Posts in Category: Mental Health

Free Printable: Dark Pasts and Bright Futures

Future - By Selena Mills for The Well Warriors
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Soul Rewards: Dad Wears Boa, Daughter Has Giggle-Fit, Mom and Son Shake it Off [VIDEO]

Shake It Off

Perhaps some of you might have noticed this new fitness journey I’ve embarked on, perhaps not. At any rate … the tribe of women who are keeping me accountable have gone a long way in restoring my faith in, well, myself. But more on that later. Right now we have a little dance party we’d like to share with you. It’s no big production, just us … my sweet family and I getting a little sweaty and having a lot of fun.

So, to my coach who asked us to rev things up mid month and “shake-off” any feelings of negativity or low-energy that we may be having, thank-you. Transformations are happening all over the place and one of my biggest “whys” … my family; is definitely presenting to be my daily source of affirmation and inspiration. Health and wellness revolve around every aspect of our lives, if we acknowledge and respect them as the roadmaps to a better life that they are. Not just for ourselves, but for those we love most.

And it can be as simple as a family dance party on a weeknight before dinner. Boas and tutus optional, although highly recommended…

Life With Lyme

I have been sick for two years. For the first year I didn’t know I was actually sick, I thought I was just overworked and experiencing adrenal fatigue. The second year was different. I woke up on morning about a year and half ago and my knees were swollen; hot and red and all of my muscles ached. This is when I began the long road of searching for an answer. From several ER visits, to even more doctors visits, then switching doctors to get a second and even third opinion, to going to the US to see another doctor. No one could come up with anything. My inflamed and swollen knees never went down. My ankles ballooned shortly after, my right elbow locked into a permanent bent position and my muscles began to ache and burn all day and all night. Being a strong believer in alternative and natural medicine, I decided to everything I could do on my own since I was not getting ANY support from conventional medicine or the system.

The very first thing I did was entirely spiritual. You see, I have always been an A Type, workaholic, Wonder Woman type. I never knew how to relinquish control or allow people to help me. SO, the most logical first step was to surrender and ask for help. I started with my husband who quickly became the hero I never knew he could be. I did a lot of surrendering, crying, praying and forgiving. I don’t remember crying so much, I think I cried for about 2 or three solid hours a day. As I did that, I felt so much pain escaping my body. I went to the chiropractor, physiotherapist, acupuncturist and naturopath. I also had a deep intuitive sense that I needed to detox in every way I could. So I ordered an Infra Red Sauna (about $1400 from Costco), and I decided to reboot my system by juicing for three weeks. Both of those things, likely in combination with the other things I was doing, seemed to work well. I felt that I was slowly on my way to recovery.

‘The Weight’

*Warning: this post may be triggering to some, or feature content that some might find all too real or broaches topics and feelings you don’t necessarily want to read right now while you’re holding your kid or are in the middle of making dinner. Whatever it is. This for readers stopping by for the first time…please know that the piece below has been written in support of survivors of sexual abuse, violence, and assault.*

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The panic attacks started about 2 weeks ago. Intense, demobilizing, sending shards of stabbing pain through my neck and back. I’d never known what a ‘panic attack’ was to feel like, to experience, that I can remember. Since I’m being honest, it’s not that I’ve not had them before, it’s just that I was so heavily self-medicating at the time that my recollection of much of anything during my first-time experiences with remembering childhood trauma is hazy. Flashbacks yea, I remember that part, panic attacks – no. By that time I was well on my mind-numbing way.

You see, a panic attack doesn’t necessarily take place as a direct result of trauma. Some people have them for a myriad of other reasons. Often they make zero sense at the time and it’s a body memory thing. Sometimes they are directly synced to memories, other times not.

With so much happening in the media right now, it’s hard not to be triggered as a person with traumatic amnesia. (There I said it.) It’s a veritable mixed emotion tidal wave, one that surges with a deep sense of belonging and a voice shouting inside of me, “FINALLY.” People aren’t talking about sexual violence and abuse in hushed tones. Another part of me knows I’m being triggered and I sign off from all of the discussion, the articles, the commentary, the debate, the hate and the support. It is all at once and at the same time; empowering and damning.

As many of my readers and friends know, I am a survivor of rape and abuse. I have been vague about when, where, how often, how and by who for many reasons. Often a person’s silence has much to do with their relationship with their perpetrator(s). It’s often someone we know. Sometimes it’s a mix of strangers and those we know over many years. Sometimes we don’t remember until decades later, our bodies and minds saving us from the brunt of that which they could not bear, generations deep. As startling as it is to some, we have been abused in these ways by our own family, close family friends or people in positions of power that we trusted. The feared. I understand that these topics are often too disturbing and heart-wrenching for anyone to really talk about on a daily basis, never mind constantly, ad nauseam every day while everything they ever believed about the good people in the world is being confronted.

Which is precisely why I have learned to surround myself in my never-ending journey as a self-healer with other female survivors. As a mother now, who has almost zero time to get swallowed up by re-living trauma. Women like us, we find each other, we find solace and strength in sharing our truths; our stories with each other. And we lift each other up.

An example of this happened this very morning wherein one amazingly good woman in my life listened to my words as my eyes skittered in shame and I apologized over and over again. It was the first time I was sharing something like that with her, and parts of me knew I would be speaking her truths too and that it was okay. After our FaceTime session together, (therapy happens in so many glorious ways) she sent me an email. In it was a poem she told me she wrote, inspired by me.

She saw things, she understood things I didn’t even speak with my words alone. What she articulates in darkly poetic-like prose, I am sure now, more than ever; will speak to so many more very much like me. So many more than we will ever know. I asked her if I could publish her poem because this poem is a ROAR. It speaks to hearts of survivors, though our stories and timelines may differ, our silence and shame is very much the same. She said yes and chose to do so anonymously. Speak the words aloud and listen with your brain and heart. Know these words to be true for countless others and hold them in your hearts tonight as you hold your little ones’ hands (if you have children) around the block tonight greeting devilish ghouls. Hold those little hands tight.

Her Dedication:

“The recent events in Canadian media have brought a lot to the surface, for a lot of people. For me, it’s brought a heaviness. A sadness. An unshakable understanding of inequality, but also of shared experience. I do not know one woman who has not been affected by sexual harassment or assault. Not one. This saddens me deeply. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a plethora of strong, incredible, supportive men in my life. I love men. But, I don’t love how many of my sisters have been deeply wounded without choice at the hand of the desire and dysfunction of the opposite sex. I see this problem as a systemic one. A heavy one. An important one. Why is it often overlooked?

I wrote this to shed some weight. Anonymously. For all those too shamed or scared to let their song free.”

The Weight
Written by: Miel Larkin

The way women carry the world
is astounding
without stopping to listen to their hearts pounding
without breaking or breathing or thinking and then
they corrode under the weight of 1000 men
the ones who looked hungry when we walked in the night
the ones who talked down when we put up a fight
the ones who are hiding in memories blocked
the ones who hold us and melt hearts that are locked
the ones who took without ever asking
the ones who can be without ever masking
their bodies, their dreams, their passions, their drive
the space between sexes, a massive divide

I carry the weight the way I carried my child
inside me so deep, something grows wild
but oppressed, kept quiet and still
until it starts to grow and kick and shrill
and out it comes when you feel spirits might
and even the stick in your teeth clenched tight
ain’t no match for the weight of the thing inside

the terror and hurt
the sadness, the marrow
the bones and the grit and the masks
that we wear
the worn out smiles
and the blow-dried hair

I’m tired.

Muscles ache without reason
and my eyes are listless and I blame it on the season
but really it’s the weight
that I carry
that I fear I’ll hand off to
the man that I married
and the child I mothered
and the home that I keep
and that someday I’ll break
and words will become weep
and weep will consume me
because there’s no more words
So I look to the birds
and I sing them my song
and imagine the freedom
in flight and in long
distance trips away from this place
and I imagine the lightness
the flying
without weight.

Throwback Thursday: Is Self-Care For Moms Unrealistic? Selfish? NO.

Photography by: Nadya Kwandibens of Red Works Photography

Photography by: Nadya Kwandibens of Red Works Photography

I found this short post I wrote on January 1 2012 . Seems so long ago, so much has happened since then. Man, I was deep in the fog back then. Fun to read and see that the old saying is true. ‘When you’re going through hell…..keep going.’ I did, I am here and I am committed to loving ME more deeply every day. Happy Thursday everyone. Love Yourself. 

Women In Film and TV: On Creating Content That Represents Women In The Three Dimensional Fierceness They Deserve

It’s been a year since my first feature film, as producer, Empire of Dirt premiered at TIFF (The Toronto International Film Festival). So much has happened for this little film since then, including a theatrical release in Canadian cities, play on Air Canada, iTunes and Rogers On Demand. All great platforms that I’m grateful to have been showcased on.

But, I have to say that some of the most exciting times for me and this film have taken place on the festival circuit. It has travelled around the world and I’ve accompanied it to some. (These days I don’t travel as much as I used to because I want to be with my kids as much as humanly possible.)

HELP

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Immense Pain at 40 – Both Masked & Revealed.

Turning forty took its toll on me. For whatever reason, my body, mind and spirit decided to wait until the big 4-0 to tell me to fuck off. Although I have always been health conscious and alternative in my beliefs about health and wellness, I struggled like many other people, with food and other addictions. I was a smoker since I was 15 (I quit while pregnant and breast feeding but then started right up  again as soon as I was done), I put drugs and alcohol into my body and I harboured self hatred and guilt. All things that will eventually catch up to you… I mean, me…

ON HYPNOBIRTHING, SLEEP, MOM-GUILT AND SELF-TRUST

The day I had my first child, Willow (4), was the day I stopped sleeping for a long, long time. I know that my situation isn’t unique and I know that it also isn’t shared by everyone but what I know most of all is that TODAY I am over the MOON! A few weeks ago, while we were on vacation, BOTH of our kids officially began sleeping through the night. To be honest, it took about a week for my body to adjust to it. I guess I was in such a state of anxiety during sleep mode that my body forgot how to truly relax and really SLEEP. 

When I had Willow, everything changed for me. Before her, I was a strong, independent, self aware, focused woman of 36. The moment she was born I became anxious, second-guessed almost everything. I became insecure about my mothering style and choices.

SLEEP2

I Would Write You a Letter

*Disclaimer: This post is about abuse, including links to websites and articles that may be disturbing to some readers.*

I Would Write You a Letter…

If I knew where to send it.

How often have I walked into this lonesome place, how often have I dreamt that once I had a family of my own — my heart wouldn’t keep wavering about like a fly.

I’ve been trying to keep you off of my mind and keep everything all in line. I suppose it’s not all about the knowledge of you and who you are, or the type of blood that runs through your veins.

In being honest it’s much to do with events that wrap around those times when the darkest truths were spoken, flippantly or with anger…until it broke my heart. Acceptance and forgiveness like a maze of impossible, when it comes time. Sometimes I do okay at it, and other times it wraps around me…

Like a storm.

The one that’s always been raging inside of me.

I wonder when I’ll finally persuade myself to be at peace with it all.

All of the ugly.

All of the beauty.

All of the triggers.

Every single twist and turn in my memory.

When will it all become a sweet melody? (The answer is never, and that’s what I have to be okay with.)

I recently read a study which found that adults who have survived abuse in various forms tend to lose big chunks of their autobiographical memory.

How did I miss remembering that little tidbit I learned in school? As soon as I read it, I was immediately taken back to that prof, that lecture hall, his lips moving and my brain disconnecting. Much in the same way I did as a child. As a teen. As an adult.

Disconnect. Float away.

That’s a lot of layers to mire through even as an adult.

I remember almost losing my mind. I’m still learning and least now — my arms and heart are open.

Even though I have an anger that is soft and frayed and comes up to boil now and then. Forgiveness is a grace I can’t seem to muster. Sadness that I can’t be better at. It’s all overwhelming at times, especially in knowing it’s not just about me anymore.

It’s like you’re glowing in the distance, a light I can’t turn out.

It can’t be all about the enigma of you.

And it’s definitely not about hurting anyone else. These words, this trail.

It’s about speaking truths that in some ways I am painfully shy about; although as each tiny bit unfurls…a great release washes over me.

I’m coming on a new dawn of healing. Yet another path of self-awareness and self-work.

This is for other survivors who are afraid or ashamed. Or concerned about hurting their enablers or aggressors.

This written truth is for me. There may be more where this came from.

For once that needs to be acceptable.

I won’t be doing it here. (Digging in deep anyways.) I’ve found this place that gives abuse survivors a voice, anonymously if they so choose. I’ve thought long and hard about integrating something like a ‘Flashback Friday’ here — and every time, I balk.

Because in doing so, I would hurt others. I somehow have to find a way to stay true to the amazing support and community, the healing that I have found in sharing my experiences with the others like me.

Why on the internets?

Why not just in a personal journal?

Because in doing so, I am contributing to breaking the silence. Because reading other people’s stories, perspectives, success, and failures in continuing in life; REALLY DOES HELP. It is powerful people.

If we as a society know that gathering as a community is good; to support one another for various causes – then why is this such a hard concept for people to grasp when it comes to allowing survivors of abuse to do the same?

I understand it makes some people uncomfortable. Move along then. Our voices are not speaking for you. (Yet, in fact, they are, in a round about way — scraping at society’s disillusioned ideals of what weakness really is. Of what strength really is).

Survivors of abuse have every right to engage in public forms of community building too.

To Be Young & Wild & Free – A Love Story

I had 6 too many drinks last night.

That was a regular occurrence, and then some, ‘back in the day’. Always trying so hard to forget. And then I stopped. I came to some honest truths about myself. I stopped ignoring that I was smart enough to know that a path of self-destruction would not lead to anywhere I really wanted to be. Not rocket science, easier said than done.

Ours is not a conventional love story. This is the the story of how we met. I’m not going to get all poetic in describing how we fell in love because, well – I don’t feel like rolling that way right now.

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