Life Beyond The Shadows

It all began when her husband returned from the last of 5 Tours of Duty in Iraq.  Jennifer Hambright realized she needed to understand what her husband had been through in service to our nation so she could help him, herself and their marriage survive.  With her husband’s Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), the road to recovery for the couple began; aided significantly with Jennifer enrolling into school to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).  Upon earning her degree, she applied and obtained her LCSWA from the NC Social Work Certification and Licensure Board, taking and passing the State exam to become fully licensed in 2018.  In 2016 she began her career with Trinity Behavioral Health Care at first in their Burlington Office then moved to their Yanceyville Office in late 2017.  At the end of 2018 she joined Whispering Willows Counseling Services in Yanceyville while starting her own practice.  Branching completely from Whispering Willows Counseling Services in 2020 for her own practice, Life Beyond The Shadows Counseling, PLLC within the Municipal Building – 158 E Church St., Yanceyville, NC.   

Now well on the other side of those challenges that brought Jennifer to this work, she shared with the Chamber, how it has developed into a lifelong passion to help others work through their own trauma. But what is trauma?   According to the Center of Anxiety Disorders, trauma is defined as a psychological, emotional response to an event or an experience that is deeply distressing or disturbing. This definition can refer to something upsetting, such as being involved in an accident, having an illness or injury, losing a loved one, or going through a divorce.  Impactful events such as abuse, serving in wartime and other events wherein someone has been threatened or is unprotected.  

In a conversation with Jennifer she explained how her specialty is now helping people work through many types of trauma (not just PTSD) they have faced in life.  And most all of us have experienced some type of trauma that we may not be handling in a way that is best for us. No mater what your life path has looked like, many have been through the shadows or dark unhappy events/times in our lives.  

In fact, often, we do not realize that the physical ailments and health conditions we have can be traceable to some type of a ‘shadow’ experience that we did not process and work through in a way that allowed us to move on.  That experience over time materialized into physical pain and other health conditions.  Individuals tend to take prescribed medications for mental illnesses, but studies show 10% of the healing as these are just addressing the symptoms of the underlying cause of one’s mental illness. They are chemicals that regulates one’s emotions, thought patterns, and symptoms with potential side effects and discovering the right combination that works for you can become difficult.  Whereas mental health therapy addresses the underlying causes of mental illnesses by focusing on one’s thoughts, behaviors, and beliefs.  Taking it even further to one’s environment, past ‘shadows’, and family history as mental health illnesses just as health conditions; can be passed through generations and start to develop while in their mother’s womb.  Medications cannot cure mental illness but can assist in managing the symptoms of mental illness.  If these psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants, are so effective as some people believe, then why has the number of people suffering with depression increased dramatically over the past two decades?  Listen to your doctors regarding medications, but also include mental health therapy to improve your life and heal.  Our mind and body are incredibly powerful, so much that our body keeps the score of our mental illness.  It is your mind and body and you are in control of it along with your choices, consequences (good or bad), and you are the only one that can make a change in your life to move from the ‘shadows’ into your new life.  

Jennifer shares that she enjoys working and partnerships with the health providers in and out of the county; she has been able to work with Caswell Family Medical Center, Piedmont Health, Ariel Care, Home Health Services, and the Caswell County Health Department.  She welcomes other health providers to work and/or partner with her.  She is welcoming new clients and is often told her approach is different from previous counseling experiences they have had.  You won’t find the typical doctor’s office like setting as Jennifer believes it is important for her to meet her clients where they are for her clients to feel comfortable in a more casual environment vs. a clinical medical setting.   Jennifer believes in providing the tools and techniques to help individuals find their own way to their healing vs being told what to do. 

As a nation we are collectively going through something never experienced in our lives with the corona virus and each of us will have unique ways that we process that.  There is no shame in seeking healing from this or any other mental illness or issues going on in your life.  Depression and anxiety come and go throughout one’s life but trauma can stay for the rest of your life if one does not learn the skills and techniques to work through these times/events.

Seeking help for a mental health illness can be scary, difficult, confusing, hard, embarrassing, and at times go against what one has been taught; examples: (showing your emotions is a sign of weakness, we keep things inside, don’t let outsiders know what is going on, suck it up there’s nothing wrong with you, and so many more) it does not make one any less of a person to seek help.  Actually, it makes them a better person because they realize they need help and go get help.  Then being diagnosed/labeled with a mental health illness can be scary, embarrassing, and ext.  Mental health illnesses are not always straightforward to diagnosis, but the correct diagnosis is critical for one’s wellbeing.  The possibility of being misdiagnosis can happen with any condition as so many symptoms overlap between each diagnosis that is why it is important to seek out the correct specialist/clinician/therapist/doctor.  The effects of misdiagnosis can create confusion within you, incorrect medication prescribed, utilization of incorrect therapy model, and worsening your condition.  Misdiagnosis happens when one’s complete history is not disclosed, symptoms are masked, when there are multiple diagnoses, and when the individual performing the assessment does not consider all possible factors and looks only at the symptoms.  To increase correct diagnosis, it is important to be completely open and honest, create a record of symptoms and behaviors when they occur, and seek out the right specialist/clinician/therapist/doctor.  Would you go to the dentist if you have a deep cut, problems breathing, or an infection, etc.?  Probably not.  Would you go to an orthopedic surgeon when you have cardiovascular problems?  Probably not.  So, what is stopping you from seeing a mental health specialist (clinician/therapist) when you have symptoms related to mental health?  It is your life that is in your control with your choice, consequences (good or bad), and willingness to change.  Learning to live and move forward with one’s mental health condition requires an open professional relationship with one’s specialist/clinician/therapist. Give therapy a try you may discover your life moving from your ‘shadows’ and healing bringing sunshine and joy back into your life. To set up a time to visit with Jennifer call her at 336-524-5623.