From Surviving to Thriving on the Journey to Wholeness

Darlene Ouimet CTACC

I am so excited to have been invited to be a contributor to this amazing network.  As a result of sexual abuse, I developed dissociated identity disorder and started to have serious depressions by the age of ten. I was struggling with an eating disorder, drug addiction and alcohol dependency by the age of 16.  I found some help for addictions when I was 23 and managed to get married and have 3 children but the dissociative identity and depressions got worse as the kids started to grow.

Feeling worthless and giving up all hope I started to make plans to leave my husband and 3 young children. I confided in my friend who convinced me to try therapy one more time.  I had nothing to lose this time and I didn’t hold back anything in my sessions. My therapist used a model of causal therapy; looking at the roots of the trauma and how my belief system was full of false things I believed were truth. The details of my life came out and through the process of recovery I realized that many things in my life had contributed to the serious problems I was having. I believed hundreds of lies that were fed to me and the therapy process became one of realizing what those lies were, where they were born and then replacing them with the truth.  I got stronger and began to see light at the end of the tunnel. In the end it was the truth that set me free and I got my life and my identity back.

I made a complete recovery from dissociated identity (including multiple personality disorder) and chronic depressions. I went back to school and got my certification in life coaching with a specialty in relationships. I developed a passion to share my process.  I was invited to be a regular inspirational speaker at mental health seminars accepted an invitation to join that counseling firm as the Director of Client Relations.

Today as a mental health advocate, what I bring to the community of survivors of any kind of abuse or mental health struggle is a message of hope and a new way of looking at the past in order to move forward. Realizing the impact I was having on clients at the seminars that I was speaking at, I decided to increase my reach, and start sharing my story and recovery on the internet. My blog “Emerging from Broken” has quickly become popular in the survivor community.  My co-author Carla Dippel and I offer unique insights and have a way of cutting through the false beliefs that victims of abuse hold deeply in their hearts inspiring healing and hope for wholeness.

I look forward to meeting you and to sharing recovery on the journey to wholeness.

Darlene Ouimet

7 Things You Can Do Right Now To Start Feeling Better

Anxious? Depressed? Stressed? Overwhelmed by trauma memories? You will want to do things to help yourself feel better as quickly as possible, without doing anything that has negative consequences. It takes time to recover but there are simple things you can do right now.

  1. Get enough sleep. Sleep deprivation has a profound impact on mood. Are you getting enough restful sleep? If not, consider these basic sleep hygiene guidelines
  2. Practice deep breathing, relaxation or guided imageryDeep breathing can be practiced anywhere and can immediately shift your mood,  help decrease anxiety.  I like Belleruth Naparstek’s guided imagery.  She even has a free audio spa treatment .  An Internet search can help you find other options that works for you.
  3. Smell something.  Our sense of smell can evoke emotions and connect us vividly to past experiences.  Choose  a scent that conjures up positive associations, happiness, well-being. Many find lavender to be calming, for example.
  4. Connect to nature. Being in nature can help people get out of themselves, connect with something larger or feel more grounded.  Exposure to natural light helps mood as well. Live in the city? You can still do it: watch birds,  feed squirrels,  plant a container garden, notice the sunset or sunrise.  Do you have a pet?  Can you spend time with a friend’s? Animals are a great source of unconditional love and companionship.
  5. Do something physical. Research shows that physical activity relieves symptoms of depression and anxiety while also helping with insomnia. You don’t have to think of it as “exercise”,  just move in a way you enjoy. Walking your dog, dancing, biking, gardening, yoga are all options. Join a team and also accomplish #6.
  6. Connect to others. We all need human connection.  Do you have supportive friends you can reach out to? If not, explore in-person or online support groups, classes, activities.
  7. Seek professional help. Sometimes the ideas above are not enough or there are reasons you cannot put them into practice.  Even taking the first step towards seeking help can be a relief. You do not have to struggle alone.  Contact me and I can help you with the next steps.

Kathleen Young, Psy.D.