Today is my birthday and it’s -10 degrees outside. My birthday lunch plans were rescheduled due to the extreme cold. Does this bother me? No, because I’ve learned that birthdays come and go but my life experiences will last forever. For instance . . .
Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer and given a six percent chance of survival. As dreadful as that sounds, I survived. The past 12 years have been a blessing to me and I will never take these years of life for granted. I’ve learned more about myself and this world than I ever dreamed. My greatest blessing was that I had the resilience to survive and see my wedding day! I am grateful for this miracle.
Yes, my wedding day is a miracle. I lived long enough to watch as our Minnesota governor sign the “Love is the law” legislation on May 14, 2013, making marriage legal for same sex partners. My wife, Rita, was at my side while I went through surgeries after surgeries, chemotherapy, two near death experiences — all to heal from cancer. And she is still by my side as life entertains and baffles us.
I’m grateful for this birthday today to remind me of all the people and things I hold dear. I’m a fortunate woman with a blistering past, but today I am whole and healed. Thank you Divine Spirit for all the good people in my life and the immense love that I feel every day.
I didn’t give up because I believe in love, truth, healing, and hope.
NEVER GIVE UP! EVER!!!
At Thanksgiving, my wife and I celebrate by stating what we are the most grateful for in the past year. Countless thanks go out to her for being employed and healthy. Due to her employment, I have health insurance and the ability to seek medical attention when it is necessary. Even though I have a list of medical conditions and quirky foibles, my wife has been by my side for 27 years and continues to love me. She is a blessing that goes beyond the mysteries of life, a partner who encourages me to reach for the impossible, and a friend who supports my efforts to be as authentic as I can be.
My thanks are for endless moments of incredible joy and happiness we have together observing the sunsets in Portugal, swimming in the Dead Sea in Jordan, exploring the Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico, and climbing the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland. The mist in the distance of the cliffs remind me of reading books like The Mists of Avalon, Jane Eyre, and Wuthering Heights. These books have fueled my imagination for creating characters in my novels who seek truth and unconditional love, and who are challenged continually by life’s traumatic events.
I am honored to receive the 2018 Living Now Evergreen gold medal presented to my book, Never Give Up: Break the Connection Between Stress and Illness. The Living Now awards are given to books that change people’s lives. When I had a six percent chance of survival, I wrote this book which transformed my life. Many readers have given me feedback that the book has transformed their lives as well. I truly believe that healing from illness and trauma starts in the soul where the spark of life is fueled and fortified.
I am beyond grateful for creating “The Road to Unresolved Trauma Healing” (TRUTH) program that helps people heal from all types of trauma. TRUTH program is a tremendous gift which allowed me the time to research proven techniques to strengthen the mind, body, and spirit of the participants who make a continual commitment to heal from trauma. I am grateful for their endless efforts to resolve issues including physical, sexual, and emotional harm.
Being asked to write monthly articles for Sibyl Magazine has been a highlight of my year. I want to thank Sibella Publications and staff for allowing me to help women who are trying to heal from trauma. Surviving trauma can be a very lonely place, but it is my hope that readers have found their voices and courage in my words. Stories of sexual abuse and assault need to be told – and told often – to eliminate this terrible wrong in the world.
Also, I am grateful for my friends who pick me up in dark times, celebrate the good times, and are my true family. We are all warriors in our world of constant change. This Thanksgiving I am overflowing with a soul filled with gratitude and a life filled with blessings.
NEVER GIVE UP!
U are the center of TRUTH!
If you’re dealing with unresolved trauma in your past, like a history of abuse, you’ll find this program a new start for you. T.R.U.T.H. provides you with a learning opportunity to mend and improve the quality of your life through guided imagery, meditations, writing activities, and many other tools to assist you on the road to healing.
The T.R.U.T.H. pilot program is coming to a close. We’ve seen tremendous growth in healing from unresolved trauma. Our participants were true heroes as I watched them take on tough memories and topics to reframe and take back the control they felt they lost. They found the true meaning in “I can’t cure trauma, but I can heal from it.”
After deep soul-searching, I realized that this one-of-a-kind T.R.U.T.H. Program is beneficial to ALL trauma survivors as a self-study. You don’t need to join a group, but if you’d like, you can work with a therapist or social worker along with your workbook, where you can gain this inspiring information and education shared in our pilot program. From understanding how trauma affects your health to healing your mind, body, and spirit; you have the exercises and tools you need to create a new life plan.
If you’re interested in purchasing the T.R.U.T.H. Program, please send $50* (check or money order) made out to:
Never Give Up Institute
5725 Willow Trail
Saint Paul, MN 55126
*The fee includes tax and shipping. For the companion book, Never Give Up: Break the Connection Between Stress and Illness, go to Amazon.com (Book is not included with T.R.U.T.H. workbook.)
There are no secret potions or magic tricks to enhance your health and wellness. There’s only hard work, determination, love, compassion, and peace. Take your life back with this amazing new program. Start today!
There is no agony like bearing an untold story inside you. –Zora Neale Hurston
P.S. Now there’s the hope and the blessing to heal. Get T.R.U.T.H. today!
Sacred circles are not new. Creating a sacred circle was performed in ancient times when my ancestors wanted to honor their deity and to be protected from wild animals and fierce tribes. Evidence reveals that these circles appeared as early as 300,000 years ago. The sacred circle has grown more acceptable in many cultures. When I am in a sacred circle, I am open to all my emotions and beliefs. I can take an honest look at my own fears and blocks, seek protection and healing, and focus on being safe and centered. Every night when I create a sacred circle around myself, I ask the Divine Spirit and the four directions to help me create a circle so strong that I feel safe from past threats and daily world bombardments.
In my childhood I did not have the benefit of a sacred circle to tell the truth, even though the first lesson I learned as a child was to always tell the truth. For children, like me, who were physically and sexually, emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically abused and traumatized, this lesson becomes a dire challenge. Frequently threatened and told to lie, I found myself ebbing further and further away from the truth. The result was a life filled with trauma and untruths.
Within a sacred circle I do not forget my memories, I feel safe to express my feelings including anger and fear. I can tell the truth without repercussions. In my past, I consulted medical resources on trauma that caused stress and pain in my body. I wanted a prescription to take this stress and pain away, so I would not have to suffer, but I was not given a pill to take away the horrible flashbacks and terror that would haunt me both day and night. A sacred circle is not a pill, but an opportunity to touch and heal those memories and flashbacks in a safe environment.
I mindfully create my sacred circle for the healing of my mind, body, and spirit; and for the freedom and safety I am given to live in a world with so much uncertainty. I wish I knew about the power of a sacred circle when I was growing up because I believe this powerful tool would have kept me from being so traumatized. As an adult, I am grateful that I can create a sacred circle where I can tell the truth and not be afraid of being harmed or threatened. I can live in this world, which is full of adversity and chaos, and still find a place where peace, love, and hope reside in my world.
Just like my ancestors, I consciously celebrate my life in a meaningful, joyous, creative, and empowering way. When I tell the truth in my sacred circle, I can touch the stars and hear the heartbeat of humanity. I treasure this beauty in my life and in my sacred circle.
Let me know what you think about this article by adding your comment.
Never give up!!!
If you’ve experienced trauma and want a positive way to express your feelings, please join us for our “Writing Through Trauma Workshop.” You’ll learn how trauma can compromise your health and wellness, and learn ways to heal. Workshop 1.0 is for beginners who are exploring healing through writing. Workshop 2.0 is for writers who have taken Workshop 1.0 and want to pursue other creative forms.
These writing workshops are held at a safe and comfortable location. Please review the attached poster for details.
I hope you’ll join us.
One of the first lessons we learn as children is to tell the truth. For children who are physically, emotionally, and psychologically abused and traumatized, this lesson becomes a dire challenge. Frequently threatened and told to lie these children — now adults — grow further and further from the truth.
That is until now. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing with you a new program to help resolve trauma issues to achieve a healthy mind, body, and spirit. If trauma is making you sick, check out the T.R.U.T.H Program and find out how you can live a life of possibilities and promise.
T.R.U.T.H Program =
The Road to Unresolved Trauma Healing
Coming soon . . .
I received the diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) about ten years ago, after my daughter was involved in a serious accident while walking to school. Before the accident, I worked hard to keep my life, my family and their world so protected that the instant she got hit, my controlled snow globe world instantly cracked, hit the ground, and shattered. In fact, when my son and I were talking the day of the accident, he looked at me and innocently said, “Things will never be the same again.” Extremely prophetic words that at the time neither myself nor my family had any idea what they would come to mean.
During the year following my daughter’s accident, I was busy with tending to her health, taking her to appointments, trying to work full time, and keeping our household running as normally as possible. Simultaneously, I kept having strange experiences that were making me feel like I was losing my mind. I couldn’t stop and think about what was happening, nor did I have the words to describe it to anyone. It was just an overwhelming sense of fear, and general feeling that I was going slowly going mad.
I was becoming anxious. I started losing all sense of time; finding myself wondering where I had been the last few hours and feeling incredibly disconnected from my body and the world. I was called into meetings at work because my performance was terribly erratic. I felt physically sick all the time. And I kept having these bizarre explosive memories leaving me feeling out of control and disoriented. I knew something was seriously wrong with me, so I made a call to a psychologist who agreed to see me the next day.
When I started working with my first therapist, I was anxious to tell her everything all at once. I thought if I could word-vomit everything that was coming to my mind, that would be enough to feel better and get back to work.
I didn’t understand that I was having flashbacks, and that I was living in a constant state of crisis. I was writing my therapist letters from a dissociated state which made no sense but felt vaguely familiar as she would read them aloud. I would lock myself in my room for hours fearing that I was going to hurt myself, and I didn’t want to be around my family. I felt out of control, thinking I was losing my mind, feeling like I had failed my myself, my family, and I began spiraling down a very slippery slope.
One of the most important practices to have in place when beginning trauma therapy is to have a safety plan. I needed to develop tools for many things, including distress tolerance. Once a plan was in place, we could begin the process of working on and processing my trauma.
Not only was my therapy about processing the memories, but I also had to start accepting that there were some intense effects of the trauma, and they influenced how I saw and reacted to the world.
I also had to face how my trauma affected my relationships with my family, friends, parenting style, and career. While dealing, and coping with the trauma, there were a lot of “aha” moments. I saw how my behavior and ways of coping with life, were a direct result of my trauma and not because I was a bad person.
Some of my PTSD symptoms still have a good choke-hold on me. As with many illnesses, PTSD can be invisible on the outside. My symptoms include (not limited too) flashbacks, concentration issues, becoming overwhelmed which leads to feeling like my brain is shutting down, difficulty making choices, anxiety/depression, and a sensitivity to triggers. I sometimes use the phrase, “triggers, triggers everywhere.” The wind can blow a certain way, or fireworks, or a car backfiring, even the moon can sometimes bring on flashbacks.
Once I was able to name and accept my symptoms, I needed to learn to work within my deficits. This wasn’t easy or comfortable for me. And honestly, there are still times I find myself becoming frustrated and angry at my PTSD. When that happens, I stop, and use my grounding tools to rest and reset.
Writing gave me the courage I needed to address the pain I was feeling. I would write even when I thought I had nothing to write about. Often, I would write and send what I wrote off to my therapist. I started to find that I could write what I couldn’t say aloud. At first, it provided distance from having to use my voice, but then I found writing gave me a voice.
Learning to recognize and acknowledge each step on my path towards health and understanding is a long and never linear process that helps keep me in a resilient mindset. I also try to remember to notice the perfect moments. I made myself understand that are 24-hours in a day, and within those hours are some spectacular moments.
I was not going to let the effects of what happened to me keep me from trying to have the life I wanted. I never lose sight of my goals. They are to live with my past, live in the truth, and recognize and relish in the feelings of internal contentment. Some days those goals seem as far away as the furthest star, and other days I understand that, I am living in my truth, I am content and understand that I’m not just a survivor of trauma, but that I am thriving despite my trauma.
Thank you, Alexis and the Never Give Up Institute for inviting me to be a guest writer on your blog. The work you do is truly inspiring!
Thank you, Alexis Rose, for your enlightening blog on PTSD. I know my readers will appreciate your insights, vulnerability, and power to survive. Thanks a million for being a guest blogger on my website.
How the Effects of Child Abuse Have Become the Biggest Public Health Issue in America
Since the publication of DSM-IV in 1994, a massive body of neurobiological research has accumulated revealing how protracted childhood abuse and neglect can cause pervasive, devastating, and lasting biological and psychological harm, not unlike patients with a PTSD diagnosis.
Researchers in developmental psychopathology have shown that childhood maltreatment and neglect are associated with structural and functional abnormalities in different brain areas, including the:
- Pre-frontal cortex (logic and reasoning)
- Corpus callosum (integrating the right and left hemisphere)
- Amygdala (fear and facial recognition)
- Temporal lobe (hearing, verbal memory, language function)
- Hippocampus (memory)
These effects of child abuse may help explain why abused children are quicker to recognize and stare at angry faces than non-abused kids, and why they pick up anger even in faces with ambiguous expressions, while missing other emotions.
Abuse also disrupts the neuroendocrine system, altering the production of the stress-regulating hormone cortisol and neurotransmitters like epinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin—chemicals affecting mood and behavior.
Chronic trauma weakens the immune system and sets up children for illness far down the road. For example, the Centers for Disease Control reported that one of the effects of child abuse is that trauma’s disruption of cortisol levels leaves abused children vulnerable to chronic fatigue syndrome later in life.
Some of the most astonishing and far-reaching evidence for the lifelong and malign repercussions of childhood trauma has come not from the mental health field, but from the study of epidemiology. In 1995, internist Vincent Felitti, a preventative medicine specialist with California-based HMO Kaiser Permanente, and Robert Anda, and epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control, began the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study to track the relationship between childhood maltreatment, neglect, and other family loss or dysfunction and adult mental and physical health.
This unprecedented study found that a majority of the participants surveyed had experienced some form of serious family dysfunction, neglect, and emotional, physical, and/or sexual abuse. Not only that, but the studies showed direct correlations with these “adverse experiences” and a remarkably large proportion of all the physical, mental, and social ills that beset society.
It’s by now glaringly obvious to mental health professionals that some of the effects of child abuse are the significantly increased risk for mental and emotional disorders—and associated risks for alcoholism, drug abuse, and smoking—though the ACE Studies nail the case beyond denial.
But who knew that childhood adversity was a major risk factor for many of society’s most prevalent biomedical illnesses and causes of death—for example, heart and lung disease, diabetes, liver and kidney disease, some cancers, sexually transmitted diseases, and autoimmune diseases? Or that being abused or neglected as a child increased the likelihood of being arrested as a juvenile by 59%, as an adult by 28%, and for committing violent crime by 30%?
In conservative estimates, the total direct and indirect costs of the effects of child abuse amounted to $103 billion in 2007. These costs include:
- Hospitalization and mental health care for children
- Increased health care costs for adults who were abused as children
- Child welfare services
- Law enforcement
- Special education
- Juvenile justice system
- Criminal justice system
- Lost productivity
In light of all this, it’s been asserted that child abuse is the largest single public health issue in America.
This article is reprinted with permission from the American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC) and the author.
I received this article from DrugRehab.com today about childhood trauma and substance abuse. I thought my readers who were abused as children would find this information helpful. Please remember that the connection between trauma and illness is a vicious cycle. It becomes even more deadly if you use alcohol or drugs to cope with your unresolved trauma issues. Get help immediately.
I want to thank Trey Dyer for writing this enlightening article.
Adults aren’t the only group that lives with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Children also experience trauma at high rates. Many adolescents suffering from PTSD turn to drugs to numb the physical, emotional and psychological pain of trauma.
Anywhere from 15 to 43 percent of girls and 14 to 43 percent of boys in the United States experience a traumatic event, per the National Center for PTSD. Among this group, up to 15 percent of girls and up to 6 percent of boys have PTSD. Children who experience traumatic events grapple with a swirl of emotions. For example, sexually abused children often exhibit fear, worry, sadness and anger. They may also feel isolated or as though people are looking down on them. This can cause low self-esteem and an inability to trust others.
RISK FACTORS FOR PTSD IN CHILDREN
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) affects children in different ways. The more traumas a child experiences, the more likely he or she is to develop PTSD. Children and teens who go through intense traumas have the highest levels of PTSD symptoms.
Children ages 5–12 often do not have flashbacks or difficulties remembering their traumatic experience. Instead, they think there were signs that foretold the trauma and believe these signs may show up again. As a result, they stay cognizant of their surroundings to avoid future trauma.
Young children may also show signs of trauma in their play. For example, children who survive a school shooting may gravitate toward video games that involve shooting. They may even carry a gun to school themselves.
A teen may endure traumatic events, such as physical abuse, sexual assault, vehicular accidents or cyberbullying. Symptoms of PTSD among children ages 12–18 are similar to those found in many adults: aggressive behaviors, mood swings and isolation. Teens with PTSD may also self-harm or exhibit promiscuous behavior.
Substance Abuse as a Coping Mechanism
Looking for an outlet, many adolescents with PTSD turn to drugs or alcohol.
Overall, 25 percent of physically assaulted or abused teens reported lifetime substance abuse or dependence, per the survey.
According to a survey by the U.S. Department of Justice, 17 percent of boys who witnessed violence reported substance abuse or dependency. This statistic was similar to that of girls who witnessed violence.
The survey also found that 27.5 percent of sexually assaulted girls reported substance abuse or dependence in their lifetime. Among sexually assaulted boys, the number was 34.4 percent. Many of these children went on to commit delinquent acts, such as robbery or aggravated assault.
Overall, 25 percent of physically assaulted or abused teens reported lifetime substance abuse or dependence, per the survey.
A 2010 study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors found that PTSD contributes to the development of marijuana abuse or dependence among adolescents.
Another study, published in the journal Depression and Anxiety, found that PTSD led to alcohol, cocaine and marijuana use. The study found that levels of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in children were strongly associated with cocaine use later in life.
Remember to “never give up” on your journey to be healed from unresolved trauma.