Life After Mayhem

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It is hard not to wonder what the “new life” will look like when facing the decision to leave or stay. To some, it may seem crazy about there even being a decision in such matter, but the thing is that the abuser actually has THAT MUCH control and has instilled THAT MUCH fear into the victim, that yes; now there is a decision to be made and it can actually be a life or death decision. One must remember, that the victim has been isolated from family and friends, so they may feel like there is nowhere to go. The victim may not know of any resources available to him or her.

Mayhem is defined as violent or damaging disorder; chaos. The definition for it by law: the crime of maliciously injuring or maiming someone, originally so as to render the victim defenseless.

When I think of my past, and the word mayhem, I cannot help but think of it as complete and utter chaos! The fact that I used to live my life walking on eggshells, or better yet more like hot, burning coals. To look back and see that I had given my all to one man, every ounce of me given to him and that still was not enough. That even when I did everything right, he still found some way to find something wrong. How a simple “How was work?” could lead to pinning me onto the bed yelling at me, punching the bed next to my face and then choking me until I passed out. Followed by “I love you’s.” That was part of my mayhem, as a young girl at the age of seventeen.

Life After Mayhem; living a life after surviving such madness is very much possible. Hard at first, especially when you first remove yourself from it and look at all that had happened to you. It is traumatizing. Visions of the trauma flash in front of your eyes all day long, certain sounds and smells take you back to a frightening place. Nightmares are at an all time high. Even though you know you are safe, the feeling of safety has yet to embrace you. Trying to bring order back into a life that has been broken and out of order for some time takes patience, you have to have patience for yourself. You cannot rush the healing process; if it is rushed it will only cause more damage to yourself. The pieces do not just fit back together overnight. You will have really good days and you will have really bad days. Conquer each day one at a time. Set small victories for yourself, the small victories will lead you the major victory.

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You are not the same as you once used to be. Even though you have yet to feel or see it, you are so much better and so much stronger than you have ever been. You got your wings, and when the time is right for you, you will soar to new heights, you will experience new things. You will achieve things you could only once have dreamed of achieving. There will be an indescribable peace in your life. Now not everything is peaches and cream, there will be other obstacles that happen in life, but one thing is for sure; when those obstacles come you can take them head on. All you have to do is look back for a minute to remember where you came from and what you been through. Then remind yourself that if you can make it and survive that, then you can overcome this next obstacle.

Life After Mayhem; your life is now a life filled with peace, your life is a life filled with hope. A new life filled with endless possibilities. A life that is now filled with joy. A Life Worth Living For.

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Strength of a Tiger, Spirit of a Butterfly

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It is AMAZING what we as writers/bloggers can take from a picture. For instance, this one here, with a tiger cub and a butterfly. “Strength of a Tiger, Spirit of a Butterfly.”

When I think about strength I usually think of inner strength. I know I talk about it a lot, but as a survivor, it is something I had to remind myself of very often. Even today, with different life situations. Physical strength can only get you but so far. But inner strength, that is something that goes unmeasured. Once you tap into that; there is no stopping you. Once your mind is set and made up you will do what you need to do to achieve it at all costs. In the featured picture, when I look at the red eyes, to me it symbolizes the inner strength wakening inside of us.

One of the most amazing things about inner strength, is that even in your weakest state, even when you are at the end of your rope; that inner strength is there waiting for you. It waits for you to search for it, it waits for you to reach deep down inside for you to grab hold of it; because in order to activate it, you have to acknowledge it. When activated, it is like a roar that is at a decibel that only you can hear; just like an actual tiger, the roar is only in a frequency that cannot be heard by all. and it is when you hear it and acknowledge it, that you see you can make it. You will survive it. You will achieve it. You will accomplish it. Whatever that “it” may be.

Since I blog through the eyes of a survivor; I personally know that I had to have the strength of a tiger in order to make it out of my abusive relationship. Was I afraid? Of course! But it was that inner strength that still overshadowed that fear. It was that strength, that kept telling me “You cannot stay here.”  The Strength of a Tiger, had awaken. The strength that at one point I thought had disappeared. It never left, it never does leave. It just lays dormant. Waiting for you to unleash it.

While having the strength of a tiger, it is important to remember to have the spirit of a butterfly. While we are stronger than we may think. We also have this gentle, kind and carefree spirit.  The butterfly symbolizes transformation. So while, we needed the strength of a tiger to overcome our caterpillar state; since for some of us we may have had to literally crawl on our bellies just to make it out or pretty damn close to it. We are now at a point of transformation. Do not rush the cocoon process. This is the healing process. Once in the cocoon you are leaving everything you have once known behind. Embrace your transformation, where you will embark on a new journey. We now turn into this beautiful butterfly transforming into the person we are today. This carefree animal, who lives life with a beautiful purpose. We all have a specific purpose in life, and during your cocoon experience is where you will find it. The butterfly also symbolizes beauty. As it travels from flower to flower they continuously spread beauty where they go. So we too, shall spread our beauty wherever we go.

***Side note*** Coincidentally, my two favorite animals have always been the tiger and the butterfly for as long as I can remember. I had no idea that I would ever write a blog containing the two. Like I mentioned in the beginning, as a writer and blogger it amazes me at what we can see and be inspired by. Isn’t it?

P.T.S.D. and Its Triggers

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“Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event. A traumatic event is a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood.”[1]

Source: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

I chose to write this next blog because a few of my readers and followers have discussed with me about the issue of P.T.S.D. as well as through reading other blogs.

I honestly never shared this one thing about me. Some people know, while others not so much. So this is going to be one blog that may be hard for me to write. A few years ago I had gone to my PCP because every day life seemed to be really difficult. I didn’t feel like eating, I could not sleep, and even if I did sleep I was exhausted and just did not want to do my daily routine. After a couple of visits with my PCP and the social worker on my care team, we all came to an agreement to have me see a therapist to sit with me and prescribe me medication. While a certain group of people had tried to label me with one mental disorder (none of which were really certified except for one, who her herself said I may have something but not what they all were claiming), but my PCP, the social worker and this specific doctor said I had P.T.S.D. From the trauma I experienced in my past. Between the abuse of my father, and the abusive relationship(s).

Something had triggered it, which is why I was acting and feeling the way I was. Around that same time a horrific event happened in my city, sometimes I wonder if that was my trigger at that time. Also, I remember when I first left my ex, if I were out anywhere and smelt his cologne or anything similar to it, I would get freaked out and start looking around to see if he was there.

For some, P.T.S.D. is worse than others, some may not need medicine, while others may need some only for a short period of time or longer. One thing I have learned is that the medicine alone does not work, Speaking to someone is needed especially when first prescribed, you need to check in with the doctor who prescribed to see if the dosage needs to be decreased or increased; maybe if even possibly adding another form of medication. Everyone is different, and reacts differently; but you and your doctor(s) will find what works best for you.

People with P.T.S.D. can be triggered by things such as: sights, sounds, smells and also feelings. These triggers can bring back memories or flashbacks of the traumatic experience(s). The triggers can also cause extreme emotional and physical reactions, making someone who experiences these things to want to avoid any such contact with these triggers. Even though it sounds like a good idea to “run from the triggers” it is not. It may help temporarily, but in the long run it could make things much worse. Instead of avoiding these triggers, the best thing to do is to learn how to manage them. Like I said in the previous paragraph, speaking to a doctor about your symptoms will help immensely. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. There is nothing to be embarrassed about either. It is very common for someone who has experienced a traumatic experience or multiple experiences to have P.T.S.D. It affects over 8.5 million American adults which is about 3 ½ percent of the adult population.

Symptoms of P.T.S.D

 

  • Panic attacks: a feeling of intense fear, with shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, nausea and racing heart.
  • Physical symptoms: chronic pain, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, tightness or burning in the chest, muscle cramps or low back pain.
  • Feelings of mistrust: losing trust in others and thinking the world is a dangerous place.  
  • Problems in daily living: having problems functioning in your job, at school, or in social situations.
  • Substance abuse: using drugs or alcohol to cope with the emotional pain.
  • Relationship problems: having problems with intimacy, or feeling detached from your family and friends.
  • Depression: persistent sad, anxious or empty mood; loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities; feelings of guilt and shame; or hopelessness about the future. Other symptoms of depression may also develop.

 

Source:http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

Remember this one thing; You may have P.T.S.D. but it doesn’t have to have you. There is plenty of help available.

PTSD can be treated with success.  Treatment and support are critical to your recovery.  Although your memories won’t go away, you can learn how to manage your response to these memories and the feelings they bring up.  You can also reduce the frequency and intensity of your reactions.  The following information may be of help to you.

Psychotherapy.  Although it may seem painful to face the trauma you went through, doing so with the help of a mental health professional can help you get better. There are different types of therapy.

 

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you change the thought patterns that keep you from overcoming your anxiety.
  • During exposure therapy, you work with a mental health professional to help you confront the memories and situations that cause your distress.
  • Cognitive Processing Therapy helps you process your emotions about the traumatic event and learn how to challenge your thinking patterns.
  • Psychodynamic psychotherapy focuses on identifying current life situations that set off traumatic memories and worsen PTSD symptoms.[3]
  • During Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, you think about the trauma while the therapist waves a hand or baton in front of you.  You follow the movements with your eyes.  This helps your brain process your memories and reduce your negative feelings about the memories.
  • Couples counseling and family therapy helps couples and family members understand each other.

 

Medicine, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs, is used to treat the symptoms of PTSD.  It lowers anxiety and depression and helps with other symptoms.  Sedatives can help with sleep problems.  Anti-anxiety medicine may also help.      

Support groups. This form of therapy, led by a mental health professional, involves groups of four to 12 people with similar issues to talk about. Talking to other survivors of trauma can be a helpful step in your recovery.  You can share your thoughts to help resolve your feelings, gain confidence in coping with your memories and symptoms and find comfort in knowing you’re not alone. For a list of support groups in your area, contact your local Mental Health America organization.  Find their information here.”

Source: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder

Self-care.  Recovering from PTSD is an ongoing process.  But there are healthy steps you can take to help you recover and stay well.  Discover which ones help you feel better and add them to your life.

 

  • Connect with friends and family.  It’s easy to feel alone when you’ve been through a trauma and are not feeling well.  But isolation can make you feel worse.  Talking to your friends and family can help you get the support you need. Studies show that having meaningful social and family connections in your life can have a positive impact on your health and healing.[4]
  • Relax. Each person has his or her own ways to relax. They may include listening to soothing music, reading a book or taking a walk.  You can also relax by deep breathing, yoga, meditation or massage therapy. Avoid using drugs, alcohol or smoking to relax.  
  • Exercise. Exercise relieves your tense muscles, improves your mood and sleep, and boosts your energy and strength.   In fact, research shows that exercise can ease symptoms of anxiety and depression.[5]  Try to do a physical activity three to five days a week for 30 minutes each day.  If this is too long for you, try to exercise for 10 to 15 minutes to get started.
  • Get enough rest. Getting enough sleep helps you cope with your problems better, lowers your risk for illness and helps you recover from the stresses of the day. Try to get seven to nine hours of sleep each night.  Visit the Sleep Foundation at www.sleepfoundation.org for tips on getting a better night’s sleep.
  • Keep a journal. Writing down your thoughts can be a great way to work through issues. Researchers have found that writing about painful events can reduce stress and improve health.[6]
  • Refrain from using drugs and alcohol.  Although using drugs and alcohol may seem to help you cope, it can make your symptoms worse, delay your treatment and recovery, and can cause abuse or addiction problems.
  • Limit caffeine. In some people, caffeine can trigger anxiety.  Caffeine may also disturb your sleep.
  • Help others.  Reconnect to your community by volunteering.  Research shows that volunteering builds social networks, improves self-esteem and can provide a sense of purpose and achievement.
  • Limit TV watching.  If watching the news or other programs bothers you, limit the amount of time you watch.  Try not to listen to disturbing news before going to sleep.  It might keep you from falling asleep right away.”

 

 

Source: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder
In closing of this blog I ask if any of you reading this would please share an experience? How you got help? What things worked for you in coping? Those who read and follow my blogs know that I do not tolerate any form of negativity on my blogs or facebook page. This is a SHAME FREE ZONE! I read and approve EVERYTHING before it publicly posts! What I am looking for is people to share in order to help others.

Forgiving For Yourself

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As I think of the different stages in my healing process and what to blog about next; the word FORGIVENESS screamed at me.

I have heard by so many people say: “I can’t believe you actually forgave him.” “I could never forgive anyone who did any of those things to me.” My response? I didn’t forgive him FOR HIM. I forgave him FOR ME! What do I mean by that? I did not forgive his actions, I did not excuse what he did. What I decided to do was to let go of what had happened so that the circumstance no longer controlled me and my emotions. Because honestly, I felt that if I was still holding onto all of that in a sense, he still had a hold on me.

I had to do it for me, I had to completely 100% have all of my peace back, That part of my life could no longer hold me as it’s hostage. You see, physically I was no longer the victim to domestic violence, but as long as I allowed the anger to stay there, psychologically I was still the victim, and I would continue to be until I released it.

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Forgiveness first starts with yourself. Through domestic violence comes a lot of embarrassment, shame and guilt. So realizing that none of it was your fault is step number one. Realizing that you actually were not the problem is the biggest step in forgiving yourself. Also, you should not feel shame or guilt either. For one, people on the outside do not tend to know what really goes on in these types of relationships. I have said in a previous blog that it can be so easy for an “outsider” to say “Why did you stay after the first time?” It is not their fault that they do not know these things. It just shows that there needs to be more awareness about the issue at hand.

Why are you ashamed? Is it because of the time you spent in the situation? There should be no shame in that. I could never look at the amount of time someone stays in these types of relationships. There are so many factors that play a role into why men and women stay in these relationships: Children play a huge role, some people try to stay and hope for change for the sake of the kids, they want to get help, they want the kids to have both parents in their lives. Another huge factor is fear: Fear due to the threats on you or your families lives. The threats such as “If you try to leave you won’t make it out alive.”

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I cannot stress enough about how domestic violence is so much more than just physical abuse. I say it far too often and have heard other survivors say: “The bruises from physical abuse heal and fade away, it is the bruises from the emotional abuse, the bruises on your heart, the cuts and scars on your soul, those are the wounds that take serious time to heal. Those are the wounds that neosporin and a bandage cannot heal. Those are the wounds that can take months even years just to START to heal.

 

That is where forgiveness comes into play. Forgiveness is an emotional ointment to those cuts and bruises to your heart and soul. Again, when you forgive, you are not forgiving the person for what they have done. In fact, when you actually forgive that person you are totally telling them that you are in complete control of your life, that you are strong and courageous and that you have moved on. You just proved that YOU ARE SOMETHING without them, and that YOU CAN MAKE IT without them. Forgiveness is one of many victories you will have in your healing process.
Below is a link I want to share on a definition of Forgiveness:

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/forgiveness/definition 

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The Hard Gets Easy

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It’s hard when we first walk away. When we bend down and begin to pick up our broken pieces. It is hard when the questions start to get asked, having to explain the whole ideal. It’s hard to look at yourself in the mirror. It’s hard to deal with the emotions of embarrassment, guilt and shame. It’s hard to try and live a normal life. IT’S HARD!!

It’s hard when you try to remember the person you were before it all began. When you try to get the “old you” back. Truth is, from my own personal experience, the “old you” never fully returns. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because the NEW YOU is better, stronger and wiser. You take back all your amazing qualities and characteristics; the great personality, the wonderful sense of humor,  the caring, loving, kind, and confident person you once were. Those parts of you never left, they just got pushed to the background for a period of time.

It’s hard, but let me tell you, it does get easier.

You will find each day gets a little easier to deal with. You will find it easier to laugh and easier to smile. You will find it easier to look at yourself in the mirror, and will even find yourself telling your reflection just how awesome you are. Yes, there will be both good days and bad days, but all in all they all get easier to deal with. You will see your confidence coming back. You will have your dreams and goals and will set out to do everything you can do achieve them. The broken pieces of you start to come together with the new pieces of you. Through your healing you will learn more about who you really are.

I escaped from my relationship a little over ten years ago. I was told by my ex himself that if I had not left when I did, I would most likely be dead. ( You can read my story here: http://alifeworthlivingforblog.com/2015/09/25/shaunas-blogs/ )

It took me years to deal with that situation head on. It isn’t something that can be rushed. It took me several more years after that to actually tell the complete details of it. And as of September 2015 I felt the need to share it with the world. With a little help and motivation from a great friend.

So believe me when I tell you: The Hard Gets Easy

Why I Write

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Why I write.. For as long as I can remember, writing was my way of healing. What I wasn’t comfortable expressing openly, I expressed with a pen to paper. The things I knew I had to let out but wasn’t ready to share with others, are written all over notebooks, typed on computers, written as notes on a cellphone or tablet.

It was the summer of 2015, I had completely opened up about my experience with domestic violence to one of my amazing friends. After telling her she said that I had to write about it, I had told her that for a long time I always wanted to but I shied away from it. I still was worried about what people would say or think even after all these years had gone by. With her help, I posted my first blog here on WordPress. I shared with friends and family, and anxiously waited for their responses. I was shocked. Yes, I was shocked. Shocked by the out-pour of support, the reactions, the love and all the encouragement. I have been encouraged every single day since that first blog post. So I continue to write.

I write because I want other survivors to know that they do not have to fear what other people think. This is a part of your story, this is a part of you, and to be honest; if any one does not like it then they are not deserving of your presence in their lives. I have learned, that what I went through, was not just for me alone; but it is for others who have also gone through it, and for those who are now going through it. So that is Why I Write. 

I write for the victims, to let them know that there is a way out. To let them know that they are not alone. I write for them in hopes that they will reach deep down within to find their inner strength and courage to get out of their situation. I write to let them know that there are people willing to help them. That there are people willing to listen. I write for them so that they know that they do not have to feel ashamed or be embarrassed by what they have gone through.

I write because I want to bring awareness to something that is so much a part of me, yet so many have no idea what the reality of domestic violence really is. So many are unaware of what REALLY goes on in these situations.

I write to inspire. I write to encourage. I write to empower.

This is Why I Write.

 

Twitter: @Shauna_Driscoll

Facebook: A Life Worth Living For

 

A Life Worth Living For; a life filled with purpose, a life filled with hope and a life filled with dreams.