The Problem I’m Chewing on…Thoughts on Catastrophizing, Intrusive Thoughts, Support Groups, and Pancake Mix

I take a problem and chew on it until all the flavor’s gone… and then I stick it in my hair.

Divine Secrets of The YaYa Sisterhood.

Sometimes you just need to chew on a problem until the flavors gone- then you can deal with it. Stick it in your hair. Or move on. And I’m a verbal processor with a lot on my mind so we are going to “talk” things out once in awhile!

Brene Brown is my inspiration. She is a researcher and storyteller. Brown is an expert on vulnerability and one of my favorite authors. She has a podcast where she includes a series called, “On my Mind”. These solo episodes are her way to talk through big topic she is hashing out in her own mind.

Brown doesn’t give solutions. She just talks. And, they are some of my favorite episodes! It’s comforting to hear another human being talking through the things they are wrestling with. It makes us feel less alone.

I will warn you it’s often going to be dark and messy. Hence the content warning below. But I see no better way to bring attention to the topics we shy away from then just putting it out there. So here we go.

Content warning: Domestic violence, Catastrophic thoughts, Intrusive thoughts, Postpartum OCD.

The Problem I’m Chewing On Right Now- Support Group

I think it’s time to go back to the domestic violence support group. I attended for almost 2 years straight only missing to attend the sexual assault survivor class and to go to EMDR.

Even though I have a few years of healing under my belt, the truth is there are old wounds that sometimes flare up in the Spring. Triggers can get unmanageable without early intervention. And that’s where I’m finding myself this year so it might be time to go back.

I don’t think of this as a failure or a big step backwards. Healing comes in waves. We can be doing great and all of a sudden it get’s hard again. That’s the reality of healing from trauma. You heal what you can and you manage what never really goes away.

The Problem I’m Chewing on- Catastrophic Thinking and Postpartum OCD

The other day on social media an influencer I follow was asking for advice on how to stop catastrophic thinking. She was struggling that day because of a situation that happened with one of her children. Even though her child was actually safe, and it was only a few seconds of worry and doubt, she couldn’t get the catastrophic thoughts to stop.

Her story brought me back to some of the darkest seasons of my life with Postpartum OCD. Along with intrusive thoughts, catastrophic thinking ruled my life for a long time after each one of my babies was born. To this day I still have to repeat to myself words that remind me that I am safe and so are my children. Triggers happen. Here’s what I say out loud multiple times when I notice catastrophic thinking is plaguing me:

  • I am safe
  • My child is safe 
  • This child is safe now. They are so brave. This child has a chance to heal. (my triggers often come from hearing or reading stories of child abuse- hence “This child”)

Postpartum OCD is a type of postpartum anxiety disorder. It is characterized by intrusive thoughts and behaviors that are in response to a perceived danger toward their baby. These thoughts and behaviors are constant and repetitive, and they can severely disrupt daily life. Postpartum OCD is a severe condition that requires treatment in order to manage and control symptoms. Women with postpartum OCD are aware of their intrusive thoughts but they cannot control them. Instead, the thoughts cause counteractive behaviors and other symptoms as well.

PostPartumDepression.Org

Sadly, my OB didn’t  ask me if I worried about someone hurting my baby every single minute of the day. She didn’t talk about intrusive thoughts or obsessive behaviors. She never mentioned that hearing voices telling you to swerve into oncoming traffic was abnormal could be treated. And I certainly didn’t ask!

I would bet your OB never asked your or your partner that either. Because of this Postpartum OCD it is severely underdiagnosed.

 The Problem I’m Chewing On- The Gift of Prophecy

I was raised in evangelical Christianity in many different denominations and many different churches. Some supported the gift of prophecy and some acted like it didn’t exist. While I’ve been dismantling and deconstructing many of the toxic beliefs I was taught the last few years, prophecy is not one of them. I’m all about the prophetic words. I find the gift of prophecy fascinating.

I was told by someone with a prophetic gift that someday my hands would bring healing to many. Those words have mulled around in my head ever since. I didn’t know what it meant, yet! Then a couple weeks ago my bestie sent me a prophetic word from someone else about a stirring she felt from the Lord that it was time for the writers to write again. And I’ve been wondering if the two are connected. 

My writing is halted by fear often. But what if that prophetic word of bringing healing to others was about the words my fingers would type? Or, even the music my fingers would play now that I have full function in my limbs again after cervical disc replacement surgery. What if?

The Problem I’m Chewing On- Pandemic Life One Year Later 

How is it one year already? How much longer before a sense of normalcy returns? What does normal even mean? Do my puzzles miss me? And, how long will it take us to eat through the bags and bags of pancake mix I stress bought when the grocery store shelves were empty?

No one knows. 

With grace and grit, 

~Raychel 

Before you go, here are three ways to stay in touch: 

5 Domestic Violence Statistics Everyone Should Know

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic abuse is a topic that hits close to home for so many of us. So, to help spread awareness, foster healing for survivors, and create a safe place for hard conversations, let’s talk about it. Starting with 5 domestic violence statistics everyone should know about:

#1- It is not what it looks like.

If you are looking for someone to have unexplained bruises on their body or a black eye, you are not looking hard enough. Victims of domestic violence hide in plain sight. They sit beside you in church, go to the same school functions you attend, and sometimes live right next door. They don’t look like victims.

They don’t all have bruises and scars on their bodies that you can see. Many have scars on their minds and hearts and souls that no one could see from the outside – unless you knew what to look for. Victims of emotional, psychological, and verbal abuse are the hardest to identify if you are only looking for obvious signs.

#2- Domestic violence is an epidemic.

A woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States.

Here’s some perspective on that number… that is 4,774,000 women a year.

“The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war.”

The Huffington Post article, “30 Shocking Domestic Violence Statistics…”:

#3-Domestic violence has far-reaching consequences for society.

In the same article, they report that 18 million people require mental health visits as a direct result of intimate partner violence every year. And, there are 8 million days of paid work women lose out on every year because of abuse perpetrated on them. That is the equivalent of losing 32,000 full-time jobs.

#4- The Real Reason they stay  

It’s always shocking when you find out someone you know, and love has been the victim of domestic violence. One of the first questions people often ask is, “Why didn’t they leave sooner?” The #1 reason they stayed…Financial abuse. In fact, it’s reported that 98% of domestic violence cases include some form of financial abuse.

If the abuser controls the money supply, they cut off the resources for anyone to leave.  It is because of this that many women and children who escape abusive relationships end up homeless. This is the third leading cause of homelessness among families.

#5- They won’t report it.

The numbers are staggering. But the most painful number for me is this one… only 25% of women who have experienced domestic violence and intimate partner violence will report it. Of the almost 5 million women who experience violence in their homes, only about 1 million will find the courage to report it. Why? The reasons are as varied as the women involved but some major themes play into many cases where a woman declines to report it and/or stays with her abuser:

  • Shame to have others know the truth;
  • Wanting to protect the batterer (she loves him after all);
  • Belief that he will change or the behavior is justified (e.g., “He drank too much,” “He doesn’t actually hit me,” etc.) ;
  • Fear of the questioning and not being believed by the police or authorities;
  • Fear of retaliation against her, or the children, from her partner; and
  • Fear of losing custody of her children.

Domestic abuse is a topic that hits close to home for all of us.

Whether it’s taking place within the walls of our own home or the walls of our sister’s, best friend’s, or neighbor’s home. It has to stop. It’s an epidemic of silence; and, you stop an epidemic of silence by talking about it.

With grace and grit,

~Raychel

Resource links:

If you are someone you know needs to leave an abusive marriage please contact your local resource center or call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. If you are in the Bismarck/Mandan area contact the Abused Adult Resource Center

Image: A red handprint across the mouth has become a symbolic representation of violence that affects Indigenous women across Canada, the United States and beyond. 


Before you go, here are 3 ways to stay in touch: