Self Soothing ; Coping with Anxiety and Depression

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.Self soothing and having a variety of coping methods for anxiety is an important part of surviving life in this world. Some children are guided to learn these things, while others are not. If you grew up with parents that were neglectful or abusive, then you most likely grew up with no self soothing skills. 

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Everyone has anxiety and stress to deal with, but some people end up with anxiety disorders that overpower their lives, and their ability to interact with others in stressful environments.

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If you never learned coping skills for anxiety growing up, then you can still find methods that will work for you. 

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If you suffer from depression and anxiety, then you need to be able to self sooth. You need to find special methods that work for you. Everyone is unique and not all coping skills work for all people.

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It does not matter what your go-to methods are, or how silly or childish they might seem to someone else. You can buy yourself a special stuffed animal and a soft blanket if those things are soothing to you. 

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Sometimes it is the inner child that needs soothing, in which case doing the same things that would sooth a small child might be just the thing you need to do. I don’t mean carrying around a stuffed bunny rabbit with you out in public, but in your own home you can do what you want without worrying about outside judgement.

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If you are living with people who would judge you, then you probably are getting some of your anxiety from living with those people and that might be an issue you will need to deal with at some point. 

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If you live alone, or at least sleep in your own room, then your self soothing and comforting activities can be ones that made you feel safe as a child. If you grew up in environments where you often felt fearful, then that inner child is still looking for a safe place to be. You may be triggered by things that remind you of your fears from childhood.

Other self soothing activities for you might be coloring in a coloring book, reading a favorite story from a children’s story book, or an adult story book. You can carry items with you during the day that you find comforting. It is easy to keep small things in your purse or in your car. 

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Indoor or outdoor places can be soothing environments also.

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If you feel relaxed and safe at the park, by a lake, at the beach, or someplace in nature, then you can take yourself for a visit to a place that makes you feel connected with nature. You do not have to feel guilty for taking time out for yourself, even though you may have been conditioned to feel that way. 

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You might feel safe and comfortable someplace like a book store, a library, a bowling alley, a movie theater or a museum. Whatever makes you feel more able to deal with your anxiety is a good place to go. There is no reason you cannot take some time out of your day for yourself. It does not have to be expensive or cost anything at all. 

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Yoga and meditation are great ways to center yourself also. You can take a yoga class or do yoga at home. There are meet-ups you can find in your area by searching a site like meetup.com.

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Being with people of similar interests might be helpful for you, and the exercise is very good for regulating the nervous system. There are small groups that meet for meditation and spiritual activities at churches and other places that people rent for the purposes of getting together. 

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If you enjoy animals more that people. then there are places where you can be around animals. Even walking around Pet Smart for a half hour can be a great break from the anxiety of the day. There are animal shelters that would be glad to have visitors to help with the animals or to volunteer on a regular basis. 

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Music is helpful for many people in reducing anxiety and increasing dopamine, as well as reducing cortisol.

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The levels of these chemicals in your body alter the way you feel, your mood and your anxiety level. Anything that reduces cortisol and raises dopamine and the feel-good chemicals is probably good for you. 

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You can find what works best for you with a little trial and error. If you are not sure about something but you want to try it, go ahead and see how it works for you. Once you begin to explore different kinds of activities you may find that you discover new ones that you would not have otherwise thought of. 

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If you are introverted then you will probably be most soothed by doing things alone, or in small groups of like-minded people, or people with similar interest and values. If you are extroverted then you might find the most relaxation with larger group activities. But you can vary your coping activities between introverted and extroverted ones. 

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It might help you to take a free Meyers Briggs test online. You can find one if you search google, or I can give you a link. If you learn more about your own personality type, it can help you to discover the kinds of things that trigger your anxiety . You may find validation for why certain things make you feel depressed. 

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Another thing you could consider is what you are taking into your body.

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The food and drink that you bring into your physical body can have a strong effect on your mood and will power. Sometimes a small adjustment in the kinds of food you eat, or adding a vitamin that you may be deficient it, can make a marked difference in your mood. 

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I have offered you some ideas, but you can discover many more. Be creative and open minded. Sometimes just the simple act of trying new routines and spending 20 minutes doing something that you don’t usually allow yourself to do, can have am effect on your nervous system. 

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The nervous system can become disregulated from stress, from abuse, and from having PTSD from a past trauma. You may be living in the present physically, but emotionally connected to things that happened in your past. Sometimes hypnosis, inner child work, and compassionate dialogue with a trained therapist or life coach can be helpful. 

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Make sure you choose any professional help with care, and don’t feel that you are stuck with someone that is not serving your purposes, or is not a great match for you.

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You can ask the person questions about what they specialize in and why. Someone who is going to be talking with you about a abusive past for example, needs to specialize in that area or they will have difficulty really understanding what your responses are about. 

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I hope this finds you all well, and I wish you healing and empowerment. You are a special individual. You are unique. You have just as much of a right to have a meaningful and empowering life as anyone else does. 

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Namaste,

Annie – gentlekindness coaching web site

http://www.gentlekindnesscoaching.com/

visit my youtube channel HERE


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJw1QUDzb59PbWTcnGjGJ7g/videos

Dealing with Depression

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Depression is a serious condition that is all encompassing for the individual sufferer. It is sometimes seen as a mental problem or an emotional weakness of sorts by people who do not understand it. But sufferers of depression know that it can permeate all aspects of your life. 

Depression can begin as a mild depression and then over time it can grow to a more serious condition that interferes with daily functioning. Some people have depressive episodes that tend to pass in time, while other people feel like they have been sucked into a black void that will not let them out. 

It can almost feel like an external entity is either crushing you down, or pulling you into an altered state of consciousness that becomes like a prison. This prison is filled with darkness, sadness, hopelessness and apathy about things that you once cared about doing. 

Getting any motivation, or traction in your life can be difficult to impossible, if you are suffering from depression. It can be hard to do activities, work, or even clean the house and do basic daily tasks. This can quickly begin to lead you into a downward spiral that is very hard to get yourself out of. 

One element that is common with severe, or chronic depression, is the element of shame. There is sometimes toxic shame to begin with. That can be something that goes back to childhood. It may be shame that other people programmed you to feel. 

If you grew up with people that were critical about your feelings, the way you expressed yourself, or critical in general, then you are probably carrying toxic shame in your subconscious. If you were abused physically, or otherwise then you may be carrying a feeling of shame from that abuse, even if you are not aware of it. 

Why would someone who was abused be carrying shame about that, when the abuse is the fault and choice of the abuser?

This is a question that is often asked by people who did not have an abusive childhood, and have never been in an abusive relationship. There are aspects of mental abuse and emotional abuse that program shame into the victim. People who have not experienced emotional abuse or mental abuse have trouble understanding this, but it is very real. 

It can be difficult to talk with people about your childhood, and also about adult abusive relationships because they may invalidate what you experienced. This makes you feel worse, and it reinforces the shame that you already feel. 

The other aspect of shame that is often felt by sufferers of depression, is the shame of feeling that there is something wrong with you because you suffer from depression.

Other people around you function better than you do, and they seem to be more equipped to deal with life than you do. If you feel like the depression is something you have to hide from others, then that can lead to feeling shame about it. 

Depression is not something you have to feel shame about, but it is not easy to just turn that feeling off. Shame is one of the most difficult emotions to deal with because it can feel out of your control. It feels like an entity in itself that takes hold of you because you deserve it to. 

Feeling guilt about something you have done wrong is different than shame.

Deep seeded shame is extremely painful and it makes the person feel like they deserve to be punished. You might even feel like the depression is your punishment for being an inadequate person.

There is nothing that is inadequate about you. Even if other people are able to deal with their lives better at this time, it does not mean that they are better or more deserving than you. 

Shame is an emotion that is programmed into you. You feel ashamed in comparison to other people. It could be that you have been compared unfairly to people and situations that are not the same as you. You may have grown up with disordered parents who manipulated your feelings, in order to superimpose the feelings they wanted you to feel, in place of the true feelings that  you had about things.

All of these childhood experiences are carried in the subconscious because it was the time that you were learning how to interpret the world, your reality, your feelings, and your place in the world. If you were made to feel that you had a lower place in the world than other people do, then this belief was filed into your subconscious brain. 

Just because you may feel like there is something about you that makes you less than others, does not make it true. It is just the programming and the false beliefs that were put into you. 

As an adult with depression, there is stigma that you have to deal with. The perception by the general public about mental illness and depression is often not correct.

The media tends to misrepresent aspects of depression and mental illness. Most people who have never experienced any mental illness do not have a real picture of what it is like. 

If you are suffering from depression, you may feel isolated from others even when you are in a room full of people. You feel different and broken somehow. The inability to be able to communicate about how you feel and what you might need, can make you feel like an alien on an unfriendly planet. 

The feeling of isolation can make the depression worse. There is a need for understanding and connection, but you are afraid to be made worse by being invalidated, minimized or disbelieved. You feel like you are surrounded by a strangling darkness that no one else can see. 

It can help to know that you are not alone. There are many other people who feel like they are the target of this crushing dark pain. It is not a sign of your intelligence or you ability to be competent or functional. Many depression sufferers are extremely intelligent and creative. 

The more isolated you become and the more alone you feel, the worse the depression can become. Forcing yourself to be among people does not always help either. In fact it might be something that makes you feel even worse and more alone. 

Being around people who do not understand mental illness or depression can make you feel out of place, and like you do not belong or fit in with anyone in the world. But this does not mean that you do not belong in the world, or that you cannot find people that you do fit in with. 

Depression is physically painful, as well as emotionally painful. Strong emotions are always felt in the body. You may even be able to identify and point to the most painful places where you feel emotional pain. 

Over time the places you feel the physical pain from depression may manifest illnesses and disease. Carrying shame can also lead to physical illness.

Emotions that are repressed, held inside, or not healed can cause all kinds of diseases and sicknesses, including heart conditions, gastrointestinal diseases, cancers, arthritis and joint pain, migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, nervous system disorders and more. 

If you have fatigue and chronic pain, in addition to depression, then it becomes a loop that is hard to get out of, where one things leads to the other. 

Insomnia and anxiety disorders are also common with severe or chronic depression. Sleep deprivation from insomnia can increase the depression and also illnesses. Many of these aspects of depression end up feeding back into it. It can feel like you are literally being attacked by your own body, your brain, or an outside force. 

Even though it seems like no one understands what it is like, it is important for you to know that you are not alone. You are not crazy or imagining things. The pain from depression is very real, and worse because it is invisible to others. 

Invisible disorders can be the hardest to deal with because it hard to get validation about your day to day reality. You feel like you are living in a different reality than other people. In many ways you are living in a different reality from most other people, but there are others who feel the same way that you do. 

You are not alone. It is important not to minimize your feelings, even if it seems like the people around you do not know what you are going through.

Allow yourself to accept the reality you experience as valid. Believe that you are just as worthy and deserving as anyone else, and that having depression does not make you less than anyone else. 

You may be having trouble getting through the day right now. Things may really be harder for you to do than they were before, and than they are for many other people. Be kind to yourself and allow compassion for yourself. 

Allow yourself to feel compassion for what you are going through and for how it feels to have this depression pulling you in and surrounding you. Accept this depression as your brain letting you know that something is demanding attention. 

You are very important and there are times when your brain is trying to protect you by letting you know that something really needs attention and care. Do not judge yourself for having depression, or for having difficulty with daily things because of the depression. 

There is no benefit if judgement, and it will just make things worse. If you are feeling judge mental towards yourself, then try to identify where this judgement is really coming from. It may be someone else’s words that are actually speaking in your head, and not your own. 

It is necessary for you to care for your depression, just like you would care for a sick friend or a sick child. Care for yourself and care for the depression you are feeling. Look inside of yourself and see what needs are not being met. 

It is not selfish to take care of yourself, or to be extra compassionate towards yourself during depression. It is a serious thing that is demanding your attention and care. 

Love yourself as much as you would love another who was suffering.

Find ways to nurture and heal yourself. Connect with others who understand. You do not have to base your feelings about yourself on those beliefs of other people who do not understand mental illness or depression. 

You are not inadequate and you are not an alien. You are not exaggerating the way you feel in your own head and your own body. You know how you feel , and only you know how serious your depression is. It cannot be judged by anyone outside of yourself. 

Allow kindness and compassion to flow towards yourself.

Accept kindnesses from others and begin to let go of any negative beliefs about yourself that others have put there. Your past does not define you, and you are allowed to love yourself just as you are at this moment in time. 

 

Guided Meditation for Anxiety

Video for Depression and Anxiety

PTSD Nightmares and Night Terrors

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Nightmares can accompany the other symptoms of PTSD. This is like a flashback in your sleep. The subconscious creates the dreams during sleep, and the subconscious brain holds the trauma.

It makes sense that the subconscious brain would try to work things out during sleep. Maybe it replays situations to try to find another way to view the traumatic events.

Maybe the fight or flight mode gets triggered during your sleep. Or maybe whatever emotions are the most supressed are going to be brought up during sleep, to try to reslove them.

But when night terrors and nightmares surround you….you find yourself in the midst of terror. The exact events may not play out in the dream. It may be a series of short scenes that bring up the emotions of fear and terror.

I find that my dreams will take sudden unexpected turns, and I suddenly am trapped into a situation that brings up those feelings of darkness and terror. Sometmes I am trying to figure a solution to escape….and everything I try in the dream makes my surroundings darker and more terrifying.

Night terrors will follow you right out into the room. Usually, I have been fighting hard to wake up…and then suddenly begin to feel conscious…but there is a feeling of the evil in the dream pulling me back in….almost like hands around my throat pulling me backwards to fall.

I fight and struggle to pull myself out of the dream state and into being conscious. But once I realize I am awake…just barely….I simultaneously realize that the evil element (creature or entity) has escaped out of the dream, and is waiting for me in the darkness of the room.

It is waiting for me in the dark room.

I can neither return to the sleep state safely, nor can I wake up feeling safe. Part of me knows that I am still being influenced by the dream…but another part of me warns me to lie perfectly still….so as not to alert the creature (or creatures) that I am awake.

It is as if I feel like hiding from them, by pretending to still be asleep. I am afraid to move or make a sound.

Personally, I believe this is something similar to the “soul loss” described by Shamanism. The soul has left its regular residence within the human form of your body.  

Now…the evil creature from the dream is lurking about….trying to get me to reveal where my soul has been hidden.

All feelings of safety are under attack….No… Worse than that….The manipulator is lurking in the shadows…waiting to frighten me.

Night terrors are common with people who have PTSD. This leads to sleep deprivation for a few reasons. Different people will have different variations on how the sleep is dis-regulated.

Some people will wake up from this kind of dream, and be afraid or unable to fall back asleep. Sometimes the best thing to do at that point,  is to get up and do something for a little while….get a snack, write on your blog….like I am doing now…

Some people with PTSD dread  going to sleep at night on most nights…for fear of the night terrors…so they have insomnia. Hours go by as they think about their need to sleep, but instead of going to bed they stay awake finding things to do at night.  They are afraid to be asleep.

Our fight or flight mode can over-ride other brain functions. Logic and rational function shuts down to a point during a fight or flight anxiety attack. The “limbic system”… with the amygdala at its center… takes over.

The fight or flight mode can be triggered while you are awake…or when you are asleep…then it can draw you into a trance-like state. This might be a form of “detachment” as the emotional brain becomes too full of dread.

I often hear clients talk about having a feeling of detachment during the originating trauma. It is a way of the brain to protect itself, and the body,  from shock.

This detachment, during the trauma, may relate to these repressed emotions coming out in your dreams. The emotions can take on the form of evil, malicious entities.

The fact that the evil is waiting in your dreams to come find you….or waiting in the darkness of the room to grab you….is the repressed feelings about the terror you tried to shove down.

Any typos in this…I will proof tead tomorrow. I am no stste to edit right now. Too tired, too bleary eyed..and my reading glasses are someplace but I am not sure where right this second.

It was basically a Stream of Consciousnesswriting about PTSD and night terrors….

Keep in mind, if you havePTSD….sleep deprivation is your enemy….and a good night’s sleep is your friend.

 

 

Stillness Meditation Calming Technique

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This is a calming exercise I created, borrowing ideas from Buddhism and stillness practice.

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1. Sit or lay comfortably.

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2. Relax your shoulders and neck by letting the muscles release themselves.

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3. Allow your shoulders to drop naturally and your neck to let you head rest comfortable,without forcing it into any particular position.

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4. Relax your face muscles and let your cheeks and lips completely relax and drop.

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5. Breath in relaxed, drawing the breath in  fully. Then breath out while closing the back of your throat just enough to control the breath as you expell it.

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6. Say this sentence in your mind…

“There is stillness between each word”

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7. Repeat the sentence in your mind…putting space between each word. Breath relaxed as you say them, and continue to relax your face and mouth.

“There…is…stillness…between…each…word.”

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8. Repeat the sentence several times slower each time. Allow the space between each word to get longer and more expansive each time you repeat the sentence.

“There……..is……..stillness……..between……each……..word.”

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9. Relax into the spaces between the words and feel that silent space expanding within you and beyond you.

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10. Allow any thoughts to go away during these silent spaces. Just fall into the quiet between the spaces between the words.

You can anticipate the next wotd…picture it….during the spaces….but allow the “running mental tapes” to be silent.

Sometimes images will arise but let them drift into the distance.

Fall into the arms of the ceasing of the constant words that usually run through your mind.

Just “be” and rest your mind. The mind needs a rest from the constant chatter.

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Stigma About Mental Illness

Stigma about mental illness keeps many people from seeking treatment. Out f fear of social isolation, discrimination and misunderstanding due to their invisible illness, people fear the diagnosis and the permanent label to be fixed upon them.

There are many kinds of mental illness that are very different from each other.

People that have had incidents of severe depression are obviously not a danger to others, but being labeled with “mental illness” means that the same stigma will apply to them as to everyone else with a history of mental illness.

A former soldier who has had PTSD in the past, still carries the “history of mental illness” red flag in his records.

You hear the phrase “has a history of mental illness” on the news when some psychopath kidnaps a child. You hear this same phrase when a psychpathic 17 year old guns down his fellow students in the hallways of the school.

Just because someone “has a history of mental illness” does not make them a bad person, nor does it make them violent. This stigma is unrealistic and unfair to many people.

This stigma keeps many people from seeking treatment they need.

Once that label is on someone’s record, it is like it is etched in stone. It can ne brought out and others can even use it to undermine people that they have ulterior motives to destroying.

The general population is poorly educated about mental illness. Some people suffer for years and do not even realize that their depression or anxiety disorder could be treated.

They just know that something is wrong but they do not have enough background aboit different kinds of mental issues, to understand when depression changes from regular depression to a depressive disorder that is serious.

Parents are not educated about teen mental illness, and many parents cannot recognize a serious mental health problem. Teen suicides that could be prevented are a tragedy.

High schools do not have classes on basic mental health. The students are forced to spend hours learning certain things they will never use in their lifetime, but critical life topics like mental illness or safe dating is not covered in the curriculum.

Over 25 percent of people will have some form of serious mental suffering during their lifetimes.

Why is it that education about mental health is not given any consideration by the government or the school systems?

Why does the media continue to perpetuate misinformation that is devastating to individuals with mental health dosorders?

The heads of the government have an agenda that does not contain any feelings of empathy or common sense.

1 in 25 people is a psychopath or a malignant toxic narcissist. These are the people that are a danger to others.

But they have a talent to put on a facade of  charm and to appear “normal.”  By enabling fingers to be pointed at people “with a history of mental illness” …the psychopathic leaders are able to continue to blend in.

Lower level psychopaths endanger the invisibity of the high functioning ones. When these lower level psychopaths commit crimes, the media spouts that the person has “a history of mental illness.”

The truth that psychopaths blend into the crowd and are able to function undetected by people, is something that is covered up.

Instead of the news saying the truth, which is…

“This man raped three women. He is a psychopath. “…

..They are obligated to say …

“This man raped three women. He has a history of mental illness. ”

This veil of illusion is permeated throughout society and constantly reinforced by conditioning of the minds of the public.

 

Invisible Illness and Managing Your Home

Depression ,  anxiety disorders and  PTSD interfere with daily life, including keeping up with normal tasks and chores. Some days it is hard to get out of bed, or even leave the house.

Chronic pain and chronic illnesses also make it difficult to do some tasks and impossible to do others. Some people have a good support system of people to help them, and other people do not have anyone to help them. 

How many of you can relate to this post I came across on Facebook? Please leave your feelings and thoughts in the comments section below. 

 

house keeping

image by KneeSocksFetishRox ...see link on facebook here 

Depression, Loneliness and Invisible Illness

Depression and loneliness can exist together, but they are not exactly the same thing.

Loneliness is something experienced by all people at some point but it is not always accompanied by depression.

Usually loneliness is thought of as occurring when people are alone,  but this is not always true either.

Some people experience loneliness in combination homesickness , when they are away from familiar people and surroundings. They can feel this even when there are people around.

Other people feel like they do not fit in and this leads to lonliness with people around. Some people feel more lonely around groups of people than they do when they are by themselves.

There are other circumstances where people experience lonliness with other people around. Some of these circumstances tend to cause a co-existing condition of depression and lonliness.

People with invisible illnesses like chronic pain, chronic illness, and mental illness often feel both lonliness and depression. There is a feeling of disconnection from others when someone cannot find anyone that can relate to what they are going through.

Toxic loneliness is something that happens to people that cannot tolerate being alone or cannot tolerate bring without an intimate partner.

Ross Rosenberg coined the term “pathological loneliness” when he was doing research with his clients that suffered from co-dependence.

He discovered that one of the reasons so many people go back into abusive relationships is the pathological loneliness.

Both the terms toxic loneliness and pathological loneliness refer to this intolerable pain associated with being alone.

Usually the abusive partner lures the victim back in with false promises that things will be different. The victim who is suffering from such severe emotional / mental distress from being alone takes their chances and goes back.

In the mind of the victim, the pathological loneliness and the depression that goes along with it, is more painful than the abuse was.

People with codependent personalities usually developed pathological lonliness as children from neglect and abuse.

Depression can also develop out of childhood abuse. This can be any type of abuse, including emotional and psychological abuse. People that were abused as children often have complex post traumatic stress disorder as adults.

C-PTSD can involve depression, anxiety and sometimes pathological loneliness. There are often internal mental tapes that play inside their head that repeat negative things.

Being alone can make the internal dialogue louder. Thoughts of worthlessness, shame and failure play over and over. These tapes are implanted in the subconscious during childhood by others.

Many people with C-PTSD do not realize that they have actual trauma that is the same as PTSD which was caused at multiple ages and multiple circumstances.

Many people who have mental illness like depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder had chaotic, traumatic, abusive or emotionally devaluing childhoods.

People with depression have organic differences in their brains which can be seen with brain scans like an MRI. Certain parts of the brain that are supposed to light up to show activity, do not light up.

Depression can also co-exist with anxiety disorders. The sensations of imminent threat that occur with PTSD and CPTSD, can be felt alongside of depression and loneliness.

Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate one feeling from another. It can be helpful to people to be able to identify what sensations they are feeling.

Sometimes looking at the feelings and figuring out what is based on current circumstances and what is from early programming can help.

People with disorders of depression often feel lonely because they are unable to find people to understand their illness. Being disbelieved and invalidated can open up old wounds from childhood.

Some people are unaware that they had any abuse or emotional trauma because it happened at a very young age. The brain stores memories differently before the age of five.

Conditions like depression and toxic loneliness are no less painful than other illnesses. Unfortunately many people are not empathetic about invisible illnesses.

Your reality and your experience with suffering is your own, and it is valid. Healing can begin with validating yourself and being open to the root causes of your feelings. 

Coping with PTSD and Anxiety Disorders

If you have PTSD or an anxiety disorder, some days you have to take breaks between your tasks. Different people are triggered by different things and becoming overloaded can result in a complete meltdown or panic attack.

Pushing through your day without a break to calm yourself will drain you. It can take a lot of energy to do errands and activities, when you are being exposed to triggers in your environment.

Being sleep deprived can add to your anxiety. It is important to find ways to get enough rest and sleep. If anxiety keeps you from sleeping well at night, your body and your brain may require naps during the day. Self care is important.

If you need breaks between doing things, try to think ahead to plan enough time to take them. Be gentle and adaptable with yourself.

You are your own best advocate. Draw boundaries when you need them. Think of how you would treat a friend in circumstances like the ones you are in at the time, if your friend also suffered from PTSD. 

Sometimes it gives some perspective to think of what allowances and flexibility you would offer someone else. Looking at yourself from an observer point of view can help you gain some perspective and design coping methods for yourself.

Sending love and healing energies,

Annie💕

 

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