You Have Been Good Enough All Along – by @tlkateart
You are already fundamentally likeable, just as you are. ❤️
You are already fundamentally likeable, just as you are. ❤️
Archivist, oral historian, and genocide scholar Tim Hensley discusses his approach to managing traumatic material in the workplace:
Most caregiving and reporting professionals (health care providers, reporters, first responders, clergy, social workers, legal aid, and many more) interact directly or indirectly with the traumatic experiences of others at some point in our careers. But events of the past few months have increased this likelihood for all of us, in some cases with the force of a fire hose.
Furthermore, we are all dealing with our own increased stress and trauma, which leaves us with less bandwidth available to absorb the anguish of others.
In order for you to stay afloat and continue your trauma-oriented work, it is necessary to limit your amount of exposure to your carrying capacity.
This excerpt shows Tim’s method, which is organized, structured, and visual:
While I personally don’t categorize sessions and activities visually in the way Tim does, I do always maintain an idea of which sessions and activities are likely to contain material and experiences that are heavier to carry, and I spread my scheduling out in a similar way across a given week.
If you are in a caregiving or reporting profession, you may already be using a similar approach, whether explicitly or intuitively. If not, you might wish to examine your own process and how it is affecting you.
How can you know when it’s too much to carry? You have to notice how you’re feeling! This sounds incredibly simple, and yet many of us frequently push past our actual capacity into burnout territory. This can lead to illness, injury, depression, suicidality, and other life-disrupting outcomes. You may think it’s okay to push on–until it’s suddenly not.
It’s a case of “simple but not easy,” especially if you have always been taught to push through physical or mental discomfort in order to complete tasks. It’s considerably worse if you’ve always been taught you must put your own needs dead last after others’ needs.
Now is the time to de-condition that harmful approach!
You have gone beyond your carrying capacity if you are feeling:
Once you are able to determine which pieces of your work tend to make these kinds of symptoms worse, that is when you can plan how to schedule your heaviest interactions such that you can recover in between.
Keep in mind, what may be light for someone else may sink you, and vice versa. This is never about what you “should” be able to carry–it’s about how it actually affects you in practice. No one can tell someone else what they “should” be able to bear.
Which brings me to the next difficulty for many: what if you are not the one doing the scheduling? What if the fire hose is never turned off? This is a physically and emotionally dangerous situation. It means that you’re in an environment that does not allow you to protect yourself, recover from injury, steward your health. If you are able to seriously discuss the issue with someone in charge, that may be helpful. But if they are dismissive, it is likely a situation that will be harmful to you in the long or not-so-long run.
What does it mean to recover in between? Again, this sounds simple but it is not always easy. You do things that help you feel better!
This does not mean you must violate confidentiality or your HIPAA obligations or the sanctity of the confessional. It means to have someone with whom you can exchange understanding of how hard it is to do what you do, and express honestly how it’s affecting you. This may be a coworker ally, spouse, friend, clergy, or therapist. But it’s very important and a big part of lightening the heaviness.
If you are not used to taking care of yourself “like you matter,” it is time to start practicing that skill right now, so you do not fall into burnout and illness.
Remember, you can’t give to others from an empty well! ❤
If you have a loved one who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (AKA “multiple personalities”), you may have felt uneasy or even frightened at times. It can be disconcerting to think you do not really know who they are. It may be awful to think of the traumatic experiences they survived that led to the dissociation.
This is partly because for many people, the only understanding they have of Dissociative Identity Disorder comes from sensationalized depictions in movies or TV, showing DID experiencers as unpredictable, deceptive, violent–nearly supernaturally so!
But it’s important to take a pragmatic approach to understanding this experience and not to exoticize or blame your loved one.
In other words, they are not an exotic disorder. They are not their traumatic experiences. They are not possessed. They did not “cause” the disorder. They did not ask for nor deserve the trauma during which it developed. They aren’t “faking.” They are not a case for you to manage. They are a regular person who needs love, acceptance, and healing.
Everyone has “parts” –different personality presentations and experiences that are expressed in different situations. We all act at least somewhat differently at a job interview than at the club, or at church, or with a close friend who is very accepting, or in class, or around a judgmental neighbor, or around a secret crush.
The main difference is that for those who have DID, those different presentations have become dissociated from each other: there is a disruption of the underlying thread of memory and consciousness that most of us have between all our parts.
An important thing to remember is that while you may not like one or some of your loved one’s parts (and you don’t have to!), there are no “bad” parts. Every part’s feelings are a valid expression, even if not every part’s wishes should be acted on.
Nothing your loved one experiences is beyond the understanding of humans generally. You don’t need to be an expert in Internal Family Systems to connect with them. It’s useful to have some information, but primarily, just be a human with a loving connection. ❤
If you are interested in reading more in-depth about Dissociative Identity Disorder from someone who experiences it, here is an essay that is addressed to therapists but may also be useful for others who have loved ones with this type of dissociation:
Because of the many layers of stresses and even traumas associated with immigration, immigrants and their families may face high levels of mental distress. This includes things such as traumatic events that were severe enough to make them leave their home country in the first place, as well as the great difficulties in adjusting to a new and sometimes hostile environment.
In today’s social and political climate, stresses and traumas are higher than ever, making mental health support even more crucial. But as challenging as getting started with therapy can be, it can be even harder for immigrants and their families.
This piece by Lauren Hodges explains why, and offers MANY great suggestions to help you or a family member get mental health support!
An early experience of trauma can have effects that you may not start experiencing until adulthood. It can feel “crazy”! But having PTSD symptoms doesn’t mean that you will always feel that way. It means that you have emotions and reactions that are ready to be processed so that you can begin healing.
While healing from trauma can be a lifelong process, you can often start feeling better in many ways right away! You are still a whole, worthy human being, rich in the capacity to enjoy life in your own ways.
If you are ready to start processing, please review our quick chart to see how you can access our therapeutic services from anywhere in Pennsylvania!
Valarie Ward has written a good breakdown of how pop mental health writing is often not only unhelpful, but perpetuates stigma and judgment. Treatment–whether chemical, cognitive, or situational–can support and help to heal mental health, but it’s not a magical instant “cure.”
It’s useful to find the type of treatment or intervention that is most helpful and supportive to YOU. It doesn’t mean you’re “doing it wrong” if you still have symptoms or flare-ups. It means that humans are biological, not mechanical objects that can have new parts swapped in for an instant fix. [See: PTSD as chronic illness]
There is nothing wrong with trying to find things that help you feel better and function better. We encourage you to explore treatment modalities!
But the danger in chasing a “cure” can be the idea that if it’s not “cured,” then we just aren’t trying hard enough. Plenty of people with mental illness and injury hear this message from well-meaning friends, family, and loved ones, though sometimes in different words.
“You’ve been in therapy for weeks/months/years, why isn’t it helping?”: If it’s truly not helping, then of course try something else, or something additional!
But often this really means “I’m upset that you’re not ‘cured’ yet.” Unfortunately, we may also internalize these messages ourselves, which just means that we have found another “should” with which to beat ourselves up; another way to use perfectionistic standards against ourselves.
Instead, notice how far you’ve come since you started working on your healing. Even if it has only been a few days, I bet you already learned some things that help you to comfort yourself or to reframe your thoughts in a healthy way that hurts less!
And if you’ve been working on healing for a while, I bet you are experiencing more days during which you can get out of bed. Or get out of the house. Or days you can do some meaningful work or play. Or days you can spend time with your children. Or fewer days spent in the hospital. Or a better ability to see yourself having a future. Or a few more relationships that are going a little better than they used to. I bet you’ve already done a lot more healing than you think!
So instead of beating up on yourself for not suddenly being “cured” or “fixed,” take stock of how your healing really is progressing, and be proud of yourself. ❤
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” (– Attributed to Anne Frank)
Stanton’s 10 Stages of Genocide and how the US stacks up:
Reflect on your own values, and see what you may do to “start to improve the world.” ❤
In 2019 in the United States of America, the Jewish community still experiences life-threatening anti-Semitism:
We don’t want more people to have to die singing.
Antisemitism is real and being stirred.
If the Jewish and Muslim communities can support one another, then others can–and must–also learn to de-escalate.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, of Chabad of Poway, who was injured in the shooting today, wrote this post in March:
If you would like to help in a concrete way, donations are being collected:
Be mindful of neighbors and coworkers who may be very affected by these events and check in with them if you can.
Be safe, and help others feel safe, too. ❤
I recently saw this tweet from writer Jacinda Townsend:
Jacinda, you are definitely not alone!
For those who grew up in a family of origin with appropriate boundaries, learning how to set boundaries probably happened as invisibly as learning to walk, write their name, or sing songs. Interpersonal interactions were healthy and just “happened that way.” Those people often don’t even realize that’s how they are living. (See: fish, water!)
But for those of us from families with more dysfunction, we may have just as invisibly learned unhealthy boundaries, and it will greatly affect our daily lives. Like much of self-parenting, this is harder to learn in adulthood, but necessary and definitely worth the work.
Since I am also a therapist who hands out materials on boundaries to my clients, here are links to two articles I frequently use with clients. Others may also find them useful:
Like any skill, boundary setting takes repeated practice over time. We may see how we’re “supposed to” do it right away, but that doesn’t mean we will be able to implement it right away. Throw away that perfectionistic expectation. But you can start experiencing relief right away from even small changes! Read the articles and see what parts apply to your experience. Start small, keep working on it, and develop the habit of treating your boundaries as being important! ❤