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    t3 Threads: Changing the Conversation

    Gaslighting: A Story of Trauma and Resiliency

    Gaslighting typically happens very gradually. In the beginning, the gaslighter’s actions seem harmless, if a little bizarre. Over time, however, abusive behaviors escalate. Subtly dismissive language and loving platitudes give way to mockery and blaming. “I didn’t say anything. You must be hearing things," gives way to “You never take responsibility for your actions,” to “Clearly, I can’t trust your account of things.” You start to doubt your own memories, experiences, and feelings. Friendships frost over. You become quiet, but your mind never stops buzzing.

    Gaslighting is an abusive tactic defined by the “systematic attempt by one person to erode another's reality by telling them that what they are experiencing isn't so, and the gradual giving up on the part of the other person.

    Trauma Therapies Support Enduring Sense of Safety

    Trigger Warning: Trauma re-enactment

    I am 65 years old and a trauma survivor. When I entered therapy, I was labeled as having an adolescent adjustment reaction. Years later, the mental health label was changed repeatedly—from schizoaffective disorder to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression and then later to dissociative identity disorder, paranoia, and bipolar disorder. It was clear to me that my trauma symptoms determined the diagnosis. I wanted a cure and a reduction of my symptoms, instead of a variety of methods to merely manage them.

    My commitment to making therapy work was matched by the efforts of my therapist. She is a learner spirit and as tenacious as I am. Even so, it has taken a lifetime to arrive at an enduring sense of safety and freedom from the daily derailing of my consciousness by the intrusion of trauma memory content. Therapy changed as new knowledge of the impact of trauma emerged. I wondered if there was a way to combine therapies to improve the quality of my life and speed recovery.

    Elder Homelessness: Acknowledging the Need and Responding

    We see the need almost every day. As we move through our daily routines, we encounter people who are experiencing homelessness. Occasionally we will drop change in their cup or walk on the other side of the street. On any particular day, we may be on our way to Starbucks or to the grocery store when we notice a person who is experiencing homelessness. We sadly lament…it is horrible that a person is elderly and homeless. We stop and think about the horrors of homelessness, especially for elders. Then we continue on our journey...

    Substance Use: Innovative Prevention & Early Intervention

    The opioid crisis has reached epidemic levels, with nearly half of Americans now reporting they personally know someone who has been addicted to prescription painkillers. Despite growing recognition of the problem and concerted efforts to drive practice and policy solutions, significant challenges remain.

    While people often begin using alcohol or other drugs during adolescence and young adulthood, only 10 percent of 12-17 year olds who need substance use treatment actually receive services. When they do, they are much more likely to receive services while in the criminal justice system rather than through other avenues, such as their school or health care provider. These sobering statistics speak to the difficulty of identifying and helping at-risk teens before their substance use becomes a problem.

    5 Tips to Help People Experiencing Homelessness in the Heat

    Most people know the impact of winter weather on people experiencing homelessness, but few realize the risk that summer heat places on those living on the streets. With temperatures rising and few places to escape from the heat, experiencing homelessness in the summer months is not only uncomfortable, but can be an extreme health hazard. Asphalt and concrete heats from the suns rays, posing a danger to those who may have no other option but to make a home on the street. Hot summer temperatures increase the risk of dehydration, sunburn, and disorientation. Data suggest that heat-related illness is more likely to impact individuals from lower socioeconomic backgrounds and that “very poor, and socially isolated individuals are disproportionally affected by heat waves.

    How Privilege Masks Racism

    A few months ago, I wrote a post for this blog about the intersection of trauma, racism, and violence. Since then, my frustration, sadness, confusion, and anger has grown. With continued news of violence, especially against people of color (I use this term to be as inclusive as possible), I feel compelled to follow up.

    I want to start with something I wrote in my last post: We can no longer rely on our privilege to shield us from the reality of racism in this country.

    Paying Attention to Mental Health while Living on the Streets

    Trigger Warning: Violence, Trauma

    Being on the streets poses many challenges. Finding food, water, and shelter from the elements is always the top priority. But, the one thing that we (even street folks) forget about is mental health.

    While I was on the streets, thinking about my mental health always felt like a tsunami. About seven years ago, I was living on Haight Street in San Francisco. I hung around Golden Gate Park, often sleeping somewhere in the thick of the park. I had been in San Francisco for about three months, had made some great friends, and was in the midst of living the California dream. I spent most of the day hanging out with friends, panhandling, and making music, arts, and crafts - just trying to have a good time. I had gotten in the habit of sleeping with my friends, but one night I didn’t have the energy to make it up yet another hill; if you don’t like hills don’t go to San Francisco without a car. I decided to sleep in Panhandle Park instead of walking all the way back to Golden Gate where my friends gathered. I woke up at 6:30 am, packed up my stuff, and took a quick inventory of my things. I had $20, so I raced to the local coffee place, grabbed breakfast for everyone, and went to Golden Gate.

    Preventing HIV: Being More Comfortable Talking about Sex

    “You’re going to need to do some homework,” she said.

    It was my first week of working at Youth on Fire (YOF), a drop in center and HIV prevention program for 14-24 year olds experiencing homelessness and housing instability.

    “Okay,” I replied, expecting to be given some books or articles to read.

    “I want you to go home, stand in front of a mirror, and say the words ‘blow job’ and ‘anal sex’ thirty times per day for the next week.”

    Homeless on the Streets: A Transgender Person’s Experiences

    Being on the streets can be tough, and being transgender can be difficult. But, being both transgender AND homeless is like being involved in a covert war that a lot of folks don’t even realize is going on.

    Trans folks face a multitude of hurdles in life, but living on the street poses additional problems. Everyday tasks like shaving or washing can be daunting depending on where you are in the country. When I was hitchhiking, I would sometimes end up at a random truck stop where they did not have private bathrooms. I was at a point in my life where I had to shave my face everyday. If I didn’t, it could be dangerous – people would start to question if I was “really” a woman, and my ability to get a ride that was safe would be jeopardized. I had to get inventive.

    A Home in My Heart: Lessons Learned from my Father’s Experience of Homelessness

    A day didn’t go by without my wondering about his whereabouts. Certain days were always more of a cause for concern; bitter cold winter nights, scorching hot summer days, and holidays—especially Christmas and Father’s Day. “I wonder where he will sleep tonight? Will he have enough to eat?” These were my perpetual thoughts as a child with a father experiencing homelessness.

    Throughout most of my adolescent life, my father lived on the streets, facing complex mental health and substance use issues. These issues cycled him in and out of recovery housing and street living. My father’s separation from my mother, along with his severe mental health and substance use issues, complicated our relationship. After about 10 years on the streets and a traumatic brain injury, he now safely resides in an assisted living facility.

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