How do you talk about trauma?
How do you talk about childhood sexual abuse? Or childhood abuse? Or rape at any age – childhood or adult? Or any type of crime that has been committed against you?
It is important to be open with you counselor, I understand that. I have an absolutely amazing therapist! She makes me feel comfortable and I feel like she would understand and believe what I told her.
I do not know how to talk to her though. I have written a few things, but even with that, it is hard. I cannot go into details about things. Writing or saying things just makes it real. I don’t want it to be real. I know it is real though – and I just want it to all go away. It won’t though, and it haunts me, and until I deal with it — I am always going to feel bad and have these flashbacks and nightmares and want to hurt myself and die as much as I do. I know I have bipolar and borderline personality along with my PTSD. But I know if I deal with this PTSD, my symptoms will go down much more.
How does everyone else talk about their traumas? Or just talk in general? How do you let our your feelings, your frustrations, your thoughts? I’m so scared to. I want to. I think about it over and over in my head because therapy. All week sometimes. I go in there with what I want to say. I have rehearsed it in my mind. Then, when I want to say it, my mouth can’t. It is like it is all jumbled up.
I have gotten better about opening up. But not about much. It is never going to go away unless I talk. I know that. She has told me. I believe her. I just don’t know how to. This is the first time I have ever face this stuff in therapy. I have told her more than I have told anyone else. I have gotten a lot out, but there is so much more.
So, how do you all do it? How do you talk in therapy? If you have been through abuse, sexual abuse, rape – anything like that – how do have you been able to talk about it? Even if you haven’t been through any type of abuse — how do you talk in therapy, how do you let out your emotions?
I recently read a wonderful post written by the Musings of Fred. It discussed how the signs of mental illness in minors are often ignored. This post hit home with me. It was extremely true for my particular case growing up. Not only were my signs of mental health issues ignored, but even when they came to light, they were just not addressed.
Why does this happen? Why does it take so long for parents to step in and get help for their children? Honestly, I don’t have the answer. I am not a psychologist or psychiatrist. I have done no research whatsoever. So I am not here to give some scientific answer.
I just I just wanted to give my thoughts. And I wanted to see what everyone else thought.
For me, I honestly hid my emotions and feelings of depression quite well. I am not sure my parents actually knew up front. My mom did find a suicide note when I was in 6th grade though, and she asked me about it, and then it was never talked about again. Some teachers asked me about my depression, but again, did nothing. One teacher seemed to care, but he abused his power and molested me. This is when it all came to light – my 8th grade school counselor found out about the molestation, she told my parents, I was cutting and I was suicidal. My school counselor urged them to put me in therapy. I did not want to deal with anything and did not want to go. My parents never discussed anything with me and I was never put into therapy.
My mental health deteriorated over time, Deteriorated a lot, suicidal thoughts were awful, life was awful, my parents never stepped in, teachers never stepped in. No one seemed to care even though everyone seemed to be aware.
I think a lot of people were in denial. How could I be having problems? My grades were still perfect 0 straight A’s in fact. I was in all AP classes. How could someone doing so well in school really want to die, how could they be destroying their lives – they had a bright future. I don’t think my parents wanted to believe that I had been molested. I don’t think they wanted to believe that their child had a mental illness. I don’t think my teachers wanted to get involved and as some told me, I always seemed to be better at the end of each semester when my grades mattered.
I told people I didn’t want help when I was younger, and yeah, I was scared of getting help because of what my teacher did to me. I had told him about being depressed, and he took advantage of me. But I also longed to not feel the way I was feeling. I wanted someone to save me from my mind and how much it was torturing me.
I hope that people quit ignoring the kids and adolescents that need help. I hope that those that are reaching our for help, and those that are silently suffering because they don’t know how to reach out for help or feel they cant, can receive the help they need. Too often people do see the signs – teachers, pastors, friends, and family, they do see the signs – but the blind themselves to them. They don’t want to believe it could happen in their kid. They are too preoccupied with their own problems or work. They think it is just a phase.
We can’t look the other way anymore. I truly believe if someone had helped me when I was younger, I wouldn’t have had such a hard time in college, I would be suffering as much as I am now. Yes, I said I didn’t need help then, I said I didn’t want therapy then. I was 13 or 14 though. I didn’t know what I wanted. I was scared. I didn’t want my friends to judge me. I shouldn’t have been able to make that decision, I was a kid.
If you want to know more about warning signs in kids from preschool to the teen age years click here.
Continually thinking about your problems can interfere with your concentration. Most people expect that thinking through their problems will help solve them. But continual thinking and thinking usually can’t solve a problem. For example, if your spouse leaves you, running this fact through your head a thousand times won’t change things.
-Dr. Neal Houston, Sociologist
I ruminate all the time! I saw this quote and it struck me as completely true! Sitting and thinking about something over and over again does not fix anything. Sure, I come to conclusions about things sometimes, but usually I can come to those conclusions fairly quickly – but I still will continue to think and think and think, and question and question and question. My therapist calls this the snowball effect – it pretty much is just that. I think one thing, ask a question, think of that, ask another question, think of that, and so on and so on. It progressively gets worse and worse. The thoughts get more dangerous. For me personally, they can lead to a deeper depression and even the suicidal ideations.
I have to nip them in the bud. This is where Cognitive Behavioral Therapy comes in for me. The whole Triangle thing comes in – for those of you who have taken CBT. My thoughts affect my emotions affect my behavior and back to my thoughts. I have to change one of those things to change the others. So for me, it would be to change my thoughts so that I don’t act out on a behavior (the suicidal thoughts) and my emotions (my depressive thoughts) do not get worse. Or I need to do a behavior (a distraction – painting, reading, writing, etc) – so that I can quit ruminating on my thoughts.
This is such a hard thing for me to do and remember to do. I will get so sucked up into thinking that I do not even realize that I am going over and over the thoughts in my head until it is too late and I feel like I cannot even get out of it. I begin to get so overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed and then do not even want to do anything or feel I cannot do anything to get out of the situation. It is so important to not get stuck in this sort of situation. Practicing this CBT is very important to keep our thoughts on the right track. I definitely do not do it enough.
College is a time for exploration – figuring out what we believe, learning what we want to do with our lives, and meeting a lot of new people. It can be a time of great stress too though, and when we have a mental illness this can make our adjustment to college life hard. Sometimes, just adjusting to college in general can bring depression to the forefront. Here are stories from students at three universities, discussing their struggles with mental illness – everything from depression and anxiety to OCD and anorexia.
Leeds University Students Discuss Their Mental Health
University College Dublin Students Discuss Their Mental Health
Trinity College Dublin Students Discuss Their Mental Health
This is a wonderful poem that I was given when I was inpatient. Then I was given it again while in therapy. There is so much power in this poem and I feel like it represent my struggle with mental illness so much. I feel like I have gone back and forth between the chapters of it multiple times in my life and I am sure I will continue to throughout my life.
A POETIC INTERLUDE: AUTOBIOGRAPHY IN FIVE SHORT CHAPTERSby Portia NelsonI
I walk, down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in
I am lost…. I am helpless
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again
I can’t believe I am in the same place but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.’
I still fall in…. it’s a habit, my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
I walk down another street.
I had no idea what was going on with me. I was 10 and sad. But I wasn’t just sad. I was really sad.
I was 11 and I wanted to die. I planned on how to die. Our school was taking a trip to Six Flags and I wrote out my suicide note, and I put it in my backpack and I was going to kill myself at the park. My mom found it though, she asked me if she needed to keep me home. I said I was fine and went to catch my bus. It was never talked about again.
I was 13 and still really sad. Suicide still ran rampant in my head. My art teacher found out. He found out about my home life. I trusted him. I thought he would help me. He said he was going to. But he took advantage of me. He made me do things to him. He did things to me. He verbally abused me. He sexually abused me. He hurt me. I believed all his lies. He molested me and hurt me and fucked me up so bad. I wanted to die more than ever before.
I was 14 and moved to a new city. Life was worse than ever before. A new school and no friends. My school counselor found out about what my teacher did. Chaos broke out. I didn’t want to deal with it. I began cutting. I did not tell the police everything. He was never charged. My depression became more severe. I became sick from stress. I missed more than half the school year and stayed home because I was “sick.”
I was 15 and 16 and 17 and high school happened. My depression trapped me. I faked my smiles and I wore my mask. I immersed myself in school work. I tried to pretend like I was happy and make myself believe I was. Deep down I was choking, I could barely breathe. Every day I planned my death. I didn’t even believe I would make it to graduation. Surely I would do something before then.
Graduation came and went. I was 18. College was a new start. Surely life could start over now. I was raped. My mental health went down hill. For the first time in my life I was put into counseling. I couldn’t talk though. I didn’t know how to express myself. I isolated more than ever. I cried more than ever.
Therapy continued and I made no progress, but I just kept going. I kept my emotions in for so long that I just avoided everything. I turned 21 and my life went upside down. My arm was paralyzed. I lost control. Again. The molestation. The rape. My arm. I had lost control again. I needed to die now. My depression consumed me. The year was 2009.
Trigger Warning – the next paragraph mentions a suicide attempt
I had many suicide attempts. My worst was in May 2012 though. I had strategically overdosed on Tylenol. After being given the antidote (Mucomyst) and Reglan, both of which I had reactions to, I was transported to the ICU where I spent 4 days before being sent to the psychiatric hospital. This was not my first time in the ICU but it was the worst attempt I had. And it was also somewhat of a wake up call. It was my last attempt, but not my last visit to the psych hospital.
Between January 2011, my first psychiatric hospitalization, and October 2012 – I had 15 psychiatric hospitalizations and ended up with three diagnosis (bipolar, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder). On that last hospitalization I was committed for 6 months to the state hospital. I was terrified, but at the same time, I was so frustrated and sick of life, I really didn’t care what happened to me. I was so sure that I would kill myself no matter what anyone did and that I had no future, that it didn’t matter to me. The state hospital was the best thing that happened to me though.
On Halloween of October 2012 I went to the state hospital via the backseat of a Sherriff’s car. It was a two hour drive and it took me to a life changing experience. I had the best psychiatrist, psychologist, nurses, rec therapist, music therapist, group therapists, psych techs, dietician, and other support staff possible. They were all determined to get me and others back on the right track. I left the hospital in April 2013 more stable than I had been in a long time. On the correct combo of meds and with coping skills that I actually felt comfortable using.
Today, in 2014, I still struggle. I have been hospitalized since being out of the state hospital. But in no way am I in and out like I was two years ago. I take my medication and I acknowledge that I need it. I accept that I have a mental illness and I try to educate myself about them. I attend therapy and participate in it actively. I am working through my PTSD which has been a huge factor in my hatred of myself and life. I am always working on improving and finding new coping skills. I continue to attend my support groups.
I know I can continue to fight. I know I don’t have to let it consume me anymore. I don’t have to let it win. It still knocks me down sometimes. I just have to make sure I keep getting back up.
Homosexuality. Gay. Lesbian. Bisexual. Transgender. Questioning. Asexual.
These are not a mental illness. In 1973 The American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees removed homosexuality from it’s list of diagnoses in the DSM. All major mental health professionals agree with this, that it is not a mental health condition.
However, there are greater levels of mental health problems within this group of individuals. It is not due to their beliefs though. In large part, it is thought to be due to the discrimination and stigma that they face on a daily basis.
When a young person is faced with “coming out” to their parents or peers, and rejected by either, their risk for depression and suicide is quite high. Anxiety and self harm becomes and issue as well. Substance abuse might begin to occur. Abuse – physically and emotionally at home can occur. All of these factors can lead to a decline in mental health and serious mental illness later on in life.
It is important that mental health issues of that are LGBTQ are addressed if they need to be. No, not everyone in this group has them. But when they do occur, they should not be afraid to seek help. And there should be adequate resources to help them.
We should stand behind them to help them get the support they need. All too many times people tell them they need to change, to seek help from church, to pray, even to get “conversion therapy.” I am not here to debate beliefs on this blog and will not do so. I am simply here to discuss that those that are so defeated by the stigma and discrimination due to their own beliefs feel the need to escape life by suicide or self injury or substance abuse – need help. Professional help through counseling, therapy, psychiatry. Friendship and understanding.
I had friends come out in middle school, I had friends come out in high school, I had a lot of friends that were out in college. I am 26 so I knew people that were coming out when we were 12,13 back in 2000 or so. It was hard for them. They were not treated that great. But then, once they came out, a few others did too, and it wasn’t such a big deal. Honestly, in my generation, it really isn’t as big of a deal as it was a long time ago. But it still is a really big deal at the same time. So, if you know someone battling stress, anxiety, self harm, substance abuse, or suicidal thoughts related specifically to this issue – here are some resources.
Some resources are:
GLBT National Hotline: 1-888-843-4564
GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-PRIDE (7743)
Online peer-support chat: http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org/chat/index.html