Been to a doctor's office or clinic this summer? CVS or Walgreen's, perhaps? Then you may have seen our company spotlight in the July/August issue of Healthy Kansas City Magazine! This article all about #RadiateWellnessKC features Christi, Kathy, and Mary Jane and all they do--Readings, Reiki, Energy Healing, Astrology, and QHHT and other forms of hypnosis.
by Melissa Dunn
So I did a thing and decided to smash the damn scale!
I actually did this several months ago when I decided that my weight does not define me or my health.
Here’s the thing: our culture is so focused on a number and telling us how much weight affects our health when it’s simply not true! There are several studies that state that weight is not a true indicator of health. I also know that diets don’t work and in fact the majority of people gain all the weight back and then some within two years.
(If you want to learn more, check out the Health at Every Size Movement, or books like “Anti Diet” “The Fuck it Diet”, “Intuitive Eating,” and I’m sure if you're reading this you could weigh in with more suggestions here, no pun intended!)
Some of you may disagree and my stop reading here, or maybe you already have. That’s ok. Feel free to keep scrolling and move about your day.
The point is, I’m no longer equating my health and happiness to a number....
I know and have felt first hand the psychological damage that comes from weighing myself, yo-yo dieting, weight cycling, and the messages that foods are either good or bad for me or I shouldn’t eat a piece of pizza because it might go straight to my thighs....
So, here’s how I choose to live my life instead when it comes to food and my body:
• Do I enjoy this food?
• Do I want it right now?
• How will this food make me feel? (Physically, like will it make me ill?)
• Am I hungry?
• Am I full?
And that’s it! Am I perfect? Far from it. I’m also human and sometimes eat to fill emotional voids. I’m aware of it, and it’s ok.
So then I decided to ask myself these questions:
• Am I happy?
• Do I feel like the best version of myself? (Whether that be physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.)
• Do I need a change right now?
• Am I doing this out of love and kindness or am I doing it because I’m feeling shame or guilt?
We all have the power to change whatever we want about ourselves, and if you want to lose weight for your wellbeing, more power to you! But let’s do it because it makes us feel good—not because of a number on a scale or because society tells us this is how it SHOULD be.
Let’s also make sure we’re doing it from a place of self-love, not self-criticism.
Health and Wellness is about so much more than a number on a scale.
What makes you happy? What will make YOU feel the most fulfilled and whole?
By Melissa Dunn
Do the parts of you that experience negative emotion, pain, anxiety , shame and guilt, unworthiness make you feel broken inside ?
I used to feel this SO deeply and to be honest , sometimes I still do. I’m human and I’m a human who was taught by society that it was unhealthy to feel or show rawness, real emotion, or pain.
The other night I felt triggered by a past event in which I realized I hadn’t fully forgiven myself for past mistakes .
In the past I would have run and hide from my feelings , I would have let myself disguise the pain or pass it off as it being hormonal as we women also tend to do.
But here is where I saw my truly transformed self....
Instead of running, hiding , stuffing my emotion down with food , wine or pretending it wasn’t there at all I let the sadness and tears hot on my cheeks wash over me like a warm bath and you know what I did next?
I talked to myself like a young child , put my hand on my heart and the other hand on my stomach and said it’s ok, you’re human, you make mistakes , I forgive you, I love you.
After my tears subsided...
I decided that this was a great opportunity for healing and went on google to find a healing hypnosis for guilt, shame and forgiveness and I made a promise to myself that I was going to make a habit of this forgiveness and let this shit go, kick it to the curb , “bye bye, you are no longer needed here.”
This is what having inner peace and healing transformation can look like and it can look this way for YOU too...
No more shame , blame and guilt for your past , realizing that the past version of you was just trying to feel loved and to belong.
You learn to thank her and forgive her...
You then can make the choice to step into the next level version of you, the version who loves herself completely, even with all her flaws.
By Christi Clemons Hoffman
Yesterday I had the pleasure of leading "Meditation and Mindfulness for the Stressed AF Entrepreneur" with Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City (#GEWKC). My goal with it was to encourage entrepreneurs to make mindfulness and meditation part of their life and business practice.
Someone at the end of the class had asked about how meditation can improve profitability. I found several articles that address this:
I love that well-known and trusted sources such as the BBC, Inc.com, Entrepreneur Magazine online, and INSEAD.edu have investigated and researched meditation and mindfulness practices for businesses. The bottom line is that meditation aids in smarter, more mindful business decisions, improved memory, and better focus. As I discussed yesterday, there are countless health benefits as well that stem from the stress reduction that meditation and mindfulness provide, including lower blood pressure, better sleep, less pain, and reducing inflammation.
If you listen to podcasts (I'm a self-professed podcast junkie!), here are some episodes of the Radiate Wellness Podcast that address mindfulness:
Even 5 minutes of mindful breathing or three minutes of meditation a day are enough to start seeing benefits. Want proof? Watch this simple animation. Inhale as the shapes increase; exhale as they decrease. When I showed this to my then-8-year-old daughter, she did it a few times and said, "What just happened to my body?" If a child can experience benefits from mindful breathing, what can this practice do for you?
Re-posted with permission from Inland Empire TMS.
The past year has been a difficult one for all of us as we grappled with the fallout of a global pandemic. But this is perhaps most true for teenagers.
Months of lockdown, virtual learning, isolation from friends, financial troubles for families, and more have taken their toll on teenagers. Studies have found that the mental health effects of the pandemic have the most significant impact on teenagers.1
This isn’t to say teenage depression is a new crisis. It has been an ongoing crisis for some time as depression rates in adolescents continue to rise.
Whether you’re feeling depressed yourself and looking for answers or you’re a concerned parent, you’re not alone. There are many resources, treatments, and sources of help out there. This guide is one of them.
Teenage Depression Statistics
We can begin by first looking at the scale of the problem. Indeed, for some teenagers and families, it helps to know that their experience isn’t unique. Teenage depression is, sadly, quite common.
The CDC states that more than 4 million children are diagnosed with anxiety and just under 2 million have diagnosed depression. 2
These conditions are often diagnosed together as around 3 out of 4 of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety.
Diagnoses for anxiety and depression are more common as age increases, with adolescents most likely to be diagnosed.
This is a stark figure and it has been steadily increasing over the last few decades. To make matters worse, teenagers living below the federal poverty line are also diagnosed more often with mental health disorders.
What all this means is that depression is one of the leading causes of illnesses in teenagers. The consequences of ignoring this mental health crisis are severe as suicide is also the third leading cause of death in 15 to 19-year-olds. 3
Even for those who don’t turn to the most drastic solution, failing to address adolescent mental health issues impairs physical and mental health in their later years. It limits their opportunities and is ultimately detrimental to their long-term well-being as well as their short-term well-being.
What Is Teenage Depression?
It can be difficult for those who haven’t experienced it first-hand to understand what depression is. Especially with teenagers, it can be difficult to distinguish between hormonal changes that may cause mood swings or something more severe.
As a diagnosis, the criteria for meeting depression is when it is severe enough to interfere with someone’s ability to function.
Causes of Teenage Depression
Like most mental health issues, it’s not clear what causes teenage depression. There are a lot of potential factors at play that may cause depression in teens.
While researchers don’t know for sure what the exact biological causes of depression are, there are many chemical factors within the body at play that could be a factor.
Depression is associated with chemical imbalances in the brain. Most often, a lack of serotonin. This is a key hormone that stabilizes mood.
Other neurotransmitters are also associated with depression. When these neurotransmitters aren’t functioning properly, it impairs nerve cell connections and growth.
As well as this, it’s now understood that having depression can change the way our brains function. 4 The hippocampus, the part of our brain responsible for memory, can shrink after a long depressive episode.
Meanwhile, the amygdala, the part of our brain responsible for emotional responses, enlarges. This increased activity can lead to further changes in hormones, activity levels and cause problems with sleeping.
Everyone knows that puberty is a time when the body is going through a staggering amount of hormonal changes. For most adolescents, this means navigating through mood swings, impulses, and emotions.
For some teenagers though, the hormonal changes during puberty combined with other biological or environmental factors may be a cause of depression.
Scientists believe genetic factors are also a factor in depression in teens.
This shouldn’t be surprising news. Many mental health disorders like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and ADHD run in families, suggesting genetic roots.
While it isn’t known how much of a factor genetics plays in causing teenage depression, children with a parent diagnosed with depression are more likely to be diagnosed themselves.
It’s common for adolescents struggling with depression to have gone through a traumatic event. This could be in recent times or early childhood trauma.
Traumatic events like the loss of a parent or abuse can cause changes in the brain during formative years. These changes can make children more susceptible to depression in both their adolescence and adulthood.
The environment in which we live has a huge impact on our development in childhood. Family, school, friends, community, and more all influence a child’s development and well-being.
As we said above, adolescents who live below the poverty line are diagnosed with depression more often. This is to do with the environmental factors in their lives. For example, a child living below the poverty line will have worse nutrition than a child who does not.
All these environmental factors will cause teenage stress. The brain is overwhelmed with hormones and doesn’t deal well with stress at this age and this can affect the possibility of depression in adolescence.
Teenagers' bodies are going through a lot of changes during puberty. These changes can make them self-conscious, give them low self-esteem and feel helpless.
In the last year, in particular, many teenagers have been more isolated from their social groups and extended family. This lack of socialization may well have contributed further to negative thoughts.
Teenagers who identify as LGBTQ+ are at a higher risk for depression. This is often due to a mix of environmental factors such as homophobia at school or home, combined with psychological factors like a fear of rejection.
Excessive Use of Social Media
Studies have found there is a possible correlation between depression in teens increasing and social media.
There was a sudden increase in diagnoses of depression in teens in 2012. This is about the same time smartphones came onto the market and unlimited access to social media became the norm.
The study also found subjects were 71% more likely to have one risk factor for suicide if they spent more than 5 hours a day on their smart device, regardless of the content they consume. 5
Social media can also be linked to psychological factors. For example, Instagram in particular has long been accused of creating and sustaining unrealistic beauty standards. Young people who consume a lot of content on platforms like this may develop low-self esteem due to this.
Signs of Depression in Teens
It can be difficult to know when a sad phase has moved into a depressive one. This is why it helps to know the different signs of teenage depression.
Common signs of depression begin with feeling down, sad, or crying often. If this feeling lasts for more than a couple of days before feeling at least somewhat better, this can be an early sign of depression.
For major depressive episodes, the teenager may lose interest in things they once enjoyed doing like socializing or playing games. This is often accompanied by a significant change in appetite. This can be in either direction, so eating far more or eating far less.
Sleep can be affected too. For some, they’ll sleep far more than before and for others far less. Both the changes in diet and sleeping patterns can cause a loss of energy and fatigue.
For some teenagers, depression manifests itself in the form of irritability and anger. While all teenagers explode every now and then due to hormonal changes, if it’s happening often or is very out of character then this can be a sign of depression too.
Others may have difficulty concentrating, both at home and in school. However, if this sign is noticed with no other signs of depression, another mental health diagnosis like ADHD may be more appropriate.
We mentioned psychological factors above, but in terms of signs feelings of worthlessness and guilt are very strong signs of depression. These feelings cause teenagers to isolate themselves from both friends and family and further contribute to the illness.
The most worrying sign of all is suicidal thoughts, plans, or ideation. This is a huge warning sign for a teenager who is at risk of suicide and should be taken very seriously.
Less Common Signs of Depression
If a teenager exhibits 5 or more of the above symptoms for two weeks or more, they may have depression. However, there are less common signs of depression to consider as well.
Poor school performance due to a lack of ability to concentrate or a lack of interest is a sign of depression. Similar to this, persistent boredom is also a less common sign of depression.
Scarier signs include frequent complaints of minor illnesses like stomach upset or headaches. While the act of self-harm such as cutting or burning is scary enough on its own, the underlying cause of it is often depression.
Other risk-taking behaviors can also be a sign of depression in teens. This could include dangerous driving and unprotected sex. While drinking and taking drugs is risk-taking behavior, it can also be an attempt to self-medicate. Irrespective of the reasoning, both are a sign of depression in teens.
Warning Signs for Suicide
Around 3,000 teenagers in America die from suicide every year, and thousands more attempt suicide. As depression and suicide are so intrinsically linked, it’s important to distinguish the warning signs between depression and suicide, similar though some are.
Teenagers who are suicidal will have sudden changes in behavior. This includes a lack of motivation, changes in eating, and increased mood swings.
It’s very common for teenagers to withdraw and isolate themselves if they are having suicidal thoughts or ideation. When you speak with them they might seem hopeless or preoccupied with death or dying.
One of the most common signs of an imminent risk of suicide is if a teenager begins giving away valuable personal possessions. This suggests they have formulated a suicide plan and are moving through with it.
On the other end of the scale, a sudden improvement in mood after suffering from other signs of depression for a while can be a sign in itself. This change in mood is often due to resolving to go through with suicide to get away from the other painful feelings. It’s very bleak, but this can elevate the mood of many suicidal people and is a red flag for suicidal behavior.
How Are Teens Diagnosed With Depression?Though all the information above has been a lot, the good news is, once you have a diagnosis of depression there are many options for successful treatments.
There are many healthcare providers who can help diagnose teenage depression. This includes pediatricians, psychiatrists, mental health therapists, and more.
Your chosen healthcare professional will talk to you or your child and evaluate their symptoms. This is to help rule out other mental health disorders in order to make sure you or your child gets the right diagnosis and treatment.
There is also sometimes a physical examination as part of the diagnosing process. This is to rule out that any symptoms are being caused by physical problems, as opposed to mental ones.
Options for Treating Teenage DepressionOnce you have a diagnosis, you can move onto potential treatments. The treatment you choose is often recommended by your chosen healthcare professional, but you’ll be in control of which treatment options you pick.
The two most common treatments for teenage depression are psychotherapy and medication. They often work best in combination as medication can treat the current symptoms while psychotherapy can get to the underlying causes. We’ll look at both in more depth.
Psychotherapy is a form of counseling that’s also known as talk therapy.
Psychotherapy can be provided by a number of different healthcare professionals including:
This type of therapy can help you work through problems and figure out ways to cope with depression better. Sessions last between one to two hours and group sessions are often also available if you prefer.
There’s no clear timeline for success with therapy. This isn’t to say it isn’t an effective treatment, but instead to say that it takes different amounts of time for different people. Some people may see good results after only a few sessions, while for others it may take months before they have the same results.
There are two common approaches for treating teen depression with psychotherapy which are interpersonal therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Interpersonal Therapy (IPT)
Interpersonal therapy can help teenagers develop better skills for social and interpersonal relationships. This, in turn, can help lessen symptoms of depression caused by environmental or psychological factors.
This therapy works by educating teenagers about depression. This knowledge helps them know it’s not uncommon and it’s entirely treatable.
Once they have the knowledge they need about the disease, interpersonal therapy looks at defining unique problems. This could be conflicts with friends or family, anxiety around school, or any number of other issues.
After the problem is defined, the therapist will help solve problems they can and set realistic goals for better coping with them. For example, in conflicts with family, they could help the patient figure out how better to express themselves to reduce the conflict.
Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Cognitive behavioral therapy is very effective in the treatment of adolescent depression, even in severe cases. This therapy focuses on changing the way a person thinks about certain issues. They achieve this with a couple of techniques.
First, the therapist will look at setting up positive expectations for therapy. Much like with IPT, some of this revolves around knowledge about depression and how treatable it is. This technique also involves creating a relationship so the patient is comfortable and happy during the treatment process.
After this, the therapist will look to identify the ways of thinking that influence the patient’s behavior. This could be by examining assumptions we make about ourselves, other people, or the world around us.
The final technique helps to modify these assumptions and beliefs by changing behaviors. The patient learns better strategies to cope with issues as they arise. This can help patients deal with underlying trauma and psychological factors, as well as learn to cope with environmental factors better.
The symptoms of depression can leave us feeling dreadful. While therapy is a great option for treatment, it takes time to work. That’s why medication is often prescribed to help patients cope with the symptoms of depression in the meantime.
Common medications to treat depression include:
SSRIs are by far the most common prescription these days, as TCAs and MAOIs have more associated side effects. SSRIs work by helping the brain create better levels of serotonin to help balance moods. They’re highly effective for the vast majority of adolescents in treating depression.
Other Treatments for Depression
While medication and psychotherapy are the most common treatments, there are other successful treatments for depression. This includes ECT and TMS.
ECT stands for electroconvulsive therapy. It’s a treatment where electric currents are sent through the brain which causes a surge of electrical activity. For some people, this therapy can be very effective in dealing with severe symptoms of depression or other mental health disorders like bipolar.
Patients need to be put under general anesthetic to receive ECT treatment. In general, ECT is only recommended where all other options for treatment are exhausted.
TMS stands for transcranial magnetic stimulation. It works by stimulating the neurotransmitters in the brain that control mood. As suggested by the title, this stimulation is achieved with a magnet.
This stimulation helps to balance the chemical messengers within the brain, leading to the possibility of long-term remission.
Though it sounds similar to ECT, patients don’t need to be put under general anesthetic for this treatment and the potential side effects are far less severe. This treatment is relatively modern but has shown good signs of success in treating moderate and severe depression.
How You Can Help Your Teenager
The most important help you can get your teenager is the diagnosis so they can get the treatment they need for depression. But this doesn’t mean there’s nothing else you can do to help.
Educating yourself about depression (like you are by reading this article!) helps give you a better idea of what your teenager is dealing with. This can make conversations you have with them about depression easier.
You should be available to talk with your teenager and encourage them to do so. But don’t make the mistake of feeling you need to fix all their problems as there are many you won’t be able to. Often it’s enough to know you’re there and ready to listen to them.
You can also help your teenager by encouraging positive daily routines, as recommended by their therapist or doctor. This could include things like making sure they take their medications, helping them achieve tasks like tidying their room, and helping them eat a healthier diet.
Some teenagers with severe depression will resist any attempts to help them or to get them the help they need. This isn’t personal and it isn’t unique.
You can encourage them to learn about depression with you, as well as how common and treatable it is. Remind them that they have full autonomy over their own health and wellbeing and at no point will they be forced to do anything they don’t want to do.
We Can Help
Teenage depression is a very common illness. While this is sad, it is also very treatable with a huge range of treatment options available. Getting the help you or your teenager need as soon as possible is the best thing you can do. To find out more about our treatment options, just get in touch.
1. Mostafavi, B. (2021, March 15). National Poll: Pandemic Negatively Impacted Teens’ Mental Health. Retrieved from https://healthblog.uofmhealth.org/childrens-health/national-poll-pandemic-negatively-impacted-teens-mental-health
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, March 22). Data and Statistics on Children’s Mental Health. Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/data.html
3. World Health Organization. (2020, September 28). Adolescent mental health. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-mental-health
4. Harvard Health Publishing. (2019, June 24). What causes depression? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/what-causes-depression
5. Garcia-Navarro, L. (2017, December 17). The Risk Of Teen Depression And Suicide Is Linked To Smartphone Use, Study Says. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2017/12/17/571443683/the-call-in-teens-and-depression
By Steven L. Sanders
I am thinking back in my life for when I first attended management training that included a discussion on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I believe it was in the late 1980’s. I remember being fascinated about Maslow’s “theory” that all human beings move through a growth process to achieve their five core needs:
I remember being so excited about having a fulfilled life if only I advanced through the levels to self-actualization. I never stopped to think about how I knew what I did about the “right way” to feel safe and secure. I just knew that if I got a good job … I may be able to purchase a home … and from there I’d have the foundation for many adventures. Now, I look back with reflection and see that I got caught in the consumerism mindset of acquiring “stuff” that others told me I needed to make a home. It all seemed to make sense at the time; although, as time marched on, I did notice that the “thrill” of buying seemed to wear off. Under the Covid-19 “stay-at-home” orders of 2020, my life slowed way down and I discovered just how much of my 20’s, 30’s and 40’s were lived being driven by external programming (i.e., societal, authority figure, parental) about what defined success. My internal dialogue urged that, “I should do this…,” or “I must have…” or “I ought to be this way….” Many externally driven standards and ideals that I thought I should strive for. I compared myself against perfectionistic standards and ideas. And, you guessed it, I judged myself harshly for never measuring up. And, the goal of reaching Maslow’s idea of self-actualization seemed further and further beyond my grasp.
Maybe you can relate.… It’s only been recently that I’ve found people that live their lives from the inside out … listening for the quiet urgings of their own inner truth and wisdom. A deeply reflective way of living. One in which the authentic nature is used to design and create. Living inside out one’s internal dialogue may urge:
“I desire to learn about…” or
“I choose to do this …” or
“I’d love to…”
It’s from this place of your unique inner wisdom that a life can be designed from one’s highest values. I call this my journey to authenticity. It’s a path that I love to share with others whether in deep conversation or through personalized life coaching. Contact me if any of this resonates with you. I have heard it said that our life force energy is urging us toward our green growing edge of self-expression. Embrace your greatness, tap deeply into your inner wisdom, and design your next chapter. Reach out if I can be of any service to your growth.
For more information on the hierarchy of needs, see https://www.verywellmind.com/what-is-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-4136760
By Jennifer Scott
It’s undeniable that the COVID-19 pandemic has tested us in ways that we never could have imagined. Life as we knew it had all but ended, and we’ve been forced to adapt to what is now known as the new normal. Yet we’re already starting to find that there is no dearth to human ingenuity and creativity in the face of this adversity. And with no end to the pandemic just yet, we can only anticipate more in the days, weeks, and months ahead.
Here’s what you can learn—and make use of—so far to make life just a little bit easier in these trying times, and even save a pretty penny while you’re at it.
You do you.
Coping mechanisms vary from person to person, so what may work for some may be completely ineffectual for others. This is why it’s important to remember to embrace the notion of you do you—that is to say, do what feels good, right, and comforting for you at any given moment.
If the pandemic has you feeling anxious or depressed, and you're looking to seek help, consider exploring the holistic services offered by Radiate Wellness. From life coaching to energy healing, we can help you improve your health and wellbeing.
Additionally, The News Tribune explains that if there’s a silver lining that’s observable in this pandemic, it’s that of empty animal shelters. This is because many have taken to adopting or fostering pets as companions while they’re stuck at home. Science supports that pets can provide emotional support to those in need.
Keeping yourself busy is also another great way to spend time at home. It’s more than wise, therefore, to explore new hobbies that also help fend off anxiety and depression. You can even start a new career by working remotely—not only to keep yourself productive, distracted, and challenged, but also to supplement your income during this financially troubled time. While working, you can also expand your educational background by applying for an online degree program. If you're interested in advancing in the information technology field, for example, you can work on obtaining a master's degree in IT and earn certifications during the program. These can help you stand out in the field and increase your chances of getting a job with a higher salary.
DIY is king.
The pandemic continues to keep many businesses closed. This runs the gamut from fitness centers to restaurants and many others. As a result, almost everyone has been forced to ‘DIY or die,’ if only to maintain a semblance of normalcy.
Thankfully, countless tutorials (often free) on just about everything under the sun have cropped up on the internet, so even the most uninitiated can perform tasks once entrusted to the pros. Case in point, CNET notes DIY haircuts and nail care are now not unheard of, which are great ways to keep up appearances and save money in the process. Ditto with budget-friendly dog grooming, (mostly) free online cooking classes, guided at-home workouts (also free), and many more.
When in need, go online.
Finally, don’t lose sight of the fact that while the pandemic is a pain, it’s been made a lot more bearable—even pleasurable—with technology and the internet. There’s just no dearth of entertainment opportunities that you can find online at any given time, ranging from movie streaming services to downloadable books and music—all of which will only set you back a few dollars to subscribe to, rent, or purchase.
And of course, online shopping is proving to be a real godsend. As you spend more time at home, you can still enjoy a steady supply of goods when you shop online from major retailers like Walmart, Costco, and Walgreens. Best of all, you can stretch your dollars by using promo codes and coupons from many retailers.
Indeed, if there’s one thing that the COVID-19 pandemic is teaching us, it’s that we, as humans, really do have a great capacity to endure, and we can still experience joy even during the hardest times. Technology and the many affordable resources available to us at present are only serving to add to that. And with that, there’s no doubt we’ll all get out of this stronger and more resilient than before.
Photo via Pexels.com
January 27 is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. In honor of this somber day, and to bring awareness to the subject of mental health, we are posting this guest article by Sylvia True, whose episode on our podcast will publish January 26. Originally published by Psychology Today on December 25, 2020.
The inside didn’t match the outside. My childhood home was simple and plain, a yellow-spilt level with a square back yard and faux black shutters. The inside was packed with antiques from Europe, portraits in gilded frames, clocks from all over the world, Oriental rugs, and a museum-piece dollhouse that my great grandmother once owned and now took up a whole wall the living room. No other house in the neighborhood looked like ours inside.
My mother was a tall woman with hazel eyes and high cheekbones; she played up her sing-songy accent, and was everyone’s favorite. I often watched her frantically rubbing her eyebrow as she raced around, trying to fix whatever my father bellowed about in his German accent with his rolling R’s. Although for her it was all a bit of theatre. She liked the role of martyr and harried housewife. She prided herself on being married to “the most difficult man on earth.” She was fiercely competitive; she was a Swiss National Champion figure skater in her youth.
My mother believed in pretending. Pretend you are strong, pretend you never feel nervous, or anxious, or God forbid, depressed. Act. Pretend you are Jewish in front of Jews, and Christian in front of Christians. There is no harm in playing both sides. The inside doesn’t have to match the outside.
Both of my parents came from Jewish families, and both families fled from Frankfurt before the start of World War II. My mother’s mother and grandmother moved to Switzerland. Their reasons for leaving Germany were multi-layered. It wasn’t only because they were Jewish. There was another factor, something that in 1935 might have been even worse than Judaism. There was mental illness, kept secret for many years.
My father’s family made it out right before Kristallnacht. Until that point, my grandfather had refused to believe that people would ever do horrible things to other humans. He was a doctor, the doctor of Anne Frank’s family. He had sharp blue eyes, a great mind, and a naïve heart.
My father had a happy childhood, or so he insisted, though my mother would whisper to me that the Nazis had beaten him daily. Above all, no one in our family had ever been mentally ill. We were normal. Perfectly so. And we had better behave accordingly. Hiding and deception were a way of life for us.
Like many refugees, my parents refused to speak about their experiences. My mother’s mother, we called her Omama, was the family matriarch. She had emerald green eyes, perfect bone structure, and thick wavy hair that turned snow white in her 60s. She remained in Switzerland and had an enormous amount of influence over all of us. Critical to the point of being mean, she cared deeply about her family, especially her grandchildren. She desperately wanted us to project refinement and culture so that we could be accepted into the highest circles of society. When she had left Germany, she had lost her money, her position, and her status, but she still played the role of aristocrat. Though there were moments when her guard came down and loneliness poked through.
I tried to please my elders. I failed often. My father yelled at me to “pull up my socks.” My Omama told me not to slouch and to tame my wild hair. I felt stretched and pulled by the adults around me, pushed sometimes to the point of breaking, and perhaps I would have broken completely if I hadn’t known, somewhere in my core, that my family had been shaped by things they had no control of, things set in motion before I was born.
I married and had a child. The birth of my daughter triggered severe panic attacks and a depression that had been dormant for many years. My world cracked. The old rules failed me, and I had a breakdown that landed me in a mental hospital. It was the start of a deep introspection and an unburdening, not only for me, but for my mother and grandmother as well. Slowly and cautiously, they relinquished some of the family secrets. The insides were beginning to show.
I began to understand that the extreme attitudes in pre-World War II Germany--fear of the other, of homosexuals, mentally ill, Jews, Gypsies, immigrants—any non-Aryans—had seeped into Germany’s consciousness. My Omama, although Jewish, was swept up in the tide of the times, the belief in sterilization and euthanasia of the incurable. It wasn’t only the Germans who bowed to the science of eugenics; it was the world, though the Nazis were the ones to take these ideas to an obscene conclusion. Back then, my grandmother, a bright, wealthy, independent young woman, had done what she could to protect her sister, Rigmor, who had been diagnosed with mental illness. But my grandmother couldn’t save Rigmor, who became a source of shame, and ultimately a victim of the Nazi regime.
[My second novel], Where Madness Lies, is both my grandmother’s story and mine. It is a story about hope and redemption, about what we pass on, both genetically and culturally. The names have been changed, and some of the details are how I imagined them, not exactly as they might have been. But the bones of the story, the insides, are true.
By Christi Clemons Hoffman, MA, CHt
I just had the most amazing QHHT session. The client gave his permission to share, with his name, Stephen Neal--which, you will read, is important.
The client went to a lifetime as a lawyer, later becoming a judge. He described having a mentor he worked with who taught him law. I asked what his mentor called him, and he said “Stephen,” the client's name in his current lifetime. Hm. Interesting.
We then traveled to one important day in that lifetime. He said he had written the 14th Amendment and was very happy that it was going to become law! It would bring equality. I surreptitiously performed a quick Google search and found out that the author of the 14th Amendment was Senator Jacob Howard. “Oh, well,” I thought. “We’ll sort that out later.”
After the session, the client did a more thorough search. The real author of the 14th Amendment was actually... Stephen Neal--with the same spelling. This was simply astounding!!
Many facts about Judge Neal that came to light during the session were verified--he came from a rural area; lived in a log cabin; was a learned man with very little formal education; was self-taught in law; was married four times--to three different wives, as was confirmed in the session; and died at an old age after being sick for several weeks.
As for not being recognized as the author of the 14th Amendment, I found this:
“In the judicial forum, in the halls of legislation, in the church, he has been unobtrusive, carefully avoiding attracting attention, and, as far as practicable, seeking no public notoriety, but carefully seeking to be unknown. The most important political act of his life remained unknown for twenty years after its accomplishment, except to a few confidential friends who were enjoined to secrecy.”
What’s more, Judge Neal lived for a time in Lebanon, IN. Client Neal lived for a time in Lebanon, MO. We found Judge Neal’s signature online as well. The signature of his first name was identical to that of the client’s.
This has to be one for the books. I am always and forever in awe of QHHT!
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