Archive for the ‘education’ Category

I finally learned how to be a big sister. My brother came to visit me for three weeks, I have not seen my brother or sister in six months. When I heard he was coming, I was at once excited and doubtful. I’ve never been a proper big sister, never was able to be any sort of good example. Actually, the only good example I was able to give was how to stay on the right track so as to not totally fuck up your life.

When I first heard my brother was coming, I had this momentary insane worry over how should I act around him – like the me he knew, or the me that exists now? Problem was, I don’t really know how to act like a suicidally depressed whore, since I’m not that person anymore. I finally decided to simply go with the flow.

At the airport, I wondered to myself if maybe I shouldn’t smile so much. Maybe I shouldn’t act so excited. And while I waited at the arrival gate, I was overcome and wanted to cry, because this felt like a yet another second change for me. He did a double take when he saw me, jumping up and down and smiling. I don’t think my brother has ever seen me genuinely happy.

I forgot my ridiculous concerns as soon as I saw my brother. On the train to my grandparents house, we apologized to each other – it seems my brother did a lot of evolving and healing when I left, he said the sadness remained when I was gone — I simply made a good scapegoat. He also thanked me for being a fuck up, cause it kept him and my sister from staying down the wrong path as well.

It was a weirdly nice change, watching out for my brother, planning interesting things to do while he was here. I had a weird out of body experience as I would pack my knapsack in the morning with an extra pair of socks, sweatshirt, and gloves for my brother (having just come from the Canadian winter, he didn’t really understand that it is winter here in Israel as well). It happened again when I instictively tried to hold his hand when crossing the road.

Before my brother came over, I had been uncertain of the wisdom of returning to Canada for a few months before permanently returning to Israel. My family also thought I should stay here longer. But my brother changed that. I think it gave my family the ability to see more the change within me. And my brother said that I need to come back. To show my family that change is possible. It’s not enough to see the change through skype.

The last few years I always thought my siblings were invulnerable… I always saw them as having a tough shell, and I was envious of their close relationship, while at the same time, extremely thankful for the bond they have together. Any attempt I tried to made at fixing out relationship would end with their hard stares and monotonous conversation, which would start and end at ‘hi, how are you?’. So I was a bit stunned, when my big tough brother came to visit, and I realized he’s the same person I remember being friends with as a kid. A realization that made me tear up and made me feel even more protective of him.

My brother’s visit helped me. It helped repair our relationship, and made me feel better about potential that the future holds. It also gives me hope to mend things with my sister.

It’s weird when you realize how much of the brainwashing still lingers. Even weirder when you have all the evidence you need in front of you to refute what you’ve been trained to think.

Right now, I speak of intelligence.

Being brainwashed into believing I am an idiot really wasn’t that difficult, since I really didn’t think much of myself to begin with, given that I lack basic education from grade 5 on, I didn’t graduate high school, and I dropped out of university and college.

Being in class for a full day half the week is draining. It took a while to get used to. I don’t know how to study or how to have the discipline to do homework. I don’t know how to organize notes, or note-take effectively.

Plus I thought I forgot all the Hebrew I knew. And grammar exercises kill me with their tediousness. I can’t sit still in silence with others. The chairs and desks are uncomfortable. And I hate looking like an idiot if I don’t understand something.

But –

I just got my last test back. I got 82%. Which I found really surprising since I didn’t study. And I got really restless halfway through and rushed through the work so I could leave.

Which makes me wonder –

how much intelligence would I possess if I actually applied myself? If I knew how to apply myself? If I had real confidence in my innate intellect so I could expand on it?

It also shows how deep the psychological disturbance runs. My first test I passed (barely) with a 55%, the second, a 73%. And now the 82.

They weren’t even sure if I would be able to manage the more advanced Hebrew class, a class which I now find somewhat easy, if tedious with all the grammar.

Point is, that my grades and my language skills expanded rapidly once I finally realized that I can learn this and that I am not a moron. Cause I think to myself (or say out loud anyways) that I am intelligent. I didn’t really think this was an issue. But it was.

Makes me wonder how much more I am capable of doing, and excited about the untapped potential.

I have been doing a bunch of research, now that my brain is working more optimally. I’ve been trying to figure out the root causes of (complex) PTSD, and the disorders that can mask it or go along with it.

This is what I found (please note that some of these theories, while increasingly accepted as fact, are not accepted by all doctors):

Mitochondrial Dysregultation. Our mitochondria, when operating optimally, is the energy source of a cell. A dysfunction can show up as cognitive dysfunction, attention disorders, and memory problems. Stress makes this reaction worse (PTSD, anyone?), and makes the person more likely to be depressed, have chronic fatigue, bipolar disorder, panic disorder (PTSD, anyone?). Autopsy’s have proven these mitochondrial dysfunctions. In mouse-studies of mitochondrial dysfunction, the mice had bipolar symptoms, altered states, and turnover of monoamines (believed to be connected to depressed states). Mitochondrial dysfunction caused monoamine depletion, leading to mouse mood-disorder.

It boils down to ratty neurons, dysfunctional mitochondria, and brain damage (inflammatory response in the body).

Pro-inflammatory cytokines can induce depression. Elevated cytokines have been reported in depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, migraines, and chronic fatigue (common ailments to those with PTSD).

Anti-depressants have been shown to cause inflammation, and to damage mitochondria, regardless of the anti-depressant’s mechanism of working within the body.

Bipolar disorder has been shown to be connected to Metabolic Syndrome.

Fructose and lactose, when malabsorbed within the body, react chemically to Tryptophan, a serotonin precursor, degrading it, and leading to lower levels of serum zinc and folic acid. (Depressed people on a low-fructose diet were shown to improve 65% within 4 weeks).

Relative Hypoglycermia as a cause of Neuropsychiatric illness (article by Harry M Saltzer, M.D.), linked to bipolar disorder, psychosis, anorexia, obesity, exhaustion, fatigue, cold limbs, and muscle/joint pain. Found that if blood glucose dropped to such low levels, the body can produce bizarre side effects, such as psychosis.

Psychology Today: Could soda and sugar be causing your depression?

Gut and the brain: “Fix your gut, and you fix your health”.

Anti-depressants cause serotonin to remain on the synapse: that can cause serotonin burnout (the reason for having to rotate through anti-depressants, they stop working eventually). Anti-depressants do not make serotonin.

All your neurotransmitters come from amino acids. You get amino acids for eating protein (think meat).

70-90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. Ingesting carbs releases serotonin to help move food along, but does not build serotonin (can lead to problems). Does create a feeling of satiety, which can lead to carb addiction. Solution: increase healthy fats and eat meat.

Tryptophan is a serotonin precursor, as is 5-HTP. Vitamin D also builds serotonin (sunshine!), and a deficincy can lead to a mood disorder.

Feed the deficincy, thus feeding the body. You are not suffering from a medication imbalance! No chemical imbalances have ever been unequivicaly demonstrated for any mood imbalance. Med’s work due to psychological effect (psych times).

http://emediahealth.com/2011/07/27/abnormal-cortisol-levels-depression-anxiety-and-ptsd-are-signs-of-long-term-abuse-and-psychological-trauma/

http://evolutionarypsychiatry.blogspot.com/2011/11/depression-beyond-chemical-imbalance.html

http://www.pointofreturn.com/gut_health.html

So how do you help this situation?

Compassionate body mindfulness, movement and breath can help. Eliminating processed foods, simple carbs, sugar… Increasing healthy fats help cravings (such as coconut oil, ghee, lard…). Talk-therapy, body-mind integration.

6 components to healing: Safety! Self-regulation; self-reflective information processing, traumatic experiences information integration; relational engagement; positive affect enhancement.

Signs of healing: your inner critic (the abusive “voices) shrink and lose dominance, allowing your own voice to shine through more often; increased ability to relax – resisting overreaction to triggers; Trusting in your intuitive response; Asserting your own needs; Self-compassion, -soothing, -protection.

http://www.palace.net/llama/psych/herman.html

http://ptsdawayout.com/2011/09/12/c-ptsd-healing-emptying-the-amygdala-one-breath-at-a-time/

http://ptsdassociation.com/ptsd-coping-strategies.php?Trauma%20and%20The%20Spiritual%20Path-12

One more thing (K, maybe more then one):

Complex PTSD is often misdiagnosed as bipolar or borderline disorders. The symptoms of the C-PTSD can be masked by medication, thus making the misdiagnosis seem valid. However, the root of the problem (the real issue- trauma) remain untreated, as does all the other symptoms of C-PTSD (shame, guilt, repeating trauma patterns…).

A genetic predisposition to Borderline Personality Disorder is unrelated to trauma. BPD can, in these cases, be interchangeable with Complex PTSD.

Human beings are not inherently broken. All cells renew themselves within the body– meaning that the imprint of trauma on the body/brain can be healed.

Stay safe ❤

The holidays always seem like a very volatile time to me. At a time when we are pressured to be “thankful”, all we can think about is the stressors and triggers in our lives that are all coming to the forefront.

Personally, I have checked out from all the holidays and get-togethers the last few years. By now, my family is more surprised when I make an appearance then when I am absent. For a long time this used to make me feel incredibly guilty. I felt I was being a bad daughter/niece/cousin/granddaughter.

This year I have come to the realization that my actions have meant that my mental health has been better preserved for all the avoidance. It means I was better able to care for my Self.

Because it is not just the pressures of family we end up contending with… It is pressures surrounding food, and how we end up reacting (emotionally) when there is such abundance.

Being around our triggers, it is normal for us to turn to something easily accessible to comfort us. We evolved with a sweet tooth as a survival mechanism (as part of our primal ability to stave off starvation). Often this means that the overabundance of calorie dense, sugar and carb laden foods become a substitute for more constructive outlets for our emotional distress.

There is a growing body of evidence showing that there is no such thing as “all things in moderation”, and that willpower, although possible in small doses, really does us no good. The real saying should be “out of sight, out of mind”.

Why am I talking about food?

I find that many of us use food as a reward or a punishment. We either go all out and shove our emotions down with unhealthy foods, or we deny ourselves to the point where we do not recognize our hunger. Actually, both ends of the spectrum do not recognize real hunger. And that hunger can be a metaphor for emotions such as love, grief, sadness, anger, happiness. Overeating or starvation is a good way (and “socially acceptable” way) to numb out.

Going on a holiday binge can lead to the “abuse voices” critisizing us, berating us. It can start a downward depressive spiral that is hard to dig out of.

If you cannot avoid family on the holidays, consider modifying the holiday recipes you usually cook. If you don’t cook, look up some easy recipes with simple ingredient lists and short cooking times. Focus on desserts. They are the typical trigger foods, and if you have something that you know is “safe” to eat, you will be less likely to binge.

On a personal note: I have gone both extremes, I have been anorexic, and am now a recovering emotional binge eater. It was a snap decision to change when it hit me that the source of my health problems were dietary. I have now gotten off one antidepressant, off one pain med, reduced a mood stabilizer, and an anti-anxiety/anti-migraine med. I had suffered from edema in my feet for months, and not only is it gone, but I can now sprint in intervals, when I was previously unable to run for years.

My focus is health, so it is a bonus that I am down 10+ pounds (necessary weight loss though!). I have increased my intake of healthy fats, like coconut oil, and butter (!), and I find that that has eliminated my cravings for sweet and carb-y foods.

The desert I had tonight was an almond flour muffin with cacao nibs and coconut sugar. It is dense and filling, so while it is a small muffin, one is enough, and fills me up.

Looking at the cause of your emotional eating / starvation can help you tap into emotions that you thought were long dormant. Healing needs a synergistic look and effort. It is not linear, or easy. But the results can be well worth the effort.

Stay Safe ❤

 

Often we end up asking ourselves, can he change?

If he goes to therapy, if he takes pills, if we go to couples counseling, will that help?

If I am quieter, more submissive, if I learn to listen better, maybe he will be different…

If I just stood up for myself, maybe he would back down…

The thoughts go on and on, often in repetitive circular motions. But there is never any resolutions to those thoughts. Abusers don’t allow for that. They keep you off balance. That is their talent….

But, I digress.

As to whether there can be any change within the man abusing you, or who has abused you, here is my take, based on my own experience with men, my research, and the evolution of my thought-process from victim to survivor.

In a nutshell — no — he will not change.

Therapy is often a “school” for abusers to hone their talents. If they can con professionals into believing they have made progress, are remorseful, and are willing to change, abusers know they will have you, already their victim, wrapped around their little finger.

Therapy is where abusers learn to better control the mask of civility they wear in everyday life. You know, that other side of him that is so charming and affable. The side, that when it comes out that you have been abused, others will say, “X abused Y? No way! He’s such a nice guy!”.

Abusers are the ultimate con artists, pure psychopath.

Therapy is a place for them to learn that there actually ARE consequences to their behaviour. But instead of making them better, this can in fact make them more deadly and dangerous, as they might not be willing to leave a “witness” to his mask slipping when next in a rage. They become more calculating, more even heeled, and more observant of our behaviours, actions, and reactions, and base their behaviour upon that.

Have no doubt of this: abusers are born damaged. There is something within them that has made them undoubtedly different then you and I. Forgetting that can be incredibly dangerous.

But it is also amazingly empowering. Once you have internalized and fully accepted that abusers are inherently different, and that nothing on heaven or earth could possibly change their essential being, you have the upper hand.

By internalizing the message that they are different, a subspecies of humanoid matter, you can begin to untangle the emotional mess that he, the abuser, has placed you in. And learn what it takes to steer clear of men like him in the future.

Stay safe ❤

As abused or formerly abused women, our self-esteem and our confidence in ourselves takes a dive. It’s important to remember that our beauty and our bodies are a reflection of the Divine. We are made in His image, and in His eyes, we are perfect. It’s not often I will talk from my more religious side, but I feel that it is important in this case. The bible mentions the beauty of women multiple times, yet there is no mention of physical attributes of beauty. God is very specific with other things, going into minute detail about measurements, appearance… Yet beauty remains more elusive. The beauty of biblical times was not the beauty of modern days, where women strive for boyishly slim figures. The biblical woman was more soft, more womanly, and her curves were celebrated. Oils and essential oils would be used to beautify the skin, and things like beetles would be crushed and ground to make eyeshadow and lipstick. The desire to look the way you feel, or use appearance to influence your self-esteem is thousands and thousands of years old.

So I have some easy to do beauty tips that are easily accessible, and take little time to do. I believe that self-care and pampering are crucial to the healing process, as the positive actions towards your body triggers the brain into thinking more positively about yourself (this, of course, takes time). Also, the very act of gently touching yourself, of pampering yourself, massaging your skin and hair and face, is very healthy, especially when one is used to rough handling. It’s a healthy method of self-soothing.

For the face:

1. Oils make fabulous moisturizers. It is a myth that skin needs oil-free moisture, or that oily skin does not need moisture… All skin needs moisture to look glow-y, radiant, youthful (by youthful I mean allowing your inner light to shine outward, after all, the bible praises age and gray hair, saying that is it a crown of glory, and a sign of wisdom :)), and beautiful. Oil actually balances the dehydrated, parched, or dry parts of the face, while balancing out the oily parts — the presence of oil sends a signal to the brain that is no longer has to over-produce oil as there is already oil there! The trick is to only use 2-4 drops, depending on your skin.

I find my own skin needs way more since my skin tends to be very dehydrated, and drinks up anything I put on my skin quickly. However, more oily gals may find that one drop of oil is more then enough for face and neck.

Some oils that are easy and cheap to buy, and are full of antioxidants that will keep skin youthful are oils you find in the kitchen! Olive oil and coconut oil make wonderful all-over moisturizers. You can use them in your hair as a pre-shampoo treatment to increase thickness and promote growth, and both oils are incredibly healthy to ingest (remember that beauty is more then skin deep!). Some other oils I love for the skin, that you can find in the grocery isle for a couple dollars are grapeseed oil and avocado oil.

Shea butter is a miracle worker on the face. True shea butter has a nutty, earthy smell, and is not yellow, but a beige or cream colour. I hate using the word anti-aging (I feel it has negative connotations), but truly, I feel that this makes the best anti-aging and age-prevention cream. It is full of everything the skin needs — vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids. It has been used for centuries in Africa for the skin (and to cook with), and if you look at pictures of women who work producing shea butter, their faces and bodies are without lines. Their age and wisdom shines from their eyes, not from the visible ravages of time.

Since I am still in my 20s, I cannot speak from that much experience with intrinsic aging (aging influenced by things like genes, as opposed to extrinsic aging, which is influenced by sun exposure, pollution, smoking, diet… thing you have control over). But since my skin became extremely dehydrated my skin began to show fine lines when I smiled, and I developed expression lines around my eyes. Shea butter cured that. The “bounce” has returned to my skin, and the fine lines and expression lines are gone. It took several weeks to work, but since skin takes about a month to turnover new cells, I am not that surprised.

2. Exfoliation: This is a very important step in facial care, and ideally should be done every 3 days or so, but again, it depends on what your skin is comfortable with. Exfoliation helps the skin turn over healthy, vibrant skin cells. Often skin that has a dull look to it is in need of exfoliation. The surface of the skin is made up of dead skin cells, and they will eventually shed on their own, but anyone who has ever had flakey skin knows that that can take forever, and can make you feel self-conscious about your face.

Clay makes a great, natural exfoliant. A good clay for any skin type that is nice and gentle is rose clay. It comes in powder form for a couple dollars, and you add liquid to about 2tsp of powder. I like to add apple cider vinegar for the added exfoliation, and also to make sure that my skin remains free of blemishes. You can add rosewater, honey, plain greek yogurt (this has lactic acid, and is very gentle, and makes a great mask on its own).

An easy toner that is very gently exfoliating is an apple cider vinegar (ACV) toner. The ACV has to have “mother” in it for it to work in an exfoliating fashion on the skin. Bragg’s makes AVC with mother, I bought a 500ml bottle of it for about $3.50, and it will last forever. In a spray bottle add 1-3 capfuls of ACV, and to the rest of the bottle add distilled, purified, or mineral water (you know, like, Evian). If you want to get a bit more fancy, you can boil some water and brew some green tea (or mixed berry tea, like pomegranate, goji, cherry, strawberry, peach…) and add that in place of the water. Shake and use! In between uses, it is better to keep it refrigerated. The toner is a bit smelly, but it is great for the skin. If you want to change the smell, you can add a couple drops of skin-friendly essential oil, like lavender or geranium or ylang ylang.

3. Body aches: This is a little more pricey (relatively speaking), but if you are like me, and live in pain, and your pain meds only help so much, this just may help! I find my pain levels drop significantly when using this body oil. It is very simple to make:

In total I made about a $15 investment, and the body oil will last me a couple months. For me, it works better then any commercially made pain rub you find in the drugstore, and since I used to go through 2 or 3 tubes of pain rub a month without much change in my pain levels, this is much more cost effective. It also eases my mind to know I am using something natural. The skin absorbs about 80% of what you put on it — skin is the body’s largest organ. Just something to think about 🙂

I buy a vial of spruce hemlock and/or black spruce essential oil. This is the most effective topical pain reliever I have come across ever. I add about 1/3 of the vial of whichever spruce essential oil I have on hand (the vial is 10ml — both spruce, black and hemlock, work the same with pain, they just smell different) to 4oz of olive oil. That’s it!

If you want a pain rub that smells a bit nicer, and will help relax tense muscles as well as relieve pain, add some lavender essential oil (I add about 20-30 drops).

{This is what works for me. I am not a professional. Patch test before trying new products!}

Hugs!

Right now I’m watching Anderson Cooper’s show “Anderson” – he is doing a show on survivors of Domestic Violence, and I am watching a woman who had her face shot off by her husband, let me say that again, HER FACE SHOT OFF BY HER HUSBAND… and she is still defending him, and struggles with facing the fact that that is ABUSE.

If I were an outsider looking in, this would on the one hand, boggle my mind, and on the other hand, make me think that perhaps the abuse, other then that one “little” incident, the abuse was perhaps not such a “big deal”.

But I am not an outsider.

I know how hard it is, not just to let go (I went back to my abuser after he nearly killed me), but to admit to yourself that yes, it was all real.

With all the brainwashing and manipulating, it is easy for an abuser to turn things around on his victim and make it seem like she is the problem. Perhaps, in his mind, this is fact, but that doesn’t mean it is reality.

Let me share with you a sample of a conversation months after a break up with a recent ex:

“You know, I wish you never told me about your condition (I think he is talking about the abuse/PTSD), that changed everything. I wish really. I disliked you for that. You hurt me really that day and I have been hurting ever since. You have no idea what you took from me that day….”
****
“I am not surprised we broke up. We are two very different people….
I don’t know if I ever want to know the whole truth about someone I am with. Some things are not meant to be known. You think I am some kind of murderer or what (he made death threats). I don’t like the way you handled this. Your part of the reason I broke down (he’s severely depressed right now, supposedly). I cannot deal with you as a person.
You have given me that lesson….
I can only deal and accept so much. Your special and its just not in my nature to be with someone I feel sorry for. Its unfair to myself and unfaiir to them. That is why I never could really say i loved you (he did) or feel complete with you….”
*****
“I wasn’t completely happy with you. You just didn’t bring it out in me. I was making my own happiness even when I was with you. I was upset at you because I wanted you to be the one and it just didn’t feel that way. I am still upset at you. I want you to be upset so you can take charge and get yourself through these problems that bother you. I want you to be strong….”
***
“I miss your presence. I miss that a lot. The faces you make, the words of encouragement, the words of advice. I sometimes still wish you could be here with me still.”

Bare in mind that not once during the two+ hours he was texting me did I answer him. I simply set my phone aside and let it ding while I did other things. I then scrolled through the messages later. That way, I would not be tempted to answer him.

A couple comments on this verbal diatribe: it is not my responsibility to make my man happy. It is an individual’s responsibility to find their own happiness in life, and if he found misery with me, he should not have stayed. Also, switching from insulting me, or commenting about how he misses me is a common tactic among abusers, and it is what makes then really affective.

This was not such a “bad” diatribe as far as the abuse I have experienced goes, but, the worse ones I am not ready to wade through or share. But saying it is “not that bad” gives my abuser an excuse, and one thing I promised myself is that I would no longer excuse others for their lousy actions.

Abusers no not let you go. They continually come back after you have left, and if you give in just an inch, they will take that indecision as a vulnerability and exploit it.

I am currently being harassed by that same ex. I have told him multiple times not to contact me. I even contacted the police about him. It goes in cycles, where he harasses me for a while, and then will leave me alone. He is using my property as his “in” – I left some of my belongings at his place when he kicked me out, and I fear going back to get it. Apparently, he trashed them, although at other times, he says he will drop them off for me. So as a birthday present to myself, I replaced the things that were valuable to me that are still there.

Stay safe – be friends with a man before entering a relationship with him. Question his morals and values. Take what he says seriously, even if he jokes about things that are violent/abusive. Look at how he treats his mother and/or sisters, his female friends. This is a good indicator of how he will treat you.