Have you ever had someone enter your life that really made a difference when you were a child, validated your feelings or listened with concern when you spoke?
Perhaps it was a mentor, coach, Girl Guide leader; you get the idea. Reflect for a minute who that person was. For me, it was my high school home economics teacher, Mrs. Fox.
Each day I was greeted with a brilliant smile from her, and the only teacher throughout my entire schooling that I connected with.
I was emotionally abused by my narcissistic mother, forever feeling depressed, apathetic, sullen, despondent and isolated. Her home economics course, for grades eleven and twelve, included both cooking and sewing/crafts (this was back in the early 70’s when it was assumed girls who graduated would ultimately become secretaries or housewives!).
If you are a survivor of PTSD, CPTSD or raised by a Narcissist this video is a must. Don’t worry about emotions, I was tearful throughout the entire video. This gentleman showed empathy and shared his experiences.
TRIGGER WARNING!!!! This may be upsetting for some people.
He has a series of excellent and informative videos on YouTube explaining various Narcissism and Complex PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) traits. Source: (https://youtu.be/L6l59nEn2ZY)
Each time I hear a mention of this abuse, I shake my head thinking “here we go again, another child/adult child sexually abused, coming forward despite their courage and pain, to be treated like garbage or accused of making it all up and the church deals with it in their own way, which is nothing”. I seethe inside.
It is difficult to define what “religious abuse” means, as it carries with it implications of forcing someone to believe in a faith, but principally it is abuse committed by someone who is a representative of a religious body.
Usually, the abuse takes the form of:
~ physical abuse
~ sexual abuse
~ emotional abuse
The abuse occurs as a result of the religious representative taking advantage of his/her position of responsibility within the religious organisation.
There has been widespread publicity surrounding the abuse by and criminal conviction of priests of the Catholic Church all over the world leading to several leading legal precedent judgments in the higher courts concerning the scope of the responsibility of the church for the criminal behaviour of priests.
Image: WikipediaA campaign against female genital mutilation – a road sign near Kapchorwa, Uganda.
**This article may be upsetting for some readers
Female genital mutilation (FGM), also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision, is the ritual removal of some or all of the external female genitalia. Country based surveys on the rates of FGM suggest that 200 million women have undergone the procedures in 27 countries in Africa, as well as in Indonesia, Iraqi Kurdistan and Yemen, with a rate of 80–98 percent within the 15–49 age group in Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Guinea, Mali, Sierra Leone, Somalia, and Sudan. The practice is also found elsewhere in Asia, the Middle East and among communities from these areas in other countries.
Attending a party when you feel like crap? Imagine planning your escape the moment you walk in?
Envision feeling lonely when you are actually with people; with friends, celebrating a birthday party at someone’s house. You experience emptiness. The room is filled with chatter and laughter, yet you are seated; numb.
Depression is lonely. Curled up in a ball – lonely.
This actually happened to me. I was pretty much forced to attend a birthday party, and although I resisted, I soon surrendered due to the fact that it was fora dear friend and I was absent from all other celebrations throughout the past year.
Seated in a Lazy-Boy for part of the evening, I held tightly onto a diet Coke. I thought it polite to rise and finally mingle; show a smile, pretend to enjoy the evening, yet the feeling of hollowness was debilitating. Laughter echoed.
For the majority of the year, I had been in the hospital more than out. Depression was black; I felt as if I was literally dumped into a black hole and left for dead. It was stated there was light up at the top of this hole, yet I was forever waiting to witness any.
“Well back in the ‘60’s, we didn’t know how to handle things like that”
That was my mother’s asinine come back to my question, “Why didn’t you even take me to the doctors’ as a caution?” when discussing the sexual abuse a few years ago. I’ve always questioned this, whether it be any decade, wouldn’t a mother ensure her child was ok? All around, I am the daughter of a narcissistic mother which explains everything.
My parents didn’t believe me when I was 8 years old, revealing that our neighbor was sexually abusing me, and making matters worse, had to ask for forgiveness from the abuser. I doubt my mother truly believes me to this day or recognized that she made a huge mistake or perhaps ashamed how it was all handled.
She has never fully expressed regret for her actions, never acknowledged or empathized with the crap I went through (PTSD, major depression, hospitalizations, etc.) including years of therapy to heal and wipe up her mess. (Showing no validation or empathy is a common trait of a narcissist).
She slept peacefully at night during my hellish years, while I was awake feeling guilt, shame, and worthlessness. I finally severed ALL contact with my mother a few years ago, which was the wisest decision and the only alternative allowing me to continue healing and living freely.
(I finally received validation from a stranger (therapist) 45 years later which began my healing journey from feeling anguish and pain).
Dictionary:Judgement: the ability to judge, make a decision, or form an opinion objectively, authoritatively, and wisely, esp. in matters affecting action; good sense; discretion: a man of sound judgment.
Stigma: a mark of disgrace or infamy; a stain or reproach, as on one’s reputation; a mental or physical mark that is characteristic of a defect or disease: the stigmata of leprosy.
In my opinion, judgment intertwines with stigma. Why do we judge?
I have voiced previously about encounters with both judgment and stigma, however, this is an example of stigma from a family member. Not long after my hospitalizations years ago with major depression, my brother-in-law severed ties with my spouse and me fearing for his children (or so he claimed). I really questioned at times if he believed I was going to attack him with a knife!
My last ECT (electro-convulsive therapy) treatment was in 2002, I felt they did zilch, left me feeling hopeless, helpless and saddled with long-term memory loss.
To this day, I’m unable to recollect beloved moments such as my wedding day, exciting or extraordinary moments while on vacations, visiting friends, enjoying our marriage and so much more. Bits and pieces have revisited but at a snail’s pace. Had it not been for the psychiatrist transferring to another hospital, I would have been looking at possibly ECT #78? She was pro-ECT.
Major depression found me in hospitals during the 1990’s, in fact, it appeared I spent more time meandering the halls of the mental health ward than at home with my husband. I was deemed medication resistant, not improving and ECT was recommended as the ‘ magical’ solution.
It was decided:Wednesday would be the day.I’ve kept count; it will be #77 this time, one more nightmare procedure producing nil results and I’m once again pessimistic. I have to keep going, plodding along at a snail’s pace – ever so slowly to somehow reach the top of the mountain.
I’ve lost my trust in ECT (electro-convulsive therapy), including most of my long-term memory, but what else is there; what else to do? I should be rebellious, but frankly at times feel “what’s the point to it all”. I’ve been in the hospital this time for one week and told of more ECT’s. Continue reading “77 failed treatments left me feeling hopeless”→
For years I felt as if I was one huge burden, a pest that hung on for sympathy and purposely alienated people.
In 1998, I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.
Bipolar I. Moods can swing from extremely ‘low’ (depression) to an exhilarating ‘high’ (mania). My disorder was BPII, meaning I still experienced ‘depression’; however, the ‘high’ (mania) is lesser of a degree and therefore named ‘hypomania’.
For a decade, I literally “lived” in and out of hospitals. My wonderful husband stood by me through those turbulent years. Years of endless hospitalizations, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT, shock treatments), suicide attempts and a myriad of medications became the norm.
My immediate family (my side) were absent when I needed their support most. Friends? They were supportive at first, regularly visiting me in hospital, but as the years lingered on, friends became scarce. Had this been cancer or heart disease, would they have been more empathic?
I believe it is the stigma attached to mental illness that drives people away.
Are mentally ill people dangerous? No! A family member (his side) completely cut ties with us during the early years of my illness and hospitalizations, assuming I was dangerous and feared for his children. At Christmastime, only my husband’s name appeared on the Christmas card – my name was forever excluded. We haven’t seen them since 1998.
I’ve consulted a few therapists over the years, and it’s always been advised to “give it some time”, but just how long do you “give it”? I prefer not to ‘therapist hop’, however, even after a few sessions I can sense if this is the therapist for me. I’ve been with the therapist I have now for almost 6 years and knew almost immediately it was a ‘good fit’.
I found this article interesting recalling the grief I experienced while my grandmother struggled with Alzheimer’s, gradually becoming worse and failing to even recognize me.
My guess is that when people read the title of this article they will react with either a, “what are they talking about? How can someone be grieving someone who is still alive and what the heck is ambiguous grief???” or a “holy crap, yes! I have felt exactly that way! Thank goodness WYG is finally covering this topic”. This is one of those topics where if you have been there, you get it and if you haven’t, you don’t. Either way, hopefully, you’ll read on.
Before we dive in, if you clicked on this post because you feel like you are grieving someone with a terminal illness who has not yet died, there is another WYG article you should read before you read this article. Check out our article on Anticipatory Grief, which is about the grief that comes when we anticipate that we are going to lose someone.
In contrast to anticipatory grief, there are times in life when someone we love becomes someone we barely recognize. The person is still physically with us, but psychologically they are gone. There are a range of reasons this can happen. Some of the most common are things like addiction, dementia, traumatic brain injuries, and mental illness. If you have never lived through loving someone in such a situation, this can be hard to understand. The person you love is still there, sometimes they ‘look’ sick, sometimes they don’t. But regardless of how they look, they do things they would never have done, they say things they would never have said, treat you in ways they never would have treated you, and they are not there for you in ways they previously were. This is sometimes referred to as “ambiguous grief” or “ambiguous loss”.
This may sound very abstract, but when it occurs in your life it is very concrete and real. Your mom, who always loved and supported you, doesn’t recognize you, understand you or says hurtful things. You husband, who was always kind and considerate, is now lying and stealing to support an addiction. You son, who was brilliant and driven, is now struggling with delusions and hallucinations.
Throughout my years in therapy, validation was comparable to receiving a gift, at times triggering tears of sadness, yet happiness and contentment at the same time. Finally, someone was not ignoring me, was respecting my feelings and best of all, no interruptions with cruel words. As a daughter of a narcissistic mother, very rarely showing any validation, empathy and usually telling me “you’re making things up again.”, this was all new to me.
Validation means to express understanding and acceptance of another person’s internal experience, whatever that might be. Validation does not mean you agree or approve. Validation builds relationships and helps ease upset feelings. Knowing that you are understood and that your emotions and thoughts are accepted by others is powerful. Validation is like relationship glue. – psychologytoday.com
Have you ever wished you could take back an email that you sent when you were emotionally upset? Or maybe you made some statements when you were sad that you didn’t really mean or agreed to something when you were thinking with your heart that you later regretted? Or maybe you wanted to be supportive and helpful to someone you love but couldn’t because your own emotions made it difficult?
Communicating when overwhelmed with emotion does not usually work well. Being overwhelmed with emotion is not a pleasant experience. For emotionally sensitive people, managing their emotions so they can communicate most effectively and with the best results means learning to manage the intense emotions they experience on a regular basis. Continue reading “PTSD Survivors: Why is validation so important for healing?”→
She was in her fifties and reported missing four or five days ago, a picture of a woman looking cheerful, with striking blue eyes, shoulder length light brown hair wearing a black and green mid-length parka. It was on the news and in the newspapers repeatedly, her picture of a woman with a warm smile.
To me it sounded peculiar, as if intentional or planned; waking in the morning, followed by calling in sick to work then vanishing. When reported missing, the police were summoned, then several friends and relatives began searching also. The investigation dragged on with no success, and it’s as if she went ‘poof’ into thin air, no trace, no use of credit cards.
Days passed, when someone identified her van at a cemetery, and not too distant from the van they discovered her body dead in the snow. The police didn’t reveal information as to the cause of death.
The newspapers stated that she was a registered nurse, worked for twenty-two years at the same hospital, extremely well liked and exceptional at her job. Her spouse was a clergy at the only church in the town where the family lived, and she leaves behind two children.
Struggling with depression for many years, I found myself spending three joyless Christmases (over the nine years of repeateded hospitalizations) on the dingy psych ward of a medical hospital. Two years of which I was deemed too risky, therefore, forbidden to enjoy Christmas dinner at home with family. Difficult to resign yourself to yet too unwell to converse with people anyways.
Rudolph was banned from the hospital.
So, four of us sat around a laminated and steel table (minus a tablecloth), in the gloomy dining/craft room and picked at our ‘festive turkey dinner’. Each meal consisted of turkey roll, faux mashed potatoes, lukewarm gravy, a scarce array of ho-hum veggies, stale roll, two packets of cranberry sauce and butter.
To my surprise, I did awaken to a gift planted on my side table; a red sparkly colored gift bag stuffed with loads of goodies including handmade crocheted kitchen items and knitted bright aqua mittens, yummy chocolates, which I thought very thoughtful and caring.
The Christmas year when permitted home for a two-hour visit, allotted barely enough time to wolf down a holiday dinner. As memory serves me, I believe we discovered a welcoming diner open Christmas Day, yet unsure if we truly ate turkey!
Christmas mood in the hospital was somber, the three-foot fake tree standing in the TV room was virtually naked due to prohibited string lights, (potential suicide risk) and only a few crocheted and cardboard decorations placed on branches sparingly. Underneath was a dull green round skirt covered with empty wrapped gold boxes assumed to resemble gifts sourced from years before.
There are many famous people all around us that suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), more commonly referred to as narcissism. There are many well-known individuals who display characteristics of narcissism, if not full blown NPD. They range from politicians to celebrities, from ministers to business leaders.
Some writers and researchers believe that successful and famous people have acquired or situational narcissism; they do show narcissistic traits but only after they have worked hard, sometimes for years, to get there. But that success often produces a personality pattern replete with narcissistic traits. Others believe that these people were narcissistic to begin with and sought out opportunities and fields that would satisfy their narcissistic needs.
Either way, once they become famous it leads to narcissistic thinking and behaviors; they have lots of money and/or fame, don’t wait in line at restaurants or events, have limo service, and are asked for photographs and so on. This often leads to demanding behavior, feeling they are above the law, becoming more exhibitionistic and many have public social or emotional meltdowns (frequent run-ins with the law, drug and alcohol abuse, attempting suicide, etc.).
Famous people with Narcissistic Personality disorder:
Let’s take a look at some of the famous people who show personality traits that suggest narcissism. Most of them show grandiose thinking and exaggerated self-importance, many believe or fantasize about the power they have, most believe they are special, need to be admired and feel entitled.
Many dictators and criminals had or have narcissistic personalities as well as the Hollywood celebrities; some are negative role models and some are positive.
Hitler and Stalin both had grandiose self-images as did Casanova, Marquis de Sade, Peter Sellers, and the heart surgeon Christiaan Barnard. Other likely suspects are Madonna, Margaret Thatcher, Paris Hilton and O.J. Simpson.
Here are just a few of the many famous narcissists:
Nuime.com is a blogging platform which contains postings I selected from this blog, as well as, personal articles that I have written over the years with a mixture of other topics.
I was delighted when chosen “Niumer of the Week” and the opportunity to be interviewed. Here’s how it went:
Depression and mental illness affect many people all over the world, but despite its prevalence, it is still met with stigma, silence and even scepticism. There is still a notion many hold, that people who claim to be depressed are ‘making it up’, ‘seeking attention’ or just ‘feel sad’ and will get over it in time.
But the question still remains, why do we shy away from this topic and what do people who suffer from mental illness go through on a day to day basis?
Niumer Of The Week, Deb from Living in Stigma, bravely gives us her thoughts and explains what we can do to understand this issue better.
1) How did you discover Niume and why did you decide to use it over other blogging platforms?
Niume approached me via Twitter, so I checked your site out and was impressed by the layout and features offered. I have ‘signed up’ with other blogging platforms but my posts were not acquiring much exposure and others didn’t have well-defined spheres to post in. It became frustrating and I soon left.
2) Which of the others spheres do you enjoy browsing through?
I browse through most of the spheres, however, my favourites are Literature, Interesting, Humour, Lifestyle, Photography, Music and Art.
3) What are some of the biggest misconceptions about depression and mental health?
One word – Stigma. Mental illness is not a choice; it’s an illness. Who would choose to have an illness, and be so embarrassed and ashamed of it? This leads to isolation, fear, fake smiles, feeling hopeless, and worthless.
When I activated my first blog in 2005, it focused on humorous articles only. During that time I was struggling with major depression, yet amazingly I was competent enough to write posts, and surprisingly these articles were a remarkable success.
I continued on and gathered many followers, all the time questioning whether to write about my mental illness, yet frankly, I was very embarrassed and uncomfortable to share my thoughts and life of hell with any of my blogging buddies, the blogging world, or should if anyone in my circle of “personal people” were ever to uncover my ‘secret’, I’d be devastated.
I eventually mentioned it to two trusted blogging friends my apprehension, and them replying, “why are you so embarrassed, it not your fault you were ill, write about it, who cares if people don’t like it, go by ‘anonymous’, not using your real name this time”. And so I did, in 2007, I began this blog. It’s been an enormous success from day one, with so much support from the blogging community and it was the stigma that held me back from starting this blog sooner.
I was living in stigma (shame) thus the name “Living in Stigma” –Deb
It’s been two years since I’ve cut off ties with her, and although she treated me like crap, I still miss having a ‘mother‘. In therapy, I’m working on the impact of how living as a daughter of a narcissist has affected my life.
Trust has been a huge problem for most of my life, starting in childhood. Firstly trust was broken by the neighbor who sexually abused me, followed by both parents who refused to believe, thus making me apologize. Learning to earn trust again with adults has taken years, mostly through therapy, after all, trust must be earned.
We read hundreds of blogs and websites every day, from up-and-coming voices and established pros alike. We love visiting those sites on WordPress.com, but it’s just as rewarding to see other platforms embrace the work of writers, journalists, and artists who regularly publish here, introducing it to new audiences.
More than likely, at some point in our lives, there will be someone who will ask us what it is that we have and/or how does it affects us. How we answer could have a big impact on them and how they view us and mental illness. Our answer can feed the fear and stigma or take away some of its power.
If someone asks, “What is bipolar—what is it like?” our first reaction might be to go on a rant as to how awful it is, how it can cause extreme mood swings, impair our judgment therefore we might do foolish or dangerous things, how it has robbed us of a normal life or even how it might have disabled us. But that doesn’t explain what it is and what it does in our brain to cause the chaos. That kind of an answer just promotes more fear about…
Add another stressor to the financial burden of losing your job. Being unemployed can change the nature of your personality, making you significantly less agreeable and changing your level of conscientious and openness, according to a new study in the Journal of Applied Psychology.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers from the U.K., asked more than 6,000 Germans to self-evaluate five of their core personality traits—agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism and openness—over a period of several years. Everyone in the sample began the study with a job, but part of the group lost their jobs and remained unemployed for the duration of the study. Others lost their job and found new employment.
Who was I kidding, reuniting again with my mother. I should have left things alone after no communication for three years, but no I had these grand ideas in May of this year of reconciling. How many times have I attempted to make it work before? Three, perhaps four? I’ve never truly had this woman’s tenderness or support for fifty some odd years, and it ‘aint ever going to happen.
Why can’t I get this through my thick skull and I allow myself to be disillusioned repeatedly? But, was craving for parents, namely a mother who truly loved me instead of criticizing and showing my brother the same affection that I deserved, too much to ask for? I don’t think it was.
You constantly told me to lose weight, criticized me too many times, making me feel worthless and sub-par. I lost weight when you saw me this May, I thought you’d be so proud of me and things would be different; guess it didn’t matter.
But mom, you surpassed yourself this time, with selfish words again, and presented the “toxic mother” that you are, sent in reply to an e-mail a few days ago.