship “diagnose” their partner as the narcissist.

Identification is the second component and is the empath’s role. An empath’s access to deeper emotions such as insight, introspection, deep remorse, accountability, and empathy, automatically qualifies them as less rigidly defended. Most of the deeper capabilities cause the ego to experience a tinge of pain, so a person who has access to the deeper emotions has a stronger ego. It requires fewer defensive structures be activated. As a result of this “open heart,” the empath unknowingly absorbs the projections from the narcissist and unconsciously identifies them as their own. As the narcissist projects his or her shameful qualities onto the empath, the empath instantly feels, shame, insignificance and incompetence.

These feelings cause a tremendous amount of self-doubt in the empath. Suddenly, he or she is vulnerable to believing the distortions communicated by the narcissist. Eventually, they are convinced they are the root of the problems in the relationship, so they begin to cater and appease, giving the narcissist control. The narcissist takes advantage of their power and intensifies their tactics to isolate and cause conflict with the empath’s friends, family, and work relationships. The empath’s sense of self slowly erodes, and their support system wanes, so they begin to feel dependent on the narcissist, ensnared in the lethal cycle of projective identification.

Breaking the chain of projective identification requires the empath to become consciously aware of this unconscious dynamic. Once the insidious psychological mechanism is illuminated, the empath’s knowledge protects them from believing the narcissist’s distortions about who they are. After recovering elements of their sense-of-self that were lost, an empath regains the strength to strive for space and independence from the narcissist. Once the empath has succeeded in creating distance in the relationship, he or she is safe from the narcissist’s projections.

TedTalk: Real Advice For Those Who Have Attempted Suicide

Link here

Live Simply. Avoid the material trappings of a fabulous life, but rather find joy in simple things – walks on the beach, instrumental music, or fresh flowers. Choose what works for you. For example I shared an apartment with a roommate, rather than trying to buy a place or live alone to keep my life simpler.

Cultivate Sacred Spaces. Have a corner of your room which is ideal for reading, journaling, praying or meditating. Find a church or temple or park or art gallery where you can go easily in the midst of a pressure-filled day to “recompose” yourself.

Journal Regularly. This has been vital for me; I have a friend who, at the very least, jots down the time he goes to bed. Sometimes he can get another word, or sentence, or paragraph, or page written… but he’s developed a discipline to at least begin. Don’t just journal the bad, but record the joys and the progress. I often paste simple items (ticket stubs, plane tickets, business cards) from the day onto the page facing what I wrote for the day as a visual remembrance.

Create Works of Beauty. Whatever moves you: do it. Throw pottery, weave tapestries, take photos, learn to dance – the medium (or how good you are) doesn’t matter, but find a way to get outside yourself regularly.

Abstain from Substances. Even if addiction is not one of your issues, I’d urge you to eliminate drugs and alcohol from your first year back from an attempt. It dulls the pain, yes, but it also can steal from you the chance to live fully your feelings. Tackle life’s joys and setbacks head on – without the false help a drink, a joint, or a line can provide.

Assemble Your Dream Team. The exact nature of who you need to help you will depend on the issues you are facing. But strive to put a small and committed group of people in your corner to assist you with the physical, social, spiritual, and personal healing which is needed. Be entirely honest with them so that they know your successes as well as your setbacks.

Manage your Primary Illness. Whether it is depression, addiction, bi-polarity, an eating disorder, or something else which brought you to the brink of death, it requires your primary and unwavering focus. If you put anything (a boyfriend or job or volunteer commitment) ahead of managing your primary illness … you will likely lose that very thing you thought was more important.

Find A Caring Community. Seek out others with similar needs and develop a network you can rely on. Those of us who are in recovery can find this in an AA or CMA meeting, you may need to locate a support group, join a small group at church, or seek an online community of others who get the depths and severity of what you face.

Avoid Dating. You need to first get at ease in your own skin before trying to be intimate with another again. If you are already in an intimate relationship, it is often advised to not get out of this relationship until you are stronger. Consider your “relationship bone” to be in a splint and cast for a while. You need to go easy on it until it is strong enough to handle more weight.

Earn a Modest Income. Be sure your basic needs are met, so as not to add financial pressures to your life, but this is not a season to be closing huge deals, seeing great raises, or starting new and demanding jobs. In essence, during this season (likely a year or so) your full-time job is recovering your life. There will be time in the future when you can be more dedicated to a demanding job and/or fulfilling career.

Comply with Prescriptions. This is especially necessary as it regards anti-depressants. Only reduce or increase your meds under the specific guidance of your doctor. There are terrible tales of patients who begin to recover, with the help of today’s psychiatric drugs, and then feel they no longer need them and simply cease using them and weeks later end up suicidal. These meds have helped millions, but are powerful change agents in our life. Use them with care and strict adherence to what your doctor says.

Share your Story Selectively. It is critical that you create trust with others before sharing your story entirely. Certainly be fully honest with your “dream team,” but you may find others (employers, roommates, bowling buddies, even family members) don’t need and don’t want the full details.

Optimize this Time of Strength. Have conversations with loved ones when you are strong and tell them what to watch for if you “backslide.” Give them guidance as to what you may need but not ask for, should a crisis happen in the future. Some patients have actually created advanced directives of what close friends or family can/should do. As Kay Jamison in Night Falls Fast points out:

“Patients who decide, when rational, that if they again become suicidal they wish to be hospitalized or receive antipsychotic medications or undergo electroconvulsive therapy, but who also know that they are unlikely, when ill, to consent to this, may in some areas of the country draw up “Odysseus” arrangements. Based on the mythic character’s request to be strapped to the mast of his ship so that he might avoid the inevitable call of the Sirens, Odysseus agreements (or advanced instruction directives) allow patients to agree to certain treatments in advance.”

Eliminate Easy Access to Destructive Means. Get the pills, guns, and booze out of the house. It is imperative that you clean house (literally) while you are in a place of strength, possibly with a trusted friend helping you. Don’t leave a “back door unlocked” which could undo all your good work later on when things get tough.

Be Gentle With Yourself. Strive for incremental progress, but don’t beat yourself up over a bounced check or missed appointment. The 12 step literature urges “spiritual progress not spiritual perfection.” All of us who are recovering from a serious suicide attempt are doing a remarkable thing as we reclaim our life. Take heart in your progress, celebrate and rejoice in the small victories. For the first year after my attempt, on the 11th of each month, I’d go out and buy a CD for my collection. Typically show tunes … what can I say?

PTSD And Complex PTSD: What Happens When You’ve Lived In A Psychological War Zone

ThoughtCatalog’s Link!

Normally when we think about “PTSD,” our minds jump to those who’ve been in combat. While it is certainly an issue for those who’ve been in real-life war zones, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Complex PTSD isn’t just exclusive to war veterans. In fact, many survivors of childhood emotional neglect, physical or emotional abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault and rape can suffer from the symptoms of PTSD or Complex PTSD if they endured long-standing, ongoing and inescapable trauma.

These individuals face combat and battle in invisible war zones that are nonetheless traumatic and potentially damaging. According to the National Center for PTSD, about 8 million people can develop PTSD every year and women are twice as likely than men to experience these symptoms.

What Are The Symptoms of PTSD and Complex PTSD?
There are four types of symptoms that are part of PTSD and some additional symptoms for Complex PTSD as listed below. Complex PTSD, which develops due to chronic, ongoing trauma, is more likely to occur due to long-term domestic violence or childhood sexual and/or physical or emotional abuse. Around 92% of people who meet the criteria for Complex PTSD also meet the criteria for PTSD (Roth, et. al 1997).

It is recommended that you seek professional support if you’re struggling with any of these symptoms, especially if your symptoms last longer than one month, cause great impairment or distress and/or disrupt your ability to function in everyday life. Only a licensed mental health professional can diagnose you and provide an appropriate treatment plan.

1. Reliving and Re-experiencing the Trauma
PTSD: Memories, reoccurring nightmares, persistent unwanted and upsetting thoughts, physical reactivity, vivid flashbacks of the original event can all be a part of PTSD. You may also encounter triggers in everyday life – whether it be something you see, smell, hear, that brings you back to the original event. This can look different for every survivor. A sexual assault survivor might hear the voice of someone who resembles her assailant and find herself reliving the terror of being violated. A domestic violence victim might find herself being triggered by someone raising their voice. Triggers can be seemingly minor or overwhelmingly major, depending on the severity and longevity of the trauma endured.

Complex PTSD: According to trauma therapist Pete Walker (2013), you may also suffer from emotional flashbacks where you ‘regress’ back into the emotional state of the original event and you behave maladaptively to the situation as a result. Walker states that for people with Complex PTSD, individuals develop four “F” responses when they are triggered by emotional flashbacks: they may fight, flee, fawn (seek to please) or freeze. These responses are protective, but they may end up further harming the survivor because the survivor might fail to enforce their boundaries or may use excessive force in protecting themselves.

2. Avoidance of Situations That Remind You Of The Event
PTSD: You go to great lengths to avoid anything that might potentially trigger memories or feelings associated with the traumatic events. If you were in an abusive relationship, for example, you might isolate yourself from others or stop dating in an attempt to avoid being harmed by others.

If you were raped, you might avoid situations where any form of physical contact might arise, whether it be getting a massage or being affectionate with a romantic partner. If you suffered bullying, you might avoid places where group activities are likely to happen, such as large parties or even certain careers that might require high levels of social interaction. This avoidance can include trying to avoid trauma-related thoughts, too; you might keep yourself persistently busy so you don’t have to face any thoughts regarding what you went through.

Complex PTSD: Throughout your life, you may go to excessive lengths to avoid abandonment and resort to people-pleasing or “fawning” behavior. This might result in you having trouble setting boundaries with others, standing up for yourself when your rights are violated and becoming enmeshed in codependent relationships. You might be hypersensitive to signs of disapproval or micro-signals of abandonment.

As therapist Pete Walker (2013) writes, “The Abandonment Depression is the complex painful childhood experience that is reconstituted in an emotional flashback. It is a return to the sense of overwhelm, hopelessness and helplessness that afflicts the abused and/or emotionally abandoned child. At the core of the abandonment depression is the abandonment melange – the terrible emotional mix of fear and shame that coalesces around the deathlike feelings of depression that afflict an abandoned child.”

3. Skewed Belief Systems and Negative Perceptions, Including Self-Blame and Toxic Shame
PTSD: There is a shift in your belief systems and self-perception after the traumatic events. You might suffer from low self-esteem, depression, excessive ruminations, negative self-talk, memory loss related to the trauma, decreased interest in activities you used to enjoy and a heightened sense of self-blame.

Complex PTSD: Individuals with Complex PTSD may struggle with guilt, a sense of toxic shame and feeling different from others or even defective in some way. They may have a heighted “inner critic” that develops as a result of any verbal, emotional, physical or sexual abuse they went through in their lifetime. This inner critic might judge everything you do or say, prevent you from taking risks or pursuing your goals, can lead to a sense of learned helplessness and can often mimic the voices of any abusers you encountered, especially if you had toxic parents.

4. Hyperarousal and Hypervigilance
PTSD: You develop an excessive sense of alarm concerning your surroundings. You may experience a heightened startle reaction, increased irritability or aggression, engage in risky behavior, and have difficulty concentrating or sleeping.

Complex PTSD: Survivors with Complex PTSD can struggle with emotional regulation, suicidal thoughts and self-isolation. They may engage in self-harm, develop substance abuse addictions, and have a hard time trusting themselves and their intuition. They may end up in unhealthy, abusive relationships in what trauma expert Judith Herman calls “a repeated search for a rescuer” (Herman, 1997). They may have a deep mistrust of others but also a heightened attunement to changes in their environment as well as a hyperfocus on changes in microexpressions, shifts in tone of voice or gestures in others.

Treatment for PTSD and Complex PTSD
Treatment for PTSD and Complex PTSD requires highly skilled therapy with a trauma-informed and validating counselor who can help guide you safely through your triggers. Based on research, effective treatments can include some form of trauma-focused psychotherapy such as prolonged exposure therapy (PE) which involves facing the negative feelings you’ve been avoiding, cognitive processing therapy (CPT) which teaches the client to reframe their thoughts about the trauma, or Eye-Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy which involves processing the trauma by following a back-and-forth movement of light or sound. You can learn more about treatments for PTSD here.

Keep in mind that not every treatment is suitable for every survivor and should always be discussed with a counselor. Supplemental remedies may include trauma-focused yoga and meditation to heal parts of the brain affected by trauma and release trapped emotions in the body (van der Kolk, 2015).

Although PTSD is manageable with the right support and resources, recovery from Complex PTSD is admittedly a more lifelong process as it deals with trauma that usually originated from childhood, further exacerbated by traumas in adulthood. Grieving the losses associated with the trauma or traumas experienced is an essential part of the journey.

It is important to remember that healing has no deadline and that recovery is a cyclical, rather than linear, process. Every survivor recovers in their own way and is worthy of the support it takes to get to the other side of healing. TC mark

❆ Snowboarding & Self Care Series: Introduction

Everything seemed to fall into place and snowboarding was at the center. I hadn’t experienced genuine bliss in f$%^ knows how long. The complete road block I was experiencing when it came to identifying and planning out goals cleared itself when I was on that mountain, and that is where I have decided to place my focus on self-care while recovering from depression.

Where I live in Oregon, you can go snowboarding or skiing YEAR.FREAKING.ROUND. & I live less than an hour and a half away from the closest of the THREE lodges on Mt. Hood. I have no excuse other than laziness… or.. laziness, to not make it up there at least somewhat frequently

The tickets area more than affordable for a lift ticket & I don’t mind going alone, half the time I prefer it. There shouldn’t be anything hindering my new life plan.

This series will be about how snowboarding is helping me get over depression, a failed suicide attempt, and the journey that I HOPE TO FUCK I actually stick with. I know that if I am able to carve out time and maintain motivation, I’ll be on that mountain.

The rest will be left to see…