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Taming the Fire: Trauma and Anger

Part III of a Six-part Trauma Series. Trigger warning: This is a difficult topic. Some examples of traumas will be eluded to without details in order to set a scene for clarity and relatability.

Part II of this series, Trauma and Depression: The Other Side of the Mountain, can be found on aplaceofhope.com blog.

Part I of this series, What Trauma Is and Is Not, can be found on aplaceofhope.com blog.


Ever since your trauma, you find yourself feeling so angry. Everything bugs you for no real reason you can see. The thoughts running through your mind surprise you. Nothing is enjoyable. It feels as if the universe and everything in it has conspired against you. 

No one understands. People keep checking on you. They ask you if you are mad. Of course, you say no because you know there is no logical reason to be angry. They do not believe your answer because everything in your tone and body language says otherwise. You know this, but there are just no words for what is happening. You wish they would stop asking already because the questions are no longer about “the incident,” or “the trauma,” but about you. You have begun to wonder if you are broken beyond repair and the futility of it all fuels the volcano within. Will the cycle ever end?

Remember how trauma was described in the first edition in this series: 

“A very difficult or unpleasant experience that causes someone to have mental or emotional problems, usually for a long time. It can be helpful to think of trauma as a sort of spectrum, ranging from unpleasant surprises on one end to near-death experiences on the other.” (Emphasis added)

No one asks for a trauma. Even if you are intentionally acting in a risky manner, it is highly doubtful the results of trauma were what you intended to accomplish. Trauma is an interruption, an abrupt and jagged curve in the road. It affects every single aspect of life; mind, body, spirit, and social realms. 

The initial distress of a trauma may be over. The perpetrator was caught. The compensation money has been deposited. Your body has healed. You came clean about your part in it and everyone rallied around you with support when you needed it most. You may even believe that God was with you and “it was all for a reason.” No matter what the situation, at one point, you were headed down Road A and trauma came along and, without your permission, flung you to Road Z. Your boundaries were crossed, and the outcome was a whole lot of unfairness. Rest assured, the absolute reasonable and correct response to injustice and boundary crossing is anger.

Really? You sure?

Yes. Really. I am sure.

This may sound wrong to some of you. Many people have been taught that anger is wrong and “mean”. This is simply untrue. Anger is a healthy emotion. The problem often arises when anger, aggression, and rage are confused for each other.

Our emotions are part of an intricate, brain-based signal system that runs on rules and algorithms, often outside of our awareness.  Anger is an emotion that supplies us with heat and energy to propel us toward keeping ourselves safe, speaking the truth, and striving for justice. We know when overt actions occur, someone hits us or takes something of ours, anger is appropriate. When it becomes more subtle, when, “they didn’t mean to crash into me on the freeway,” our logical mind may tell us a story to keep us in social equilibrium. However, our much more “feely” right brain will still know that a rule was violated, and the emotion of anger will be triggered accordingly. This is why you do not know why you feel as you do sometimes.

As mentioned, anger is not to be mistaken for aggression or rage. To understand the difference, consider the following chart:

Emotion Emotion Self-talk Emotion Action
Anger “This is unfair. It needs to change” (Firm, heated, but not disrespectful or harmful. You can think and make a plan) Firm voice, persistent. Willing to persist from different directions until heard. Easier to lay down boundaries. Thoughts are action/solution focused. 

Aggression

“This is unfair. Someone needs to pay and I’m going to make it happen” (Heated, loud, distrusting, disrespectful) Pushes you to prod and poke until you hurt the other side. Yelling, insulting, intimidating, withdrawal of affection. Thoughts are focused on punishment.
Rage “AAARRRGG!!” (Incoherent, irrational, loud) Yelling, hitting, throwing, breaking things, bailing on others. Not controllable without outside help. Thinking is usually offline.

Anger is a normal and proper response to trauma. However, if not properly vented or addressed, it can fester and grow, leading to aggression or rage. If you have struggled with anger and it feels as if it is becoming a wildfire, here are some things you can try:

Give Yourself Space to Tell (or Show) the Truth. Undoubtedly, there are aspects of your traumatic experience that feel unfair and/or violating. You have a right to those feelings. It is important to express them in a healthy manner. Everyone processes differently. Some people need to tell their story over and over again until the brain is satisfied it has worked out all the details. Other people feel better if they act out their feelings (throwing ice cubes in the bathtub, chopping wood, smacking balls at the batting range, and so on). Others feel best if they take their tragedy and morph it into something useful to others. Whatever method works best for you, find a way to speak or act your truth. Start with God, the Universe, a pet, a journal, or a trusted and safe friend. Don’t lock it up inside.

Know Your Temperature. Anger carries heat and energy with it. This makes it easy to notice if you pay attention. On a piece of paper, write a line and put numbers one through ten. One indicates complete calm and happiness and ten is rage. At each one or two points, write down a personal experience that correlates to that place on the line. Perhaps one would be when you were lying on the beach in Maui. Four might be when that person cut you off on the freeway. Seven could be when your mother said she was not coming to your wedding.  Perhaps the angriest you have been was when your significant other left you. That might be your ten. Whatever it is, notice the types of thoughts and body sensations you have at each point along the way. Then, find a way to check in with yourself a few times a day to measure where your anger meter is. If it is rising, stop and spend some time speaking truth or self-soothing until you are calm and in control of your thoughts and actions.

Opposite Action. Don’t make things worse. Once you have decided that a given episode of anger is not about the present moment, you need to override your emotions with a decision. Decide how you want to behave and do that, even if your anger tells you otherwise. It is easiest and most effective to act opposite to the emotion. Perhaps you are having a particularly rough day and your sister is twenty minutes late. Suppose your trauma occurred when you were waiting for a friend who was late. You realize that the intensity of your anger is coming from the trauma and is out-of-proportion to the current situation because your sister is rarely late and always apologetic. You decide that when you see her, you will smile, listen carefully to what happened, and give her a hug (when, really, you want to scream, throw things, and chase her out of the room). This takes strength, but after a few practice runs, it will not only be easier, you will feel more powerful and in control.

As with the above example, the taming of the fire of anger (keeping it anger rather than allowing it to grow into aggression or rage) produces a feeling of great empowerment. Anger is helpful and healthy. Attempting to stoke it or quench it will only result in physical illness, chronic irritation, or other unhealthy response. You are not bad because you are angry. God is not mad at you for being angry at the trauma. God can weave whatever we give Him into a beautiful tapestry, but He knows that the particular thread of trauma itself is unpleasant. If you struggle with chronic anger, you need not suffer alone. There are many professional anger management treatment programs like the one at The Center • A Place of HOPE. Find a trauma survivor support group. If that does not sound like enough, then consider a call to The Center for information on its trauma recovery program. 

Written by Hannah Smith, MA LMHC CGP, Group Therapy Training & Curriculum Consultant for The Center ● A Place of Hope. As a Neuroscience-informed, Licensed Therapist and International Board-certified Group Psychotherapist, Hannah’s passion is to see people reach their potential and find lasting, positive change. The Center is located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, and more.

The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in the treatment of depression and has been voted a Top 10 U.S. Depressions Treatment Center.  We use a whole-person approach that allows you to discover what is truly going on in your mind, body, and spirit. Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.

A Cleanse and Detox Protocol that Addresses Depression

Your body has multiple organs and systems that work together to filter and flush toxins out of your body.  The liver, kidneys, lymphatic system, lungs, and skin can become overwhelmed by the large amounts of toxins in our diets. Not to mention daily environmental factors we encounter. 

Unless we are very intentional about diet and lifestyle, there’s a good chance we are not supporting these organs and systems with the nutrition and activities they need to stay in tip-top shape.

At The Center • A Place of HOPE, when we work with a new client who is struggling with depression, we often recommend a three-week protocol designed to cleanse and detox the body. The protocol incorporates detox agents, dietary changes, and actions that support the body in performing at maximum capacity and work to eliminate problem-causing toxins that are affecting health and mood.  Below is the recommended protocol.

Look to incorporate detox agents into your daily routine.  Each day, do at least two of these: 

  • Drink a cup of dandelion root tea in the morning and another one in the afternoon.
  • Take 500 mg of N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) twice a day.
  • Take 300 mg of milk thistle (extracted from the fruit or seed, not the leaf, and standardized to 70 to 80 percent of the active ingredient silymarin).

These are dietary changes that will assist in supporting your body.  

  • Eliminate all alcohol, soda, energy drinks, coffee, and juices or teas with added sugar.
  • Avoid all candy and other sweets.
  • Drink two cups or more of fresh-pressed vegetable juice every day.
    Limit animal products; eat no more than six ounces of animal flesh a day.
    Avoid all dairy products except for butter.
  • Focus on whole foods (whatever you can buy in the produce section).
  • Drink at least two liters of water a day.  

It is important to move the blood and lymphatics.  Each day, do at least two of the following: 

  • Dry skin brushing, which involves brushing your skin with a soft brush prior to a bath or shower. This provides gentle exfoliation, boosts circulation, and encourages new cell growth.
  • Spend time in a sauna, then follow up with a cold rinse for ninety seconds or less. (I recommend choosing this at least three times a week.)
  • Exercise for at least twenty to thirty minutes at a time. Exercise boosts circulation through the body, which helps flush toxins out.  

Now, we must talk about sleep!  Get at least seven and a half hours of sleep a night. This will help you feel rested and less stressed.  Sleep reduces inflammation so the body can function at its best.

In addition to helping your body get rid of built-up toxins, this plan will also eliminate foods that are common causes of food sensitivities and inflammation in the body.  After following this protocol for three weeks, you are in the perfect position to slowly reintroduce common problem foods back into your diet, paying close attention to any reactions you may be having.

Pick one of the foods that was eliminated, and eat it twice a day for two days. Bread is a good example.  Be sure to keep a journal and write down any differences you notice in your body, energy, or mood. Make a note if you feel more depressed, have headaches or joint pain, or feel bloated. Also, notate if you are experiencing brain fog or have trouble concentrating. 

If your body responds negatively to the food item you have reintroduced, remove it again from your diet. Wait a few days, then reintroduce a different food and pay attention to how your body responds.

Whether you have gluten sensitivities or not, when it comes to managing your mood, clean eating is going to make a major difference.

The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in the treatment of depression and has been voted a Top 10 U.S. Depressions Treatment Center.  We use a whole-person approach that allows you to discover what is truly going on in your mind, body, and spirit. Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.

Intentionally Change the Pace of Your Life

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.” 

To paraphrase the famous Serenity Prayer, it is so important to recognize those things in our lives that we can change, and those things we cannot.  While there may be a great deal in your own life that you cannot change, you may be surprised at how many things you can.  

One of the keys to overcoming depression is to honestly and realistically evaluate your life.  Then, develop a plan to accept those things that are unchangeable and a plan to change those that are possible.  This requires taking stock of your life. Just as a storekeeper takes an inventory of all that he has, it is wise for us to make a tangible list of our physical, mental, and spiritual assets and liabilities.  Make a list in your journal of all your responsibilities; write down what you want to do or be in addition to what you have already done or become, and consider what needs to happen (or stop happening) to fulfill your hopes and aspirations.  

You may be reluctant to do this exercise for fear that it will make you even more depressed.  But the objective of taking stock is not to create an inventory of all the things that are wrong with your life.  Rather, taking stock will help to categorize the changeable and unchangeable things in your life to intentionally move forward, out of depression.  

Too often, we live our lives feeling like spectators instead of active participants with the power to choose our own outcome.  We get caught up in life’s flow, whether good, bad, or neutral. Wherever the currents take us, we go. It’s as if we are on autopilot, but depression happens when our autopilot gets stuck in a negative descent.  Unless we can take intentional action, chances are that circumstances won’t force a change to the positive.  

In other words, if you go along waiting for some “thing,” some event to alter the course of your depression, you’ll probably be disappointed.  It’s time to take control and look at where you are in your life. It’s time to actively and intentionally participate in the course of your life.  

Take a close look at the activities in your life.  Determine if you have too many activities, along with the overall effect they are having on your life.  Depression can occur when your activities are out of balance in the following ways: 

  • You have too many activities, and the sum of them outweighs their value. When you’ve got too many things going collectively, you’re too busy to enjoy any of them individually. 
  • You have many activities but too few worthwhile ones. 
  • You have too few activities in your life.  When your biggest activity is inactivity, you rob yourself of the stimulation and engagement of purpose and people.  

You may find that you are simply too busy.  If so, you need to evaluate which activities to continue, and which to let go.  Or perhaps you have isolated yourself from meaningful, worthwhile activities and will need to stretch and expand yourself.  Intentionally changing the pace of your life can help you move forward in your recovery from depression.  

If you are struggling with depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. The Center has been voted a Top 10 Facility for the Treatment of Depression.  For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.

Your Personal Action Plan to Depression Treatment

The troubling fact is that 37 percent of adults and 60 percent of adolescents suffering from depression receive no treatment of any kind.  In many cases that’s because access to care is limited for geographic or financial reasons. But just as often, people don’t get the care they need because they don’t seek it out, or refuse it when offered.

Some people have suffered for so long that they are convinced healing depression is impossible, so why bother trying?  For these people, living with depression has become the new normal, with the assumption that they’ll always feel miserable, so it’s best to accept it and muddle on.

If you are one of these people suffering from depression, healing is not only possible, but it’s probable if you are willing to look deeply at all the puzzle pieces that may be currently out of place in your life. Ask yourself, how can you gain control of your diet or your sleep habits?  How can you confront your fear, anger, and guilt? Why not examine how a lack of forgiveness is making you ill?

When searching for effective ways to treat and heal from depression, the whole-person model will challenge you to give up false hope in “magic bullets.”  It will ask you to work hard, dig deep, and above all, become an active participant in your journey to wellness.


Professional Tip From Dr. Gregory Jantz…

Here are five ways to get started today:

  1. Begin the process of self-assessment by taking inventory of your life.  Look for habits, lifestyle choices, circumstances, emotions, attitudes, and medical conditions that will need more attention as you move deeper into whole-person treatment.  Make a word picture of your life. Be honest and courageous. Write down everything that comes to mind.
  2. Educate yourself.  There are ample sources of good information about the merits and pitfalls of common treatments for depression and the value of an integrated approach to healing.
  3. Talk to your current caregivers.  Inquire about the relative strengths and weaknesses of various treatment types.  Let them know you are interested in broadening your approach to healing.
  4. Pay attention to your thoughts and beliefs.  Carefully assess what can work and what can’t. Do you secretly scoff at the idea that diet affects mental health?  Are you already convinced that other possible addictions—like imbalanced use of technology or shopping or pornography—have no role to play in depression?  If so, you’re unlikely to give those things the attention they need in the pursuit of lasting healing. Make a list of such limiting thoughts. About each one, ask yourself: Why do I think this way? Is this the truth? How is it holding me back?
  5. Write out a history of things you’ve tried already to help you heal from depression. Chances are you’ll see how each attempt to feel better stands apart from others, rarely working together. You’ll also notice all the things you haven’t yet tried, which is great news! It means you’re not out of options after all. 

When it comes to your health, you’re in charge. No one knows what you are experiencing as well as you do, and you are also the person with the greatest access to the decisions and behaviors that can have the most significant impact on how you feel. No one can do this for you.  By accepting responsibility for your wellness, you will be on your way to optimizing your physical health, and your mental and emotional health too. 

For more than thirty years, my team and I have seen the whole-person approach work time and time again, largely because people have taken the responsibility and summoned the courage to ensure their healing and wellness.

The Center • A Place of HOPE specializes in the treatment of depression and has been voted a Top 10 U.S. Depressions Treatment Center.  We use a whole-person approach that allows you to discover what is truly going on in your mind, body, and spirit. Contact us today at 1-888-771-5166 and begin the healing process.

Physical Activity Helps Us Eliminate Self-Defeating Attitudes

Some of my best ideas and most profound attitude adjustments come while I’m cycling or jogging.  While jogging, I can actually run the gamut from thinking negatively about a problem, to being open to new possibilities, to actually coming up with a positive solution to my concerns — all during a few miles of physical exertion.  

Perhaps you’ve had the same experience. Brisk walking, running, cycling, hiking — any kind of physical exercise that’s challenging for you — can help you see your problems with new eyes and, in fact, alter your attitude.  Let me give you an example.

As I was running the other day, I began thinking about challenges at the office. I love my work, and the rewards far outdistance the difficulties. But as with any business, not all aspects of it are pleasant. As I started my run, I was pretty down on a few individuals, and on myself for my reaction to some of the things they had said.

The first couple of miles, I heaped one negative thought on another. My usually buoyant spirit was fast dissipating under the weight of my wallowing in negative thinking. Here I was, a counselor committed to helping people work through the pain of their own emotional exhaustion, and I was demonstrating the same behavior as those I’m committed to helping.  

On the spot, I made the decision to change my attitude. I picked up my pace and got my heart rate up. Then I said a prayer, asking God to forgive me for indulging in an attitude of despair and complaint. I started to count my blessings — thanking God for my wonderful wife, who has been my partner for so many years. I thanked the Father for the beautiful Northwest where I’m privileged to live.  I started reciting the names of my friends who care about me and who had touched my life. I prayed for each of them, one by one, asking God to give them strength and courage and that they might always have the inner resolve to be the persons our heavenly Father designed them to be.  

By now I was cruising. I scarcely remember the scenery, the rocks on the road, the traffic, or anything else on my run.  Everything had suddenly come together for me — the physical, emotional, and spiritual — and it started by simply getting some exercise for my body.  

When I came home, I felt taller and stronger inside and out.  Gone were my earlier complaints — still to be dealt with but now with a different attitude — and in their place was a spirit of gratitude.  

We dare not underestimate the importance of physical activity in helping us to eliminate self-defeating attitudes.  Just getting up, getting out, and moving can be helpful.

There are now scores of studies that confirm that exercise can be a direct antidote to stress.  Whether a workout activates stress-destroying endorphins or simply provides for a relaxing pause in the action, we know something good happens.  

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.

Depression and Suicidal Thoughts

Suicide. For many of us, it is an uncomfortable topic to discuss. But ignoring this serious issue will not help improve it.

By now, most of us are aware of the sobering increase in depression, anxiety and suicide rates in the United States. Depression will be the #1 health issue in the world in 2020 according the the World Health Organization. Suicide rates have increased about 30% in the United States in just the last 18 years. In many areas the numbers are much higher. Kansas, for example, has seen a 49% increase. Men are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than women.

We must acknowledge that these are a result of a society and culture we have collectively created over generations. While it is important for us to have frank discussions on how we can adjust and improve in each of these areas, it is also important to understand that each of these areas is treatable.

How To Help Someone Who You Believe May Be Suicidal

It is normal to feel uncomfortable when speaking to someone for whom you believe may be considering suicide. Just remember, the goal is not to take on the person’s problem or to have all of the right answers. The goal is to show honest compassion. If you do not know how to approach someone, you can call a suicide prevention hotline or a treatment center and get advice from them. Please see resources at the end of this article

If you are truly concerned about someone, do not wait. It is better to approach your friend or family member with compassion and caring, than to hope that their pain goes away.

According to the American Counseling Association, here are some key points you can make when discussing with your friend or family member.

  • “We all go through tough or scary times.” It can be common for an individual to believe they are the only ones who struggle with life’s challenges. Reminding them that all of us, including you, struggle at different points in life, lets them know they are not alone in their feelings. Acknowledging their concerns are legitimate can reduce the stigma of reaching out for help.
  • “It’s OK to ask for help.” By saying this, you normalize the help-seeking process. You remind them that we all need help sometimes.
  • “I’m here for you.” It is important to let your friend or family member know you are available to LISTEN without judgment.

Professional Health Tip from Dr. Gregory Jantz…

Avoid the temptation to give advice. Sometimes we all just need to feel heard. If they request advice, a good response can be, “I know I love you, and I want to make sure I help you you get through this. Let’s consider professional counseling or treatment.”


Are You Depressed?

Take this A Place of HOPE online evaluation and receive immediate feedback

A whole person approach to care has proven to be powerfully effective. It takes commitment, for sure. Treatment can involve weeks of work with trained professionals. But the results can be dramatic and beautiful. Treatment is effective for depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and combinations of the three. 

Important Notes on Helping Those With Suicidal Thoughts

We often get asked whether a loved one should talk about suicide with the individual who may be suffering. We believe the answer is yes. Do not wait to see if it subsides. But importantly, start by being a good listener. Let them tell their story. Do not try to fix their situation with immediate feedback. Acknowledge their pain and express your sadness that they are not feeling well.

There are many things that should not be said. It is important not to try to minimize their pain, or make them feel guilty or “selfish”. Do not try to scare them away from suicide. Their pain is real, and they need understanding and love. Most importantly, they may need help to regain their strength, balance, and ultimately their happiness.

If you are concerned about someone, encourage them to get help. Encourage them to talk to a professional; you can even have an initial call yourself with a professional to learn how best to be helpful. Know that treatment can be very effective for those considering suicide.  

Resources

  1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 800.273.8255
  2. Crisis Text Line – 741-741
  3. To learn about treatment programs for those suffering from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, please call The Center • A Place of HOPE Admissions  – 888.771.5166

 

Dr. Gregory Jantz is the founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE in Edmonds, Washington, voted a top ten facility for the treatment of depression in the United States. Dr. Jantz pioneered Whole Person Care in the 1980’s and is a world-renowned expert on eating disorders, depression, anxiety, technology addiction, and abuse. He is a leading voice and innovator in Mental Health utilizing a variety of therapies including nutrition, sleep therapy, spiritual counseling, and advanced DBT techniques. Dr. Jantz is a best-selling author of 37 books and has appeared on CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, and CNN.

When Faith Provides a Source of Truth in Depression

Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? These are deeply personal questions that I, as a Christian, believe are also deeply spiritual. These are questions most people wrestle with over the course of their lives.

By answering these questions, people come to accept their own identities, understand their value in the world, and define a purpose worth striving for.

Depression distorts those questions and blocks healthy answers. Depression instead asks:

  • Where is joy?
  • When will this be over?
  • Why is this happening?
  • How did I get this way?

The answers depression provides weaken a person’s belief in life and the future. Depression says you are alone in your misery. Depression says nothing is ever going to get better. Depression says you’re not worth anything. In contrast, faith strengthens a person’s belief in life and the future. Faith argues that you are not alone, and faith assures that there is a Father who values and loves you.

When life doesn’t seem worth living, when there doesn’t seem any truth or joy or even answers in the world, the spiritual connection of faith provides a source of truth, joy, and answers outside of you. This spiritual reservoir can spring up and replenish parched souls.

When you are in the midst of depression, you must stop listening to the voice of depression and concentrate on God’s truths:

GOD DOES LOVE YOU.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”—John 3:16

GOD WANTS YOU TO EXPERIENCE JOY.

“Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.”—Isaiah 51:11

THROUGH GOD’S STRENGTH, YOU CAN LEARN AND GROW EACH DAY.

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”—2 Samuel 22:33

GOD’S DESIRE IS FOR YOU TO KNOW CONTENTMENT IN LIFE.

“I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”—Philippians 4:12

WITH GOD’S HELP, YOU CAN RESPOND TO YOUR CIRCUMSTANCES INSTEAD OF REACT.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”—Romans 12:2

In the midst of your depression, listen to God instead of your despair. Fill your mind with promises and hope from his Word. Always measure against the truth in Scripture what you are told by any religious group. And don’t let others tell you what the Bible says; read it for yourself. There are reasons for your depression, but God’s desiring you to be unhappy and miserable is not one of them.

If you are struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help. Our team is skilled at navigating these sensitive issues. For more information, fill out this form or call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with an admissions specialist today.

 

 

Renew Your Attitude Daily

Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz would tell his players, “Ability is what you’re capable of doing.  Motivation determines what you do.  Attitude determines how well you do it.”

Victor Frankl, survivor of a Nazi prison camp and beacon of light for hundreds of other prisoners suffering under Hitler’s Third Reich wrote, “The last of the human freedoms is to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances.”

Isn’t it amazing that a football coach and prisoner of war are saying the same thing — that it’s not our circumstances that hold us back, but rather that attitudes we display in our circumstances?  We all know people who delight in laughing at the cockeyed optimist — the one who always seems to be happy and on top of things, the person who has a bumper sticker on her car that declares, “Business is great, the sky is blue, and people are wonderful.”  But what’s wrong with this?

A life of cynical pessimism is a poor second choice and does nothing but drive us deeper into sadness and depression, making us weaker, not stronger, and ultimately setting us up for emotional exhaustion.  Oscar Wilde said a pessimist is one who, when confronted with the choice of two evils, chooses both.  Bad way to live.

On the other hand, a spirit of optimism is life-giving.  People who are upbeat regardless of their physical or emotional circumstances look for the good, just as bees gravitate to the center of a flower for their honey-making resource.  But it’s not a onetime flyby.  The bees in your garden need to fly back to gather the pollen from the flower again and again, through daily action.  It’s the only way we can keep them positive, vibrant, and alive.

Without a regular renewal of our attitudes, we will remain stagnant and uninteresting, and we will be able to offer little to those who need us most.  It’s just not possible to win at life and relationships with a self-defeating, unrenewed, boring, business-as-usual attitude.  That’s why the real attitude winners are the ones who:

  • Provide valuable service to others before thinking of their own needs
  • When discouraged, dig deep to the source of their faith and confidence
  • When trapped in a tunnel of misfortune, believe there will be light at the end of the tunnel
  • When roadblocked by poor decisions, remember that God is still in control and that no failure is ever final
  • Know that the greatest degrees one can earn are not academic but degrees of growth, persistence, and compassion for others

Be disciplined to review your attitudes and look to renew them on a daily basis.

Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 37 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety and others.

Containing Your Runaway Thoughts that Cause Anxiety

Jill suffered a devastating anxiety attack. She had been depressed for months over her upcoming fiftieth birthday. Instead of being a celebration of a half-century of life, Jill dreaded the date. She forbade her family from making a fuss.

Jill refused to go out with friends as the date approached. She was emotionally distant and began to complain of a variety of physical ailments. Instead of engaging in social events and her normal routine of volunteering, Jill spent months going from doctor to doctor, unable to find out why she was feeling so bad. The weekend after she would up in the emergency room, Jill called to see a counselor.

Together they worked on the reasons for her depression and subsequent anxiety attack. During their time together, the counselor noticed that Jill talked a great deal, almost nonstop. Once she got started on a topic, Jill would keep right on going. One thought led to another, and another, and another. Often, the thought three or four steps down the line had only a marginal connection to the first. The runaway thought pattern helped contribute to Jill’s depression and anxiety attack.

Jill was concerned about turning fifty. She thought about all of the conditions and health problems she had heard about in those over fifty, from cancer, osteoporosis, and menopause to Alzheimer’s. As she dreaded her approaching birthday, she convinced herself that being fifty automatically meant a loss of health and vitality. On the night of her panic attack, the spiral of her thoughts led her to believe that common indigestion was actually a heart attack. The more she worried, the more adrenaline surged through her system and the faster her heart raced.

The faster her heart beat, the more she was aware of it. It seemed abnormally fast and beating erratically. Jill remembered hearing a radio commercial about the signs of a heart attack, and sure enough, she suddenly found herself experiencing each one—rapid, erratic heart rate; shortness of breath; lightheadedness; tingling in her extremities. These symptoms, of course, are also present during anxiety or panic attacks.

The humiliation of creating such a crisis in her family caused her to worry she was losing control over her mental process. This fear of losing mental control prompted her to come in for counseling, something she had never considered in the past. Her counselor coached Jill to “slow down” and practice thought containment.

Many times, emotional depression and its companion, anxiety, can be brought under control when the depressed person learns to contain his or her thoughts without letting them escalate into predetermined catastrophes. Jill had convinced herself that her fiftieth birthday would bring nothing but problems, so it did.

It is part of the human condition that negative thoughts seem to flow easier than logical and more positive ones. An overactive brain can take a small incident and inflate it into a major crisis. If this pattern is repeated often enough, the person becomes swept away in the mental torrent, unable to find the footholds needed to return to the solid ground of common sense and reality. When the flow of thoughts slows down, the person is able to better realize the truth and maintain a grip on the probabilities.

If a person is naturally pessimistic, inclined toward runaway thoughts, depression is often the result. The person who feels powerless to control his thoughts assumes that the worst can happen soon will. This focus on disaster does not allow the person to keep optimistic, hope, or joy in his sights for very long. Negative self-talk and the grim atmosphere of a foul mood fuel this fatalistic mental spirit.

If you are struggling with depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE can help.  Call us at 1-888-771-5166 to speak confidentially with a specialist.

 

The Road to Happiness

In this world of difficulty and doubt, of struggles and hardships, of compromises and second choices, of injustice and affliction, each person comes to a crossroads in life.  There are two roads with signposts on each that say, “Way to Happiness.”

On the one hand is the road championed by the world, which promises much and delivers little.  This road is taken by the vast array of people who are tricked into believing the billboards along the way.  Those inducements, even in your own internal dialogue, for taking this road can be compelling because of all their glitzy promises.  Instead of happiness, though, this road can lead to depression, anxiety, and addition.

There is another choice, another road.  However, this road can appear less attractive when compared with the first.  Because of this, it is a road less traveled.  This is the road of faith, which uses a cross for a talisman.  It does not say, “Take this road to avoid your pain.”  It says, “Take this road because of your pain.”  The one road promises you’ll be in control.  The other says you must give it up.  The one appears all about pleasure.  The other appears all about sacrifice.  In the heat of the moment, it can be hard to make the right choice.

In other words, you’ve come to a fork in the road — two paths promising to lead you to your desired destination.  However, the one you choose may not be the most popular, but it may lead you to true happiness.

Taking the road less traveled will make all the difference.  The world’s road eventually leads to a literal end.  God’s road leads to eternity.  Because it can be so difficult to choose the road less traveled, here are just a few things to remember as you stand at the crossroads each day:

  • Happiness is not a response to life that comes from the inside of a person, not from outside circumstances.
  • Happiness is a gift from God, based upon His goodness and mercy apart from circumstances.
  • Depression isn’t something you live with; it’s something you get help for.
  • Worry and anxiety can be treated; they are a learned response to life that can be acknowledged, understood, and overcome.
  • Addictions both mask and amplify the pain; they never heal it.
  • What you tell yourself becomes who you are, so be careful what you say.
  • Relationships are meant to support you, not drag you down.
  • Taking care of your body helps you take care of your heart, soul, and mind.
  • Stop trying to control your own life, and start trusting in God to get you where you need to go.
  • An attitude of optimism is a choice.
  • Each day presents you with a new opportunity to be happy.
  • Sometimes the clearest lesson you receive today is confirmation of where you don’t want to go tomorrow.
  • Don’t wait on others to hand you happiness; take hold of it yourself.
  • Don’t let anything get in the way of what you need.  Ask, expect, and act.

As you embrace a new way of thinking, living, and responding, may you recognize that there is hope.  Optimism can lead you down the path to happiness and joy, and it can overpower the strongholds of depression and anxiety.

If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, The Center • A Place of HOPE is here to help.  The Center was voted in the top 10 facilities for the treatment of the depression in the United States.  For more information, call 1-888-747-5592 to speak confidentially with a specialist today.