Archive for anxiety

Book Releases, Troll Bridges, and Repressed Memories

Posted in Art & Illustration, Generic Musings with tags , , , , , on June 18, 2015 by Bobbie Berendson W.

This is an exciting if slightly dreadful week for me. Exciting because the Cliché’s for a Cause Book launch is this Friday (link) and my illustrations are in it with my Husband, Steve’s story; ‘Bridgette and the Gruffz’. It is an awesome story and I wanted to share some of the funny details about how it came to exist.

We were watching TV one night and as the credits for a show were rolling I saw the name Trowbridge and it looked to me like TrollBridge. I pointed it out to Steve and we laughed and postulated the origin of the name Trollbridge. We ended up laughing over the idea that the name was changed from Trollbridge to Trowbridge upon immigrating to the US. And before that it was a proud name with a lot of family traditions attached to it such as the courtship ritual of tossing a prospective bride to be off her bridge. Because they are trolls… get it? Ok it was funnier if you had been there or if my hubby tells the story… Anyway, that morphed into telling the story of Smallz the youngest of the brothers Gruffz, who are not goat but satyrs, and Bridgette the troll who has built her first bridge in their neighborhood. Smallz loves Bridgette and Bridgette loves Smallz, but unless he can toss her off her bridge they can’t even date.


So it’s a fun story and it is benefiting a good cause: RAINN the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. They do so much to help survivors in all areas with programs, support centers, public education, and awareness. This was an important charity to support for me because I am a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.

I was around the age of 4-5 and I only remember pieces of it. I spent 12 years thinking I was a sinful wicked child, like it was my fault, my bad choice. My abuser I know encouraged this. I think it only happened once, but as I have said, I don’t remember clearly all of it, just some damaging and painful pieces. I know that the lighting in the room changed which makes me think it either took a long time or happened on different days.

I remember the nightly panic attacks, I still feel that panic every night before bed it is such a nearly lifelong habit. I didn’t develop socially like other kids, in a sense I still feel socially backwards to this day. My survival instincts helped me survive, but did so much damage. I mentally beat myself up so much, so very much. My self esteem was in the toilet and it took me 26 years to recover it. Years of hard work and even harder counseling.

For nine or ten months in 1997 I underwent that difficult counseling once a week. First, every session, we went through all the memories in detail to desensitize me to them. That part was the worst, but it began to work and now when I get flashbacks they have absolutely no power to crush me. Then We had to break down everything I was and rebuild it.

It was around this time I started cutting. I was very lucky though. After a handful of cuts I realized that as I was rebuilding myself this was not something I wanted to include in the new me. So I found other ways to deal with the stress and the emotional pain, healthier ways. I utilize meditation, creating things, coloring, walking, just laying in the sun and smelling the outside air.

All of it took persistence and patience. It is hard to be patient with yourself, especially as you age and feel the time you have to do something with yourself ticking away. I will be 39 this July. I feel like so much of my life had been taken away from me, the years of pain and counseling, the isolation and desperation for people to see me, to like me. I feel very much like I am in a rush to make up time for the lost 20 years sacrificed to my survival instincts that my abuser triggered.

It is ok now though. Days and weeks go by without that once so prevalent memory even making ripples in my psyche; I forget that I was ever so powerless. And as for my abuser, he was only 10 years older than me and was a very emotionally wounded person and I forgive him. That was the last thing I did that completely freed me. I forgave him and let it all go. I have been able to see him grow and change through the years, first for the worst them latter for the better. And it made me feel good to see him work so hard to try to redeem himself and I hope he will stick to that path and keep improving.

Well… this is a long one. And I didn’t even cry as I wrote it! I do feel empowered and strong and stable. It is a wonderful place to be.

If any of you are harboring such secret from your past, I want to say you are not alone. Please talk to someone. As long as you keep that secret it will keep you its prisoner. Go to RAINN’s website, there are so many people out there who want to and can help.


Snakes, Spiders, & Fear

Posted in Generic Musings with tags , , , , , , , on April 10, 2015 by Bobbie Berendson W.

When I was a child I was afraid of everything that I could not control. This included but was not limited to… snakes, spiders, natural disasters, black holes, the space under my bed, asteroids, plagues, public speaking, vampires, murderers, people yelling, and the bottom of the stairs. I lived in terror, and one day I may explain some of why, until then I am going to talk about how those fears changed.

Like most little kids I was terrified of spiders. They had the power to make me freeze in my tracks and yell for my parents until they saved me. I remember my mom used to just kill them then eventually she would catch them in a jar so we could watch them up close for a while then release them in the garden. Between her and my neighbor Linda, who is also my other mother, spiders started being less terrifying. Oh they still scared me, but as I learned about them from Linda and how important they are as natural pest control, that fear began to turn to fascination. I remember one experience with a fuzzy jumping spider in my bedroom window. I was struck by how it stared at me like it understood that I was another living being and was just as curious about me as I was about it.

Now I adore jumping spiders. I think they are adorable with their big wide eyes and their fuzzy arms. I usually don’t kill spiders in my house. I either let them be (depending on what room they are in), or I usher them outside.

I used to be so scared of snakes that I wouldn’t even touch a picture of one. Then when I was in college there was this fair and the halls were lined with tables advertising or displaying things and there was a snake at one table and this woman was showing it off. I decided it was time to embrace my fear and touch a snake. The way that those smooth glossy snakes felt on my skin was so interesting and not scary at all. And just like that my fear turned into adoration. Since then I have been a sucker for all things snake. And skulls. Snakes and skulls, yep that’s me.

In a nutshell, as I learned about the things I was so afraid of I went from fear, to mild curiosity, to fascination to fan. I can’t get enough of weather and disaster shows now. My fear of black holes has turned into a life-long love of all things astronomy.  And I may just be a little obsessed with all things dark and monster-ish. As a stroll through my house will attest…

Depression, Juggling, and Friendly Pigs

Posted in Generic Musings with tags , , , , on April 6, 2015 by Bobbie Berendson W.

I know it isn’t Thursday… Easter totally threw me off… yeah that’s it.

Brace yourselves folks, this is gonna be a bumpy ride as they say…

I have what they call a clinical depression. It can be classified as bi-polar type 2 where instead of swinging between manic and depressive I just swing between middle of the road and depressive. This was from a combination of my genetic make-up and a brain injury I sustained between age 16-17. On top of that I also developed Agoraphobia specifically social anxiety in my early 20’s. There is my mental health in a nutshell.

The last 2 years I have been relatively happy and stable hanging out in the middle of the road with most people. Just recently, like the past month, I have noticed that I am beginning to swing back down into a low period. The previous low lasted a year. It sucked, not only for me but for my family. We all made it thought without scars and I have my excellent councilors (especially Gail Szakula) and my parent’s teaching and faith from my youth (birth to 28, more on that in later posts) to thank.

As I have been railing against the downward slide, an image came to mind. It is an image that I have asked my husband, Steve, to illustrate for me in his most expressive stick-figure-ese. It isn’t a perfect metaphor, just some imaginary scenario that felt appropriate to my life.


That’s me, there in the boat, juggling all my responsibilities, hobbies, family, and health-spoons. We all have to do this. And we all have to do this while riding a unicycle, because life is unpredictable and spending time on our work and play is like riding a unicycle. You have to pay attention and plan ahead if you are going to stay balanced and upright. On top of that we have to do all of this perched in the bow of the boat in the middle of a lake. Usually the lake is pretty placid, but placid or not it is hard to balance in the bow of a boat without help.

Thankfully, there is help. Our trusty pig, who balances out our boat and keeps us company. For me, my husband and step-kids and the family I grew up with are there to help level my boat. The trouble for me is that there is more to it. See that jerk with the boulder on the shore? That would be my self-doubt, my fears, my paranoia, my anxiety, and my bad habits. He stands there with a pile of boulders waiting for the perfectly mean moment to throw one in the lake and make waves to toss my boat. He is there all the time, and though I have significantly lessened the amount of boulders he has to throw, I have not yet been able to get rid of him. Everyone has one of these guys, and they all suck.

This is normal for me; I guess you could call it sane. Spoons in the air, helpful pig by my side, relatively well balanced on this silly unicycle. And then the depression starts to grow. It grows from a chill wind that threatens bad weather to a full blown angry storm. And it rages over my little lake, tossing waves over the sides of the boat. Has it come to stay for a few days, a month, a year? I don’t know, I never know. And that darn boulder guy still tosses rocks at me. I will keep going. I know it is a cycle and that means the lows cannot last forever. As long as I keep doing my part with medication, mindfulness, and faith, the sun will shine on me again.

I am still peddling on this unicycle, still juggling, still afloat, and my faithful pig is still cheering me on. So what is the point of all this? Two things really; I have never been shy about letting people know that I am clinically depressed, but I usually don’t let anyone in further than that. Not even my Husband. And the communication over this silly metaphor with my dearest Steve and sharing this post with all of you is me taking a step away from isolation. The second thing is for the sheer humor of it. Humor is the only thing that gets me through, it is the most attractive thing to me about my husband and is the attribute I love the most in my friends.

I hope this made you laugh and if it made you think a little… well I hope they were good thoughts.

Carry on my friends. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you must cherish it when you get there. As the old saying goes, “This too shall pass.”