The Ultimate Betrayal Trauma Resource Guide

When you are married to an addict and/or abuser a lot of the typical marriage advice just doesn’t apply, in fact it can be downright dangerous. Tips on how to love your husband more and serve him more can just feed the abuse. For example following the  telling you to never go to bed on angry feelings just might be forcing you into a difficult conversation with an addict who is in a bad frame of mind which can then escalate to full-blown abuse. Remember you are not a codependent; you are a spouse in betrayal trauma. You and your spouse each need to heal yourselves before you can heal the marriage.

Most marriage and relationship advice is based on the assumption that there are two willing partners both ready to give their all to the relationship. When dealing with addiction and abuse this is frequently not true as the addict/abuser has no interest in changing their ways to make the relationship more healthy. Their goal is to change their spouse to fit their expectations and fantasies. Even when your dealing with an addict in active recovery there are a lot of unhealthy thought patterns that are ingrained into the way they handle relationships. Healthy boundaries are still essential and will be different from the ones a couple in a healthy relationship maintains.

The Ultimate Betrayal Trauma Resource Guide for Women Who are Dealing With Addiction and Abuse in Their Partner | muchnessmama.com |

The following is a list of resources that myself and others I trust recommend for those dealing with an addict and/or abuser.

Healing From Betrayal Trauma

Your Sexually Addicted Spouse: How Partners Can Cope and Heal

Intimate Deception

Helping Her Heal (directed towards the sex addict, but very good info for wives and extremely validating)

Facing Heartbreak: Steps to Recovery for Partners of Sex Addicts

Shattered Vows: Hope and Healing for Women Who Have Been Sexually Betrayed

The Body Keeps the Score Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Feelings Buried Alive Never Die

Transcending Post-Infidelity Stress Disorder: The Six Stages of Healing

Before the Dust Settles (Advice from a Sex Addict’s Wife): 8 Mistakes to Avoid Immediately After Discovering Your Partner’s Sex Addiction

Mending A Shattered Heart

Living with a Sex Addict: The Basics from Crisis to Recovery

Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5-Step Boundary Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts

What Can I Do About Me?

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life

Boundaries in Marriage  (be cautious, this is NOT a good book for the addict/abuser NOT in recovery to read. They can use some of the principles to abuse you)

Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships

Treating Trauma from Sexual Betrayal: The Essential Tools for Healing

I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough”

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Rising Strong: How the Ability to Reset Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone

The Gifts of Imperfection

Make My Burden Light Blog

Boundaries Blog

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Blog, Podcast, and Coaches

Healing From and Dealing With Abuse

Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

Daily Wisdom for Why Does He Do That?: Encouragement for Women Involved with Angry and Controlling Men

Healing from Hidden Abuse: A Journey Through the Stages of Recovery from Psychological Abuse

30 Covert Emotional Manipulation Tactics: How Manipulators Take Control In Personal Relationships

In Sheep’s Clothing: Understanding and Dealing with Manipulative People

How To Kill A Narcissist: Debunking The Myth Of Narcissism And Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse

Becoming the Narcissists Nightmare

How To Kill A Narcissist: Debunking The Myth Of Narcissism And Recovering From Narcissistic Abuse

Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life

Boundaries in Marriage  (be cautious, this is NOT a good book for the addict/abuser NOT in recovery to read. They can use some of the principles to abuse you)

Beyond Boundaries: Learning to Trust Again in Relationships

Boundaries Blog

Rebuilding a Marriage

**These resources are for when you are dealing with an addict/abuser who is in active recovery. Please study and apply these principles with caution and only after reading the book Boundaries and having a solid grasp on their effective use**

An Emotionally Focused Workbook for Couples: The Two of Us

Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love

Created for Connection: The “Hold Me Tight” Guide for Christian Couples

Seven Desires: Looking Past What Separates Us to Learn What Connects Us

International Centre for Excellence in Emotionally Focused Therapy

What are your favorite resources for understanding and healing from betrayal trauma and abuse? Is there a resource on this list that is new to you? What are you reading now/next? What has been the most useful thing that you have learned in your study? Is there anything you would add to this list? Come on over to the Muchness Mamas Facebook group and let’s chat about it!

What is Betrayal Trauma?

In my previous post I told you that I have betrayal trauma induced post traumatic stress (PTSD), adrenal fatigue, insomnia, depression, and anxiety. Some of you may have read that and said “huh? What in the world is betrayal trauma!?” I know that’s what I thought the first time I heard the term. Understanding is the first step to healing, so this post is all about understanding betrayal trauma and it’s affects on the individual and the relationship.

What is Betrayal Trauma? | muchnessmama.com | When you are betrayad by a spouse or caregiver it can leave deep wounds. Did you know that the symptoms of betrayal trauma are the same as the symptoms of PTSD?

Betrayal Trauma Definition

The term betrayal trauma was first introduced by Jennifer Freyd in 1991 at a presentation at Langley Porter Psychiatric Institute. According to Freyd “Betrayal trauma occurs when the people or institutions on which a person depends for survival significantly violate that person’ s trust or well-being: Childhood physical, emotional, or sexual abuse perpetrated by a caregiver are examples of betrayal trauma.” (link) So as a wife of a sex addict I experienced trauma when I discovered the ways in which my husband was acting out. When this trauma hit it was a HUGE betrayal because it felt like there was more harm that could come from confronting and standing up to it than there was in putting my head down, walking on eggshells, and trying to maintain the peace. For me personally betrayal trauma has also been sustained by my husband’s anger management problems in our early years as well. Double whammy!

The Affects of Betrayal Trauma

Freyd further tells us that when trauma involves a betrayal we are less likely to be aware of what is occurring or recall the details. Why? Because when we confront the perpetrator it threatens an attachment that we feel is necessary to our survival. Those awesome survival instincts can kick in and literally erase our memory or change it to make the betrayal seem like less of a threat.  I felt like I was all these monkeys combined into one! I refused to hear or see the abuse in my marriage and definitely terrified to say anything about the things I did notice.

What is Betrayal Trauma? | muchnessmama.com | wife of a sex addict | spouse of an addict | PTSD Joao Tzanno

When our conscious mind is protecting us, and our subconscious mind is screaming that everything is not ok it can lead to some pretty severe problems. In a recent study it was shown that ~70% of wives of sex addicts could be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Yep, the same thing that military folk come home with is what traumatized wives deal with. Lucky me, I got both! I will say, however, that my trauma from deployment was VERY minimal to the extent that I didn’t even really realize that it existed for a long time. My betrayal trauma due to addiction has been much more in my face and in control of my life. PTSD comes with a lot of really fun symptoms including:

  • Spontaneous or cued recurrent, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of the traumatic events
  • Recurrent distressing dreams in which the content or affect (i.e. feeling) of the dream is related to the events
  • Flashbacks or other dissociative reactions in which the individual feels or acts as if the traumatic events are recurring
  • Intense or prolonged psychological distress at exposure to internal or external cues that symbolize or resemble an aspect of the traumatic events
  • Physiological reactions to reminders of the traumatic events
  • Persistent avoidance of distressing memories, thoughts, or feelings about or closely associated with the traumatic events or of external reminders
  • Inability to remember an important aspect of the traumatic events (not due to head injury, alcohol, or drugs)
  • Persistent and exaggerated negative beliefs or expectations about oneself, others, or the world (e.g., “I am bad,” “No one can be trusted,” “The world is completely dangerous”).
  • Persistent, distorted blame of self or others about the cause or consequences of the traumatic events
  • Persistent fear, horror, anger, guilt, or shame
  • Markedly diminished interest or participation in significant activities
  • Feelings of detachment or estrangement from others
  • Persistent inability to experience positive emotions
  • Irritable or aggressive behavior
  • Reckless or self-destructive behavior
  • Hypervigilance
  • Exaggerated startle response
  • Problems with concentration
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep

Yeah, that’s a lot. All of these symptoms can also take their toll physically. Adrenal fatigue, thyroid problems, joint and/or muscle pain, headaches, weight gain, and even more often manifest themselves when a person is suffering from trauma. “The Body Keeps The Score” is a great book to read if you are more interested in this topic. It’s WAY too much to cover here.

How To Heal From Betrayal Trauma

Quite frequently all these symptoms are lumped into one happy little diagnosis of anxiety and/or depression. Here pop a pill and be on your merry way! While I’m all for medication if and when you need it really healing trauma requires far more than that.

4 Steps for Betrayal Trauma Recovery | muchnessmama.com | you can heal from betrayal trauma, but it requires a lot fo work. Here are 4 important steps to get you started.

First and formost you need to get out of your isolation! That is why I have ripped the curtain off my life and decided to start sharing here, thankfully with my husband’s full support and even cheerleading. You need to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE! As I said in my previous post 64% of Christina men admit to at least monthly viewing of pornography. I dont’ think there is a single woman in this world who has not been affected by sex addiction in some way. Whether it’s harassment from schoolmates or coworkers or a deep betrayal of a spouse we’ve all been touched. It is not your fault. You don’t deserve it. You are worthy of love and respect. There are a few different groups out there that you can meet with in person. S-Anon is the partner program to Sexaholics Anonymous. They provide pretty good support, but they follow a codependency model which I believe is very unhealthy, so I would not personally recommend them. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints offers a Spouse and Family Support Group. These meetings are based on some beautiful principles. The leaders, however, are missionaries called by the church. They may or may not have any actual education or experience with trauma. Some meetings can be further re-traumatizing. If your local meeting is not a supportive safe place for you there are many phone meetings to choose from as well. Lifestar and Healing Through Christ are two other groups I am aware of. They both lean towards codependency though, so once again not my highest recommendations. I am also a member of a few different groups on Facebook. Due to the sensitive nature of the topics discussed these groups are secret. If you are interested in learning more about these groups please feel free to contact me. Determined to Rise is also a great resource for connection. I am REALLY looking forward to attending the retreat that they are hosting next month in Utah.

Second, and equally important, is counseling with a qualified therapist. Finding the right therapist can be very difficult. While there are all sorts of certifications you can look for ultimately it all comes down to do they know and understand betrayal trauma. It is also really helpful if they are trained in EMDR and/or neural feedback therapy (more on those in a future post). Both of these help to integrate the mind/body connection and speed up the healing process.  Betrayal Trauma Recovery is an excellent resource for finding a good counselor. They are coaches rather than certified therapists, but they have focused their training on betrayal trauma and most are victims as well. One last note on therapy. NEVER EVER EVER do couples therapy with a man who is still in active addiction. It usually does far more harm than good as it provides a platform for the addict to further abuse you through manipulating and gaslighting both you and the therapist. I would recommend that an addict is working a solid recovery program and attending weekly counseling sessions on their own for at least 3-6 months before you even consider couples therapy. When you do start couples therapy look for a therapist who uses Emotionally Focused Therapy techniques. Addiction is at the root a disease of connection. Learning to reconnect to your own emotions and your spouses in healthy ways is far more important than directly working on any specific marriage issues, especially in the early stages of healing a relationship.

Third, become  a learn it all. No one is ever going to care as much about your healing as you do. Knowledge is power and you need all the power you can get to escape the pit that you find yourself in while dealing with these issues. The first book I would start with is “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse“. If you are dealing with verbal abuse or out of control anger as I was then I would also highly recommend “Why Does He Do That“. For dealing with your own insecurities adn regaining your individuality and muchness anything by Brene Brown is pure gold. I’m currently working through “The Gifts of Imperfection” book via the art journaling class.

Fourth is some solid self-care and self-love work. Self-Care is NOT selfish! You matter. You are important. You can not give to others what you don’t have for yourself. Your capacity to love others, including and even especially your own family, is limited by your ability to love yourself. If you struggle with this I would encourage you to find ten minutes every day where you can just do something you love. Take a walk, do some art, sing in the shower, just do whatever makes you happy. Then look in the mirror and say to yourself “I am a beloved child of God with infinite potential. I am worthy of love. I love you Emily!” Please put your own name in there though. While I do enjoy adoring fans this is about you.

What is Betrayal Trauma | muchnessmama.com | Positive Affirmations | you are beloved | Child of God

Are you or a loved one suffering from Betrayal trauma? What more do you wish you knew about it? I’d love to see you over in my Muchness Mamas group on Facebook where you can discuss this and other topics in a group of supportive and understanding women.

 

The 5 Love Languages- Understanding How We Give and Receive Love

Have you ever struggled with feeling like you are loved and appreciated in your marriage, parenthood, friendship, or other relationship? On the flip side have you ever felt like you were showing an overwhelming amount of love only to have someone tell you that they don’t feel appreciated? You might be dealing with a love language barrier. Have you heard of the five love languages before? You can learn all about them in the book “The 5 Love Languages” by Dr. Gary Chapman, but here’s a little summary for you.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Couples Therapy

A Summary of the Five Love Languages

The love languages are the ways in which we both give and receive love. They are physical touch, words of affirmation, gifts, acts of service, and quality time. You both receive and give love through these languages. Pretty much everyone has 1-2 dominant languages. Some people speak the same language as they hear, while others speak and hear different languages. If you aren’t sure what your language is check out this quiz.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Couples Therapy

Are You Speaking Your Loved Ones’ Language?

While knowing your own love language can be very insightful, it is also important to know what the dominant language is for those you love. Whether it’s a spouse, friend, or child if you really want to show them the most love possible you have to speak their language. What is an amazing gesture for you may fall flat if you do the same for a spouse. By not speaking in their language, or worse by punishing in their language, you can really inhibit their ability to feel loved. For example if you have a child who has the dominant love language of words of affirmation a critical statement can cut them far deeper than it may a different child. If your spouse’s love language is acts of service and you are constantly asking them to serve you without returning the favor then their love bank will go into the negative pretty quickly.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Work Relationships

Can You Hear What Others Are Saying?

Even more important than learning to speak another language is learning to hear the language that they are speaking. As an acts of service person it is sometimes hard to feel love from my kids. I mean come on, how often do small children spontaneously clean the bathroom or fold the laundry? I need to learn to hear in the way that they do say I Love you to me. The hugs and kisses, the weeds (flowers) brought in from outside, the pictures they draw just for me. I have the choice to sit here and feel sorry for myself that no one appreciates me because if they did they’d help out with the housework more, or I can choose to feel loved by all the little things my kids do every day that say I love you to me. It’s easy to do with my kids. It’s harder to do with my husband. He’s a grown-up afterall. I should be able to tell him my love language and have him just give me what I want right? Nope. Just like learning Spanish Chinese, Russian or Arabic it takes work to learn to speak a new language, and some languages are harder for us than others. My husband is a words of affirmation adn physical touch kind of guy. I’ve had to learn to accept those things from him as signs of love as well as communicating to him when I really just need a service done for me.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Friendship

Focus on Giving, Not Getting

As a child I was primarily a physical touch speaker adn receiver. I was constantly wanting to be hugged and cuddled. I always wanted to give my friends hugs. I liked to roughhouse. Hubs and I should make a perfect match then, right? Being as we’re both physical touch people. Nope. While discussing love languages a few days ago I had the realization that physical touch is actually second lowest on my list right now. What changed? I realized that it had dropped lower and lower as I felt like physical touch was taken from me rather than freely given. The touches between my husband and I had become focused on him taking what he needed to feel loved, not giving me what I needed. For example he would try to grab me for a big hug and kiss and let’s just hold each other for a few minutes when I was in the middle of cooking dinner and worried that things were going to burn if I didn’t attend to them immediately. I began to resent his physical touch rather than treasuring it. As we have been researching a lot about bonding behaviors he has started using physical touch as a way to give, not just take. Now he does things like give me a massage when my shoulders hurt from carrying a grumpy baby all day, brush my hair, simply sit close enough to touch shoulders at church. By focusing his physical touch on giving not only is he helping me feel more loved and respected, but he’s finding that I am much more ready and willing to speak his love language and engage in nourishing physical touch with him rather than trying to push him away out of irritation. On the flip side I also find that the more I go out of my way to serve my husband (my primary love language, acts of service) he naturally returns the favor. As we’ve each focused more on giving we’ve allowed the other to do the same and we are both finding our love buckets are much fuller than they were when we were both just trying to get what we needed.

The Five Love Languages | muchnessmama.com | Quality Time | Words of Affirmation | Gifts | Physical Touch | Acts of Service | Relationship advice | marriage | Parenting

Learning More About the Five Love Languages

Gary Chapman has written several books about this topic. Start off with the basic book “The Five Love Languages” which will guide you through each language and teach you how you can both give and receive in each language. After that there are several books that are directed at specific audiences such as military, children, singles, men, and teenagers. Dr. Chapman has also written several other great relationship books which you can view here. Don’t forget to check out the official Five Love Languages website and Dr. Chapman’s Facebook page as well.

Do you know what your love language is? How has knowing yours and loved ones love languages helped you or how do you think it can help you in the future? Come join the Muchness Mamas Facebook Community to join in on the conversation.

Stop Stuffing- There are No Bad Emotions

One of the biggest lies that society tells us is that some emotions are not ok.  We need to just get rid of these so-called bad emotions as soon as possible.

“Don’t cry”

“Don’t let him get to you!”

“Don’t waste your time being angry”

“Just get over it!”

“Toughen up!”

“Choose to be happy!”

There are No "Bad" Emotions | muchnessmama.com | negative emotions | controlling your feelings | stuffing emotions | healthy emotions | emotional health

Believing these lies has turned me into a chronic stuffer. The problem is that stuffed feelings don’t fizzle out. They just grow bigger and bigger until they explode in a big, messy, damaging, chaotic way. I’m walking around like an active volcano. Nobody knows precisely when the top will pop, but we all know it’s going to happen at any time!

Stuffed Emotions Lead to Explosions

In marriage it looks something like this. He didn’t fill the car up with gas on the way home, it’s ok I can do it at this ridiculously inconvenient time and be late to my meeting. (smoke starts leaking a bit) He said something very hurtful. It’s ok I’m sure he didn’t mean it that way I won’t say anything. (maybe the ground gives a little tremble) He didn’t call when he was running late AGAIN. It’s ok we all make mistakes. (smoke is getting a bit heavier now) He spent money we didn’t have on something we didn’t need. It’s ok, he earns the money so he should be able to do what he wants. (now the ground is really shaking). “OH MY GOODNESS WHY DO YOU NEED THE MUSIC SO FLIPPING LOUD. DON’T YOU CARE ABOUT MY EARDRUMS MUCH LESS MY SANITY!!! YOU KNOW I HATE LOUD MUSIC. YOU ARE SO BLEEPING INSENSITIVE. I CAN’T BELIEVE I MARRIED SUCH A SELFISH JERKFACE! WHY DO YOU HATE ME SO MUCH. I KNOW YOU DON’T CARE ABOUT ME AT ALL. YOU’RE JUST PRETENDING TO LOVE ME SO I WON’T LEAVE YOU!!”

Ok maybe it’s not always quite that dramatic, but you get the point.

Embrace the Negative Emotions

Well what if we learned to embrace those so-called bad emotions? What if as a society we could give each other permission to just feel what we feel without qualifiers or judgment? Research actually shows that there are a lot of negative consequences for stuffing emotions such as emotional pain and isolation, headaches, heart disease and cancer! There are also positive benefits to embracing our negative emotions. People who are able to recognize, communicate and deal with their negative emotions are more resilient in life, overall more positive people, and tend to live longer.

Now embracing negative emotions doesn’t mean that you wallow in self-pity, shame, doubt or fear. What it does mean is that you acknowledge the truth of how you feel, communicate it to others, then use it to propel you into positive solutions.

There are No "Bad" Emotions | muchnessmama.com | negative emotions | controlling your feelings | stuffing emotions | healthy emotions | emotional health
Feelings are natural. What you do with them is a choice. ~Mel Robbins

Recognizing Emotions

The first step in emotional health is being able to recognize what emotions you are feeling. Anger is probably the most easy to identify, but it is usually only a secondary emotion. Anger is usually a result of fear, shame, guilt, disappointment, etc. Being able to recognize the true underlying emotion is crucial to addressing it. In my example above not only was I feeling pent-up emotions from stressors I hadn’t discussed with my husband I was also feeling a deep sense of disrespect and fear. When my needs have been communicated (I REALLY hate loud noise to the point it feels like someone is pounding nails into my brain) and they are going unmet I feel disrespected. In combination with that I have a fear that disrespect=no love and no love means he is going to leave me. By addressing those real emotions I can sidestep the anger and simply talk to him about my hurt and fear.

Give Yourself Permission to Feel How You Feel

Remind yourself that there is no such thing as a wrong or bad emotion. Everyone has them. They are an essential part of our make-up as human beings. They serve an important function in helping us course correct our lives and protect us from dangerous or unhealthy situations. Give yourself permission to lean into the feelings, explore them, and understand them instead of running from them. Seek to understand the deeper emotions and situations that have led you to where you are. Have a good cry. Punch a pillow. Go do some target practice. Go for a walk. Write in your journal. Take time to allow yourself to just feel what you feel and be ok with it.

Communicating Emotions

Next you have to be able to communicate what you are feeling. This is the hard part for us chronic stuffers. By communicating our feelings we are opening ourselves up to all sorts of scary reactions. We may be judged, rejected, dismissed, etc. It is important to have a safe person or people who you can talk to about how you feel without fear of negative fallout. If the person who caused the hurt isn’t safe then reach out to a friend, family member, or support group for help. Even if a person isn’t currently super safe you can create a safe environment for emotional sharing, even if it’s something you’ve never done before. My husband and I were able to do this with a therapist who was trained in emotionally focused therapy. Of course it takes two to tango and sometimes you just have to accept that the person will never be safe and put up your boundaries.

Reframing Negatives Into Positives

Now it’s time to take those uncomfortable feelings and use them to actually help us feel better! All this takes is a little bit fo reframing and focusing on moving forward. Guilt or shame can become compassion and caring as we try to make restitution for our wrongs. Anger can become courage and determination as you work on correcting the injustice that you see. Fear can bring you focus and alertness in dealing with the problems you face. Boredom can lead to periods of creativity. Frustration can propel you to make a change. Jealousy can be turned into admiration and create feelings of respect and friendly competition.

Allow the Good and Bad to Co-exist

The number one thing I am still working on is allowing my negative feelings to coexist with my positive ones. Have you seen the movie Inside Out? If not go watch it now.  I’ll wait…… OK well at least watch this scene:

The thing that makes the memories beautiful is allowing the sadness (and any other bad emotion) we feel to propel us into greater connection. Ultimately the entire purpose of this life is for us to connect intimately with each other. To be part of a family, biological or one you create. We can’t connect without vulnerability. We can’t be known by others unless we know ourselves. We can’t know ourselves if we aren’t willing to feel the full range of emotions that is present in every day.

I would love to hear your thoughts on stuffing, “bad” emotions, and using negative feelings to propel us into positive directions. Comment below or join the community on Facebook.

The Muchness Mama | Slay the jabberwock | Rediscover wonderland | self care | self love

Unslumping Yourself- 8 Tips for Dealing With Anxiety and Depression

The fun of the holidays is over. The family has gone home, the parties have ended, and the good will towards strangers seems to have gone out the window. The weather is less than pleasant, and in some places downright nasty. We’ve been so busy over the last few weeks and complete and total burn-out has occurred. The anxiety and stress and holidays is turning into the depression and loneliness of the rest of winter. The post holiday slump has hit, and it is a crummy place to be. What’s a girl to do? Un-slumping isn’t always easy, but there are definitely things we can do that help.

un-slumping | slump | tips for anxiety and depression | depression remedies

1- Get Up, Dress Up, Show Up

It may sound simple, but one of the biggest things I can do to un-slump myself is just get up at a decent time and get dressed each morning. There seems to be a direct relationship between the amount of time I lay in bed dreading the day and the crap factor of the day’s events. It starts a snowball of trying to catch up with my day instead of getting out ahead of the problems. Kids are whiny and hungry, fights are happening, breakfast is late leading to every other meal and bedtime being late as well. As hard as it is to leave my warm blankets, lying around is a decision I’ll definitely regret come 30 minutes past bedtime when I’m losing my mind trying to get everyone into their pajamas.

OK, so we can see why getting up is a necessary evil, but getting dressed is going a bit too far right? I know it sounds a bit crazy, but I promise you that if you put on real clothes every morning you will see an improvement in your life. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but putting on anything that isn’t pajama pants signals the brain that it’s time to get moving. I feel more put together and ready to take on the day. I don’t bother with a full face of make-up most days, but adding on a quick swipe of mascara makes me feel more awake and ready to face the day. Also if we do have to leave the house then I’m already ready to go and can focus on getting the kids ready. As an added bonus when I’m out and about and know that I’m not a total hot mess I get a lot more mood boosting compliments.

2- Early to Bed

We’ve all heard it “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise!” The truth is that we all have different circadian rhythms and many people just don’t naturally hit the sack early. Unfortunately our kiddos don’t care. They’re going to get up whenever their body tells them no matter what time you went to bed. Adequate sleep is not only going to help with your energy levels, but it is essential for your physical and mental health. The average woman needs 7-9 hours of sleep a day. Once I factor in the nursing baby that means I need to be in bed for 8-10 hours to get that much sleep. I made a commitment to myself that for one week I would get to bed by 10pm each night and I had my alarm set for 7:30. It was amazing the difference in mood I experienced just with that one small change vs. my previous bedtime of around midnight.

3- Get Moving

We’ve all heard it, exercise will help boost moods. Only one problem. Exercise isn’t exactly a lot fo fun and frankly most of us just don’t have time for it unless we’re going to give up sleep. It’s ok, you can still get your body moving without doing a formal exercise program. Take just 5 minutes to get a good full body stretch when you get up in the morning. Do a squat or lunge each time you need to pick up a toy or baby. Pick up your walking pace just a smidge when moving around the house or doing the grocery shopping. Do a little dancing with the kiddos when their movie end credits or show theme song plays. Do calf raises while brushing your teeth and arm exercises while watching TV. Fold laundry standing up instead of sitting down. There are thousands of little ways you can get a bit of extra movement into your day and improve your overall health.

4- Food is Fuel

Hey let’s face it, food is fun. Oftentimes it’s that can of Coke or piece of chocolate that gets me through a rough moment or day. Please don’t get down on yourself if your food choices aren’t always perfect. We’re busy, tired, and flat-out don’t have time to be Martha Stewart in the kitchen! It is important, however, to make sure you are getting adequate nutrition to fight the winter time blues. Focus on getting lean proteins, Omega-3’s, Vitamin D, and antioxidants to specifically battle depression. Check out this Web-MD article for more good anti-depression diet tips.

5- Light It Up

No I’m not telling you to smoke; I’m suggesting to literally add more light to your life. Most Americans are deficient in Vitamin D, which is exacerbated during the winter months when there is less sun and less exposed skin for it to hit. Many people have found great success in using phototherapy lights to improve their Vitamin D levels. Getting outside is important too becuase the fresh air can clear out your mind and invigorate the muscles. Go on a short walk around the neighborhood or even just stand on your front porch for a moment to renew the mind and take a break from the daily grind inside the home.

6- Essential Oils

I’m a big fan of using essential oils as mood boosters. I personally love and use DoTerra brand oils. Wild orange  is an invigorating happy scent and when used in On Guard it can boost immunity as well. Another favorite is Balance when I need to even out my emotions or Serenity when I need to calm a chaotic or anxious mind. I either use them topically on the bottom of my feet or diffuse them for the whole family to enjoy.

unslumping yourself | Dr. Seuss | Oh the places you'll go | post holiday blues | Depression remedies | Avoiding depression | winter blues | treatment for SAD| Seasonal affective disorder

7- Me Time/Social Time

As an introvert it is absolutely necessary that I get a little bit of me time every day. Whether I read a book, play some Candy Crush, or soak in a hot bath I just need to be alone with my thoughts. Easier said than done in a small house with 8 kiddos, but I do my best. If you’re an extrovert you may need to replace me time with social time. Get out of the house, even if it’s just to take your kiddos to the park and say hi to someone. Whether you are introverted or extroverted you may find that your needs flip-flop on some days. Make sure you are in tune with your feelings and get yourself the solitude or interaction that you need.

8- Head to the Doctor

Last, but certainly not least, don’t be afraid to head to the doctor for help. They can test you for any vitamin/mineral deficiencies, thyroid problems, hormonal imbalances, etc. that could be causing you troubles. No matter how hard you try sometimes all the natural things in the world just can’t fix whatever is off kilter in your body. YOU deserve to be happy. Don’t be afraid to admit you may need a little help o make that happen.

As I’m working on un-slumping myself I’d love to hear any other tips and tricks you have for fighting depression and anxiety. Come join our amazing Facebook community to keep the conversation going!

The Muchness Mama | Slay the jabberwock | Rediscover wonderland | self care | self love

Memorial Day- The Dark Side of Military Service

As I have seen all the media hullabaloo leading up to Memorial day this year it has caused me to reflect on my own military service as well as that of my husband. I joined the Marine Corps straight out of high school and served for eight years. My husband waited a little longer to join, he was a few years out of school, and served for 7.5 years. We met while serving and had our first two children together while on active duty. My husband is now currently serving in the National Guard.

We are both proud of our service. We did hard things. We deployed. We were part of something bigger than ourselves. We were willing to die for our country. This is what you hear from most active duty and veterans. What you don’t hear, and what you probably don’t want to hear, is that there is a dark side to service.

The military is one of the most emotionally sick places that I have ever been in my life. It was a dark time for me emotionally and spiritually. The worst mistakes I made in my life were a result of trying to fit in and be a part of a culture that was the polar opposite of the values I had been raised with. The incongruity between my actions and what I knew to be right caused me to struggle with depression, anxiety, and even suicidal thoughts.

veteran suicide awareness| SmithSquad.com | 22 too many | Marine Corps | military suicide | Mental Health

Did you know that roughly 22 veterans commit suicide every day? Some articles will try to tell you that this is a trumped-up statistic as the majority of veterans are older. They say these veterans shouldn’t count because their reasons for suicide are the same as any other civilian of that age. I don’t buy it. Military service affects you in a way that never leaves your mind, especially if you have been in active combat. Sure many of these vets may fight their demons off for years, but that doesn’t mean that it affected them any less, or that their suicide is unrelated to their service.

Why is it that mental issues like depression, anxiety, and even suicide are so common among military members? Well I can’t say it any better than my husband did on a recent Facebook post where he accepted a challenge to do 22 push-ups to raise awareness for veteran suicide:

I wanted to accept this challenge because what I can do to raise awareness is to talk about my experience in the active duty ranks of the military. If we want to see a reduction in suicides, we need to address the culture of the military that pressures service members to be supermen and women without feelings. We need to hold military leaders’ feet to the fire with the claim that they care about families. To the military, caring about families means spending money on them when it should mean creating an environment in which the family member who serves is not destroyed by the pressures of the job. We need to transform the culture that celebrates pornography, promiscuity, and alcoholism into one in which service members can feel it’s normal, okay, and healthy to seek help in overcoming problem behaviors. While service members do have access to chaplains and mental health professionals, they are often called names and counseled that their careers will suffer if they use those resources. Leaders don’t want their people to have problems, be weak, or discuss poor leadership with anyone outside the chain of command.

If you think military suicides are a problem, they are just the tip of the iceberg. The real problem is that the American military is the most mentally unhealthy, destructive place on the planet. Going after suicides can and should only lead to the discovery that the problem is much deeper, much bigger than gets reported in the news. If you want to solve this problem, you have to be committed to going all the way. So called “suicide awareness” campaigns are only a last-ditch effort to prevent the consummation of a tragedy that has been building for months and years in the minds of affected service members. Our young people suddenly leave families and friends, endure the pressures of basic training, and enter a world in which power-hungry, ego-tripping maniacal senior leaders bark orders ad nauseam with no (or feigned) regard for the well-being of their subordinates—to say nothing of the horrors of war many of them experience. After work, these young people live in a world where sex and alcohol are easy to find and seemingly limitless. With young people beginning their lives away from home this way—essentially living like college students with the added dangers of a high-stress job, less supervision, more freedom, and more money to spend—it is no wonder so many of them can’t handle it. I’m proud of my military service and what my brothers and sisters in arms have accomplished for this country, but there is much work to be done. Yes, suicides are a problem, but at the root of that problem is the destructive culture. The problem will continue until the root is cut.

About 3 years into my service I went to see a counselor to address my depression. I had one appointment. When requesting further appointments I was told I had to schedule them during non-work hours, they would not excuse my absence from work for a 1 hour counseling appointment. The counselors on base are only available during work hours. When my husband once sought some anger management classes he was advised against it because it could negatively impact his career. When a young marine I was in charge of took rat poisoning trying to end his life the SSgt over me made the comment “If he really meant it he would have succeeded. Don’t worry about him. I’ll straighten him out.” He was then moved to another direct supervisor because the SSgt thought I was babying him by showing concern. I spent many hours sitting and talking with those who had nowhere else to turn with their problems. When I left the Corps a few marines commented that I should be called Mama Smith instead of SSgt Smith. I was an oddity because of the level of true compassion I showed towards my Marines. “They’re tough, they don’t need you treating them like sissies” was once said to me by my top enlisted leader. When a fellow Marine asked those sharing his changing area to remove a pornographic poster that was on the wall he was ignored and ridiculed for the rest of his time in the unit. I could go on and on.

The fact is that the Military is a dark place full of unhealthy attitudes and behaviors. If you don’t conform to their beliefs then you are an outcast, often ridiculed and unjustly persecuted. Add in the pressures of war and the effects of PTSD and it’s no surprise that so many veterans, especially those who were raised with much higher moral standards, are struggling with mental illness and suicide.

 

So what can we do about it. Unfortunately I haven’t found a way to influence a culture change. What I can do is support those organizations who try to assist veterans overcome the problems that their service has created. At the top of my list is The Valhalla Project. The Valhalla Project is a 200-acre pilot property in the Ozark mountains with homesteading programs for post-9/11 military veterans. It is a retreat and reintegration facility for post-911 combat veterans and war zone civilian workers transitioning back into the civilian world. They work the land as a form of therapy to help deal with the trauma that they have experienced. One of the best ways to help them is to check out their critical needs wishlist on Amazon and send them a gift. You can also follow them on Facebook to be updated on any needs, and share their message with others. Direct donation via Paypal is also available on their blog.

Here are some other organizations who are fighting the mental health battle against veteran suicide:

Do you know a veteran or are you a veteran with mental health issues related to your service? Do you know of any additional resources for those who want to be part of the solution? Please share your stories and resources in the comments below.