‘It takes a tribe to heal trauma’ because evolutionarily we need people to feel safe again. But where do we get the help we need?
It ought to be the most obvious thing in the world, that as a society we support those who have suffered trauma – especially chronic childhood trauma. But unfortunately that’s not the case.
Part of the reason for this is that, in Joanna Moncrieff’s words, we ‘medicalise misery’ – we insist that people (like me) are mentally ill, as if something has gone wrong with our brain, rather than ‘traumatised’, which is a natural, in-built, logical response to something going wrong in our experience (for example, abuse).
Getting help within the medical model for the impacts of traumas therefore harder than it ought to be. We are often forced to participate in systems of care which don’t always feel very caring, and pursue labels and diagnoses which may (or may not) provide access to ‘treatment’, but which may in the process increase our stigma and shame.
My own pathway, out of necessity, has been through paying privately for psychotherapy. It has been a means to an end but it cannot be the ideal for us as a society. There are no easy answers at the moment, but this section provides a few pointers and areas of discussion.
What should not be in doubt – but which, because of the nature of the trauma we have suffered, is often the biggest thing we doubt – is that we are worthy of care and compassion, and of getting the help we need. Sometimes our biggest battle is being willing to battle for what we do not believe we deserve – the right help.
When faced with overwhelming trauma, dissociation can be the only logical thing our brains are able do to help us to survive. Join me as I explore what happens in the brain during trauma, why dissociation is the brain’s best way of surviving when overwhelmed by life-threat, how dissociative disorders develop and how best to support trauma survivors rediscover a sense of safety with a dysregulated nervous system.Start Learning
Is recovery possible? I'd say it is … based not just on my own personal experience, but on the fact that it’s how our bodies and brains are designed by default. Often when people don’t recover, it’s a problem with the therapy or the ‘treatment’, rather than a problem with a person. In this thought-provoking podcast, I bring hope for healing.Start Listening
Is recovery from trauma and abuse - resulting in dissociation and even a dissociative disorder - possible? That's the subject of this podcast where I talk about the vulnerability of hoping for good things, the difference between correlation and causation, and the difference between hoping for and planning for.Start Listening
The recommended treatment for dissociative disorders is psychotherapy, but how do you go about finding a therapist or counsellor? This article guides you through the process, either via the NHS or privately.Continue Reading
It’s scary to think you’ve ‘gone mad’. It’s scary to think you have some serious, incurable ‘mental illness’. It’s scary to not understand what on earth is going on in your brain. And perhaps what’s even scarier is finding out that what is ‘wrong’ with you has a name: dissociative identity disorder.Continue Reading
How do you go about getting a diagnosis for dissociative identity disorder? In this guest blog, one client describes her long struggle for treatment on the NHS and the path to the Clinic for Dissociative Survivors.Continue Reading
Do female clients prefer female therapists and male clients prefer male clients? Or are there more pressing questions to ask other than gender? Who would you work with?Continue Reading
You’ve come a long way. Misdiagnoses, mistreatment, maltreatment even—but eventually you’re here. You’ve found a therapist willing to work with you—either privately or on the NHS—and so now you’re expecting it just to happen. Right? Wrong!Continue Reading
Someone who has dissociative identity disorder may have distinct, coherent identities that are able to assume control of their behaviour and thought. Read on to find out more about this poorly-understood phenomenon.Continue Reading
‘I’m not seeing a doctor!’ I insisted with a look on my face that was intended to end the debate once and for all. As far as I was concerned, it was simple: I wasn’t going to the hospital, walk-in centre or GP surgery, because I couldn’t go. I couldn’t cope with going. Such was my abject terror that, unless it was a matter of life or death, I avoided all things medical. The problem? This was rapidly becoming a matter of life and death.Continue Reading
Everybody has mental health. The question is how good it is, and how we manage it. We need strategies for managing our emotions and feelings. In this article I share my own.Continue Reading
For a long time, therapy sessions would end with a fairly typical exchange. I would express frustration at myself for not doing enough, and gently but firmly the response from my therapist would go, ‘Be kind to yourself.’Continue Reading
‘How can I help you?’ the therapist asks me. ‘What do you need from me?’ I look at her closely, examining her features, whilst also looking through her, to make sure I don’t connect too closely. First the fear: Is this a trick? What does she mean? What does she want? Why is she saying this? Then the shame: What right have I to be helped? And afterwards, the sadness: No-one has ever offered to help me. Three emotions in three seconds.Continue Reading
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