Isaiah 43:18 - Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
What is PTSD or post-traumatic stress disorder?
Night after night you try to sleep. But then when you finally do fall asleep, the nightmare appears, and the past becomes your present. Yes, sometimes the past never leaves you.
Then there’s the smells that trigger something deep inside that make the scent transport you to another time or place. Or perhaps a song or a photograph flashes into your mind and you remember.
PTSD can make itself known with a cry that comes from deep within. You slip to your knees and say, “Is this ever going to end? When will I be free from my memories?” This is the face of PTSD.
No one can understand what you’re going through unless they’ve gone through it themselves.
So, you close yourself off in your home too afraid of going out into the crowd. Too afraid that something will happen and you’ll “lose control” in public. You see, you may be free from an immediate threat, but even if you are far away from your traumatic experience, it feels like it’s right outside your front door.
Perhaps someone hurt you or you’ve been in a terrible car accident and each time you hear a siren you collapse and cover your ears. The past becomes so much in the present that you can hear the sound of metal on metal in your head and feel the jolt when being struck by another car.
Or perhaps one of the worst of all: You’ve returned from Iraq or Afghanistan and you can’t get the image of one of your friends being blown up by an IUD.
Regardless if you’ve suffered from any of the above-mentioned tragedies, the results can be very similar. Nightmares. Flashes of memories. Sounds of the moment piercing through even the darkest of nights. Depression. Anxiety. Anger. Sorrow. Pain. Indescribable pain follows your every move.
Yet, there is hope. Small seeds are dropped onto the ground; watered by the tears flowing down your face. Shoots of young plants, reaching up and out of the darkness into the healing light of the sun.
Many methods have been developed to help heal sufferers of PTSD. Helpguide.org has some suggestions in their article, “Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).” Some of their suggestions are to exercise or move, activities such as rock climbing, boxing, weight training or martial arts, spend time in nature especially at a quiet spot where you can rest your mind and body, use mindful breathing where you focus on the present instead of the past, and connect with others who struggle with PTSD or counselors.
Lastly, it’s important to try to forget what happened. You may not be able to completely forget it but try to at least keep it off the forefront of your mind. God can help you do this and will teach you ways that can keep you in the present instead of the past.
Psalm 68:6 - God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land.
You may wonder why this post is on an emotional pain page. To some people pets are seen only as creatures that eat the food, we provide for them and let them out back to take care of their business. But when our pet gets sick it can affect us both physically and emotionally. A special bond can form between you and your pet and when they are sick, we are bonded to them in our hearts just as we would be bonded to a member of our family.
Pets are important to those who live alone. In this case, they are much more than just companions. Many of us are home much of the time and our pets are our companions and loved ones. So, we are definitely concerned when our pets are sick. You see, they fill an important void – to love and be loved and we will do almost anything to make our pet well again.
Pets are easy to love. Cats love to cuddle and the sound of them purring sets off a smile on our lips that spreads to our heart.
Dogs, with their tails wagging, will bring a favorite toy and drop it at our feet waiting for us to play with them. And taking them for a walk not only provides exercise for them, but for us as well. In my case, I might otherwise stay in my apartment all day not wanting to go out, but my dog has needs. So out I go four times a day.
Even birds are fun to have around. When I had two finches they knew exactly when it was time to feed them. They would react to the sound of the refrigerator opening and begin to squawk up a storm.
The difficulty that comes is when our pet gets sick. It can be devastating to the owner. And as time.com in their article, “People with Sick Pets have More Anxiety and Depression,” points out caring for a sick pet is similar to the caregiver burden you would have when caring for a sick person. This is partly due to when we consider our pets to be a member of our family. I live by myself, so I do see my dog as family. Children get very attached to their pets and definitely see them as family. In addition, pet owners with sick pets can develop higher stress, anxiety, symptoms of clinical depression and a lower quality of life. There is also the financial distress that comes from veterinary bills and prescriptions for the pet.
If our pet has been very ill, we may have to take the painful step to have them put to sleep. This can be difficult, but if your pet is in pain, it is the loving thing to do.
After a season of mourning some may choose to not ever get another pet. While others, choose to find a new companion to join their family.
Whatever pet we have, you can bet that they will show us a side to love we may never have seen before even while they are sick. I believe that when God spoke in the Bible that he puts the lonely into families he may have also included pets. This is why we see our pets as one of the family and want our pet to become healthy again when our pet gets sick or injured.
Key words: sick pet, physical and emotional affects, pet special bond, make pet well
Proverbs 26:18-19 - Like a maniac shooting flaming arrows of death is one who deceives their neighbor and says, "I was only joking!"
Are you an overly sensitive person? Do you take everything personally that’s said to you? It can be difficult to ignore the insults of others and stand your ground. But stand you must if it’s only to stand on the inside. You know the truth and most of the time you succeed in letting go what someone says to you, but sometimes it seems like an impossible situation.
Here they come walking down the hallway at your workplace. They point and laugh at the person who just dropped a stack of files onto the ground.
Instead of offering to help pick them up, the insensitive person just says, “Oops! There’s the clumsy one who can’t seem to complete even the simple task of carrying files from one location to the next. You’re always dropping things!”
As the sensitive person begins picking up the files another person stops to help them and says, “Hey! That’s not professional or kind.”
“Ah, come on,” answers back the insensitive person. “I was just joking.”
But were they really joking? Within any cruel joke there is some truth and it means that the person who said it really meant it.
Huffingtonpost.com posts their article, “16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People,” lists some of the common characteristics of a sensitive person such as feeling things more deeply, are used to hearing, “Don’t take things so personally” and “Why are you so sensitive?”, have difficulty making decisions, are more upset if they make a “bad” or “wrong” decision and are more prone to anxiety or depression.
Eduadvisor.my posts their article, “Are You Too Sensitive? 8 Ways to Deal with Emotional Sensitivity,” provides some ways on how to deal with being emotionally sensitive and lets us know that being sensitive doesn’t have to be a bad thing because it shows that you’re compassionate and empathetic towards others. A few things you can do to deal with sensitivity including not being too hard on yourself, limiting overthinking and realizing it’s not all about you.
Remember the Bible verse above that being hurt by someone who says, "I was only joking!" can be difficult to hear, but if you choose to ignore their comments and remember what God thinks about you, you’ll be better able to move beyond cruel words and feel better about your life as a whole.
Want to find out if you’re an overly sensitive person? Take this test.
Key words: impossible situation, joking hurts, overly sensitive, cruel words, move beyond hurtful comments
Job 11:16-18 - You will surely forget your trouble, recalling it only as waters gone by. Life will be brighter than noonday, and darkness will become like morning. You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.
Most people forget something every once in a while. Perhaps work has been extra busy, or family events are taking you from one place to the next. Whatever the reason, usually your mind will later come back to where your thoughts were, and you’ll remember.
But it can be disconcerting, especially for those who are suffering with emotional pain, to forget things on a regular basis and your mind doesn’t bring itself around. You find yourself more than just forgetful and having broken thoughts.
This kind of forgetfulness is not just trying to figure out where you left your keys or forgetting what you needed to purchase at the store. This kind of forgetfulness runs deep. It throws you off course. The more you can’t remember the more stressed you become. The stress then causes you to forget something else and the cycle goes on.
Forgetfulness can also be a sign of a medical problem and needs to be addressed.
Nia.nih.gov provides us with some warning signs in their article, ““Forgetfulness: Knowing When to Ask for Help.” If you are asking the same question or repeating the same story over and over, are unable to follow directions both when trying to navigate the highway and following the directions of others, or are getting confused about time, people, and places.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the negative aspects of forgetfulness let’s talk about when forgetfulness can also be something desirable. An example would be when you want to forget the hurtful things you’ve gone through in the past. You want to forget the bad things, but your mind keeps bringing them back up again.
One of the reasons why we can’t forget can be because we haven’t forgiven those who have hurt us. Forgiving someone can seem like the opposite thing that you should do.
You may also believe that if you forgive it will mean that the person is getting off the hook. But they aren’t. What they did was still wrong and hurtful. And I’m not trying to make light of what’s happened to you. But forgiveness is not for the other person. It’s for you.
When we’re able to let go of the past then, just as the Bible verse above says, our pain will flow down the river towards peace. With time the light in our life will prevail and the darkness will be transformed into hope and rest.
This may seem like an unreachable goal. It is on our own. But with the help of friends, family and God our forgetfulness can truly be a good thing.
Key words: forgetful, broken thoughts, emotional pain, stressed, forgetfulness runs deep, medical problem, serious signs, peace with past, transformed into hope
Psalm 121:1-4 – I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
Do you feel like you have no purpose going into the new year? Do you feel adrift in a sea of change? What kind of adversity will your mind and emotions face in 2021? Is there any hope for our mental health in 2021?
Many people are saying that they couldn’t wait for 2020 to be over because it was such a bad year for everyone. But will 2021 be better or is there the possibility that it could be even worse?
Newportacademy.com in their article, “The Connection Between Hope and Mental Health,” shows us how important hope is to those who struggle with mental health issues. It shows us what characteristics those who have hope have such as they choose healthier lifestyle and cope with and recover better from illness. It also shows us how hope impacts mental health. Hope shows improved coping skills and well-being. In addition, the article provides ways to cultivate hope and reduce anxiety. Focusing on our strengths and not our weaknesses and practicing gratitude cultivates hope. It provides us with much needed positive beliefs and shows us to focus on what we have and not on what we don’t have.
Finally, where does our hope, our help, come from? It comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. Cling to that hope walking into the new year, and you’ll not only feel more grounded, but you’ll also be able to find joy in the midst of your adversity.
The verses above also tell us that God won’t let our foot slip. He watches over us whether we are awake or asleep for God never sleeps. I often find it helpful if I put my name into a certain Bible verse and then read it. It can not only make it more personal but can make you feel like God is speaking right to you. So here’s mine: Karen lift up your eyes to the mountains – where does her help come from? Karen’s help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let Karen’s foot slip – he who watches over Karen will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Karen will neither slumber nor sleep. Now put your name into the verses and read them out loud. Therein lies our hope for our mental health in 2021. It is God who will watch over us and stay right beside us no matter what the new year brings.
Key words: hope for 2021, adversity, hope and mental health connection, God brings us through, God beside us
Luke 2:8-11 – And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord."
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, face masks were lined up next to presents and snacks. Silence filled the air save for a cough and a sneeze and a tossing and turning in bed. The children had cried until their bodies gave way to sleep for, they feared that Santa wouldn’t come down their chimney because COVID had entered their house. But up in the sky many years ago a star shone out with no thought for how well the humans below felt. The angel appeared to the shepherds with their good news which did not depend on any calculations of new cases of COVID or any other disease. For One had been born who would wipe away tears and heal the hurting and broken hearted. This Christmas, stars will shine in the sky and songs will be heard among the breezes as many will celebrate the birth of the Savior in spite of all the sickness that lay below. May this Christmas find you remembering the true meaning of Christmas and the One who came to heal the sick and broken hearted and gladden hearts with hope. And hope is truly the one thing we are all looking for this Christmas above all others. May God fill your homes with love and comfort and may joy rise up in the hearts of you and yours this Christmas.
Psalm 30:11 - You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.
With Christmas upon us it can be difficult for those who have recently lost a loved one. Your first Christmas after losing a loved one somehow causes the glow of Christmas to turn into a dark sky.
Everywhere you look you see reminders of the one you lost. Maybe you hear their favorite Christmas song, and you remember singing it together. Or perhaps you don’t want to put up a Christmas tree, because the scent from the tree will take you back to funny memories of trying to pick just the right tree and ending up cutting half of it off when you got home.
So what do you do? Turn off the radio or don’t put on a Christmas CDs? Do you forgo getting that tree? And when you’re invited to join others in their homes for Christmas do you come up with a reason to say no?
How do you navigate the waters of the season? Psychcentral.com in their article, “Beating the Holiday Blues,” has some tips on facing your first Christmas after losing a loved one. One of their ideas is create your own traditions. If old ones bring up painful memories, then make some new ones. Another is to stay busy and avoid unstructured time. Find fun ways to fill up your days. Even if you don’t feel like having fun, by moving forward and allowing yourself to feel the loss, but also feel the hope that somehow this Christmas will be filled with joy and not just sorrow.
Take a look at the Bible verse above. The psalmist, David, was going through tough times. He was mourning over his loses, yet somehow his mourning turned into joy; he was able to take off his mourning clothes and pick up clothes of joy.
What does this mean? In biblical times after someone had died, they put on dark clothes made out of a scratchy material and even put ashes on their heads. It was a sign to those around them that something awful had happened such as the death of a loved one.
It was significant then that David was able to put those clothes away and not just put on regular clothes but clothes that showed he was no longer mourning publically. It didn’t mean that he wasn’t sad inside. That would heal with time. But he was choosing to focus instead on all the good things in the rest of his life.
It would not be right for someone else to tell you how long you should mourn. That is up to the hurting one. But by looking at this verse, and the suggestions above, we can find the road back to be joy.
May this Christmas be a reminder of favorite songs and putting up Christmas trees, but let’s focus on the happy memories and make some new ones at the same time. I know that’s what I’m trying to do; put away the bad memories and create new moments that will fill my heart throughout the Christmas season.
Key words: holiday blues, loved one passes, Christmas reminders, old memories and new, mourning turned to joy
Luke 2:8-10 – And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.”
For many people, the Christmas season can be difficult.
And perhaps it’s Christmas 2020 and you are suffering from COVID Christmas depression.
Things will certainly be different this year.
As silly as this may seem - What if your children ask you about Santa Claus and wonder if he come down the chimney this year with everybody so sick?
All of these are valid reasons to feel a bit blue. But let’s back track the thoughts above and brainstorm what we could do to help bring joy to your Christmas.
You don’t have to let COVID bring with it Christmas depression. There are many ways there can still be joy this Christmas. And fun ways to make new memories.
Mayoclinic.org in their article, “Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips for Coping,” provides us with more ideas on coping with depression such as reaching out to others if you are lonely or isolated. Many churches and community centers have ways to help you feel like you’re not alone. In addition, be realistic. Realize that Christmas will indeed be different this year, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing as I wrote above.
Take a look at the Bible verses above. The shepherds were afraid when they saw the angel but they didn’t have to be afraid because they were given the best news they’d heard before and they were filled with joy. Don’t be afraid this Christmas to find the joy even if you’re afraid of what this COVID Christmas will look like.
Key words: COVID, Christmas depression, difficult Christmas, unique ideas for Christmas, make new memories
Ecclesiastes 7:14 - When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other. Therefore, no one can discover anything about their future.
When things are going well do you feel guilty because you’re having a good time?
For some people life has been especially rough. So, when good things begin to happen, they hold off on completely enjoying themselves, because they believe eventually something bad is going to happen. In addition, something may have happened in their past that is their fault, and they may feel like they don’t deserve to be happy.
Realistically we know that life will not always give us happy moments. However, mixed into those negative moments are some really good ones.
So how do we stop expecting the worst to happen all the time and start believing the best will come? Realize that you might be catastrophizing. Here’s a start, first, make a list of the things that are bad in our lives. Dwell on that list. Think about the bad things until they are crystal clear:
Now let’s turn our thoughts in the opposite direction and make a list of the things that are going right in your life to see that good can happen:
What are these areas?
Does reading this help you have a new perspective? It’s possible to turn your life around and believe you can enjoy life. I was stuck for many years in the muck and mire of blaming myself for everything wrong in my life, and this caused me to never fully enjoy life. I make a point now to pause so to speak during a family event or times spent with a friend and allow myself to take a breath and enjoy the moment. You can too!
Harleytherapy.co.uk in their article, “Catastrophizing – Always Assuming the Worst? Why You Need to Stop,” give us some advice on how to stop expecting the worst all of the time. Their ideas include realizing negative thinking can be a learned habit, it can be connected to a bad past, it is connected to anxiety and anxiety disorders, and it can be symptoms of a personality disorder. So how do they recommend stopping catastrophizing? By learning to tell the difference between a thought and reality. Write down your thoughts and see if it sheds light on what you’re feeling. Also, ask yourself what the feelings are behind catastrophizing and try to see how that feeling is leading you to expect the worst all of the time. Another way is to write down your thoughts and talk about them to a friend or a therapist.
Realize also, as the Bible verse above says, when times are good, be happy. And when they’re bad, know that God has made them both and he will help you find the joy in the midst of all of life’s up and down points.
Key words: catastrophizing, expecting the worst, good can happen, perspective
Isaiah 29:22 - Therefore this is what the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, says to the house of Jacob: “No longer will Jacob be ashamed; no longer will their faces grow pale.”
She limped down the hallway keeping her head down for she didn’t want to make eye contact with anyone. How could this have happened to a believer in Jesus? This wasn’t supposed to happen. If only I’d had enough faith, she thought.
But she didn’t know at the time that she was judging herself. No one else would be cruel enough to do so in such a deep way. But she pulled her cloak of shame tighter around her body as she headed for the door.
It was the first time she’d left her home since she returned home from a place where others had attempted suicide go.
They say that no one can know the heart of another person, but that person. Yet, she knew when she looked into the faces of those around her that they saw the truth – she was broken merchandise. How could she ever be of use again?
But then the strangest thing happened.
Someone looked into her eyes and said, “It’s going to be alright. We’re here for you.” And to her surprise she saw no judgment in their eyes or the words they spoke.
Each day it got a little easier to go out of her home and face the world.
Dear friend, there is no need to feel ashamed if you need help. There are people around you that hold pain inside and battle emotional pain also. And there are many resources ready to help if you just reach out your hand toward them. The shame that is felt after attempting suicide can at times be worse than the pain that brought you to that point.
Let’s face it. There will always be people out there that feel emotional pain isn’t real. It’s just an excuse to get attention. But when it’s their turn to be sent into the sea of anguish they will be reminded of how their judgmental attitude hurt others.
For those of us who have been hurt by others, it would be easy to ignore the needs of someone who used to criticize us. But it’s up to us to dig down deep inside and help the one who’s now suffering. Maybe you can help them avoid attempted suicide.
You’ve learned a lot during your journey through the dark valleys. And what you thought about yourself, being broken merchandize and of no use can be put back together with grace.
The Bible verse above talks about not having to be ashamed any longer. Remember that Jesus will take that coat of shame off your back and turn your face towards the sun.
Now you will be ready to share the light with someone else in need. You can be the one to turn judgmental attitudes into compassion. Will you be that light?
You must act quickly if you believe someone is showing the warning signs of suicide. Here are some of the indications that a person may be in acute danger and may urgently need help from save.org in their post, “Warning Signs of Suicide”:
Karen Dalske is a freelance writer, public speaker, is active in her church and writes her blogs out of her own experiences of pain, illness and loss.