Monday, December 29, 2014

Oppressing Others to Stay Silent About Sexual Abuse and Assault Is Not An Answer

Staying Silent About Abuse 
So Others Can Stay Comfortable
Is Not An Answer

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

"Truth is like the sun. 
You can shut it out for a time, but it ain't going away."
[Elvis Presley]

I love this statement; it hits the nail right on the head!  How many people around you have asked you to stay quiet about your childhood sexual abuse or sexual assault experience(s)?  For that matter, how about any truth?  Even if they haven't asked you in words, their body language will clearly tell you.  I've experienced this my entire life, but, the thing is, I still see it today.  Many people don't want to hear about the gory details, and this has to change.  Why?  Because when childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault survivors get recognition regarding their story, they begin to heal.

HEALING is not. . .

Healing is not about visualizing your hurt gone; it is not about blowing your hurt to the heavens; it is not about smothering your hurt with positive thoughts; it's not about asking yourself what you have learned from the experience!; and it's NOT that you asked for it.  Healing is, however, about facing the hurt, knowing that it was real and it was not your fault, and acknowledging that, yes, you were violated viciously, and it is a criminal offence.   

It still flabbergasts me that some parents (parents that have children) refuse to listen to the adults of childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault, yet they have children of their own.  It floors me to see this sort of attitude.  Are they not concerned about their own children's vulnerabilities when it comes to sexual abuse and sexual assault?  Do they think that their child(ren) is invincible to this?  Many of us refuse to acknowledge the truth because living in darkness gives us a sense of comfort.  The truth almost always creates upheaval and shakes up one's life; who wants that when we have a seemingly happy and content life?  

"Many people, especially ignorant people, 
want to punish you for speaking the truth, 
for being correct, for being you. 
Never apologize for being correct, 
or for being years ahead of your time. 
If you are right and you know it, speak your mind. 
Speak your mind even if you are the minority of one. 
The truth is still the truth.
[Mohandas Gandhi]

It's time to wake up regarding the abuse against our children.  Wake up and see the truth.  By denying the evidence or not wanting to deal with the matter does not make it untrue.  Wake up and recognize the many individuals that have experienced childhood sexual abuse and sexual assault; this is the least we can do to allow these individuals to heal completely.  Break the silence.  Give them the space to tell their story. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Do You Cringe When I Mention Child Sexual Abuse?

Do You Cringe When I Mention Child Sexual Abuse?

Even If You Do,
I Will Not Stop Talking About Child Sexual Abuse

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

There is something real ugly going on; it's not the ugliness of childhood sexual abuse; although, that in itself is very very ugly; it's the silence society keeps regarding childhood sexual abuse.  I can feel this hum of emptiness, a hush, when I or others talk about childhood sexual abuse.  

The concept of childhood sexual abuse is simple, I believe anyways.  You and I, both, would do anything to protect our child(ren) from predators that prey upon our innocent children, yet when the adults of childhood sexual abuse begin to voice themselves, there is a sense of disbelief on the part of the listener.  There is a sense of shaming they offer to the survivor, almost as though they are bestowing the cause of the sexual abuse to the child.  Because the adults that have survived the ordeal of childhood sexual abuse are finally speaking out, they do not deserve your indifference.  They deserve interest, empathy, and concern.  They deserve to be listened to.  

I remember when I told my brother about the sexual abuse--the time when I finally spoke up about it "out loud."  The entire family knew about the childhood sexual abuse, but nobody talked about it; it was prohibited!  Nonetheless, my brother straight out said that he "didn't want to hear about it; he didn't want to hear about the gory details" and proceeded to shut me down and move onto a different topic.  I don't know why I was so surprised, though; somehow I thought that over the years, and as we all got older and more 'mature,' we would be able to talk more openly about the topic of childhood sexual abuse, but I was wrong, obviously.  I said to him, "Aren't you concerned about your sisters and why they have suffered so much?"  He plainly wasn't interested.  Sad but true; I still have a lump in my throat when I state this.

Today, I see the challenge childhood sexual abuse survivors have in getting any recognition: recognition for the horror they endured; recognition for speaking the truth; and recognition for being able to survive the heinous crime and the consequences it tainted us with.  At the same time, coming out--speaking up about the crime that was committed on you--can place us in a lonely and isolated corner with even family and friends abandoning, shaming, and blaspheming us.

There are various theories about how and why change happens, but the essence behind change is a complete paradigm shift in the way we think and what we accept as normal.  Many of us say that we do not accept childhood sexual (or other) abuse; yet, when confronted with a story, we turn our backs--our actions prove otherwise; so, once again, we continue to keep it in silence. 

Being passive about a cause doesn't make it go away; it only buries it deeper while the consequences surface like puss from a wound.  As Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, "Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals," not by passivity, ignorance, and denial.  

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Suffering Alone. The Battle with Depression

Suffering Alone;
The Battle with Depression

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh
"This Christmas and holiday season, let's bow our heads in empathy and look to understand the complexities of depression, and how we can all support our loved ones that suffer with it." 
*Wake Up to Live by Desiree Leigh

I battled depression as far back as I can remember.  I grew up with a mom that had depression (she lived with a man that assaulted and abused her weekly), so it was easy to learn the habits of depression; however, it wasn't that clear-cut and simple.  I also suffered a life of childhood abuse, sexual assault, and domestic violence with mental abuse.  I believe that when you are vulnerable, as I was with depression and a history of violence, you can fall into relationships that are abusive without recognizing (or ignoring) the signs.  Looking at all of this, I can understand why it was a daily struggle to stay above water.  I used to tell my adult children that I was underwater, and yet I was still breathing.

I don't think anyone that hasn't suffered with this mental illness can really relate to or understand what we have gone through or what we struggle with; perhaps, unless you have had a family member or a friend that suffered with it.  I heard so many comments such as the old proverbial chin-up, but to solve mental health issues it's not that simple and to say such a thing to someone that is suffering with depression is just wrong; it's wrong because of the lack of education others have regarding the complexities about depression.  Each and every one of us has a different genetic make-up and different environmental factors; as a result, there is no one-fits-all solution.

Robbin Williams death from depression woke many of us up but for how long?  We read about it, talk about it, and then we close the chapter only to re-open up the book when another death occurs, but is there a real concern?  I don't know.  I hope so.

This Christmas and holiday season, let's bow our heads in empathy and look to understand the complexities of depression, and how we can all support our loved ones that suffer with it.

Wake Up to Live is about awareness in every aspect.  Wake Up to Live is about eliminating the biases; although it is difficult to do, we must Wake Up to Live, and be responsible for our actions: the actions for ourselves and others.  Wake Up to Live and be aware if and how you are stigmatizing mental illness; we all do it in some form or another at some point in our lives without sometimes recognizing it.  Be sensitive to the cause and wake up to live!

Much Love, 
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Are You A Hater of the Psychiatric Profession?

Are You A Psychiatric Profession Hater? 
Could This Be Your Way of Stigmatizing Mental Illness Without Even Knowing You Are?
Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh

Why are so many professional and clinical counselors afraid of psychiatric nurses or psychiatrists.  In counselling school I heard regular bashing of these last two professions (but I still love all my past class-mates and colleagues).  The counselors perspective (assumption) is that the psychiatric profession only want to prescribe pharmaceuticals, and they are closed-minded to therapies that are not research-based.  In other words, the professionals of psychiatry are narrow-minded in the wellness of their patients/clients; they follow protocol and don't steer away from that system.  It was even recommended by some life and business coaches to stay clear from that direction because of their concept of healing the mind.

Over the years, I continued to hear this sort of a rant, but I wasn't convinced.  I never am, convinced, by someone else's rant unless I investigate it for myself (and isn't that what we should all be doing--checking out the facts for ourselves).  If you know me at all, you know that I am always up for a challenge, and I am not one to just take the opinion of another.

As the years passed, I would welcome others talking about their concerns and beliefs regarding the psychiatric profession.  I wanted to hear it all from nutritionists, ministers, other psychiatric patients/clients, and many counselors.  There was this anti-psychiatric era in the air, but in the end, what I have concluded is simple.  Not everyone can function without medication; communication is simply not enough.  Just like not every nutritionists form of eating to heal is a standard prototype for all, and not all forms of therapy work for everyone.

I know I am only one case study, but I had my own experiences, too.  I, at one time, was convinced that it was me that was causing the problem in my head.  If only I could solve the problem (as so many self-help gurus tell you that you "should" be able to do), I'd be clean from depression and anxiety.  I tried meditation, nutrition, doses and doses of vitamins, yoga, reading spiritual scriptures and prayer, acupuncture, colon cleanses, herbal therapy, aromatherapy, Thai massage, staying positive, changing my way of thinking and attending various workshops and lectures on different ways to heal the mind, communicating endlessly, being social, etc., etc., and etc.; anything that was a form of healing.  I started to feel guilty and shameful when I thought about resolving to take any kind of medication.  Eventually, passing through the highs and then the lows drained me to the point I could not function anymore.  I, too, was tired of spending thousands and thousands of dollars on these so-called natural forms of healing; then, when they didn't work, I felt guilty about it--like I must be the cause!

Psychiatrists (and psychiatric nurses) are there to heal, and they do have the power to prescribe medications to individuals (with bipolar, schizophrenia, cyclothymic, or major depression) that, especially, need it; that is their job as is psychotherapy.  Who are we to judge that patients/clients with mental health issues don't need medication?  Most arguments against psychiatry are based on outrageous claims without any scientific research; it is usually about who did what to whom gossip.  I won't deny that other countries may treat mental illness differently, but I am staying close to home--North America.  I, also, don't deny that there are bad apples in the psychiatric profession, but there are bad apples in virtually "every" profession; so let us not stigmatize the psychiatric profession thinking that because they have the power to prescribe medication to help the patient/client that that is the only form of therapy they are open to.

Let us also remember that alternative healers are in the business to make money, as are psychiatrists, psychologists, ministers, counselors and life coaches; that is how we survive and pay our bills.  So, of course, each one of us will sell our product(s) as being the best and most effective; however, I got tired of spending thousands and thousands of dollars on healing products that did not work, and I finally stood up for what worked for me.

If we are to solve mental illness, let us ALL stop stigmatizing it including stigmatizing medication and one of the professions that support mental health.  The anti-psychiatry movement (or other groups of professionals), some religions, and some natural healers that only believe in the almighty "natural" way of healing without medications have based their assumptions on hearsay.  (I am not condoning that all of the alternative therapies don't work; they just didn't work for me for mental health).  Furthermore, who are we to judge what form of healing works for the individual!  Everyone's genetic make-up and environment is different.

Wake Up to Live is about awareness in every aspect!  Not just particular areas you like or prefer.  Wake Up to Live is about eliminating the biases; although it is difficult to do in any profession, we must Wake Up to Live, and be responsible for our actions.  Wake Up to Live and be aware how you are stigmatizing mental illness; we all do it in some form or another.  Be sensitive to the cause.

Wake Up to Live with Desiree Leigh