Anchor Your Day ~ a mental health blog by Counselwise ~

Drama 101: Post 2

In our exploration of “The Drama Triangle” by Stephen Karpman, M.D., today we are looking another role, that of the Victim. Sometimes we learn in our lifetime to live as a victim; we have difficulty taking care of ourselves and turn to others constantly for that care. Other times, we feel victimized to a certain situation or relationship; in either case, the feelings are the same. If we are feeling victimized, we begin to feel helpless, hopeless and sometimes oppressed. We have difficulty solving our own problems, trouble making decisions and finding joy seems impossible. Essentially, the message being sent out to others and reinforced to ourselves is either “Poor me,” or “Why me?”

Sound familiar? We have all had one or two situations in our life where we felt lost to it, where we felt stuck as to how to make the decisions we needed to move forward from it, or escape it all together. Sometimes these same feelings come in the form of a relationship; either way it is the feelings of helplessness that are invasive and seem like a hard task to get through.

Tomorrow we will touch on the third role of the Drama Triangle, that of the Rescuer.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Drama 101: Post 1

Although I feel most people would agree that they don’t want drama in their lives, sometimes the conflict that occurs in our relationships or at work, pulls us right into the theatrics of the situation and leaves us feeling lost and overwhelmed. A tool that I often use in therapy is called “The Drama Triangle” by Stephen Karpman, M.D.; we will take the next four posts to explain it, the roles that people play when trapped in the triangle, and lastly, how to get yourself out of drama and feeling more at peace. You may notice yourself or others on the triangle in a general sense, however it is important to note that people can also switch roles at times depending on what is happening in the conflict.

The first role is that of the Persecutor whose m.o. is to blame others as a way to avoid taking responsibility. Persecutors will often use anger as a further means to prove their point and they do so for two reasons: 1. anger keeps them in a defensive position (part of our survival brain) and 2. anger keeps them in denial (which is a perfect way to avoid taking responsibility for their role in the conflict). It is important to note

Read moreDrama 101: Post 1

When Grief is Raw

We cannot get through this life without experiencing loss and grief; it is part of the human experience and is a process that is far from linear. My blog post today is a link to a Globe and Mail article that my best friend, Kim, wrote after her husband Morgan died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of 35; that was eleven years ago today. At the time, it left her with a 2 and 1/2 year old son, a 6 month old daughter and a grief that was raw and unyielding.  She wrote the article four years into her journey and in its story, you will find the heaviness of her experience and the sorrow that followed her days; but you will also discover resilience and hope, courage and strength. I am so proud of her 🙂

Photo credit: http://Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash

Depression Fact #2

Depression is sometimes experienced as anxiety. Because depression and anxiety share the same biological basis, people often can experience symptoms and not be entirely sure of the direct cause. Feeling nervous and irritable for example, can lead one to thinking they may have anxiety, but those are common in depression as well. Lack of concentration and difficulty sleeping can also indicate depression; very often if what we associate to depression (sleeping all the time and low mood) are not directly present, we may in fact be blue but are experiencing it as anxiety. Either way, figuring out this mixed bag of symptoms begins with the same question: “Is this affecting my day-to-day function?” And if it is, an accurate diagnosis is important.

A good self-help website for depression and anxiety:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Ümit Bulut on Unsplash

“I Yam What I Yam”

My father used to love the expression “I yam what I yam,” quoting from the infamous Popeye. He would often say it in jest, and looking back, I suppose I inferred that it was sort of a “what you see is what you get” type of saying.

Our past; our childhood and lifetime experiences shape us; it will bring to us a very individualized way of processing the world that is unique to us. I suppose we can look at this saying in two ways. When we apply it to ourselves, we have a greater ability to say “Well, while it is true that I am what I am, there are times when perhaps I am doing something that is no longer in my best interest or can be hurtful to others.”  If we become aware of these behaviours and move to change them, we can shift from the expression of “I am what I am,” to more of “I am what I choose to become” and we are not so bound to our past.

We can also apply this saying to others in that they really “are what they are.”  And because of this, we at times will need to remind ourselves of two things: that people show you who they are early on and that we cannot change another person, only ourselves.  A valuable lesson to learn at any age 🙂


The Presence of Hope

I am an avid reader and always have a book on the go. A good friend recently recommended a book to me entitled “The Home for Unwanted Girls” by Joanna Goodman. A novel set in the Eastern Townships of Quebec, there were many reminders for me of having grown up in Vankleek Hill, Ontario where the blend of French and English existed as part of our childhood.

Every book has the potential to affect you in some way; this quote especially touched me: “Elodie closes her eyes. Maybe I’ve died, she thinks. The feelings inside her are too good, unfamiliar. There’s sadness, too, of course. This she accepts as the most natural, inevitable aspect of her life. Sadness lives in her cells, alongside her sense of injustice and outrage toward Sister Ignatia and God. These things cannot be transcended. They are as much a part of her being as her limbs and her organs and Nancy. But tonight, there’s something else: hope.”

For anyone who has ever experienced trauma and lives with its aftereffects; it is to know that it becomes cellular; a part of you. But as it exists as a part of you, so then does resilience, so then does courage, so then does hope.

“The Home for Unwanted Girls” by Joanna Goodman is a worthy read.

Photo credit: http://Photo by Lina Trochez on Unsplash



When a Break Up Happens: Resource

Going through a break up at any stage in life is difficult. We have to be able to try and stay distracted from the desire to completely shut off from the world, while not staying so busy that we completely avoid the feelings we need to process. We have to try and balance the advice of “the less contact, the better” that we instinctively know we should adopt, while at the same time needing our ex for support during a time we feel most vulnerable.

A relationship ending throws us into the stages of grief, and the feelings that come from that loss can feel very invasive and at times overwhelming. I recently heard about an app called “Mend;” it features daily audio training, practical tips and community support. Although many people rely on their support network during challenging times, it is also validating to be connected to others who are also going through something similar, at the same time. Sometimes, it is through the normalizing process of discovering “Okay, someone else is going through this right now too” that leads you to feeling connected and understood.

To check out the app:

There is also a blog with articles and interviews:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Trym Nilsen on Unsplash

Feeling Grateful

Today marks a month that I have been writing and sharing my blog. Although for a better part of a year I had wanted to begin the blog, certain self-inflicted roadblocks were in my way: 1. I tend to be introverted and when I was in a doubtful space, I would ask myself “who would want to read anything I wrote anyway” (we all have self-doubt sometimes!) and 2. the technical side of anything tends to overwhelm me (just ask my kids when I bug them about the most minor questions concerning my phone!)

As it always helps for me to feel informed, I ordered “Blogging for Dummies” by Amy Lupold Bair and Susannah Gardner and after reading that, felt better, but still overwhelmed with the learning curve of software programs, cyber-security, RSS feeds and so forth. And so I hired a web designer to get me going; she helped re-vamp my website, set me up

Read moreFeeling Grateful

Anxiety Fact #2

Anxiety is adaptive. Because we are pre-programmed to worry, anxiety conforms; it is a system in our body that helps us to deal with real danger. When we see a car come into our lane up ahead, or a bear steps into our path while hiking, anxiety keeps us safe. It alerts our fear response to kick into action, which in turn, helps to try and flee the danger. Seeing anxiety in this way can help us to appreciate the difference between true danger (real threat) and perceived danger (our fear triggers).

“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them have never happened.” – Mark Twain

Information for this post and a great website:

Photo credit: http://Photo by 223 223 on Unsplash



A Great Resource

A website recently came to my attention. It is called Big White Wall and it is an online peer support and self-management tool for youth 16+ and adults experiencing mild to moderate depression and anxiety. What I really liked about it was that it is available around the clock, it is anonymous, and is staffed by “Wall Guides” who make sure the community is safe and supportive. They have a section where you can post questions and get feedback, a creative section where you can post pics and see other people’s contributions as well, a section called “Useful Stuff” which has many articles to choose from, and a section where you can sign up for courses (usually 3 to 4 weeks) on a variety of topics. All completely free to those living in Ontario!

These are some of the stats:

  • 70% of users saw improvement in at least one aspect of their well-being
  • 46% of users reported sharing an issue for the first time
  • 51% of users reported less mental health-related time off work using Big White Wall.

Here’s the link:

Photo credit: http://Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash