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Yay, my friend, Dr. Adele McDowell, has done it again. Huffington Post Canada posted another of her articles. This time, very different from her earlier ones on suicide. In fact, this is the other side of depression and suicide. It is inspirational as she takes the fictional character of James Bond – 007 who can face any one and anything and comes out alive and whole.

Don’t we wish we could do that. It is no wonder that we idolize heroes (and heroines) who can face any danger, look a gun in the face, fight any fight! It is really because we wish that we could do that but don’t think we can. Then, Adele tells her own personal story of danger and courage. Sometimes, one never knows of what one is capable until faced with a dire circumstances. And, of course, there are many kinds of danger from which one can test courage.

For those who have undergone any kind of trauma – abuse, accidents, life threatening illness, etc. – it takes a lot of courage to overcome the incident or incidents. When one has been abused and put down at every turn, the message is that “you are nothing, you will never amount to anything, you. will never be able to protect yourself, you are a coward…..”. And, if the trauma is severe enough, then there is post traumatic stress disorder (ptsd) with which one has to go through. PTSD, for those who may not know, is not just a mental memory. When PTSD comes on – and sometimes the survivor doesn’t even know what triggers it or even what is happening – it is like the trauma is happening all over again. So the survivor is no longer his/her chronological age and doesn’t realize that he/she is actually safe, the memories that come flooding back impact the mind, the body reactions, the fears or shocks of that particular time.

I know because being a survivor or child sexual and physical abuse, as well as undergoing many life threatening illnesses, I am understanding more and more my work, as well as the healing work I’ve done with clients, in overcoming PTSD. I still get bouts of it, but having worked on these issues, I am now able to name the triggers as well as the times PTSD comes over me. I can’t say that I can get out of it immediately – although sometimes I can – but I can at least know what’s happening to me. What that does is that I know it’s not happening again, that I am safe, and that I can sum up the courage to speak up, to protect myself, or to help others. I remember that I am no longer 4 when I was abused, or 10 or 12 when I almost died from an illness. And even now, in dealing with cancer these last 4 1/2 years, I know I now can take the small steps to take care of myself.

Will I ever be a “James Bond”. Perhaps not, but in my eyes I let myself acknowledge each time I take any step to take care of myself, knowing each step only leads to more courage every time. This is what came to me as I was reading Adele’s article. For me, it came at a time when I’m not only dealing with cancer, but shingles these past few weeks. Shingles, unfortunately,  is only one physical ailment in a long line of many that shows me how depleted my immune system is and how much I need to be easy on myself as I navigate these waters.

Perhaps Adele’s article will mean something entirely different to you, but I urge you to read it and see. And, Adele, I’m so proud of you for sharing your very personal story and the courage you had in protecting yourself.



I just received an email from Dr. McDowell that there was an error in her first link to her suicide article in Huffington Post, Canada.

The below link is the modified issue:

Thank you.

Once again, the below link is my friend, Dr. Adele McDowell’s article in the Canadian Huffington Post on suicide. For those of you contemplating suicide, have loved one(s) who died from suicide, or health practitioners who have dealt with issues of suicide with their clients – this is a must read!

As a former psychotherapist, as a young daughter of a father who talked about committing suicide, and as a grown woman when I remembered being sexually abused and feeling at my lowest, Dr. McDowell’s words spoke to me personally and professionally. For my adolescent years, the “straw that broke the camel’s back” for my father was after a series of failed businesses in the United States, when our chicken farm went bankrupt, my father felt a total failure and didn’t know how our family could survive this last circumstance. While my father bemoaned his losses, starting with losing his wealth, status and class when we escaped from Communist China, my mother immediately went out to work to put food on the table. Because of her quick action and her willingness to work for minimum wage, she saved our family from total loss. However, it still took a long time for my father to get over all these failures, and added to that, the fact that his wife saved the day rather than him, made it harder for him to bear.

As a child, I was afraid I’d lose my father – then, what would we do? And, from my mother, I learned that pride had no place when the family had no food to eat. However, growing up with a suicidal parent must have had some affect on my psyche. When I remembered the sexual abuse, in conjunction with physical and emotional abuse, I remembered my father’s suicidal mantra and wondered, if indeed, that was a way out for me. At the time, I’d already been divorced, but I did have my adult children to help me through this period – for which I am truly grateful.

It was also Dr. McDowell who helped all of us through one of the most trying time of our lives, following the death of my mother. I had a lot of unresolved issues with her at the time of her death, and when she died, I knew there was no way they would be resolved with her. Not that they would have resolved even had she lived, but that her death made it final, made it real. I know I had suicidal thoughts, but they never went as far as making any definite plans or taking any definite actions. But, it scared my children so much that they sought Dr. McDowell’s counsel and got us all talking about what was going on. I am extremely grateful to both my children for doing that, as well as Dr. McDowell for speaking with us.

Professionally, and ironically, the majority of my clients were adult survivors of child sexual abuse. Many of them had suicidal ideations. And, it wasn’t until I remembered my own abuse that I was able to help them in a way that I couldn’t before. They knew I understood how they felt. They couldn’t say, “You don’t understand” because they knew I did. On the other hand, they couldn’t get away with hiding, justifying, rationalizing or denying either – because, again, I did understand and had gone through all those ways myself. And, with intensive therapy and soul work, I am grateful that I had the right people resources to make it through.

I had one client who actually succeeded in committing suicide. I immediately sought counseling because all those questions that Dr. McDowell asks in the article, “Did I do enough, what else could I have done, could I have prevented this, etc” were the same questions that I asked at the time. I learned that I did all I could do, that the final decision isn’t mine. And, this was later confirmed by her husband. He told me that she lasted longer with me in therapy than the many other therapists she had gone to, so he had hoped that this time, she would make it. He told me that the many other times she attempted suicide, she’d always left signs for people to find her. This time, she did not! He told me how grateful he was that I had gotten through to her as much as I did, but that she had already made up her mind.

Please read Dr. McDowell’s article: And, also her more in-depth book, “Making Peace With Suicide”,  on the current happenings in this arena as well as the groundbreaking ways to heal.

10511666_10203697090843786_8239781659426528588_oI know how frightening it is to confront one’s abuser. I wasn’t even able to do that with the male relative who sexually abused me at a very early age. In fact, I didn’t even let myself remember it until I became a psychotherapist working with adult survivors of child sexual abuse. In the mid-1980’s, when 20 new clients showed up in my practice with the same issue, I remembered my sister telling me – years ago – that she had been molested. I immediately asked my supervisor, also a certified hypnotherapist, to bring me back to that time to see if I could remember anything. Unfortunately, I did. And, fortunately, that was also the beginning of my healing from the trauma. Read the rest of this entry »

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