Dipped in Shame

“All day long my disgrace is before me, and shame has covered my face.” Psalm 44:15

Some of us truly understand shame. It’s like we have been dipped in it, we have wallowed in it and things are sticking to us. We live out our lives in disgrace and in the sense of nasty embarrassment which we can’t truly resolve. And it affects all that we do, even in those rare moments we are not aware of it.

I honestly wish I was “teflon.” (I would love to have a ‘non-stick’ heart.) There is often a constant sense of being totally insufficient as a person. It seems I can develop a deep awareness of being defective and unworthy. Many of us feel this way all the time. It is painfully welded to us, and we keep trying to figure how to break that dark bond that’s on our hearts and minds.

Mental illness thrives on that blackness. Depression feeds on that stuff, it seems to cycle through us. Our pasts become its nourishment, and at certain times it flourishes. Sometimes it explodes in our minds, just like when you give your roses a dose of “Miracle Grow” (but in a bad way.)

I read recently, that chemists are trying very hard to develop a drug that would erase bad memories. The thinking is that people suffering from PTSD and other mental illnesses will find freedom from very ugly events. Many of us, at certain points in our lives, truly absorb the evil. Some of us end up in prison, others are addicted, and a few go ahead and commit suicide. Shame truly is at its best when it can completely incapacitate and destroy a person.

Most end up with a mental illness, and because we are so complex, it is difficult to view it as a simple ’cause and effect.’ It really is much more complicated than that. Mental illness has many layers. But if we look at our issues from a different view point we can see things we might never see. A psychiatrist once told me that 90% of resident psych patients could go home, if only they knew were forgiven.

Shame is a monster that is constantly tracking us. At times we can put some distance between us. But occasionally it leaps up on our backs and drags us down. We are humiliated with our guilt. That is precisely when we should scream out for help.

There are pastors and psychiatrists, therapists and friends who are most helpful. Practicing prayer and soaking in worship can drive the monster away. Meds can very often provide a respite. All of these have helped me. But in all of this, we must be patient.

We are dealing with guilt, and there are spiritual issues that trump everything else. Human beings were never created to bear guilt, we don’t know what to do. Shame is vigorously parasitical and consuming. If it runs amok through your life it can and will destroy you. (It is caustic– a sure way to wreck you). Some Bible wisdom:

“You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you.” Psalm 69:19

“…in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Col. 1:14

“To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him.” Daniel 9:9

God has made an incredible provision for your guilt. Your sin, though it is crimson red in its intensity and very obvious, it can become as white as snow. Your shame and guilt can be erased.

“Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.” Isa. 54:4

It was Mark Twain, who once said, “Man is the only animal that blushes, and the only animal that needs to.”  We are ashamed, are we not, of things we’ve done in the past? The fact remains, nobody is free from shame who is unforgiven. Instead of being able to look God in the face or to look one another in the face, we want to run away and hide when our conscience troubles us. But there is an infinitely a better way…

aabryscript

 

 

Anorexia & Bulimia

What Are Eating Disorders?

An eating disorder is marked by extremes. It is present when a person experiences severe disturbances in eating behavior, such as extreme reduction of food intake or extreme overeating, or feelings of extreme distress or concern about body weight or shape.

A person with an eating disorder may have started out just eating smaller or larger amounts of food than usual, but at some point, the urge to eat less or more spirals out of control. Eating disorders are very complex, and despite scientific research to understand them, the biological, behavioral and social underpinnings of these illnesses remain elusive.

The two main types of eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. A third category is “eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS),” which includes several variations of eating disorders. Most of these disorders are similar to anorexia or bulimia but with slightly different characteristics. Binge-eating disorder, which has received increasing research and media attention in recent years, is one type of EDNOS.

Eating disorders frequently appear during adolescence or young adulthood, but some reports indicate that they can develop during childhood or later in adulthood. Women and girls are much more likely than males to develop an eating disorder.

Men and boys account for an estimated 5 to 15 percent of patients with anorexia or bulimia and an estimated 35 percent of those with binge-eating disorder. Eating disorders are real, treatable medical illnesses with complex underlying psychological and biological causes. They frequently co-exist with other psychiatric disorders such as depression, substance abuse, or anxiety disorders. People with eating disorders also can suffer from numerous other physical health complications, such as heart conditions or kidney failure, which can lead to death.

Eating disorders are treatable diseases

Psychological and medicinal treatments are effective for many eating disorders. However, in more chronic cases, specific treatments have not yet been identified.

In these cases, treatment plans often are tailored to the patient’s individual needs that may include medical care and monitoring; medications; nutritional counseling; and individual, group and/or family psychotherapy. Some patients may also need to be hospitalized to treat malnutrition or to gain weight, or for other reasons.

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia nervosa is characterized by emaciation, a relentless pursuit of thinness and unwillingness to maintain a normal or healthy weight, a distortion of body image and intense fear of gaining weight, a lack of menstruation among girls and women, and extremely disturbed eating behavior. Some people with anorexia lose weight by dieting and exercising excessively; others lose weight by self-induced vomiting, or misusing laxatives, diuretics or enemas.

Many people with anorexia see themselves as overweight, even when they are starved or are clearly malnourished. Eating, food and weight control become obsessions. A person with anorexia typically weighs herself or himself repeatedly, portions food carefully, and eats only very small quantities of only certain foods. Some who have anorexia recover with treatment after only one episode. Others get well but have relapses. Still others have a more chronic form of anorexia, in which their health deteriorates over many years as they battle the illness.

According to some studies, people with anorexia are up to ten times more likely to die as a result of their illness compared to those without the disorder. The most common complications that lead to death are cardiac arrest, and electrolyte and fluid imbalances. Suicide also can result.

Many people with anorexia also have coexisting psychiatric and physical illnesses, including depression, anxiety, obsessive behavior, substance abuse, cardiovascular and neurological complications, and impaired physical development.

Other symptoms may develop over time, including:

  • thinning of the bones (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
  • brittle hair and nails
  • dry and yellowish skin
  • growth of fine hair over body (e.g., lanugo)
  • mild anemia, and muscle weakness and loss
  • severe constipation
  • low blood pressure, slowed breathing and pulse
  • drop in internal body temperature, causing a person to feel cold all the time
  • lethargy

TREATING ANOREXIA involves three components:

  1. restoring the person to a healthy weight;
  2. treating the psychological issues related to the eating disorder; and
  3. reducing or eliminating behaviors or thoughts that lead to disordered eating, and preventing relapse.

Some research suggests that the use of medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics or mood stabilizers, may be modestly effective in treating patients with anorexia by helping to resolve mood and anxiety symptoms that often co-exist with anorexia. Recent studies, however, have suggested that antidepressants may not be effective in preventing some patients with anorexia from relapsing. In addition, no medication has shown to be effective during the critical first phase of restoring a patient to healthy weight. Overall, it is unclear if and how medications can help patients conquer anorexia, but research is ongoing.

Different forms of psychotherapy, including individual, group and family-based, can help address the psychological reasons for the illness. Some studies suggest that family-based therapies in which parents assume responsibility for feeding their afflicted adolescent are the most effective in helping a person with anorexia gain weight and improve eating habits and moods.

Shown to be effective in case studies and clinical trials, this particular approach is discussed in some guidelines and studies for treating eating disorders in younger, nonchronic patients.

Others have noted that a combined approach of medical attention and supportive psychotherapy designed specifically for anorexia patients is more effective than just psychotherapy. But the effectiveness of a treatment depends on the person involved and his or her situation. Unfortunately, no specific psychotherapy appears to be consistently effective for treating adults with anorexia. However, research into novel treatment and prevention approaches is showing some promise. One study suggests that an online intervention program may prevent some at-risk women from developing an eating disorder.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by recurrent and frequent episodes of eating unusually large amounts of food (e.g., binge-eating), and feeling a lack of control over the eating. This binge-eating is followed by a type of behavior that compensates for the binge, such as purging (e.g., vomiting, excessive use of laxatives or diuretics), fasting and/or excessive exercise.

Unlike anorexia, people with bulimia can fall within the normal range for their age and weight. But like people with anorexia, they often fear gaining weight, want desperately to lose weight, and are intensely unhappy with their body size and shape. Usually, bulimic behavior is done secretly, because it is often accompanied by feelings of disgust or shame. The binging and purging cycle usually repeats several times a week. Similar to anorexia, people with bulimia often have coexisting psychological illnesses, such as depression, anxiety and/or substance abuse problems. Many physical conditions result from the purging aspect of the illness, including electrolyte imbalances, gastrointestinal problems, and oral and tooth-related problems.

Other symptoms include:

  • chronically inflamed and sore throat
  • swollen glands in the neck and below the jaw
  • worn tooth enamel and increasingly sensitive and decaying teeth as a result of exposure to stomach acids
  • gastroesophageal reflux disorder
  • intestinal distress and irritation from laxative abuse
  • kidney problems from diuretic abuse
  • severe dehydration from purging of fluids

As with anorexia, TREATMENT FOR BULIMIA often involves a combination of options and depends on the needs of the individual.

To reduce or eliminate binge and purge behavior, a patient may undergo nutritional counseling and psychotherapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or be prescribed medication. Some antidepressants, such as fluoxetine (Prozac), which is the only medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for treating bulimia, may help patients who also have depression and/or anxiety. It also appears to help reduce binge-eating and purging behavior, reduces the chance of relapse, and improves eating attitudes.

CBT that has been tailored to treat bulimia also has shown to be effective in changing binging and purging behavior, and eating attitudes. Therapy may be individually oriented or group-based.

@

For more on these Eating Disorders, see: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/eating-disorders/complete-index.shtml

For a Christian perspective: http://www.christiananswers.net/q-eden/eatingdisorders.html

Sins That Stick to Your Heart

It is often quite difficult for people to forgive themself from their past sins.  We have a tendency to hold ourselves to a stricter, more accountable level then other people.

I usually don’t have a big problem forgiving others.  But for many people they will struggle through their entire Christian walk with both self-forgiveness and its cousin, self-acceptance.

 Self-forgiveness is:

* Accepting yourself as a human who has faults and makes mistakes.
* Letting go of self-anger for your past failures, errors and mistakes.
* No longer needing penance, sorrow and regret over a grievous, self-inflicted, personal offense.
* The act of self-love after you have admitted your failure, mistake or misdeed.
* The spiritual self healing of your heart by calming self-rejection, quieting the sense of failure and lightening the burden of guilt.
* The act of letting go of the need to work so hard to make up for your past offenses.

Negative consequences of the absence of self-forgiveness
In the absence of self-forgiveness, you run the risk of:

* Unresolved hurt, pain and suffering from self-destructive behaviors.
* Unresolved guilt and remorse for self-inflicted offenses.
* Chronically seeking revenge and paybacks toward yourself.
* Being caught up in unresolved self-anger, self-hatred and self-blaming.
* Defensive and distant behavior with others.
* Pessimism, negativity and non-growth oriented behavior.
* Having a festering wound that never allows the revitalization of self-healing.
* Fear over making new mistakes or of having the old mistakes revealed.
* Being overwhelmed by fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of non-approval, low self-esteem and low self-worth. 

Signs of the absence of self-forgiveness.  Lack of self-forgiveness can result in:

* A loss of love for yourself.
* Indifference toward yourself and your needs.
* An emotional vacuum in which little or no emotions are shown or shared.
* Chronic attacks or angry outbursts against self.
* Disrespectful treatment of self.
* Self-destructive behaviors.
* Self-pitying.
* Chronic recalling and reminding of past failures, mistakes, errors and offenses.
* Suspicions about others’ motives, behaviors, attitudes and beliefs when they are accepting of you.
* Chronic depression.
* Chronic hostility, sarcasm and cynicism.
* Self name-calling, belittling and self-demeaning behaviors.
* Unwillingness to change and/or unwillingness to seek the help necessary to change.
* Resistance to doing what is necessary to heal within and recover from low self-esteem.

 Irrational thinking preventing self-forgiveness

* I hurt myself so much; how can I ever expect to be forgiven for that?
* No one deserved the treatment I dished out, and I do not believe that forgiveness is deserved in this situation.
* I am sick over what I did; how can I ever forgive myself?
* I must be inherently evil, and I am despicable. No forgiveness will ever change that.
* I am vicious and cruel, and I always need to be on guard because of that; so why try to forgive what I have done?
* It is a sign of weakness or softness to forgive myself. I must always keep my guard up so as never to repeat my wrongdoings.
* There are some things I can never forgive myself for.
* Only God can forgive me, though at times I don’t believe He can for what I have done.
* What has happened in my life is God’s seeking revenge for all the evil I have done in the past.
* I have done too much for which I can never be forgiven.
* I am just seeking my forgiveness so that I can come back and hurt myself again.
* I do not deserve any self-kindness, self-compassion or self-forgiveness for what I have done to myself or others; I’ll see to it that I am never able to forget it!
* All people who do wrong deserve the worst that life has to dish out.
* I resent myself for hurting myself or others. It is better for me to be hidden behind my wall so I don’t hurt anybody again.
* If I could treat myself or others that way, then I am undeserving of being forgiven, loved or cared for.

 New behaviors needed to create self-forgiveness.  In order to forgive yourself you need to practice:

* Letting go of past hurt and pain.
* Trusting in God’s goodness. Trusting in the goodness and mercy of God to take over the burden for you.
* Letting go and letting the Holy Spirit  lead you during a hurtful time.
* Believing in the infinite justice and wisdom of the Lord                                                                                                                                                                                                                    * Letting go of fears for the future.
* Allowing yourself to be vulnerable to growth.
* Taking a risk.
* Letting go of self-hostility, resentment and self-destructive behaviors.
* Working out your self-anger.
* Overlooking slight relapses or steps backward and getting back on the wagon of recovery immediately.
* Developing a personal spirituality.
* Developing an openness to the belief that you can change.
* Developing trust in yourself.
* Open, honest and assertive communication with yourself concerning hurts, pains and offenses experienced.
* Identifying and replacing the irrational beliefs that block your ability to forgive yourself.

 Two Steps to Develop Self-forgiveness.
 

Step 1: In order to increase your ability to forgive yourself, you need to recognize what this behavior involves. Answer the following questions.

A. What do you mean by “self-forgiveness”?
B. Have you ever forgiven yourself before? How did it feel?
C. Have you ever brought up something from the past to remind you how you hurt yourself or others? How did that make you feel?
D. What role do you feel self-forgiveness has in your growing down? How could you improve?
E. How has the absence of forgiving yourself affected your current emotional stability?
F. What are the signs of the absence of self-forgiveness in your relationship with your family of origin, current family, significant others, spouse, children, parents, relatives, friends or co-workers? With whom do you experience a wall or barrier behind which you hide your past real or perceived failures, mistakes, errors or misdeeds? What feedback do you get about this wall you have been hiding behind?
G. What beliefs block your ability to forgive yourself? What would be necessary to change these beliefs?
H. What new behaviors do you need to develop in order to increase your ability to forgive yourself?
I. What role does the existence of spirituality play in your ability to forgive yourself? The lack of it?
J. For what do you need to forgive yourself?

 Step 2: Now that you have a better picture of what is involved in self-forgiveness, you are ready to work on a specific past failure, mistake, error or misdeed.

A. List a failure, mistake, error, misdeed or event for which you are unable to forgive yourself.
B. How much energy, creativity, problem solving capability and focus on growth is sapped from you whenever you recall this past hurt?
C. What feelings come to mind as you recall this past hurt?
D. How would you describe your role in this past event? In what ways were you the victim, perpetrator, enabler, martyr, bystander, instigator, target, scapegoat, distracter, peacemaker, people pleaser or rescuer?
E. Why do you feel strongly over what happened and how you treated yourself or others?
F. What did this event do to your self-esteem and self-worth?
G. Who was responsible for your reaction to the incident?
H. Who was responsible for your feelings about the incident?
I. Who was responsible for your inability to forgive yourself?
J. How can you forgive yourself?
K. How can you put this incident behind you?
L. How can you avoid being so hurt when something like this happens again?

 ybic, Bryan