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December 3, 2021 1:00 am
Does it feel hard to find your way out of emotional trauma? Counselor, speaker, and relationship expert Debra Fileta helps you identify personal trauma—and a clear path toward healing.
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We live in such a culture where fitness is so important in body image and all of that when we were going to seminary I got into this real fitness face to remember that you I remember you are like 6% body fat was a 4%.
Look at her she had for right under live flow is terrible because I was teaching gases at the gym and this is when the fitness craze hit the culture where gyms were opening and releasing these classes with 100 people in them but we had to do body fat testing once a month in order to teach there and if it got to be a certain point, we were disqualified and we have to lose weight in order to teach.
Welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most and Wilson and Dave Wilson. Then you can find us if we live today.com or on our family life.
His family life today.
I knew there's a lot of messed up stuff in my background with eating disorders in all kinds of step so talk about triggering now I'm like I am winning the competition.
So I dropped my body fat down to 4%. So this was just messed up.
Anyway, just feeding all of my insecurities she ever this class of the gym. All the men took her class because they said she's the hardest instructor and she was is a former gymnast and she just I could even survive. So then, at the same time were taking seminary classes and I took some classes especially on how to do counseling so I'm thinking this'll be fun and help people and is were in the class there doing our family tree, and then we get into abuse and then I'm digging into sexual abuse and experienced that I had told you about and I thought oh that's in the past, it's fine. It's over. Of course now I haven't dealt with any of it. So now I'm starting to deal with it.
I'm crying every night. I'm working out every night and I'm realizing how this mental health thing. It wasn't even a word back then that we use very much, but this was something that was affecting every single area of my life. We started on a journey of mental, emotional, spiritual and the physical heels all part of it is interesting be sitting here with a therapist. Looking across the table. Let us thinking oh boy you guys have your office will resort our sit in your office right now it is studio but we got the roof laid out with us today.
You've written a book called are you really okay and I know you're looking at is like no you got to your husband like we need to come back and help people were glad to have you back availability today. Welcome back. Thank you for having me, that we talked about quite a few things in this book, but I love your subtitle getting real about who you are, how you're doing and why it matters. Yeah, right. So let's talk about all that but start with why it matters because again we said this previously but often in the church in the Christian community. The stock answer is I am okay Christ in, there's a lot that is true about that and yeah it's hard for us to answer question. Are you really okay yeah we we zoom in on the spiritual health and forget all the other aspects of health. When Jesus says love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. There are different aspects to health that we really have to focus on and just being a Christian doesn't make us healthy.
It's funny that you mentioned that physical fitness in the gym because we all have that mentality with our physical health.
We don't assume that when we come to Jesus for him to be at the right BMI cholesterol Debbie perfect, but we make that assumption with her mental health and emotional health. We assume that when I come to Jesus, I'm good in his area.it's good you know we don't see the process like going to the gym, who I always tell people what if we were to start seeing counseling kind of like we see going to the gym.
Sometimes people seek counseling like I'm sick and have to go to the doctor and I don't want to acknowledge that inset but what if we were to see the process of counseling like going to the gym.
I'm going to work my emotional and mental muscles and get them strong and fit mean we be high-fiving each other you know what I need to go to counseling. We went to say that almost everybody could use that kind of therapy 100% and I say that as a therapist I understand, but also as a woman who has been through my own personal journey of mental health, and meeting counseling and needing medication. Okay, talk about, though yeah what your journey, you know, for me, I've counseled a lot of people with depression and I've been through postpartum depression. A couple times with my first two children type. I've known depression but where it really hit was about five years ago I went through really traumatic miscarriage and it was actually an unexpected miscarriage. I went for a routine appointment.
I found out I'd lost the baby and then while I was at the appointment just by chance I started hemorrhaging, leading to the point where I almost lost my life. The doctor literally ran me to the emergency room in the wheelchair she literally pushed me there herself and she said I was just minutes away from losing my life so you recover from that the loss the trauma like we talked about earlier you deal with that you grieve, you go home and you live your life again. But the thing about trauma and is it's not a once and done experience. You've got to really process it in layers that it comes back for a new opportunity for hearing and then the next layer of healing and a next layer of healing which people always are so frustrated with. I was frustrated with this.
I thought when I was done with seminary and had done these counseling classes I'm healed, it will never come back and then something triggers it a few years later right and there's another layer to be dealt with. Yeah it happens in layers and not only that, but sometimes people think time will help me heal but time does not heal all wounds. In fact, some wounds when left with time will just get infected will get worse, not better. And that is trauma. In a nutshell mean when a soldier goes off to war and on the battlefield. There's so much going on there so much trauma you don't deal with the trauma while you're on the battlefield. It's when they go home, and life is safe and secure that the trauma begins to come back up and that's what happened for me when I went home a few years later when life was safe and secure. I started having symptoms of panic attacks that came out of nowhere. This was like months later after the miscarriage actually met two years while two years later, when it's like not even in my my mind anymore, but your body remembers your brain remembers and remember I was on a safari bus with the kids and I started feeling really hot and kinda lightheaded and my body remembered what I didn't when I was hemorrhaging. I felt lightheaded.
I actually said to the nurse and feeling lightheaded. Can I get a drink. I didn't realize what was happening. My body was like feeling lightheaded again. Oh, there's a part of your brain called your amygdala. The amygdala is responsible for emotional memory. It remembers these deep emotions and when my amygdala sensed the presence of lightheadedness. The first thing it probably went back to was last time you felt lightheaded.
You almost died. This is an emergency and your body goes into fight or flight, false, alarming, and that's what a panic attack essentially is your body's false alarms that's rooted in something a little bit deeper so I had to learn to identify what that looked like in my own life and begin the process of healing our son was preaching a message and he told a story similar ago you got bit by a rattlesnake in the woods almost died. The airlift amount saved his life. Three years later he's in the woods.
A twig hits his calf the same place where he got bit. He looks down and his leg is swollen up like there's venom and it was a twig on his body and his brain said we been here before, is not something crazy so body reacts in such a severe way.
Just amazing how God made our brain, which is fascinating and beautiful, but it can play tricks on you if you don't know how to okay mentally Woodward I'm thinking of so many of our listeners that maybe they've experienced depression or panic attacks or their kids are right now and they feel at a loss of what are my next steps yeah will first and foremost, we thank the Lord for giving us that response because it's protective thank you Lord that my amygdala works thinking that it protects me thinking that my body reacts to danger and stress.
But now I've got to understand the effects of trauma on this reaction. That's causing me to overreact and for each person. It's gonna look a little differently for that man. It's learning I'm's actually safe did trauma fills our mind with lies. How I like to think of trauma. It's like if your life is a book chapter by chapter. Trauma is like that big black sharpie that just scribbles all over that page with lies.
So for me the lie was you almost died. You could die again. What was the truth.
The truth was I was in God's hands all along.
I remember the first time God allowed his truths to kind of break through the voice of my trauma. It was in the evening I was getting ready for bed and I remember just having all those flashbacks to that day in my body's certainly feel tense again thinking I almost died, and I remember God breaking the tension with a lighthearted chuckle. It was in an audible chuckle, but I just felt the Lord speak in a chuckle and I'm thinking why is he laughing serious, but in a light chuckle. He said to me, you can almost die just because the doctor said that I had to in my hands time that truths probe through the experience of trauma for me and part of dealing with our trauma is learning to see it through God's eyes. Learning to replace it with what is actually true that I am safe that I am loved that my days are numbered and in his hands and so there's mental work to be done in battling trauma and so much of that mental work can be done in the context of therapy such a helpful way to get a jumpstart on some of that mental work.
Talk about truths because we have the replace lies in a may be a physical trauma like that, but could be just lies we've heard, or even told from childhood of him worthless. Not wanted on the gifted and you come into adulthood and you are living out lies. How do we replace those therapies obviously going to help. Yeah, how many ways can we replace lies with truth. I think it starts with us identifying those lies to begin with. I think sometimes what kind of on autopilot. We don't even realize all the lies that were carrying and living out of don't even acknowledge them and so I think a huge part of it is recognizing those lies and then beginning to replace them with God's truth. What is God's word say.
But here's where I always have to be cautious because for some people this response is so intense that it can be characterized as clinical anxiety, clinical depression, panic attacks, and what happens then is that your chemistry is actually changing your stress chemicals. The cortisol is getting so high that it's beginning to hijack your body's ability to absorb the good chemicals the feel-good chemicals of dopamine and serotonin and when that shift begins to happen chemically. Some people need medication in order to even be able to digest God's truth. I member the times in my worst moments with panic and depression.
Somebody would have given me scripture I would've been like what I do with this. I feel like I'm dying to save me not give me scripture so this is where I feel like the church has to be cautious in how we talk about mental and emotional health. God is in the work of healing and all of these things can move us in the direction of healing.
So this should be your talking about cognitive disorders of bipolar you're saying like, oh, when were at this point it's okay to come in with a therapist with psychologists and psychiatrists to administer some right medication that can help with the chemical just like a diabetic will go get insulin and change their lifestyle get insulin prey over the situation. We've got to see mental health in the same way and and tackle it in a holistic approach as well because maybe this problem with worry. That's controlling my life is actually undiagnosed clinical depression, clinical anxiety, and I'm not putting a name to it so I don't even know how to begin countering it. I think sometimes Christians are afraid that when we name it we claimant, but I believe when we name it God doesn't lose his power when we name it. I now see my responsibility in the equation.
What I need to start doing different and so you're saying both come hand-in-hand like Scripture is important. God's word is so alive and vibrant, but also sometimes we bring in medication that could possibly help in a therapist that can guide us in that area 100 Christian therapist I do.
I think that's an important piece to the puzzle because true healing is multifaceted. True healing involves our emotional health or mental health or physical health and our spiritual helmsmen. All work together and so there's so many resources out there, but even if you go to my website true love dates.com/counseling. There's all kinds of databases and opportunities to connect with licensed counselors who are also Christians there so many different places that have resources for good Christian counselors you know I've shared here in the last 18 months. I said them with a therapist. It was amazing to me that as we sort of put up my life and my childhood on a whiteboard. He had this God-given gift to go hey let's talk about this and I'm doing why that in five minutes later my cool boy. He's identified something in my life that is triggering an active impact 11th.
All I know in the entrance and were done, but as I went through this year with Greg and then went over and we did it as a couple. I thought I was short on this 30 years ago, though.
What a gift I could give her my 230 years ago.
At the same time and thinking I'm not done yet to lay God can change me even in my 60s and I could have an impact on my marriage and my kids at this point but weightless about noticing that you wrote about your both the physical part as well with the mental. I think we underestimate even the power of rest. Yes, so talk about how the physical helps us heal as well.
You know the body mind connection is real and and when our mind is struggling. Our bodies will struggle in our bodies are struggling. Our mind will also struggle. So even something as basic as sleep. You know when were not sleeping well it affects our mental health, our ability to concentrate and focus in process, and even our ability to just not get overwhelmed and so looking at our sleep looking at our exercise, which actually increases our serotonin and dopamine. Those good feeling chemicals looking at our diet. All of these things are part of the equation also say looking at your schedule because sometimes we are doing so much in the name of ministry in the name of the Lord but were depleted were running on empty one not healthy emotionally and mentally. And if were like a well pouring out to others. We have to be pouring out of our fullness not of her emptiness and we don't want to wait till we get to a place of burnout before we take care of ourselves.
We want to start taking care of ourselves before we get too empty and not something that I think is a word for so many of us in the ministry world in the caregiving world you said in your book, and even at lunch that you and John say no a lot. What's that look like you as you have four kids you're traveling, you're speaking your therapist. You guys have a lot on your plate. You know, we've learned that you can only do a few things well. So we began to the discipline of focusing on the things that we can do, and saying no to everything else and for us that looks like the amount of activities or kids are allowed to be in the amount of ministries that were allowing ourselves to be a part of me and you know in this field you get so many invitations and opportunities but not all opportunities are opportunities you say yes to.
Sometimes you gotta say you know what, I'm not can be able to say yes because when I say yes to this inadvertently saying no to time with my family to my own personal mental health to my own marriage and investing in my marriage and so realizing that there is power in that word. It's not an anti-Christian work in either a self-care you know a lot of you think self-care is an anti-Christian word that Jesus himself knew what it looked like to get away to say no to spend time with the father so that he could be filled up to sleep.
I love the passage when Jesus gets on the boat and like a map like Norm doesn't even make him that he modeled what it looked like to take care of himself. Allow the father to pour into him so that he could pour in the others.
And what a beautiful example for us.
Like I want to end Deborah talking about.
Maybe we've done this to. I talked to so many women that feel like oh, their kids are shut down emotionally or their husband shut down emotionally and they see like all I see the greatness of my husband if he would just look at this area, but their husband or their kids if they know I'm okay I'm fine as a spouse or parent or grandparent cultist like we just pray, do we talk do what's the best steps for us to take you know it's really hard when it's somebody that's not in your control, your child, don't you hate this town. That's the worst thing you can control it is very difficult. I think there's two steps number one to model it yourself. So, to begin to share and use that vocabulary with my children.
This is home feeling this is what I'm going through. This is what I'm stressed out about what I'm overwhelmed with start modeling those words and you even do that with your kid, I do. I do an activity with the kids where I sit them down and have them color the feelings in their bodies to the we can begin to talk about them as I lay that all out and are you really okay what that activity looks like and how to apply it to your family, but with grown-ups with adults you want to begin to even model that language in your marriage can opening up in your marriage. I think that vulnerability begins to take the walls down. It's like oh you're being vulnerable and maybe I can be vulnerable to and so modeling it is really important and then learning to ask the right questions. I think sometimes we ask accusing question, yes, rather than inviting questions, give us an example of both you know of, for example, to say you seem like you just so stressed out these days. Tommy was going on, or is there something going on with you that I don't know about verses like you know honey, I'd love to pray for you what something that you feel is causing stress right now in your life that I can be praying for you about the tone and the way that we ask the question and then they come to me and say well I did ask him how he's feeling toward that and bring it in.
I like to do an assessment and just see like how are we asking these questions. What is my responsibility in that conversation. What is it look like to be an inviting person rather than someone who is accusing someone who really wants to know how you are really doing, not because I want to accuse or manipulate you, but because I genuinely care for your heart. What is that look like to be people who invite one another into that part and this takes practice, this doesn't just happen overnight. John and I have are routinely call Sunday night check ins and on Sunday nights at 9 PM. His alarm goes off on his iPhone and will sit down and check in with each other. How are doing emotionally how are doing mentally how are doing in our marriage.
How are doing in our parenting. Are you really okay let's talk about it in the beginning it was an easy now. It is like sound like it's a little awkward in any you don't know what how much to share are not shared and you just you not comfortable with it because like I said earlier, this type of practice is something you have to learn and to check in with each other what that can do for your marriage for your emotional health for your mental health to be on the same page with one another to help each other. You have a built-in partner and sometimes it starts with modeling that it's good and asking those questions that I think here's what I want to put into practice all good and we do this, hopefully some listeners will go you know what I'm with you over the last several sessions talking about this. Number one is a journal where I would write down what emotions my feeling and what lies my hearing and replacing that withdrew literally writing those down like a be interesting. And then what you just said the Sunday night check and I'm thinking 9 o'clock for a couple to at least once a week check in and talk about emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health. Together with Diane coming in without accusing one another trying to transform a marriage just conversation and I think I don't know like you do. But you're so right to be so awkward at first. It's like a new workout right now how to do this, but as what you get in there.
You learn and you keep doing and pretty soon you're doing it pretty good at would all have to admit that the last almost 2 years now have taken a toll on our emotional health or mental health. All of us are weary, and the extent to which are mental health has been affected by the events of the pandemic and by the turbulence of our culture that's good vary from person to person, but we've all been impacted and a hopeless good grip on our own mental and emotional and spiritual health. Deborah has written a book called are you really okay.
The subtitle is getting real about who you are, how you're doing and why it matters. Her book is a good first step in him self-diagnosis and then providing some steps we can each take to become healthier people.
We've got Deborah's book in our family life today resource Center you can request your copy from someone a family like today.com or you can call one 800 FL today to get your copy in the title of the book is are you really okay but Deborah fully to order a moderate family life today.com or call to order at one 803 586-329-1800 F as in family L as in life, and the word today, we know your family life that the next few weeks may be a stressful season for you on top of everything else we've gone through over the last couple of years the Christmas season can add additional stress and burden to our lives. It's easy to become overwhelmed and become exhausted. The family life we want to be here to provide ongoing help and hope for whatever issues you're dealing with in your marriage and your family.
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