December 2021 |
Our Blog Stories and Articles
Open Doorways into Understanding Trauma
Diana's Holiday Message
Our December Feelings
Dear loyal blog readers,
Sparkle and Fun and Festive Good Cheer! 
That’s how the December holidays are usually pictured on TV, and sometimes in our minds. It can be a merry time, a time when we come together and celebrate with gratitude our good fortune.

But it can also be a time of the “holidays blues,” a time of stress, anxiety, and depression for many of us who must figure out how to muddle through the holiday season. This is especially the case when grief, trauma, or shame overshadow the festivities, however much we try to hide the unhappy truth.
We can find all kinds of ways to present ourselves; we can overcompensate by being outspoken or overly friendly or by making extravagant gestures with lavish parties and gifts. Maybe we find the right blend of emotional numbness and isolation-or we find ourselves getting triggered, unable to manage our emotions or hold back the tears.

I lived in a house where there was uncertainty, bullying, and danger and as a result, I lived a large part of my childhood and decades of my adulthood, predominantly frozen. This numbness eventually turned to anger and dissociation, and when anger turned inward, it became a slippery slope of depression which started a long stretch of ill-health for me. There is a book I recommend titled, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma
The therapeutic process takes time, way longer than we think or would like it to. Because unraveling and unpacking the damage that's done to a young child, the trauma that's imprinted on the brain, and the negative impressions and conclusions that have resulted --it's a slow and steady way forward to internal healing, integrating, shifting one's perspective, and un-learning deep-seeded coping habits.

Even though I've spent my entire adult life learning about how this trauma has affected so many different dimensions of my world, it's only within the past ten years, I have truly found healing inside of myself and discovered who I really am -- no longer a version of a troubled and traumatized child.
When you stand and share your story in an empowering way,
your story will heal you and your story will heal someone else.
~ Iyanla Vanzant

I am sharing this personal story and resources with you because it is our hope that these experiences and this month's self-care tools will resonate and hopefully help in a meaningful way.
As always, thanks for reading!
We wish you ease and joy this holiday season,
Diana and Jan
Why does December feel so hard?
December is full of end-of-year reflections. We face constant messages about new year’s resolutions that ask us to evaluate our lives, identify shortcomings and disappointments, and create promises of change. We also reflect on how our lives might look different now than in the past, and that means remembering the people, families, and loved ones that may no longer be sitting at the table with us.
December is also difficult at work. We face stressful end-of-the-year deadlines, holiday parties and increased socializing with coworkers, and a looming vacation that can’t seem to come soon enough.

All of this happens in the setting of darker days and colder weather that creates a feeling of heaviness.
We receive a barrage of messages about what our families should look like, what our friends should look like, and what our holiday social life should look like. Our own experiences probably look different than the TV images of smiling families gathering around a fireplace or large dinner table. All of these December messages encourage us to compare our lives to the fictional ones we see in ads, the embellished ones we hear about from friends or on social media, or the nostalgic past that we once experienced.

During this time of year we often remember loved ones who are no longer in our lives. As someone who went to grief therapy, Jess P. writes in our #VoicesOfTherapy series, “This will be the third Christmas Eve without my father…This will be the third Christmas Eve my dad won’t parade his glorious purchase of too many fireworks…Loss is a complicated web of emotions.” In December when we gather with family or just pause to remember, we may feel grief more than we do in other, less reflective, months.

During December, many of us find ourselves interacting with family members who we don’t often see. Some of them might have hurt us in the past or might continue to hurt us in the present. We are confronted with anger and unresolved tension, and often struggle to set boundaries or voice our feelings because we feel expected to exude “holiday cheer.” As Cypress therapist Mike Hodson writes in 3 Tips To Help Survive the Holidays with Family, “Being back with your family of origin over the holidays has a way of almost erasing [your adult] identity and making you feel eight years old all over again!”

The resource and article we chose for this month's blog is from
Gifts are expensive! Many of us feel expected to bring gifts to children, neighbors, family, and coworkers. With very little time to make our own gifts, we turn to shopping for material items – all of which strain our limited budgets.

In the anonymous data we get at Mental Health Match, people reporting issues with coworkers this time of year. At work, deadlines are tight and holiday parties require more socializing than we are used to.

Two things happen in December that affect the way we love our bodies. We are surrounded by candy and treats, and we hear constant messages about the exercise programs and diets we should embrace in January. For many of us, we experience December as feelings of guilt and shame about our bodies.
What can we do to make December feel better?
This could range from simply not engaging in certain discussions or activities to verbally telling family members what you are and are not comfortable with. You can also set boundaries with your coworkers about protecting your weekends and time off during December. Maybe you even skip the holiday party!
Therapists know that December is a difficult month for nearly everyone. Every year, they help dozens of people cultivate self-compassion and healing. 
Our blog content offers a variety of meaningful topics
and resources for you and your family.
WELCOME! We are so happy to have you join us!
I’m Diana Kendros, the founder, designer, co-writer of our Trauma Talk Blog Series, and Mindset Coaching programs.

Let me introduce my good friend, Jan Sickler, our dedicated writer and editor. We are both nationally certified mental health educators, and we teach family members, caregivers, medical and physical therapy students.
Together, we created our blog series because we are parents with lived experience, that is, as parents we have seen our loved ones, our family members and our close friends, suffer from the ​anguish and havoc​ that trauma-related experiences inflict.

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As always, thanks for reading, and we appreciate all the wonderful comments!
Diana and Jan