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Sunday, April 30 2017
13 Reasons Why - A Psychologist's Commentary - Part 1

“Everyone’s watching it.”

Especially your teens.

If you have teenagers, watching this show is a must – preferably, before they do.  I promise you, this is a realistic, scary, emotionally-drenching, and triggering series on Netflix about a girl who decides to commit suicide and then leaves audio tapes on “13 Reasons Why” she decided to do it – connecting her peers to her decision.  This series highlights how important relationships are and how vulnerable teens (and people in general) are.  As you watch it, I suggest you assess whether your child is capable of absorbing the material in a healthy manner.  If so, then watch and discuss it with them. It is a great “open door” to discussing life issues: boundaries, family, sexual trauma, bullying, respect, and coping with life to name a few.

I found a great summary on of the series, in case you want the Cliff notes.

I believe that this is an incredibly written psychological “thriller” of sorts. The way the story unfolds is dramatic, creative, and alluring.  You want to keep going to see who is on the tapes, who is “responsible” for contributing to this girl’s death. As is with many books turned movie, there are gaps in how it was originally written and how it was produced. Yes, the movie is produced to make this more glamorized, yet there are many truths from both productions that I believe need to be discussed.

In part one of this response, I’m going to de-construct each of the characters that “contributed” to Hannah’s decision to end her life, and help raise insight into the behavioral and relational issues that are often thought of as being consistent with “normal teenage angst” (within Hannah as well as her peers). Many of these “angsty” behaviors are often the beginning signs of mental and behavioral issues that need to be resolved ASAP – the sooner the intervention, the better the likelihood of life-long change.

Reader warming: If you continue to read, I will be spoiling the “drama” out of the story. If you want to have a pure experience, I encourage you to binge-watch the entire series in a day or two (yes, it’s 13 hours of your life), create your own conclusions, and then continue to read my thoughts.

Character Psychologicals

I’m presenting the characters in the order in which I see as having the most “responsibility” in Hannah’s death. Ultimately, the decision to go through with suicide is most of the time a decision that is made prior to the actual event itself, and there are many “warning signs” that lead up to the final act. This will be discussed in further detail in part two.

Hannah – Hannah is the main character. Likeable, pretty, and insecure, Hannah draws you in with her stories and connections with the rest of the gang.  She has immediate power as you know that she is dead, and her “voice from beyond” commands immediate attention and respect. Her desire is achieved – to make her peers listen to her last, dying words.

My assessment: she overtly needs power and attention. I believe that she was extremely hurt by the multitude of painful interactions by her peers, but had no concept of how to effectively manage the pain. As a result, she plans out how she will get the “last word” – but does she want her peers to understand in order to change their behavior or does she want to punish them?

One issue that is not overtly discussed in this TV series is Hannah’s serious mental illness.  She appears to struggle with several issues: Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and has elements of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). These are all medical issues, as they come from and create true physiological changes in the brain. Depression and BPD can also have genetic roots, thus creating overwhelming emotions (to the point that they feel that they will drown in them) for those who have to suffer through trauma as well.  

Signs of her Borderline Personality: moodiness; reactivity; instability in how she managed relationships; mixed messages (saying one thing while quietly hoping that the person would do the other); being passive-aggressive as to leave the audio tapes that she uses as her “voice” in gaining control and (likely) revenge on her peers; and using suicide as an option for coping with her pain. Signs of PTSD: flashbacks of previous sexual assaults, reactivity to others’ behavior, becoming numb and paralyzed while watching her friend be raped, and hyper-sensitivity to others.  Depressive symptoms also include: low self-esteem, dependency on friends to make her feel worthwhile, not being able to stand up for herself or use her voice in different situations. 

Ultimately, Hannah is the most culpable in her death as she chose to “use her voice” as her final act, versus using it to gain help.  Due to her mental health issues, however, she likely had little to no ability to sift out what was about her (and within her power and responsibility to change) and what is about others (not within her power or responsibility to change). These mental health issues provide an over-riding (and often misunderstood) reason for her suicide.

As these issues overlap, her mental health issues result in an inability to cope.  When a person is genetically predisposed to emotional and personality disorders, there is a greater sensitivity to the world around. The environmental influences then become powerful contributing factors to setting her off.  Why didn’t she talk with her mom about the sexual assaults? Why didn’t she talk to a counselor (if not the school counselor) about the inappropriate touching by three of the guys that were in her social group?  A healthier-minded teen would have hopefully discussed what had happened, hopefully with her mother, if not both of her parents. This would have given them her parents the ability to show her how much they loved her – by protecting her, which leads to an internal sense of worth. No new car or pair of shoes can top that.

I know of so many people who have survived sexual trauma and believe that there was something that they did that caused the person to violate them. When a person is assaulted, he/she is a victim. A victim is a person who is in pain and is not in control of stopping that pain (whether you yell no, whisper no, or are too stunned to say no) – if you don’t say yes, assume it is a no. There is nothing that the victim can do in the moment to stop the person who is harming you. I don’t care if you are 5, 15, or 50. One of the initial signs of trauma is that you are in shock – literally cannot move or say or do anything.  [I have personally been in two different situations as an adult and have been too stunned to say or do anything initially.  Once the situations were over, I was embarrassed, enraged, and when I finally could muster up the courage, I used my voice.]  It is a long, daunting, painful process to recover from abuse or assault. Oftentimes, the internal voice that “blames the victim” is the hardest to cope with. However, when you know without a shadow of a doubt that there are people – even one person – that completely loves you and “has your back” – you talk to them about what has happened.

This takes me to my next point…where were her parents?

Hannah’s parents – You may say, “Well, they were there. She worked for them, she helped them, and they were supportive and complimentary of her.” Yup, but they were clueless about her life. How many times did she lie, avoid, and evade her parents’ questions? This is not a blame-game here, but a “wake up and watch your kids” moment. I highly encourage you to annoy them, stalk them on social media, grill them, and get into their stuff. Don’t keep secrets about what you know about them. Teens as a whole are trying to figure out how to cope with the stressors in their lives (school, work, future, sex, etc) and make you proud of them.   

The series depicts Hannah’s mother as being overwhelmingly upset and feeling guilty for not understanding the signs of her daughter’s pain. Her parents (like most parents) were consumed (prior to her death) with the loss of income of their business, which prevented them from seeing signs of struggle in their daughter. When Hannah was entrusted with - and then loses - her parents’ bank deposit, she becomes overwhelmed with guilt. She offers to pay back the money, and her parents reject this idea.  I personally believe that if they had allowed her to pay the money back (through working it off), they would have taught her an incredible lesson of responsibility and potentially helping her be a part of the solution rather than what she believed that she was - a burden.

There are many life lessons that can be shared, in my opinion. If you are a parent and are going through rough times, sharing the issues appropriately with your child (age, time, & manner) can help your child to learn HOW to cope with life stressors. Walking with them through your issues and theirs can help them learn how to critically think about their future.

Bryce Walker (rich, spoiled, school football hero) –Bryce is the inevitable rich “jerk” that many schools have. He depicts the epitome of what “success” means - wealthy, good athlete, revered at school. He appears to be untouchable and he believes that he is. It is clear to see how he distorts and manipulates situations into his own liking, and takes what he wants without believing that he deserves any repercussion or responsibility in the matter.  Bryce, in my opinion, struggles with a narcissistic and sociopathic personality disorder. He is entitled, deceptive and has the classic “King baby” traits of the narcissist. His raping both Hannah and another character (separate occasions) show that he has no regard for them, a classic sociopathic behavior. Behind such behavior is intolerable rage and pain. He has no insight about how lonely he truly is, because he has no supervision.

Where are his parents? Simply put, they are a picture on a wall. There is a scene in which his mother hears of the suicide, asks him if he wants her to come home from her ski trip, and he tells her no. There is a distinct air of loneliness and emptiness in the home. How can a child learn to behave appropriately when there is no mentor or role model? How can there be another whole friend living in the pool house for days at a time and his parents not know it? These parents seriously should have had DFACS called on them for the lack of parenting that they displayed, despite their immeasurable bank account.

Mr. Porter (school guidance counselor) – Hannah goes to the school counselor as her “last ditch effort” to “try again” in life.  Despite the fact that I’m not so certain that Hannah had already decided her own fate, he certainly did not behave in an ethical manner. Not only did he not take her report of her peers’ “sexual misconduct” seriously, he also blamed her for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Were he an effective and ethical counselor, he nor she should have been talked out of calling the authorities as well as her parents. He clearly failed this girl, her parents, and the other kids at the school.

Another point about her conversation with Mr. Porter - Why, if Hannah sincerely wanted to get help, would she a) talk to him and not her parents, and b) tape their conversation? I am concerned that her borderline features were in play when she spoke with him.

Jessica Davis and Alex Standall (Hannah’s best friends) – Jessica and Hannah are best friends at the onset of the series, due to them both being new to the school.  Alex is added soon afterwards, as he is in the same boat. At the onset, all are happy and content. However, three soon becomes “a crowd” when Jess and Alex turn to dating.  Because of their relationship, they soon leave Hannah out in the cold. Rather than talking about it with her, they avoid and reject her – leaving her confused and hurt.

When Alex and Jessica break up, Alex turns Jessica against Hannah by putting them in opposite sections of “The List” – Hannah has the "Best Ass of the Freshman Class," Jessica has “The Worst.”  Apparently, these “lists” exist in schools – who has the best features, the worst features, who is most and least desirable, etc.  These lists are merely objectifying, which is one of the worst things that can be done to a human being.

Alex is found to have shot himself at the end of the series. This kid has a plethora of issues that develop throughout, which are a different set of issues that can drive a teen to suicide. He tends to feel that he is on the “outside” – with peers, family, and eventually with himself. He tries to find solace in becoming popular and doing what “the popular kids” do, but ultimately follows Hannah’s lead in ending his life.

Hannah makes one last ditch effort to connect with Jessica, but Jessica ends their friendship by slapping Hannah.  Hannah, still desperate for friends, attempts to connect with a series of people, but each attempt results in more pain:

Justin Foley (Hannah's first kiss) – During her Freshman year, Hannah falls for Justin. On their first date, Justin takes a picture of her coming down the slide, catching a glimpse of her underwear under her skirt. Being a coward, he shows his guy friends to see the pictures, and rumors begin that they did more than just kiss, thus making Hannah into a “slut,” which permeates the school in about 30 seconds. Her interactions with the rest of the guys in their “group” thus show the character of the guys – who is interested in sex, and who is interested in Hannah.  

Courtney Crimson (“fake friend” of Hannah) – Courtney appears to be a light in Hannah’s life, but soon turns into a nightmare. She contributes to Hannah’s “slut” reputation by kissing her and then starting rumors that Hannah had sex toys in her bedroom. Why did Courtney do this? To hide her own insecurities about being gay. Her parents were a gay male couple, and she struggled with her own sexual identity. Like many people, she deflected her own fears by projecting them onto Hannah.

Ryan (gay friend who teaches her poetry) – Ryan encourages Hannah to explore her inner depth and expression through poetry, which is one of the most healthy expressions that she develops. She shares a very intimate poem about herself and asks him not to share it in his publication. He dismisses her wishes and publishes it in her handwriting. Naturally, this leads to more ridicule for Hannah.

Marcus, Zach, Tyler, Jenny (all part of “the gang”) – Within each of their tapes, she clarifies how each of them have broken her trust and violated her boundaries. Each in their own way shows their low self-esteem, lack of respect for her boundaries, immaturity, and self-centered behaviors.

Clay – Poor kid. I really had the most compassion for him. He’s an awkward, love-sick, and good-hearted kid. Hannah literally drove him crazy, both when she was alive and when he was hearing her voice again. He truly cared about her.  As a true teenager would do, however, he didn’t really know how to use his voice in being authentic with her. There’s a lot of counseling that he needs at the end in order to cope with this seriously tragic – and life-altering – series of events. He’s the true hero in this story.

I also think that the fact that his mom was the school’s lawyer was so grossly inappropriate but obviously for Hollywood is a nice twist. However, it added a huge level of pressure on him that also pushed him away and caused more undue stress.  Were his mother more respectful of the fact that he was Hannah’s classmate, she would have had to transfer the case to another attorney in her firm.  

Tony (“Yoda” and overseer of Hannah’s final wishes) - Although he appears to be much more respectful and mature than the other kids, it’s hard to believe that he’s actually in high school. He is a good guy and friend to Clay, while encouraging Clay to continue with Hannah’s post-mortem wishes.

Skye Miller (friend of Clay’s, social rebel and caretaker role) – Skye also has her own issues, likely struggling with similar issues as Hannah, but clearly acting them out in different ways. Her hair, dress, piercings and cuts on her wrists suggest that she also struggles with dealing with emotional and mental pressures. Although we do not know as much about her other than she knows she doesn’t fit in the “in” crowd and embraces this, she is another strong support for Clay as he deals with Hannah’s decision.

All in all, there are many distinct, realistic issues within each of the characters. Each of them has their own demons to face. My suggestion to you, particularly if you are a parent, is to oversee your kids. Learn the new apps. Take time to bother them. Be present and try to help them learn how to cope with this “microwave world.” I have so much respect and compassion for parents today because there is so much that they have to manage. In turn, you do too. Like my friend said, kids today can’t come home and unwind from their day. They are often bombarded by texts, snaps, group chats, and bullying in all forms. If you have no idea how to help them manage their stressors, please, please, please ask someone.  You will be doing both yourself and them a world of good.

And please remember, earlier intervention is priceless. It could save your child’s life.

Posted by: Genie Burnett, PsyD AT 07:31 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Monday, April 24 2017
Open Letter to Society

Open Letter to Society

Dear Society,

I am so grateful for so many things that you have brought me: A beautiful constitution, music to match my mood/emotions, parks to enjoy with my children, freedom of worship (shout out to 12Stone!), public education, and Nordstrom Rack, to name a few! America is a beautiful country that thrives because of its opportunity and its possibility, but I have a bone to pick with you…

On a beautiful Friday afternoon, after a long week of work, I picked up my 3 and 5 year-old and we headed to the ice cream shop in town to enjoy a topping-filled bowl of goodness. While in line for the crushed Oreos (my personal favorite), we ran into a perfect stranger who was also treating her family to the same cold treat. We said hello, exchanged a smile, and the next words that came out of her mouth were, “I ate a salad for lunch; I am ruining it with this [ice cream] right here!” Her words hit me like a knife to my heart. That may sound dramatic, but I want to explain all my emotions behind this brief interaction so maybe I can help others understand the weight of this statement. The woman meant no harm, and she went on filling her bowl with toppings, and she most likely didn’t even realize what she had said, but the conversation stuck with me and my family far past it being thrown out there. Society has conditioned us to believe that we have to justify ourselves with food, our bodies, and exercise ALL THE TIME, and I want to tell you why this, in my opinion, is wrong.

So bear with me… I know that my opinions are not always popular, but I am also a product of the American Culture and strong parents who have taught me that I am allowed to stand up for what I believe, so here it goes:

1. There are no good foods and bad food; we need to drop the labels!

Anyone who has taken 9th grade biology, 9th grade health, or -even better- seen a nutritionist can tell you that all food on the Earth has a value and purpose in the body. When eaten in moderation and balance, all foods can be enjoyed and beneficial to both the physical and mental health of our bodies. Another fact, media and social diet trends can sway public perception of food and totally manipulate the health benefits and biological factors related to these forms of nourishment. For example, have you ever been encouraged to go on a “carb free” diet? If you have tried this, I bet you were tired, foggy brained and down -right irritable… ever wonder why? According to an article the San Francisco Gate, “The role of carbohydrates is to provide energy, as they are the body's main source of fuel, needed for physical activity, brain function and operation of the organs. All the cells and tissues in your body need carbs, and they are also important for intestinal health and waste elimination.” Diets that eliminate foods or food groups from your consumption can be more harmful than helpful, can lead to mental and physical distress, and are highly unsustainable for long periods of time due to all the above factors. Moderation and balance are healthy alternatives to elimination. Ice cream is not a bad food- it is just food. Yes, it is best to eat it in moderation, but there is nothing wrong with enjoying a cup/cone every now and again!

2. We don’t need to justify ourselves when it comes to exercise and nutrition

When the lady voluntarily offered me up the information of what she ate for lunch as I was pouring on my Oreo topping, my first thought was did I say something or make a face to make her feel obligated to justify her choice of afternoon snack?  I did a self-check, and no… no I did not. I was too busy helping 3-year-old Anna Blue not spill all the gummy bears she was helping herself to! Next, I thought, is she blind? Why is she feeling self-conscious around me? After all, I am here getting ice cream, too! It is not like I am at the salad bar and she is at the dessert table; my bowl is heaping just like hers! And then, lastly, I felt sad for her and all people who have been conditioned to feel shame in what they eat. Society, media, and people in general justify, judge, and scrutinize what we eat all the time. There are so many trends, ads, infomercials, commercials, plans, books, you name it, that tell us we are only good enough if __________ (there are too many ifs to list! I’ll let you fill in the blank on what society has told you personally). We have been told “you are what you eat” and since there good and bad labels placed on foods, in turn, the poor woman felt shame because she was eating ice cream which society has deemed as bad. It is just as bad when someone tells you how much they worked out, ran, cross-fitted, boot camped, or whatever to earn the food they are eating. I am all for healthy lifestyles and exercise, but I am sorry… since when did we have to earn the right to eat? Who put that label on food? And why the heck have we kept it for so long? Our bodies need oxygen to breathe, yet I don’t apologize or justify the need to take a breath every 2 seconds! “I worked really hard at teaching those 9th graders how to properly write a narrative essay today, I deserve this breath. ***Deep breath in***” It is ridiculous, when you think about it. To the woman, all women, all men, and all humans beings for that matter- you don’t ever have to justify your food intake or exercise regime to anyone. You do you, Boo. Just do you.

3. Little ears hear everything

Okay- the mama bear is going to come out, so just hold on tight while I try to rein my category 5-tornado-self down to light breeze… to the Lady at the ice cream shop- my kids, who are 3 and 5 and at a formidable age both mentally and physically, just heard you label the beautiful ice cream treat that we are taking time out of our busy life to enjoy as a family outing as bad. When she walked away, my son asked me why ice cream was so bad for you, and I had to stop and explain to him ALL that I already expressed above, and I could see his little brow furrow as he walked his bowl over to the table to sit down and eat. Now, I am not going to pretend I knew exactly what he was thinking, but I have been that kid, that adult, who heard someone make a food comment and then subconsciously placed the same shame onto myself and/or on what I was eating. I own my part in being sensitive to food and body scrutiny, but let’s face it- I am not the only one! The world is sensitive to it; that is why the market is so big for diets, diet foods, and exercise. Again, I am all about healthy and balanced lifestyles. I fully support all food and exercise in moderation, but we have to stop feeding shame and guilt onto the people of our society when connected with our bodies and food. The fact is, there is no miracle mold that each person fits into for health. Education on healthy lifestyles is a must, but side comments, judgment, and disgrace should not be thrown at one’s self or onto others by perfect strangers in line at the local restaurant. My kids and I deserve to eat ice cream without shame and guilt.

I am going to wrap up with this- food does not define me. My exercise routine does not define me. My body does not define me; you know what does? My heart defines me. My character defines me. My ability to love, connect, and feel defines me. So to the lady in the ice cream shop, regardless of what society has told you, your worth is not connected in any way shape or form to that ice cream you are consuming. I hope one day you can understand that. And society- wise up. We are more than what we eat.



Posted by: Brooke Heberling AT 10:17 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, April 18 2017
Anxiety: You Are Not Alone

My eyes widen as my heart begins to race… there is an ache in my chest that slowly builds to an unbearable throbbing. The tightening begins; its origin is in my breast and then gradually creeps up to my throat. My esophagus tightens and constricts and my jaw takes on the weight of my efforts. My teeth clench as if I am trying to avoid the strep test at the doctor, and all the while, my heart races as if my adrenaline is warning me of a beast that is about to make me its lunch and I feel the undeniable need to flee. Run. Get the crap out of my skin immediately. Numb out. ANYTHING besides feeling the manifestation that has taken over my body and my mind; that is how I experience anxiety.

When I asked others how they experienced anxiety, the responses were similar:

“My heart races… I cannot sit still.” – Cortney

“I tend to hold my breath [when anxiety hits me].” – Lisette

“I always feel it in my stomach.” –Fiona

“My whole body cries with the urge to scream and my mind just stops thinking clearly.” – Danielle

“It feels like someone is holding my head under water and won’t let me up.” –Kasey

“I get dizzy and the world races around me.” –Ashley

“I just cry and I cannot stop.” –Katie

“My head “burns” or tingles so much.” –Sarah

“I get stressed and worried; I get an awful headache from the stress and I want to be alone.” –Tina

“I feel like I am failing at everything [in anxiety attack mode].” –Lauren

“I get the intense desire to be out of my body.” –Emily

Anyone feel one (or all!) of these symptoms at times? Anxiety manifests itself in many ways, and we are all unique in our experiences, yet we as humans can all agree that when anxiety hits, it can be hard to combat in a healthy manner.

Not only did I ask my peers to give me examples of how they felt anxiety, I also asked them to give me ways that they work through their uneasiness and imbalance in emotions; their answers were varied, but all can be summed up in one phrase: self-care.

“I use essential oils for the body, and a diffuser at night while I sleep.” –Melissa

“I use breathing techniques and grounding statements/mantras to help me.” –Lisette *Side note: my favorite grounding statement is God is with me, God is for me.

“My husband has a calming presence that helps me, but crocheting has been my savior in my battle with depression and anxiety. Just the focus helps me slow my breathing and it gives my hands something to do.” – Danielle

“When it is sunny, I love to go outside.” – Amber  *ANY change in scenery is helpful!

“Pray, journal, walk… focusing on my kids helps.” –Ashley

“I try to focus on my breathing.” – Stephanie

“Healthy exercise, yoga, therapy… and sometimes medication is the only thing that can help.” –Jessica *Medication can be a healthy tool- talk to your physician further about options if you feel the need.

“I say the name of Jesus and speak Truth to myself.” –Amy

“Worship music and prayers often help calm me down!” –Tina

“If I am anxious with thoughts racing, I journal or make lists. Getting outside, cleaning the house, or calling a trusted friend helps.” –Karen

“ Inspirational quotes on Pinterest!” –Jodi

“If I can get to the root of what is actually causing it, I pray through that. Also, chocolate, wine, and yummy food! But nothing does what prayer does.” –Bethany *Amen, girl.

There are two reasons I felt compelled to write this post… number one: you are not alone. So often, anxiety, depression, and disorder can make a person fell like he/she is on an island alone, but in reality, so many people share the same feelings, emotions, and struggles that you do. Number two: hopefully you picked up some tips or tricks on how to combat anxious thoughts and feelings. From getting outside or writing, to human connection and spiritual connection, there are many healthy ways that we all can deal with anxiety without slipping into rituals and disordered behaviors that are toxic to our well-being. Take time to feel; let the waves of emotions hit, break upon you, and then slowly subside because they always will. Waves do not last forever, and neither does anxiety. Remember to take time for yourself and practice self-care when you are stuck; you are worth it, Fighter. 

Posted by: Brooke Heberling AT 06:58 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Saturday, April 08 2017
Slip or Relapse? How to break the cycle of addictive behaviors

What Happens When You Stumble in Recovery?

The water rushed through my fingers as my goggles fogged with condensation. At the local aquatic center, I was racing the older gentleman next to me; although he was clueless to our competition, I could not let him win. I had skipped breakfast that morning, and the guilt and the old familiar high was hitting me all at once. I was timing myself… I must swim X amount of minutes or, in my mind, I did not exercise at all. One more lap. One more flip turn. One more…

I stopped and ripped the goggles off of my face. A familiar sinking of my stomach shook my wise mind back into being. What had I done? I meant to have a relaxing swim, yet once again, I skipped a meal and pretended to be Michael Phelps in the water. I slipped.

You see, I am a recovering anorexic with purging tendencies. Exercise was my drug of choice, and I had sustained from running for over a year, so when the opportunity arose for me to have a leisurely swim in the lap pool, I thought, “What harm could it do? I am not running!” Well, it only took me 10 minutes to figure out that swimming was not harmless for me, and the actions leading up to that innocent swim were most defiantly a slip in my recovery.

What is the difference between a slip and a relapse?  According to, “There is a major difference between having one slip and having a relapse. A lapse represents a temporary slip or return to a previous behavior that one is trying to control or quit (usually a onetime occurrence), whereas a relapse represents a full-blown return to a pattern of behavior that one has been trying to moderate or quit altogether”.  In the pool that day, I had experienced a slip in both my anorexia and my exercise addiction. I got out, dried off, went directly to the Chinese restaurant next door and ordered Mongolian beef.

The thoughts and feelings after that slip were varied and many…  It was my first slip, so I was confused, scared, disappointed, and lost. I didn’t know what my next move should be, and then I remembered the cycle of addiction that I learned about while in treatment.

Image result for cycle of addiction

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I had gone through the first two steps of relapse, and I had experienced a slip. I pre-contemplated the swim by getting my bathing suit and going to the pool; I contemplated the swim, and then I acted in the behavior of exercise. I had a lapse! The cycle can go on and on until I am in full relapse mode, but I stopped the trend by recognizing I was in the middle of my addictive behavior and I stopped it dead in its tracks.

In the past, I had not been so quick to stop my behaviors, and I had gone into full blown relapse… numerous times. The good news is, whenever you recognize that you are back in the old behaviors, whether it be immediately after the act or weeks into a relapse, you can ALWAYS choose to begin recovery again. Staying clean in any addiction and/or eating disorder behavior is not easy. It is a process that may need to be revisited for months, years on end, but it is a process that will save your life. There is no one person that is too far gone; everyone has the chance to fully give his/her life a chance, and everyone is deserving of a life free of disorder and addiction.

If you are in the midst of the lapse/relapse cycle, take some time to sit with your wise mind. We all have it; sometimes it just takes honest refection and hard action to restart the journey to recovery. There is hope. Recovery is possible. And no one person is too far gone. Keep fighting to live free. You are worth it. 

Posted by: Brooke Heberling AT 08:53 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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