Roadside Assistance


October 20, 2011
... providing holistic empowerment and spiritual tools to help people move beyond abuse and sexual trauma
Sallie Culbreth, Founder
Anne Quinn, Co-Director
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In This Issue
Overwhelmed and Out of Breath
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Overwhelmed and Out of Breath


Written by Sallie Culbreth, M.S.


As if the experience of abuse isn't overwhelming enough, the damage it leaves behind can be too. The laundry list of issues that abuse survivors often struggle with - depression, rage, dysfunctional relationships, sexual chaos, addictions, self-sabotage, and on and on - can feel like you're adrift at sea, battered by wave after wave, unable to catch your breath and quickly running out of strength.


When you combine the trauma you've experienced in the past, with the long-term and ongoing struggles you now face, the cumulative effect can leave you feeling overwhelmed and out of breath.


What do I mean by "cumulative effect?"  It's that heavy sensation that you experience when one thing piles up on top of another until the weight becomes unbearable. Year after year of emotional pain. Failed relationship after failed relationship. Addiction to recovery to relapse and back to addiction. Unending nightmares and sleepless nights. It means carrying so much stress and tension that you develop chronic illness and a compromised immune system.


Situations like these begin to stack up in your heart, mind, and body until you find yourself wanting to throw in the towel. You'll hear yourself say things like, "I can't take this anymore." You'll contemplate doing something destructive to yourself or others. You'll wind up in the hospital or out on the street.  That's cumulative effect.


Cumulative effect leaves your breathless. Literally. To live with chronic stress, exhaustion, tension, and dysfunction does a great deal of damage to the way your body works. You become out-of-balance and the God-given mechanisms to manage stress seem to fade into the background. This can lead to unhealthy coping as you try to compensate for being in a state of constant distress.


There are several things you can do right now to better manage high stress levels.


  1. Deep breathing. Stop what you're doing right now. Sit with your feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes if you're comfortable doing that and intentionally tell every muscle in your body to relax. Pay attention to any place where you feel tension. Inhale slowly through your nose so that you belly gets big. Don't breathe from your shoulders (where your shoulders move up and down), breathe from your diaphragm. It is often helpful to slowly inhale for about three seconds, hold that breath in for three seconds, and then exhale slowly through your mouth for three seconds. Do whatever is comfortable for you. As you breathe, focus on the sensation of relaxation. Think about the breath you're drawing in as a warm stream of peace and love. Think about the breath you exhale as the means for stress and tension to leave your body. You can do this any time, any place, and for as long as you need to.
  2. Use your voice. It's amazing how powerful it is to let someone else in on your struggles with being overwhelmed and stressed.  For reasons that are still a mystery to me, just this simple act of expression is a potent stress reliever. I've found that in those times when I have no human being who can hear my simple statements of need, I've been able to voice them to God, a pet, and in my journal. Regardless of who is the recipient, using your voice is a powerful antidote to stress.
  3. Dwell in God's presence and soak in God's peace. One of my favorite admonitions from the Hebrew Bible is God asking us to "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10). More than using your voice and expressing your needs (which are extremely important and appropriate), the practice of quiet contemplation, meditation, and spiritual silence go a long way in helping you to regroup and find the strength to go on.
  4. Help your body manage stress. Walking, stretching, mild exercise, and a diet that works for you and not against you are natural stress reduction aides.
  5. Seek Professional help. Sometimes we need professional help that includes therapy, psychiatric services, and medications such as anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, and sleep aides. These professionals and medications are part of the wisdom God has given to help us manage pain and function as we need to. There is no shame in seeking help and taking medications. It is often the mark of maturity and wisdom to know when to call in the experts. This doesn't contradict faith, it compliments faith.


Being overwhelmed and out of breath can become a vicious cycle. Like everything else in abuse recovery, the battles you fight are not fair, but they are what they are. To acknowledge them and accept the struggles you face is a giant leap forward in your journey beyond abuse. Once some of these intense cycles are brought under control, you have a greater opportunity to regain your balance and determine the best way forward.


To help you access some of the tools I've written about here, Committed to Freedom has produced a Relax audio CD that we're offering for a special rate. If you click here and type in the coupon code: RELAX, you can purchase the CD for $10 which includes shipping (media mail). This offer expires in a few weeks, so don't put it off!

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About Committed to Freedom

Committed to Freedom - Abuse Recovery Solutions - provides people with holistic empowerment and spiritual tools to move beyond abuse and sexual trauma. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit US Corporation governed by an independent board of directors. While our structure is based on Christian practices, all are welcome. We are inclusive, accepting, and strive to love and respect each individual we meet on this journey beyond abuse. We are primarily focused on helping adult men and women, their partners, faith and therapeutic communities.
Our office is located in Hot Springs, Arkansas, USA. We have two full time employees - our Founder and Co-Director. We also have regional volunteers who help us with events.
This communication is provided for education and inspiration and does not constitute mental health treatment.  This communication does not constitute legal or professional advice, nor is it indicative of a private therapeutic relationship. Individuals desiring help for abuse related issues or other psychological concerns should seek out a mental health professional..


Committed To Freedom
P.O. Box 20916
Hot Springs, Arkansas 71903

phone: 501-545-0791

fax: (501) 251-1154

A Meditation
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