Seasonal depression makes the holidays a challenge!!

miracles-happen.jpg The reports from Centers for Disease & National Institute of Mental Health both show that there is no rate increase of suicide during the cold holiday months. In fact, most get a heightened spirit and probably don’t want to miss any hopeful celebrations that might give them hope for life.

Now I’d have to say that while the numbers of actual suicides reduce during this time, I believe stress, depression, anxiety; emotional challenges increase. If you come from a positive life the holidays are exciting, or maybe just a little difficult to get along with some family at these gatherings. If the holidays are filled with outrageous expectations either financially or in having the perfect holiday home; this alone can be quite pressing, but doesn’t usually cause any suicidal thoughts or major depression problems; more likely anxiety problems.

If you are an adult survivor of childhood abuse, either through parental mental illness, addictions, neglectful, imposed servitude, physical or sexual harm; your holiday with family might be completely out of the question. I do know many who go through the motions. They bury their fears, anxiety, and tears, do their best to fake the holiday excitement without ever saying a word about the difficulties they are battling as a result of these types of harms, even how difficult to be in the same room or house as their abuser. We continue on without ever confronting the subject and often the victims/survivors are the only ones who carry any emotions about what happened. The offenders usually never feel any remorse or guilt, rarely will they acknowledge or apologize. Most will say; ‘It’s just the way things were back then, get over it already’!!

For me the holidays are a huge challenge. I was raised as the caregiver for my brother and younger sister, but neither of them wants to believe or accept what our parents did to train and refuse even the most basic care or kindness to the enslaved child who cared for everyone else. They talk about the alcoholic rage, the violence, the constant late night parties; but not once acknowledge my having to answer his little brass bell or all the other insane attacks and prostitution that were especially worse during those last five years of my teen life. It’s been five years or more since I’ve talked to any of my relatives, or at least the ones I know anyway. My biological father’s family has made a few attempts but in our connections, it’s just casual contact via Facebook. A part of me wants to engage with them, the other side has no idea how to begin. I keep my family/friend contact close and it doesn’t reach out unless someone else is reaching out in that same cautious and distant manner. Close relationships are few and far between, but I really don’t get out to socialize much and of course, the cold makes it even more difficult.

During my younger holidays, I was the one to help with all the cleaning, starting the week before to get everything scrubbed and shined. I was given the responsibility for making all the pies and cleaning up all the mess from dinner with family and visitors. No one had to help, and after my dinner cigarette, it was time to get everything spot cleaned again. I couldn’t sit to watch tv or spend time without being called to serve drinks, clean messes, and making sure everyone else was taken care of, many times being the last one to sit and eat as the others carried on.

I lived in this sense of responsibility and constant pressure through all the special events and holiday dinners through my adult years. Everyone, through marriages, living in other countries, having my little kids; just all the years when life was so busy, the holiday times were much easier to handle and much more enjoyable.

Today the holidays for me are quiet, barely even recognized. If I’m lucky maybe there’s a phone call or a little special time out for my birthday, but as it is for most of us in older years; it’s just another day on the calendar. For me it’s been slowly getting worse, more emotionally challenging for over the past five years. It’s weird because I consider myself to be strong, a survivor, a changed and peaceful person. I don’t understand why the dark clouds and memories want to climb in like they do, but it really turns me upside down.

It could be related to the changes in my physical abilities. I can’t cook a full meal and do the dishes in the same day. My upper body burns like a hot iron rod being shoved through my spine, it’s honestly excruciating. I can’t clean my house like I used to, so my OCD has had to accept dusty shelves, and only weekly vacuuming. My cognitive abilities are changing and my feeling of usefulness is getting worse. There is a huge need to get something else in my life that will help me feel a purpose once again. Something that will help me become a better advocate and supportive resource in creating the needs we want to build in alliances with area resources.

Having to go on disability, being in pain management for ten years, and trying to not let the chronic injuries and pain take the brightness out of my spirit is a daily battle. One that is becoming exhausting but I know I will get there. I know I will be alright. It’s just the hanging on and always having these challenges that simply makes me isolate myself and shut down, rather than seek friendship and encouragement. Like always for each and every one of us who are in this same seasonal/daily funk; only we can change the dark by focusing on something truly good!!

Here’s hoping your holidays are pleasant, that family and friends gather for great fun. I turn fifty-six tomorrow but feel more like I’m eighty and done. I feel out of focus and out of energy. Is it too late to rejuvenate my spirit and help me find a way through the darkness that seems to climb into my world from Thanksgiving to Spring? Like many others, when springtime brings back growth and beauty; the blossom of life seems to create a light in my spirit and a renewed energy to keep fighting; not just to live, but to thrive!!

If you find you’re suffering from depression or challenging emotional triggers at any time, please know you’re not alone. The hotlines across the country are there to help. Survivors, you matter!! Your family matters!! Your sense of peace and happiness matters!! Don’t give up, even if you can’t figure a path right now. Hang in there, talk with your friends, find an advocate source either online or in your community.

Heart to heart, one hand to another, we can breathe life into others and inspire a safer, happier, healthier life journey.

To learn more about getting help for Suicidal thoughts or actions, for help and intervention services – a few links have been provided below. You can also find information through Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP; the foundation myself and a team of area experts are continuing to build to serve those throughout Clinton County and South-Central Illinois.

We cannot let the darkness win! Please fight for your spirit and your happiness!!

Wishing you a happy holiday season!!

Suicide Prevention – LifeLine – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Domestic Violence/Family Violence Hotline – https://www.thehotline.org/

Prevent Child Abuse America – http://preventchildabuse.org/

Mental Health  – What to look for – https://www.mentalhealth.gov/what-to-look-for/mood-disorders/sad

CDC Suicidal Facts & Myths – https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/suicide/holiday.html

Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP – http://www.butterflydreamsalliance.org

Published by @Trecia_Ann

Recently, Facebook locked and removed my decade long creation of work and public profile, which focused my work as an advocate, speaker, mentor, and creator of more than a few programs used throughout Illinois, but also shared nationally and some have reached international platforms. So.... let's start fresh and see where it goes! Please see the writings on this blog dating back into 2011, created after the publication of 'My Justice'. There are two specifically, which have been tagged and shared by many....."Judging Eyes" and "Triggers; what they are and how to handle them" I am a survivor of over thirty years trapped inside the silence and brutality of Family Facilitated Violence, Torture, and Child Sex Trafficking. In Feb. 2011, I chose to publish the secrets and the horrors endured; the many levels of destruction and decay which the community around me witnessed, ignored, condemned and blamed regardless of the injuries and tortures endured. It all became the learned patterns of self-hatred and tolerance which was a huge factor in my adult life. Have you endured childhood harm, or endured terroristic types of abuses? Did you feel unworthy of life, breathing, love or respect? Did you feel as if no one ever really saw you, heard you, or seemed to care about the silent cruelties of your existence? It wasn't until I honestly began a strong focus on healing myself, which took years of researching credible data and published research surrounding the lasting effects of abuse, violence, sexual harm, and human trafficking that I began to understand who I was and why there were many traits and tragedies that influenced my adult choices, relationships, the chaos deep in my soul and the behaviors used to survive. It seemed to control everything inside me and it was filled with pain, and tragedy. The research became my rebuilding journey and my road to advocacy, creating legislative changes, sitting as an active member and providing testimony in the creation of area task force operations, victim/survivor services, trauma informed awareness for law enforcement, educators, social services, healthcare and community providers. I began that research of understanding myself in 2008, wrote the memoir "My Justice' in 2010, began working to change statutes in my home state in 2013, became a Certified DV Advocate and Panel Member of DV Offender Education Program in 2015, which then initiated a decade long career as a trusted, confidential advocate, and a highly skilled and knowledgeable speaker/educator on the topic of Assessment, Family/Survivor Rebuilding, Trauma Informed Care & Response, with the primary focus on family/relationship acts of terroristic abuses and/or human trafficking. Beginning in January 2010 there have been developed programs and connected resources for men, women, children, and families who endured these same types of tragedies. Unfortunately, our human society still has barriers to seek help or speak openly about these types of tragedies, especially if it happened in our homes and families. The laws to protect from such harms were enacted for children in 1963, as an amendment to the Social Security Act. Domestic Violence was not a topic until 1995, when then Senator Joe Biden introduced the Violence Against Women Act, which has since been adapted to provide shelters, counseling, protection orders, and rebuilding services for ALL persons regardless of gender or identity. Although slavery was brought to an end by the historical act of President Abraham Lincoln, we unfortunately have millions of human beings still being traded, sold, controlled and trapped in a hellish evil, which often begins by a parent or intimate partner. Legislation didn't arise regarding the term 'Human Trafficking' until the turn of the new millennium. Protection for victims of human trafficking was signed into law as the 'Trafficking In Persons Act of 2000', which with modern day social media it quickly became a new hot-topic point, which then sparked the creation of Trauma Informed Care, Rebuilding & Trauma Therapy, and thus adult survivors began speaking out about the dark terrifying reality of Child Sex Trafficking. Today many use the term, Modern Day Slavery, and we have multi-faceted task force operations and rescue resources working around the globe to end this new form of human slavery. We also have a few hundred thousand or more who are adult survivors of histories involving Parental Child Sex Trafficking. In one recent study from 2018, they found 85% of these victims were trafficked by parents in trade for drugs, family needs, or basic human survival. As I look back on the career that grew from my own personal need to understand the chaos in my head, the constant failed relationships and almost murderous acts committed against me; as I deal with increasing health problems that includes multiples of head and spinal cord traumas; the most important goal for me from day one of this extremely personal experience; the healing and rebuilding of my own children and grandchildren who were all continued generational victims of the trauma influenced behaviors and choices that resulted from the destruction enforced by my mother and stepfather many decades ago. The little girl, 'Trecia Ann', she survived pure evil as an entire community witnessed, shamed, blamed, and dismissed the visible decay and rot, stench and filth covered, battered and intoxicated body of a young girl who was publicly exploited and shared in the bars of that small town, in her home with boys she attended school with and adult men from the local coalmine. It was as if they all got a thrill from watching her respond to the ring of that little brass bell. They laughed, molested, raped, and purchased for a few bucks or a few beers the sexual use of that young girl right in full public view! Her mother held the power to stop it all, but rather enjoyed having a 'slave' to cook, clean, care for the family as well as entertain the sadistic alcoholic man she chose to marry. Today, I'm so honored and proud to have that little girl's spirit with me. It is through the use of my lived experience, along with a decade of research, and at least five certifications in prevention, response, and trauma; I've assisted a few hundred survivors through the multilevel process of rebuilding and reclaiming their voice, their safety, their freedom! I've trained law enforcement, healthcare, childrens service investigators, our school educators, and co-presented in trainings with some outstanding experts in the field. For the many I've assisted or empowered, they continue becoming thriving survivors, advocates, authors, speakers, and most important of all; they are healing their children and grandchildren! It is a truly beautiful experience and I am so amazed to have been a spark, a resource, or a friend in their life reclaiming freedom. The adult children of generations past have broken through the glass ceiling and finally there is a hint of change in the world. "A lifetime filled with daily torture, tragedy, and pain creates someone completely different than we should have been. We feel that person inside, but our lives are altered by the emotional and physical suffering. We cover it up and hide it deep inside through substance abuse, which falsely helps us believe we are doing fine. The extreme physical and emotional injuries leave our mental and physical selves terribly impacted. Thankfully there is more information and resources of help available today for all types of adverse or traumatic experiences. We have specialized therapeutic help and healthcare professionals developing new ways to identify and assist persons harmed or at risk of harm. We have so much more to do, so please help by having casual open conversations with your friends, family, coworkers, leaders, and especially our kids. Teach them early how to avoid both online and in person harms. Encourage adults and kids both to use the BDA Buddy Skills 2.0, which you will find through my list of assessments and prevention strategies. "My Justice' was written through my own beginning of acknowledging and releasing the personal destruction of the girl once known as 'Trecia Ann'. It is not an easy read, but it has opened many eyes about the reality of evil that occurs inside our homes, against those too small to protect themselves or understand what's happening. It was published to release the thick layers of trauma, sex trafficking, and disfiguring neglect. It is the voice of the enslaved child who existed only to answer the ring of 'his' bell, and the enforced burden to keep my own private terrorist alive. 'My Justice' is NOT SUGGESTED FOR ANYONE UNDER 16 years of age. It discusses the permanently wounding life and the cycle of destruction that held me in tolerating ridicule, control, and violence in my adult relationships. This truth was published to inspire others to take an in-depth look at their life and behaviors as a result of their past, in hopes they too will better understand their suffering today, the continued relationships with the parents and family who inflicted those harms, and finally breaking free from that pain so they can reclaim their voice and their true sense of freedom! We always have the opportunity to learn that we are worthy, capable, incredibly strong, compassionate, and filled with endless possibilities. It is a choice. It is a conscious decision to dig into our trauma, take ownership of our own failures, the harm our choices have caused, and the work we need to do to change it and succeed for ourselves and our families. It is such an honor to have 'My Justice' used at the collegiate level for psychology classes, upcoming therapists, and educators. Today my life is very blessed. I'm finally safe, feel truly loved, finally feeling the magic of life! Always choose to see your star and how it shines on others in your journey. My greatest power only began to show when I first made the choice to end the violent relationships and behaviors around my children; to give them something better, something SAFE!! In choosing to share my own story, I've also gone the serious extra step to educate myself through years of research, attending training opportunities, and collaborating with other advocate resources focused in human resilience and healing from abuse, sexual harm, and sex trafficking. Today there are experts digging deep to recreate help and healing. I've chosen to use my past as a way to inspire a greater good and; hopefully, somehow change the cycle of tragedy in our homes so that we empower our kids to live a more positive path. The best education we can give is healing our survivors of traumatic experiences so we understand what they felt then and what they wish they would have had available; those who could have and should have said something. We can change things for our life today, but best of all in healing our wounds, we give communities a supportive working strategy in assisting the people in our lives. One step at a time, one caring soul at a time, we can give them a path to changing our human society as a whole. This is a tell-all, which was written in the midst of my third nervous breakdown as I struggled to put all my distorted pieces back together, and help my children understand how the violence I tolerated against me invaded their well-being. My children have always been my world, but my behaviors, lack of healthy parenting and life skills, and an inability to remain stable have caused another generation of suffering for my grandchildren. This is a very difficult thing to watch and the continued tragedies that seem to keep affecting the choices in my family. Writing this book was only the beginning of trying to release all that has haunted me for so many years. I have finally removed his thick, cruel, coal-stained hand which trapped me in fear for decades. Those hands and his evil, her housemaid and caregiver; created a slave, and that slave submitted to horrific and brutal attacks but always felt it was her burden to bear. I lived with that hand holding me down, continually terrorizing and silencing, stealing my voice to protect their pure evil. Throughout decades the dysfunction caused by the chaos inside my head would affect every relationship, my children, and cast a shadow of darkness on everything good in my life. Living in the true spirit of freedom, I have now become a strong advocate against the life cycle of human destruction. If we want to control our life and achievements today, then we cannot live stuck in the tragedy of hardships and pain. Life is meant to be lived, to be enjoyed, to see what you can do and what you can achieve, to find out what is important to you. We all become adults. We all have a burden to bear. Stand up and keep moving, keep living, keep dreaming. You have two choices in recreating and rebuilding yourself. Do you stay stuck in the dark shadows of your past? Do you dig deep and find that spirit that kept you alive so that you can become the proud, strong, capable, resilient, kind human being? Which do you choose and how will that choice affect your children and theirs? We can be supportive, and provide resources and suggest help so that families suffering from addiction or past trauma can find a recovery balance to rebuild their family into a more positive life pattern. We will recover, we will rebuild, we will conquer the pains of yesterday to live in the true sense of life, freedom, and safety today. Patricia 'Trish' McKnight Author: 'My Justice' Fndr/CEO: Butterfly Dreams Alliance, NFP Mentor/Advocate/Speaker/Survivor

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