Join “The Many Faces of Depression” Movement & Stop the Stigma! Submit Your Story/ Photo!

The Many Faces of #Depression: Join the Movement & Stop the #Stigma @ www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

The Many Faces of #Depression: Join the Movement & Stop the #Stigma @ www.DrChristinaHibbert.comLast week, I shared my personal struggles with depression in my post, Overcoming the Stigma of Depression: “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety).” I have been deeply touched by the outpouring of support from so many who have joined me, stating, “I, too, am the face of depression.”

 

 

Overcoming The Powerful Stigma of Mental Illness & Depression

It’s a wonderful start: getting people talking and asking about depression, and hopefully increasing understanding and support. But there’s much more to be done if we hope to one day overcome the stigma of depression.

 

Even though I’ve received dozens of messages of support from online friends and followers, I’ve only had three real-life friends/family members reach out  to me after reading my article, and two of them are really more like acquaintances than close friends. All of them have also been affected by depression, either themselves or in a close family member. They didn’t do much other than say, “I’m so sorry you’ve been struggling. How are you doing now?” Or, “Is there anything I can do for you?” Or, “I think you’re brave to have written that article. You’ve helped me be brave, too.” It helps to hear my own friends talk about it.

 

But there were only three. While I didn’t write the article to get sympathy or support from my friends and family, I was surprised by how few of them have spoken to me about it. I’m sure I shouldn’t be surprised. That’s why I wrote the article to begin with–because the stigma of depression is so strong, it silences us.

 

I’m sure most of my friends and family don’t judge or criticize me for my depression. It’s just that, unlike with other types of illness (injuries, cancer, surgery), they don’t know how to react. People don’t know what to say, so they say nothing (kind of like how people don’t know how to handle grief). They don’t know what to do, especially if they haven’t experienced depression first hand. So, again, they do nothing and hope I just “get better” so we don’t have to talk about it. They click “like” on the picture of me holding my sign, and I am grateful for that. But they say nothing.

 

This is the power of stigma, my friends.

 

 

“The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION” Movement

I am getting better, day by day, thanks to my ability to overcome the stigma of depression, seek help, and let help in. I’m feeling stronger again, thanks to the support of my husband, children, and a couple of close friends."I am the face of depression & anxiety": Overcoming the #Stigma of #Depression; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

But no matter how I’m feeling, I continue to feel the need to make sure this conversation doesn’t die. I need to keep giving depression a face and a voice, to lend it mine, to keep us talking about depression, and anxiety–for my children, for my clients, for my family, friends, and for myself.

 

Thus, I present “The Many FACEs of DEPRESSION” Movement. My hope is that you will join me. My hope is that we can give depression a face and a voice. My hope is that one day things will change and we will no longer feel the need to stay silent. We will no longer feel the need to hold depression as a shameful secret.

 

 

Submit your Story/ Photo & Help Me Stop the Stigma!

I invite anyone who has been touched by depression–either personally or in a loved one–to share your story and/or your photo, to publicly declare, “I, too, am the FACE of DEPRESSION.” After the submission deadline (see rules, below), I will then select 6 stories to publish in full on my website throughout 2015. I will also publish excerpts from other stories, along with as many photos as I receive. Together, we can show the many faces of depression. Together, we can help people face depression, to ask about it, and to understand it.

 

We can stop the stigma of depression. One face. One photo. One story at a time. We can give this illness a voice and, one day, stop the stigma.

 

The Many Faces of #Depression: Join the Movement & Stop the #Stigma @ www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Join “The Many Faces of Depression” Movement! 

Submit Your Story and/or Photo!

Submission Rules & Guidelines

  1. Written submissions:
    1. Posts must focus on the theme “I am the face of depression” and share your personal story.
    2. Length of post: 600-1000 words. Longer posts will not be considered for publication.
    3. Submissions must be received no later than January 10, 2015, midnight PST.
    4. Please focus on: 1) Brief details of your experiences with depression, 2) What depression feels like for you or your loved one (symptoms), and 3) What methods of treatment have been helpful for you? 4) What have you learned from depression, or how have you grown? And what would you like others to know about it? (You can use my post as a model, though keep in mind that mine is much longer than the allotted length above.)
    5. To be considered for a full post, you must include at least one photo of you, holding an “I am the face of depression” sign. To download a sign, click here: “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” Sign    “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety)” Sign
    6. If you do not wish to post a photo and do not wish to be considered for a full post, you may submit a short post with no photo.
    7. By entering, you agree to allow your article to be posted on my website, www.DrChristinaHibbert.com, either in full or in part, and you also agree for your photo to be posted in “The Many Faces of Depression” collection on the same website.
    8. Authors of the 6 articles that are selected to be posted in full will be notified by email prior to publication. Others will be notified that they have not been selected and will be given information about the publication dates for excerpts.
    9. Please do not include any profanity or inappropriate material. Such articles will not be considered for publication
    10. Please subscribe, below, and then share the articles and photos as they are posted!
    11. Must be at least 18 years of age to enter.
  2. Photo submissions
    1. All are invited to submit a clear photo of yourself holding an “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” sign.
    2. You are welcome to download a sign, or to create your own. If you create your own, it must say, “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” or “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety)” and include our web address www.DrChristinaHibbert.com in font large enough to read in the picture. To download a sign, click here: “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” Sign   “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION (& Anxiety)” Sign
    3. Only one photo entry per person, and entries must be received no later than January 10, 2015 PST.
    4. Please, no inappropriate attire or materials in the photos. Such will not be considered for publication.
    5. Please subscribe, below, and then share the articles and photos as they are posted!
    6. Must be at least 18 years of age to enter.

 

SUBMISSION DEADLINE for Articles and Photos:

January 10, 2015

SUBMISSIONS & Questions Should Be EMAILED to:

christinahibbert@gmail.com

 

Thank you for adding your voice to mine! I look forward to seeing what we can do together! 

 
 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

 

"I am the face of depression & anxiety": Overcoming the Stigma of Depression, Dr. Christina Hibbert; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

Don’t miss a thing! 

SUBSCRIBE, just below, “like” my Facebook pages (Dr. Christina HibbertThis Is How We Grow), and follow me on Twitter,Pinterest, & Instagram!

 You may manage your subscription options from your profile

 
 
 
 
 
 

Related Posts/Articles:

10 Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

Living a Life of Purpose & Meaning: The Key to true Happiness

When Life Hands You Lemons, Stop & Reevaluate: 4 Steps to Reevaluate Life & Fearlessly Meet Your Needs

Create the Life You Desire: Part 2–The 3 Steps of Creating

“This is How We Grow:” Understanding the Seasons of Personal Growth

Join my Free, Online “This Is How We Grow” Personal Growth Group!

This Is How We Grow wins an IPPY Award in NYC & is one of Aspire Magazine’s “Top 10 Inspirational Books!”

Personal Growth & Family Vacation?: 10 Things I Learned in an RV with my Family of 8 for 8 Days

PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In–The 2 Most Important Things

10 Ways I Choose to Grow Each Day 

Personal Growth & Self-Actualization: What Will Your Choice Be?

“These are my Strengths!” and “This is my Lame-O List!”: How to Embrace Strengths & Weaknesses

Parenting Success: It’s More about the Parent than the Child

Learning Self-Love: 5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly

How to Make Lasting Change!

40 Physical & Mental Health Benefits of Exercise!

Overcoming the Stigma of Depression & Anxiety: “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION”

"I am the face of depression & anxiety": Overcoming the Stigma of Depression, Dr. Christina Hibbert; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

"I am the face of depression & anxiety": Overcoming the Stigma of Depression, Dr. Christina Hibbert; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comI am the face of depression and anxiety. It has taken me a while to come to grips with this fact. I don’t want to be someone who struggles with depression. I’ve worked hard throughout my life to understand mental illness and to apply the tools I’ve learned professionally to my personal life so I could prevent depression and anxiety. I have a strong family history of mental illness, especially depression, and this drove me early on. I did not want to suffer like my family members had.

 

But fighting doesn’t necessarily stop clinical depression. I had postpartum depression/anxiety after all four of my childbirth experiences, try as I did to prevent it. I’ve been through trauma, and more times of grief than I can count, all of which included significant feelings of depression. And yes, I’ve experienced episodes of Major Depression.

 

The first was when I was 18, a couple of months after my 8 year-old sister died, just when I thought I’d gotten through the worst of my grief. That was the first time I went to therapy, and it was life changing. It encouraged me to become a psychologist so I could help others like me.

 

The second came smack dab in the middle of graduate school. I knew life was busy, but I was floored when I suddenly found myself struggling to get up and take care of my school, work, children, husband, and self. After weeks of fighting it, I realized I needed to stop saying, “I don’t want to be depressed.” I was depressed. Sometimes, the problem is the fighting. This was a great lesson in learning to “accept what is.”

 

My third episode hit about six years ago, nearly one year after my sister and brother-in-law had died and my world had been turned upside down as I had suddenly become a mother of six. I’d already been in therapy for over a year, but with the addition of a court battle, adopting our new sons, and the deaths of two more family members, I found myself lower than ever.

 

As I wrote in my memoir, of that time: “It’s official. I’m depressed…That’s what Dr. Hale said on Monday, ‘Helplessness and hopelessness? Sounds like depression.’…Why is this such a shock?…I feel unmotivated, lost, pessimistic, and this makes me feel like I’ve failed. I thought I’d be better by now…I thought I was stronger… Now I’m starting to see an antidepressant as a possibility. I can’t continue feeling so low when I need to be at my best. I can’t afford to keep saying, ‘I’ll feel happy when….’ Could a little pill be the missing piece I need to help me grow?” (This is How We Grow, p. 216-17). It was. My first time taking an antidepressant, I took it for the next six months. It helped tremendously.

 

Watch my “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” YouTube video, and then add your voice to mine… 

You need to install or upgrade Flash Player to view this content, install or upgrade by clicking here.

 

Fast forward to seven weeks ago. I had been working hard to stop being so busy, because I wanted to take care of myself. My dear friend had died as a result of depression and suicide six months before, and I had once again worked through intense grief. I took from her death the great importance of prioritizing my health—for my children, for my husband, and for myself. I was working on slowing down, doing less, and focusing on wellness.

 

That’s why it caught me so off-guard. At first, I thought it was “hormones.” Then, insomnia crept in. I’m normally not a great sleeper, but this insomnia was getting out of control. My thoughts were racing, and I couldn’t settle down. I thought, perhaps, the lack of sleep was causing my mood symptoms, but three weeks later, I had to wonder if it wasn’t the other way around.

 

“Am I depressed?” I began to wonder, but pushed the thought aside. Again, “I don’t want to be depressed” kept flooding my mind. I stopped every extra activity, stayed in, carved out alone time, and tried to nap and sleep as much as possible. I tried talking with a close friend, letting my husband help me, and writing. I tried to exercise more and take more Omega-3’s.

 

But I was getting worse. My anxiety was getting out of control, making me sick to my stomach for weeks, and making me so frustrated I was horrible to be around. I was starting to feel incredibly down on myself, and worse than that: hopeless. Finally, I made an appointment with my doctor. Many tests later she confirmed what I had already guessed: “You’re perfectly healthy. You have a slight hormone imbalance, but that probably isn’t causing your mood symptoms.” I knew she was right. Enter Major Depression episode number four.

 

 

Watch this 3-Minute therapy video on Anxiety: The #1 Mental Health Issue in Women

You need to install or upgrade Flash Player to view this content, install or upgrade by clicking here.

 

 

Why am I sharing this now?

Maybe it’s the fact that my friend lost her life last April, as a result of depression she felt she had to hide. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m still fired up about the court hearing I attended a couple months ago where this dear woman is serving 40 years

40th birthday selfie. I don't look depressed, do I? I gave it my all and made a great day! "You can't always tell by looking."

40th birthday selfie. I don’t look depressed, do I? I gave it my all, & made a great day! But, “You can’t always tell by looking.”

after suffering from postpartum psychosis, about the injustice of how mental health is perceived and treated in this country. Maybe it’s the fact that as I go through depression and anxiety once again, I am once again faced with the way people don’t want to know about it, how it feels like I have to hide it, how I would be better off if I had a physical illness because at least people would see that it’s real. Perhaps it’s that I just celebrated my 40th birthday, and I feel like I don’t want to hold anything back anymore.

 

Whatever it is, I can no longer sit by and let those struggling with depression be forced into the shadows, be treated like lepers or, worse, be completely ignored. I want to, no I need to, help give depression a face and a voice. I need others to acknowledge it as real, to seek to understand it, to see that those who suffer from depression are excellent, wonderful, successful people! To see that we all have mental and physical vulnerabilities, and depression just happens to be one of them, and that’s okay.

 

It’s okay to suffer from depression. We can admit it. We can say it. It doesn’t make us any less. And guess what? You can’t always tell by looking. So ask.

 

 

The Many Faces of Depression

Ask, “Can you tell me about your depression?” Because, the more we talk about it—the more those who struggle say it out loud—the more we can understand the many faces of depression. Though its symptoms may generally be the same, depression can look, and feel, very differently for different people. Understanding this will help us break down the stigmas that make those who suffer from depression feel like they have to hide.

 

For me, depression means anxiety. I can’t say which comes first, but I do know that the anxiety makes me feel far more depressed. My thoughts spin out of control. I try to get them back in check, using a thought record, journaling, talking about them, but they seem to be controlling me instead of the other way around, bringing me down and zapping my energy.

 

I also have symptoms like:

  • Insomnia
  • Extreme stress (every little thing can seem like too much)
  • Feeling overwhelmed and frustrated (frustrated I can’t fix this, frustrated that others can’t seem to help me, frustrated with feeling so alone, but mostly, frustrated about being depressed again.)"I am the FACE of DEPRESSION": Overcoming the Stigma of #Depression & #Anxiety; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com
  • Low energy, fatigue, exhaustion
  • Sadness and crying
  • Anger (Crying, then getting angry because of how I feel, then feeling sad again and crying some more. I can’t understand my emotions and I definitely can’t seem to control them.)
  • Feeling restless (I have a hard time focusing on things I usually enjoy, like a good book. I feel like I need to get up and do something.)
  • Changes in appetite (some days I’m overdoing it with junk food; others, I have no appetite)
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms, muscle tension, and headaches. (The stress and anxiety literally make me sick.)
  • Feeling alone (like I don’t’ know who to turn to. I have helped so many people through depression, but where do I turn when I need help? I struggle with this, feeling like no one would get it. Everyone thinks “I’m fine,” and they keep asking me for help, but I’m not. And no one understands. I’m working on this, though, because my rational brain knows I’m really not alone at all.)
  • Feelings of resentment (I admit, I have been resenting everyone who needs me. “I need myself!” I keep saying. I’m learning to say “no” and take care of me.)
  • Negativity (It’s a core component of depression–negative view of self, the world, and the future. But eventually, I can’t stand hearing myself think.)
  • Desire to escape (Watching TV and movies, driving somewhere, anything to get me out of my head and current situation.)
  • Self-critical thinking (Thoughts like, “My body betrayed me.” “Why can’t I just be well? I’m weak.” “I’m a hypocrite, helping others while I can’t help myself.” “Why do I have to struggle with depression while others do not?” These thoughts plague me until I finally have to let them go and accept what is.)
  • Hopelessness and helplessness (“I’m broken.” “Someone needs to fix me.” When I reach this point, I know it’s Depression. The healthy me is a big believer in hope and taking action.)

 

For me, Treatment for Depression includes things like:

  • Psychotherapy. I’ve been through many rounds of therapy in my life, and each time it has helped me in some new and important way. I learn new skills, process deep and painful emotions, uncover faulty beliefs, and it really helps to have an impartial and knowledgable supporter who can listen and help me see things I can’t see on my own.
  • Antidepressants. Sometimes, I need them. I’m finally accepting that. This time and the last, I opted for an antidepressant, because I’d been struggling too long to be well and I can’t afford to wait months or years to feel better. I know, this is a tough decision for many, and it always is for me. I encourage you to read my article, “Antidepressant? Or Not?: 12 Facts on Depression & Medication”  to help you in your decision.
  • Exercise. Always a first line defense against depression. I’m even writing my next book about it.
  • Sleep. I’m letting myself sleep in when I can, nap, and do whatever it takes to get my body back to healthy. A little Melatonin helps, too, when I can’t fall asleep at night.
  • Reducing stress. I’m taking this one seriously this time. Doctors orders.
  • Supplements & vitamins. Omega-3 Fish Oil, Vitamins B, E, and D, Calcium, Multivitamin, and Magnesium.
  • Reevaluating and strengthening my support system. I’m learning who I can rely on and letting them help me.
  • Identifying and changing faulty beliefs. I’m working on this one. Again. A deeper level of self-understanding and awareness, I know this is going to make a huge difference in my life.
  • Alone time. To process, ponder, and make myself face what’s going on. This is how I receive understanding.
  • Time with people I love. Connection gets me out of myself and reminds me how loved I really am.
  • Powerful prayer and scripture study. Increasing my faith, relying upon God, seeking instruction and revelation for my health and happiness. This is probably the most important thing of all for me.

 

 

Break down the Stigma: Face Depression, Give it a Voice"I am the face of depression & anxiety": Overcoming the #Stigma of #Depression; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Mine isn’t the only experience of depression. Depression is the most common cause of disease in the world. And yet we keep silent about it. We force those who suffer to keep silent, because we can’t seem to break down the stigma of depression.

 

Well, not anymore, at least not for me. I can speak up now, because I’m working through my depression. I’m feeling much better these past few days, but I know I still have a lot of work ahead of me. And I will continue to speak out as a voice for depression and anxiety for as long as it takes. I will use my voice to help others learn to use theirs.

 

Join me in breaking down the stigma of depression by:

1) Speaking up when we are suffering from depression, giving it a voice and a face.

2) Facing depression when someone you know and love is struggling. Being there for them. Offering support and help.

3) Asking those you know and love to “Tell me about your depression.”

4) Simply joining the discussion, listening, learning, and seeking to understand.

5) Joining my “Many Faces of Depression” movement by sharing your personal story and photo here on my site. (More information on this to come soon, so subscribe (below), and stay tuned!)

 

We must speak up. We must show our faces, face depression, and give it a voice, even when we are struggling with depression. Especially when we are struggling, we must show the truth. It is the only way to stop the stigma and help the world, and each of us, heal and be whole again.

 

 

Do you or someone you love suffer from Depression or Anxiety? What is it like, and what helps? Leave a comment, below, and join your voice with mine.

 

 

 

 

 Join “The Many Faces of Depression” movement!

Submit you story and/or photo, download “I am the FACE of DEPRESSION” printables, and be featured on my website in 2015!

Click here for information, rules and guidelines, and thank you for joining your voice with mine!

 

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

"I am the face of depression & anxiety": Overcoming the Stigma of Depression, Dr. Christina Hibbert; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

Don’t miss a thing! 

SUBSCRIBE, just below, “like” my Facebook pages (Dr. Christina HibbertThis Is How We Grow), and follow me on Twitter,Pinterest, & Instagram!

 You may manage your subscription options from your profile

 
 
 
 
 

Related Posts/Articles:

10 Benefits of Practicing Gratitude

Living a Life of Purpose & Meaning: The Key to true Happiness

When Life Hands You Lemons, Stop & Reevaluate: 4 Steps to Reevaluate Life & Fearlessly Meet Your Needs

Create the Life You Desire: Part 2–The 3 Steps of Creating

“This is How We Grow:” Understanding the Seasons of Personal Growth

Join my Free, Online “This Is How We Grow” Personal Growth Group!

This Is How We Grow wins an IPPY Award in NYC & is one of Aspire Magazine’s “Top 10 Inspirational Books!”

Personal Growth & Family Vacation?: 10 Things I Learned in an RV with my Family of 8 for 8 Days

PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In–The 2 Most Important Things

10 Ways I Choose to Grow Each Day 

Personal Growth & Self-Actualization: What Will Your Choice Be?

“These are my Strengths!” and “This is my Lame-O List!”: How to Embrace Strengths & Weaknesses

Parenting Success: It’s More about the Parent than the Child

Learning Self-Love: 5 Tricks for Treating Yourself More Kindly

How to Make Lasting Change!

40 Physical & Mental Health Benefits of Exercise!

Addicted to Busyness? What It Means, & 6 Steps to Overcome

Addicted to Busyness? What it is, & 6 Steps to Overcome; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Addicted to Busyness? What it is, & 6 Steps to Overcome; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comIn part 1, I shared some of my experiences with busyness and how I recently realized I was actually addicted. Today, I want to focus on you.

Do you struggle with busyness? Are you, like I was, “addicted” to it? Does this bother you, or is it just something you “accept” about yourself or laugh off?

I hope to help you gain a little insight into your relationship with busyness, and then I hope to provide you with some ideas for how you might overcome it (should you choose!).

 

 

What, exactly, do I mean by “busyness?”

After I posted my story (part 1), some readers posed some excellent questions. The first was, “What exactly constitutes ‘busyness’?”

Great question, because life is naturally full of responsibilities, opportunities, challenges, and hopefully goals and dreams. How, then, do we know if we’re caught up in busyness or if we’re simply living a full and healthy life? Just because we have many things going on doesn’t necessarily mean we’re busy.

 

To me, busyness differs from a “full life” by how it impacts you.

When life is “full,” you are…

  • Healthy
  • Happy (at least most of the time)
  • Fulfilling your life’s calling
  • Discovering meaning and purpose in each day
  • When life is “full,” you’re growing, and it feels good.

 

When life is “busy,”…

  • You feel like you’re just keeping up.
  • You feel like you can’t stop, take a break, or slow down.
  • You might feel healthy and happy sometimes,
  • But many days you’re exhausted, overwhelmed, and feeling burned out.
  • You’re more likely to suffer from illness, chronic stress, and anxiety or depression.
  • You may think in your mind, “This is too much!” or “What’s the point of all this?” and yet you keep saying “Yes,” or adding things.
  • Your sense of self-worth may be tied up in your busyness.
  • Even if you enjoy much of what you do, you will still feel something deep down telling you, “This is not what life is all about.”

 

 

Can we really be “addicted” to busyness?

After reading my Part 1 post, someone asked if I really believe busyness is an addiction, similar to a drug or alcohol addiction, or was I just using that word for the impact? Excellent question.

Yes, I really mean “addicted.” I don’t believe everyone who is busy is addicted to it. As I wrote about in part 1, some times of life are naturally busy, whether we want them to be or not, and we simply have to do what must be done. However, I do believe busyness can grow to the level of a true addiction.

I say this for a couple of reasons: 1) No matter how unhealthy it had been making me, and no matter how much I knew I shouldn’t keep saying “yes” and adding on, I kept doing it. I couldn’t stop. That’s an addiction. 2) When I finally forced myself to stop, I experienced symptoms of withdrawal. That’s one way to know for sure if you’re truly addicted to anything, be it alcohol, caffeine, or busyness–do you have symptoms of withdrawal? I did. I was agitated, restless, bored, and desperate to add something back into my life so I could avoid feeling that way. The symptoms of withdrawal might not be as bad with busyness detox as for someone coming off Heroin, but it is the same process.

Actually, that’s what being addicted to busyness is–a process addiction. A “process addiction” occurs when a person becomes addicted to an activity. Online gaming is a great example of a process addiction, and it’s actually one of the newest mental health disorders that’s been added to the DSM-5 (“Internet-Gaming Addiction”). Other process addictions include things like social media or internet addiction, and even worse, pornography, all of which can significantly impair a person’s well-being and destroy a family or life.

So, yes, I do believe busyness can become an addiction.

 

 

The Illness of Busyness: “Why is it so bad?”
We wear our busyness like a badge of honor, like an identity, or proof of worthiness. But we’ve got it wrong. Being too busy can diminish our quality of Addicted to Busyness? What it is, & 6 Steps to Overcome; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comlife and can impact relationships, family, and our sense of self.

 

Problems with “busyness”:

1) It distracts us away from the deeper, more meaningful things. We say we’re doing it for more memories, or for our kids, or so we can have a richer life, but really busyness prevents us from having time, perspective, understanding, and self-awareness.

 

2) It’s a form of escape. We can avoid what’s really going on—avoid life problems, relationships, or bad habits we need to change—through busyness. The problem is, avoiding prevents positive change and personal growth.

 

3) It’s a false substitute for true self-worth. We are not what we do. I don’t care who you are or what your daily work or “busyness” entails, it has nothing to do with your worth and value. Yet, we allow ourselves to believe this. Society reinforces this. But it’s a lie.

 

4) It’s like a drug. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being addicted to anything. Busyness as a habit is unhealthy, body, mind and soul, and when we can’t stop ourselves from being busy, then it’s just as harmful as a drug.

 

5) It detracts from personal growth and our true life’s purpose. Being busy all the time prevents us from hearing the whispers that direct our life and reveal meaning and purpose. It distracts us from learning about ourselves, from growing emotionally and spiritually, and from really seeing what we and our life are really about.

 

 

6 Steps to overcome busyness addiction
If you can relate at all to my story, or to anything I’ve said above, then it’s time to decide: Do you want to stay addicted to busyness? Or do you want to heed this wake up call for a deeper, richer life?

If it’s the latter, then here are 6 steps to get you started:

 

1) Give yourself a “busyness detox” time frame. One month, two, or more? It’s up to you, but set a time frame for detox that will give you a real chance to make change. I gave myself the summer, which allowed me plenty of time to get through the detox. Without so much time, I probably never would have realized I was even addicted.

 

2) Start saying “no” and cut out all non-necessities. Saying no is really saying “yes” to something better. In this case, it’s saying “yes” to greater meaning, understanding, and improved joy, love, and relationships. For a while, you need to focus only on what matters most. Let the rest go. Kind of like figuring out what foods you’re allergic to, you first have to cut it all out before you can slowly add back what is good for you.

 

3) Spell out what you will do during your busyness detox. It helps to not only know what you’re not going to do, but to know what you are going to do. My goal this summer was to only spend time with my family, read, rest, recover, relax, only work on essential projects, and serve when I felt inspired to do so. It opened me to new ideas and ways to heal and connect and create memories. It led to finally feeling like I was really living.

 

4) When boredom, restlessness, grief, anxiety, or even depression sets in, ride it out. Feel it. Talk about it. Write about it—often. Seek to understand what you are feeling and go through the emotions. Start therapy if you need it. Don’t let yourself escape by becoming busy again. Stay with it.

 

5) After you’ve detoxed, only add back those things that are essential to you and your family’s well-being or that bring your life greater meaning and purpose. Start adding things only after you’ve fully detoxed, and only add those things that are truly important. Don’t add anything out of guilt. Add things that expand and enrich your life, not just those things you feel you “should” do. Focus on those things that help you give and receive greater love. It helps to first work on meaning and purpose in your life (My This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group is a great place to start!). Then, give yourself plenty of time.

Ask…“Is this essential to the care of myself or my family?” “Does it add greater meaning to my life or detract from it?” “Is this part of my life’s purpose?” “Do I really want, need, or desire this in my life?” Don’t cheat. Be firm about what you accept back into your life. You owe it to yourself to do this right.

 

6) Keep checking in. If you don’t make this a priority, you’ll find yourself back in the busyness addiction in no time. Check in often and be honest about how you’re doing. It’s much easier to make course corrections along the way than to turn a blind eye and wake up months down the road right back where you started. You can do this! And you’re not alone. You’re in great company, trust me.

 

 

Questions, comments, thoughts about busyness, addiction, and where you currently are? I’d love to hear your insights on this important topic, so please leave a comment, below!

Part 1: Confession–“I was addicted to busyness & didn’t even know it!”

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
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 Addicted to Busyness? What it is, & 6 Steps to Overcome; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com
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Confession: “I was Addicted to Busyness & Didn’t Even Know It”

Confession: "I was addicted to busyness & didn't even know it." www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #blog

Confession: "I was addicted to busyness & didn't even know it." www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #blogI’m no stranger to busyness. I came by it honestly. Since graduate school–with two young kids (5 months & 3 years), my husband in dental school, and caring for my younger sister who lived with us–life has been incredibly busy. I became pregnant with our 3rd baby during our fourth year, in addition to internships, dissertation, and part-time work so we could keep our family financially afloat.

My husband graduated and started work as a dentist–in another state–three months before I graduated. Each week, he would commute from LA, where the kids and I stayed so I could finish my internship and classwork and they could finish school, to Phoenix, and back. Finally, I graduated, 8-months pregnant, on a Sunday. I gave birth the following Sunday, and we moved back to Phoenix the following Friday.

Like I said, life was naturally incredibly busy.

 

 

How “Life” can Sweep You Into Busyness

After we graduated, I stayed home full-time, in a new city, with a newborn, 4 and 6 year-old, while my husband started full-time work as a dentist. I used to say I “did nothing” during this time, but that’s not true. I may not have been in school or working outside the home, but I was a full-time mom of 3, and motherhood is busy by nature. Add to that my third battle with Postpartum Depression & Anxiety, and it was a lot. Looking back, I think I was also so used to the pace of graduate school that I unknowingly kept it up, filling our days with activities, play dates, church responsibilities, breastfeeding (of course), hosting parties, and making delicious meals. I was trying to do it

With the fam, zip lining in Mexico, last spring break. Just being a parent can push us into busyness addiction if we're not careful! (This is "good" busy, though--making memories!)

With the fam, zip lining in Mexico, last spring break. Just being a parent can push us into busyness addiction if we’re not careful! (This is “good” busy, though–making memories!)

all, and it was taking its toll.

Little sleep, very long days, and then, one year later, we moved again, and I started working toward licensure as a clinical psychologist. Soon after, I signed a contract in a group practice. My employers kept increasing my hours until I was forced to see 28 clients a week, on top of caring for 3 kids, a new home, major struggles in my family of origin, and a husband recently diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and starting his own dental practice. It was way too much.

I thought I was going to slow down when I finally quit my job to stay home after having my fourth and final baby. But, as many of you know, things only intensified as my sister and brother-in-law died weeks before and I suddenly became the mother of six children.

 

 

When “Busyness” is Survival

During this time of my life, busyness became survival. If I didn’t keep moving, I couldn’t keep up. Soon, months had flown by. I got used to this new level of busyness—even worse than graduate school–a constant stream of needs, responsibilities, and energy that demanded my attention, 24/7. Also, busyness helped me avoid the intense grief and pain from the loss of my sister & brother-in-law since I didn’t yet have time to fully process and mend.

Sometimes, we have to stay busy to survive, and that’s okay.

A little over a year later, I felt the call to start a very part-time private practice. I was cautious and worried about

This is me, on our family vacation last year, finishing my second book proposal, due that day, while my 10 year-old daughter drove the boat (in my husband's lap) back to the dock so I could email it out! Talk about too busy.

This is me, on our family vacation last year, finishing my second book proposal, due that day, while my 10 year-old daughter drove the boat (in my husband’s lap) back to the dock so I could email it out! Talk about too busy.

overdoing it since life still hadn’t slowed down much, but I also believe in service and helping others. I couldn’t explain it; it simply felt like the right thing to do. It made life busier, but also richer; I finally felt like that part of me I thought had died was alive again.

And then, I started writing. First, just 10 minutes at night, after my kids went to sleep; writing was therapy. Soon, it

was 5, then 10, then 20 hours a week as I decided to write our story into a book. Whenever I wasn’t taking care of kids, I was writing—and then publishing, which included starting a website/blog, building a platform through social media, and an intense editing schedule, all of which I did when my kids were at school, asleep, or when I could wrangle up some help to watch them (my husband was great!).

 

 

The Highs & Lows of “Busyness”
I loved and despised it. I cherished the meaning, challenge, and purpose of what I was doing, but loathed how it sucked every moment from me, how I felt like I could never rest or relax, how I was always just “keeping up.”

Soon, I was releasing my first book while also writing my second for a new publisher. Add to that parenting challenges, book marketing, and plain old life stress, and I was on the verge of a complete meltdown.

 

 

What Opened My Eyes & Led to Busyness Detox
It wasn’t until my friend took her life, at the end of April, that it really hit me, that I truly got it. The harshest kind of lesson.

“This has to stop!” I told myself. “I can’t afford to keep burning out anymore. My family can’t afford it. They need aConfession: "I was addicted to busyness & didn't even know it." www.DrChristinaHibbert.com healthy, flourishing mother. I need it, too.”

I quit everything. Initially, it was so I could grieve and focus on healing, for my family and for me, and it was a relief. So many people always need me, and it felt unbearably overwhelming at that time. Letting it all go was like finally breathing when I hadn’t even realized I’d been drowning.

A month in, however, the understimulation took its toll. Boredom arrived. It’s my usual pattern: Overdo it, burnout, completely stop everything to recoup, love it for a while, start feeling restless, bored, depressed, look for a new “project” to fight the boredom. Add things until the restlessness vanishes. Repeat.

I was tempted to add something: “Maybe I should pitch a new book idea, or become a college professor.”

Luckily, I was in therapy (again), and my psychologist gave me some excellent advice: “You’ve just been through another major trauma, one that has triggered your many previous traumas and losses,” he said. “You’re finally feeling some relief from the intense grief you’ve been feeling. You have six kids who are still trying to heal from this, too, not to mention just keeping up with the usual demands of a large family. You have a loving husband who wants to spend time with you. You have a home to care for. You’re helping people at your practice one morning a week, at your church in your calling, and you help your friends, family, and people online. You’ve published your first book, you just finished your second, and are about to start your third,” he reminded me. Then, the kicker. “Isn’t that enough?”

It clicked.

“Yes,” I said. “Yes, it is definitely enough.”

Enough of the “busyness!” I needed to let the restlessness ride. I made the choice then and there that I would not add a single thing. Instead, I would focus the rest of that month and the rest of the summer solely on making memories with my family, on reading, relaxing, catching up on sleep, and healing. I would focus on those things that truly mattered.

It was more than enough.

 

 

The Truth about My Relationship with Busyness

It’s embarrassing to admit all this; I thought I was just busy because that was what life had thrown me. I didn’t see

how much I’d added to the busyness, nor how addicted to that pace I had become. This summer was my first step inConfession: "I was addicted to busyness & didn't even know it." www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #blog #motherhood #mh seeing how much I’ve used busyness as my identity over the years, how much I’ve relied upon it to give my life some sense of meaning, to give me a sense of purpose and value.

I’ve long known, intellectually, that busyness does not equal value or “who I am;” it’s not a badge of honor or proof of status, superiority, or worthiness. I’ve known this. I’ve taught it. I’ve said many times over the years, “I don’t want to be busy,” and I meant it! I wanted space in my life so I could be available to serve, to love, to live, to be. I told myself it was just life that was forcing me to be busy, that it wasn’t my choice. But I was wrong. Yes, sometimes it was life, but sometimes, it was me.

It wasn’t until just a couple of weeks ago, three months after my decision to let myself stick with the restlessness and boredom, that I could really see the truth: I was in busyness detox. Just like coming off a drug, I had to let myself go through the uncomfortable feelings of boredom, anxiety, frustration, of feeling like nothing was interesting, like I wasn’t doing enough, in order to get to the other side and see the truth.

 

 

What I Know Now

Now, on the other side, I feel free. Yes, my life is still full. With six kids and a job like mine, it’s always going to be,

Life after busyness. Ahhh...

Life after busyness. Ahhh…

and I am grateful for it. I like full. Full is beautiful.

But I’m not busy. Sure, I have busy moments, but I am proceeding very carefully. I am careful about what I allow into my life now. I pray and ponder about every opportunity that comes my way to see if it’s something that fits with the life I want, and need, to live at this time of my life.

I allow myself much more down time now, too. I need it to feel healthy and happy, to be the person I truly want to be. I can watch TV or nap or read. I can go on vacation. I can go out with my husband and not feel guilty. I feel greater peace and greater joy. I am finally truly living.

Busyness of the sake of being busy, I’ve learned, is the opposite of living. It’s a slow death. It’s a distraction from what matters most. It prevents the best in life by settling for the “good” or even the “ok.” It’s the opposite of flourishing.

I choose flourishing. What will your choice be?

 

 

 

 What are your thoughts on busyness? Could you relate to any part of my story? How do you know when you are “too busy,” and what do you do to detox and overcome? I love hearing from you, so please leave a comment, below!
 And, if you can relate, then…

Part 2–Addicted to Busyness? What It Means & 6 Steps to Overcome

 

 

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

 

 

Confession: "I was addicted to busyness & didn't even know it." www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #blog
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Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison: It’s time to speak up!

Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ppd #MH #stigma

Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ppd #MH #stigma“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.

~William Faulkner

I’ve been working as the expert evaluator on a postpartum case for over five years. Because the case is still active, and because I’m still the expert witness, I’ve had to keep silent about it all this time. But, I can keep silent no longer. Her attorneys and advocates and I all feel the same: we must speak up. Something must be done. (Though I have permission from the client to use her name, at the advice of her attorneys I refrain from doing so, because I don’t want to endanger her case in any way.)

 

2001…

This woman, at 23 years of age, was sentenced to 40 years without parole for child abuse. After evaluating her case these past years, it is clear to me she was suffering from significant postpartum mental illness at the time, including postpartum posttraumatic stress disorder (as a result of a horrific childbirth experience), postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder, postpartum depression, and eventually and most prominently, postpartum psychosis.

The baby recovered from her injuries and was adopted away into another family after this woman’s parental rights were severed. She could never have children again, thanks to the emergency hysterectomy she’d endured while passed out from blood loss during childbirth, and thus, another punishment was inflicted—sentenced to a childless life.

She was never evaluated for postpartum mental illness in her initial trial. In fact, she was hardly evaluated for any mental illness at all; it certainly wasn’t mentioned at her trial, even though the judge stated that clearly she had to be mentally ill to do what she had done. Because it was considered a “child abuse” case, the stigma was strong. She was an “abuser,” and seen as a criminal. The prosecutor threw the book at her. The judges’ hands were tied. Even though he stated his vehement disagreement with the sentence, by law, he had to impose it—four back to back sentences of 10 years, or 40 years total.

 

2014…

Now, after serving thirteen years in the state prison system, and with the help of dedicated advocates, attorneys, and experts who are working pro bono, she was finally given the opportunity to seek “clemency,” or a commutation of her current ten-year sentence. Each sentence would have to receive clemency, so this was really only seeking her release for the last six years of this sentence (with two more 10-year sentences to follow for which clemency would have to be reevaluated).

Last Monday, we finally had the hearing. The room was full of attorneys, advocates, family, friends, and we were there for six hours. I was grilled on my findings, report, and expertise on postpartum mental illness (something I am very confident about). We were also all grilled on multiple small details that seemed insignificant to us, but on which they seemed stuck. I could see their ignorance about mental illness, though I did my best to educate them. I could feel the stigma speaking louder than any of us, shouting even.

In the end, judgment was swift and harsh. Clemency was denied.

 

After…

I left feeling beaten up. Exhausted. Depleted. I drove the two hours back home in silence, going over everything and praying for a way to let it go. In the back of my mind was the sense that this was one of those life-changing days, the kind of day you don’t forget. The kind of day that forces you to change.

It somehow reminded me of my sister’s death; a result of depression and alcoholism, she ultimately died by her Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma =40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #MH #stigma #ppdown hand, an overdose of alcohol and acetaminophen. She was too drunk to know what she was doing. It reminded me of my close friend’s suicide, only five months ago, also a result mental illness—depression and intense anxiety. It reminded me of the great stigma attached to suicide and to the mental illnesses that led them there.

It made me think of my oldest son, away at college on his own for the first time, and the loss I’ve been feeling since he left. It made me think of my five other children at home, especially my daughter, who’s only slightly younger than this woman’s daughter would be now. It made me grateful for parents who raised me with safety and opportunities and education—who didn’t expose me to trauma, but sheltered me from it. It made me want to crawl into my husband’s arms the second I returned home and let him hold me. It reminded me what a blessed gift it is to have freedom and family and love.

 

And, it made my heart break. I kept picturing her, alone in her cell, feeling like this was all her fault. It made me feel guilty I could just drive back home and be with my family. She couldn’t do that. Why should I be able to? She’d been present at the hearing, via teleconference, and we could see her trying to be strong (she couldn’t see us) as the board interrogated her with question after painful question. She was definitely feeling broken at the time, and I could only imagine how broken she was feeling now.

How could this happen again? I kept asking myself. How could any one person be so misunderstood, mistreated her whole life, and flat-out discarded so many times? How does she carry on after all these blows? She’s made of stronger stuff than I; she must be. I don’t think I could survive all she’s been through.

 

It’s not that what she did wasn’t wrong. No one was saying that—least of all the woman herself. She even said she felt she deserved 40 years for a long time, like she was willing to trade her life for her baby’s survival. She had told me many times she was grateful she had been arrested. Fate had intervened and stopped the hurt and pain for her baby; even if it meant she would have to suffer in prison, at least her baby would survive.

No, it’s not that it wasn’t wrong. And it’s not even that she was trying to give an “excuse” for what she did. It’s that we were all trying to help the courts and judges and boards, and whomever is in a position to do something, to understand that there was a reason she did what she did: extreme mental illness. There is a clear, explanatory reason—posptartum psychosis.

 

Postpartum Psychosis

Postpartum psychosis is a potentially life-threatening illness affecting about 1-2 of every 1,000 births, in which a mother becomes detached from rational thinking, in which she experiences hallucinations (hearing or seeing things), delusions (false beliefs), extreme agitation, inability to concentrate, and waxing and waning episodes of feeling like “I wasn’t myself.” Like, “someone else took over,” as many women describe it. Not all mothers with postpartum psychosis harm their babies or themselves, but 11% do, making it essential these women are immediately hospitalized and put on antipsychotic medications to bring them back to reality.

Yes, this is what this woman, this friend of mine (as she has become over the years), was experiencing all those years ago. And to punish someone with, essentially, a life sentence for suffering such trauma at the hands of postpartum psychosis is a tragedy. It is appalling.

 

Today…

I get it if we fail a soul one time. There was little education and understanding back then, and clearly no one understood what was really happening at the time. One time, maybe, though even that is a tragedy and can wreck a life.

But to fail a soul time after time, despite the education and understanding now available, to have a recognized top expert in postpartum mental health standing right in front of you, explaining every detail as clearly as humanly possible and yet to dismiss that expert’s years of work and data and clinical expertise in favor of one’s own opinions; to say, “While I highly respect the good doctor, and even commend her on her excellent report and work,” to state, “I agree 40 years is a very long time,” and then to state, “but…” and recount one’s own preconceived judgments with blatant disregard for all that was said those past 6 hours, and to ultimately “deny” the clemency, is a tragedy. And it fires me up. It fires me to speak up.

 

Right now…

We must not sit idly by as injustices abound around us. We have a voice, and we must use it. Especially those who have experienced mental illness, suicide, pregnancy/postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, psychosis, etc., first- or even second-hand—we must share our stories. We must advocate for those who no longer have a voice. We must love greatly.

And perhaps, some blessed day, this world will open, and understanding will be the norm, and compassion will be our language, and we will hold off judgment so we may instead exercise that great love.

This is my hope, and my prayer, and my life’s work. In honor of this dear woman whom we have failed again, may we speak up now so perhaps next time, we, she, and those like her, will succeed.

 

 

 

Has your life ever been touched by mental illness, suicide, or the stigma that covers these things? If so, I’d love to hear your experiences and insights. If not, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Let’s speak up, everybody! It’s more than time. 

Please leave a comment, below.

 
 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Award-Winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
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Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma= 40 Years in Prison; It's time to speak up! www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ppd #MH #stigma

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Personal Growth Tools: "How to Create your Life's Vision" www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ThisIsHowWeGrow #PersonalGrowth #Group

Personal Growth Tools: "How to Create your Life's Vision" www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #ThisIsHowWeGrow #PersonalGrowth #Group

“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.”

~Helen Keller

 
When you look at your future, what do you see? Do you see yourself growing and becoming the person you’ve always desired to be? Or are you clinging so tightly to negative thoughts, worries, and fears that you’ve clouded your vision? Have you even given it much thought before?

 

Creating a life vision is the first step in realizing that vision. It’s the first step in knowing what you’re aiming for, in recognizing your potential. It’s one thing to think, “My future has great potential;” it’s another to actually see it, strive for it, and eventually, realize that potential. Creating your life’s vision is the place to start.

 

 

Live with vision.

It’s pretty hard to live the life you wish you had if you don’t have a vision of what that life would be. Sure, you may stumble upon happiness, wealth, success, and healthy relationships, but, in the vast majority of cases, these things don’t just “happen.” Personal Growth Tools: "How to Create Your Life's Vision"; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comThey take a whole lot of work.

 

Living without vision means waiting around for good things to hopefully happen to you. It means taking your chances with whatever comes your way and hoping you end up where you want to be, hoping you end up becoming the person you always wished you’d become.

 

Living with vision, on the other hand, implies living with direction, purpose, and thus greater meaning in each day. It means knowing who you’re striving to become and working to get there.

 

 

What is “vision?”

Vision is a key element of personal growth. Living with vision means creating a clear image of what you desire out of life, then remembering and working toward that image.

 

Having a vision includes seeing the best possible outcomes for work, family, relationships, personal development, faith, and anything else that matters to you. As we work on creating a life’s vision, we force ourselves to imagine the future. We begin to practice seeing who and what we hope to become. In seeing our hoped-for future, we are better prepared to set goals and take the necessary measures to get us there. We are also better prepared to correct the habits that may be leading us off-course.

 

 

How to create your life’s vision.

Your vision may involve a meaningful phrase, quote, or words to inspire you, or it may simply be closing your eyes and seeing those clear images you’ve imagined, over and again. I have found the following steps particularly helpful in creating a life vision. I hope they inspire you, too.

 

1)    Set aside some quiet time and space to work on creating your life’s vision. When you’re ready, relax, breathe, close your Personal Growth Tools: "How to Create Your Life's Vision" www.DrChristinaHibbert.comeyes. Begin to let yourself imagine your best possible future. What do you envision for yourself, your family, friends, work, future, and for your own growth and development? What traits would you most like to possess? Who would you like to be?  Write it all down.

 

2)   Add to your list of what you envisioned. Write down all the things that are most important to you. What values, characteristics, and experiences matter most? Create a list as long as you’d like, and continue adding to it as more things come. (When I first did this, I had an entire page covered in words describing what matters most to me.)

 

3) When you’re ready, revisit your lists. Group like things together—for instance “compassion,” “kindness,” and “giving,” could all be grouped under “love.” Group together as many traits/items as possible, making sure each group has one word/phrase as its title.

 

4) Circle those words/phrases from your grouped list that feel most important to you. Circle as many as you’d like.

 

5) From the grouped list with circled items, choose three words/phrases that feel most important to you at this time. Write them down. For example, my three words are “Faith, Love, Joy.” These words encompass many other important aspects of my life, including family, contribution, spirituality, and yes, growth. These three words express my life’s vision. A simple, effective way to remind me of the meaning, purpose, and direction I desire my life to take each day. This exercise can give you the vision you are seeking, too.

 

 

Bottom line…

1)    Envision the life you desire. Don’t hold back. You need a vision in order to achieve it.

2)    Then, remember your vision and work toward it each day. It really is that simple.

 

 

*Bonus ToolDream yourself to sleep

Instead of thinking of all your worries and stress as you drift off each night, imagine the best possible future for your loved ones and you. See it clearly in your mind. “Dreaming to sleep” not only helps you sleep more peacefully; it helps you wake ready to work, to see your vision come to reality.

 

 

 

~This post was adapted from Dr. Hibbert’s new book with New Harbinger Publications,

Who Am I Without You?: 52 Ways to Rebuild Self-Esteem After a Breakup.

To be released March 2015 & available for pre-order on Amazon.com!

  

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

 

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 

 

 

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Meaning, Purpose, & Fulfilling Your Life’s Calling: This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group, Season 2

Meaning, Purpose & Fulfilling Your Life's Calling: #ThisIsHowWeGrow Personal Growth Group, Season 2; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #mentalhealth

Meaning, Purpose & Fulfilling Your Life's Calling: #ThisIsHowWeGrow Personal Growth Group, Season 2; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #mentalhealthIt’s that time of year again—time to resume my This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group! Last year was the first year I took it online, but really I’ve been doing this incredible group for going on five years. Hard to believe what started as a small church group to help women with depression has become such a staple of personal growth for so many.

 

We’ve had many different themes over the years in our in-person group, including “Discovering who you really are,” “How to keep an open heart and mind,” “How to create the life you desire,” and of course, last year’s theme (our first online session’s theme), “The seasons of personal growth.”

 

Now, as we begin Season 2 of our online group, I’ve been working hard to select a theme I think applies to all of us, no matter where we live, what life has handed us, or which season we’re in. It’s something I believe we’re all seeking a deeper understanding of—“Meaning, purpose, and fulfilling your life’s calling.”

 

 

Meaning, Purpose, & Fulfilling Your Life’s Calling: Season 2′s Theme!


The topics of this season’s theme are not new to me. I’ve been working on greater meaning, purpose, and fulfilling my life’s calling, personally, for many years now. I’ve been especially focused on these things these past months as I’ve been preparing for the upcoming season of our This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group, and I’ve come to know a few important things for sure:

 

1) Meaning & Purpose are essential to a happy, healthy, abundant life. Daily meaning and purpose get us through our weeks and months with greater joy and satisfaction. They help us get out of bed in the morning, carry us through tough moments, and create enthusiasm with each new day.

 

2) Meaning and Purpose are also essential to overcoming, becoming, and flourishing. When we seek and find meaning in even the hardest times, it helps us overcome them. Knowing there is a purpose for us helps us become who we are meant to be, and both of these are a core element of living a flourishing life.

 

Meaning, Purpose, & Fulfilling Your Life's Calling: #ThisIsHowWeGrow Personal Growth Group, Season 2!  www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

3) We each have a divine purpose, mission, or life calling here on earth. Every single one of us. If you don’t believe me, join us in the group this season. I’ll make a believer out of you.

 

4) Most of us struggle to understand what our life’s calling really is, or where to even begin. Years of helping people in my psychology practice, of helping friends, family, and myself, have clearly demonstrated how much we all struggle to know why we are here and what we are supposed to do. However…

 

5) It’s simpler to know than we realize. We just need a little guidance and direction, and a little more patience and hard work. That’s what this year’s group is all about.

 

6) We grow best by learning and growing together. I’m a firm believer in this one. Even though I’m an introvert and highly value learning on my own, there are many, many lessons we can only understand together. We need one another. We see ourselves more clearly through one another. One of my favorite quotes reminds us, “We cannot see ourselves. We need a mirror to see ourselves. You are my mirror, and I am yours.” (Debbie Ford, Dark Side of the Light Chasers, p. 54)

 

 

Join us for Season 2, This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group!

I am here to be a mirror, and I look forward to seeing more of myself in your mirrors, as well. That’s what this group is all about. I know as we prioritize our personal growth, and as we continually work on these things together, we will each discover greater meaning and purpose in our lives and begin to comprehend and truly fulfill our life’s callings. It’s going to be an exciting season of growth!

 

Join Dr. Hibbert's "This Is How We Grow" Personal Growth Group! FREE. Online. Growth. www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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After you’ve registered, above, join us in our This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group on Facebook! Just request to be added, and we’ll make sure you are! A great place to get to know other group members and “grow” together!

**Disclaimer: The This is How We Grow Personal Growth Group is purely educational. It does not replace the need for professional mental health care, including psychotherapy.**

 
 
 

Have a question, comment, or idea about meaning, purpose, life’s calling or the personal growth group? I’d love to hear it! Leave a comment, below.

 
 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Amazon Bestseller, This is How We Grow
available now on Amazon.com!

 

 

 

Dr. Christina Hibbert www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

You may manage your subscription options from your profile.

 
 
 

Meaning, Purpose & Fulfilling Your Life's Calling: #ThisIsHowWeGrow Personal Growth Group, Season 2; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com #mentalhealth

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Related Posts/Articles:

Living a Life of Purpose & Meaning: The Key to true Happiness

When Life Hands You Lemons, Stop & Reevaluate: 4 Steps to Reevaluate Life & Fearlessly Meet Your Needs

Create the Life You Desire: Part 2–The 3 Steps of Creating

“This is How We Grow:” Understanding the Seasons of Personal Growth

Join my Free, Online “This Is How We Grow” Personal Growth Group!

This Is How We Grow wins an IPPY Award in NYC & is one of Aspire Magazine’s “Top 10 Inspirational Books!”

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Parenting, Loss, & Letting Go as Children (& You) Grow

Parenting, Loss, & Letting Go as Children (& You) Grow; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Parenting, Loss, & Letting Go as Children (& You) Grow; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comMy oldest child is now officially away at college. After weeks of buying supplies, packing, and trying to teach him all the last minute lessons I could think of, we unpacked his dorm room, I squeezed him tightly, and then I got in the car and drove four hours back home, bawling the whole way.

 

I’d heard of moms who cried when dropping their “babies” at college, but honestly, I never thought that would be me. I’d mentally prepared for months, after all—envisioning what it would be like, and reminding myself often that time is short and to soak it all up when I had the chance. And I was mentally prepared. Though more exhausting than I could have realized, it was smooth sailing getting everything ready for him to go—until I drove away and the emotions took over. Yes, though mentally prepared, I was definitely not emotionally prepared.

 

And how can we be, really? How can we be emotionally prepared for the many times we’re called upon as parents to let them go? We can’t really even know what to be prepared for until we’re there, in the moment, feeling it, like I was last weekend.

 

 

Parenting, Loss, & Letting Go

Now, as I write this, it’s been 5 days, and though I’ve finally stopped crying, it’s taken some time to figure out what I was actually feeling about my son leaving home. I’ve discovered a few important things, and I believe they apply to all the times of parenting loss—letting go when they wean from breastfeeding, when they start preschool or Kindergarten, when they move on to high school and start distancing themselves as teens, when they leave home, get married, and yes, when they have babies of their own. These are all exciting transitions. AND they’re loss. And loss is hard.

 

 

10 Lessons on Letting Go as Children (& We) Grow

I don’t have it all figured out yet. Heck, I’m still not even through this letting go experience. But I have learned some valuable lessons I hope will help you through your times of parenting loss and letting go, too:

 

 

Lesson 1: Seek support, because truly, you’re not alone.Parenting, Loss, & Letting Go as Children (& We) Grow; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

I posted this picture (right) on Facebook two hours into my drive home—because I felt like a crazy woman, literally sobbing while listening to heart-wrenching songs like Jason Mraz’s version of “It’s so Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” and the killer, Taylor Swift’s “Never Grow Up.” It felt like it used to after a tough breakup, but this was just my son moving on, doing what he should be doing, and I felt happy and excited for him. So, why all the tears? Really, I was posting this photo because I wanted support. I wanted to know I wasn’t the only one who cried like a baby all the way home (and yes, pretty much all weekend, too.)

 

 

Lesson 2: Give yourself time and space to figure out what this life transition or loss means to you.

By the morning after the drop-off, however, I no longer wanted to hear any of the very sweet and considerate comments on my Facebook post. It was starting to feel like everyone was telling me how I should feel, but I still had no idea what I was really even feeling yet. The most common comment, “I know exactly how you feel,” while comforting at first, started making me think, “Really? Well, if you know how I feel, then maybe you can tell me what I’m feeling, because I have no clue!” Other comments just missed the mark for me: “This is good for him, so don’t be sad,” for instance. I wasn’t sad, exactly, and I didn’t even feel like I missed him yet. I thought, “Yes. I know! I’m actually happy for him, but I’m still crying!” And some very sweet friends encouraged, “Now you’ll have more time for your work that you love!” “Uh…” I wanted to remind everyone, “I still have five kids at home!” I couldn’t go with what this meant for anyone else. I had to figure it out for myself.

 

 

Lesson 3: FEEL what you feel.

This was one of my strangest experiences, because I had no thoughts about what I was feeling. Just pure emotion. When I tried to think about and figure out what I was feeling, my mind was a complete blank! I wasn’t thinking, “I miss my son,” or even “I’m so worried,” or really anything. I can’t recall a time in my life when I felt such an outpouring of emotion with no thoughts attached. That led me to realize I just need to FEEL, which, in my book, means Freely Experience Emotion with Love. That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do. (More on how to FEEL here.)

 

 

Lesson 4: You’re experiencing loss, and that means you need to grieve.

I eventually identified what I was feeling as “loss.” I’ve had a lot of experience with loss and grief, and this felt very similar. A friend asked, “Does it feel like heartache?” (which, I must say was a very helpful question since she wasn’t telling me what to feel but rather trying to understand what I was feeling). Yes, it has felt like heartache and loss and grief and some sadness, but again, none of these feelings were related to any thoughts. It was like my body had just reached a marathon finish line and it was exhausted and pouring out emotion. It has mostly felt like loss, and I know that all loss must be grieved. (More on “How to Grieve,” here.)

 

 

Lesson 5: Letting go as kids grow is all about change, and change is hard, even when it’s positive change.

First day of school for my middle/high schoolers. They're getting so big so fast!

First day of school for my middle/high schoolers. They’re getting so big so fast!

I’ve come to realize, for me, this is all about change. It’s a major life transition—not only for my son, but for me and for our family. Things are changing, and they’ll never be the same again. Yes, he’ll come home, but not like before. Even having “only 5 kids” feels strange, and they are feeling it, too, praying for their brother and missing him already. My next son is a senior, so he’s leaving in a year, and it’s just going to keep coming. Though I welcome the future and I really do love and encourage personal growth (which this is) for my kids and for me—growing and changing is hard, and yes, can even be painful. Change is hard, even when it’s good change.

 

 

Lesson 6: Actively choose to let go.

Right after I left my son, I said a prayer as I was driving. I told my Heavenly Father, “He’s all yours now. Love him and be there for him when I cannot. I know You will. I know You love him even more than I do.” I could physically feel myself letting go, and that’s when the sobbing began. Like losing a piece of my heart, I could feel it stretching and growing me.

 

 

My baby isn't a baby anymore=More "growth" for me! First day of second grade, a few weeks ago.

My baby isn’t a baby anymore=More “growth” for me! First day of second grade, a few weeks ago.

Lesson 7: It’s good to “Live in the Paradox”—to feel the positive emotions while also feeling the hard stuff.

As I wrote in This Is How We Grow, “Human brains don’t do so well with paradoxes…When faced with two contradicting…feelings…the brain tends to feel stressed…We feel elevated joy and deepest sorrow all at the same time. This is just the way mortality is, and I have come to understand that it is okay to live in the absurd contradiction of paradox.” (p.59) These past days, I’ve been experiencing all these wonderful positive emotions—joy, excitement, and especially deep love and gratitude—all while experiencing the loss. I’ve tried to remember and feel the good stuff even while feeling the hard stuff.

 

 

Lesson 8: The hardest parts of life can help us appreciate the “normal-” and “good-hard” parts—like letting kids go as they grow.

My family has definitely known the “bad-hard” stuff—like death and suicide, traumatic loss and pain. I know better than to take for granted the “normal- hard” stuff, like teenaged pushing back or parenting troubles, and the “good- hard” stuff, like kids growing up and moving on. In fact, that has been my prayer this summer, that we would have a break from the hardest stuff and get to experience the “normal-” and “good-” hard stuff instead for a while. This is an answer to my prayers, and I do not forget that, even through my tears. I’ve also been very mindful of all the moms who will never see their babies again. Those who have had to do the ultimate letting go. It’s not lost on me that what I’m experiencing as my son goes to college is a blessing and a gift. I must never take these experiences for granted.

 

 

Lesson 9: Just because it’s not “bad-hard,” doesn’t mean it’s not real; it doesn’t mean it’s easy or in any way less meaningful than other’s losses or life transitions.

Don’t compare to what others have had to endure. Your loss is your loss, and as I said before, all loss is hard, even the “good-hard” stuff. At first, I told myself I was “ridiculous,” because this wasn’t as hard as other things I’ve been through. But that is ridiculous. Just because it’s not as hard as other experiences doesn’t mean it’s not valid. Life is hard, and we can do hard things. Honor your own experience. Feel and take it in. Some day, these memories will be a comfort to you.

 

 

Lesson 10: When we let go as they grow, it forces us to grow, too.

That’s the ultimate lesson for me at this time of my life. It’s hard to grow, but I’m doing it. Learning to let go is hard, whenever we must do it, but we work at it because we know it forces us to grow right along with our children. A later curfew here, a driver’s license there, more freedom in their own choices—we let go, and they, and we, grow. That’s what parenting, and love, and family, are all about. (Read Parenting Success: It’s More about the Parent than the Child)

 

 

Have you had to “let go” with your child(ren) lately? What did it feel like for you? What lessons have you learned about parenting, loss, and letting go as they (and you) grow? Please leave a comment, below!

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Award-Winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available now on Amazon.com.

 
 
 

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Breaking the Silence about Suicide, Grief & Family Survivors

Breaking the Silence about Suicide, Grief, & Family Survivors; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

Breaking the Silence about Suicide, Grief, & Family Survivors; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comI am no stranger to death and suicide. My sister died of an overdose of alcohol and acetaminophen in 2007, leaving behind her two young sons whom my husband and I are now raising. We’d already lost my brother-in-law to skin cancer just months before, and my youngest sister to kidney cancer when she was eight, not to mention grandparents, an aunt, and several others. Then, just a few months ago, my dear friend left her youngest child, my daughter’s best friend, at my house for the day, and then took her own life.

 

I don’t know why I’ve been so surrounded with death in general, and suicide, in particular, but so it is. And so it is I simply must write this article—because suicide is so much more complicated and messy than death, and we simply must start talking about it.

 

 

The hardest part about coping after suicide…

Several months ago, I published my memoir, This is How We Grow, about the years after the loss of my sister and brother-

My sister, Shannon, and I at ages 3 and 4. I miss and love her dearly every day.

My sister, Shannon, and I at ages 3 and 4. I miss and love her dearly every day.

in-law. Since then, I’ve received countless comments–online, in person, in book clubs, and in my private practice–from individuals and families who have experienced the sting of suicide and are trying now to carry on. They all say the same thing: “The hardest part about suicide is that I can’t talk about it. It’s supposed to be kept a secret. People don’t want me to talk about it.”

 

That, for me, is the hardest part of coping with the suicide of a loved one, too. It’s hard enough because you’re coping with death, and even harder because it’s a death you’re not supposed to talk about. Well, I’m done with that. I’ve started talking about my own experiences with suicide in my book, and I continue here. I mean no disrespect to anyone who feels they simply can’t talk about it yet. All I’m saying is, “I simply must do my part to break the silence.”

 

 

12 Truths About Suicide, Grief, & Family Survivors

 

The truth is we cannot heal, or help others heal, until we start talking about suicide. The following list shares some things I’ve learned, personally and professionally, about suicide. It’s just a small start, but it’s my hope these will at least get the conversation going. It’s time to break the silence and open the door to greater compassion, support, and healing for any and all scarred by suicide.

 

 

1)   It’s extra hard to handle death by suicide, because it’s not something people feel they can talk about. We can’t post on Facebook, “My friend killed herself,” like we can, “My friend passed away after a long battle with cancer,” or even “My friend was murdered.” It’s just not something we do, because we want to respect the deceased and we want to respect their family. Suicide feels like “a secret,” and, like I said before, for many, this is the hardest part. It makes it much harder to receive the support and understanding we need after suicide when we can’t even say the truth of how our loved one died.

 
 

2) “Suicide” carries a huge stigma–for the deceased, and for his/her family. There’s no denying this fact; we all know it’s true. Death by suicide carries a huge stigma. This is probably the biggest reason families feel the need to keep silent–they don’t want their loved one remembered for how they died; they want them to be remembered for how they lived.

 

 

3) Surviving family/friends often feel judged, or they feel like their loved one is judged. Let’s face it—with such a huge stigma surrounding it, people can be pretty judgmental about suicide. Too many people see suicide as evil, as weakness, as “taking the easy way out,” or worse. They say things like, “They were too weak to carry on, even though the rest of us are able to.” Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion, but I have to say it’s very hard on family and friends. The truth is an estimated “90% of people who die by suicide have a potentially treatable mental disorder at the time of their death—a disorder that often has gone unrecognized and untreated.” [i]

I see suicide differently than many, probably because of 1) my experiences working with suicidal clients and families of those who’ve committed suicide, and 2) my two dear loved ones whom I have lost. I know my sister and friend could not have been in their right minds when they took their lives. They were in pain, deep pain. This quote explains it well: “Suicide is not chosen; it happens
 when pain exceeds 
resources for coping with pain.”[ii] I have greater compassion when I can acknowledge this—compassion for them and for myself. There is always so much more to the story of suicide than we, or anyone, will ever know. We must stop the judgment.

 

 

4)   Suicide is isolating for surviving family and friends. Reading the above truths, is it any wonder? Feeling like Breaking the Silence about Suicide, Grief, & Family Survivors; www.DrChristinaHibbert.comyou can’t talk about the death, like you’re disrespecting your deceased loved one or other family members, or feeling judged and stigmatized can all make suicide a very lonely experience for family survivors.

 

 

5) The impact of suicide reaches far beyond the family. Often suicides end up on the news or at least as the “news” of the town. Even those who don’t know the deceased feel stunned by the loss, because it’s so tragic. Think about celebrities who have died from suicide (Heath Leger, Kurt Cobain, and as I finish writing this, Robin Williams). The world is saddened and heartbroken, and we don’t even really know these people. Suicide doesn’t just affect the parents or the spouse or the children of the deceased; it also tragically affects siblings, close friends, and any who are part of the deceased’s community. When my friend died, it felt like the entire community was grief-stricken. And the best part was that we came together in our grief. As we’ve been able to talk about what happened and be there for one another and for her family, we have found greater healing–together. That’s one reason I’m such a big supporter of breaking the silence on suicide. We need each other to heal.

 

 

6)   Suicide is traumatic, and this can complicate grief. Expeirencing the death of a loved one is hard and painful, but not all death is traumatic. Suicide is a trauma to family and friends. It is sudden, shocking, and sometimes, violent. Learning your sister or friend or loved one died by a phone call from the police is traumatic. It’s surreal, it’s unbelievable, and there is no preparation. As my husband and I said to each other, after my dear friend jumped to her death, “We couldn’t have been more shocked if she’d been murdered.” Suicide is a trauma, and grieving suicide can therefore be a long, complicated process. (Resources for Dealing with Grief, click here.)

 

 

7) How the suicide happens can make it even more difficult to cope with.  Details like whether someone was on drugs when they took their life, or whether they did so away from home so family and friends wouldn’t have to find them, versus publicly, or in a way designed to hurt others, can all make suicide even more traumatic and make coping with it even more difficult. My sister died as a result of too much alcohol, a sleeping pill, and tylenol. The knowledge that she was drunk when she took the pills somehow helps my family know she didn’t mean to do what she did, and that is a comfort to us.

 

 

8)  Anger is a huge part of suicide for surviving family and friends, and let me just say, “Your anger is justified.” It’s natural to feel angry when someone dies by their own hand, no matter how it happens. It’s natural to feel like, “This shouldn’t have happened!” I’ve had to deal with layers upon layers of anger toward my sister, and toward my friend. Your anger doesn’t mean you don’t love them. On the contrary, it means you love them very much and are trying to make sense of what happened and learn to forgive and move on without them.

 

 

9)  Guilt is a common emotion after someone dies from suicide. Even if you logically know it’s not your fault, it’s still common to feel or think, “What if…”–wondering what if I would have just stopped by, or called to check in, or been there when s/he needed me. This is another factor that makes suicide especially difficult for family survivors, and another complicating factor in grief.

 

 

10)   Suicide often leads to spiritual conflict in surviving family and friends. We may question “Why did this have to happen?” or rather, “How could God let this happen?” It’s a tragic loss, and that can lead to spiritual trauma that requires its own kind of healing.

 

 

11) Whether the suicide seemed accidental or not, surviving family and friends are left with the huge question, “Why?” Even in cases when a note is left behind, there remain many questions. For those who have no note, it’s likely there will never be any answers. As I wrote in This is How We Grow, “I have been filled with an abundance of ‘whys’ in my days. Some can be answered and provide deeper understanding, but many will never be answered in this life. Sometimes, in choosing to question ‘why,’ we choose to remain stagnant in our learning. We choose to stay in the dark–alone, frustrated, even angry.” (p. 32) Yes, the “whys” are often the hardest part of suicide.

 

 

12) We need to talk about suicide. We can’t allow it to be a secret family members are supposed to keep. We need to have compassion for not only those who feel so alone and in pain that they can’t carry on, but for their family and friends who are trying to pick up the pieces after they are gone. We need greater empathy for families of suicide victims. And yes, they are victims, because the truth is, anyone who feels so alone and desperate that they take their own life, is a victim. Families shouldn’t feel revictimized by others after the death. It’s time we break the silence of suicide. It’s time we decide to be there for one another with great love and compassion.

 
 

What do you have to say about breaking the silence on suicide? I welcome your thoughts, insights, and personal experiences. Together, we can stop the stigma and start the healing. Please, leave a comment below.

 

 
 

Suicide Resources:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Helpguide.org Suicide Prevention: How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal  

American Association of Suicidology: Survivors of Suicide Fact Sheet 

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Coping with Suicide Loss

 
 
 

#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Award-Winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
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Related Posts/Articles:

Dealing with Grief

Siblings & Grief

How do I Grieve? Grief Work & Tears

Grief & the Family

Grief & Children: What You Should Know 

5 Skills of Overcoming…Grief, PPD, Stress, etc.

Understanding & Overcoming Anger

FEEL: How to cope with Powerful Emotions

Women & Depression: 12 Facts Everyone Should Know

Postpartum Depression Treatment: What Everyone Should Know

Postpartum Depression & Men

Women’s Emotions: Part 3, The Menstrual Cycle & Mood 

Relationship Rescue

15 Proven Ways to Stress Less

12 Facts on Depression & Medication 

Parenting Skills Top Ten, #1: Do Your Own Work First

Discovering Self-Worth: Why is it so Hard to Love Ourselves?

Self-Esteem & Self-Worth

Practicing Patience: 20 Ways to Be More Patient Today

“This Is How We Grow” Blog Hop: 10 Ways I Choose to Grow Each Day

Personal Growth & Self-Actualization

Womens’ Emotions & Hormones– Series

 

 

References:

[i] Understanding Suicide, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention https://www.afsp.org/understanding-suicide

[ii] http://www.metanoia.org/suicide/ Suicide: Read this First

The Facts vs. The TRUTH about Postpartum Depression (+ video)

The Facts vs. The TRUTH about Postpartum Depression; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

The Facts vs. The TRUTH about Postpartum Depression; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

 

The fact is that Postpartum Depression (PPD) is real. I know, because I’ve experienced it four times, along with Postpartum Anxiety. That’s another fact: “Postpartum Depression” is often used as a catchall phrase for a whole spectrum of pregnancy and postpartum mood and anxiety disorders, including OCD, PTSD, and even Psychosis.

 

 

PPD: Fact vs. The Truth

As a clinical psychologist and expert on Perinatal Mental Health, I’ve definitely learned about, and seek to share, the facts on Postpartum Depression. I believe everyone should learn about PPD, because chances are either you or someone you know will experience PPD at some point (that’s another fact: as many as 1 in 5 will experience postpartum depression), and knowing the facts can make all the difference. If you want the facts about Postpartum Depression/Anxiety, the following links are a great place to start:

 

Pregnancy & Postpartum Emotional Health

Postpartum Survival Mode

Postpartum Depression Treatment

Beyond Depression: Understanding Postpartum OCD (part 1, plus video)

Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Dads & Partners

 

However, as a mother of six who’s experienced Postpartum Depression/Anxiety four times, and as one who has worked with pregnant and postpartum women for over 16 years, I know that sometimes, the facts don’t reflect the full truth about PPD.

 

 

20 Truths about Postpartum Depression (plus bonus video!)

The truth is Postpartum Depression is a life-altering experience, and if we really want to understand this experience, we must move beyond the facts and start talking about the truth. Here are 20 truths I’ve discovered about PPD. I hope you’ll learn them, share them, and then join the truthful discussion, below.

 

 

1)   It can feel like you’re all alone, but you’re definitely not. Postpartum Depression and Anxiety often feel isolating; it feels like you’re the only one feeling this way. The truth is you’re not alone. Most women will experience some change in their emotional health following childbirth (up to 80%), and one in five will experience a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder. Because of this, PPD has been called the most common complication associated with childbirth.

 

 

2)   PPD is not your fault. There are many risk factors that make Postpartum Mood/Anxiety Disorders out of your control, not least of which include: the extreme changes in hormones (women who are sensitive to hormonal shifts are definitely at higher risk), the insanity that is sleep deprivation (women sensitive to sleep loss are at higher risk), and the coping and adjustment that naturally comes when a new baby is born. The list of risk factors is long, and bottom line: Even if you feel like it’s your “fault,” it’s not.

 

 

 Watch this “3-Minute Therapy” video from my YouTube channel on “The Truth about Postpartum Depression,” then continue reading, below. 

You need to install or upgrade Flash Player to view this content, install or upgrade by clicking here.

 

 

3)   Postpartum Depression is not a character flaw, and it does not mean you are weak. For many women, however, it feels that way. The more we talk about and educate people on PPD, the more women will see PPD for what it is: an illness that comes, and, with help, will go, just like any other. (Read Postpartum Depression Treatment)

 

 

4)   Postpartum women are far more exhausted than you, or they, realize, and sleep plays a critical role in PPD, and its treatment. You can’t understand how exhausted you can be until after you have a baby. Postpartum depressed or anxious women often also suffer from insomnia; the baby is sleeping through the night, but she is not. Sleep is crucial to mental and emotional well-being, and helping moms treat sleep issues is a crucial part of them becoming well again. (Read: PPD Treatment–Sleep)

 

 

5)   Anxiety is often a huge part of PPD. Some say the anxiety came first; others feel their depression caused the anxiety, while others say it all feels like a jumbled mess of sadness and worry. Either way, anxiety is a common symptom of Postpartum Depression, which is one of several things that makes PPD different from a typical Major Depression. (Read Beyond Depression: Diagnosing Postpartum OCD)

 

 

6)   Anger/irritability is common with Postpartum Depression. Frustration with all the changes that come with being a parent and/or having a newborn, anger about one’s symptoms, or irritability related to sleep loss/hormone shifts are definitely a “normal” part of PPD. (Read Understanding & Overcoming Anger: “I don’t want to be an angry person!”)

 

 

7)  Guilt is a huge component of PPD. Guilt about having the illness, guilt about not being at your best when you wish you could be, guilt about your guilt. Guilt is one of the most common topics I address in therapy with postpartum women (and have had to address with myself, too). (Therapy can be a huge help in becoming free of all the guilt.)

 

 

8)   The choice to breast or bottle-feed (or sometimes the lack of choice) often impacts PPD. Many women want to breastfeed, but struggle with it, and then feel terribly guilty switching to a bottle. Others realize, for their own health and wellness, they need to quit breastfeeding sooner than they’d wished. Too many are wrongly told they cannot breastfeed

Singing & rocking my youngest, Sydney. Though I was able to breastfeed her, I introduced a bottle early on. I knew I needed it to help me survive PPD.

Singing & rocking my youngest, Sydney. Though I was able to breastfeed her, I introduced a bottle early on. I knew I needed it to help me survive PPD.

because they need a medication to help their depression or anxiety, and this leads to intense grief. Yes, breastfeeding (or not) is a hot topic when it comes to PPD.

 

 

9)  Grief is usually a common part of Postpartum Depression. Most people don’t understand this or send the message that you should feel “happy” because of all you’ve gained in having a baby. And you surely have gained many blessings. But you’ve also lost many things: sleep, health, maybe breastfeeding or the ideal of what you thought would be, your figure, a sense of control, all these things listed above—the list goes on. Each loss must be grieved. (Read “How do I grieve?” Grief Work & TEARS)

 

 

10)  PPD makes many women question their identity. “Who am I now?” is a common question. Many mothers feel lost, “not like myself,” or say, “I don’t know who I am anymore.” Rediscovering one’s identity after childbirth is common, and after PPD even more so.

 

 

11)  Self-Esteem/sense of self is often deeply impacted by PPD. If you feel ashamed, guilty, angry, fearful, it can certainly lead to feelings of inadequacy as a mother and as a woman. All of these things can, and often do, make women question their self-worth. I’ve become an “expert” on self-worth because I’ve worked with so many women on this important topic (and personally, too.) Therapy is a great tool to help you learn to feel your true worth. (In the meantime, read this: How to Feel Self-Worth: The Pyramid of Self-Worth)

 

 

12)  Relationship support can make or break you. Poor support or troubled relationships, especially with your husband/partner, are the number one non-biological cause of PPD. You need understanding, especially from those you love most, and when that doesn’t come, it can make postpartum depression/anxiety worse. On the flip side, PPD can be very hard on a relationship, so it’s important to seek help for both of you as needed. (Read more here: Couples & PPD)

 

 

13)  Women with PPD may seem “fine,” but often, it’s an act. Many people think, if a mom is depressed, she’ll obviously look like a mess, but that’s not the case. We want to feel fine. We try so hard to feel–and look–fine. But sometimes, though it seems we are, we’re not, not at all. (See my picture, below.)

 

 

14) Shame and embarrassment are a common part of postpartum depression and anxiety. Many women feel ashamed they aren’t “stronger” or more capable of simply “sucking it up” and “moving on.” Many feel embarrassed by their

Our family christmas photo, 2007, taken just three weeks after I gave birth and inherited my two nephews, going from 3 to 6 kids. I wrote about this in "This is How We Grow." Don't I look "fine?" Look closer. I definitely wasn't.

Our family christmas photo, 2007, taken just three weeks after I gave birth and inherited my two nephews, going from 3 to 6 kids. My hardest postpartum experience by far, yet, don’t I look “fine?” Look closer. I definitely wasn’t. (Read about it in my memoir, “This is How We Grow.”)

symptoms. Unfortunately, the sting of the stigma of mental illness can feel especially sharp when you’ve just had a baby and so desperately want to be at your best.

 

 

15) For many PPD moms, it feels like no one gets it. Others might say they understand or even try to reach out and be supportive, but for many moms it feels like no one really gets PPD. Unless you’ve been there, it’s hard to truly relate, and unless you can truly relate, it’s hard for a PPD woman to want to open up and let you in. So, please, please, if you know a new mom, ask how she is feeling and really mean it. Listen to understand. Often we just need someone to sincerely ask so we can open up and begin healing.

 

 

16) Well-meaning friends/family often say/do the wrong things. When I had postpartum depression with my first son, who was colicky, one friend told me, “I really think babies reflect the temperament and calmness of their parents. That’s why I try to always be peaceful around my baby.” After my third baby was born, when I was officially a psychologist specializing in PPD and experiencing it again myself, a new friend asked, “Is that even real?” Statements like these can make PPD feel even worse and increase a mother’s sense of isolation.

 

 

17)  Having Postpartum Depression in no way makes you a “slacker” or means you’re “lazy,” but many women feel that way. In fact, it’s often the high-achieving women with perfectionistic tendencies who fall prey to PPD. It’s one of the risk factors.

 

 

18)  Because many PPD moms are used to being able to “do it all,” and do it all well, it can be hard for many of us to accept help. We know we need it, but when it comes down to it, it’s hard to let go of the need to do it on our own.

 

 

19) Help is out there, though it can be tough finding the right help. There are more PPD resources than ever. There is fabulous online support, solid educational programs, and providers who are compassionate and knowledgeable about pregnancy and postpartum mental health. The trouble often comes in accessing that help. My best advice? Stick with it. Help is out there, and it’s worth it to find the right kind of help for you. (PSI can help: www.postpartum.net)

 

 

20) Though we may fight it, medication is a good option for many pregnant and/or postpartum women. I wrote all about it here, so if you’re considering it, check this out. I also shared my own experience with choosing to take an antidepressant in my memoir, This is How We Grow: “I’ll admit, I do not want to take it. Must I?…I realize I haven’t really been living for far too long. I’ve been coping, surviving, manage, getting by—but coping is not living. I want to engage, set goals, dream, travel again…This little pill might just be the final ticket that helps me get there.” (p. 218) Sometimes, your brain just needs a little extra support, and medication is the one thing that might make the difference. (And yes, in many cases you can still breastfeed.) (More on medication: “Antidepressant? or Not? 12 Facts on Depression & Medication)

 

 

One final, bonus truth…

21)  There is life after Postpartum Depression.  With the right help, therapist and/or a support group specifically for PPD moms, you’ll find the understanding, information, and tools you need to be well again. Trust me when I say, six kids and eighteen years later, “There is life after PPD. With help, work, and time, you will be even better than better.”

 

If you’re a Postpartum Depression or Anxiety survivor, I’d love to hear from you. Do you agree with any of my “truths?” What are some truths of your own you’d like others to know? Let’s keep this important discussion going in the comments, below!
#1 Amazon Bestseller, This Is How We Grow, by Dr. Christina Hibbert, Available now on Amazon.com! www.ThisIsHowWeGrow.com
Be sure to check out Dr. Hibbert’s Award-Winning memoir, This is How We Grow!
Available now on Amazon.com.

 
 
 

Join Dr. Hibbert's "This Is How We Grow" Personal Growth Group! FREE. Online. Growth. www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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The Facts vs. The TRUTH about Postpartum Depression; www.DrChristinaHibbert.com

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Related Articles/Posts:

Pregnancy & Postpartum Emotional Health

The Baby Blues & You

Postpartum Survival Mode

Postpartum Psychosis + Mental Health Stigma=40 Years in Prison? It’s time to speak up!

16 Things I’d Like My Postpartum Self to Know, 16 Years & 6 Kids Later (PSI Blog Hop)

PPD & Motherhood Mental Health: Self-Care & Letting Help In–The 2 Most Important Things

Postpartum Depression Treatment

Beyond Depression: Understanding Pregnancy/Postpartum OCD (Part 1)

Beyond Depression: Diagnosing Postpartum OCD (part 2) (& video)

Beyond Depression: Postpartum OCD Treatment (part 3) (& video)

Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Dads & Partners

Postpartum Depression Treatment: For Couples

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Complementary Alternative Modalities

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Psychotherapy

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Medication

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Self-Help

Postpartum Depression Treatment: Sleep

Postpartum Depression & Men: The Facts on Paternal Postnatal Depression

Mom Mental Health (& Happiness): The Importance of Alone Time

Mom Mental Health (part 2): How to Get Alone Time (25+ Strategies!)

Moving Beyond Shame: The Ultimate Power of Support & Time (PSI Blog Hop) 

Pregnancy & Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders: Are Women of Advanced Maternal Age at Higher Risk?

In Praise of Fathers: 10 Research-Based Ways Dads Impact Kids for the Better

5 Reasons Self-Esteem is a Myth

How to Feel Self-Worth: “The Pyramid of Self-Worth”

Thought Management, Part 1: The Relationship between Thoughts, Feelings, the Body, & Behavior

Womens’ Emotions & Hormones– Series

Achieving Balance–Why You’ve Got it Wrong, & How to Get it Right

Pregnancy & Postpartum Loss, Grief, & Family Healing (Part 1)

How to Cope with and Treat Perinatal Loss & Grief (Part 2)

Pregnancy/Postpartum Resources & Help:

Postpartum Support International Website

-Worldwide help and support for new mothers and families, including a bilingual hotline and state/country coordinators to help you find the right treatment provider or support in your area. PSI also provides educational courses on Perinatal Mood/Anxiety Disorders.

Postpartum Progress Blog

-Excellent source of education and support for mothers and families.

Arizona Postpartum Wellness Coalition

-Support for AZ families: Support Warmline, Brochures, & Provider/Family Education.

Postpartum Stress Center

-Education & support for Providers and Families

Postpartum Couples Website

Pregnancy & Postpartum Resources

**This article is not intended to replace proper medical/mental health care. If you think you may be suffering from Postpartum Depression or Anxiety, please contact your medical or mental health provider, or PSI, for referrals/help/support.**

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