--Disclaimer: I am not a licensed professional, everything mentioned comes from experience and personal opinions.--
The world is full of people suffering from traumas they’ve experienced, and as a result, depression and anxiety develop. Often, we make unhealthy lifestyle decisions as a means of coping. Unfortunately, when we think of traumas and abuses during our childhood and adolescent years, we often think of heinous acts against children involving different forms of abuse, abandonment, and neglect. We don’t recognize the wounded child found inside all of us who has managed the difficult task of reaching adulthood. At some point along the journey, someone hurt us and it damaged the inner child. It may have been a family member or a peer(s) responsible for the abuse.
There isn’t a person alive without at least one unpleasant memory from childhood, because as children, we’re powerless to defend ourselves against those who cross our paths and overpower us. At some point in our lives, someone else had control over us and the person(s), adult or child, used it to harm us, and that’s how we learn powerlessness as children.
Learned powerlessness in childhood leads to problems for the powerless adult, who can find themselves in controlling relationships as adults, and experience self-abuse, compulsive, and/or suffer from depression. Easily and often, we deny the existence of the wounded child inside of us and push unpleasant memories into our unconscious mind to protect us from further suffering. If we ignore our inner child because we’re afraid of the emotional pain, we only prolong the suffering.
Many struggle with the concept of the inner child. Think of it as a metaphor- “the adult part of our brains are rational. This part lives in the present and sees things as they are, right here, right now. The wounded inner child is the part of the brain that contains unhealed emotional wounds and traumas, usually from childhood.” (Benedict) If we don’t heal these parts of the mind they remain open sores which the world can pour salt in, which can cause impulsive behaviors and reactions we later regret.
Our damaged inner child hinders us from reaching our true selves. Have you ever asked yourself who you are without the physical abuse, depression, or substance abuse? When did the depression that led to questionable decisions begin? Do you remember life without depression?
It took a PTSD blackout for me to wake up and ask myself the same question, and I knew I had to heal all the root causes of the blackout. The first thing I had to do is recognize I need to reconcile the traumas of the child. I ran from the damaged parts of my psyche and I paid for it with it an emotional blackout. I can’t run any longer nor do I want to. I can no longer live under the heaviness of depression and self-abuse and expect that one day someone will finally save me from my misery. I have to save myself through mindfulness.
Meditation comes in many different forms. We don’t have to sit with our legs crossed and our eyes closed in an attempt to transcend to another realm. Meditation is simply time spent contemplating thoughts. Try these quick meditation methods:
Music- make a playlist of songs that include several instruments. Put your earbuds in and close your eyes. As you listen, try to pick out the different instruments and memorize the words. The exercise allows you to be mindful in the moment while you listen to your favorite music.
Create Easy Art- one of the most relaxing painting projects I’ve found is acrylic pour painting. You don’t have to be an artist and it doesn’t require skill or brushes. It also won’t break the bank as you can find supplies virtually anywhere. As you move your canvas around, the paint glides back and forth to create beautiful shapes and colors. Let your mind focus on the paint. This works well for those who have difficulty sitting still for meditation.
Journal- I keep at least three spiral notebooks around. The pages hold world building for my books, research, poems, and my meditations. I make a point to start a new page each day for meditations. I may read part of a book and reflect on how it affects my life and meditate on its meaning and how it applies to my life. Sometimes, I sit down and write about my day. I find starting from the beginning of the day is helpful to provide insight into our minds and worlds. If you’re worried about someone discovering your journal lying around try a journal app on your phone or buy an inexpensive lock box.
Focus on your breaths and clear your mind. If you’re a thinker, turn off your brain by thinking about breathing. Slowly, take deep breaths in and deep breaths out. Feel your body begin to relax
Some research indicates omega-3 Fatty Acid can be used in the prevention of depression. Try taking a fish oil supplement, but talk to your doctor and/or pharmacist first to check for drug interactions and side effects. Hemp milk is also a great source of the fatty acid, and it can be found in the natural section at most grocery stores. Roasted soybeans, walnuts, salmon, canola oil, and flax seeds are also excellent sources of omega-3.
A psychologist friend of mine once said, “90% of mental health is exercise.”
If you’re one of those people like me who dislike to exercise, find ways to make it fun. Plug in your earbuds, turn up your music, and dance in your living room or bedroom. Break a sweat and continue it for about fifteen minutes.
I also downloaded the app, Six Pack in 30 days, from the Google Play Store. I attempted to begin on the higher level and immediately regretted it. Try out the beginner level. It only takes 10-15 minutes for the workout, but it will raise your heart rate and help with depression. It also alleviates anxiety, focuses the mind, and improves insomnia.
I’m currently reading: Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child by Thich Nhat Hanh
Benedict, C. (n.d.). Reparenting the Wounded Child. Retrieved June 17, 2018, from http://serenityonlinetherapy.com/reparent_the_wounded_child.htm
Hall-Flavin, D. K. (2015, November 03). Fish oil supplements: Can they treat depression? Retrieved June 24, 2018, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/expert-answers/fish-oil-supplements/faq-20058143
Hanh, T. N. (2006). Reconciliation: Healing the Inner Child. Parallax Press.
Hedges, K. (2013, October 16). 11 Easy Ways To Meditate (Even If It Seems Impossible). Retrieved from https://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11317/11-easy-ways-to-meditate-even-if-it-seems-impossible.html
Lightstone, J. (n.d.). Overcoming Powerlessness. Retrieved June 17, 2018, from http://www.psychotherapist.org/Index_archives_overcomingpowerlessness.htm