Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

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“Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), formerly known as electroshock therapy, and often referred to as shock treatment, is a psychiatric treatment in which seizures are electrically induced in patients to provide relief from psychiatric illnesses” -Wikipedia

Basically, ECT is a treatment by which patients consent to have seizures intentionally triggered by electric shocks which are applied to the brain.

When you put it that way, it sounds barbaric and unnecessary.  Why would someone consent to have electric currents put through their brain under general anesthetic and undergo seizures?

The desperation and intense suicidal ideation that can accompany treatment resistant depression can be unbearable and even fatal.  Given the choice between suicide and ECT, some people choose ECT.  I was one of those people.

In 2011, I was caught in the grips of one of the worst depressive episodes of my life.  I was fighting off constant thoughts of suicide and severe self harm.  I was having difficulty functioning in my day to day life.  I had tried every medication known to human kind.  I was truly desperate and ECT was a last resort, something I hadn’t tried and something I hoped would provide even brief respite from my suicidal depression.

Over the course of about 8 weeks I received 15 electroconvulsive treatments.  This means I was put under general anesthetic 15 times and I had 15 seizures.  Some were unilateral (one side of the brain) and some were bilateral (both sides shocked simultaneously). I received the treatment as an outpatient, twice a week, Monday and Friday mornings at a hospital near my home.

Each morning I would report to the inpatient psychiatry floor around 6:30AM.  I would change into a hospital gown, remove my jewelry and be taken on a stretcher, by an orderly, down to the surgical area of the hospital.  I would wait in the semi-darkness, dimmed light of the surgical recovery room.  While in this room, nurses would place an IV into my hand so the necessary medications could be injected.  I was hooked up to heart rate monitor and other monitors.  There were usually 4-6 of us lying there, side by side, waiting our turn in the treatment room.  As I would wait, I would see the previous person being wheeled out of the treatment room, unconscious.  It was unsettling, as I knew my turn was coming soon.

The ECT room was a small procedure room attached to the surgical recovery room.  It was just large enough for a stretcher, the medical professionals and the necessary equipment.  It was bright and clinical.

Nurses and doctors began to work on me quickly.  I had the impression of an assembly line, a schedule being kept, patient in, treatment given, next patient in and so on.  My temples were wiped with alcohol swabs and electrodes attached.  The anesthesiologist talked to me about the medications he was going to administer.  A nurse would often hold my hand, there to keep me calm as everything was arranged.  The medications were injected one by one through the IV.  I could feel the cold fluid entering into the veins in my left hand.  I would keep my eyes fixed on the clock, trying to remember the time as I went unconscious, to later compare to the time on the clock when I awoke.  Sometimes I would lose no more than 15 minutes of time, the procedure was very quick.

I remember feeling afraid.  The nurse asked me to count backwards.  An oxygen mask was applied to my face and nose, ready to breath for me while I was unconscious.  The medications worked quickly and then nothing.  There was only one time of the 15 when I was aware of part of the process.  The medications they injected to relax my muscles began to act before I was unconscious, I felt like I was suffocating.  I couldn’t breathe and I started panicking.  I literally couldn’t breathe, but I was awake.  I could hear them talking and feel the next medication being injected and then nothing.

I would wake up 15 minutes later.  Back in a different curtained bay of the recovery room.  I could hear the nurses helping the other patients on either side of me, also recovering from ECT.   This was the part of the treatments that I hated most.  I had to stay in the recovery room for 30 minutes following the treatment, as they monitored my blood pressure and other vital signs.  I felt trapped.  I was hooked up to machines.  I often had a sense of panic and wanting to flee, to leave, to be outside.  Sometimes I would cry and I don’t think the nurses understood why.  Eventually the Doctor would come, talk to me briefly and I would be released.   The first time I could barely walk and the nurses wheeled me to the entrance to meet my family member.  I was usually home by 9 am.  The whole process taking 2-3 hours.

Usually I would stumble, drowsy and disoriented to the car.  I would be driven home and I would go straight to bed.  Usually I would sleep and rest for most of the day.  I lost a lot of weight over those few weeks because I ate so little due to missing breakfast and then being nauseous from the medications.  I also had severe headaches due to the shocks, and many side effects from the medications.  I felt like a zombie.  My short term memory was foggy as to the events during those 8 weeks.  During that time, my grandmother passed away and the experience was surreal through the state of mind I was in.  I have no memory of my own birthday that year, and few of my daughter’s.

In terms of long term side effects from the treatments, I found that the area of my brain which recalled the order of the months of the year and the seasons of the year were impacted.   If someone asked me “What season comes before Fall?”  I would feel confused and have to think very hard to answer “Summer”   Similarly with the months of the year and the order of the holidays in the calendar.

Overall I don’t think I suffered any major memory loss.   At the time I thought that the treatments helped my depression a little.

Sadly, I only realized about 9 months later that a large portion of my depression was situational, related to my abusive marriage.  In the end, the treatment for my depression was to move away from him.

If I’d realized this sooner, I probably would not have endured ECT.

Looking back on the whole series of treatments, it feels unreal.  It feels traumatic.  It feels strange and difficult to process.

In what world does it make sense to further traumatize a traumatized brain?  But desperation will make a person take desperate measures.  I survived and that is what matters.

The leaving.

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When I was 19 years old, I made the biggest mistake of my life.

This mistake potentially changed the entire course of my life until my children are adults and possibly longer.  I was a teenager.  I was in fragile recovery from anorexia and depression and had not yet been correctly diagnosed with PTSD.  I was living in a city away from my family and the majority of my close friends.  I was happy that year, doing well and enjoying life. I had taken up swing dancing and I loved it.  I’d made some friends and we often went out dancing together.  Shortly before my 20th birthday I met him.  He proposed to me after 3 months.  It was one of the worst moments of my life.  I remember physically shaking, thinking frantically in my head “oh my god, this can’t be happening, why is this happening, why is he doing this, why, what should I do, what will I say, why is this happening right now!!!”  In the moment I didn’t want to break up with him, so I said yes.  I honestly figured I had lots of time to get out of the promise, but life didn’t turn out that way.

Thirteen years passed.

Three years ago this week I made the biggest and most complicated decision of my life.

Ironically, the things that ended my marriage came together in a culmination of empowerment and decision for me.  I’d been battling with thoughts of leaving for over a year, slowly gaining strength, processing the ideas and planning.

The soul crushing depression I’d been living with for a few years slowly began to lift about a year before I left him.  I began to see options for myself.

For many years I had seriously considered suicide.  After trying ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) and slews of meds, I believed I had exhausted all options for treatment resistant depression. I was ready to give up and only my children held me to this world.  I had irrational, almost psychotic thoughts, in the depths of that depression.   But in my mind, when I was thinking more clearly, I told myself that suicide was only an option for those who had literally tried everything, people who had no other option.  Sometime in summer 2012 I realized that wasn’t my situation:  there was something I hadn’t tried.

I hadn’t tried moving. Living in my own house away from my partner.  I hadn’t tried starting over, changing my environment, removing myself from the ongoing sexual abuse which I knew was both triggering me and traumatizing me in equal measure.

In 2012, I was experiencing terribly severe migraines which at times left me unable to function.  I remember throwing up in the parking lot of a restaurant on my daughter’s birthday.  I went to the ER at times to receive IV pain meds.  Around that time I began taking a medication called Topimax for the migraines.  And suddenly, my depression lightened.  My obsessive compulsive suicidal and self destructive thoughts relented almost immediately.  I never self harmed in a way that required medical attention again. My migraines improved.  I began to see colours again.  I noticed the world around me.  I began to re-emerge into the world of the living.  And I started to consider my options for leaving my partner

As I grew stronger over the course of the next year, I started talking to more people in my life about the abuse.  I chose very carefully.  I told people who didn’t live in my city.  I told counselors and doctors who were sworn to keep confidentiality.  I was careful, but I started to talk.

I had some good friends who began to tell me that what I was experiencing was not okay.  Friends encouraged me to leave, to tell my parents, to get more counseling and they empowered me.  I started volunteering at a women’s organization. It happened gradually, slowly, almost imperceptibly.

In the end, the last time we had sex was the end of that marriage.  I made the decision the next day and told him a few days later.  That night he initiated sexual touching while I was asleep and drugged.  I woke up with him touching my breasts.  Maybe he had been touching me for a while before I fully responded.  On that occasion I woke up and was lucid enough to respond.  Because he had been touching me (without consent), I said yes to sleeping with him.  I verbally said yes.  We had sex and I felt disgusted.   Even though I said yes to the sex, I knew in my mind that I had not consented to the touching. I knew if he had asked me when I was wide awake I would have said no.   I realized that even IF I said yes, I still wouldn’t feel safe, comfortable or at all okay.  I knew it was over.  I knew that would be the last time.  So many times, when I was lying awake at night after being assaulted, I thought to myself “this could be the last time, I could get up and walk away” but I never did.  I was always afraid and I didn’t want to leave my kids.

There are a lot of reasons why people who are being abused do not leave.

And at the end of the day, it only takes one reason to decide to leave.

Leaving an abusive relationship can’t be rushed or forced.  The person being abused has to hit a breaking point and decide that “enough is enough” and that point is different for each individual survivor.

This happened three years ago, but anniversaries are always difficult for me.  I feel it all again.  I have more nightmares, more anxiety and lower self esteem.  I don’t believe in myself.  I have difficulty trusting. I hate my body so intensely that I struggle to look in mirrors or wear certain clothes. I don’t feel safe or relaxed anywhere.  I return to the automatic living, zombie like state.  I have trouble remembering things and difficulty concentrating.  I sometimes wonder if it has been worth the fight.  The suicidal thoughts creep in suddenly, ambushing me in my day to day life.

But at the end of the day, I have to remember that there were only 2 options left for me:

  1. Leaving
  2. Suicide

As difficult as my life is, and as much pain as I’m in, I believe I made the right choice.

I’m still alive.

 

PES (Psychiatric Emergency Services)

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I’d been in the psychiatric emergency rooms at South Street hospital more times than I could count.  But that was an old hospital. The rooms were basically just regular rooms, except the chairs were bolted to the ground.  One of them had an ugly green tiled floor.  One of them had a stretcher in it.  There were chairs just outside for the security guards to sit.

In July 2011, I was in a different hospital emergency room.  This hospital was newer and had an updated PES (Psychiatric Emergency Services) department.  The door to the department was locked at all times.  There were 4 small rooms, similar to the one in the picture above except the chairs were bolted down, and one washroom.  In the washroom the toilet was metal and had no seat.  The sink was metal and attached to the wall.  In the central area between the 4 rooms there was a water fountain and two telephones attached to the wall.  In the central area there was also a stretcher with restraints on it. Separated by another locked door was the nursing station.  Each of the rooms had cameras in them (except the washroom).  The nursing station had a window which looked into the department.  The washroom reminded me of what I imagine a jail looks like.  In fact the whole experience was like being in jail.

My family was out of town visiting my ex-husband’s extended family.  I was in my last weeks of the practical placement that would complete my Masters degree.  Ironically my placement was in a psychiatric hospital.  The depression that had crept back into my life in the Fall of 2009 had worsened.  There were many reasons for this.  I felt desperate and I had tried all the medications that were available.  I began to seriously consider ECT (electroconvulsive therapy aka shock treatments).  This had been suggested to me in the past around 2004, fairly early on in my psychiatric survivorship story.  At that time I felt it was too soon, I hadn’t tried a whole class of medications.

In 2011 I felt like my options were suicide or ECT and I preferred the ECT.

I wasn’t coerced, I wasn’t pressured into it.  I sought out the treatment myself with the support of my outpatient psychiatrist.  Since he has no privileges at the local hospitals my best bet was to go to the ER and ask for a consult.

My plan was to do this as an outpatient.  But things went awry.   When I told the psychiatric resident how much I was struggling and how suicidal I was she wouldn’t let me leave.  The doctor on call told me I had to be admitted to the hospital and that if I didn’t agree to stay she would admit me on a Form, involuntarily.  At this point, locked in PES, I decided my best option was to cooperate.   I hadn’t brought anything with me, and there were no beds open on the Mental Health Unit, so I was forced to spend 24 hours locked in PES.

I can’t remember exactly when I cracked, but I phoned a friend.  I told him where I was and that I wasn’t allowed to leave.  I cried to him on the phone. He was a friend from school and I was so embarrassed to be calling him from the hospital.  I felt like it was my one call to the outside world after being arrested.   I didn’t want to tell my parents, but the next day I finally did, so they could bring me some clothes and items.

Staying overnight in PES was not a pleasant experience.  The lights were always partially dimmed in the center hallway.  There were no windows to the outside world.  This place was literally a prison.

The white sheet on the bed left lint and little pills all over my lululemon yoga jacket.  They are still there to this day!  Also to this day the smell of the soaps and sheets in hospitals triggers me.  Hospitals have this very specific smell, a mix of bleach and antibacterial soap (the cheapest kind).

Meals arrived on a tray, but there was nothing I wanted to eat.  Somehow in the morning, after almost no sleep and nothing to eat, I convinced the nurse to let me go to the cafeteria to buy a snack.  I argued that since I was a voluntary patient I should be allowed and for whatever reason they reluctantly agreed.  I ate a muffin and drank some hot coffee.

The doctors came back the next day, and eventually I was moved up to the 4th floor.  I stayed for one night on the unit.  I told the doctors what I wanted: outpatient ECT.  We called my ex-husband and discussed this with him.   Everything was agreed upon and I was given an appointment to meet the doctor the next week.  I convinced them that I would be safe at home and they discharged me.  They wanted me to stay but I wanted to leave.

The hospital always seems like a good idea from the desperation of home.  But once you are there you realize that it isn’t a very safe place either.  A good part of this is because you are at the mercy of others and have very little control over your own life.  That and the doctors have the power to hold you against your will at any time.

I wonder…why do they make PES look like a prison?

Why are psychiatric patients treated like criminals?

Surely someone could design a safe and secure section of the hospital that actually looked and felt healing.  I’m willing to bet the person that designed PES had previous experience designing prisons.

I’m not a criminal.  I would heal and relax more quickly if I was in a hospital environment that felt welcoming and relaxing.  The very environment of PES conveys a lack of respect and a perspective on the status of the patients/prisoners.  PES brings up a deep sense of shame in me.  I begin to feel crazy because I am trapped and forced to comply with the orders of the staff.  In PES, you feel you have hit rock bottom.

“You are crazy.  You can’t be trusted.  We think you are going to hurt us.  You need to be locked up for our safety and for your own.  Behave or you will be locked up here indefinitely. We couldn’t be bothered to make this place welcoming or comfortable.  Because you are crazy your comfort is not our priority.  Get used to it”

This is what mental health stigma looks like.

 

Post-it notes

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Possibly one of the saddest moments in my entire story revolves around a post-it note.

During a particularly dark time in my life, sometime in early 2011, I wrote a series of 3 suicide post-it notes.  This is something I haven’t really shared with anyone.

I was completing my Master in Social Work, I was about to start my final placement.  I was working as a Teaching Assistant, attending classes and taking care of my kids.  On the outside I was functioning, but on the inside I was consumed with depression.  Looking back, I know a good part of the darkness was being caused by my increasing unhappiness within a sexually abusive marriage.  I began to feel like I had exhausted every option for recovery, every medication, every type of therapy, every treatment program and as a parent of two young kids I felt I had even fewer options.  I felt trapped and disconnected from myself and the ones I loved.

I don’t remember why I was upset or what happened that day, I do remember I wanted the pain to stop.  I was home alone, the kids were at school or daycare.  I saw a pad of yellow post-it notes one of the kids had left in my bedroom.  On it I scrawled three separate notes, one for my husband and one for each of my kids.  The notes basically said “I love you ___” and had a heart drawn under the words.   They looked like innocent little notes, the kind family members leave for each other to wish them a happy day.

But to me those were the most tragic post-it notes in existence.  In that moment where nothing was really making sense, I was saying goodbye.

I did hurt myself that day, but I went to the hospital to get it taken care of.  I didn’t tell the hospital staff about the post-it notes or about my despondent thoughts.  I let them fix me up and I went home.  I rarely discussed my suicidal thoughts in the Emergency Room unless I wanted to be admitted to the hospital.

When I got home my family was there and so were the post-it notes, unassuming and cheerful yellow papers.  But seeing them reminded me of my dark plans.  I hated those post-it notes with great passion.  They made me angry every time I saw them, but luckily anger was at least a feeling and not just numb emptiness.

The post-it notes stuck around the house for months before I finally threw them away.  I won’t ever forget them though.  They are a symbol of just how little anything ACTUALLY makes sense when you are severely depressed.  Things that seem logical in the moment are completely ridiculous and nonsensical when you are feeling brighter.  Choices that seem like the only option are revealed as unhelpful and fatalistic when you are recovered.

It’s important to hold onto this realization.  When you are severely depressed you are not thinking clearly.  When you are starved from an eating disorder you are not thinking clearly.  When you are triggered and in the middle of flashbacks you are not thinking clearly.

Don’t make decisions that could harm you or someone else when you are not thinking clearly.  Chances are you might regret it when you are calmer.   If possible focus on grounding and self care, or get help from others if you realize you are not thinking clearly.

Suicide wouldn’t have solved the problems in my life, it would have passed them on to my children, my parents and my close friends.  I can say this now, but I know for a fact that in a dark place I just won’t care.  The only thing I will think about is getting the pain to stop.

Luckily, in recovery, I know that depression is temporary and impulses to harm myself are passing thoughts.  Suicidal thinking and gestures are symptoms of depression and PTSD for some people.  Thinking about suicide can be a normal coping reaction to surviving violence.  Just thinking about suicide is not necessarily dangerous.  Sometimes it can be a way of feeling in control of something, which is actually a method of self preservation.  It is necessary to challenge the self destructive behaviours, but I try not to judge myself for the thoughts.

At the end of the day there is no difference between a person who sometimes thinks about suicide and one who does not.  There is not a special “crazy” class of folks who contemplate dying.  Suicide doesn’t discriminate.  Anyone can have the thoughts and it doesn’t make them weird, dangerous or a person to be feared or shunned.

Suicide survivors walk among us.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for a friend who contemplates suicide is to allow her to talk about her thoughts and impulses and listen without panicking and without judgment.  Validate her, let her know that you are sorry she is feeling SO awful that she feels life is hopeless.  Allow her to explore the thoughts with you, or encourage her to talk to a counselor, support worker, crisis line or doctor.  It isn’t your job to save her, it’s your job to be her friend.  Thank her for trusting you.  Let her know you care. By letting someone talk about suicide, you are reducing shame and creating a connection.

Connection is the opposite of depression.

Darkness and Light

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It’s been almost 3 years now since my last full-out episode of major depression lifted.  It started to shift about 4 years ago and lifted when I moved away from my ex-husband.

The last 2 months I’ve been struggling a little.  I developed low iron and I was feeling burnt out and stressed.  For a short time I was depressed again.

I wanted to write a little bit about my experiences with the difference between depression and a clear mind.  Usually the shifts are subtle, but startling, and it’s all to do with darkness and light.

The last few days, I felt startled, caught of guard by the brightness of the colours around me as I drove through the city.  Granted, it is spring and the leaves, buds, grass and flowers are growing, but this is something more than noticing natures beauty.   Today I was driving home with my kids and I saw a set of traffic lights across a field.

My mind: “Wow, those traffic lights are SO bright, so colourful, so orange yellow, they are jumping out of that field”  They looked almost psychedelic and other worldly to me.  Yesterday, as I was driving, the green grass looked almost neon and startled my eyes.  It’s a striking yet not unpleasant feeling waking up from a time of depression.   Suddenly there is light in the world, when you were not always aware of the depth of its absence.

When I get depressed I also struggle with varying levels of disassociation related to my PTSD.  Depression tends to blunt feelings at the best of times, while disassociation can leave you numb.

The last few months I described my feelings as “being a zombie.”  Going through the motions of my day to day life, functioning on the surface, but feeling like I didn’t care, wasn’t connected, wasn’t engaged and wasn’t happy.  Depression feels like living in a world without colours.  Everything pleasant is muted because I cannot connect with my feelings or my environment and then I start to feel hopeless.  It’s like looking through a dirty lens and being wrapped in a blanket that prevents me from feeling things fully.  I can see people around me, I know how I “should” be acting, but it’s an effort to complete the actions in a genuine manner.

For many years, I was severely depressed and this became my “normal” state.  I remember in 2012, I had been depressed consistently since 2009, with 2011 being a particularly bad year.  In July 2012 I was in England on a family holiday.  One day we were at the beach, my family, my cousins and my cousin’s children.  It was a warm day, not hot, but sunny and very pleasant.  We were walking by the seaside along a rocky beach.  I sat down on the stones and I placed my hand on them.  I remember the moment so vividly because I was aware that the stones were warm.  I sat soaking the warmth from the stones into my hand and I felt alive.  I felt something that probably saved my life (again).  I felt hope.  It was the first moment I truly felt connected with the world around me in all its vivid reality in many years.

That moment was one impetus on the journey towards finding my path away from my abusive marriage.  Just those smooth warm rocks and a single moment of the depression cloud lifting and hope streaming in.

People often wonder what moments have changed your life, and sometimes the truth is that the most simple, unplanned moments can elicit major change.

Christmas 2013 I had another moment of hope, it was bittersweet though as I realized how dark my world had been.  We were at my parents house and my younger cousin and her boyfriend at the time were teasing me about someone I was dating.  I was laughing and laughing because the situation was funny, hilarious even.  My children were playing in another room and my older daughter ran in, looked at me confused, then ran into the kitchen shouting “Grandma! Why is  Mommy laughing?”

My daughter needed reassurance that I was happy, she hadn’t heard me genuinely laughing in years, maybe never.  Connection.  In that moment I was connected with the world and I was enjoying my life.   During a dark depression I don’t laugh very much, I feel isolated in a room full of people, I feel like a shadow with clouds hanging over me.  I sometimes don’t even feel like a real person!  My memory is terribly bad after a period of depression.  I think I’m functioning normally, but later, because of disassociation, I realize that I didn’t form proper memories of the events.  I’ve realized that without connection, sometimes memories aren’t completed and stored correctly.

Seeing those yellow traffic lights today felt similar to the stones on the beach and the Christmas laughter.  Yellow shining beacons of hope and connection!  Maybe the opposite of depression is connection?

I’m very lucky that my periods of depression are much further apart now and usually very brief.  They don’t last long enough for me to truly lose hope.  I can always hold onto the memories of those moments of connection.

Even if you are struggling with depression you feel will never lift, please don’t lose hope.  Look for small moments of connection in your day to day life.  It could be as small as noticing a flower that has bloomed, feeling the warmth of the sun on your face, feeling the cool water while you are washing your hands, enjoying a smile with a friend.  I believe you can build on those moments and slowly build a path to recovery.

 

 

Self doubt.

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One of the side effects of surviving any type of abuse, including abuse within the psychiatric system, is self doubt.  Emotional abuse and gaslighting are particular triggers for self doubt.

I’ve been struggling with so much self doubt this week.  I felt hopeless at times. I felt I was almost back where I started 3 years ago.  I felt like I wasn’t going to be able to do my job. I felt like a shit mother.  I felt like I was letting everyone down.  I felt exhausted and depressed.  I felt like there was little meaning to my life.

I know I was triggered.  Some of these feelings were related to past trauma.  Some of them were related to life stresses.

Today, I’m feeling a little bit better.  I had a good day at work.  I met some challenges successfully.  I realized that there is no possible way to keep everyone happy all the time and that my best has to be good enough.  It’s all I’ve got!  Not everything in the world is my fault!

I realized that when I was feeling depressed I failed to take, or even consider, the advice that I give to almost all of my service users at work.  I often tell survivors that the journey to recovery and health does not go in a straight forward line.  While we are healing we move forward, backwards, side to side, up and down, but as long as we are moving we are coping and surviving.  In dark times, when all seems lost we have never lost the previous gains we made.  When we feel better we are not starting from zero.  We can never lose the progress we have made, we can only lose sight of it from time to time.  Any progress you make in your healing journey stays with you.  It’s okay to relapse, it’s okay to feel down, it’s okay to feel hopeless…but don’t give up.  Your hard work is paying off.  Recovery from trauma is not a race, and it if WERE a race it would be a marathon and not a sprint.  It’s a marathon with no clear finish line, sometimes we are beaten down with exhaustion but even if we are crawling forward at a snails pace we are heroes.

Sometimes when times are dark the best thing we can do as survivors is to self care.

Sometimes when times are dark the hardest thing to do is self care.

Let us first acknowledge that as survivors, especially as women, we have often learned various messages about self care, from our families, from our abusers and from society.  Many of those messages are negative.  If you take care of yourself you are lazy, you are wasting time, you should be productive, you need to put others first…blah blah blah!

Self care is very simple but it is not easy.  It’s is often challenging for so many reasons.

I’m want to tell you that self care is a radical act.  By caring for ourselves and putting ourselves first we are combating patriarchy and rape culture.  By believing that we deserve to be cared for, that we deserve to listen to our inner voices, that we deserve to rest, to be validated, to have fun, to laugh and to relax, we are fighting against the harmful messages that women are not worthy of self care.

In order to self care, we must first identify and tune in to what we need in any given moment.  It can be helpful to think of your basic needs first.  Have you eaten in the last 4 hours?  Are you hydrated?  Have you slept?  Do you need to  move your body or breathe some fresh air?

Are you having strong feelings?  If you are scared, maybe things that make you feel safe can be self care.  Wrapping up in a cozy blanket, holding a pet or stuffed animal, talking to a supportive friend.  If you are angry, maybe you need to assert yourself, exercise, move your large muscle groups.  If you are sad, maybe you need to cry, get comfort, talk to others.

Yes, I am giving you permission to express your feelings!  Whatever they are they are normal, healthy and important.

Let’s put ourselves first today.  Fight self doubt with self care!

Who is with me?