My Destructive Depression
Powerful and crucial conversations have recently been taking place on the tragedy of suicide. Although the topic is (by nature) depressing, I am grateful that it is welcomed to the table of hard topics.
As with most hard things to understand, it requires much more education in our current culture.
I took some pills when I was thirteen. It was the rest of the Bayer aspirin we had in the cupboard. There were about 13 pills left, which I don’t think is enough to do the job. My plan was to lay down on my bed and die. I decided that my best friend deserved a good-bye, so I called Tom and told him good-bye and I would not be going to school with him anymore. He asked what I had done, and when I said “I took some pills”. I heard a thud on the other end of the line and by the time I hung up he had run the block to my front door.
Tom was angry (scared) and demanding “What are you doing?” as his parents were a minute or so behind him. Apparently he had yelled something to the effect that “Jami was dying,” as he ran past them.
Fast forward to the year after I got married. I felt terrible about myself and what was going on with me and I spent the next ten years excelling at everything I did: school, work, fatherhood, and being the picture of a good husband. I was all of these things while at the same time being passively suicidal.
I was successful beyond my wildest dreams, and surpassed everyone's expectations. But the money, public approval and the beautiful family that I had did not cover the pain and self doubt that lead to more and more destructive behavior. It was like for every success I had to prove that I was not worth it by shaming myself. Risk-taking behavior went from adrenaline sports and ended with what ought to have torn my family completely apart. I was too busy upping the ante to feel like a hypocrite. So I would hand out the family of the year award in our town and then go have an affair that next week. Sick and wrong. And with each cycle around the chaos addiction merry-go-round I would get closer to getting purposeful about dying.
I was depressed and no one would have ever known. I did not know how to ask for help and the hypocrisy kept getting worse. I was screaming for help but only in my pillow. The pain of admitting that I was not perfect was killing me. I needed help and as ridiculous as it sounds I could not figure out how to do it healthfully.
I went into two counselors offices, I took a diagnostic test that said my most likely diagnosis would be alcoholism, but I had not had a drink for two years and probably had a total of ten drinks in that decade, and the last time I started to ask for help and at the last second made it about some professional referrals that I could make. I remember the look in her eye, like she saw that there was more.
By the time I finally got help, I had already caused massive pain to myself, to my family, to my friends, and to the community I had built around me.
How could anyone have understood my depression? How could anyone have helped me? How do you understand anyone's ongoing illness? To do that, you first have to understand what depression is.
Depression is anger turned inward. It is, of course, a serious problem and a medical consultation is vital. Any prolonged sadness or lack of interest in the things that used to keep you occupied is a good cause for a deeper look, especially relationships, sex, and work. The causes vary and can and do reach back to habits formed from very early on, often times in early childhood development.
What we have come to realize is that all of us build strategies to make ourselves okay. They are all customized, and often a pattern before we get to be two years old (Yes, this is shocking but is well documented, see Origins: The First Nine Months by Anna Paul Murphy). Mine was a common strategy. It was not to feel my own feelings and take care of everyone else’s. The other main strategy is to control and use anxiety and fear.
Taking care of everyone else works great until it doesn’t. We adopt strategies because they work. The problem is that these strategies are habits that become completely run by our subconscious process. This means that often we do these old strategies when they no longer are really working for us. Eventually, if left unchecked, they become destructive.
There are three keys to dismantling these old habits and bring them into the consciousness. These three ideas are for both those who are chronically depressed and for those who care about someone who is:
To understand depression we must first educate ourselves on what that means. The clinical diagnosis has many symptoms listed that are contradictory. So, we understand depression by having compassion and patience for ourselves and our loved ones. We understand depression by listening to those non-verbal asks for help. If I would have been able to get the help I needed at an earlier age, I would have been able to prevent so much heartache.
My hope is provide a prevention to heartache, but to also assist those who feel like they have already created it. Allow for things to move slowly at first, and know that new habits are rarely formed perfectly. Celebrate the progress and keep moving, life is a long journey. Let's talk!
by Jami and Marla Keller
Body shaming often makes front page news. Remember that time in 2017 when there was a little Kim Kardashian drama about cellulite and disgust and a lot of “How dare she mislead us???” Friends, do you realize that the pic of her on the beach lost her one hundred THOUSAND followers on Instagram??? What the what? But don’t worry too much about her dynasty; at the time she still had 98.8 million followers on Insta… But please do worry about the fact that she was shamed in the most vicious way.
We see it in our coaching practice all the time. One client who has done a lot of work to get past body shame recently said, “I was not a wanted baby. My mom couldn’t handle another child and I always felt like my body was not welcome, and I was ashamed, especially of my female parts.” And don’t make the mistake that guys are immune to it. They get it, too, now more than ever.
We were recently reminded that body shaming is one of the oldest stories. In the ancient writings of Genesis Adam and Eve, “felt ashamed and covered their nakedness.” No matter what you believe about the bible, it is interesting that the first story recorded has body shame in it. And so from body shame there is sex shame (slut-shaming comes to mind), and from sex shame there are secrets and lies that have built a cloud of fear, loneliness and being either controlled by the shame or feeling desperately out of control. Our deepest hurts can be about how we look. Our culture desperately needs new language and skills to drain the shame out of our beliefs about our bodies!
(Marla) I recently posted an abbreviated version of this on Facebook right after we finished binge-watching a very powerful Netflix show:
13 Reasons Why…I can’t even imagine being in high school right now. The bullying was bad enough (devastating really) in the mid 80’s where there were no cell phones and social media platforms to accentuate and broadcast our/my shame. I remember clearly the day that five or so other Freshman followed me from a distance from PE to English class and yelled things like, “You’re as ugly as a mutt, you’ve got freckles on your butt,” and “Too bad your butt’s so big. You’d be cute if you were skinner.” Wow. Really? I was 5 foot 4 inches tall and weighed a whopping 110!
The body and slut-shaming in 13 hit way too close to home, in a still very hidden place in my heart that I’ve realized needs another layer of exposure, forgiveness and healing. I was in a Christian boarding school and was categorized as a “slut” because I dated a lot of guys and made out with them. Did I make stupid decisions because of my deep desire to be approved of and loved? Of course. But that’s NEVER. An. Excuse. For. Shaming. My anorexia and bulimia raged an internal war against me, striving for control, perfection and some kind of absolution for that shameful 5 year old little girl, me, that had been sexually abused. I teared up at some point in almost every episode, my heart aching for Hannah’s devastating journey. Really for all of their heartbreaking journeys…
What’s probably the most heartbreaking is that we girls/women don’t build up and support each other. Is it our “not enoughness” that compels us to make each other small so that we can feel “enough”? In a crazy twist in my adulthood (over the past 16 years), when I was a pastor in three different churches in three different states, it was women who shunned me the most for being a female in a “male’s role,” for wearing a blouse too low, or pants too tight, or too much make up, and the list goes on and on and on. Sadly they were so absorbed in what I was wearing that they missed out on what I was saying. But actually the very worst of it was the shaming those ladies cast out onto our teen daughters. No wonder they don’t want anything to do with organized religion.
It is like being human is a crime. We’re here to tell you that it does not have to be. The awareness of your beauty (male or female), and the power to be beautiful, is inside of you. Know that you can make a difference, and the path to feeling empowered is right here.
After a few visits with one of our eighteen-year-old clients, an absolutely beautiful cheerleader, she said to us, “I feel like I get to choose how I feel instead of how shameful [the mean girls] try to make me feel.” These were girls who had shamed her for no reason other than the fact that they could. What is the point anyway of gossiping about someone’s flaws or their decisions, right or wrong. (By the way, it is the beautiful that get the worst of this. One clinician we know works with pro-basketball player’s wives and she says it is the most body-shamed group she has ever seen.)
Let’s all take a stand and not tolerate any body shaming, for yourself and anyone else. For us, it is absolutely not okay to hear someone say any disparaging thing about what someone is wearing, or any body issue, or how they are behaving sexually according to another person’s judgmental position. And we say it out loud when it happens in our hearing. It is fixable, we just all need to do the work to be fully present and express our feelings healthfully, all the while draining the shame out of the dark places.
Let’s get it together, ladies! WE NEED EACH OTHER. Let’s stop this madness and create a tsunami of love, connection, empathy, and compassion and change this story and change this world. And it starts with me. I love and support you, ALL of you, ladies in my life!
We’d love to hear your experiences. You are not alone. Let’s help others realize that they are not alone either.
Are you ready to be free of shame? We’d love to help you move beyond your shame into love and peace and empowerment and joy! Contact us today at email@example.com and give us your three difficult feelings about your experience and we’ll email you a free gift.
Remember...You love to Surf
Oooof... When you wake up and feel the weight of the world pressing down so hard that it’s like being crushed under water and ground into the sand by that one wave.
This morning was all of this for me. I felt hurt, sad, and confused. Yuck. I had forgotten that I love to surf.
So right now, in this moment, I am choosing how I desire to feel.
Does this mean I am ignoring, diminishing, discounting, or sweeping under the rug what I’m really feeling??? Nope, because I know all-too-well that these things would only hurt me more and eventually make me sick.
So I journal, write a few forgiveness letters, and step into my goal emotions—FREE, VULNERABLE, and TRUSTING.
“And how do you know what your goal emotions are?” you may be asking. Let me share with you how:
1) Go ahead and take a look at the feeling wheel posted in the comments and find the difficult feelings you may be experiencing.
2) Now, take a ruler and trace across to the Southside of the wheel and find the opposite feeling. These are your goal emotions.
Remember it’s your g o a l emotions that you desire and you may not actually f e e l them right away. Just remember YOU have the choice regarding how you feel and n o b o d y and n o t h i n g can take that away from you!
Now I’m surfing... Voila!
Ahhh, difficult words to consistently live by, aren’t they???? Certainly, for me they are! And when I don’t live by them I suffer. My coupleship suffers.
Jami would rather hear me fearlessly and gently express my truth than suppress it out of fear of being misunderstood or abandoned.
These are unprecedented times.
The stress level in coupleships is higher than ever before and you don’t have to let it take your dreams for yourself and your relationship away from you. So what can you do right now?
The answer is to cherish yourself enough to have a better conversation. This means doing things that you have not done.
It means making better agreements as you grow so that you can grow together instead of apart.
It means getting honest about your online shopping addiction, your porn use, your busyness, your stubbornness, or who is making you feel good about yourself on social media, or whatever other numbing-out technique you’re choosing at the moment.
It means letting your feelings about finances or how your partner treats
you be felt and known in humility and love.
It means doing the hardest thing you’ll ever do...be truthful, gentle, and fearless.
Social Distancing Linked to Increased Separation and Divorce: Three Things to Watch For
by Jami and Marla
Most couples aren’t doing well right now… The numbers are consistent worldwide and are not encouraging for marriages and long-term relationships. The increase in those filing for divorce is exponential (lawyers in China are seeing upwards of 300 new cases a day come across their desks) and it is tragic! Why? Because what we know beyond a shadow of a doubt–and our stats prove it–is that most coupleships are fixable and the impulse to break up a relationship longer than two years is unnecessary 97% of the time when a couple does the work together inside of our unique process.
Were you aware that according to the latest statistics more than half of people regret divorcing their partner?
“No way, really???” you may be saying. Yep!
While this number has decreased from a few years ago (several studies showed that 80% of divorced people regretted divorcing) what has been divulged to us is that this happens for one person in the relationship at a time. We call this the Key-Dagger: every couple has a key to their partner’s hearts and sadly also has access to the exact dagger to hurt them most. This Control/Abandonment Cycle is easy to see on our Feeling Wheel 5.0 in the three feelings on the top half of its center which are Abandonment, Fear, and Control.
What we see in the current climate of isolation is that you are exposed to a mirror of your crappiest behavior and that mirror is the eye-roll-instigating behavior of your partner. You don’t like how they are behaving because it happens to be your ugliest, too. The short version is that your partner not only may be using the dagger instead of the key for your heart, you also have to look at yourself harder in these times of social isolation. This is never easy, as coupleship does not get harder it just feels more dangerous the longer you are together.
What we know is that when the right tools are used (emotion identification/expression, empathy, and intentional listening) all of the daggers–the ughhhh–can be dealt with and turned into keys–the loveeee.
So, what now? First, watch out for these (totally fixable!) three issues:
Financial insecurity, pornography or other sexually explicit material use, and increased social media use. All three of these are dramatically on the rise right now as couples are sitting on the couch avoiding talking to each other about what really matters all the while seeking comfort elsewhere. Just because it’s easier and feels way better…at least in the moment.
The difficulty is that traditional marriage counseling actually increases the likelihood of divorce. True story. The statistics show that when a couple goes to counseling for their relationship EIGHTY PERCENT end up divorced! We actually have medical doctors that refer their patients to us because the docs have had several marriage counselors recommend divorce to their patients in the first marriage counseling session. This doesn’t have to be what the end looks like for you and your partner!
The financial cost of divorce is higher than can be measured but the average price tag is about $30,000 per couple in just the first months. Often these stats do not include the cost of two separate households.
The most profound cost that many do not consider is the years invested with the one you fell in love with (note: we are not talking about an abusive relationship–if you are being hurt emotionally and/or physically please seek assistance immediately). The years of life spent with a partner can never be retrieved. This unique person has contributed to your becomingness in signficant ways and it will be difficult to match this with a new partner. This is because of that old key-dagger. It turns out that you chose your love because of the key you hold to unlock your partner’s heart and teach you about yourself. And the painful reality is that if you don’t cherish yourself enough to have a better conversation you will lose that key. This. Is. Important. The cool thing is that here at JamiAndMarla.Love we often see significant results within just two or three sessions! This is because we coach/mentor as a team which is pretty unusual.
These are unprecedented times. The stress level in coupleships is higher than ever before and you don’t have to let it take your best dreams away from you. We have been helping other couples for over twenty-five years. We have done this by facing our own issues and practicing the tools… vigorously. Even so, we have had a few unusual fights over the last couple of weeks. Luckily, the tools we teach work really well and we are on it and all-in!
What to do right now???
The answer is to cherish yourself enough to have a better conversation. This means doing things that you have not done. It means making better agreements as you grow so that you can grow together instead of apart. It means getting honest (eventually when the right tools and agreements are in place) about your porn use, your busyness, your stubbornness, or who is making you feel good about yourself on social media or whatever other numbing-out technique you’re choosing at the moment. It means letting your feelings about finances and how your partner treats you be felt and known in humility and love. It means doing the hardest thing you’ll ever do and picking up that very heavy phone to call, text, email us right the frick NOW!
I just realized I’ve been holding my breath for so long, particularly the past two weeks. I have forgotten to breathe (breathe deeply).
The whole world feels like it's on pins and needles right now...What's going to happen? Will I be safe??? Will my coupleship make it through this quarantine? Etc. Etc. Etc.
Did you know that you cannot be anxious at the same time you are breathing deeply?
Anxiety is held in your upper chest and, wow, friends, I have held onto wayyyy too much and have been breathing wayyy to shallow.
Heartache does that to us.
Stress does that to us.
Anger does that to us.
Loneliness does that to us.
And on, and on, and on...
It’s time to take a huge breath out to release that shit and a massive breath in to breathe in the goodness and beauty and light.
Now breathe, and keep breathing deeply of the love that embraces you today.
Take good care of yourself and those you love.
Hugs to you all today,
Stress and You
Stress is at an all-time high. Looking around you begin to wonder if the frog that has been in a slowly warming pot realizes that the danger is real and just lacks the tools to get out?
As coaches, mentors, and consultants you help you find answers to the most important questions about yourself and your loved ones. Having these questions answered is important for your heart to heal forward.
Part of the answer is always the same. It is not shocking, it is not new, it is just that people often think they are already doing it, or that doing it is a one-time thing. For whatever reason, what you have found is that it is difficult to cherish yourself healthfully and consistently. And it is far easier to let distractions move you away from your core values.
The world is very loud right now. Never before has it felt like every decision you make is such a vital one. This long-term stress is not good for you, or anyone. Stress magnifies a person’s codependent or narcissistic motives and moves them from far away from their stated values, such as love and respect, and shifts their actions to control or abandonment in order to meet a perceived need for safety.
The funny thing is so few people stop to think about what it is they are perceiving because their brains have been wired to make those decisions automatically, and they have forgotten how to feel their feelings and make sense out of them before they react. Just look around–many people are acting before they are thinking.
The only way you can cherish yourself and develop the skills to shift from feeling controlled to feeling peace and from feeling abandoned to feeling joy so you can do your best for your loved ones is to get really good at feeling your emotions and speaking your truth in love.
Speaking your truth in love is easily seen as clear leadership. The kind of leadership that makes you proud to follow because it is authentic and not self-serving. The kind of leadership Dr. Amy Acton has been doing for Ohio’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.
The path to self-cherishing and building better communities means grieving the losses, forgiving the people around the stress and pain, so you can stand firm on the values you state for ourselves. I found myself being overwhelmed, depressed, and feeling generally afraid. Not only is this virus super complicated and if not handled well worldwide, potentially fatal, but the political system is also broken! Somehow this translates to people feeling justified in their rude behavior.
I will be honest with you… Prior to doing much of this work, I would have been suicidal. Luckily, Marla and I have worked with the tools we have been teaching for nearly thirty years, and the work has paid off bigtime. Allowing the hard emotions to be simply feelings and not a statement of my value allows me to see things clearer and appreciate the many gifts we have. The anger that was leveled at me for having an opinion when I was a kid was shocking especially since the fear that is behind this anger could have been managed so much better. Forgiving those with no manners does not mean taking any crap; it means learning how to set healthy boundaries and learning how to communicate better in general.
It is imperative to learn to communicate better so that you can once again hold true to the values you all hold dear. Those values are truth, justice, and liberty for all. Let’s band together and rebuild from this current crisis by learning a new way of communicating.
If you need help on how to get started contact us and you will get you the resources you need to get started on the best values clarification exercise you have ever experienced and–surprise!–it starts with cherishing yourself. Best of all, you can do this for free with just a little guidance.
Let’s fight the extreme rise of stress by learning to communicate so well, so powerfully that everyone feels heard!
(e)motion + (em)path(y) = Love
Ahhhhhh, yes. Breathe this in for a sec... How are you feeling about this equation? One thing I know is that our world could use a lot more of this. To be clear the “emotion” piece represents expressing my emotions—the good, the bad, the ugly (side note: there are no “bad” emotions; ALL feelings are important and are telling us something important if we’ll stop and listen carefully to our heartspeak)—in a healthy, loving, and humble way.
Have we, as a nation, lost our ability to truly LOVE EACHOTHER??? I think Jesus has a few words on this topic...
We certainly do not have to agree and I am absolutely comfortable with agreeing to disagree. What I’m not okay with is superiority, hate, raging, and name-calling just to name a few. And Jesus wasn’t either.
I fully admit that I have struggled with these things that I hate. I intentionally take time daily to move through the hard feelings. And it. Is. Hard. But it is saving my heart and some difficult relationships in my life.
Would you be willing to join us in practicing love (healthy expressions of feelings coupled with empathy) on the daily???
Jami and I would love to re-create a new world with you, one where the flourishing of all creation is at the center. Let’s change the world together!
I'm a Recovering Control Freak
Who’s a recovering control freak???
Yep, and I know exactly where it comes from... Are you leaning in for this?
The fear of being judged or disapproved of. Yikes.
When we have come to believe in the voices that call us worthless and unlovable, then success (control), popularity (control), perfection (control), being “right” (control), and power (control) are easily perceived as attractive solutions. (Note: none of these things are wrong; it’s when they become the idols we worship that they are dangerous and life-sucking.)
The real trap, however, is self-rejection. Reject myself before anybody else can reject me... Resonate? Me, too.
As soon as someone accuses me or criticizes me, as soon as I am rejected, left alone, or abandoned, I too-often (still!) find myself thinking, “Well, that proves once again that I am unimportant” … [My dark side says,] “I am no good, it worthy of love and acceptance… I deserve to be pushed aside, forgotten, rejected, and abandoned.”
Self-rejection is the greatest enemy of...
Philosopher, theologian, and humble sage Henri Nouwen writes, “Being the Beloved constitutes the core truth of our existence.”
The core truth of our existence is being the Beloved...
Sink your teeth into that delicious morsel of truth. Wowza.
You are in control of this fight for freedom from control. And YOU ARE WORTHY of your name The Beloved. Embrace it today and know that you are loved, important, and valuable because you are the Beloved.
Peace is Right Around the Corner
Ah, yes, this...
It’s so hard.
And yet so important.
You deserve it. Your heart deserves it. Your relationship(s) deserve it.
It’s for YOU and doesn’t mean you ever have to see them again.
Forgiveness does not always mean reconciliation. (But so often it does. ) What it does mean is peace...humble power...joy...and so much self love.
Engage. Live long. And prosper.
Marla and Jami
Cofounders of JamiAndMarla.LOVE (fka Passion Provokers and Keller Coaching) Jami and Marla are proud to bring a new level of success to coupleships worldwide with their unique coaching, mentoring, and consulting process. Their blogs are not only informative for coupleships they are personal. For over 25 years they have been helping people create emotionally and physically intimate coupleships.
Ariel is a freelance blogger, web designer, and SEO consultant. She is 23 years young, married to her soulmate, and a proud “mother” to boxer Bruce and Yorkie Dexter. She focuses on writing content that is raw and relatable. (Info relevant at the time of writing, circa 2013-2015)