Counseling Storytime: How I Survived During My Darkest Year

NOTE: This is the second part of a two-part blog. Please read well and learn.

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In less than a month of marriage, I found out that my new wife, Joan, was a kleptomaniac. She took money from my sister right under our noses and pretended to help us look for it. If not for the CCTV camera in the restaurant we were at, no one would have found out about it.

As the CCTV footage was playing, everyone got so quiet. I was holding my breath myself because I hoped that doing so would make the scene on the screen seem unreal. Even the security personnel did not open his mouth and did not meet anyone’s gaze. After all, we brought the thief with us. brought her with us.

Then, my sister Elle broke the silence.

“All right. I know we all saw the same thing, but perhaps there’s another explanation for it. Maybe Joan thought that was her bag?” Elle uttered carefully.

Hearing that made me want the ground to open under my wheelchair so I could fall into an abyss. I felt ashamed, angry, and guilty at the same time. I could not believe that behind my wife’s gorgeousness was an ugly and unacceptable habit. And neither my family nor I deserved that.

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My wife excused herself during all the commotion because she was apparently getting a call from her parents in Sweden. When we met her at the lobby, she still feigned concern over what happened. I did not know how she could act like that – like she genuinely cared. The rest of my family was so awkward and did not know what to tell Joan, so I felt the need to break the news.

To everyone’s surprise, Joan tried to deny it. She said the CCTV footage must have been edited or that someone must have framed her. Joan kept making excuses, but the more she talked, the more my love and respect for her diminished.

I did not go home that night with Joan. I booked a hotel room for her so I could think about my next steps. My sister was willing to look past the situation and move on as nothing happened, but I could not do that. How could I be happy with someone who broke my family’s trust and showed no remorse over what she did?

Getting Divorced

I contacted a divorce lawyer the following day. I realized I did it with a not-so-heavy heart – one indication that I made the right choice. After that, I visited Joan in her hotel room to break up with her officially.

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I was hurt when Joan acted all confrontational instead of feeling sad or sorry. She said, “You have the nerve to divorce me when I agreed to marry you despite your disability. Is this your way of thanking me for that? If that’s what you want, then you need to give me alimony for life.”

Joan surprised me for the third time in less than 24 hours – and not in a good way. “We have not been married for long, and you already did the unthinkable to my family. I will make sure that you will get a single cent from me ever,” I uttered as calmly as possible.

That was the last time that Joan and I spoke as a couple. The jury initially wanted us to go through marriage counseling to resolve our issues, but I made my case clear, so they did not push it. I also had that CCTV footage ready to show why I could no longer stay married to Joan and why she did not deserve alimony. Our legal battle went on for almost a year, but the heavens must still be looking after me as our divorce was finalized in my favor.

How Did I Survive All That?

It was not on my own, of course. My family supported my decision when I made it clear that I would not stand beside someone who would commit a crime towards them, regardless of how petty it might be. The amount that Joan stole was easy to earn, but my trust would forever be broken.

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I also met a counselor during the divorce process. I felt myself spiraling down, and I did not want to get depressed over what’s happening in my life. The counselor helped me evaluate and organize my emotions to express them in a way that would not harm me or anybody else.

In truth, this two-part blog is the result of my counseling sessions. The counselor encouraged me to express myself through words, but she chose to do it in any form. I decided to write about the darkest year in my life, hoping that my life experience would be a teachable story for anyone who found themselves in the middle of a crossroad.

Final Thoughts

I admire people who choose their spouses over their snooty relatives. We all deserve a shot at true love, and we should not have to give that up because our family members do not support our decision.

However, in my case, it was the other way around. My family welcomed the love of my life and was willing to overlook her petty theft for my sake. If you experience something remotely similar to that, choose your family over your partner because only the former cares for you.

Counseling Storytime: I Married The Wrong Woman

It was a cold, lonely night at the park when I met Joan. She was a tall woman with golden locks, porcelain skin, and a body that others would die to have. I did not pay attention to her too much when I saw her from a distance because… well, I never had any luck with someone that gorgeous before.

I am an amputee, you see. My legs had to be cut off clean when an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded during one of my duties as an army soldier in Afghanistan. They could have been saved if I got treated them immediately. Alas, we were hours away from the medics when it happened, so the doctors had no choice but to amputate my legs and send me home.

Had my new situation ever depressed me? Technically, no. It occurred while I was serving my country; it felt like a better way to lose my legs than by having them sawed off due to a disease. At least, I arrived back in the US as a hero, and then I got to get my bachelor’s degree and open my restaurant.

Dating

The only thing that made me sad one too many times was that it became extremely challenging to find a woman who would want to date me. Thus, I’m pulling the topic back to that eventful night.

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I was deep in my thoughts in front of the artificial river when someone fake-coughed behind me. When I looked around, I saw that same gorgeous woman smiling at me. After exchanging names and pleasantries, Joan sat down next to me for a chat.

Joan was funny and insightful, so I did not notice that we had been talking until midnight. We would have stayed there until the morning if the park keepers did not ask us to leave so that they could clean the entire place. On our way out, I took a chance and asked for Joan’s number. She approached me first and did not seem to mind my disability, so I thought – hoped – that I had a shot with her.

Sadly, Joan replied, “As much as I want to continue communicating with you, my work visa will expire in less than a month. I will have to go back to Sweden, so we may not meet again.”

That stumped me. Sweden would be easy to visit, but long travels were a bit troublesome in my current physical state. Still, I insisted on staying in touch with Joan and seeing her again for the remainder of her time in the country.

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So, Joan and I met every day in the next few weeks. We would go on dates everywhere and get to know each other better. Soon enough, I found myself falling in love with her.

On Joan’s last week in the US, we were both sad and quiet because of her impending departure. Then, one night, it just occurred to me to ask for her hand in marriage so she could stay here for good. I was super nervous as I planned my proposal, but I became the happiest man on earth when she said yes. We got married at a chapel and fixed her papers the next day.

Marriage And Family

I honestly believed that Joan and I would live happily ever after. We settled her documentation first, which was a breeze. Once that’s done, I finally brought my new bride to my childhood home so that she could meet my parents and two older sisters.

That’s when things began to unravel. My family was initially shocked about my rash decision, but I explained that I did it out of love, so they forgave me at once. My sisters tried everything to make Joan feel welcomed, and I was glad to see Joan seemingly getting along with them.

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When we went home that night, though, my new wife could not stop talking about my sisters’ gold accessories. She was like, “Did you see that 5-carat diamond on Elle’s finger? Oh, my!” or “I love Cece’s necklace! Where do you think she got that?”

I did not think much about it, but it made me want to buy all those things for Joan. A few days later, though, the entire family was out for lunch because my eldest sister, Elle, wanted to celebrate our wedding. Elle was old-fashioned, so she always brought cash everywhere instead of a credit card.

We were all having fun and making jokes when Elle rummaged in her bag for the money and came up with half the amount she brought. It was enough to cover our bill, but everyone panicked because $1,000 was still too much to lose, no matter how rich you might be.

The entire family began looking everywhere. We eventually informed the staff about it as my sister insisted that she had the money when we all sat down. Luckily for Elle, there was a CCTV camera close to us, and the manager invited us to their security room to see the footage. Unfortunately for me, the video showed my new wife reaching into my sister’s bag while chatting away and then bundling it up and putting it in her back pocket.

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So, as it turned out, I married the wrong person.

 

NOTE: Please be informed that this is the first part of a two-part blog. Stay tuned to know how the matter got resolved.

Depression And Anxiety Is Difficult Especially During This Pandemic Time

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It took me a while to realize that I have depression, even before this COVID-19 situation happened. What I experienced before was a sense of helplessness and hopelessness. I did not want to move. I did not want to wake up. I did not want to attend to my kids. I did not even like to eat, take a bath, talk to others, or just stand up. No one could talk me into moving, but my grandmother. She lives in another state and would call me – “Deng, what’s happening to you? You have little kids to take care of. C’mon. Get up.”

Continue reading “Depression And Anxiety Is Difficult Especially During This Pandemic Time”

Why Disabled Folks Should Stand Up For Themselves According To A Therapist

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No matter which therapist you ask about the typical types of clients that come to their office for a consultation, you will tend to hear most – if not all – of them say that a good number of them are people with disabilities. Some may have a neurological condition such as ADHD, ADD, autism, etc. Others may be dealing with a physical disability due to an accident, illness, and various causes. These individuals feel the need to turn to a therapist often because they have such a difficult time coping with their situation on their own.

The truth is that the disabled folks who ask for help from mental health professionals are genuinely commendable. It is easy to let the darkness swallow so that you can’t feel pain anymore. It is easy to allow the sneers and the awful names that narrow-minded people throw at you to bring you to a point in which you are already hanging by a thread. However, such individuals with disabilities believe – or want to believe – that life does not and should not end because you are not like everyone else. That makes them some of the most reliable folks in this planet, frankly speaking.

“Building assertiveness also means to not shy away from confrontation. Confrontation is arousing, and those who’d rather avoid confrontation would not only feel more arousal than those who do not, but also would be more likely to interpret this arousal as fear,” writes Joachim I Krueger Ph.D.

Importance Of Standing Up For Yourself

One of the things that a therapist can teach to their clients, especially to the people who feel like they are the underdogs in this perfectly imperfect world, is being able to stand up for themselves. After all, this task is not as effortless as getting on your two feet and making sure that you do not fall right after. Even a leg amputee or someone numb from the waist down should be able to do it without anyone’s help. The only tools you need here are your determination to live happily and the courage to do what’s right for yourself and everyone you love.

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You have to learn how to stand up for yourself because:

1. You Cannot Let Others To Fight Your Battles

Considering we are aiming to be transparent here, it is not rude to say at all that it matters to know how to fight your battles on your own. Not many people think that they have the strength to do since they are already dealing with a disability. Some even get upset if they go through a hardship all of a sudden, and no one has come to their aid at once.

Although you may be the only disabled person in your family or circle of friends, you should remember that everyone around you tends to experience ups and downs as well. They cannot come to the rescue 24/7; you cannot expect them to drop everything immediately because some lawless stranger made fun of you. No, you need to figure out how to face your adversaries head on even if you are alone.

2. You Want To Show To The Rest Of The World That Your Disability Does Not Make You Weak

“Living with a disability can be a source of value, meaning and pride, rather than a flaw or weakness,” says Elizabeth Mazur, Ph.D.

As awful as it may sound, having a disability tends to make folks assume that you are weak. When your legs get paralyzed due to an illness, after all, you will not be able to get on your feet. You may have to depend on a wheelchair or walker even when you need to use the bathroom. If you are blind, some people may instantly think that you cannot live on your own or travel to different places all by yourself.

By learning how to stand up for yourself, though, it will not take much time to prove to everyone that you are far from being weak. Your legs may no longer be functional, but you can find activities that will benefit not only you but also other individuals. Your vision may be impaired, but you can rely on your other senses to live without outside help every day. Remember: it’s all in the mind.

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3. You Can Earn Everyone’s Respect This Way

Showing your sense of independence despite being in a situation in which you have every right to ask for help forever is exceptionally remarkable. Imagine, even though you have a disability that is most likely permanent, it does not hinder you from living well. You don’t have to depend on your loved ones; you are even capable of making money instead of relying on the financial assistance that federal agencies and non-profit organizations may give to you willingly. You can do all that and more because you want to, and that is something you will undoubtedly gain a lot of respect for.

“Start by finding and talking to someone safe where you can be safe to be the vulnerable you. Give birth to your core self and try to recognize when you are telling yourself to be different in order to fit in,” writes Kimberly Key Ph.D.

Final Thoughts

Life is too short to let naysayers ruin it. At the same time, life is too precious to allow a disability to prevent you living; however you want to. Consider the benefits of standing up for yourself now!

Ways To Deal With Depression After Becoming Disabled

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People tend to think that they have to be extremely cautious when talking in front of someone born with a physical disability. A person trapped in a wheelchair from childhood, for instance, may turn sour if you openly complain about your legs feeling like noodles after participating in a marathon. You are careful not to drop questions such as “Will you look at that?” or “Can you see that?” around a blind individual as well.

The truth, nonetheless, is that the folks who have lived with a disability forever are the strongest people you will ever encounter. Jokes don’t affect them, primarily when they come from individuals they trust. These persons can even banter with you and know their rights as a disabled fellow. In short, they can handle themselves pretty fine.

The ones to worry about more are the people who became physically incapacitated due to an injury or accident. They are unable to function the way they used to; no amount of rehabilitation may alter their current condition. When the frustration, anger, fear, and sadness combine, the result is a mental disorder known as depression. To understand more about this mental illness, visit Betterhelp.com. They post a lot of mental health topics on their Facebook page and some interesting quotes on Instagram as well.

Try to follow the tips below once you’re ready to deal with the psychological illness.

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  1. Admit That You Feel Depressed

The initial step to overcoming the disorder is acceptance. You need to acknowledge that depression has invaded your system, that all the negative and dark ideas running in your brain are products of the mental disease. It is vital to dissociate yourself from the depression early so that you can identify which thoughts are yours and which ones are only there because of the disorder.

  1. Change How You Think Of Yourself

Acquiring a long-term disability can easily enable you to call yourself useless, weak, and other names that are too jarring to mention. However, that’s something you have to stop doing immediately because your thoughts are compelling. Thinking of yourself in that light will eventually cause you to transform and indeed become a worthless human being. Assuming you wish things were different, you should start changing the way you think now.

“This helps elucidate thoughts that are reasonable, probable, or sometimes even rational,” says Alicia H. Clark, PsyD. “Gratitude is something I work with people to cultivate especially when life feels overwhelming and negative,” she suggests.

  1. Stop Hiding From People

The depression may also go away faster once you avoid isolating yourself. You see, the act of hiding pushes you in the dark and allows you to remain stuck in your head, unreachable for individuals who can reason with you differently. The more you conceal yourself from others, the worse the mental disorder can be. You may start thinking about taking your life over time, which admittedly is not what you want deep down.

  1. Accept Your Family’s Support

A depressed individual is no different from a child who cannot function properly without the loved ones supporting him or her. The idea may not sit well in an adult’s mind, yes, but it’s the harsh truth that comes with the illness. You need to lean on your family to get back up again; you have to let them help you. Although your pride may try to get in the way, you should set it aside for a while until you feel okay.

“By building a list of people that you trust, with whom you can talk to in times of need, you allow yourself a strong sense of not being alone,” says David Klow, LMFT, founder of Chicago’s Skylight Counseling Center. He adds, “Learning to have a reassuring and soothing inner voice can make a big difference in improving your mental health.”

  1. Go To Therapy

In case all the other self-help attempts fail, you can always find a psychotherapist to help you deal with depression. What’s impressive about therapy these days is that there’s no need to look for a clinic all over the city. You can do some search on the internet for the best online counseling platforms and connect with a counselor while maintaining your anonymity. Thus, you’ll never feel judged or ashamed of sharing your issues.

“Therapists work closely with their patients to create tailored treatment plans to address their unique needs and concerns,” explains Laura Mufson, PhD, Lynn Bufka, PhD, and C. Vaile Wright, PhD. “Psychotherapy can help patients learn ways to better cope with stress and manage their symptoms of depression.”

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Overcoming depression after becoming disabled is not a far-off dream. The disability may remain, the mental disorder may be incurable by science, but there’s a high chance that you only need to rely on yourself and the people you love to get rid of the latter.

Good luck!

5 Signs That Your Disability Already Turned You Into A Depressed Person

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When a loved one comes to you one day and admits that he or she suffers from depression, your instincts won’t make you ask why or judge the person at once. You will want to assure him or her first that your support is endless, that you do not doubt their capacity to overcome the mental disorder. Then, you keep your phone charged all the time, just in case your beloved calls at an odd hour due to emergency reasons. You got no plans to abandon him or her, to say the least.

Now, this scenario can become a little twisted if you find yourself in that loved one’s position because of a newly acquired disability. You might try to continue doing the tasks that used to be easy peasy for you, although they are already impossible for you to do. It is effortless to show a tough façade in front of your colleagues, even if you honestly don’t feel like talking to anyone. You can do that and more to avoid making others – as well as yourself – see that you are leaning towards the depression alley.

” In an instant our life is forever changed. When unexpected life events result in substantial physical impairment, the personal results can be devastating,” writes Katie Doppelheuer MA, LGPC.

As admirable as your conviction is, however, you need to accept that you have this mental disorder immediately. That is the key to start the healing process. In case you still can’t, reading the following signs may help you admit to yourself that you indeed have depression.

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  1. Your Jolly Personality Is Gone

A quick indication that the disability affected your disposition in life is the decrease or lack of cheerfulness in the way you move or talk. Whereas you tend to yell “Hello, friend!” 20 meters away from your buddy, you barely greet anyone now. You may smile out of courtesy sometimes, but the typical grin that reaches the eyes is nowhere to be seen.

  1. You Cannot Focus On Anything

Depressed persons are not always sure about what they are doing as well. The boss may ask you to create copies of an important document, for instance, and then place them in separate folders. Although you go to the Xerox area, your mind flies in an instant, and you already forget how many file reproductions you are supposed to do. The result, of course, is that your work performance suffers.

  1. You Want To Stay Out Of Loved Ones’ Sight

When you have depression, it may feel better to isolate yourself from the world. Your goal is to let nobody – not even the people who genuinely care for your welfare – to see you go through this ordeal. Thus, you often come up with excuses every time your friends want to meet at a restaurant or your parents and siblings ask if they can visit your place.

  1. Your Anger Bubbles Over Quickly

The frustration over the unfortunate situation usually consumes disabled individuals like you, to the extent that you are quick to lose your temper. Your loved ones have to walk on eggshells around you all of a sudden, in fear of getting shouted at when they make a tiny noise. You cannot forgive accidental mistakes either, and you take any joke seriously.

“In the face of such challenging individuals, it’s tempting to believe that they are the perpetrators and we are the victims, or that they hold the power with their challenging behavior. Such attitudes, even if justified, are reactive and thus self-weakening,” writes Preston Ni M.S.B.A.

  1. You Feel Worthless

Lastly, with depression, you never consider yourself worthy of someone’s love and trust. You think that your position at work should go to any colleague whose limbs are all working well. You hardly speak with friends, no matter how much they reach out to you. In your head, these concerned folks contact you because they either pity your condition or are merely doing it for old times’ sake.

“No one is worthless. Our lives are all worth something. But feeling that you’re worthless, again, is a sign of serious depression: melancholia,” writes Edward Shorter Ph.D.

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Can you picture yourself acting out some of the examples above? If so, you should accept that you have depression once and for all. It is in your system; it can only go away once you decide to deal with it. There’s no reason to conceal the truth, to be honest.You undoubtedly have family and friends who will always be there to help you overcome the mental disorder. Just let them in – allow them to support you – and everything will be well.

 

5 Ways To Live With Your Physical Disability

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Learning to live with a physical disability requires so much effort and resolution. It is not easy to do things without all your five senses working, primarily when you were not born with this condition. If you cannot see, you need a guide dog or ask another human being to help you. If you cannot speak, it will be a challenge to express yourself to people who do not understand sign language. Furthermore, even though you know that you can hold a particular job as any fully-abled person, it might be uneasy to find a company that hires people with disability.

Nevertheless, your life should not stop revolving because of your physical condition. There are still different ways to live a full life despite having a debility.

 

Take Care Of Yourself

Admit it or not, knowing that you carry a disability on one part of your body tends to make you feel like your whole system has a problem. You refuse to eat or go to therapy because you believe that either activity cannot help you regain the senses you lost. You develop dangerous habits, thinking that you are already a total failure anyway. You waste your time asking yourself a lot of whys.

We cannot blame you for feeling as if the entire world is against you. It is not within our means as well to guarantee that your hardships will go away soon. Despite that, once you look after yourself and concentrate on building up other body parts that still function, you may not consider yourself as disabled as before.

“There’s no one size-fits-all formula. Key activities include lifestyle medicine, creative pursuits, hobbies, time with loved ones, and positive mental dialogue,” writes Kristen Lee Ed.D., LICSW

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Think Of Your Strengths

Your situation may not seem so bleak once you remember your strengths. If we are honest, an unfortunate incident may rob you of one or two abilities, but it does not mean that you have no other skills to show. Stevie Wonders, after all, may not be able to see, yet he can sing and play music. Although Stephen Hawking could not talk or move, it did not stop him from teaching, writing, and discovering.

Only you can tell where your strengths lie. Nobody can look for them on your behalf since the talents are within you. It would be great if you let them come out by not stressing too much about your disability.

“Problems and upsetting emotions stick with us like glue. Strengths can help bring greater balance to this equation,” writes Ryan M. Niemiec Psy.D.

Accept Support

If you have seen movies in which the strong characters become disabled, you may have noticed that they react the same way. They want to detach themselves from the world. If a concerned loved one tries to get close, they push the helpers away, thinking that these folks merely feel pity for them.

The truth is that pity is not even among the reasons why genuine people offer their support to you. In case they happen to be close friends or family members, it is because they love you and want to see you with your head held up high again. If the help comes from an organization that you have never contacted before, it may be due to their belief in your existing work. Hence, you should not be ashamed of accepting the assistance that others are giving to you freely.

“By receiving with tender self-compassion, we’re allowing ourselves to be touched by life’s gifts,” writes John Amodeo Ph.D., MFT.

Remember Your Purpose In Life

When life gave you a disability, the dreams and hopes you’ve held on to probably went to the back of your mind. The light thoughts got replaced by dark, depressive ideas as you find yourself unable to do everything that used to be effortless for you. For instance, you are not supposed to drive once you become blind. You cannot leave your wheelchair after a leg amputation unless you obtain a prosthetic one.

No one who has not been in your position can gauge how difficult your situation is – that is true. However, when you finish grieving for what you lost, you should clear your head to remember what you have always wanted to achieve pre-disability. Taking note of your life’s purpose one more time, after all, may allow you to wipe your tears and move forward.

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Avoid Making Comparisons

The worst things that you can voice out go along the lines of: “Why can’t I function like other people?” “Why do I need to be in a wheelchair, while others can use their feet and legs to walk?” “I wish I can speak or see or hear like them.”

The reason why you can talk about these things is that you feel as if the individuals with no disability are better than you. You always compare what you can do to theirs. Does that give you peace of mind, though? No.

You have to take a break from comparing yourself to other people today. You are not different from everyone you see on the streets. While you’ve got flaws, it does not entail that those folks do not have body features that they avert. It just so happens that they avoid dwelling on their misgivings; that’s why it seems like they have a perfect life. That is something you should try instead of making comparisons all the time.

 

Luckily, the world is slowly but surely changing. Laws that give disabled individuals a better shot at earning money and living independently are being signed and passed. Sooner than later, the fine line that separated abled and disabled people may dissolve. You may then never need to worry about your physical disability.