Things you will learn in this episode:
[00:01 – 05:27] Opening Segment
Tiffany talks about her background
Went to West Point – a military academy
Got a scholarship to attend medical school at Boston University
Tiffany talks about getting into a car accident
[05:28 – 16:59] Dealing with Trauma and Grief
Tiffany shares about growing up and not being taught how to deal with trauma
Tiffany talks about dealing with PTSD in her childhood
Experienced sexual abuse
The collateral damages from her trauma
As a kid, how are you supposed to know what love is?
[17:00 – 20:35] How Trauma and Grief are Viewed in Other Cultures
Tiffany shares her opinion about cultural differences in dealing with trauma
[20:36 – 35:56] Coping with Trauma and Grief
Tiffany talks about how she coped with trauma
Quick shoutout to our Facebook Page
What are some of the signs that someone is dealing with trauma?
Tiffany talks about the toughest part of her journey
[35:57 – 51:32] Hurting Anyone During the Process
Tiffany shares about how she made amends with people she hurt while dealing with trauma
What made you choose to correct that destructive behavior?
Does one have to go through fire or dark times to come out of the other side in order to make a change?
Tiffany encourages that everybody should be proactive with mental health and physical health
[51:33 – 59:31] Closing Segment
What advice would you give your younger self?
Never feel like the victim, never feel sorry for yourself
Advice and coping skills Tiffany would teach her kids someday
Tiffany shares some resources and ventures that are benefitting her
Quick shout out to the people who helped her
The Gift of Suffering
Texas-born and raised, Tiffany was one of four siblings and the first person in her family to graduate from college. After graduating from West Point Military Academy, Tiffany was headed to Boston University medical school on a scholarship, but a devastating car accident made her re-evaluate her desire to become a doctor. The accident, which caused multiple brain injuries, brought up a lot of trauma from Tiffany’s past sexual abuse, while she was trying to heal from the physical wounds. Tiffany realized that her car accident gave her an opportunity to heal what was preventing her from thriving in relationships, jobs, and life in general. But the greatest benefit of confronting her trauma and starting to heal was working on and improving her relationship with herself.
When Trauma is Suppressed
We learn how to cope with trauma in early childhood, mostly through our primary caregivers. Tiffany learned from her parents that bad things just happen and that one has to keep on moving along, advice that she found hurtful and unhelpful. She felt unheard and dismissed, saddened that no one was there to take her concerns seriously. She also couldn’t take refuge in her church community, since her abuser was attending her church. When she left the church altogether, there was even more tension and suppression of feelings in her family. This early unresolved trauma set Tiffany up to feel shame, have trouble with establishing boundaries, and not understand how love is expressed in a healthy way. She was desperate to please others instead of focusing on having a healthy relationship with herself first.
The car accident was only a trigger for what was to become a downward spiral for Tiffany. She had trouble keeping her jobs, she lacked discipline, and she remembers spreading negativity to her coworkers and other people in her life. When she tried to take her own life and luckily didn’t succeed, she had to face up to the life she was living and make concrete changes.
She realized that she has so much to live for and she really wanted to live a life worth living. But how does one make that first crucial step toward a better life? Tiffany had to start a journey of forgiveness and self-love, believing that her life was worth it and that she can indeed make a positive difference in other people’s lives.
Learning to Cope
Tiffany sought talk therapy, but it didn’t work for her, because she was constantly talking about and re-experiencing her traumas. In time, she saw that she wasn’t making any progress and that she needed to approach her healing differently. What did work for Tiffany is to establish a trusting relationship with her primary care physician who held her accountable to work on herself and who was able to prescribe medication that helped her. Tiffany also implemented cognitive-behavioral techniques in her life, got into better physical shape, and surrounded herself with successful people that kept her on track.
She believes that fixing the simplest and the most basic things in life such as eating well, exercising, and having a stable source of income can be a great place to start making positive changes. Aligning to and doing what we care about will also help us move in the right direction. Once we put our life into perspective, we will realize that those small things we are worrying about diminishing in importance. When we focus on our purpose, our seemingly unsolvable hang-ups can easily melt away. Tiffany also recommends faith-based therapy for those who have a religious background or inclination, because we are more likely to be open to help those with whom we are culturally aligned.
Advice to Younger Self
If Tiffany could give her younger self some words of advice, it would be to never feel like a victim. Whenever something happens to us, we can look inward and ask ourselves what we may have done to create a certain outcome in our life. We can constantly work on something that we want to improve on and make peace with things that we cannot change.
Are you ready to find ways to overcome your anxiety, grief, or trauma? Reach out to one of our culturally-sensitive trained coaches and counselors who you can relate to, and who can recommend effective, alternative solutions for your specific needs!
You can listen to the full episode on YouTube here.
You can connect with Tiffany online on Linkedin.
“You need to fix you before you can be good for anybody else, but just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean that you don’t need to also fix your behavior.” – Tiffany Montgomery