Listening Versus Fixing, Racial Trauma With TJ McKnight

READERS: This is a transcript of a podcast and is not meant to present as a completed, grammatically correct, piece of work. We provide these transcripts for our hard of hearing community, and for those of you who like to listen in this blog. We sure appreciate you, and hope that we are providing Hope and Help to you!

TJ McKnight 0:00 The solution is to get to the root of this cause and fix the root of the issue. Because if you fix the root, everything else, just like with a tree, if you fix the root of a tree, and that tree is cut off, it will spring back up. It’ll be beautiful and full back and back. It should be Amy Watson 0:19 Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the listener supported Wednesdays with Watson podcast, it is June of 2022. I cannot believe it’s June. We are in a series on racial trauma specifically, though, as it pertains to trauma in the black and brown communities. This podcast if any of you know have listened to the 60 plus episodes, you know that we have a mission. That mission is to provide access to help. We’re doing that through education. We have interviews with doctors and therapists, I’ve written blogs on research. I’m a freelance writer for the C PTSD Foundation, and stories like you’re going to hear today. But most importantly, the mission here is introducing you to Jesus who we believe is the star of the story, and does all things well. Before we step into today’s interview, I want y’all to understand something. I don’t know what the guest was going to tell us. I realized that tackling a topic like this is difficult, dare I say risky, but I feel like it is part of the mission of this podcast to help listeners understand all trauma, and how that they can provide support. And some people listening to this podcast today will even have some me too moments. Today. I welcome TJ McKnight to the show. TJ is a fellow podcaster and friend. My favorite thing about him though, is he is jealous for the souls of Jesus. He will tell us about that ministry towards the end of the podcast. But I want you to welcome TJ McKnight to the podcast. Welcome, TJ. TJ McKnight 1:50 Thank you, Amy. I’m excited to be here. And I’m extremely humbled and honored to just be a part of your podcast. i When you asked me to do this a while back, I was like, Man, this is crazy. I’m hoping that I say something that is, you know, beneficial and edifying for the body. And it’s also enlightening and educational, as well. So well. Thank you again for this opportunity. Thank you so much. Amy Watson 2:17 Thank you for being here. Like I said, I know that it’s dicey. And as a white person, I am struggling with vernacular. And so to those of you listening out there, particularly those of you that will know when TJ is episode drops when people who do not look like me, and this is what I mean by by the vernacular, people who are not white when they listen to this, I want you to understand that I feel like this is a risk worth taking, because I believe that all trauma matters. And that is what this podcast is about. And so before we get into that, one, I sent the questions ahead, just because everybody knows me. And we’ll be here for three hours if I didn’t have some sort of structure. But in season three, the icebreaker question that I decided to use has been one of the most enriching questions that I’ve asked, and now almost four seasons of this podcast, because the the guests have told me when you sent me the questions, all the other ones were easy, but this first question was, Wow, that was hard for an icebreaker question. But it’s been super cathartic for me. So TJ, my listeners want to know, they know the first question is going to be what is your favorite thing about how God made you? TJ McKnight 3:29 Oh, man, my favorite thing about how God made me is just how you know how the Bible says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. I love the fact that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And not only that, but I am made in the image of God. And even over talking about racial trauma, and race, we tackling this tough subject of race. I wholeheartedly believe that all of us regardless of our skin, pigmentations regardless of our background, so who we are, we are all created in the image of God. He says that he created them in his image, He created us in his image, and that’s what I wholeheartedly believe. I love that I love that He has created me to be the individual that I am, by you. You put it so eloquently when you was kind of talking about me or introducing me, you know, jealous after the souls of God and, and, you know, it’s so humbling to hear those things. But you know, I always consider myself as a nobody. But at the same time, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s who I am, it’s who I strive to be, you know, not trying to, you know, be anything other than who God has created me to be. And I love that I love God. wholeheartedly. Yes, you do have a deep passion for God. So Amy Watson 4:59 I would love Have to take credit for that jealous for the souls of Jesus, I stole that from a friend of mine who will probably listen to this, but you are jealous for the souls of Jesus. And I love. I love that answer. Because we mentioned a lot on this podcast, Genesis 126, which we got 26 verses into the Bible before God had to remind us who we were, and that he made us in His own image. And then we also mentioned quite frequently, Psalm 139, which you just referenced them fearfully and wonderfully made, that he knew us and animals parts before the foundations of the world. And so to say, to identify that as one of your favorite things about how God made you, is to really honor the Creator, right? It’s like, what’s my favorite thing about this plate? Well, my daughter made it for me. And so I love that answer. And by far, probably one of my favorite answers of the entire season. Yeah, I love that. Yeah, probably one of my favorite answers. Well, so we are in a series this this season three, where we are talking about trauma spaces, places and aces, we started the series out with aces, and talking about the Enneagram and trauma and how God made us and how we how we deal with trauma based on how God made us. And then we moved into the places and spaces, which was childhood trauma in the home. And then and so I began to educate my listeners about things that we call adverse childhood experiences. And just like in the name, there are experiences that we have as children that are adverse that affects us later in life. And I sent these to you earlier and asked if you are comfortable in answering answering these questions as we move towards our goal of talking about racial trauma. And so this doesn’t necessarily need to have happened in your home, even though we are focusing on childhood trauma in the home. Right now. We’re focusing on childhood trauma and these adverse childhood experiences. And I’m gonna tell you what that means after you’ve answered the questions. And so just a simple yes or no, and then we’ll talk a little bit more so from zero to 18. Did you experience physical abuse? No. Sexual abuse? No. Verbal abuse? You say outside of the home? Yes. Okay. And any of these outside the home, by the way, physical neglect? TJ McKnight 7:22 Um, I’ll say yes and no. Amy Watson 7:28 That’s a hard one. How about emotional neglect? TJ McKnight 7:30 Yeah, yeah, definitely emotional. Amy Watson 7:33 Okay. How about a family member with mental illness? Yes. How about a family member addicts? How about a family member addicted to substances? TJ McKnight 7:48 Yes, Amy Watson 7:49 a family member in prison? TJ McKnight 7:52 I’m not immediate, but yes, I did have a family. Amy Watson 7:56 How about domestic violence? TJ McKnight 8:00 Wow. Yes. Amy Watson 8:02 Okay. So, so adverse childhood experiences, were these 10 questions that experts a long time ago came up with that they identified particularly that domestic violence question that I asked you, particularly if it’s against your mother, it will adversely affect you later in life. Experts say that if you have three to four of these adverse childhood experiences that you as a child and until it is dealt with, are under what’s called toxic stress, and it will present itself and other ways in your body, and in your spirit and in your life and in relationally, and, and all of those things. And so, adverse childhood experiences are important in the concept of this conversation, because some of those adverse childhood experiences could or could not be racially racial trauma. But what I want my listeners to know is that I’m sitting across the screen from somebody who gets it right. There are some of those people out there, though I’ve not had an interview yet. With that with it with an adverse childhood experience score of fewer than three. Now, obviously, it’s a trauma podcast, so but I didn’t know this about you. I don’t know anything about you, except for how much I adore you and respect you as a fellow podcaster Ran brother and Christ. But I didn’t know this about you. And so you’ve got a relatively high adverse childhood experience score somewhere between five and six. And so the fact that you are breathing air is a miracle. Yeah, simple lesson Exactly. It but it does cause us problems. And I’m sure relationally or physically or sometime in your life, when when we hit end on the end of this podcast, you’re going to think, Oh, I remember this and how that affected this and this and this and decisions that we make sometimes are bad as a result of these adverse childhood experiences. Like I’ll give you a great example. I am a domestic violence survivor. I have an adverse childhood experience score of nine. I married somebody stayed in the domestic violence marriage for 12 years. So I just made bad decision after bad decision after bad decision because As of that toxic stress. And so I think it’s important in the concept of this conversation, because we’re going to be talking about little TJ, teenage TJ, and those things, and I want people to know who I’m talking to. So, obviously, I want, I do want to thank you again, I feel like I can’t say it enough for being here, because we are focusing on racial trauma. I recognize that my community can never understand or the experiences that your community experiences just on an everyday basis, especially as a male, who probably as a young age was taught how to put his hand on the steering wheel when a police officer Okay, no, that’s the one that all the white people know, you’re gonna tell us on that though all the white people don’t know. But that’s but I do recognize that my community, we could never experience some of the trauma that you’ve experienced, both in this generation and wage generations back all the way back to the to whether we’re talking African roots, Caribbean roots, or wherever, trauma among black and brown people, the entire continent of Asia, is prevalent, and has been and will continue to be until we continue to do things like this affects it. For my listeners, as I mentioned to you, I don’t know what TJ is going to tell me. But I’m wondering, can you give us an example of a trauma that your community experiences that mine never could? TJ McKnight 11:20 And so off the bat, I think the biggest for me, was and I’m I’m really I’m gonna talk about like maybe childhood, TJ into teenage TJ kind of piggybacking off of your police reference, you know, my mom would tell me all the time, you know, speak proper speak up, you know, sit up when you’re talking to an adult and, you know, have respect for your elders and people in authority. And so, you know, when I was a teenager, I was an idiot. used to race a lot. I didn’t have a car for fit for racing, put it that way. So I had a 95 because Michigan line, but I used to race the mess out of that car. But I would always get in trouble with like, you know, I would get pulled over all the time. And even when I had my good light to when I upgraded to, which is crazy. I upgraded to like a 2005 Nissan Altima was all white with black 10, like you cannot see through the 10 You know, he’s it’s it was a beautiful car, in my opinion, stick shift, I will race in that car as well. So, you know, getting to, to that. I remember I would always get pulled over by the by the cops, you know this always and I remember my mom as even as a kid as a child. She would tell me, she would actually demonstrated whenever she would get pulled over by a cop How was to act. You know, when whenever we were pulled over by a cop. And you can always kind of gauge the type of responses that you would get based on the race of that cop. I remember one incident where my mom when she was pulled over. Funny story. She was pulled over it was on our way to church. He was already running late. We had he’s had some fried chicken in the back because she was in charge of Reagan fried chicken. And she was blasted her God from us. And we were blasting, you know, gas was going down a road back country road, didn’t see the police officer just just ran past him. And she and he pulled up behind her. And we saw blue lights immediately. Fear came across all of us. He was just oh my gosh, what do we what do we do? I’m looking at my mom through the rearview mirror because I’m sitting in the backseat, my sister sit in the front and we’re looking at her and she’s like, alright, I’ll just be quiet. I have handled this. And you know, and we’re, you know, just kind of calmed down and actually rolled down the window. She, the officer walked up to the car, he was black. And he heard the song alone Mama was playing. Ironically, he was black. He was a Christian and he was listening to the exact same radio station and the exact same song. That’s great. You walk up and he gave her jokes and you know, hey, you’re listening to the song, you’re getting caught up in the Spirit and you know, you’re you’re driving fast, what’s going on? And when he came and he said that kind of, you know, decompress our level of stress, you know, it put us at ease, like okay, we can now you know, engage this man as a regular human being. And I remember when he went back to his car, and he came back and he was asking us where we were going. I’m gonna say we’re on our way to church. I’m already running late. And she said, You know, I have some fried chicken in the back. You want a piece? I want a piece. Right? So she’s bribing officer with fried chicken. That’s probably no he was. But he was like, No, ma’am, I will take it. But he led us off with a warning. And I remember that vividly because that was one of the moments where I wanted to talk with us. And she was saying how, you know how you want to present yourself as a, as a, as a young, black person in this context, and then my mom would tell me all the time, she’s got wrestler, so I love her so much. She would tell me all the time, you’re you’re black, you’re you already have two strikes against you, you’re black, and you’re male. And most people see you as a threat. They’re just waiting to give you that third strike so that they can count you out. So always live your life thinking that you had those two strikes, and that you’re always about to hit that third strike at any time. And that helped kind of shaped how I navigated and how I did things with people. So going back to my police reference, I remember what time I got pulled over. It was very scary. This particular instance, because we were just leaving the hospital. My mom was in the hospital at the time just leaving the hospital. I wasn’t racing. But you know, I pretty much I believe I had a reputation for race. But I wasn’t racing or anything like that. I easily. I mean, it was just I was going to come and down the road. But I saw a police officer Get behind me. But what I did was I he got close to my bumper, I’m thinking that he’s trying to get past so I turned my blinkers on and get into the next 20 He gets behind me and turn the blue lights on. I’m like, oh, gosh, what did I do. And so I pull it over, pulled into a school. And I’m approached by this female officer, she was really nice. He was really kind I was, you know, kind of talking myself out of the ticket with her. But her male counterpart who was a white male officer, he was very much more aggressive. And I believe he was maybe like her training officer or whatnot. Because I could tell that there were some, you know, tension back and forth between the two. And I remember this vividly my sister, she pulls up because she was behind me. But she was maybe like five minutes off. And she saw that I was pulled over. She comes in full blazing. My brother yelling out the window, we live in a hospital. You know, my mom is in the hospital. And everything she’s saying is like, you know, counting my story, you know, she’s confirming my story. And I just remember to the white male officer put his his hand on his gun, he’s yelling at her telling her go get away, go park over there. You know, we got this. And I just, I’m just sitting there kind of stone and like, and he’s yelling at her, she’s yelling at him. It’s kind of crazy. She she’s, she could tell she’s my oldest sister. She’s very protective. She’s a fierce protector. But she’s telling him like, he’s he you know, he’s a good kid. And you don’t have to go down like this. And, and I’m just, you know, kind of stuck in the middle. And I just remember, pretty much how that story ends is. The female officer just lets me go with a warning. And come to find out. I mean, I knew what the issue was with my tags, three months, he pulled me over which of it was my tags, I had just got a new car. But I had my old tags on the plate on the car. And I remember having that conversation with the dealer when I bought the car like, Hey, these are old tags, it was like, you’ll be fine. Just leave alone, bear until you get your new tags. And it just so happened. Ironically, my new tags did come in that day. But they were on the frigerator at the house. Good place for him. And that didn’t have right great place for but I didn’t have time to switch them out. Because you know, we had to immediately get to the hospitals, a lot of things going on. I was explaining that to them. She was you know, I said the female officer. She was very receptive. She was understanding. But the male officer was very aggressive. He wasn’t I don’t know if he was on something that day, but he wasn’t getting it. And as I explained it to them. And I told him about, hey, my sister can go to the house and grab the tags for you. If it’s that, you know, serious so that you guys can see that I’m not lying. They believe the story. They’re like, you know, you you’re good to go. But it’s those types of incidences that you know, that kind of, you know, always kind of left a bad taste in my mouth with regards to police officers and how they deal with things. Yes, I had one cop who was respectful it was doing her job and then had another cop who just was just blatantly doing his his own thing. And it always kind of left that. I will say, yeah, it always kind of left that negative impression on me, because I know that there are good cops out there. And this is I can speak for this as a whole. For all black people. We know that there are good cops out there. But we also know that there There’s a remnant of bad ones that are like tainting the entire police force is just like good analogy one bad apple spoils the whole bunch. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing. And when you have that, you’re you’re promoting a distrust between the communities in Durham, North Carolina is notorious for not having. We’re notorious for just like, always having in the news with shootings, and just, it’s, it’s a great city, but at the same time, it’s a dangerous city, the community relationship, or I would say the relationship between the community and police has not always been great. So justice just kind of experienced that as a teenager. And oftentimes, throughout, you know, it kind of always kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. But did you know, there was one instance and I can’t say that this is, you know, as all police are bad, because there was one incident when I was I would say this, not all white male police officers were bad, because there was one instance where I was pulled over by a white male police officer. And I explained to him like, Hey, I’m breastfeeding, and I ran this red light, because my mom is sick, I’m going home. And I’m just getting here from college. And he understood that and he let me go with a warning. And he was very respectful. He was saying, hey, next time, just make sure that you slow down, take your time, he was giving me advice. You know, I know that there’s good cops. But we also acknowledged the fact that there are bad cops so Amy Watson 21:27 well, and that we’re still having this conversation, right? So we’re still having this conversation. 2030 35 years later, let me tell you, I’ve been pulled over so many times in the state of Florida, that for speeding, that I can I have maxed out and I maxed this out about 15 years ago, I maxed out the amount of times that I could go to Driver Improvement school, but never once as a white. Yeah, I have a heavy, heavy foot, I got places in ptJ. I got places to be. But but as a white female I can’t comprehend. And so one of the questions I wanted to ask you, and it wasn’t in the prep, but it was just occurring to me, as you were talking to questions I’m gonna ask you to, I’m gonna ask them in two separate parts. The first question is, do you as an adult struggle with any sort of bitterness slash resentment, like I am my precious Son of the Most High King, we talked about fearfully and wonderfully made a made in the image of God. But yet, we’re still having conversations. And I’m going to ask you about your children in a second. But we’re still having to tell, and the police reference comes up, because it is the one that we’re seeing the most, we’ve seen it, we saw it for nine minutes with George Floyd, we, you know, and we could go on, and then on and on, say their names, say their names, say their names. And so I’m looking across the screen of a college educated Christian man who loves his family who loves the Lord. But yet, if you were to leave this interview, and get in your car and drive across town, you still have something in your head that I don’t like, I gotta be careful, because I’m a black male. And the assumption is they want to give me that third strike. Do you struggle at all with bitterness or resentment against God? for that? I guess it’s my first question, or against just life in general? Or do you just kind of let you know what, this is the way it is? And so I don’t even think about it. TJ McKnight 23:23 Um, I don’t I don’t resent God for this. I really don’t. I think that, you know, when you when you resent God for something that he created, you know, you’re putting yourself in a bad place, because you’re telling God that, you know, what you did wasn’t good enough. But we also have to understand that various sin in the world. And so everybody who is a Christian, you have to recognize that there are good people, there are bad people. And at the same time, sin is still running rampant in the world. There are Christians who are not Christians, there are people who are Christians who are great people, there are Christians who are still sending in our bad people. But the fact of the matter is, they’re still Christians. I’m not gonna sit here and be like, Hey, I’m hating all people because of how they treat me or I’m hating God because of how his people who are treating me no, that means that I’m exalting myself above a higher standard or thinking that I’m better than God, when this is what God created, you know, he created this, he created this earth to be a certain way, but because of the Fallen half of Adam and Eve and Genesis three, you know, here we are dealing with the ramifications of sin, dealing with everything that comes from it. So no, I don’t resent God for going through some of these things. I can see how some people could if their faith was kind of attached to it, but I know that my faith is set on a firm foundation, which is the word of God. It’s not I didn’t come to God off of some emotional appeal or some you know, crazy story now. Oh, my foundation was set. When I was a kid, I gotta say, when I was eight. And from the time I was eight to the time that I was, I would say, 23. Yeah, I lived it up. And I did my own thing. But my foundation was always there when I was eight. And I’ll never be angry with God, because of how other people react to certain things, or how other people treat me Do you Amy Watson 25:26 struggle with? When you see things like George Floyd, and I’ve not been able to investigate the school shootings in Texas enough today to know whether or not I would imagine that there was a huge Hispanic community. Do you struggle? So not necessarily with bitterness or resentment? But can you help listeners out there, especially male listeners understand how you navigate the day to day like, you know what this sucks, but this is the way it is I walk out of my house, I get in my car, I’m a target. How do you navigate that? And I’m going to part two of that question. As you said, you have three children and two of them are school age, either of them boys. TJ McKnight 26:05 I have two boys and one girl. Amy Watson 26:06 Okay, so you have two boys and one girl. So you’re so we’re reliving that throughout in the same conversation with your with your own kids. Does that make you feel some kind of way that you still have to do that? TJ McKnight 26:16 From a humanistic standpoint? Yes, that does make me feel some kind of way that I have to have these conversations with my children. But I would say from a, I hate to say religious standpoint, but from from that perspective, with God, I don’t resent God for that. I’m big on accountability, you know, holding people accountable for the things that they do. God is the chief accountable person, why we he holds us accountable to his standards, if we’re not living up to his standards, and that’s that, and so when you when you see all these different types of things going on, and even as a man, I always err on the side of God, you know, what we’ve got to think about these things, God, and even when I’m leaving the house, or I’m going out and about and I’m doing all these different things, or Amy Watson 27:02 sending your children. TJ McKnight 27:04 Yeah, yeah, there’s always that, that notion in the back of my mind as a black males, like, at any point, this can go sideways. And so I always try to make sure that I carry myself in a certain way. And this, this is another thing that maybe, you know, maybe some people don’t know, but you know, it’s like, we have to shed layers of who we truly are, to become another person in the public eye. Because we want to be perceived as, and I remember, yeah, all growing up. And just even I would say, up until maybe like, a couple of years ago, you know, I would always kind of present myself in a in a standing manner, so that I don’t perceive to be a threat to anyone. But as I got older, and I, and things in life kind of happened, you know, I’m at the police now. Whereas, like, I shouldn’t have to do that. If I’m just being myself. I should just be myself at all times. No, I’m not a threat to nobody. I don’t present myself as a threat. But it goes back to what mom was telling me all the time. You know, you have those two stripes, you’re black, you’re male. And then now let’s add this to it. I’m black, I’m male, and I’m six foot two 200 plus pounds, and I have muscles and stuff, it’s like you’re always going to be perceived as a threat. And so that’s one of the reasons why you know, in the back of my mind, I’m always thinking like, How can I approach certain things certain compensation certain things certain people because our you know, you see me as as as a threat, even with like my hair like it is and, and everything like that you may perceive me as I complete. I consider myself as the Eskimos Gentle Giant, I’m a nice person that anybody will probably probably ever meet. But at the same time, not everybody will perceive that. And everybody will see that when they see me because they may see me or they’re like, oh, that’s another black kid or, you know, another dog or whatever. No, like, college educated. I have two degrees. I have a master’s in information technology. Yeah, information, information systems and technology management. And being a religion. Amy Watson 29:19 Yeah. Well, you loved it. Yeah. Yeah. You love you love Jesus, and you love people. And, and so but but I do want to recognize something for you. And I want to recognize it for you and for your two sons. And for for my listeners out there is I recognize how exhausting that has to be. Right? Because Because I wake up and I’m Amy. You know, I’m not a danger to anybody. You’re not a danger to anybody. But but but people don’t look at me a certain way. They don’t make assumptions about me. With the exception of being a white male. Being a white female is the best. The best demographic to be In this country, and that makes me very sad. And it kind of leads me into something else I, I only would have asked from a friend. Because what we find and what we found is white people, particularly after the George Floyd thing, mainly because we were all locked in our houses, and we got on apps like clubhouse and started talking to each other white people. Even though I grew up in a neighborhood that was predominantly black, most of my friends were black, I never got in a fight, because I knew if somebody was going to beat me up, I was going to have all of my black friends with me. And so I understand. I understand kind of the the community, but I don’t understand being any of these things like somebody’s looking at me going, you’re a danger, because you look different. I live in a county in Florida, where if we see a black person that’s like, you know, like, like a unicorn, it literally is like a unicorn, we’re still we’re still there, right? And so after the George Floyd thing happened, and after we were all locked in our houses and unclog houses and holding rooms, I began to the Amy Watson and me that started this podcast and Amy Watson, to me that writes and does the things that helps people with trauma, I want to fix it. And I very quickly in some clubhouse rooms realize that there was a better way to ask for that. And so I do not want to come across as like some white savior complex to you. I want to come across, and you’re looking at me on Zoom, and my listeners will hear the authenticity and my voice, I want to know, and I want to ask somebody who won’t get offended, and who will assume that I really want to make a difference. I want this microphone to be a megaphone for a message that a white person can can help. Right? How can white people help mitigate some of the damages of trauma and the black community? How do we, how do we earn the trust? And how do I learn without asking the victims if you will, to be my professor? I don’t know any other way TJ than to ask somebody? What can White people do? TJ McKnight 32:15 Well, the first thing is like what you said, don’t don’t come in and try to be a savior. Just listen, you know, don’t listen with the intent of trying to fix something. listen with the intent of just listening, you know, fully hearing what somebody is saying, clearly hear what we’re what we’re explaining. I know, for me, that is one of the biggest things for me is just listening with the intent to just listen, you know, if I tell you who I am, and I tell you about a situation I tell you about issue, you know, immediately and I’ve had the conversation before it with a white friend of mine, immediately, you know, thinking, well, this is how we have to fix this. And if any of them are going to handle this. No, just listen. You know, just listen. Because it’s so easy to try to think of solutions and think of things immediately. But sometimes the solution isn’t always present. Sometimes the solution is very hard to get to. Because if it’s been if it’s a systemic issue about racism, and it’s been going on generationally, yes, there are practices and things that you can do now, small things, small changes, as Matthew McConaughey has said earlier, small sacrifices that we can make the change the perspective or change the generational errors that we’ve done. Yeah, that can be done. But if I’m saying, this is one of the biggest issues that I’ve had, and I know I’m kind of going off, left a little bit here with the George Floyd situation, that height is everything. One of the things that that I was saying and I and I know a lot of people are saying is that that diversity needs to be seen needs to be filled. One of the biggest things that I’m I’m I work for them, I wouldn’t say a fortune 500 company but I work for one of the top five banks in the country. When we talk about diversity and inclusion. We don’t want to just be included with every type of thing that’s diverse, okay? We’re say diversity and inclusion or we want to be included in these things won’t be recognized as black people. Just as equal as white people. It doesn’t mean that you have to include us with okay, that’s Cujo with the homosexuals, let’s include Jolyn. With Asians, let’s include y’all with all of these minorities now. Because each and every one of those minority individuals want their own individualized respect. When you look on the board of directors for so many of these companies. I can eat it Target Facebook, and look at Facebook in and of itself, they say that they are a diverse company, but they don’t have a black person that like me sitting on their board, they may have an Asian or Indian or someone like that, and that, that makes them diverse, but they don’t have a black person like me sitting on their board, giving them a, you know, giving them advice or advising on these things for me, and I’m not saying that you have to be be in general, but you know, somebody that is well qualified to sit in that role. You know, it’s and that is not just singling out Facebook, but singling out a lot of these companies, because it’s, it’s like that across the board. There are companies that are making progress towards that. But one of the issues that I had with with a lot of companies is that they reacted in a way of wanting to fix instead of just listening, because the biggest error that I know the company does behind Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben’s rice and all that stuff. The biggest issue is we didn’t watch all the change all those different things. Like we just want it to be heard. That’s all nobody wanted. Nobody wanted to be taken off to the pancake box. Like we like to have demand. Right? If it was an issue with Aunt Jemima was whatever and she was a slave of it. Change her shirt change something like you know, make her look like somebody’s not like somebody know that each pancakes. Right? If that was the case, we do that you’ll make it later. But that’s not what we wanted. We didn’t want you to just do away with hmm, and now you have Pearl mining company. What is pro mining company? We don’t know. We don’t even know what it was like I don’t even Amy Watson 36:51 that’s literally the first time I’ve heard the Rename. TJ McKnight 36:54 Uh huh. Yeah. And it’s like, you see all of this and you’re like, that’s, that’s not the response that we wanted. That’s not the response that we were talking about. If you’re talking about police brutality, you talking about racial discrimination, you talking about racial inequity, you’re talking about all of these different race things, the solution is to is it to immediately fix these things like this? No, the issue, the solution is to get to the root of this cause and fix the root of the issue. Because if you fix the root, everything else from that is just like with a tree, if you fix the root of a tree, and that tree is cut off, it will spring back up, it’ll be beautiful and full back and like it should be. And so if we get to the root of what the issues are, if you have somebody that is sitting in a seat of judgment on a home mortgage, and they determine whether or not you apply approved for this mortgage or not, based on your credit score, or based on the factors of both of that, let that be the case, don’t let it be because I’m black, right? Don’t let it be because I’m this I’m that like No. If I if I’m, if I have the capital, and I had the credit, and I have all these different things based off of that, just like you would do your white counterpart in these situations. And so I know that it’s kind of like all over the place. But Amy Watson 38:17 it’s actually not all biggest thing. Yeah, no, it’s it’s not all over the place. And I you taught you taught me something because I’m a fixer. And I think the nine minute knee on George Floyd’s jugular vein did it to all of us, right. But we, as human beings immediately want to go into fix it mode. And I did that in some clubhouse rooms, like I, you know, I got on, you know, and really got educated, for lack of a better way to explain it, of how to interact with a group of people who, historically and you talk about the root, here’s the root of the problem. And here and anybody that listened to my podcast is not going to be surprised to hear this come on my mouth. The here’s the root of the problem. We, as a society, for hundreds of years, have not valued black and brown people for the image bearers that they are, we sometimes forget that and one of the original draft of the Constitution that a black person was considered, it was either two fists or three fifths of a human being. And so for you to say to me, we didn’t want angioma to go out we you know, and there’s lots of things that that happened to they took the at Disney, they took Splash Mountain out, I didn’t even know I didn’t that was so old that I didn’t even know that that had anything to do with racism. And so for you to tell me, we need you guys to stop fixing it thinking that that’s going to make you feel better. And that’s going to placate you for representing a group of people that has has ostracized us and not valued us for for hundreds and hundreds of years. If Amy was Soon as a white person can look at TJ McKnight as a black person, and know that you are the precious Son of the Most High God that you’re the Genesis 126, image bearer, then the best thing that we can do for somebody is give them our time. And we give them our time, when we listen. And so listeners out there we are, we all want to fix this. But we are not going to fix in even a decade or two decades, hundreds of years of racial trauma, I think that the gift of presence is so important. Having conversations like this is important, listening, trying to really feel in my body, what it must feel like to be pulled out of a car. And you didn’t say this happened to you. But it does happen to black males who get pulled out of the car with handcuffs on, I want to hear you and listen to what you’re not saying when you when you say I have two boys that you’re having to have the same conversations with. And so I think it comes down to a value issue. And it comes down to human beings needing to understand that we are all made in the image of God. And that, that the ultimate diversity and inclusivity happened when when God created man, He created us all in his own image. And so it comes down to a value issue. And so those of us that wants to help the answer to that question is those of us that want to help, guys, let’s just listen. Because I know that when when we are listened to we feel loved when we feel loved, we feel less insecure, when we feel less than secure, we can navigate through some of these unfair feelings. And so I had a podcast guest that came on that said, if you want to know why the fruit looks like it looks look at the fruit. So if we’ve got a bunch of African American males running around this country, creating crimes, black on black crime, all the things that are true, look at the roots. And we can fix the roots. By nourishing them by reminding them we need to value those roots, we need to love those roots, we need to hear those roots, we need to see those roots. And we need to just remember that these are human beings that we’re talking to. And so the gift, the gift of time, and the gift of listening is incredible. And so we have we have three seasons, we kind of as we kind of end here we have three season our podcast. And I would just love for you to tell us how they play a role in your life. And more particularly for listeners out there, how they can play a role in US navigating generational trauma. The first one is church. Now let me tell you something, I will pick a black church every day of the week over a white church because you’re way cooler than us. You take care of your own. I’ve learned things by listening from my black friends on clubhouse about how churches have had church mothers things that our churches don’t have. But tell us in your opinion, how the church kept you really on the straight and narrow, even though you’d like to race and all of that. But given that you are that you dealt with racial trauma, that you have an adverse childhood experience score that significantly high? How did the church play into and invest in your life so that what I’m looking across on the screen right now is an amazing human being with a wife and three kids. TJ McKnight 43:39 The church played a huge, significant role in my life. Because, you know, that’s where I can say that I found my identity, not just in Christ and who I am, you know, not only did I find my identity, but I found my community. I found that I was valued and I was worth something. You know, I found out that I was gifted, I had gifts, you know, I found that I could be somebody or you know, the smallest achievements in my life, you know, we’re celebrating, you know, it’s those type of things that made me who I am, you know, it shaped me. You know, when my mom was sick with cancer. I mean, it 98 the first time, you know, the church responded, you know, when we went through a lot, you know, financial issues or whatever, you know, the church responded. There are times in my life when I can, you know, point to how the church helped mold and shape me, you know, but we’ll be here all day. Amy Watson 44:48 Yeah, talking. Yeah. You brought in that other C community which is so important. And so for listeners, it really is the community, the church, I have these three C’s big as they are a huge part of my healing, right, and my trauma just looks different. It’s just it just looks different. But, but the church and community are two vital components, in my opinion to healing. I love that you said that the church gave you your identity, not only in Christ as first, as we see in first Peter two, nine, where the Bible says that we are chosen people are royal royal priesthood, and God has called us out of the darkness into this marvelous light. That verse doesn’t say, hey, all white people, you are a chosen royal priesthood. And by the way, you know, our faith was founded in the Middle East where nobody looked like either one of us. And so that’s just that that was free. The last C is the last C is counseling. And I want to do a little call to action here before I ask you this question, because this is a passion of mine. And as a reason that I am sitting here, proclaiming Christ in Christ alone because of church because of community, but because of counseling, and I was really fortunate to be able to afford to go to counseling, I realized that not everybody can afford to go to counseling particularly, and marginalized communities. And so the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast at the end of last year raised money, and the first X amount of money went towards the production of the podcast, because I’m not Joe Rogan, I don’t have advertisers, I’m not getting rich on this podcast. And you know, and so I had people that came in and completely funded the podcast for 2022 for production costs, and then all the money that is donated after that goes to scholarships for pro bono counseling. And I have already established two of those, one of them was in the name of Cheryl Rice, who was a really good friend of mine who took me to the psych ward when I attempted to take my life. And the second one to Simone Lashay, who is of a sound mind, she is a black female living with bipolar disorder. And so counseling is a big deal to me. And this podcast, the reason why I do it, besides the fact that I like to hear myself talk is to raise money for pro bono counseling. And so that is a call to action guys, if you’re interested in that mission, and to help us fund pro bono counseling. And the show notes. If you hit contact Amy, there are two ways you can do that. One is called buy me a cup of coffee, which is lame, but it’s it gives you the opportunity to do a one time gift. And then the second is Patreon, which are for those of you who are interested in maybe a monthly support, I’ve got a $5 option there. All of that money goes to Joel 225 Ministries, which is my newly soon to be newly formed 501 C three that will fund pro bono counseling. Now I stuck that call to action in the middle of the questions so that people would listen to it. Talk to me about counseling, has counseling been part of your story, as we talk about some of these things? You’ve mentioned your mom BNL several times, that’s that’s a big deal, particularly when she was so instrumental and who you are today, has counseling been part of your story, whether it’s racial trauma or not, has counseling been part of your story? TJ McKnight 47:59 Yes. It’s funny, because, you know, I’ve been eager to get back to California because I was like, I need to talk to somebody about a lot of the stuff that but I remember vividly back from when 911 happened, you know, I dealt with a serious bout of depression. And I was 11 years old. So my birthday is September 8. And 911 occurred three days later. And so being in I had just turned to live and so you know, seeing that really unfold and just seeing people jumping out of the windows of the the Twin Towers you know as 11 year old kid, you know, in my mind and growing up in church, you know, you hear all the time you know, about heaven and hell and death and stuff. So, you know, all of that was weighing heavy on my mind. And I just remember talking to my mom was like, and she was she was constantly prayed over me and I know I probably drove her crazy during that time because I’ve tried I would drive myself crazy. Because I was just it was certain songs I couldn’t listen to is this one song called be encouraged. I believe it’s about William Becton. And in the end of the song, he was saying, even to the end of the world, you know, basically saying he got guys that Jesus said he will be with me up to the end of the world. You know, they used to scare me because I’m like, I don’t want to think about the end of the world. You know, I didn’t want to go home and play with my toys. Amy Watson 49:27 Yeah, exactly. TJ McKnight 49:29 I want my mom and my bed. Like, you know, as a kid, you know, that kind of you know, it traumatizes you. But, you know, when I was when I was in school, one of the counselors noticed that, you know, my behavior was a little bit different. My mom was telling her what was going on, and she pulled me aside. So Brandon was listening and was wondering why I was missing some days. In middle school, definitely. That’s why she pulled me aside and, you know, we sat down, we talked about what was going on, and she helped me I navigate through some of those feelings that I was going through and navigate through what I was dealing with. And she worked with me for about a month. And it was a good month and some change, I believe. And I remember, you know, my school, shout out to catch your eyes, and this children who was there, and it was helping me, but, you know, my school was very big on making sure that everybody was seen and taken care of. And my school was a very small charter schools. So you know, everybody knew everybody. And so, you know, for them to really take that notice. And, and, and offer me those counseling sessions with a guidance counselor, not with a counselor within our school, it was helpful, because it helped me to overcome, you know, what I was thinking, you know, overcome my fears. And, you know, when I came out of that depression, I stood up in church and gave a testimony to say how the Lord, you know, delivered me from it, you know, is, is very serious, you know, it’s very, there’s something that I feel is not utilized. And then I say that because, you know, I want Kalfas counseling for something, and I haven’t done it. But I know that, you know, a lot of a lot of the issues, a lot of the problems in life, or a lot of the, I would say the big incidences that took place, even recently, you know, with the school shooting, a lot of that probably could have been avoided. Those individuals sought real counseling, and good counseling. And I remember talking to a friend of mine, he was telling me about how he had bad counseling, and how that almost drove him over the edge. And I just think about, you know, it’s important to get good, holistic counseling, I know this is Christian based, I will even put the plug in good Christian counseling, if you’re a Christian, or you feel that, you know, maybe you like somebody that’s out that’s not Christian, you know, it’s not Christian, you know, this get good counseling. Because it’s very needed in this day and age. Mental health is so, so serious, and I hate that the church kind of downplays it so much. It hurts my heart. But it’s something that is very real. And it’s very prevalent in this day and age, it seems that so many people are dealing with mental health issues, this day and age that they’re scared to say anything about it, because of the fear of being looked at as crazy or something like that. But you know, it’s not crazy. If you’re getting help, right. And it was not crazy if this saving your life, Amy Watson 52:56 and it does save lives, right. And so for those of you listening, particularly for those of you listening for the racial trauma portion of it, it’s important to to attack that early. So if your children saw the George Floyd thing, or their you cannot turn on the news and not hear it, counseling is biblical. It you know, the Bible says in the multitude of counselors, there is great wisdom. And and so, so, go get counseling. I do, though, understand in the context of a conversation of racial trauma. Again, this was an assumption I made in a clubhouse room that got me in a lot of trouble. So I don’t want to make the assumption. But I do know that across the board, but because we’re talking about racial trauma, that resources aren’t often there for counsel for people to get counseling. And so I was telling somebody in a podcast interview today, I turned 50 in December, and on my 50th birthday, I told the Lord, I want to raise $1 million for pro bono counseling. And that might seem crazy, but you better believe I’m going to do it because that’s how important I believe counseling is. Well, TJ, you have been remarkable here today. I think the big takeaway for me as I hear you talk about basically living as a black man and then obviously raising two black sons is that the best thing that people who are not Black can do is listen and not just jump into action and take Andrew mime off the bottle and we did a bunch of you know a bunch of other things which I don’t really have an opinion on because I’m white, but but I don’t think that many black people across the country feel more valuable because we took her off the bottle or because we took the the zippity doo da song ala Disney or because, you know, Lady Antebellum changed the lady a I don’t think any black people felt better with those actions. However, I do think that when when we are able to do what you said and just listen and not want to defend and not want to cry front of you. Because that yes, I’m sad. But but but the pain is yours. And to be able to sit in that and practice, that gift of presence, I think is the best advice that I’ve gotten on this series so far. So I want to thank you for that. Well, as we close, as I mentioned, you are a fellow podcaster, I would love for you to take two to three minutes here and tell people about your podcast about your mission and where they can find you. TJ McKnight 55:27 Yeah, so my podcast is called one faith, you can find it on social media. Everywhere at we are one base, you can find us on all of your podcast, streaming platforms, same thing, we are one faith, you know, and the podcast is solely about creating or promoting unity in the body of Christ. Growing up, I grew up black church all my life. And so I had an experience where I went to a multicultural church. And that really kind of changed the game for me. And I just knew, like, you know, hey, you know, all God’s people need to be worshiping together. And that’s really where the birth of one faith kind of came from. Because one thing I recognize is that we are all, you know, unique in our own ways, you know, whether you’re black, white, you know, whatever your, you know, ethnicity is, you know, it is God’s intent in design for all of his people to be together. Because when we get to heaven, you know, there’s not just gonna be a black heaven, that would be a white heaven. It’s not going to be an Asian, Hispanic, Amy Watson 56:32 it’s just going to be heaven. It’s gonna be an image bearer heaven. Right? Exactly. Yeah. It’s gonna be an image. We’re TJ McKnight 56:38 a joint presence of God. And so that’s what one faith is all about. You know, I’m not just talking about that. Amy Watson 56:45 Oh, right, right. No, but I did it. Listen, guys, his podcast is amazing. I will put it in the show notes. Get ready to put your thinking cap on, though, because this is a podcast that is well thought out. And it is Biblically sound. And I think that, you know, by how amazing TJ has been on this interview, that he is also an amazing podcast host. But the thing I love about him the most, just by listening to just a few of your podcasts is that jealousy that you have for the for the souls of Jesus. And so my final question to you, and is so captain obvious, but I call Jesus the star of my story. TJ McKnight. Is Jesus, the star of your story? trauma? And TJ McKnight 57:28 if I said no, you know, no, there’ll be perceived as a joke. But yes, you know, he is the star of my story. And, you know, he is the center of everything that I do. You know, with the podcast with the now we’re transitioning to a young adult ministry, and with everything that we’re doing, you know, my intention is to please God and everything that I do, whether that’s being a husband, being a father, being a brother, being a son, being a friend, whatever, you know, all of those titles mean nothing if, you know if I’m not representing God in those titles. And so that’s yes, he’s the star of my short story. He is the star of my life, he is the star of everything that I do. And I love God with my whole heart. And I just pray that you know, anyone who is listening, that, you know, hey, if you want to know more about Jesus, if you want to know about know more about God in any in any way, you know, feel free to contact me, you know, you can reach out to me via email at admin at We are one If you want to connect with what we’re doing, you know, hey, just go follow us or connect with us on Instagram, that we are one faith. Because, you know, I my hope, and my prayer is that I can help you make Jesus the star of your show. Amy Watson 58:51 Amen. Amen. Oh, I love that. And I’ll do you one better. I always say to listeners, when especially when I have a guest like you, we would love to introduce you to the star of the story. So one of the very first things that you will see in the show notes is contact me contact TJ. And you can do that through DMS, you can send a bird you can send a plane but I can promise you that we would love to introduce you to the star of the story. Well, TJ, one of the things I want to say to you I never leave a microphone, but today it feels especially more powerful to say these words over you because of what you’ve said to us today. And how people who are not marginalized who have not experienced racial trauma can be part of the solution by just listening and here’s why we need to listen to you and TJ I speak this over you and I speak this over my listeners. Everyone knows I don’t leave with microphone without saying it but right now, I am saying it to you to your wife to your children and your children’s children that you are seen. You are known. You are heard you are loved and most of all, you are valued. And we will keep listening. We will keep listening. Thank you for being here today. TJ. TJ McKnight 1:00:12 Thank you. Thank you. I love it. I love it. That’s amazing. Amy Watson 1:00:18 Well, guys, thank you so much for listening to that incredible conversation that I had with my friend TJ McKnight. I do hope that you glean something from it. I know that I certainly did. As we as Christians navigate a world that is often so not kind to everybody, but particularly in marginalized communities. I think that TJ gave us one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve ever heard, and they just want us to listen and when we listen, we tell them that they are valuable because they are because they too are made in the image of guys. We’ll be back here next week with another episode on racial trauma as we are continuing through the month of June. We hope that you will join us until then you know what I’m going to say just like I just said to TJ you are seen you are known you’re heard you are loved. And you are so so valued. See you guys next week.

Uncovering Racial Trauma w Tiffany Countryman & Melika Courtney

READERS: This is a transcript of a podcast and is not meant to present as a completed, grammatically piece of written work. We provide these for our hard of hearing community as well as those of you who prefer to listen inside this blog.

Amy Watson 0:01

Before we start today’s interview, I wanted to do a little bit of a caveat as we are now entering the back half of this season. This has been a long planned series on racial trauma. Most of not all of these episodes were recorded before the recent, racially motivated mass shooting traumas that occurred on both Buffalo and an Orange County, California. And in many other places that maybe we don’t even hear on the news. I would highly encourage you guys to tune in to these episodes. Listen to these people that who may look different than us. Because praying and thoughts are awesome, and God can change this. But he uses his people to do it. And so we must be the change. And so before you are tempted to peace out well, these next interviews as the month of June, as we are covering racial trauma, please know that these episodes were recorded before said mass shootings. But the mission is even more important now. So this is the beginning of our series on racial trauma. Change. It is a complete sentence, and one that when one of our guests today brought to my attention, we have heard all the variations of Be the change. But what if, what if we just changed? Hey, everyone, and welcome back to the donor supported Wednesdays with Watson podcast. This project has a mission. And that is to help provide hope for people navigating the roads of loss and trauma, and all of its friends. We do that by dropping these episodes every two weeks. So if you’re not subscribed, first of all, welcome to the podcast. And I would love it if right there. When you’re on your app, you would subscribe and follow the podcast. Ratings and Reviews also help get the word out if you’re so inclined. But this is the real fire in my heart guys. We have a mission to fund pro bono counseling for for trauma survivors who needs support. If you would like to join our mission, simply click on that contact me button in the show notes. Now that we got all that out of the way, let’s step in to the healing zone. Do not skip the rest of the intro. It’s important change. It is a complete sentence. And one that when one of our guests today brought to my attention. We have heard all the variations of Be the change. But what if, what if we just changed I am excited to bring two of the smartest people I know to the Wednesday’s with Watson podcasts I met and I’m air quoting that because we’ve never actually met in real life, Tiffany and Melika on clubhouse. And we can often be found in those clubhouse streets, as Tiffany says, pontificating on any number of issues from Jesus to not one day I was on a stage with several people who did not look like me. And none of the people in the audience look like me. It’s common when I’m in rooms with these two, and I’m okay with that. Because you see, these two were blessed with way more melanin in their skin than I do with my family healing from Germany and France. But I said something in that room and it triggered everyone and it all was well at the end of the day. But I felt horrible. I knew, even though I did not say that, to trigger the room, I knew something I knew that I had that I had to change. We are in season three one that I have called trauma spaces, places and aces. For the back half of the season we are focusing on trauma and the home and in particular trauma and childhood. I knew that Tiffany and Melika could bring value to the podcast. And I’ve really struggled with this episode in so many ways with what they’ll do today, because you see what they’re doing today is the polar opposite of bleeding on those that did not cut them. I wanted to know what unique trauma occurs particularly in the black community, though we will be talking about black, Indigenous and People of Color all throughout this episode. Also not wanting to make them my professor. I was hesitant to ask either one of them to do this today. But true to who they are and true to who I know them to be world changers. These girls are world changers. They both agreed to come on to the podcast and help those of us who did not grow up in the black community. They’re going to help us gain a little insights about what their realities were like, and maybe are still true today. Although if I No, both of these powerful women, they are actively changing the narrative in their sphere of influence. And they both have it and we’re going to highlight it at the end. And I have a surprise for both of them at the end. So, let’s drop into this conversation with my friends, Malika and Tiffany. Welcome to the homie countrymen and Melika Courtney to the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast. I am so so happy you’re here. Tiffany Countryman 5:25 Yo, what’s up, Amy? What’s up bases? Not much, though, sis, and Amy, Amy Watson 5:30 and want to be here with the latest? Well, Melika, welcome. Tiffany has been on the podcast before. And so those of you who are listening, you can back up and she came on and talked to us about spiritual abuse. But I love you both. And I can’t wait for this announcement at the end of this. And so I’m super excited. So let’s dig in. So I explained to the listeners. And I want to and I hope that y’all know how grateful I am that the two of you would come on this and talk about traumas that are unique in your community, particularly what we call adverse childhood experiences. And my my listeners know what that is, because we’ve already talked about that. And I asked both of you if I could run the 10 common adverse childhood experiences by you and all you’re going to say is yes or no to me. And then we’ll continue the conversation. And so we will start with Eeny Meeny Miny Moe, this start with my likea Okay, so, so Melika Courtney 6:34 I have a story about that to just remind me about Eeny, Meeny Miny Moe, go ahead, Amy Watson 6:38 okay, I’m sure you do. You got all kinds of stories. I can’t wait for people to go to your platforms and all that stuff. So adverse childhood experiences, these are recognized by all the major psychological books and all things. These are the 10 most and so all I want you to do Malika here when I asked you is just yes or no for me. Okay. So this would have been before your 18th birthday in your home. Did you experience physical abuse? Yes. Did you experience sexual abuse? Yes. Verbal abuse? Yes. I have a hard time getting through these with my friends. physical neglect. Yes. emotional neglect. I’m going to answer yes. for you on that one. A family member who is depressed or diagnosed with other mental illness? Yes. A family member who is addicted to alcohol or another substance? Cigarettes it that counts? A family member who was incarcerated? No. Okay. So, remember, remember this this number? I’m holding it up to you. I don’t want the listeners. Okay. All right. If your turn ready. Physical abuse. Yes. I love your sexual abuse. No, in this is inside the home. As a child. Oh, yes. Verbal abuse. Yes. physical neglect. Yes, food insecurity will be one of those emotional neglect. Yes. A family member who is depressed or diagnosed with mental illness? Yes. A family member who is addicted to alcohol or another substance? Yes. A family member who was incarcerated. From time to time, yes. Okay. So both of you have what we call an ACE score of seven. And after three, it is assigned toxic stress to you as a human being and your brain remembers these things. I did a solo episode at the beginning of the season explaining the adverse childhood experiences. Experts agree that a score larger than three can and often does and create toxic stress. And then just put whatever you want in there. But I want to validate for both of you your experiences is not just bad days, but about a traumatic childhood that you both endured. I have an a score very similar to yours. And I have complex post traumatic stress disorder. So let’s get started with the racial trauma portion of the conversation. as of the recording of this podcast, we are in February of 2022. And we didn’t get our stuff together because I really wanted to drop this and black history month but it’s going to be closer to June teen. We were all this morning when I guess it was actually yesterday afternoon. I was so pleased with the federal verdict of Amid Aubrey those dudes are going to spend two life sentences in prison. And so many ways, though, the string of Roche racially motivated violence open the eyes of many of us. I’m not proud of that. But I also don’t plan to waste what I’m learning. And I say that because I will always be learning not just about race relations, but about life and death. General. That being said, I would like to remind everyone what trauma is trauma is anytime our brains are pushed outside their window of tolerance. We talked about the window of tolerance in the solo episode as well, as well as with Jeremy Fox, who is an EMDR consultant. So those are past episodes. But essentially guys, trauma is anything when our safety is compromised, or our felt safety is compromised. And any event that causes us to live outside of our brains happy placed, lots of sciency things I can say here, but that has been covered. And those direct links are in the show notes. With that said, Melika, you had an a score of seven, would you would you be willing to share any portion of childhood trauma that is unique to the black community for our listeners? Melika Courtney 10:50 So, and I love the question. There were so many things that flashed in my mind, Amy with that question, but I think a great place to start. And especially because I haven’t talked this coming up about this. We’re having a conversation on hair troughs. Something so simple. The majority of us run around with hair, right. And haircare always comes into question. When it comes to black community. I remember growing up and being told, Oh, you have good hair, or this person has bad here, right. And even with my good hair, I still had to sit through one of the most strangest practices on top limit is fun. The girls do it and we enjoy it. However, when I was a kid, I was not a fan. I was not a fan of perms for one, they burned to sit in what I consider physical effing torture, you’re putting his creamy crack on your head, and has to sit there for a certain amount of time to process to the politeness that is preferred. And while you are enduring this, like literally the damage and half of everything, and I remember walking away with scattering skills and things like that. Oh, yeah. So it’s, it’s Amy Watson 12:08 listeners can’t see what I just did. I was just horrified. Melika Courtney 12:12 These are just the simplest of things. And I choose that starting point because it’s such a broad stroke when it comes to black girls, and the industry, society school placed looking a certain way, the white way, I need to have more white, I’m gonna do my hair is frickin curly. And now because I’m lucky, however, thank you. And those were some of the things that I recognized as a child to the point where it verbalized to my mother. So let’s push it a step further from the perms. My mom was educated beauty, the whole amount of this and so she understood the extensions. That was her thing. You know, my hair was already shoulder length. She wanted it a little bit longer. So she would throw these things in her ponytail. So a blind mind. Yeah, look gorgeous. And I was happy. I was like, Okay, I look good. I look the part unacceptable. But it all right. There came a time where we changed areas that we moved to what I call Hell, politely. And while we were living over in hell, I have course attendance neighboring school. And in that school was a hodgepodge of humans. A lot of them whose parents did not engage in those beauty practices, who did not engage in mama that was insistent on us speaking English, a lot less line, right? Didn’t have a gate. So I was out. And to fast forward it and I take all day because there’s other questions to get to. There came a point where I was attacked by over 60 kids. And it was she thinks she’s white. She thinks she’s too. I wouldn’t say yes to being a girlfriend of this right? rattastic little boy, it was disgusting, and stupid. We say like finally just either how, as a result of that, he enlisted a couple of the boys or girls to it. It ended that way. And I mean 60 hands on experience and there was hundreds of people around. So I had not only my weave pulled out and paraded and waved and hit with it, but my hair pulled out. So there are things that my Caucasian brothers and sisters will never understood. Amy Watson 14:32 No, and I think first of all, I just want to say I’m I’m so sorry. Because again, the point of this podcast it because when you’re a child and this series we are talking about childhood trauma. When you’re a child, not only did you experience physical pain, and shame and embarrassment and all of the things girls, your your hair, your looks It is kind of your thing. And so then you begin to, and I’m not, I’m not placing this on your Melika. Yeah, I’m wondering, did you at any time become bitter, or wish that you were white, or wish that you had hair that didn’t need that, because I, what makes me sad as a child experiencing that trauma is, so much of our identity is in our hair, and in our looks, and all of that. And so, then it becomes like this, highlight this really, really important thing. And then it turns into you being physically assaulted and shamed, quite frankly, by your peers. And so I’m wondering did it did that play into later in life? Because we are somewhat addressing this season how childhood trauma affects us later in life, when later in life? Because you and I will? Well, we can we can talk about this before we give the same question to TIFF. So I’m wondering if some of that unique trauma and that’s a great example, and I’m going to pop a question down to Tiffany on this in just a second. But so I guess the question is, is did that experience carry over into adulthood for you? Melika Courtney 16:11 I would say um, so to move through a few questions that you asked. I was a child, there was no point where I even understood that I could have the option of waking up any other other than I was loved and black. So for me, everyone said, Oh, my God, I want to be white. No, it went to, I want to move back the hell out of this grungy as neighborhood and live right. Yeah, those are the thoughts as far as trauma carrying over into adulthood, of course, because I just gave you a coin. If you have 100 coins and that dollar, consider life spanned out it continues. Racism has not stopped the way I am received on sight will always be through this lens. So until the day I expire love and this body, I will always be a black woman. Right? I will always have that immediate judgment from the other side, on how I look how I present how I speak, how I engage in I don’t even know if it’s present mine judgments, my judgments to my judgments on who I engage how they speak, how they move in business, how they move in life. So I do believe that’s a human condition. But as far as racism, and I went over it, that’s what you Amy Watson 17:22 No. And that’s why we’re doing this. That’s why we’re doing this because I want to, I want people to know and so tough before I asked you the same question, you have a little girl, too, who we call Tootie, and she’s six or seven, seven, she said in June, Sophie eight in June. And so how did it feel to you just now when you heard Malik, you say that? Not that clearly. You knew you had that same trauma. I’m looking at both of you with your beautiful hair. And mine. Not so much right now. But there’s. So it talked to me to how did that land on your heart when you think of the context of you now raising a black child and a girl at that. And so here is the thing like, you know, white people, for some reason are obsessed with black people’s hair and want to touch it, which is so offensive. If somebody walked up to me and said, Could I touch your hair? I’d probably slap them. But how did that land on you for Tootie and helping her with something as unique as as Melika shared that is unique to the black community in terms of how you live your life and how God made you and how you made your beautiful hair and to these beautiful hair. How that land on your heart? Well, first, Amy, I want to say thank you for the invitation to join you on your podcast and especially to slap me with my big sister of whom I adore, admire and appreciate for so many reasons. This is this particular point of trauma I have experienced myself personally. So it resonates with me very deeply, which is why I’m locked now and why my daughter is locked and will never receive a relaxer under my care and my dime. I too went through the burning of the scalp. When he rained on your hair, it had a certain smell your hair breaking off just all the different chemicals that upkeep that you had to do even move in to the hot comb that used to warm up on the stove. And your mother your grandmother would take this iron comb that warmed up on the eye of the stove in the kitchen and you will sit in the middle of the kitchen and you bend your head down and they would no pun intended grab those kitchens in the back of your hair. That’s what we call the barley balls or the big beads. In the back of our hair on the sides of our hair is kitchens, you gotta grab those kitchens. If you haven’t grabbed with the hot comb. It was grabbed The brushing grease that was also painful, because it’s snapping your hair from its natural state to bend to yield, to submit to a style that it was not created to do. So it resonates deeply with me. And like I said, I decided to lock up my daughter’s hair at the age of five. She was natural until then, and I decided to lock up her hair because that is our natural state. as natural as we’re able to get it here in America and us being American eyes. Of course, both my daughter and I, we are African American. So we’re mixed a million times over at this point. But as natural as we can get it is in the lock style. She has the free freedom to wear ponytails, bowls, ball balls, barrettes, beads, whatever she can do, her hair is just as versatile if it had been relaxed or pressed out, or if it was still in its original birth natural state. But yeah, it resonates deeply. It resonates deeply. And I and I agree, which is why we’re sisters. And it’s just not something I ever would have thought of ever. And so now Tiff Can you think of another trauma experience in childhood that and you don’t, you didn’t necessarily need to have experienced this we are we are looking to highlight trauma and the black community, particularly childhood trauma. So can you think of any other examples of a trauma that would be specific to your community. Um, for me, it would be boxing in or limiting our creativity. And when I say that, I mean this, my daughter, she’s seven, as we already stated. And when my husband is not home, I allow her to scream if she wants to single whole musical, if she wants to dress up in all her clothes, if she wants to do what she wants to paint, as long as she’s not, you know, painting on the walls or being just you know, out of pocket. I give her that freedom in that space to do so. However, for myself, and I’m sure some others and other generations, we were tamed, we were molded to be still to be quiet, to not be in grown people’s conversations. There are inappropriate conversations for children, but I allow my daughter to hear some of the clubhouse rooms, crypto, all these types of things that I wish I would have known as a child and as children it’s sinks in. So for me it was the taming of our innate, we’re creatives in the we’re just we’re just creative as black people. But I don’t want to say that we’re more creative than any other ethnicity or culture. But we definitely have some salt and pepper on our creativity. But because we have to move through society dumbed down, silence, muted crushed. Our parents felt like it was their duty. It was a necessity to bend us into robots, to make us be quiet to listen to just say yes, ma’am. No, sir. We weren’t allowed. We wasn’t allowed to question. We wasn’t allowed to ask why we couldn’t even say what if our If our parents called our names, I remember the first time I heard a white kid respond to their mother with what I almost passed out. allowed to do that. You got to do that. Yeah, we weren’t allowed to do that. I’ve heard why kids called their parents by their first names. Every adult that we came in contact with, we had to preface it with a miss or mister why? Because they were afraid for our safety for our life. So we had to be molded to operate a certain way. And what I have noticed is that it has it has, it has messed up our creativity as a culture. We’re not we’re not as socially inept as other cultures, we’re we’re very behind the curve on a lot of things because we weren’t able to have the freedom to come into our own life other cultures have. So I think that’s a huge other trauma that myself and many others have experienced simply because of the color of our skin with our parents, they with their good intention to help us to be able to exist in these spaces, but we have this residue that we have to deal with in the air. So it’s kind of well, it’s not kind of it’s one of the worst things that you can do to a human being has take their voice away from them. Right. Absolutely. And that’s and that’s essentially what happened and and that’s sad for me to hear and I’m looking at to announce Melika’s kids are grown, but I’m looking at two people that have probably stopped this and of course you’ve got grandkids she’s sent that beautiful picture yesterday to both of us. But But y’all are stopping this because we need this world needs creatives of all sorts and I would I would go so far as to say that there is a special kind of creativity that comes from your community that no one else has. Listen, I am part of the rhythmless nation, you can give me a beat. I don’t even clap in church because people look at me like me. No, just no. And so y’all got the best music, y’all. You know what I’m saying? And so I think there’s a lot to be said for that. But there’s even more damage when someone takes your voice away. Wouldn’t you agree with that? Melika? Melika Courtney 25:22 Absolutely. It’s, it’s the convenience it feels like, who wants to honestly sit and have negative things highlighted about them? Right? No, buddy, right. And if you consider the positioning if you consider the slashes, and we’ll jump back real quick to the Eenie, meenie miney moe, it used to say, I know what it said, Mo catch the N word, but it’s all right. So and that’s still a part of our culture. And Amy Watson 25:54 listen, this is a great example. I shouldn’t have said it. I heard that isn’t it so Melika Courtney 26:00 subtle in isn’t it so subtle? And that’s what I mean by it is the thread is that kneeling thread is sewn it up into a shield blanket of fabric however you want to call it. These are the little bits in life. And sometimes folks, I don’t even know if it’s really conscious what his heart because the heart is pushing it forward, even if it’s not. forefront consciously intent. Yeah. Amy Watson 26:23 Which and in that case for me, yeah, like, yeah, like you guys know me, right. But I had been brought up. And I fully admit white privilege and for for someone who was abused by a serial killer and beat up for 12 years for the first 35 years of my life with the exception of four in a children’s home, to call myself privileged, that highlights how bad we have treated people of color. When you are hearing a trauma survivor like me, guys, serial killer, seven sexual abusers. 12 years of domestic violence marriage abandoned by my mom and I am still more privileged than your community. Well let that breathe for a second. Okay. So when we were in that clubhouse room, I made an assumption. I can’t remember what we were talking about. But I made an assumption that resources were not available to I think it was a church conversation that perhaps maybe the church, the black church didn’t have the resources that the white church did. And that wasn’t offensive as much to the people in the room as much as something I said after that, which I’m not gonna say again. But talk to me about and your both of your cases, because this is leading into this surprise that I have for both of you. Has counseling ever been part of your healing? Melika Courtney 27:46 If you want to start and then I’ll jump in? Amy Watson 27:47 Sure. Absolutely. Counseling is a major part of my healing, even us sitting and talking. together today, I consider it counseling. Why? Because the Bible says of two or three gather they will be in the midst. Amen. And God is the great counselor, Big C are overcome by the blood of the lamb and the words of our testimony. How can we share our testimony not sharing our testimony to God, we’re sharing our testimony to one another. But if you’re speaking of professional counseling, absolutely, absolutely. And what I have gained the most from professional therapy or mental health help is coping techniques. Because once we understand that trauma is eternal, it is embedded in our brains, in our blood streams, some impression sometimes even leaving your muscles, that’s how the serious trauma is. So I think is this illusion that you can talk about it, cry about it, and you’ll get over and you’re never triggered. Again, you’ll never go through that same situation again, you won’t come into contact with people that exhibit the same behaviors as a previous abuser. So what I’ve learned is coping techniques, how to deal with it, how to process it, how to not own it, how to let it go, how to breathe through it, how to journal about it, how to talk about it, I learned through professional therapy, how to approach conflict, I was always on 100 I’m always in your face does not you ain’t gonna do like this. I’m talking about at work at church in the home, because I just I don’t have the anatomy to be fake to be gas lit. And it just triggers me to no end because of all of our previous trauma. So I had gone to a point to where I was just, I mean, you’ll face you want to apologize, you’re gonna say this, you’re gonna do this. But with counseling and professional therapy, I’ve learned that sometimes it doesn’t always require 100 Sometimes you could sit back and think maybe you miss read something or you misunderstood something. So yeah, I am an advocate for counseling. It has played a major either part of my head in my healing. How about you? Melika? Yeah, Melika Courtney 30:04 I too am an advocate for counseling, I believe in that stuff. Like, I believe it’s gonna rain during spring, because it’s unnecessary. And I will say that speaking from a trauma corner, we were raised, what goes on a house stays in the house, you know, be quiet, you don’t talk about this. From the comes up, we handle it in the home. So, for me to move to a point where I actually chose counseling was colorful, it was a lot, it was a fight in itself to even reach for that help. And then to what I also learned exactly what Tiffany learned to and I also learned, it matters who you’re getting your counseling from. Yeah. And my initial counselor was a Caucasian male, note, say more, Amy Watson 30:58 tell me more, because I want our listeners to tell me a little bit more. Melika Courtney 31:03 He, for person who’s supposed to understand boundaries, he did not keep those boundaries, he was definitely out of his place and out of his mouth. And, sadly, he could not relate. He just he literally could not relate. I’m sharing things with him. But his his toolbox was not equipped for the life that led to that point. He was not able to give me anything more than the standard basics right? And right about it, you know, let’s talk about it. We’re breathing this, these very basic things, he was not prepared. And then even the outlook that he had on life or understanding racism or understanding what it is to be black metal, he could understand him in a position of being in the body but being able to empathize or sympathize or to understand even have a clue. He was among the clueless. So it was my first I was among the clueless as far as picking a counselor, right? So we won’t we’re too close people figured out need to get help them to get Oh, Amy Watson 32:06 thank you highlight something important there. There are resources out there. And I love it. It is actually the American Foundation. Now this is for suicide prevention, but that they deal with all of it. And I’ll put this in the show notes. But this organization is only for black, indigenous and people of color. And they provide resources to those communities as it pertains to trauma and all the other things. When I was leading into the mistake I made on clubhouse when I said that my assumption was your churches did not have the resources to to do whatever it was we were talking about. I don’t want to assume but I do want to ask you guys. And then so we know, obviously and the poverty stricken community, white and black. But we’re talking about the black community right now that that those families cannot afford counseling. How accepted, I guess is that though, for the people that can so upper, lower upper middle class, whatever people that can afford in the black community to go to counseling, is there a stigma like there is in our community when you go to counseling? Melika Courtney 33:16 Yes, like, like I mentioned before, we’re raised with a set of beliefs and behaviors. And I want to say this too. There are so you know, we we cannot take a blanket and throw it over. Everybody can’t do that. So I will say from my experience, and those that have engaged and I will speak on my engagement. My engagements have reached 174 countries. Wow. Okay. So my engagements are vast. So I’m not I can’t say all, but I can say that many, many were conditioned to be silent, to not speak, to deal to cope and not seek out. So that that is the story of so many people sadly. And again, I know it’s heavier and black community, though I am aware that it exists in my community as well. All Amy Watson 34:09 right, all right. You’re so sweet to try to step into my world. This is about yours to tell me let’s say we have 10 you have 10 kids in your youth group, as a result of an a really want to be careful the way I word this as a result of just the lack of opportunity, okay? Because if you take Amy and you take Malika or you take TIFF, and 2022, I don’t have to work as hard for things as you do. I just don’t. That’s the reality of it. Period. We call that white privilege. It’s real, all of that, but tough. And so say because you’re a youth pastor, and this is why I wanted to ask you this, say you have 10 of your kids in your youth group. What percentage of those would you say would struggle to be able to afford to go to counseling? Here’s the thing. Okay, you want a technical answer? For my not necessarily what I’m going or what I, I don’t want to know what you’re looking at, I don’t want to make the assumption that most black homes cannot afford counseling, I don’t want to make that assumption, yes don’t make that assumption because even if it’s not coming from income from a parent, household income, okay, it’s a job child support. Social Security, okay. There is all type of resources for children in lower income households. So there’s a where I live, there’s Medicaid, there’s care source, there’s Buckeye, health insurance, there’s all different types of insurances, that children, all you have to do is apply. And you’re automatically covered health care wise, mental care wise. So for my children, it would be like a case where maybe it’s a foster child, and they’re not properly registered, their paperwork hasn’t kept up with Phil, or a homeless child that doesn’t have any type of registration or anything. I know, we have refugees, sometimes that haven’t registered at the Catholic Church yet, it will be specified. Cases like that. But nine times out of 10, our children in our communities are insured, because that is a resource that the community and schools makes sure that the children take part in. So I would say that our children can afford mental health resources. Okay. Okay, good, good, good. I’m glad to hear that. And I know that’s not true everywhere, right. And both of you, and I’m going to give both of you airtime because you both have platforms. And I want my people to know what you’re doing, what your passions are, and all of that. Before I do that, though, I want to make an announcement to my listeners, and to those of you. Ready, ready, set. All right. So my my heart here today, is broken, in some ways to hear some of the things that and I know that I got like, an iota of what children in the black community experience, whether it’s inside the home or not, I now I only got a little piece of that, and my heart already hurts. And so I I want you both to know, for two people who have never met, I just love you both. And so this is also an announcement to my listeners. As I mentioned at the beginning, this is a donor supported podcast. To do that I needed to create a 501 C three, which I’m in the process doing we’re going to call that Joel 225 ministries. I have a goal guys, I am 50 years old. So this is a very, very, very lofty goal to raise $1 million dollars before I die for pro bono counseling. And today I am awarding two scholarships, the Melika Courtney and the Tiffany Countryman scholarships to both of you to be used when somebody comes in your purview that cannot afford counseling, black, white, yellow unicorn, gay, straight, whatever. You will forever and Joel 225 ministries have the Melika Courtney scholarship and the Tiffany Countryman scholarship. And when you come upon people who cannot afford counseling, all you have to do is send them to me and say, please use my scholarship money. And I want you both to know, I only awarded one scholarship before the two of y’all. And it was to the person that took me to the psych ward that saved my wife. And that’s how much I appreciate what you’ve done here for us today. And so, as I mentioned, I know your books speechless, which is also fun, because I have not seen Melika Courtney 38:35 them. So amazing. Like, I don’t want to talk over you Amy Watson 38:38 because I’m gonna go ahead, go ahead, I’ll let you I’ll let you guys. I’ll let you guys respond to that. But so my my 501 C three will be in place by the second quarter. And you both will be awarded with scholarships, I’ll put some money in it. And then as we get donations, so far, we only have three scholarships. And so that money will be put into those three scholarships, and you just send people to me when they when they need money for counseling, and we will take care of that. This is This is amazing. Thank you. I’m honored. I’m humbled that this is something because when you think of a 501 C three that’s eternal. So to know that my name will be eternal in helping with mental health. That’s, that’s, that’s, yeah, I’m grateful. Thank you. I’ll have more to say later. Melika Courtney 39:27 Awesome. And I, Amy I I am as well just humbled and grateful. I appreciate you so deeply for even having the heart to do that. That’s huge. And what I’d also share is I don’t know if we even talked about this, but I do have a background in mental health, behavioral health modifications, also working in the prison systems and then also handling sanctuary experience. I have a huge heart for mental health and especially through the domestic violence trying to there are so many threads that I haven’t an irons in those fires. This is amazing. And I come into contact with so many folks who who need the help and need the love and something you mentioned earlier Tiffany about this trauma being in the mind and being in the body to the fact we can find it in your muscles. I do over it, thanks for experience, and I won’t go into too heavy right now. We literally walk women through releasing that voice. So in changing their minds agenda in real life. So this is very huge. And I’m grateful that you did this. Amy, this is amazing. Amy Watson 40:38 Unfortunately, you and I share something pretty horrible in common and that is domestic violence. And so one of the reasons why because we’re only awarding five of these scholarships for the first few years and one of the reasons why many many reasons why Melika here I wanted you to have one is because I come across domestic violence survivors all the time, who need help, who just can’t help who just can’t afford it. And I was an I was that I mean, I could afford it. But I didn’t get help and my body kept the score to your point and to TIFs point with it. We hold we hold stress and trauma in our bodies and and I now have four autoimmune diseases. I don’t want that to be the story of people that you come in contact with. And so as we this is a perfect way to segue out of the podcast guys, I want you listeners I want you to pay attention because the three of us along with some people who I’m going to handpick from my community, these guys are going to handpick some people from their community. And probably sometime in the summer, we’re going to do a video series on YouTube on this racial trauma. But I wanted to just lightly touch it today, ever so delicately so that my listeners out there would understand that in the black community and indigenous people and Native Americans, and all people of color have traumas that we never ever, ever could understand. Now with that being said, I want I do want to end the podcast by both of you talking to me about your mission. And so we’ll start with Malika because you just were talking about sanctuary. Tell Tell my listeners a little bit about sanctuary experience and where they can find fast quick information because that’s kind of coming up here in a couple weeks. Yeah, so tell us about close yeah, tell us about it and and I’ll provide lots of stuff in the show links for people to be able to get to you but tell us a little bit about sanctuary Melika Courtney 42:31 awesome and I receive your love and offer you love and light Amy I’m so I’m I’m grateful for the opportunity to be here with you. I love my Tiffany. So it makes it extra special to do this with you two ladies because I love love you law and Sanctuary I created sanctuary experience to serve women globally who experience trauma and don’t have a community to fall back on and be loved who don’t have a community to dig in their heart and do the work and pull that pin out and help them to heal. And April 8 through 10th We’re gonna be doing our third or fourth sanctuary experience where we are taking care of the women and walking them through that and don’t worry men. I am already working on X pm because I was asked to this Thursday, actually seven 7:30pm We’re going to host a digital offering for the men to address your traumas was I had guys that were abused, neglected, abandoned, molested and raped all come to me and go What about us? Yeah, so So it’s my best to serve Amy Watson 43:27 you so so you were you do that all year and you fundraise for it? Where can they find you? By the time this podcast airs. Unfortunately for 2022 it will have occurred already. But that being said, Tell me where people can find you. They can donate to your organization. i This is something really close to my heart last year it was in my area and I was not able to make it. But especially for people that are early in their healing. It is an amazing opportunity for you to do the things like Malika said to work it out of your body like Like Jeff said to work it out of every fiber of your muscle, because the body does keep the score and so where’s the best place for them to find the most like like the fastest most of synched information on sanctuary experience. Melika Courtney 44:11 So that is going to be found at the rebound forward slash sanctuary, the rebound forward slash sanctuary, and we do sanctuary so with this particular coach, I host for a year. And if other coaches hear this and they want to provide a sanctuary experience for their community, I’m franchising out teaching the model so that people can be helped globally. The mission is to have a million folks within five years that are a part of the community active and actively loving one another supporting one another showing up. And of course all my social media is our Malika Courtney with the exception of Instagram and that’s it sent us helper as a n t AZ helper, he LPR and find me there, reach out to me Malika Courtney Amy Watson 44:59 and I’ll that link trees for both of you and the show notes. Do you know how long it took me to figure out who’s seen as help? Or was my Instagram? But I can’t say that? Well, Malik Yeah, I will tell you before we jumped to tiff real quick for someone whose voice, like one of your most prominent memories was Be quiet. We don’t say that we don’t do that that is unique in your community. I mean, we were all we all and I’m older than both of you. But we all hurt children are to be seen and not heard. But I grew up, I grew up in downtown Jacksonville, Florida, many of my friends did not look like me. And so I heard exactly what you’re talking about. So for somebody whose voice was taken, here you are on all the stages, you mentioned that you kind of slipped in there really quickly, you also have a book, I’ll put that link in the show notes on on domestic violence, lots of my listeners are domestic violence survivors. And so and then, of course, we will be awarding the Malia Courtney counseling scholarship. And that will happen sometime in April, as soon as I get the 501 C three, Joel 225 Ministries, which is going to be news to my listeners as well. And so, so, so, so excited about that, and excited to hear how it goes in April, with this group of women that you’re going to have been really glad that you’re including men in that because one in seven men report being sexually assaulted, I would come to you and I would challenge that statistic because men just don’t talk about it. And that is true. Yeah. And as a survivor of sexual abuse, I can say this with some authority. I have always said that. I think that when boys, particularly children are abused, or sexually abused. I don’t want to compare how rough that goes are. But there’s a lot of different things that go when men are abused. And so I’m excited to hear and so people will be excited to follow that as you as you create the sanctuary experience for men. Well, that brings us to the homie TIFF, the homie. That’s what we call her on social media. She is also a youth pastor. But tough tell us so you’ve got something really exciting going on right now because you are a playwright. And so talk to us a little bit about what you got going on, again, by the time this airs that this particular thing that I know you’re going to announce will be over, I’ll make sure that I have that on my social media, and I’m sharing it as that gets closer as well. But talk to us about what you got going on. You’ve got a bunch of stuff going on. But tell us where my people can find you and all the things. Tiffany Countryman 47:27 Yeah, well, everybody can find me on at WWW dot Tiffiny Or if you want to check out my nonprofit, www dot Minister reviews And that’s mi n i s t ry s That’s where all of my social media, family videos, everything. On those two websites. I do have a stage play coming up in April, April 23, called Roma, the aftermath and it deals with African American couples and the trauma that we endured during the 2020 pandemic to shut down the show in place. So that’s going on in April 23 here in Dayton, Ohio at the date, which I’m so excited. Will you be there? Are you coming to Ohio? Amy Watson 48:19 I am going to I don’t think so. I want to I have friends that live up there. Let me ask you this. Are you streaming it? And if not, if so, no, I know that’s expensive Tiffany Countryman 48:29 going back to traditional theater. Well, and I love Amy Watson 48:33 it. I love it. Well, Tiff TIFF is a playwright she does a lot guys if you are on the clubhouse app. All our user names are just our names. I’m at Amy Watson offer tiff has at TIFF Countryman Emma likea is at Malika, Courtney, all of this will be in the show notes. Guys, thank you, you have brought a perspective to the Wednesdays with Watson podcast and we are going to deeply explore this. And a different because we want to we want it to be interactive. We want to stream it, it’s going to be video. None of us showed up for that today, except for Malika showed up dressed for a 40 minute video. So I love you guys. And I want to proclaim over you what I proclaim over everybody on my podcast at TIFF you get to hear it for a second time. You are seen you are known, you are heard, you are loved. You are valued. I adore you. And today, what you guys have done is like I said the opposite of bleeding on those that cut you. I’m not saying that I cut you or that anybody listening to this cut you but we’re representatives of a society that is doing that actively and what you’ve done here today has helped some people in my community and other communities understand I never in a million years would have thought of something as traumatic as both of you explain as it pertains to hair, something as simple as hair. And so guys as well. Be as Phil Baker SONG PLAYS us out of the podcast I’d like to thank both of you for being on the show either one of you have parting words for our listeners. Melika Courtney 50:10 Thank you so much again, Amy, really appreciate you as far as the listeners. Thank you for taking time to listen and I do hope you reach out and engage. I am having a conversation on March 4. Amy and it is a digital conversation talking about hair trauma it’s going to be done politically because I am a spoken word artist as well. So Amy Watson 50:27 make sure well let me know make sure you let me know when that happens. Because all these things you have coming up to your to your episode, I will promote big toss and like like the like the show I already have. And I will continue to tough but tough Do you have any parting words for for the listeners, Tiffany Countryman 50:44 I just want to tell everybody to be encouraged to hang in there and to not allow your past trauma to define your future situations that you don’t have to become a product of your past environments. But you can exist where God has now allow your mentality to catch up with your blessings. Amy Watson 51:08 Oh my allow your mentality to catch up with your blessings. I love that. And I love both of you. And so listeners. Thank you so much for joining us here today. I hope that you learned something, please make sure that you’re following all three of us as we will be moving into the summer diving deeper into this. If you need to reach me you know how to do that. Just any number of ways just click that contact me button again. We’d love it if you would consider subscribing and following and liking the podcast. We will be back in two weeks and the healing zone. Thank you both for being here with us today and can’t wait for us to continue to do more work together. You teach me to use my love Transcribed by

Advocating For Sound Minds, Bi-Polar Disorder, special guest Cymone Lashae

READERS: This is a transcript of a podcast and is not meant to present as a completed, grammatically correct piece of written work. We provide these transcripts for our hard of hearing community and for those who prefer to listen inside the blog.

Cymone Lashae 0:00 I know that God was the one who saved me. When I was on the hospital bed after I attempted to take my life He was the one who saved me when I couldn’t save myself when I didn’t want to live. Amy Watson 0:12 Hey, everybody, and welcome back to the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast. I am so glad you are here. It is May of 2022. And we are observing mental health awareness month here at the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast. As many of you know, this is a podcast dedicated to mental health year round. We’ve been doing that for about two and a half years now. And we’ve done that through lots of hope and education stories, therapists, and really, really excited to be able to help people year round, but we are focusing on some other mental health diagnosis is in this podcast in this episode today. This is a podcast that is supported by listeners like you, and we are so grateful. Not only do your contributions really help us continue this podcast, but it helps us with our mission of providing pro bono counseling for those who can’t afford it. If you’re by any chance, are interested in joining that mission, just click that contact me button in the show notes. There are several ways you can contact me or visit our Patreon page. I would also be honored and would love it if you would hit that subscribe button right there in your podcast app so that when we drop a new podcast, it shows up on your device. We are so grateful for all of our listeners all over the world, and hope that many of you are also finding hope and Jesus, the star of the story. Guys Today, I am so excited. This is episode 64 or 65. And this is one of the most exciting interviews that I’ve been looking forward to. Today I have another mental health advocate here with me. But more than that she is a survivor of a lot of things. And she’s going to talk to us about that a little bit today. She is another person who is going to give you hope. And I am so so honored to welcome today. Simone Lashae welcome Cymone to the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast. Cymone Lashae 2:01 Thank you so much for having me. This has been a long time coming. So I’m excited as well. Amy Watson 2:05 It has been a long time coming and has been so so excited. Well, we’re just gonna jump right in here. This is season three of the Wednesdays with Watson podcasts. And as I sent you in the pre interview notes, this first question I’m going to ask you has been one of the most difficult to answer. And I didn’t really realize that when I crafted it, I crafted it as a question to be an icebreaker. But it turned into this cathartic well thought out answers that I’m getting from people. And so I’m asking everybody this first question. And so my first question to you, Cymone is, what is your favorite thing about how God made you what is what’s your favorite thing of your image bearer status? Cymone Lashae 2:44 Honestly, creativity, I always say creativity that God has given me, I’m able to do so many things, even what I have gone through, I’m able to channel that in so many different ways, and help so many different people, because of the creativity that God has blessed me with. So that I would simply say, is creativity. Without a doubt. Amy Watson 3:05 I got chills a little bit because that is so true. And we are going to provide all the ways for people to find you. But guys, Cymone is another Instagram hero of mine, and so creative and just really trying to find ways to get that message. And you know, Cymone, my doctor says one of my favorite statements is “that shouldn’t be able to happen” and with the with the things that you’re going to possibly share with us today. Creativity is one of the very first things that goes you’re absolutely one of the most creative people that I know. And gorgeous. I might add, you guys need to look at her picture and the promos. Well, Cymone, as you know, I asked you here today for a very specific reason. Besides the fact that I just adore you. We I just want to tell the backstory really quickly. So I guess it was I don’t even know it was it was somewhere after the pandemic started maybe the summer of 2020 when we all discovered this clubhouse app, and there are a bunch of us we call ourselves mental health avengers and began to do these rooms and began to really be advocates on that clubhouse app and burned ourselves out I might add and but but that is that is how I got to know you and how I got to know the beauty that that is you in terms of how you show up in this world and what you bring to the mental health world you are an advocate. I call this episode advocating for sound minds and people will understand that a little bit more as we get through the episode. But you know, I asked you here today because you are a mental health warrior. You’re a survivor, some things that you’re going to share with us. You are a Christian, you live with a few mental health diagnoses. And additionally this season though, we are focusing on childhood trauma, and I want to get into that a little bit with you not only as a survivor But as an advocate, we talked a lot in this season about adverse childhood experiences a term that I know is not unfamiliar to you. We’re doing that to educate parents that are going to listen to this, especially this episode highlighting mental health awareness month, I want parents to understand what adverse childhood experiences are, and if their children are going through them, and they don’t know. Or I want people who have adverse childhood experiences to understand and be validated. And so I’m asking everyone these questions, and you can decline to answer and if so we’ll move on, but that’s okay. But the description is in the name, there are adverse childhood experiences, and there are 10 of them. And if we have experienced three or four of these adverse childhood experiences, there are 10 of them. Experts define that as we are living under toxic stress unless we get help. And so I’m just going to ask you a yes or no questions. First, let me ask you, are you okay with answering the adverse childhood experience questions? Cymone Lashae 5:58 For sure. Amy Watson 5:58 Okay, perfect. I know that there can be some shame in some of these things. And so I always like to ask that, you know, and, and I also know that family members are going to listen and all of that, and so, okay, so just yes and no, because I want my listeners to get an idea of who was on the other side of this microphone. So at any time and your childhood, so let’s say from zero to 18. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in your home, though. We are focusing on childhood trauma in the home, but but your answer doesn’t have to be in your home. I’m just going to ask yes or no questions. The first one is, as a child zero to 18. Did you experience physical abuse? Cymone Lashae 6:34 No. Well, yes. Amy Watson 6:37 Yes. Okay. Sexual abuse? Cymone Lashae 6:40 No. Amy Watson 6:40 Okay. Emotional abuse. Cymone Lashae 6:43 Yes. Amy Watson 6:44 physical neglect. Cymone Lashae 6:47 No. Amy Watson 6:48 How about emotional neglect? Cymone Lashae 6:50 Yes. Amy Watson 6:51 Mental illness in the home? Cymone Lashae 6:53 Yes. Amy Watson 6:54 Divorce in the home? Cymone Lashae 6:55 No. Amy Watson 6:56 Substance abuse? Cymone Lashae 6:58 No. Amy Watson 6:59 Domestic violence? Yes. And this is particularly true against your mother. So any sort of domestic violence verbal? Cymone Lashae 7:12 No. Amy Watson 7:08 Okay, that’s a big one. And then did you have a relative in prison? Okay. So yours is a four, almost a five. Like it depended on how you answered that one question. I Cymone Lashae 7:20 When I did it the first time it was like a border. Yeah. It was like a border line. Yes. I think it was like a four or five. Yeah, so it makes sense. Amy Watson 7:27 Like many people I interview that you lived under a bunch of toxic stress as a child. And so I do that for my guests to to validate. If you were to have a bad day, I was like, You know what all the experts are saying that I have a four I’ll have a 10. It’s 40% of the 10 adverse experiences, and you live under toxic stress. And we’re gonna get to that a little bit more. And I want your opinion on how you think that affected your mental health diagnoses. But as I mentioned, you are an amazing mental health advocate. And towards the end of the show, I’m going to have you tell everyone about your 501 C three organization and its mission. But we just heard your answer to those questions. But can you articulate for me why mental health advocacy is so important to you? Because it really does. I believe that some only Shay works a real job, and then does the rest of her life and mental health advocacy and has to remind yourself to have fun sometimes. Why is mental health? Why is it so important to you? Cymone Lashae 8:26 Um, because I see the need for mental health advocacy. When I first came out about the truth of my story, I got so much feedback about how many people were struggling. And after I had heard that, I said, there, there has to be some work done, I have to keep going, I have to keep sharing my story, I have to keep being open, because it’s helping the next person also feel comfortable with what or more comfortable, it’s not a comfortable feeling, but more comfortable with a diagnosis per se, or taking medication, and things like that it helps the next person. So that’s why I feel like it’s so important to advocate and share my story. There’s still a stigma on mental illness as we know. So working towards breaking that stigma, and all the things to definitely move us forward in the name of mental health. Amy Watson 9:24 Yeah, and we’re gonna get to this a little bit later, but I do want to introduce it here. It was also important to you as a Christian, to be a mental health advocate. Can you tell me a little bit more about that? Cymone Lashae 9:34 One of the reasons I will say it was so important in regards to Christianity, and promoting Christianity my organization is faith based, is because I know that God was the one who saved me. When I was on the hospital bed after I attempted to save my life. God was the one who saved me when I couldn’t save myself when I didn’t want to live when I have depressive episodes. Now even now, I know that God is my hope my trust in Christ is my hope I know that God is not going to leave me where I am, I’m not going to die in a depressive state because there’s light at the end of the tunnel, because of the Goddess, Unknown Speaker 10:13 or Amy Watson 10:14 what a beautiful, articulate answer. And there, so there are quite a few years between you and me. And one of the reasons why I’m so excited about what you’re doing, and particularly in the faith space, and obviously, so am I is because when I was even your age, we didn’t talk about this in the church. If you tried to take your life, which both of us tried to do, then we were looked down upon at the church. And some people would even say, it goes so far as to say that that was that that would immediately send us to Hell, if we if we tried to take our lives. Or if we were depressed, or we were anxious, you know, I call it you got a problem. I got a Bible verse. And so I think it’s, you know what I’m saying? I think it’s like, you know, yeah, it’s like I’m having I’m having a panic attack, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, Let Your request be known. Listen, I believe I love the Bible. I love the Word of God. But there’s a time and place for it when somebody’s having a panic attack. That’s not the place to do it. And so one of the things that’s always been so endearing to me about you is that you’ve not been ashamed that you are a Christian. And we’re going to talk about as you mentioned, your your your, your 501 C 3 and your faith based organization. But to me looking at it from the outside, and you and our friend Marlena, who’s going to be on in June, we just kind of all three bonded together, and and it was so endearing to me. Because for us, for those of us who have attempted to take our lives and are living with mental health, diagnosis it is very easy to just forget God and listen to the naysayers in the church and say, Well, you might not be praying for you, you might be sinning. Can you talk to me a little bit about that? Because I know that’s a bit of a soapbox of yours. Cymone Lashae 11:55 For sure. Like you said that one of the first things that I was told by the first visitor that I had received, when I was in the facility was, you know, if you tell yourself that you’re going to hell. And I was like, okay, that’s very welcoming. Thank you appreciate you. Not I wanted to hear, right. That’s not necessarily what I wanted to hear. It was less than comforting is, I feel like, Christians can be so dismissive. Like when they say, Oh, I’ll pray for you. I always that’s something I talked about a lot. And it, it can appear dismissive. I believe that prayer works 1,000%. But just saying that you’re going to pray for somebody is just not necessarily be end, all right. I believe faith without works is dead. The Bible says that. And if you’re not doing what you’re supposed to be doing, and taking care of yourself, and going to get the help that you need, and things like that, then you might still be suffering, you know, you can have God in your life and still suffer from a mental illness. I know from personal experience. Yeah, I have faith in God. But I see the little comments like on Facebook about just just have a little bit more faith to be stronger, and, and all these things. And that is just I, in my opinion, it just perpetuates the shame associated with mental illness in the church. Amy Watson 13:20 I agree with you. And I think that there’s something that you do really well, and and I hope that I do well, but because you use an example there that I thought was so powerful, when we say to somebody that we’re gonna pray for them, that that’s all well and good, but to them, we’re gonna pray to a god that has harmed them, right. And there’s something so precious about the ministry of your presence, right? Like my DMs are open, if you just need to talk. I have a young lady in England who I jump in a clubhouse room every now and then she is so agnostic, so far from believing in God, but the practice of the presence of somebody who does love God, and has shown her a little bit differently that, hey, mental illnesses, like a broken arm or anything else is definitely as a result of the fall of man, then then the practice of presence, we can pray for them. But I do think and I do want listeners to hear Simone, when she said that when somebody is in crisis, it’s okay to say I’ll pray for you. But it’s also okay to say and I get that that might not mean anything to you right now. But I am going to be here for you I am. I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus because that is who I want to do. And I love that that scripture reference faith without works is dead. We have got to walk alongside of these people. And that’s why I asked you that question as why mental health advocacy was so important to you because you are a shining example of that. And so you’ve already talked to us a little bit about your, the attempt to take your own life, and we’re all really struggling with the vernacular of that and I’m really in a place right now. It is it is May of 2022 and the completed, completed loss of life, self inflicted loss of life of Naomi Judd hit me really hard. And I actually got in a conversation on Facebook about what you just talked about. If you if you take your own life, you’re gonna go to hell. And the girl said to me, Well, the Bible says that I said, where? And she said, Well, it’s murder. I said, Well, okay, well, if that’s true, then it’s still covered by the completed work of Jesus on the cross. And so I think that that was really important for us to talk about, for those of you who are out there listening, who and this lady came back at me, and she said, people just always told me it was in the Bible that if you killed yourself, you’re gonna go to hell. And when you asked me where that scripture was, I couldn’t tell you. She said, Maybe I should listen more Cymone Lashae 15:40 than I would think that would change. So much if people would be open to listening, as opposed to just speaking. I believe that so many times people just want to come with advice, or come with some type of quick solution. And it’s not always a quick solution with mental illness. Right? And yeah, for some people, especially when you have like when you’re a preacher, or you’re part of the clergy is tough. Amy Watson 16:06 Yeah. And you know, our friend Marlena and I will link her episode because I interviewed her last season. But our friend Marlena also attempted to to end her life. And she has, she’s, I would, I would say she searching Marlena is. But it was interesting when she was telling me the story after she sent multiple text messages to people saying that she was going to end her life that the one person that came, climb through her window, climbed in bed with her and just held her was her best friend, and the only Christian that she knows. And so the ministry of presence is so important. We want to fix it. We know that Jesus is the answer to everything. That’s the Sunday School answer. But there’s a time in place and doing life with people is so important. And so you and I could talk about that forever. We could do a whole other podcast on Faith and Faith and mental mental illness, but it is Mental Health Awareness Month, and you have some diagnosis C’s that I want my people to learn a little bit about. And so can you briefly tell us as comfortable as you are? What are your your mental health diagnosis, and what are they? i Cymone Lashae 17:12 Well, I was diagnosed 10 years ago, I have to get another I talked to my psychiatrist about getting another like updated one, but I just kind of treat symptoms like with any other illness. I was diagnosed at first, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, alcoholism eating disorder, which is anorexia nervosa. And I think there might be. Amy Watson 17:41 So let’s briefly go through a couple of those ones that a lot of people hear a lot because people get confused, like, I have PTSD. And so talk to me talk to us first about PTSD. That was, well, that’s a given. But Cymone Lashae 17:54 so let’s start, I want to cover a couple of those. Let’s talk about bipolar disorder, briefly. I have a limited understanding of it, my listeners probably have an even more limited understanding of bipolar disorder, what’s it like to live with? So first of all, I want to just kind of explain what bipolar actually is. I know there’s a lot of misconception, especially in the media about bipolar disorder. And it’s somewhat depicted as just emotional instability. And it is mood swings to an extent but it consists of manic episodes, or hypo manic episodes and depressive episodes. So depressive episodes, obviously, that’s more common, we understood is when you feeling like you are depressed, you’re having a you’re in a state of depression. And that’s the typical state of depression, but also with them. manic or hypomanic episodes, depending on if you have Bipolar type one or bipolar type two is it’s like a high it’s a it’s a time period, when you’re having a high, you are feel like for example, speaking, fast or I’m eating a lot, you’re eating changes. Those are some things for me over shopping, high sexual appetites, there is just I tend to have to write everything down. That’s one of the ways I know that I’m having a hypomanic episode, I was diagnosed with bipolar type two, so my I have my I have hypomanic episodes as opposed to manage, they’re a little less severe. But sometimes when you are manic, from what I have read up, you can be in a state of psychosis, like it will take you to a state of psychosis and you just, you lose kind of lose control, I would say, but those are the opposites. that’s those are the highs and the lows that are associated with bipolar disorder. And I think that substance abuse, this is where and I don’t think this is true for you, although you did mention alcoholism, but that bipolar disorder I would imagine that a lot of people self medicate. So if you’re depressed you know you’re you’re you’re you’re trying to get Amy Watson 20:00 Get something for an upper. And if and if you’re manic, you probably don’t know what you’re doing. I do know a little bit more about that manic side than then than I thought I did. But, but but I know that substance abuse comes in bipolar disorder world treated by medication, is that correct? Yes, gotcha. So let’s talk about one I really don’t understand. And I know my listeners don’t, which is borderline personality disorder. Cymone Lashae 20:24 So borderline personality disorder, honestly, I believe was a misdiagnosis. I don’t believe that I believe it’s mostly the bipolar disorder. And a lot of times the borderline personality disorder and the bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed, like between each other because they have a lot of commonalities. with borderline personality, I can’t speak too much on it. But it seems like it’s a little bit more extreme and a aggression. I will say where I believe the diagnosis came in at for me, was a lot of people who have borderline disorder, personality suffer from abandonment issues. So I have like, if some if I feel like somebody’s going to abandon me, my adult a little differently, my behavior might change and things like that. But other than that, like there’s a lot of things with borderline personality disorder that doesn’t fit don’t fit with you. Amy Watson 21:21 Yeah, and a lot of times when they do those tests, if it’s, like, for example, clearly, we both were in psych wards, at one point in our lives, they give you those tests at the worst possible time ever right in your life. And so, you know, I got a bunch of died. When I was in the hospital, I got a bunch of labels attached to me that weren’t true, because they were CMM a very worst. And so the bipolar is the one that I know that you suffer with probably the most that I watch, you thrived through it. And I’m so proud of you for that. I’m proud of you for continuing to go back to the doctor and say, hey, you know what, because it’s not, you know, mental health is the totality of our of our lives, right. And so when we’re making good choices, to surround ourselves with people like you and like me, and like, we’ve talked about Marlena and people that that understand mental health issues and will keep us on our toes, then then we can live with life, and we can get better. And maybe we can change medications. Maybe we can even I don’t know about bipolar, but I know for PTSD, I’ve been able to come in on and off medications, depending on how activated I was. And so bipolar disorder, Darren, Mental Health Awareness Month is really important because there’s a genetic component to that we’re talking a lot in this season about generational trauma, there’s certainly a genetic component to it. Now, I’m going to ask you this question. And this is just going to be an educated opinion on your part. You know, if I were 25 years old, I go back to school and study all of this. But you had trauma as a child. You have bipolar disorder, and many other things that you mentioned, including PTSD, alcoholism, anorexia nervosa, you had childhood trauma. do you what do you think came first, the the trauma or the illnesses? Do you think the trauma called the illnesses? Yeah, yes. 1,000%? Yeah. Yeah, I think I think so too, because I think especially as I am in the episode that dropped before you would with Jeremy Fox, who is an EMDR, consultant, talk to me a little bit about brain chemistry. And even I know that my brain was physically affected by trauma, because the MRI scan showed that. And so I was curious as to whether you felt like, hey, if I would have had a decent or more normal childhood without four or five adverse childhood experiences, would you still be living with bipolar disorder? And that’s only a question that maybe can be answered way down the road. But I do think that it’s something that we should investigate. I really do. And so I was curious about your answer to that. Cymone Lashae 23:50 So yes, I do believe that it’s genetics. It’s a mix, I would say of genetics and trauma. But the trauma, I would say, perpetuates the mental illness. I know, I remember suffering from depression from a really early age. And because nobody understood my behavior, there was trauma on top of trauma, because nobody knew what to do with me. And then, like I said, it just exasperated the mental illness, it just continued to snowball until it was treated because there was nothing being done to treat the mental illness. I don’t think anybody even knew that it was mental illness or what it was they just knew that I was acting out. And from there, you know, it just got worse until it all came to a head and Amy Watson 24:33 I think that’s something really important for parents listeners to hear is and I’m going to drop a blog tomorrow all week this week. I’ve been doing a blog on childhood depression, but if your child is acting out, like crazy acting out, like sounds like maybe you were this has to be investigated. You have to get that child in front of a doctor because trauma is genetic. We’ve talked about it a couple episodes back it generational tree I’m epigenetics. There’s even a graphic that a pregnant mom with a baby girl with eggs and her uterus in utero, that has three generations of people being affected by a traumatic event. It. And so it is really important for parents out there if your child is acting out to investigate whether there is something else going on, because there may not have been any actual trauma, they may not have been abused or any of those adverse childhood experiences that we talked about. But because trauma is embedded in our DNA, it’s there. And just like I have celiac disease, I went through a divorce about 14 years ago, and the stress of that divorce turned on that genetic celiacs gene. And I believe strongly that that happens in mental illness when we have trauma. And so I was, yeah, I was really interested in your answer to that question. Cymone Lashae 25:51 Because it’s something else that we have in common. I remember we used to do the auto immune motor room, and I was diagnosed with lupus 2020. And I truly believe that that was kind of triggered by stress. Analyzing things, yeah, internalizing things instead of taking care of things. And that the graphic that you were talking about, that sounds really powerful. And that’s so true. Because it goes from generation to generation, it’s important for us to start acknowledging the trauma that we have different the different traumas that we have encountered, and taking care of it, because it has to be dealt with in order to stop it from the future generation. But also you spoke to the alcohol, alcoholism, and mania. And I think that is something else that I want to mention before we move on, is that it sounds like a laundry list of diagnosis. But it all kind of falls under the bipolar. Like it all goes hand in hand with a generalized anxiety disorder. I get really anxious when I’m having a manic episode, the depression, the depression, obviously, when I’m having a depressive episode, the alcoholism mania, eating disorder. Yeah, I mean, I guess it can all go hand in hand. But it all just kind of falls, it all kind of falls under the bipolar for sure. So I didn’t want to say that was something else because it sounds like a lot. But it really is just compiled trauma and under the same mental, and just so Amy Watson 27:21 you know, it is a lot even if it were just one diagnosis that it is, it is a lot you need to hear me say that you are a warrior. You really are because I don’t have bipolar or, and I don’t know how I do have, obviously complex post traumatic stress disorder, but I don’t understand major depression. I don’t understand mania. I don’t understand I do have an eating disorder. But yeah, I think that I will include that graphic in the show notes because it is a powerful graphic on on generational trauma. And that’s exactly what happened to Naomi Judd is there’s just trauma after trauma after trauma and that family murder, abuse of all sorts. And absolutely, if we are predisposed to some of these mental illnesses, these things are going to get turned on by trauma. So thank you for clarifying that. Well, this obviously, is a podcast that highlights trauma. And we and as you know, you know me well enough to know that all I want to do is help people. I think some people think sometimes when you have a podcast that you get rich like Joe Rogan, not me. But we really like to help people in several ways, all of my social media and I know yours was way better than mine, but is geared to help people get educated and hope with mental illness. I don’t put all of that there to get people to listen to podcasts. But mainly however, I can get this information that we’re trying to disseminate to people today. Out there I am doing that. We believe that though that that help and hope is accomplished through three we call it the three C’s on this podcast, counseling church, and community. And most of all, who I call the star of the story, the star of my story. And I know the star of many of my listeners stories is Jesus, you have a nonprofit organization called a sound mind. And we’re going to get there in a minute. But can you share with us how? I’ll ask them individually? But first, can you share with us how community plays a role and helping you live with your mental health status and your trauma? Cymone Lashae 29:15 For sure, I’ll say two ways. And specific, I want to say and we’ll talk more about my organization. But one of the first things that I did when I started was pure rousse support groups. And I think it’s so important to have you therapists are super important, vital, but also having people around you that understand you that you can lean on that can relate to because everybody, like you said doesn’t understand bipolar disorder. So I think that was really really important and a game changer. And also I want to say my circle, not just having a circle, but making sure that your circle is what you need. What is wants to keep you healthy is a positive impact on your life. So I would also say that in regards to community, because a lot of times we think just having people around is going to be helpful. But if you don’t have the right people around you, it can actually be detrimental to your mental health. So those are the two things I wanted to say in specific about community. Amy Watson 30:18 Yeah, definitely pick pick your circle, pick your 2am. Friends, pick the people, we’re going to call you higher. Pick all of that. You mentioned this briefly a little bit the church have any positive does church have any positive impact on how you manage your life now? Cymone Lashae 30:33 Definitely, in more ways than one one way I would obviously go into church getting the word and me encouragement as constant encouragement. And it also I would say, in regards to keeping my routine, getting up on Sunday, going to church, having a routine is so important. So being in that positive atmosphere, I believe is also extremely helpful. In regards to my mental health. Amy Watson 30:56 This question is going to be captain obvious, but as Jesus story, your story? Cymone Lashae 31:00 Absolutely, absolutely. I just, again, if he had saved me, I wouldn’t be here right now. If it was up to me, I would probably, again, I lost control. I didn’t want to be here. I owe it all to him. He knew, you know, I was here. I’m here for a purpose. And he created me with the purpose. And he had all of this in mind when he was writing my story. And I definitely definitely give All Glory to him. I couldn’t do nothing. Without him. I could not help the next person. I couldn’t help myself. Nothing. I can do nothing about him. So he’s definitely the star of my story. Amy Watson 31:41 Do you know what verses came to my mind when I think of you? There’s a verse that says, I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. Where is the power of God into the G force and also to the Greek and you are not ashamed? Cymone Lashae 31:54 Of the power of Christ? salutely Absolutely not. I you have to acknowledge I feel like it’s important to acknowledge your Savior. Amy Watson 32:02 Amen. Yeah, amen. And he knows and what I often quote on this podcast, Hebrews 4:15, we do not serve a high priest who does not understand our suffering, talking about abandonment issues. Jesus got abandoned by the Father on the cross. He said, My God, My God, why have why have you forsaken me? And so I just think I’m so proud of you. Because you those in when going back to community for a second, we were community for each other for a long time. And there’s clubhouse rooms. Now we were we were the advocates. And so we all burned out. And then we were there for each other. Cymone Lashae 32:37 And then we say, Hi. Yeah, I have to say we all disappeared at the same time. Amy Watson 32:41 Yeah. And I haven’t been on there in a minute. Because it is it is a very, it’s an interesting app. And some of my favorite people like you I met there. But but it can be dangerous. But it was a community there for a minute when we were all locked on our houses. And we would have people from all over the world come into those rooms, especially I was you were kind enough to allow me to kind of take the lead on the PTSD room. And all across the world. People were just in dark rooms. And I remember being in a dark room, two o’clock, every every I think it was Tuesday, two o’clock, every Tuesday we had that PTSD room and there was that community. And even there, you and I talked about our faith in Jesus. And so I am so reminded of you when I think of that verse, but but this is Simone. Let’s say I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ. It is the power of God into my salvation. And that is the verse that reminds me of you. Well, now’s the fun part. Now’s the time to talk about your own advocacy work. Tell us about your mission. Your your organization is called have a sound mind. And I have no doubt that that’s a play off of that Bible verse in first or second, Timothy. But I want to give the mic to you. Because I want people out there who support things like ours, my podcast, my podcast is funded for all of 2022. And so I love sending people to 501 C three organizations with similar mindsets and and with similar missions. And so talk to us about the genesis of starting a sound mind what’s coming up for you, I know you got a very, very I’m so excited about a series you have coming up on suicide prevention. And so I just want to give you two or three minutes here to tell people about have a sound mind how they can donate if they want to how they can be involved where they can find you on Instagram, Cymone Lashae 34:23 for sure. So like you said, but the name is of a son mine and it was derived from the Scripture. Second Timothy one seven For God has not given us a spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind. And it is the mission is to promote mental health awareness but also support people who live with mental health disorders. So like for me, for example, the peer support groups were super helpful support for me. I did I want to shout out Nami, the National Alliance on Mental Illness Yeah, started with them. They’re awesome. And they are a national organization. So definitely if you’re listening look into that they had peer support groups all over the country. But also, I wanted to start more faith based support groups, I didn’t see a lot of faith based mental health support. So that is one of the reasons that I started up a sound mind was to change things up a little bit, start creating some of the things that I hadn’t seen, and also continuing to open doors for like the for like things that aren’t that Nami are doing that people aren’t seeing. So that is something that we do promoting mental health awareness by these different events that I’m doing workshops so that people understand, like you said, suicide prevention is something that’s really near and dear to my heart. The two, three things that I talk about most are suicide prevention, bipolar disorder, and also adolescent depression. So those are that’s, that’s my heart. Those are my passions, but mental health awareness as a whole, I think is so important. And also going beyond the media talking about anxiety and depression and really getting into and getting support for people who live with PTSD, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder, all these things that aren’t necessarily talked about as much. And they’re talked about, I feel like if there are spoken, it’s more in a negative manner. Like I see that you’re talking about mental illnesses on lifetime, but it’s in a negative, it’s in a negative way. It’s awful. So just promoting awareness so that people are educated. Also, making sure members of the clergy are better educated to deal with mental health crisis’s. But my most recent initiative that I’m working on, is getting together. I want to get together some meal prep people, some chefs and also some cleaning companies so that we can provide services for people who are struggling with depression at a discounted rate. Amy Watson 36:52 Wow, that’s so cool. Cymone Lashae 36:55 Yeah, I’m excited about that, because it’s something that you don’t see. Amy Watson 36:58 Yeah, I never even thought about that, like hire somebody to come clean your house, because we all know that a cluttered house is a cluttered mind and all of the things, Simone that is brilliant. Cymone Lashae 37:09 I’m excited about it. I’m excited to get it. Get it going. I have my first in person event next week. And so after we do that, that’s going to just be my kind of it’s like a launch party, we’re going to have a panel discussion, and all those types of things. But after that, I want to get straight to this Initiative’s I know that you’re doing a pro bono therapy. I that’s something else that I am looking to do. But yeah, those are just some of the things that I’m working on. And I’m missing something you know, I’m always busy. Amy Watson 37:35 Well tell us tell them where they can find you. So I’m gonna put your link tree and the show notes. But is that what’s your website? Cymone Lashae 37:45 My website is www dots of Assam mine Amy Watson 37:49 Okay, and it is a 501 C three organization guys, and so you can donate to it. And Simone, I would like to announce to you here live on this podcast that the second scholarship that we will be awarded in 2022 will be and Simone le Shea’s name. And you can either pick the person or the or the organization. And we can talk about that a little bit offline. But I wanted to surprise you with that, because I am so proud of what you are doing. I’m think I’m so grateful that you are here today. And I’m going to tell you something that I tell everybody. And you know what I’m going to say because you’ve heard me behind plenty of microphones, but not only by me, not only by the God of the universe, that you are seen, you are known, you are heard, you are loved, and you are valued. And I want you to go out and find somebody that can use the scholarship that Cymone Lashae, scholarship to 2022. And as soon as you find that person, you shoot me a text message. And that money will be and to have a sound mind so that you can continue your mission. Because I am awarding the scholarships in the name of people who are out there fighting for people who cannot fight for themselves, or for people who fought for me. And you fall into one of those two categories. And so congratulations on the awarding of that Wednesday’s with Watson pro bono counseling scholarship of 2022. And so guys, thank you. Well, you are welcome. You’re welcome. I am so proud of you. I want to thank you for being here today. Guys. We have talked about some pretty heavy topics here today. I do want to provide you with a little bit of information. I will also provide this in the show notes. But if you are somebody you know is struggling with mental illness, particularly suicidal ideations, please reach out for help, please know that you are seen and known and heard and loved and valued. There is a phone number that you can call it is 1-800-273-8255 and then beginning on July 16 2022, if you just simply text 988 Wherever you are in the world, that this is not effective until July 16 2022. But if you just text 988 Wherever you are in the world They will connect you with a suicide organization that will help you through your crisis. And so if you are somebody you know, please, please 1-800-273-8255 Simone mentioned Nami is a great organization, ma n That is a fantastic organization. As we are highlighting Mental Health Awareness Month, there is also the complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder foundation you can find on Twitter. I am a freelance writer for them, they’re doing some good work. There is lots of help and lots of hope for you guys out there. People like Simone are bringing that to you. So Simone, thank you so much for being here with us today. And I would just want and for having me, oh, it is my pleasure. And I just wanted to give you any parting words, before we let the listeners go, I just want to let everybody know that there is hope there is hope. No matter where you are, God is not going to let you die and depression. So if you still have breath, you still have purpose. There is somebody who loves you, I love you. And keep going, keep going. You’re not meant to die in depression. We are meant to live a life and we’re all meant to live that life more abundantly. Scripture tells us. And so again, thank you for being here today. I love you, I adore you. And I am so proud of you. And as soon as you get that person or that organization in your head, we will award the Cymone Lashae 2022 pro bono scholarship. And that is because of listeners like you out there guys who donated to our fundraiser at the end of last year. This will be the second of four of the scholarships that we are able to award this year. So thank you so much for being here. So thanks again for having me. This was a pleasure. Well, guys, I hope that you glean something from the beautiful, beautiful soul that is Samoa Shea. As we continue our mission here, please do not hesitate to reach out to either one of us and you can do that. Simply by right there on your show notes. I will have someones link tree. I’ll have my link tree right in the show notes. It is my hope that while we are highlighting this mental health awareness month that everybody will realize that every month we need to pay attention not just the month of May. We’ll be back here in two weeks and we are going to focus the entire month of June on racial trauma specifically to black and brown communities. Until then to the rest of my listeners I want you to know you know what I’m going to say? Just like I told someone you’re seeing, you’re known. You’re heard, you are loved and you are valued. See in two weeks guys.

Symptoms Of Childhood Depression (Mental Health Awareness, pt 2)

You no longer recognize your child, and it’s terrifying. More than anything, parents want their children to be happy and whole, we want them to embrace childhood as long as possible. Parents describe the instant love for their child as a powerful force they have never experienced, and that love drives parents to cherish their child, and so when something ails them, it can be devastating.

As children grow, as does the propensity for any number of things both good and bad. We are diligent about well child visits, nutrition, and education. But are we paying attention to their mental health? Depression among children, while not understood, is on the rise. Coupled with that, suicide among children has steadily risen over the last few years. We addressed some possibilities for this here, this blog is to help parents recognize possible depression in their child.

What are the symptoms of depression in children and when is it time to seek help? First, these numbers are sobering, and I hope grabs your attention as a parent.

Both depression and anxiety tend to be higher in older children and teenagers between the ages of 12 and 17. An estimated 3.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode. This number represented 13.3% of the U.S. population aged 12 to 17. An estimated 31.9% of adolescents have had an anxiety disorder.

Before we begin, let’s define “major depressive disorder” or a “major depressive disorder. This is, perhaps, the most simple definition:

“A mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.” [1]

This oversimplified definition can be tricky when evaluating children and major depression. As adults, impairment to our daily lives is easy to recognize. It is not as easily recognizable in children since hormones and the science of brain growth can often exhibit in a depressed mood, or a loss of interest in activities until hormones are balanced. Children often are excited about baseball, until he finds out about football. Hormones will present as moodiness, anger, and even hostility. So, the evaluation of children is tricky, but o so important.

Watch for unexplained, fundamental changes in your child, especially if undesirable characteristics present themselves. Here are what some experts agree parents can watch, and make decisions accordingly. Remember not all behavior issues are discipline issues, this is usually the first defense. What if we paid attention to the child first? Why are they acting the way they are?

  • Sudden but persistent behavior issues. This is especially true of angry outbursts. Remember that anger is fear’s bodyguard. Your child is acting out of confusion about what is happening to them, and frustrated they can’t articulate it. It is dark for them, and your observation and proactive approach could lessen your child’s suffering.
  • Isolation. As children get into teenaged years, it is normal for them to isolate from you like it’s their job! However, if you notice your child isolating more than normal, it may be time for a conversation. It is likely that they don’t have the vernacular to tell you they are feeling depressed, but careful and close attention along with educated questions, can help you ascertain the need for professional help.
  • Disordered Eating. The most important thing to note here is a fundamental change in eating habits one way or the other. Some children (like adults) find food comforting, others find it revolting in periods of depressed mood. Weight is a good indicator here since it is empirical data and will help you address it with your child in a non judgmental way. Also, keep in mind that some medications to treat depression can cause weight gain. Appetite is a great indicator of mental status.
  • Physical Issues (new) Our bodies are excellent at giving us warning signs and symptoms when all is not well. GI issues are probably the most common in children, but watch for other complaints, keep a journal, thereby increasing your ability to trend physical manifestations of depression. Migraines are another common issue with depression, but can also be caused by hormones. Hormonal imbalance itself is another causation of depression in children. Careful consideration should be paid to what is a normal imbalance versus a chemical imbalance that causes depression.

These are just a few of the symptoms related to depression in children. The most important thing you can do for your child is to trust your instincts when you feel something is consistently wrong. Do not hesitate to get help.

The worst thing that can happen is your child is just acting like a child. Conversely, you could find that your child needs help. Early intervention is important.

We will be back with part 3, Treating Children With Depression.

Also there are several episodes on our podcast discussing children trauma and treatment.

Depression In Children (Mental Health Awareness Month)pt 1

READERS: This series is meant to coincide with the third season of the Wednesdays With Watson Podcast. This season we are focusing on childhood trauma and mental health in general. Over there you will find stories of Hope, interviews with therapist, and more. It is the mission of the podcast as well as all other mediums is to provide access to help for those who need it.

Depression among children is growing exponentially. The statics over the last five years are staggering. According to a news report published by NBC News. [1]

“The number of children ages 6-12 who visited children’s hospitals for suicidal thoughts or self-harm has more than doubled since 2016, according to data from 46 such facilities across the country collected for NBC News by the Children’s Hospital Association, a trade organization.

The association documented 5,485 emergency room or inpatient visits for suicidal thoughts and self-harm among 6- to-12-year-olds at these hospitals in 2019, up from 2,555 in 2016. (Full data isn’t yet available for 2020, but in the first three quarters of the year, there were 3,503 such visits.) Visits for teenagers with suicidal thoughts or self-harm at these hospitals also rose from 2016 to 2019, but at a slower rate — by 44 percent, compared to 115 percent for younger children.”

Treatment facilities all over the country are reporting a marked increase in calls to help lines and are seeking inpatient as well as outpatient treatment for their children. Doctors share parental concern and fears that the pandemic will increase these numbers (especially the loss of a parent to Covid). That concern is founded and we are beginning to identify that in research data.

This leaves parents as their child’s advocate. Since the causation of childhood depression requires a lot of research (and still not widely understood), it’s hard to advocate for your child, but you must. Learning a few key points will help, but it is always a good idea to seek professional help for official diagnosis.

After parents have ruled out other conditions that can mimic symptoms of depression (hormones, medications, normal growing up) it becomes imperative that parents seek professional help. This brings its own challenges (and we will discuss in a later blog), as many times, medication is least tested on children and sometimes, the side effects compound symptoms of depression. Some medications increase suicidal ideations, and must be monitored by healthcare professionals as well as parents. One of the most concerning statistics of late is the rise of suicidal ideation in children. The study did not indicate whether these children were medicated, but side effects from medication should be considered then monitored closely for this most unwanted repercussion.

Understanding and observing your child can and will stretch far into their mental well-being. As we spend this week on depression in children, we will cover symptoms and treatment. However, for the purposes of this blog, let’s hypothesize some reasons we are seeing an increase in childhood depression. Subsequent blogs will help parents manage or find someone who can.

  • Twenty-Four Hour access to digital content. As doctors begin to record stated (explicit or otherwise) reasons for depressive symptoms from a post verbal child, Cyber Bullying, Instagram comparisons, and access to information not appropriate for a developing brain is certainly a consideration. It has been said that the amount of electronic information we consume in a day would crash a computer. The young brain is not nearly developed enough for constant digital consumption. It likely stunts IQ and can give the child a distorted view of the real world. Cyberbullying is a real issue, and many childhood suicides happen as a result. Children compare themselves to the InstaPerfect lives of their friends, and suddenly their life doesn’t feel worth much. Parents can take charge of this and should monitor screen time and consider refraining from screen time early in life, as the child’s brain is developing. When your child is on a digital device, consider a software program to monitor usage as well as any nefarious activity whereby bullying is present. Talk to your child, help them understand real life versus the Instagram and Tik Tok life. Consider waiting until ages 13-15 before handing over a pocket sized computer to your child. The lights, beeps, and vibrations activate your child’s brain and could retard normal development, resulting in depression and its friends. They become addicted to their phones which cause sleep issues, and you guessed it, sleep is integral to mental health. This also has the propensity to begin addictive behavior, which causes a host of issues in life.
  • Lack of physical exercise and tactile interaction with other children. This is especially true since March of 2020. Some children have yet to experience a normal school year. Young children need interaction with peers and they also have a need for a safe and effective learning atmosphere. Failure to hit academic milestones are a real issue with some children testing a full two years behind academically and socially. As the United States comes to terms with a life with Covid, children are finally back in school, but parents can’t ignore the two years some of them lost. This child could experience symptoms of depression simply based on loneliness and comparing their academic performance with others. Parents should be aware of self esteem issues all leading to depressive symptoms requiring professional help.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder. It has been reported that a child on the spectrum is four times more likely to suffer depression. [2]. This is difficult on parents and health professionals alike, as a child with ASD is as different as they are the same. Children on the spectrum’s depression probably makes the most sense of any of these probable reasons for childhood depression. Doctors are better at treating depression in these patients, because they are beginning to understand the brain and ASD.
  • Lacks Basic Needs. Here is where trauma is introduced as a reason for childhood depression. Trauma stunts some parts of the brain, but also creates a superpower of sorts, keeping the child alive (fight or flight). Unmet needs diminishes purpose and retards parts of the brain from emotional regulation. This results in behaviors ranging from behavior problems to suicide in some children in marginalized communities. There are programs all over the country to help with basic needs, especially food insecurity.
  • Family Conflict. Doctors also note the affect of family conflict and Adverse Childhood Experiences as a major causation for depression in children. This speaks to basic needs listed above. Children need stability and consistency. When conflict and trauma are present, they experience physical changes to their brains, are convinced they are the problem, and sometimes “fix it” by attempting to take their lives. This is, perhaps, the saddest of all.

One study last year analyzing more than 11,000 9- and 10-year-olds in the United States found that 1.3 percent reported they had tried to kill themselves, while 9.1 percent reported engaging in self-harm. It also concluded that family conflict and financial adversity were significantly associated with suicidal thoughts in these children.

  • Genetic History Of Depression this is the most understood, and perhaps provides the most straightforward lane to treatment. However, parents must recognize and treat their own depression. While medication can cause the same side effects in adults, those side affects are more straightforward and easy to manage. Communication with your child is very important as parents normalize a medical condition for their child. Teaching them coping skills and encouraging them to reach out for help is paramount.

The sad reality is that our world has changed and it must change the way we view mental health and we must start with our children. We don’t know why some children are more prone to deep depression and others aren’t. We must pay attention, listen to what your child isn’t telling you.

Next up, symptoms for parents to watch, and when to get help. Follow the blog so you get notified when part 2 goes live.

Also, we would love it if you would consider listening to our podcast on trauma. We seek to provide access to help for anyone who may need it there you may find that podcast by clicking here.

Exploring Trauma Brain, EMDR and Trauma

READERS: This is a transcript to a podcast and is not meant to present as a completed piece of written work. We provide these transcripts for our hard of hearing community and for those of you who prefer to listen inside the blog.

Jeremy Fox  0:00  
I care so much because I’ve known people have have gone through trauma. People ask how I don’t burn out doing this? And the answer is, I’ve seen how EMDR works. And when you take the emotional vividness out of someone’s negative memories, and when you take the negativity out of the memory, then the prognosis is so great. And you see such recovery. And so that’s what what fuels me.

Amy Watson  0:28  
Hey, everyone, and welcome to the donor supported Wednesdays with Watson podcast. Our mission here is simple. You guys know it by now. It is to educate and help people navigate trauma, as well as other mental health issues. We are doing that and have done that almost for two years now by providing help and hope through the stories of myself through the stories of others, and light today, bringing professionals on who are so kind to come on and help us. Finally, we have a mission to raise money for pro bono counseling for those who cannot afford it. If you want to be part of that mission, click on the Contact Me button in the show notes. Also, I would love it. If you would rate and review or share the podcast while you’re in the app. We will never ever stop fighting for those who cannot fight for themselves. You guys know this by now. So now that we got all of that out of the way, let’s walk into that healing zone. Today I’m excited to bring back to the microphone, licensed therapist and EMDR consultant Jeremy Fox. As a disclaimer, Jeremy is appearing on the podcast out of a desire to educate. He has been published in academic papers and enjoys imparting knowledge. His words here today are meant for entertainment purposes only and are not meant to be a substitute for therapy. Jeremy Fox, aka the trauma tamer also has a podcast you can listen to it on overtake. We’ll put that in the show notes. He is one of my favorite people in this space. I met him on the clubhouse app. He truly cares about people y’all see him and rooms all the time given up time to help people understand trauma and that is why he is here today. I want to pick Jeremy’s brain today as we’re in this series of of child abuse and trauma and the home. And I wanted to pick Jeremy’s brain about how trauma affects the developing brain of a child. More importantly, Jeremy will help us understand how early intervention can mitigate some of that damage. His treatment modalities EMDR, which you’ve heard me talk about is also my treatment modality that I’ve had much success with. And so you’re going to hear us talking about that a lot today. So here with me today is Jeremy Fox, aka the trauma teamer Welcome back to the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast. Jeremy.

Jeremy Fox  2:46  
Thank you so much, Amy. What’s going on? How are you doing?

Amy Watson  2:50  
I’m doing well, my friend. I sure appreciate you doing this on a Saturday we both are. We both have real jobs, as I call it. Uh, but I just you know, I’ve been excited about this. Because, you know, you’re just you just the real deal, Jeremy. And I wanted you to know that you just any anytime I see you, and I’m saying this to the listeners, too, if you’re on the clubhouse app, that app like anything else can be used for evil or it could be for good. But Jeremy is part of a group of professionals on clubhouse who get on there, and they will they hold space for people and provide educational resources like clubhouse, like this podcast is not therapy. But Jeremy gives up a lot of his time to help people understand trauma. And so I just wanted to publicly thank you for that, Jeremy.

Jeremy Fox  3:35  
Well, thank you, I appreciate that you are drawing attention to it to the importance of treating trauma with empirical methods. There’s just so much disinformation. So I’m really passionate. And I know you are too. And that’s where our mission really intersected. And we found each other is spreading the word that EMDR therapy works. And there is help there is hope.

Amy Watson  3:56  
Amen. Amen. Even if you’re not a Christian, and I tell people that all the time and my podcast tends to be well, not tends to be it is very faith focused. But I do want people out there to know that, hey, if you don’t share this, my faith, there is still a treatment modality out there that will help you. And so we are in the back half of our season where we are discussing trauma and adverse childhood experiences in the home. Our mission here today is not to scare people. And that’s funny because that was a quote that I took from when you when you were on the podcast before I’m not trying to scare people here. But you’re really good about giving us the real of what happens to the developing brain of of children when trauma is present. And then you’ll also bring hope as you as you just mentioned, so I just want to jump right in. I want to start simple for understanding we have two sides of our brain. One is our emotional side or some people may hear the word limbic limbic, and the other is responsible for the linear thinking. So the things that make sense to us the things that make two plus two always equal four. Can you expound just a little bit about the two sides of For our brain and their functions for our listeners, because not everybody has a pre med degree like I do.

Jeremy Fox  5:06  
Sure I can, I can go a little bit into that I mean, the left and right divide is a helpful heuristic meaning just like a memory device, it’s something people can kind of keep in mind that we have a cognitive side and emotional. If you really want to kind of do an easy but deep dive, you can look at it as you’ve got things like your prefrontal cortex, which I know we’re going to talk about, you have your limbic system, your hippocampus and your amygdala. And so a really helpful way that I learned we’re getting into, like the triune brain model here, which again, there’s some simplification there, the further out you go, in terms of like, the closer you get to the skull, the more things are on the surface of the brain. And that model, the more advanced the function. So if you get like the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for you’re really cognitive control, attention, impulse inhibition, prospective memory, cognitive flexibility, all those kinds of things, you know, it’s pre frontal cortex, kind of in the name there. And inside, inside here, you have your limbic system, so the amygdala, which, when active, causes you to focus on survival. And so, and left and right hemisphere stuff, there’s there’s little overlap and both, but generally, what we’re talking about is this idea that we can put things in time with left brain and say, Okay, this is linear versus right brain, which the the time less quality of memories, creativity, linkages, that are very kind of spaghetti. But generally, yeah, we’re talking about hemispheric differences. Maybe we’re talking about frontal lobe versus limbic system, kind of things as well, when we talk about logic versus emotion.

Amy Watson  6:52  
Yeah, and that was very, very, I love the way you brought that down to the level. And so yes, both sides of the brain, each responsible for different things, the emotion obviously in the right, and that is where, what I call the trauma loop. And this is where EMDR comes in. And we’ll talk about more about that a little bit more. But you mentioned the, the prefrontal cortex. And again, as a fancy word, it just means it’s responsible for a whole lot of the things that you do. And you just told us that, why does the the PFC go offline when we experience trauma or when that amygdala is activated? Why Why does the PFC go offline?

Jeremy Fox  7:25  
So great question. And so I’ll give the boring part first, right? So research shows that high levels of catecholamine chemical release during stress impairs your top down cognitive functions of the PFC. My gosh, what does that mean? It means that when you’re stressed your prefrontal cortex goes on goes offline, right? When we say that we mean that there are some chemicals released. And then what’s interesting is the emotional and habitual responses of the amygdala. Okay, and the basal ganglia are strengthened by that chemical release. So now let’s put it in the fun blunt terms. Okay, when you are threatened in some way that puts your life at risk, you’re going to need to get out, you don’t have time to sit and reason with that. Now, normally, with something like a bear or a shark or car accident, something coming towards you quickly, you need to veer out of the way in your car. That’s helpful. You don’t sit and reason with a car accident, that would be absurd. But what happens is, if someone experiences something horrifying, and it’s imprinted in that flashbulb memory way, and they’re so immobilized, and helpless, combined together, in that way that we know that Peter Levine and Bessel Vander Kolk, would would describe trauma, then this, this feeling this sensation of whatever happened, the feelings and emotions, even the belief I’m not safe, can then cause that memory to activate the amygdala to to activate and your prefrontal cortex to not be functioning at times when it needs to. So when you’re nervous about a work staff meeting, when something happens, where you don’t need to have your prefrontal cortex cease working, that’s really the damaging element of trauma is the event itself happened and you survived it, your PFC is very is is implicated in a lot of higher order things like your motivation, your ability to maintain and sustain attention, you can’t do that your quality of life is severely diminished. And so that’s the real crime of trauma is continually diminishing your ability to function in the present in a way, that’s your authentic self.

Amy Watson  9:39  
And that’s why you and I are doing what we’re doing. Right. Because, you know, it’s so true. I mean, this affects us. And but it doesn’t have to be the end of the story. So no, not at all. And it’s not the end of the story because of people like you EMDR consultants across the country, that that are saying, Guys, it doesn’t have to be this way. And so we You know, we’re gonna use a fancy term called neuroplasticity. And it’s important when we when we talk about the confines of your modality and the treatment modality that’s worked for me and we are going to get back to the developing brain. But tell us a little bit about neuroplasticity. Because you know, you’ll hear anybody that’s, you know, out there trying to be their own psychologists or therapists, or whatever they’ll hear, they’ll hear the words that you’re probably going to say to, you know, neurons that wire together, fire together and all the things. But so we talked about that right side of the brain and the left side of the brain. Now we’re going to introduce this word, neuroplasticity. It belongs in that conversation. Could you explain to my listeners, again, who don’t have a pre med degree what neuroplasticity is?

Jeremy Fox  10:38  
Yeah, I mean, it simply put, if you want the definition, it’s in will talk about the ability of the brain, okay to form and reorganize, so reassemble synaptic connections. And so the synapses are little gaps between neurons that communicate via electrochemical means. Okay? And especially, neuroplasticity refers to response to learning, or experience, okay, or following injury. So the ability to reorganize your, your cognitive frameworks, your neural networks is what neuroplasticity refers to. So essentially, anything that’s a sustained learning pattern, so you’ve learned something new, and you do something new. Yeah. And so you can really judge how effective a therapy is, by the way, based on if you learn a different response to something that would normally have caused you to react with avoidance or an anxiety attack. And that gets into the window of tolerance, by the way from Dan Siegel. Because if you’ve learned something new,

Amy Watson  11:43  
then you expand that window of tolerance, right? Yes,

Jeremy Fox  11:46  
absolutely. These terms all go together, essentially. And by the way, you have more prefrontal cortical control. So they all go together in this toward the same end, we are

Amy Watson  11:56  
geeking out right now. This is why I love Jeremy Fox at the Thomas, the trauma trainer, because I on the podcast, and some people are listening to this episode may not have listened to other episodes, we’ve talked about the window of tolerance and why one person can experience one trauma, or basically two people can beat my friend and I were in a car accident right after Thanksgiving. And we’re both fine, and there was no trauma, but I could have walked away from that car accident traumatized and she would have been fine. And that is as a result of many, many psychologists will will will say trauma is anything that pushes your brain outside of this window of tolerance. Can you explain to us in your words, what a window of tolerance is because we can both when were pushed outside of that window of tolerance be hypo and hyper and our behaviors? Yeah, absolutely.

Jeremy Fox  12:41  
I use that term a lot. And again, it’s from Dan Siegel, who’s written amazing books like mind sight, he, he writes quite a bit about parenting, by the way, and how to do so in a trauma informed way. So his book, The developing mind is like a go to, for many people wanting to understand and that’s where this term came from wanting to understand the brain. So I kind of like to use a and maybe you can attach a graphic to the to the podcast or here or something like that. But one of the ideas it is that you, you have this window, okay? That is your optimal zone of functioning. And so by the way, your brain would be online with your prefrontal cortex, you would feel in some way capable of whatever’s going on. It’s your optimal stress level you stress which is EU stress, right, rather than dis stress, which is what you normally hear about. So your optimal level of functioning is this sort of calm focus, not a depressed lack of focus, which would be district which would be hypo arousal, by the way. And so, when you’re dealing with with trauma survivors, what often happens is that window is truncated, it’s it’s smaller, right? So it takes it takes less stimulation, to reach hyper arousal, which is your sympathetic nervous system fight or flight response. So racing thoughts, anxiety, impulsivity, rage, even feeling out of control, obsessions and compulsions, these kinds of things I have people imagine at the top end because that’s hyper arousal, it’s a lot of arousal, okay? And then the lower end the hypo arousal, that’s the freeze response. Now, anyone who listens to Amy and myself regularly will know that the freeze response is often Okay, a result of childhood trauma. Why is that because when someone experiences something threatening as a child, they’ll usually respond by freezing because they know they can’t fight or flee. There’s that childhood helplessness. And so then we carry that again, neuroplasticity, we learned that and we carry that with us unless we learn that we can fight, flee, socially engage, and that’s where if you’ve learned that through EMDR, or other trauma informed therapies like somatic experiencing, then there’s the neuros Plus See if you’ve just learned that you don’t have to freeze. But the freeze response is what it sounds like you you zone out there’s memory loss.

Amy Watson  15:08  
Dissociation. Right? Yeah. And isolation

Jeremy Fox  15:12  
ISIL? Yeah, absolutely. So I love that Peter Levine calls the freeze response, a result of locked up tension that has to be released before you can re enter the zone. Because that gets into really geeky stuff of a paper I wrote about the Zeigarnik Effect and how actualizing, your interrupted impulse that you wish you had been able to express during trauma, if that’s fleeing this fighting whatever helps to actually put the trauma behind you. In other words, consolidate memory and be done with it. And EMDR helps with that

Amy Watson  15:38  
boy does it ever and you and I could geek out forever about that. And we’re going to continue to do work together both here and everywhere else. But I as my listeners now, I am an E m Dr. Patient, where I’ll try to say that fast 40 times and had basically brain scans that were improved from from trauma having done physical damage to parts of my brain. So speaking of that, one of the one of the very cool things about today that we’re doing this, I sent you a message I was like Jeremy, I just had the most amazing life altering EMDR experience. And and maybe one day, I’ll get behind this microphone and tell listeners about what actually happened. But I started doing some inner child work, mainly because I’m researching for the series. And, and I have, I have really avoided my inner child stuff. And so we started doing some inner child work. And I had a breakthrough. Like I can’t even explain it to you. I came home and I told my friend Chrissy that I feel free for the first time from from some from some childhood, particularly sexual abuse after having done the IE after having done an EMDR session. So I was a child, Jeremy, we know that the brain continues to develop, you know, it depends on who you ask. But most people say we’re completely developed at 25. But tell me and I think this is really important. And you’ve done a great job of understanding the focus of this podcast for parents who have children who have experienced trauma, or people like myself who have experienced trauma as a child to help us understand that we aren’t broken that that trauma actually does something to the developing brain. So one of the things that Jeremy, I wanted to ask you about the developing brain and neglect. All right, yes. Okay, because that’s my story. And that is the story of, of some listeners. And we can and really, we’re going to focus here on neglect, because I feel like that’s really important for this series that we’re working on. Like what is that? What is what is abandonment due to a developing brain? And so can you speak to that because abandonment, and I’ve experienced it is, it it has been the hardest thing for me to heal from? And so let’s Can you talk to us a little bit about what neglect does to the child. And and then we’re gonna we’re gonna back that up with how we can help people.

Jeremy Fox  17:55  
Sure, neglect, I mean, neglect is is something that causes the neurogenesis of the brain, it causes a lot less development, and causes some impoverished emotional functioning. There’s smaller amounts of gray and white matter in kids with childhood trauma in the prefrontal cortex compared with those who didn’t report I have. And we’re talking talking about ACEs. Now, we’re talking about adverse childhood experiences, which involve like active trauma, instability in the home, viewing your your mother being abused people doing drugs, and different things like that. The hippocampus is smaller, and people who report early exposure to trauma, and that’s associated with learning that structure. So that can cause deficits in being able to learn and so this is just sad stuff out, rattle off some more, I mean, the amygdala, which is the brains emotional reaction center, that’s, that correlates with survival instincts, inquiry has increased reactivity, okay, with higher reported exposure to trauma, during infancy and early childhood. And again, if you want to kind of discuss what that looks like, that involves some aces content there. There’s varying degrees of cognitive impairment and emotional dysregulation. That happens with kids depending on the degree of trauma because all trauma is not the same. And that includes that can cause things like attention focus issues, by the way that can mimic ADHD or exacerbate ADHD, learning disabilities, low self esteem, that’s a given and parent social skills and sleep disturbance caused by chronic arousal by feeling unsafe caused by a poverty, of experience of positive experience of indoors engagement with a caring adult figure. And it’s such a spectrum. That’s why people are proposing that CPTSD be on a Official code it is in the ICD, I believe the International Code of disease but not in the DSM, the diagnostic and stats manual. So, and that’s I mean, there’s there’s single episode PTSD, which you had brought up earlier as sort of the, the experience with Sandy Hook, Columbine, that would be a terrorizing events that could bring back flashbacks and cause a child to feel unsafe around loud noises around conned confined spaces. But if that child up to that point, let’s say they’re 11 or 12, or even in high school had a supportive environment, then it’s not likely to change their entire identity, if they have a healthy because you look at it as an immune system, you look at someone’s emotional well being and their their social network, their supportive family, they have a strong mental immune system. So if a traumatic event happens, that traumatic event will probably be confined to something that reminds them of that situation. So again, hallways, loud noises, they may go into that memory, but they may not have an entire paradigm change. If I’m a worthless person, I’m fundamentally unsafe in the world, it might not infiltrate that neural network, because they already know I matter. My grandma loved me, my parents loved me like they have a narrative in place. So if you have EMDR, right away for that event, that’s like triage care, where you’re pulling out a splinter, because you’re stopping that memory from becoming something that their brain can’t metabolize. They’re not rehearsing it over and over and over again, you’re stopping it from going into that state dependent form. And it’s going into a more, you know, semantic form of this happened, this was a thing that occurred. And I’m not experiencing it as an intrusive, timeless event. It was terrible, but it’s over. Whereas someone with neglect and trauma, and that way, they’re all identity is I don’t deserve someone talking to me. So you have to do a lot more rebuilding. But it all can be done, by the way.

Amy Watson  21:57  
Thank you. I think that that’s a beautiful segue. And I’m a great example of that, right. And so And Jeremy and I, we geek out on this stuff, because we love it. And it worked. So what Jeremy’s just beautifully outlined for us as again, the what trauma does to the developing brain, we don’t have all of our resources at our fingertips of seven as we do 26. And so he’s done two things here, he’s talked about something that’s very near and dear to my heart, is neglect. A lot of my listeners have adopted children from other countries, and they’ve they’ve experienced all kinds of trauma, they’ve been abandoned, neglected, abused, all of the things that that aren’t supposed to happen in our homes. And the place that we’re talking about in this part of the series is the home. And so I’ve read articles about babies not being picked up and loved and how you can have lower IQs and, and all the things right. And I often wonder, you know, I don’t know what it was like. And in my infancy, I know what it was like when I had my first memory and it was neglect. And so you’ve done a beautiful job of saying, Hey, if you’re out there, and you’ve been neglected, and you feel all of these things, or not feel all these things, this is your life, this is your reality, there is hope. And then conversely, we talked about a little bit trauma, when we experience in a different trauma like like Jeremy said, a single event trauma like Columbine or Sandy Hook, or you actually could name anything at this point, whereby even Sandy Hook was in elementary school, Columbine was a high school, if we can get there, and we can get to it quickly. As that’s a beautiful description. It’s like pulling a splinter out. And those memories never have the opportunity to take form. And then therefore we can reverse the effects of the smaller amygdala, the truncated window of tolerance. Hey, Jeremy just told us beautifully what trauma does on the brain of a developing child, it truncates that window of tolerance, it it makes the amygdala smaller it makes I love what he how you refer to the mental immune system. Basically, you don’t have one. So there’s so many of you out there, particularly if you are dealing with childhood trauma, that is neglect or walking around with these behaviors that you don’t understand. And there’s so much shame. And there’s behaviors. I know that because I lived that life, I didn’t understand why I needed so much attention and having been neglected. And I talked about the babies who were never hugged and things of that nature. And so I will always wonder, Jeremy about that. And, and we and again, these things neglected, especially due costs and scary things like lower IQs and lower ability to deal and definitely like we just talked about the truncated window of tolerance, meaning the slightest thing can set people off who have had childhood trauma, particularly that of neglect. And but there’s hope because you know that you’re on the Wednesdays with Watson podcast, and I’m not going to leave you without hope. And so as I mentioned, and then Jeremy and I as mentioned a couple times now, he has an EMDR consultant, and I am going to let him explain to you what EMDR is. is and why it works and why just like he said, it doesn’t have to be the story if you are neglected, or you know somebody was neglected, or you have some sort of childhood trauma, whether it be a single event like something as atrocious as Columbine and Sandy Hook, or neglect or anything in between there is hoping EMDR is one of those modalities. So Jeremy, can you explain to us what EMD e m d r is and why it works?

Jeremy Fox  25:29  
Yeah, absolutely. So it stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing therapy. So that’s a mouthful, but it was a therapy discovered by Francine Shapiro in 1987, when she was walking around in a park, and she noticed her eyes rapidly moving between some trees while thinking of a negative memory, or a memory with some negative emotions attached. And she noticed a decline in the vividness of the emotion. So she began studying the eye movement component in her graduate program, studying to be a psychologist, and she titled The new method EMD, or eye movement desensitization. And then she eventually added the R on in 1991, because she noticed that the recognition of she noticed the cognitive reprocessing effect, she recognized that that often what would happen is that memory would link to others, people might think of an earlier instance, for example, where they felt powerless. So maybe it initially started with something like a car accident, and they felt powerless. And maybe they remember that there. They didn’t have any say in their home. And they felt frightened constantly in their home life. But she studied the eye movement effects. And more research has been done in recent years from 87 Onward. So that’s decades of research here. And what’s really important to keep in mind is that this is an interrupted exposure therapy. Okay, friends, same shift cause call that interrupted exposure, and a book that she wrote about EMDR protocol. So this is not prolonged exposure. For listeners, I don’t want them to think they’re going to have to sit and think and think and really experience the trauma. The beautiful thing about EMDR is the eye movement is offered, which provides a present focus, and it helps to connect memories, we know that eye movements are implicated in memory retrieval, right, fancy terminology for we often move our eyes when we’re trying to remember things. So it keeps you in the present. And it helps you to keep the memory train moving along, which is a big metaphor used in EMDR is where it’s a train moving through, we want that we want the client to notice the scenery outside while they’re moving their eyes outside the train. But we don’t get stuck in it, we keep it moving to the memory, we’re on the train together with the client. And they’re the guide and we’re there with them. And we’re experiencing this person, okay, don’t get stuck on the things outside of the window. So we believe that EMDR the eye movement tax is the working memory and it causes people to experience the memory less vividly because they’re distracted. One of the very interesting geeky things to keep in mind about EMDR is that there’s evidence that delta waves so slow waves in the brain activate during bilateral stimulation, which again that you know, the eye movement, we call it that it’s bilateral side to side, delta waves activate the brain, which is very light, much like the surf during slow wave sleep. So delta waves are active during slow wave sleep, which is a time of transfer of memories from hippocampus to the neocortex. So transforming the memory for episodic to semantic. So, again, a mouthful, so let’s boil it down. EMDR therapy takes traumatic memories and helps the client to sensitize to them by thinking of elements and then purge and desensitized with the eye movement and navigating the memory in a way that puts it in a past form. It binds that memory to the past instead of it coming up as present focused which we know people with PTSD and even subclinical trauma without PTSD, experience traumatic memories as present focused in the present, they feel like it’s happening now. EMDR stops that from happening. And again, there are many different hypotheses, we can go down that rabbit hole on if anybody wants further info. I wrote an article summarizing the science behind it. But we always prep people to a really want listeners to know you’re not thrown into your memories. You’re taught eject buttons, you’re taught how to imagine putting them into a container, how to imagine a calm place, using your eyes as well. What the goal of EMDR is reprocessing is dialing up the negative memories in session, navigating them taking the emotions out. You’re never going to approve of the memory. You’re not going to say I enjoyed this happening but you’re going to be able to say I don’t feel it in here anymore.

Amy Watson  29:59  
You Yeah, Jeremy. Yeah, and Jeremy’s pointing he’s in so am I now we’re on Zoom holding he’s pointing to I don’t feel it in the center of my chest. And I think that that I know, I know that I’ve experienced that myself. And so there is hope guys. And this This does tie into that neuroplasticity because you’re literally that train is going from, from the trapped Olympic system where the memory is stuck. And on a loop is what I call it. I call it a trauma loop. And that, yeah, that that train is moving through one of the things Jeremy that my counselor does, and I’m gonna go ahead and I wasn’t sure when I was going to do this. But one of the things that we do after we visited this memory and again, it is not fun, but there there is hope. And if you’re in a safe place like in Jeremy’s office, or if you’re in Florida, so we got Florida and Georgia covered for two EMDR therapists. I know I’m not sure where Nettie is, but we can provide resources for other states for you guys. But so when I did my last EMDR session, we visited the childhood trauma, but at the very end, my counselor likes to leave me with a truth and he likes to weave in those truths. And so we were talking about some childhood neglect and sexual abuse trauma that happened when I was seven years old. And he was riding on on a board and I got I have it in front of me. And we put a picture of seven year old Amy up on this board. And he asked me, we he helped me understand who I was at seven because my perception by my intrusive memories and all of those things. Now, we’re none of these words. And so I’m holding the paddles, we do the paddles, the bilateral stimulation, you can do the I’ve movement, we I hold the paddles, and he had me say we had written these things on the board. He had me write these things. And I speak this into the people that are listening to this podcast. If you have experienced childhood trauma, and you feel unworthy, if you’ve experienced sexual abuse and you feel unclean, especially in the Christian environment in the Christian world, we can go a whole nother podcast on that, with the sexual purity culture and childhood sexual abuse. It does a lot to our brains. And so in that EMDR session, this is what we were able to weave after we after we reprocessed after we got on that train and we plowed through from my emotional side to my to my to my left and linear and logical side. These this was the truth that he weaved into me as I’m holding the MDR paddles and he made me read them out loud. And listeners This is for you to I am hole worthy, innocent, pure, untouched, untainted, clean, free, carefree enough worthy. And so I’m holding the paddles and he makes me read those and now I believe that because I don’t want those memories. And I’ve got some very specific things that do pop up from PTSD a particular smell from Jeremy I don’t know much how much of my story you know, but I was babysat and abused by a well known car serial killer, whose name is Henry Lee Lucas. And there’s a certain smell that happens in our all of our homes at one point or another and it’s simply dirty dishes in the sink. And when that smell comes, that memory pops up and I feel like I’m seven years old again and that room being abused. And then all of the negative stuff that goes with it. I am dirty, I’m unclean. I deserved it. Why don’t I tell somebody because I am treating my seven year olds Amy like I am 58 as I am now. And so I bring that to the forefront because Jeremy is doing such good work in this EMDR. And so I’m just giving you my example. That happened on Thursday. Man I left there Jeremy and I was like I am free of that now. And when those and those and those intrusive memories might pop up again when I smelled dirty dishes, but I will be able to say I am clean. I was innocent. I was a child I am untainted. I am untouched. I am new. I am worthy. I am loved. And that is because of EMDR you do so much of this for free, frankly. Why do you care as we close out the podcast? Why? Why do you do what you do Jeremy because I I can’t overemphasize how much I appreciate the work you’re doing on on the clubhouse app and guys, all of his contact information is going to be there. He is paired up with some amazing professionals on there getting clubhouse does not equal therapy, but they they dispel mental health myths and all the things. Why do you care so much.

Jeremy Fox  34:31  
I care so much because I’ve known people who have have gone through trauma. I’ve seen an amazing mentor at my first clinical job who encouraged me to get trained in EMDR. And I worked with people who had gone through so much multiple episodes of abuse, trauma neglect, and I began using EMDR saw it it was effective and I’ve seen that it that trauma underlies addiction anxiety Eat personality disorders, what we know is those traumas often responsible, or at least fueling it. And so, to me, it’s, I’m biased. It’s one of if not the most important mental health aspect. People ask how I don’t burn out doing this? And the answer is, I’ve seen how EMDR works. And when you take the emotional vividness out of someone’s negative memories, and when you take the negativity out of the memory, then there, the prognosis is so great. And you see such recovery. And so that’s what what fuels me, but I mean, people in my own life, I’ve seen them recover. Yeah, and it’s inspiring.

Amy Watson  35:42  
And frankly, that’s why I’m continuing to do what I do. I mean, I got, you know, I get messages from listeners who have listened to podcast, and particularly ones like this, where folks like you have come on and, and brought it down to the basic level, because what we’ve done here today through both academic and then I shared and I wasn’t sure when I was going to share if ever I was going to share that EMDR session. But I can tell you guys, you know, if you’ve been following my story at all, if this was the first time you’ve listened to one of my podcasts, just head back anywhere, there’s there’s several episodes, especially the first season where I talk about my trauma, because I do have si PTSD, even though it’s not in the very outdated DSM book that is around for mental health disorders. And so I am a survivor of neglect. I am a survivor of a lots of childhood trauma, my brain was affected. But here I am. And that is why I do what I do, too. And that is why we got on this podcast behind these microphones on a Saturday. So that we said that Jeremy could provide hope and help for those of you out there who either have experienced all of these things or who are parenting children who are experiencing or have experienced, particularly I’m thinking adoption, trauma and some of the things neglect is huge. It really is. And that’s something we could have a whole other podcast episode on. But the whole point here, Jeremy today was to provide hope for people and to help them understand the brain and help them understand that the developing brain, while trauma could really scar it, that boy, if we get in there early, it’s so malleable, we can make it it could be like it never happened if we get there early. And that guys is why I do this podcast. That is why we raise money for people who can afford counseling, including children and or adult survivors of neglect, abuse and all the things. So Jeremy, thank you for being here today. Any parting words for our listeners, and after that I will tell everybody where they can find you.

Jeremy Fox  37:39  
My parting words would be no matter what trauma you’ve been through and how bad it seems and how how low you feel about yourself, please realize that it can change that that’s your mind and your your cognitive framework. We talked about neuroplasticity today, and where it comes in is the ability to grow. So please recognize that EMDR therapy from someone who is certified, someone who’s approved consultant I’m using the two highest certifications there can very likely help you on your journey to developing better self esteem and functioning. And addictions OCD. We haven’t even talked about the fact that EMDR works for a multitude of conditions, just trial. So please don’t give out give up hope that would be the one thing I’m part with is there is hope. Believe me. I was a skeptic, initially of different therapy modalities. I’ve been I’ve seen what happened as a practitioner. And so please recognize like I this is not Kool Aid. We’re not. Yeah,

Amy Watson  38:39  
yeah. And like you said, it’s been around since the 90s. Francine Shapiro, I’m going to put all of that in the show notes, including the article that Jeremy references that he wrote, Jeremy is in the state of Georgia, I’m going to put how you can find him. Basically, I’m going to put his link tree in the contact information so that you could get to him on Twitter clubhouse all the places. Like I said, he too has his own podcast that is on the overcast platform that will be in there. So if you’re in the state of Georgia, Jeremy has a possibility for a trusted EMDR therapists because of the pandemic, most therapists figured out how to still do the MDR remotely. And so if you’re in the state of Georgia, you will be able to reach out to Jeremy and then we’ll also be able to provide I don’t know where Nettie is Jeremy, where is Mandy?

Jeremy Fox  39:23  
She’s in Virginia. So and you can find her and maybe Tiwari. She’s awesome. So one thing you can think about here is that if you’re whatever state you’re in, you can put in your browser bar EMDR IA dot o RG And you can enter in their what your zip code you can enter your zip code in your city in your state. You can search for an EMDR therapist, that’s the easiest option for you to do that. People have found me on psychology today by the word trauma because I have that my profile But for EMDR, specifically, you can go to Andrew and you can sort by experience level basic trained, certified consultant. And everybody needs to start somewhere and has to.

Amy Watson  40:10  
Yeah, we’ll also provide that link in the show notes. Obviously, if you’re in Florida, my I’m not sure that my doctor has taken new patients, but reach out to me and I can help you if you’re in Florida. Well, Jeremy, thank you for being here today. I hope that you have a great rest of your day Saturday. And here is a great time for me to say that I’m not sure that you’re a Georgia Bulldog fan, but congratulations to the entire state of the national champion, University of Georgia. football champions. Thank you Go Dogs Go Dogs. I grew up in Jacksonville. And so we picked Florida or Georgia when we were kids and I picked the silver britches and said, There you go. All right. Well, thanks, Jeremy for being here today. I so appreciate it.

Jeremy Fox  40:48  
Thank you. It was great to be here. Okay. Bye

Amy Watson  40:50  
bye. Well, guys, I hope that you enjoyed that episode with my friend and EMDR therapist Jeremy Fox, I realized that it was more scientific in nature than perhaps we are used to on the Wednesdays with Watson podcasts. But I love how Jeremy also provided hope through the scientific facts of what trauma does to our brains as children, guys, we are never, it’s never ever too late to heal. And so as we step out of that healing zone, and as Phil Baker’s SONG PLAYS us all the podcasts, we will be back here in two weeks as we continue this series, trauma spaces, places and aces as we continue to dive into trauma and the home specifically to childhood trauma. So I hope to see you back here in two weeks. Again, we’d love to connect with you hit that contact me button I would love for you to follow on Instagram, particularly in the month of April as we will be doing some fun stuff on that platform. So I will say it like I always do. Because I mean you are seeing you’re known you’re heard you’re loved and you’ve worked out you see you guys in two weeks. You teach me to kiss you. I want to use my mind

Transcribed by

Tags: TraumaEMDRPTSDAbuseHopeJesusChristianityRRTTIHTherapyCounselingPsalm139

Social Anxiety vs Separation Anxiety In Children

Parents often find that they are their child’s only advocate when the ills of anxiety become reality. Its symptoms played out in behaviors, and to the unknowing parent can be frustrating, leading to “little t” trauma, and a harder road for their child. It is important for parents to educate themselves on the different types of anxiety. We covered Generalized Anxiety Disorder in the blog before this one.

Anxiety in general has similar symptoms, the real task is diagnosing the type of anxiety, while treatment is similar, the approach may be different. Many parents find themselves confused and frustrated with their clingy children, ofter ascribing their actions as difficult behaviors. Left untreated, anxiety in children has proven to morph into other disorders like major depression, obsessive compulsive disorder, Bi-Polar as well as other disorders than can be prevented with treatment in childhood. When considering the importance of this, remember the importance of caring for a developing brain. Your decisions as a parent will affect their mental health, so educating yourself is vital.

So, which type does your child have? The huge difference between these two type are simple, because as you will see, these two look a lot like each other.

A social anxiety diagnosis requires symptoms to present themselves among peers, not just adults.

Let’s consider social anxiety disorder first.

“Social anxiety disorder is a kind of anxiety that can cause children extreme worry about being rejected or judged negatively by other people. Children with social anxiety disorder aren’t just shy. They are so scared of being embarrassed that they avoid doing things they want or need to do. For example, they might refuse to go to birthday parties or speak in class or eat at a restaurant because they are afraid of what others might think of them.” [1]

Children with social anxiety disorder will most likely struggle in school. Children with this type of anxiety disorder often will refuse to go to school, often frustrating parents who unknowingly punish their children because their intense fear will present as undesirable behavior. Other children will attempt to hide their fear and parents may observe the following behaviors:

  • Physical symptoms, like shaking, sweating and shortness of breath 
  • Lots of anxious questions: “What if I say something dumb?” “What if everyone thinks I’m a loser?” 
  • Tantrums and crying, especially in younger children 
  • Getting upset long before they have to be in the situation they’re afraid of  [1]

Social anxiety must be treated regardless of age. In addition to medication, parents are encouraged to find a good therapist who specializes in children. Left untreated, other disorders will follow. However, treatment is effective and children can and do live normal lives. Awareness and treatment are essential.

Separation anxiety is the same in that left untreated this disorder can morph into Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Most the time, with separation anxiety symptoms are only exhibit themselves when they are around adults, particularly their primary caretaker, most notable their mother.

According the Mayo Clinic, here are the symptoms of separation anxiety:

  • Recurrent and excessive distress about anticipating or being away from home or loved ones
  • Constant, excessive worry about losing a parent or other loved one to an illness or a disaster
  • Constant worry that something bad will happen, such as being lost or kidnapped, causing separation from parents or other loved ones
  • Refusing to be away from home because of fear of separation
  • Not wanting to be home alone and without a parent or other loved one in the house
  • Reluctance or refusing to sleep away from home without a parent or other loved one nearby
  • Repeated nightmares about separation
  • Frequent complaints of headaches, stomachaches or other symptoms when separation from a parent or other loved one is anticipated

Unlike Social Anxiety, there are some identifiable risk factors:

  • Life stresses or loss that result in separation, such as the illness or death of a loved one, loss of a beloved pet, divorce of parents, or moving or going away to school
  • Certain temperaments, which are more prone to anxiety disorders than others are
  • Family history, including blood relatives who have problems with anxiety or an anxiety disorder, indicating that those traits could be inherited
  • Environmental issues, such as experiencing some type of disaster that involves separation
  • Seek professional advice as soon as possible if you’re concerned that your child’s anxiety is much worse than a normal developmental stage. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce symptoms and prevent the disorder from getting worse.
  • Stick with the treatment plan to help prevent relapses or worsening of symptoms.
  • Seek professional treatment if you have anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns, so that you can model healthy coping skills for your child.

Just as with Separation Anxiety, left untreated, Separation Anxiety will lead to more severe diagnoses like Bi-Polar, Borderline Personality Disorder, and many others. Treatment is Behavioral therapy as well as effective medications will help parents navigate the waters of anxiety. There is hope and there is help! There is hope. Keep it here for more content on anxiety in children.

Shattering Paradigms: Trauma Within Intact Families w Amber Cullum

READERS: This is a transcript of a podcast and is not meant to present as a complete, grammatically correct piece of written work. We provide these transcripts for our hard of hearing community and for those of you who prefer to listen inside this blog.

Amber Cullum 0:00 On this Saturday morning, there was a large explosion I was laying like I said on the couch, and I heard this really large boom, our garage door flew open. And I remember running around and looking out into the garage and seeing the whole side of our garage wall on fire. Amy Watson 0:19 Hey, everyone, and welcome back to the Wednesdays with Watson podcast, we are so proud to tell you that this is a 100% Completely donor supported podcast. Our mission here is simple it is to educate and help people navigate trauma and other mental health issues. We do that by providing hope and help through story through professionals through education. Finally, we have a mission to fund pro bono counseling for those who cannot afford it. If you want to be part of that mission, right there. When you’re in your app, just click the Contact Amy button in the show notes. I would also love it if you would consider rating and reviewing or sharing the podcast while you’re on your app. I will never ever stop fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. And a simple gesture like sharing or subscribing will help us get this mission out to the people that need to get it. Now that we got all that out of the way. I would love to introduce you today to my guest, Amber kolam. Let’s drop into this conversation with Amber. Hey, Amber, welcome to the Wednesday’s with Watson podcasts. Amber Cullum 1:30 Hey, Amy, thank you for having me on today. Amy Watson 1:33 It’s always so much fun to interview other podcasters and that is secondary. You are a dear friend of mine. And I am so grateful for the you’re doing this today. So thank you so much for being here. I know that you understand it. I’m not quite as nervous as I normally would be just because I know you understand the technology issues. Amber Cullum 1:52 Absolutely, girl I mean it. Is it true struggle at times, that’s for sure. I’m so glad that it’s even an option. Amy Watson 1:59 Yeah, that is the truth. That is the truth. Well, guys, we are in the second half of season three of the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast that we’re calling trauma spaces, places and aces, we are focusing on trauma and mental health inside the home, and how it affects children and adulthood. Today we bring my friend at like I said another fellow podcaster Amber kolam. She is the curator of the amazing and this link will be in the show notes probably above my name, Grace anough podcast, Amber came to me with a message that she wants you to hear today. And I can’t wait for you to hear it. So as we have already welcomed and Amber to the podcast, I just would like to really invite you to sit back and listen to what she has to say to us today. And so Amber, one of the things that we’re doing in this season, and this has been a really interesting question that we’ve been asking people and it’s a bit of an icebreaker because, you know, it’s sometimes hard to say tell me about you know, people start well, I was born in 1932. And so we like this this question because we feel like it disarms the guest and it really makes us think and and it’s just kind of part of what’s important to us here the Wednesdays with Watson podcast. And so you do not get released from this season three question. So here it is, what is your favorite part about how God made you? Amber Cullum 3:32 It’s funny when you sent me this question, I was like, Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe how hard this is for me to answer. And then I thought, you know, she just finished a season with you know, focusing on the Enneagram. And I’m an Enneagram one, which means I have a strong inner critic. So it’s very, very hard for me to think about things that I really, really like about myself, but that’ll actually come out a little bit more in our conversation today. But what I did come down to is, I do love that God made me someone who I cannot just sit back and not stand up for what I believe in. And I’m not just talking about faith. I’m talking about if I’m really passionate about something, if I see someone being wronged, I just have it in me to want to stand up defend, be courageous, sometimes my own demise but that’s probably what I appreciate most about the way that God has made me Amy Watson 4:38 Oh, I love it. And you know, I appreciate that about you too as your friend right? I just I love it when you get a bee in your bonnet and so to speak especially. And guys if you’re not following Amber’s on Instagram, you got to do that right. And that’s also that also will be in the show notes. But yeah, when you particularly as as it pertains to things of the gospel, right, and these things that we have out there, these thought processes that we have out there that that aren’t right or whatever, I just love that sense of justice you have, we digress, definitely go to her Instagram page. Well, I am going to jump right in here. Because as we were prepping for this interview, you landed Amber on something that was on your heart. And I think it is so so important, as we talk about trauma and mental issues in the home that the message that you wanted to bring to us today because of your lived experiences is so, so important. And because you’re a podcaster and able to speak for yourself, what is that message? What is the overarching message, and we’ll get into the story, obviously, but you said something to me on Voxer, which is the way we prepped and it sent chills down my spine that you really felt like this was the message that our listeners needed to hear what is that message? Amber Cullum 6:00 I mean, I don’t know that I can make it super concise. But if I can try to pare it down as much as possible, it’s that just because you grew up in an intact family that was seemingly very put together and healthy, does not mean that there wasn’t trauma in the home. And that there aren’t ramifications as an adult. In response to that trauma, and that trauma doesn’t always have to be the Amy Watson story, it can be very much dialed down yet still have a significant amount of impact in how you parent or how you’re a spouse or how you’re a friend, or how you’re a co worker as an adult. Yeah, the biggest thing I want people to understand it doesn’t have to look like total abandonment. Amy Watson 6:59 And unfortunately, it often doesn’t, right. So the Amy Watson story are these these these big traumas, and you know, and so for listeners, let’s go back and review quickly what trauma is, is anytime that your safety has been compromised, we all will go through trauma at times in our lives. But to Amber’s point we get we like to get stuck on these sensationalized stories, one on ones like mine, and we forget that they are inside the four walls of people’s homes, things are happening that we don’t know about. We all put our best foot forward and the social media version of the 1990s and 80s. Right, Amber, we go to church, everybody looks fine. We’re all good here. Right. And so So Amber’s message is, trauma doesn’t always look like you think it looks. And so when we talk about a family like Amber’s, who grew up in a Christian home with two parents, but Amber, there were two events that happened in your home that are trauma. What were those events? Because I think it’s important that we set it for the listeners as we as we talk about how this affected you in childhood and the message that you just talked about? What were those two events that happened that absolutely qualify as trauma? Amber Cullum 8:18 Yeah, I mean, the first, let me say this first. I mean, I grew up in what I would consider a culturally Christian home, which is a little bit different than growing up in a home where you’re like in the Word of God, where you’re praying a lot at night and things like that. So culturally, Christian, maybe not as familiar now that people who are listening, if you’re in the south, you kind of get that like we just kind of do church sometimes. But it may not be like your true identity. And so that’s, that’s where I would start but the first thing when I was in fifth grade, my house actually burned to the ground. And so we I was a young girl laying on the couch on a Saturday morning, my sister had slept over at a friend’s house. And now let me also say that I grew up in a fantastic neighborhood where my dad built his home, my dad’s brothers or my neighbors, so all of my cousins lived around me, and lots of other children and extended family were around me and so on this Saturday morning, there was a large explosion. I was laying like I said on the couch and I heard this really large boom, our garage door flew open and I remember running around and looking out into the garage and seeing the whole side of our garage wall on fire. And so I yelled and told my dad, you know, obviously at this point a ton of commotion is going on. My mom runs down the stairs. My dad’s like get out of the house. We both run to two different houses across the street knocking on the door trying to get help, while my dad was trying to put out this fire. And so long story short, the house ended up burning completely to the ground. And so praise God, we had family and support around that we were able to go and stay with. But that was a huge traumatic event in my life, but certainly in the lives of my parents, which I still can’t even, I can’t even fathom the impact it had on them even now as an adult myself. And so that was the first thing. And then the other really big trauma is that when I was a sophomore in high school, we were living in a rental house. And this had been the story of our family. since fifth grade, we had only lived in a couple of rental houses, but we were kind of in the process all of those years trying to figure out my parents, where are we going to build again, do we want to buy and where I grew up, like I said, a small town so it wasn’t as easy just to go out and find a home that you wanted to buy. And so, especially when you’re you know, you’re a family of four, you’re not just looking for something super tiny. But anyways, it was a night of a Christmas concert. I was in the honor choir at my school, we had a very large Christmas concert. My sister was a freshman in college. She was an alumni of this choir. So she was at home singing this night as well. I got super irritated that my sister was running late. And finally my dad just said, Okay, I’ll just take you and then I’ll come back and get your mom and your sister can just go and she’s ready. And I was like, awesome. And so we get in the car, it was really, really cold December night, raining really hard. He takes me. I’m glad my sister shows up, you know, about 15 minutes after I do. And because at this point, I couldn’t drive. And not so much later, as we were preparing for the concert to begin, we were warming up. My mom comes in and says, We’ve got to go your dad’s been in an accident. And so at that point, it was like, what what? And so it was a near fatal accident. He broke both of his legs, He crushed his ankle, he had to be intubated. He you know, one of his lungs collapsed, there were a lot more breaks beyond what I just mentioned. So he was life flighted to a hospital that was much larger. And there were several days where we did not know if he was going to survive this event. And even if he did survive it, what was you know, what was the man going to look like coming out on the other side, praise God, I can sit on this side of it and say, My dad did return to walking again, my dad did survive. But it was a trauma. You know, to me personally, because it was my dad. But again, as for my parents, it’s trauma that I can’t even begin to fathom, because now as an adult, I can think about finances and, you know, your, your parenting your I mean, gosh, the list is so long once you’re an adult of what that impacts. So those are the two big traumatic events in my childhood, Amy Watson 13:18 who and they are big, right? So because when we think again, of the definition of trauma, with your safety being compromised, your house burning down, and one of your parents almost dying. Wow, I can’t even imagine even and you keep referencing as an adult. And we are moving in a little bit of a different direction. We’re not necessarily talking about how this affected you. But as your friend, I actually wrote down a question to ask you later about this, because I knew about the accident, but I’m not quite sure that I knew that he was taking you to a concert that that you really wanted to go to. And so I can imagine some stuff that you went through, but we do want to stay and we’re your heart’s desire. And I think this is really important. But just so you know, my friend, those two things are considered by experts adverse childhood experiences, where you have a life threatening event of a parent or yourself and and then basically your your roof, you don’t have anywhere to live. Those are two, what we call adverse childhood experiences. If you get three of those, then we began to talk about where you’re where you Amber can be affected by what we call toxic stress. And I would imagine that if we talk longer, we probably could get to three or four adverse childhood experience score for you. And so just that that’s just a side note as your friend but but here’s what I want to know because because I can’t imagine now as an adult, either what your parents must have gone through, both with the house burning down and with your dad almost dying and the car accident. And I realize that podcasting is going to be out there forever and ever. Amen. And that we need to be careful here but as comfortable as you are i I am going to I want to hand the mic to you. And can you remember how one or both of your parents responded to both of those? Or either one of those events? And how, how does that How did the way they respond affect you now? Amber Cullum 15:19 Yeah, I mean, when I was in fifth grade and our house burned down, I don’t have a lot of memories of how my parents handled it in the end. And I think one of the biggest reasons why is because I was young. And also because we immediately moved in with my grandparents. And one side of my grandpa, one set of my grandparents home, and things didn’t go so great there. So after like a week, we transitioned into my other set of grandparents home. And that was very much a safe place for me, like I used to sleep in the back of my granny, meaning when I was younger, I would like snuggle up in her back and just sleep there all night long. And I did that before my house burned. So it was a very safe place for us, or for me and my whole family, as we were homeless. And so I don’t recall how that was dealt with as much. And I really do believe that’s because I did have a safe place. So I didn’t notice if my parents were arguing or how they were communicating with one another because I had these two loving individuals who were taking care of me at the time. Now with that said, I do remember, after my dad’s accident, their transition for us anyways, in that time, you know, we live with my grandparents, then we moved into a rental house. And we lived in that rental house for I think, like two or three years. And it was really a fantastic two or three years. And we were trying to decide if we were going to buy that house, my parents decided not to when we had to move to a really small home because it was hard to find another house to rent. And that is where we lived when my dad had his accident. And I feel like at that moment, that is when my mom in particular, the stress of just caring for our family and working, in addition to things that had happened in her past really began to play out. So it seemed like my mom was beginning to resort, or I don’t know if that’s the word that I want to use, she wouldn’t begin to avoid more and more conflict. I mean, my mom was always explosive. When she got angry, I can be very explosive when I get angry. But what ended up happening were things like, Okay, I’m upset with you. And so I’m going to kind of be right you or be little you, and then I’m going to disappear into my room for weeks at a time until I feel like I’m over it. And then I’ll come out and act like nothing ever happens. And so I don’t know that that’s just a direct result of my dad’s accident as much as it was stress over time piling up on her. And the way that she dealt with that stress was through avoidance and some manipulative type words. And then of course, my dad is the type of I’m just going to take care of the problem by do do doing and people pleasing. And very much is just like, we got to keep the peace at all cost. So those could be two very polar opposite responses that when meshed together is fairly toxic. Amy Watson 19:08 Yeah. Well, you know, it’s funny that you mentioned that Enneagram series of sounds like maybe your dad as a solid nine. Just like let’s just keep keep it copacetic here, but but I can imagine and this is this is for the listeners and for you, Amber, these are the implicit messages that we are not hearing. And again, we referenced the enneagram series, which is the beginning of the season if you guys want to go back and hit some of those Enneagram one is Amber’s type but my point being there, though, is that you don’t really know what you what you don’t know until you don’t know it and so so you kind of went on through life and I got married and had children. But when you and I were talking about this episode, this idea of Listen guys, we need to make sure that People out there understand that inside the home, even though it looks like an intact family and your family was intact, it sounds like you were loved well done sound like you missed a meal or any of the things. But we take our cues, we take our social cues, and we particularly take our coping mechanisms, we take those play sheets, all the playbooks have our parents, for a parent to isolate away from you does even more harm to you as a child and your brain. Now, the sophomore in college might not as much but the younger one, all of those things get laid down in your memory, Amber, and you look at a parent, and you model that and it’s like, Well, this must be the way we deal with hard things. And it sounds like you kind of landed on that. And so you’re on the other side of it. Clearly you are married with three beautiful children. But this is what you wanted to talk about on my podcast, because you recognize Look, just like you just said, I blow up sometimes you recognize you know what, maybe I didn’t get a lot of modeled for me of how to handle trauma. And so that’s my message to the listeners out there is think about the kids in your lives, teachers, youth, pastors, any anybody that has purview over young people think about what you don’t see. And in this case, no one saw Amber’s mom in her room, they just maybe didn’t see her out in the community. And so I think that that’s really important to point out, they’re clearly you somehow through counseling, or because you’re just super smarter, because the Lord really impressed this upon you is like, you know what, that’s not a great way to deal with trauma and to deal with issues. I don’t want to do that. And so my listeners are going to want to be the same, they’re not going to want to do that they’re going to want a model for their children of how to handle these traumatic events that come into our lives. Can you share with our listeners, what you’ve learned on your journey? And how maybe you really stay away from this particular unhealthy coping mechanism, isolation blowing up? That kind of thing? Yeah, Amber Cullum 22:04 I mean, let me share this really quick too, as we go into that when I was a senior in high school, and really, this is a very much a traumatic event. And I shared this with you, Amy. And I think it’s important because of the way that it shaped my young adult life, my I said some really hurtful things. And my mother chose not to speak to me for five months. And you know, we lived in the same house. So my mom, my dad, my sister and me, my senior year, we went five months because I really hurt her, where we just were like, you know, passing in the wind, I found myself as a college student with my roommates, when I would get irritated with one of them or angry with one of them or not see eye to eye with one of them, I would just do that, like, I would just totally avoid them. And for weeks or months, just not talked to them. And then I was a young married woman, like, I guess I was 28 or 29. I got in an argument with Sam. And I just went away, like not away for days or anything. But for like the afternoon, I think that I went to some restaurant and just that and blew off steam and probably wrote and read. And when I came home, he was like, You can’t do that. Like you can’t just get mad and then disappear. And no one knows where you are. And I remember at that moment, something clicking in me and thinking, Okay, this is not okay. This is like, totally, it’s just not okay. But I also knew there had to be some way to find space to process through things. But you know, it was like, What do I do here? And so through lots of and we’ll talk about this later counseling and working through different books, and you know, support groups and all these different things. Because at that during that time, I mean, I was a follower of Jesus, I was a follower of Jesus in college, like, I was so grateful to God for the things that he had done in my life like he had changed me. But there were still these horrible habits that we’re just hanging on, right like, and they’re still being sanctified out of me. Yeah, that’s, that’s something I want people to hear is, yes, you are a new creation in Christ when He saved you. But his work is not completely new until the day of Christ Jesus. And so don’t think new creation means that all of the impacts of trauma in your life just get up and walk out the door. Amy Watson 24:48 Thank you for saying that. Because I think that I think that especially Gen Xers, that’s what got preached to us, right? And I wanted you to to share that story about your mom not speaking to you and She still does that to you. Right? Okay. And so obviously you you recognize Sam, who is your husband said, Look, you can’t do this. And so I’m so glad to hear you say that. Because as you create a normalization of mental health in your own home, right, where you have three precious children who you want to grow up and, and not have wounding messages from an parents do it, but this that you’ve hit on is so important, because they’re going to model what they see. And so these things that you learned as a coping mechanism, and I got my coping mechanism of substance abuse from from my mom as well, I’m convinced we all have it. Yeah. 100% of parents out there, don’t think, Oh, I gotta be perfect. That’s my concern with this series is that parents, like Amber loving parents are gonna be like, Oh, my gosh, I’m gonna screw my kid up. No, but we want to normalize mental health in the home, we want to say, It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay to be confused. But let’s talk about it. We don’t leave. And so is that something that you’ve established in your home with your kids? Amber Cullum 26:11 Yeah. So and that was the thing, where that’s why I wanted to tell you about how I just got in this habit of like, Fine, I’m just shutting you down and not talking to you. Because it still is my default position. Yeah, like, there is still this thing in me. And some of that can be blamed on my mother. And some of that can simply be blamed on that may be the bit of my personality is to just push it out and just be like, well, I’ll just close you off. And what I came to realize, and this actually just happened in the last two years, that one of my biggest fears is that I’m going to lose your love. And that is something that came from my mom, where, okay, I can if I mess up enough, there is a chance that I can lose, lose your love. And I’ve ascribed that to God at times, too. And so that’s where you’re at identifying and learning and digging deep and figuring out what are the lies that you believe are important. And so the very first thing with my kids, is that I have talked about with them is forgiveness, and admitting when you’re wrong. Me first, me first, I did not grow up in a home where I heard, I’m sorry for doing that I was wrong. Now with that said, that is a very common thing and family. And so it is vital to look at your kids. And I will never forget when Sam I was when I asked him, I said what do you think is different? Like you grew up in a family where your parents were together, but it’s not like they were perfect. I mean, you have family members who were explosive and angry, just like I did. And he said, you know, the biggest thing, the biggest difference that I see is that when one of my parents screwed up, or you know, just flew off the handle, I remember them saying, I’m sorry, I it’s not okay for me to treat you that way. Amy Watson 28:16 Let’s let that breathe for a second. Because when you said that it actually gave me chills. Yeah, right. Because you say when a child sees that, you’re beginning to create important neural pathways in their minds where they don’t grow up being that adult. So I just wanted that to breathe. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you. But I think it’s really, really important. That delineation there between two homes, two intact homes between yours and Sam’s right. And what an astute question for you to ask him is, what do you think is different? And the thing that he could come up with is, my parents would say, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that. That was wrong. And Amber, what that is, is nothing more than laying down pride and emotionally healthy people can do that. Right? And so the only thing I would say here, and this is a bit of an outlier as we continue the interview is we always wonder, like with my mom, I will spend the rest of my life wondering what happened to you is that I am now now I got your blood on me because you blood on me and I didn’t cut you. And so we don’t know that about your mom and my prayer moving forward is that that somehow this could be Redeemed and Restored and if it’s not, then we know it will inside of heaven. But I love what you just said though about just because we are Christians and new creations. I don’t know that you realize a parent locking themselves in the room is what we call Big T trauma, especially as a girl, right? And so and I know you’re sitting with a lot of that and as we’ve processed this a There’s been tears and for me anyway. But you what you’ve done though, is my favorite thing. And I would doubt if there’s a podcast without me referencing this Bible verse, But Joel 2:25, you are reduced, you’re allowing the Lord to redeem those years that the locusts have stolen, it’s very hard for me not to get preachy on my podcast, particularly to my friends, to particularly to my friends, and so. So I love that I love that your kids are seeing you and Sam, I am sure saying I’m sorry, a bunch. I have seen you and on a public forum say I am sorry. And so I think that I love that those years are definitely being restored. Now as your friend, I want to ask you some questions as we continue to lead into how childhood trauma affects us and adulthood is the importance of taking care of your mental health. And in this part of the series, Amber, we’re going to have Erica Cooney on and she dubs results as the burnout professor. And she she deals a lot with adults who are burned out because they have not dealt with trauma as a child. And so that is my question to you, on a personal level, so not related to your kids not related to your family. But how are you taking care of yourself because I with my little biology degree identified something when you were talking, and I’ll just say it right here on this podcast, the perhaps guilt that you have over your dad in a car accident, because you push to go to that, that concert. And so I want to know how you’re taking care of yourself, because Erica is going to come on and say, if you don’t pay attention to trauma, she’s gonna be saying what she’s gonna say what I’ve been saying for three seasons, now it will, it will pay attention to you, and you end up being a burned out adult, you’re the mom of three a wife, you’re a podcaster, you are going to be a speaker, I got to make sure you’re taking care of yourself, this stuff isn’t going away these effects on you from childhood, this is the point the podcasts are going to stick around. Because again, to your point, just because all things are new doesn’t mean that it’s new and perfect on this planet. So these things are still going to affect you today. Me and my doctor Watson degree, I want to know how you’re taking care of yourself. Amber Cullum 32:24 Well, counseling. So I originally back in, oh goodness, right after grad school went to counseling for the first time because I knew I had a lot of things that I needed to work through. And so that was the very first step I felt like I took to really begin sorting through some things that I knew weren’t right. Now with that said, I have gone back to counseling two times, and recently just started back again, because I just started feeling like, I’m not okay, like, I’m doing all of the things that I have been able to do in the past that usually kind of flip that switch of struggle, and it’s not working. And so counselling provides a place where you can really talk things through, and someone can almost voice that back to you. And it helps you to actually hear someone else voice back to you what you’re saying and what you perceive to be going on in order for you to kind of release it and begin to process it even with the Lord. So for me, you know, prayer is a huge tool. daily gratitude is a tool that really, really changed my life. I mean, talk about neuro pathways, if you start practicing gratitude, your life’s gonna change. But when I realized like, Okay, I’m still spending time in the Word. I’m still meeting with friends. I’m still asking for prayer support from people. I’m praying myself, and I’m still kind of in this really big funk. Yeah, our burnout, for lack of better words. Yep. I realized like, Okay, it’s time for me to return to counseling. And sometimes it may not be counseling, sometimes it’s, you know, I had read through Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by which is a phenomenal book that I would recommend anyone read. Amy Watson 34:36 We’ll put that in the show notes Amber Cullum 34:36 notes. Yeah, I mean, it’s such a great book, but there’s also a course that goes along with it. So during a time when I was struggling somewhat, I wasn’t in counseling, but my husband and I did decide to go through Emotionally Healthy Spirituality with a group. And that was incredibly helpful because it has questions at the end and you’re discussing those questions. And you’re thinking through, you know, how have I put some of my childhood experiences? How have I applied that to the way that I view golf? So those are the things that I’m, you know, I do to take care of myself currently, I text people like you just say, man today is just, like bad. Yeah. So if you can just hold me up. Yeah. Amy Watson 35:25 And that’s the way Yeah. And so you just hit on two of the C’s of if anybody that listens to the Wednesday’s of Watson podcast, we talk about, really, I just got behind this microphone. When the pandemic started and said, This is what worked for me. And I’m a writer. So I love alliteration, counseling. You already talked about that community. You talked about that as a family. And even now you do community so amazingly, and reaching out to people like me, this is why I love podcasting. Guys, I’ve met amber in person twice, but consider her a prayer partner and a prayer warrior. And I too, will text her and go, Dude, it’s just a bad day, would you please pray for me. And so I am so glad to hear that you are taking care of yourself. Because one of the things that people don’t understand about the kind of ministry that you and I both have, and podcasting is you don’t just get behind a microphone and say some words and hit a green button and call it a day. We care. And this is an opportunity for me to let you tell my listeners before we wrap up here because I want them to know your heart for the grace enough podcast, particularly you you have late have really felt like the Lord leading you in a little bit of a different direction. The podcast is phenomenal. It is in the top 2% globally ranked, you have gotten some you’re gonna have John Eldridge, which I’m still praying over the bitterness of that I’m not gonna lie. But But the Lord has given you such wisdom, as my listeners have heard here today. Because you should not have been able to identify, I need to learn to cope better, because I didn’t have it modeled for me. And I do think, to your point, Amber, that some of it is the way we’re wired. So it’s not all because your mom didn’t necessarily go get help when she needed help. It is some some of it is the way we were wired. We keep referencing the Enneagram series, and I and I will talk to anybody who will talk to me about it. But I have to go into friend mode and preacher mode really quickly here too, is that I believe you probably wing into that Enneagram, two, which is me. The fear of being unwanted and unloved. And then yeah, assigning that also to God, that there’s something that I can do that would make me unwanted or unloved I am I turned 50 years old in December, my mom is not on this planet. But I will never get the resolution and the peace to your point earlier in the podcast that I need from that, like, she didn’t want me and she didn’t love me. And so I spent my life performing so that I would get those things which turns into what’s turns into burnout. So you mentioned counseling, you mentioned you mentioned community, you also have a heart as I mentioned. And so here’s where I want you to talk to us about the direction you hope to go in the near future for the grace enough podcast, because you are looking to minister to young, young women out there, particularly with stories of hope and help. And you are so well versed on the gospel and the word. And it’s important. And all of this has culminated into this big giant heart that you have on the grace enough podcast. Tell us tell us what you’re what you’re headed for there because we share a similar audience. Amber Cullum 38:39 Yeah, I mean, I think the great the thing that I love the most about podcasting, and you and I have talked about this is, um, it does give you an opportunity to really walk in someone else’s shoes, without judgment. And that is a rare opportunity, like Mary Moran was on my show a couple of weeks ago. And she talks about interviewing her mom and her mom, talk about trauma, like her mom left when she was nine, but then she was like, home, you know, once every two weeks, and then it was like once a month. And then it was like once every six months. And then it was like just on holidays. So she was kind of there but not there. And she said, You know, I sat behind the microphone with my mom and I went into interviewer mode. So I could like, ask her these questions, and had the emotional trauma of my childhood removed because I was curious. Wow. And so when it comes to my show, I want to put a message out there of curiosity for people’s lived experiences. And that doesn’t always have to be right. You and I were talking about the huge oh my gosh, my parents abandoned me and didn’t love me. I mean, the reality is, is that when we we come to realize that Christ loves us and He died for us. But there is so much more to alive with Jesus than just that. Amen. And, and that sounds like it’s minimizing salvation. Oh, no, not at all. What’s minimizing salvation to me is when we just preach John 316 IT people, and then just kind of okay, that’s it? Yeah, no, I mean, Jesus is pursuing you, he wants to totally transform your life. But that does not happen overnight. That is a life long day today, walk until you leave this earth Amy Watson 40:37 Amen. And so that near future of the podcast is for you to get people on your show and to and to provide a product on the field that is going to be useful for all of us. Because when people began to talk about lived experiences, because here’s the thing, stories like mine, get the airtime. But stories like this don’t get airtime. And there are people sitting in their houses right now thinking, Well, I don’t have the Amy Watson story. I don’t have that this story. I don’t have that that story. And by the way, when you talk to people with lived experiences, we’re both in a season of life, where we are old enough to know better, but young enough to still do something about it. And so that wisdom that you’re going to bring with these lived experiences, whether it be trauma, whether it be how do I how do I live a real authentic life in front of people who don’t believe in God? Because the question we get the most is, how can a good God do this for me, and we throw John 316, or a Bibleat them versus episode of the grace enough podcast where they could say, you know, Amber and her guests talk through this. And they I can I can resonate with that they’re not throwing scripture at me, because I don’t even believe that. That’s the absolute authority. And so I’m excited for you as you move into this next season for the grace enough podcast. And again, I can’t say it enough times that link will be in the show notes. I want to end on 1. Other question, though. But I wanted to make sure we got that in there because I’m excited to see what’s coming to the grace enough podcast. If guys, you feel like you have a message to share. That meets Amber’s heart that meets my heart, which is this is the message that you can live an abundant, victorious, although not always good. As Amber mentioned, she is suffering with depression, she’s tried everything she can do to figure it out. But the fact of the matter is, is that we will not be perfect until that day when Jesus comes, or we die. And if you have accepted Jesus as your savior, then you also will find this complete healing. But we’re not going to find it here. And if you need to know how to know the star or the story and if you’ve listened to the Wednesday’s with Watson, podcast at all, you know, that is Jesus and the completed work that he did for you on the cross, please reach out to either one of us. If you have a story of lived experiences that you feel like would be beneficial to Amber’s listeners, please reach out to her just click the Contact amber in the show notes, because she really wants to highlight real stories. And I bet Amber, that you would even be willing to have an I know you have already have people who don’t believe what we believe. And you sit and have a conversation with these people and love on them. Because that’s the only way some people ever know our Jesus. Amber Cullum 43:34 Yeah, and I mean, it’s the only way that sometimes we can know why they feel the way that they feel we have to hold space for people who don’t believe like we do. Amy Watson 43:45 Yes. Let’s let that wreath. We have to hold space for the people that don’t believe like we do. Amber Cullum 43:53 Listen, that’s even in Christianity, too. Because the older I get, the more I realized. I don’t even have all that much in common except Amy Watson 44:02 Jesus Christ. Amber Cullum 44:05 Yeah. We have a lot of Christians Amy Watson 44:07 that especially right now, right. And 2022 Especially that is so true, especially right now, the last thing that I think that you really could add value here. I mean, we could talk for four hours and every hour kinds of value added but we talk about church a lot on my podcast, that is an important part of my story. While some of my abuse came at church churches still very, very, very pinnacle part of my story. But what would you say in the context of what we’ve talked about today, and tech families trauma, perhaps the trauma, not being dealt with in a healthy way by parents, it’s passed on to kids who could pass it on to their own kids. You’ve got this strong message that you shared with us today. But what would you say to teachers, youth pastors, volunteers and all anybody out there who have Amber’s and their area of responsibility they come dressed nice Nice to parents, we’re going to a restaurant after church, money’s not a problem, those kids tend tend to get ignored. What can church leaders and teachers and lay peoples do to help in situations like yours is? Should we just assume, hey, everybody in this room, every kid in this room needs us to invest in them in the most rudimentary, basic way? Amber Cullum 45:23 Well, I’ll say this, you know, it’s sad that if, if a child has at least one adult in their life, who really shows that they care, it can change that child’s life. And so it’s really easy. And mainly, I’m going to speak, I’m going to speak to us pastors here, since we’re talking about, and just children’s pastors in general first, and that is, it’s really easy to get caught up in what curriculum we’re using, what we get up on stage and say, and all of that matters, it does. But you are only as good as the team that you foster around you. Because it’s the it’s the lay leaders, it’s the volunteers who are meeting with these children, in their classes, Sunday school classes, you know, you don’t have that much time, there’s, I mean, you may spend one to three hours a week with these children in church, but it’s the ones who are serving in the small group that are getting the one on one time with children. And with us, oh, my goodness, and they need you, they need the one safe place where they feel like you’re listening. And that you’re just there for them. Because a lot of times a child will tell you, you know, let’s say their small group leader, they’ll tell you stuff, they will not tell their parents, even when their parents are safe places. So that is important. You’ve got to foster your volunteers, leadership in them, showing them how to come alongside kids, and just listen, be there yet still pour the Word of God in them without being all preachy? Well, there’s no way that volunteers can do that if they’re not in the word themselves, and if they’re coming from a place of judging. And so I think that’s my biggest thing for the church is just whoever’s in charge. Make sure you’re fostering community and your volunteers, because those are the people that people like me who are leading a middle school small group. That’s where the impact is. Kids want to know that there’s somebody willing to listen, when they get in above their heads. Amy Watson 47:57 Oh, it’s terribl. And I am a product of youth pastors doing exactly what you just said, maybe not quite as well, as you just said, they didn’t do it. Because you know, we learn. We’re human. Yeah, we’re humans. But But yeah, I think that that’s such a great, great parting words, because in our church, we tend to not pay attention to the to the families with two parents, even absent of trauma, let’s just say Johnny experiments with pot, and he’s scared to tell his mom or dad but his conscience tone tell somebody if there’s a safe place in the church, because we are talking about children, if there’s a safe place, and I just use that example. But if there’s a safe place for them to go, then that early intervention that we talked about, in the first episode of this series of helping the minds, the the physical brains of children heal, will will go far and they won’t have to end up in a psych ward like I did, or or many things that that so many times happens when there is unresolved or unmet trauma or unmet needs, which is to be wanted and loved and seen and heard and known. Well Amber, thank you for being here today. I know that this is might be the first place that you’ve discussed some of this and so I’m incredibly incredibly grateful listeners. I can’t say it enough, please head to the grace enough podcast and listen to Amber’s now she’s got a lot of episodes on there. Probably my favorite one is the one that she does with sacred rest with Sandra Dawson, I believe Yeah, Dr. Sandra Dalton is one of my favorites, but Amber has got over 150 episodes top 2% globally. Please go check her out. Amber, the last words are yours my friend. What else do you have for our listeners? Amber Cullum 49:49 Oh my goodness, that puts me on the spot. Listen, as a person who loves Jesus and also is dealing with depression. Please remember that It doesn’t mean that you love Jesus any less, or that you want to walk with him any less, because you have a mental health disorder Amy Watson 50:08 amen and it’s okay to take medication. That’s the message for me not necessarily from Amber. But well thank you for being here I want to speak into your life Amber, you are just the precious daughter of the Most High God, and He loves you more than you can ever imagine. And I know that you know that. But I know that sometimes you forget. And those dark places remember that he is the God who sees you. I love, love, love that that name of God, He is the God who sees you. And I am so proud of you for the work that you’re doing. In counseling. I know it’s not easy. But if you’re going to walk this world and raise little kids like you are that are going to turn out to be just amazing adults. You got to do the thing. And so I want to say to you, Amber, I want to proclaim over you what I do, everyone, but pretend this is for you because it is and I first of all, I love you. I want to say that but you are seen. You are known. You’re heard, you’re loved, and you’re valued. And there’s a song that plays on the outro of my podcast. You are one of the people that I think of every time I hear it and it’s a song called mark by you by Phil Baker. And it talks about lives being marked by God you are fighting right now Amber, you’re in the ring with Jesus you’re fighting you’re fighting for you you’re fighting for your family you’re fighting for for the kingdom of God and I just want to thank you for that and so thank you for being here today with us. Amber Cullum 51:39 Love you friend thank you so much Amy Watson 51:41 All right well I love you I know you need to go get those children as we speak and so I can’t wait for this episode to draw up and for folks to hear what you had to say. So thank you so much for being here. Love you to each mean to us Transcribed by

Generalized Anxiety Disorder In Children (Mental Health Awareness)

Johnny peaked around the corner and listened intensely to the man on the news talking about war. His heart did that fast-thumping thing, he felt cold all of the sudden, a drop of cold sweat hit the ground. He was the only kid at home because he felt sick to his stomach, his mom thought it was something he ate, but he knew better. All of his friends were at a beach party. He worried about all the dangers of the ocean and had nightmares as he thought of undercurrents and rip tides. He is ten years old and most of his time is spent worrying about the man on the news, the dangers in the world, and other scenarios he plays out in his head. He is grounded most of the time because he throws tantrums when his mom drops him off at school. He feels like nobody understands, and he is correct, nobody has even taken the time to ask him if he is okay. He worries in silence.

Johnny’s mom finally asked his doctor for ideas to calm him as he was beginning to isolate and reported poor sleep habits. After a referral to a specialist, Johnny was diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder. His clingy behaviors, concerning tantrums, and increased symptoms meant a change was necessary, as Johnny needed to learn to navigate his GAD over the course of his lifetime.

“Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by persistent and excessive worry about a number of different things. People with GAD may anticipate disaster and may be overly concerned about money, health, family, work, or other issues. Individuals with GAD find it difficult to control their worry. They may worry more than seems warranted about actual events or may expect the worst even when there is no apparent reason for concern.” [1]

GAD in children is more difficult to diagnose and its symptoms more diverse. Children’s brains are still developing and when hormones are introduced, their battle with GAD can become more intense. According to the Mayo clinic, symptoms of GAD include:

  • Feeling overly anxious to fit in, but also retreating from social events at the last minute.
  • Feeling overly critical, strives for perfection.
  • Feeling the need to repeat tasks because they aren’t perfect the first time.
  • Feeling the need to spend excessive time doing homework
  • Feeling an extreme lack confidence
  • Feeling the need for approval
  • Feeling the need for a lot of reassurance about performance
  • Feeling the need to remain at home because of frequent stomach aches or other physical complaints
  • Feeling the need to avoid social situations.

The Mayo clinic also reports physical symptoms of GAD in an attempt to help parents, as addressing early is an important component in treating and managing the disorder. If children are in a state of “fight or flight”—which is a term we use when a portion of the brain goes “off-line”—they can not rest or digest. Therefore, it is imperative for parents to listen to the silence, let their symptoms tell the story.

  • Digestive or bowel problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome or ulcers
  • Headaches and migraines
  • Chronic pain and illness
  • Sleep problems and insomnia
  • Heart-health issues

Chronically ill children, especially those that report stomach aches should be evaluated for GAD. GAD is often accompanied by other mental health issues including:

  • Phobias
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or suicide
  • Substance abuse

All of these disorders need professional intervention.

The causes of GAD are not known, though a number of factors are in play, including genetics, familial status, trauma, and other factors outside of human control. While there is not a way to prevent your child from GAD, there is hope in treatment and educating the child on their diagnosis. It is important to verbalize thoughts and concerns to your child’s doctor. It is also important to ensure that your child does not feel broken. It is vital to remove shame and confusion by helping them accept their diagnosis just as they would accept a broken arm diagnosis. When we remove the stigma for them, we set them up to live a happy and productive life. It is important for us to teach them skills to live with GAD. There are tricks and tips to help children when they are in a hyper reactive state and when GAD has commandeered their brains.

When a child (or any person for that matter) is in a state of reactivity, the prefrontal cortex literally stops working. The PFC is where a lot of executive functions, impulse control, and short- term memory occurs. When the PFC is “offline”, the brain loops continuous and largely unhelpful thoughts. When this happens, there are some tricks to bring the PFC online, and thereby calming the nervous systems.

  • Body movement is an excellent way to “change the narrative”. I often encourage parents to ask their activated child to go complete a task that would require them to move their body. Parents can use this trick to instill self confidence and make them feel appreciated for helping. As children enter adolescence, organized sports or any activity that gets them socializing and physically moving their bodies (a part time job they enjoy is a great example) can diminish their GAD symptoms.
  • Physical touch is a proven way to help bring the pre-fontal cortex online. Though some children may not receive this from a parent, self- soothing techniques also work. These include washing hands with cold water or any other activity where there is a physical change or touch to the skin.
  • Memorizing a list, affirmation, or prayer and then reciting also brings the pre-frontal cortex online. Parents can use this technique using questions about something they love that would require them to recall a list or an event. This literally shifts the brain out of fight or flight, even if only for a short time.

GAD in children can also be treated with medication, but it is important to add counseling into the treatment arsenal. Unless their brain “grows out of it”, it is likely your child will need to navigate their diagnosis over the course of their entire lives. Educating yourself and your child will go a long way to making their diagnosis manageable. Since substance abuse is prominent in this subset of people, it’s important for parents to dialogue openly with their children from the beginning. Also, if trauma is present, other disorders like PTSD offer more symptoms and different treatment.

As with all mental illnesses, Generalized Anxiety Disorder in children must be top of mind, we must stay aware, we must remain proactive, and we must advocate for them. Awareness is everything and when coupled with Hope, children can live full lives with GAD.

Parents, it’s your job to get them to the promised land of hope and healing, and oftentimes that comes from merely paying attention and then using every tool at your disposal to help them

Because their mental health matters.

Celebrating Two Years, Because You Still Matter

READERS: This is a transcript of a podcast and it’s not meant to present as a completed grammatically correct piece of written work. We provide these transcripts for a hard of hearing community and for those of you who prefer to listen through the blog.

Serial Killers did not have to stop my heart to take my life. I wasn’t tall enough to see through the window of the prison room to watch my mom walk away. But just moments before, my older sister found me crouching in the corner, I refuse to lift my head to look at her. We were five and three respectfully and she was leaving me. There alone in the prison room. The day had finally come, my big sister. And I spent almost all of our time locked in that room in the musty apartment. I stayed in the corner when she left and I and I heard mom lock the door. And then I heard her in the kitchen making breakfast. I knew none of it was for me, and I was pretty sure that she wouldn’t even acknowledge my presence in that room. Lisa told me that she would only be gone a few hours but felt like an eternity to me. My mom ate her breakfast and went about her day, I stayed in that corner. And my tears kept mixing with a dirt on the floor. My stomach told the story of sadness, and I had no interest in food. I only wanted my sister back. I knew I was safest in that locked room. And I hoped against hope that mom wouldn’t decide to unlock that door and let her husband come into the room and unleash his anger on me. I’d certainly endure that quite a few times in my short life. But never without my sister. I had no concept of time. And so I didn’t know what a few hours meant. But I would wait out whatever happened in those hours and soon enough, I would have my soulmate back with me. My sister found me there where she left me. She had saved a part of her school lunch for me, she pulled a plum out of her bag and handed it to me and said Here, eat this. She was incredibly maternal at five years old. And I relish that plum because of the sweet taste and the feelings of being loved that it brought with it. It was more than a piece of fruit. It was indicative of life outside of that prison room. Even though the hand we were dealt had already given us plenty of reasons to doubt that we could ever have a good life. We were both determined to try. Mom use that padlock as a babysitter. It was her way of separating us and our needs from her and her desires. She never wanted us around. And so we locked in that room a lot. And that was okay. Because most of the alternatives weren’t safe or good. Soon enough, though, it was my turn to go to kindergarten and life clicked along in that room, which became more of a comfort room. Occasionally, mom would hire people to babysit us almost always at the demands of Frank or stepfather. I hated him. My dad was already deceased, so he wasn’t an option for the times when my mom was simply sick of us being around her. Lisa’s dad was also already deceased. And so my mom would let whoever babysit us wherever with zero investigation and to those charged on our care. We were growing up fast and for the most part understood how to stay safe. We were always together and as long as Lisa was with me, I knew everything would be okay. And then for some reason mom started to send us to separate places. And that is when I met the serial killers. Sometimes if there are dishes in the kitchen sink I am transported back to the kitchen and Henry Lee Lucas and artists tool. Mom hired them to babysit me and they hired me to clean their house. I wasn’t even tall enough to reach the sink and so I stood on a stool and clean their dishes and hope they stay asleep. The dishes have been in the sink for days and the entire kitchen smelled a crusty food and dirty dishwater. It is a smell that so absolutely sends my brain into trauma mode because of all of the recorded memories of that day. And subsequent night. As soon as I finished the dishes, I sneaked outside where I saw other kids playing. I’d gotten used to ignoring windows and the prison room because not being able to play outside with other kids made me sad. I spent that day playing the neighborhood kids and for a short time forgot about a mom who didn’t want me. I can hear Henry calling my name and I recognize a slurring of speech is alcohol induced. But that was normal for me. We were around intoxicated people all the time. I followed as of his voice and I obeyed it too. And so when he instructed me to sleep in his room, I obeyed. I was asleep in his room where he instructed several other kids to sleep too. We were all very used to sleeping in strange places. And in some ways I was comforted by the other kids that were there. Finally Henry came into the Romans surrounded himself by the kids, but I was the one he wanted. And so I listened when he beckoned me near him.

After that night, I was no longer an innocent seven year A little girl. Dark and hot rooms still send me reeling in flashbacks take me prisoner. It doesn’t take much to remember. Even though I have tried everything to forget that night is the first time I understood it was seemingly me against the world. When he was done with me, I never went to sleep and I never moved. I knew that my tears would serve no purpose, and that I had no fight. But I was a monster slayer I had to fight. The next morning, I brush my teeth so hard that I spit blood into the sink, as scrote within an intensity that I hope would erase the memory of the abuse filled night to I stepped out into the bright sunny day, about 20 years older than the day I was before. My body hurt and that confused me. I was seven years old. And then that night, everything changed. But hope was waiting for me. And it started with a knock on the door.

Hey, everybody, and welcome back to a very special episode of The Wednesday’s with Watson podcast. Guys, we are two years old. And oh, what a journey it’s been. I open today with part of my story that I’ve never published anywhere, but submitted it to an agent for my manuscript. I knew one day that writing a book is in my future. But for now, I’ve decided to continue to get behind this microphone until you have the hope that is available to you. Because you see, when I started this podcast two years ago, I wanted to help people understand from a raw and real and experience perspective, the ills of trauma, PTSD, and all of its friends and how to fix it. So we are in season three, and I can hardly believe how much God has decided to do with this podcast. But even more than that, I really can’t believe that I needed this podcast probably a little bit more than you do. Had you asked me two years ago, what the goal of this podcast would be it would have been to reach a massive amount of people all across the world. So the words that come out of my mouth, may be able to help them. And I hope that is still true as we are listened to on all seven continents and 1000s of cities in this world. The last few years, we have seen 1000s and 1000s of downloads. And I am so humbled. Because you see when I started this podcast, I was thinking that if I threw some science at you and a little bit of my story that maybe you would know that you could make it to somewhere along the way, though it became really important to me remind you that you matter. Because the reality is, so many of us with trauma have resigned ourselves to the fact that we don’t matter. And that is a message ingrained in our brains to the highest order. I was in a restaurant just the other day. I was there during the off hours. And so I was sitting in the bar having some barbecue and a couple came in and sat down beside me. If you know me, you know I’ll talk to anybody and so I began talking to them. The lady was standoff was standoffish, and her main accent helped me understand that a little bit more. Having spent 10 summers in the northeast, I quickly learned that North Eastern people were built with some serious strong stock. And not much fazes them. I’m not sure how it came up. But she and I began to have this conversation and realize that we are both part of a tribe of domestic violence survivors as well as child abuse survivors. She kept saying the same words over and over to me. I don’t matter. I’m not important. I’m not good enough. I tried to get them to love me, but nothing works. She told me how her mom use religious terms and legalistic wall to harm her more as a child. I sat and listened closely. And she asked me a little bit more about what this podcast was all about. And suddenly I needed an elevator pitch that would get her to listen to the hope that we provide in this podcast without being triggered by what she deems as religious. I was long past my time to leave the restaurant. But I knew that moment was such a time as this. This was not a time to put my head down. It was not a time to hold my tongue. It was time to put my arm around the stranger and tell her that she matters. We exchanged phone numbers and I encouraged her to listen to at least the first episode ever of the podcast where I talk about my own healing. That doesn’t make sense. And if you’re new to the podcast, I would encourage you to do the same. I’ll put it in the show notes. I got in my car and looked in the rearview mirror and I saw tears just streaming down my face. How many more people are sitting in restaurants talking to strangers telling their stories about how they don’t matter. How many more don’t understand what to do when they have a flashback. How many people out there think what happened to you is your fault. Because she told me that and to be honest with you I’m in a season of life that is difficult. The podcasts complicates that a little bit. It is not easy to to write, record, edit, promote all the things that we have to do to get the messages into the earbuds or the people that need it. But the this work coupled with life, and the struggles that the very true fact that I do have PTSD, and sometimes forget that this is a journey that is difficult enough to make somebody quit. And I’m pretty much there. But then I’m reminded of my one of my favorite verses. Psalm 45. One, my heart is stirred by a noble theme. As I recite verses for my king. My tongue is the pen of a skillful writer. I am reminded of the day that I started this podcast when we were all in our homes for 14 days. In the spring of 2020, I lay out my hammock woken up into that April sky fully thinking that I had lost my livelihood, and audibly said out loud to the Lord, to God, what now.

And he reminded me of my friend who had been harassing me to start a podcast. This is not the kind of friend that harasses. And I was equally as resistant to the podcast as she was pushing me on it. I had no interest. But on that day, in April, as I looked into the sky, I absolutely knew that I had to start this podcast. Some will say that I probably do this podcast to avoid writing. Because the rumor is that I’m writing a memoir, and have been working on it for over a decade, I began this podcast and the cold open with the first five pages that garnered me agent interest. But you see, what I understood when I began to write these things is that my manuscript needs to heal. And so do I still. And here’s where you come in faithful Wednesday with watts listeners, you have been part of my healing journey over the past two years. Because you see, like I said, I started this podcast for you. But what it led me to is the necessity of taking care of my own pain. stewarding that pain, well, given it respect, and then providing access to help for you. And so that’s where we are. Right now, in the middle of season three of the Wednesdays with Watson podcasts. It’s not time to quit, not yet. Because there’s still so much for us all to learn. There’s so much more to heal. There’s so much to this community of people that have banded together some through this podcast, and have made decisions to take steps towards healing. Because you see many of us are not unlike that little version of Amy who tiptoed to see through that dirty window to see me live outside of that prison room. We’re all standing on our tippy toes, looking through a window trying to figure out what God is up to and what we could do to alleviate some of this pain. As I’m recording this, I’m recording this on the day that Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, we celebrate that day that that tomb was empty that that gray was robbed of Death, death did not win. And that, my friends is what the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast is about death does not win.

death does not win in our trauma or pain. And it hurts. Because you see, all of that suffering one day will pale in comparison to the glory that will be revealed. And as we see that in Romans 858. And so we will continue with the Wednesdays with Watson podcast. I’ll write a book one day, but I’m still healing and leaning into that star of the story. I’m lean into my community that he gave me and of course, continuing trauma informed counseling. If you’ve landed on this podcast for the first time, I would love it. If you would go back and listen to that first episode that I talked about healing that doesn’t make sense. We focus that whole first season on my story. The second season we focus on the stories of others. And this season, we have spent a fair amount of time speaking about the Enneagram and how it can help us understand how to process trauma based on how God made us in the back half here we are talking about trauma in the home and childhood abuse, and providing interviews and hope and help for all of the things. This one this this episode. This birthday episode is the 59th episode of The Wednesday’s with Watson podcasts. And I simply wanted to say thank you for listening. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for reviewing. Thank you for all the things and the past two years, not only have we accomplished 1000s and 1000s of downloads, but I have people in my purview that I get to mentor and now and now we’ve established scholarship funds for those who cannot afford counseling. We just awarded our first one in the spring of 2022. If you go back and listen to those early episodes, particularly one called hospitals and courtrooms, you will hear about my friend Cheryl rice. Cheryl has been instrumental in my healing for over a decade. She has been there for some of the most difficult times of my life. And she just stepped into her role that God called her to be an My community. So we are awarded the first scholarship and Cheryl’s name, as I mentioned in the spring of 2021. Because you see, it’s not just my goal to get behind the microphone and have you guys listen to me, but it is my goal to help people have access to help, whatever that looks like. For those of you who have been along this journey, you may not notice some growth and some healing. And just that statement alone, two years ago, I would have said, I want to help you. And I do want to help you. But as I as I leaned into those Enneagram episodes, and as I leaned into how God made me and what my core fears are, and how I am motivated, I understand that I have the propensity to help you to continue to avoid continuing to heal myself. And so my goal now is for you to have access to healing. Of course, the best access comes through the only way to eternal victory. to that place where we will see clearly through a window, it won’t be dingy like that room was, we won’t have to stand on our tippy toes. But we will see the clear goal of the star of the story who gave us access to him, he tore that veil on that day when that tomb was empty, and that access to help that we can have through the star of the story. If you don’t know Jesus as your personal Savior, and I know many of you are listening to this are probably mad at God. Don’t understand him. And you know what, that’s okay. Because as we celebrate on this day, I’m always reminded of the night before they took my Jesus to the cross, and reminded that his disciples his community fell asleep. They couldn’t even hang with him during his darkest hour. Our community will fail us sometimes two guys, but Jesus in the garden, the night before he died, his humanity and his humanity, he asked three times that the cup be passed from him. And then he died a gruesome death on the cross with some of his final words, if not his final words, being My God, My God, why have you forsaken me? How many of you ask that question, because you see, on this day, the entire Earth got dark? Is it dark for you today? If it is dark for you today, my prayer for you is that you will find some hope and help in the star of the story. I would love to be part of that for you. And if you would like to be introduced to the star of the story, who is Jesus, all the ways to contact me or on that contact me link at the very top of the show notes. There is a song that I love so much called Stand by Cutlass and there is a lyric in that song. And this is my goal. I’m going to stand, I’m going to stand. Even if I have to stand alone. I’m going to carry the torch and this dark world, even if I have to stand alone.

Happy birthday to the Wednesday’s with Watson podcast. And all the praise and glory be to the only one who made it possible. Bless it be the name of the star of the story. Jesus the way the truth of life the same yesterday today forever. Thank you to my community out there. Thank you to those who support me. Thank you to those who support the podcast. Thank you for those who pray for me. Thank you. For those who realize what an emotional sacrifice this can be in and hold me up. Thank you to friends like my friends Joy Tiffany, who makes sure that my electronics aren’t attached to me and just encourages me in the best ways to take care of myself. Special shout out to my producer Amy Highland who is my podcast producer who does a great job. Tremendous friend. And who pays this podcast and prayer. As always a special thanks to my people thank you to Chrissy law through Jewish think quite a few times behind this microphone with me and for continuing to be my Memory Keeper. Thank you to Rebecca millet who does many if not all of the graphics you see as we promote each episode. Thank you, thank you to those who have donated to the podcast, who have made it possible for us to continue through 2022. And continue to award three more pro bono counseling scholarships. Thank you to Christian podcasters Association and Eric Nevins who had the vision for a Christian podcast was Association. Thank you for all of you who have pushed me and continue to push me even when I want to quit. Thank you to Phil Baker who has song marked by you plays this out of the podcast. Thank you to Calvary Baptist Church and its ministry and for those of you who listen there and pray for this podcast, thank you to my friend for over 30 years, Amy Reed who does so many things behind the scene that allows me to continue to get behind the microphone. Thank you to Karissa Harrison, who is my integration coach and whose obedience to the teaching of the completed work of Jesus on the cross has been a game changer for me. Thank you. Thank you to Dr. Thomas, Cadet my counselor for over 10 years for your obedience of the council the whole word of God while yet understanding trauma and making your passion to be the best at what you do. Thank you. Thank you Every guest that has been on this podcast and every guest that will be on this podcast. And thank you, Jesus, the star of the story. Thank you for the knock on the door. That changed everything. Thank you for that bus ride. Thank you, Jesus for the cross. So guys, I’m not gonna quit. There will be a 60th episode here on the healings and we’ll be back in two weeks. Until you know what I’m gonna say. You you’re seeing you’re known. You’re heard, you’re loved and you’re valued you to each mean to

Unknown Speaker  20:44  
you, to me more like us.

Transcribed by https://otter.a