<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=1656550421284442&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">

    t3 Threads: Changing the Conversation

    Calling for a Public Health Approach to Trauma Awareness

    Why a Public Health Approach? There are many reasons to learn about the impact of trauma and untreated trauma on individuals, families, and communities. Trauma and untreated trauma are common in all socioeconomic groups and are often misunderstood. For example, people experiencing opioid addiction, other substance use conditions, mental illness, and homelessness may shy away from treatment because of stigma in communities and treatment settings.

    The symptoms of trauma and its under-treatment are evident more and more everyday. Early childhood and adult trauma are implicated in the onset of addictions and the comorbidity of post-traumatic stress disorders and mood-related psychopathology.

    Hidden Hurt: When Domestic Violence Isn't Physical

    Many forms of domestic violence have obvious physical manifestations. Emotional abuse is subtle and often goes unseen. The victim may not even recognize that they are being abused. Emotional abuse does not leave black eyes or broken bones, but it seriously damages self-esteem and leaves scars on your soul. It took me almost ten years to realize I was in this kind of abusive relationship, and even then, I was still taking responsibility for my abuser’s actions. It took another five years before I was willing to call it domestic violence.

    My closest friends have often asked, “How could you, a strong independent woman, let that happen?” I don’t have an answer. It happened so gradually that I didn’t recognize it as abuse. To outsiders looking in, we had the perfect life. Slowly, however, I became isolated from my friends. I had little self-esteem and felt worthless. The only person I thought I could depend on was the person who was causing me to feel this way.

    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.

    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.

    Trauma among Physicians: Healthcare Implications

    Too often, trauma research focuses solely on impact on patients in health services—especially people who experience mental illness, trauma, substance use disorders, and homelessness. We need to expand the research questions to include the following: How does trauma impact physicians and what are the implications for their relationships with patients?

    ACEs on the Brain: Learning about My Trauma

    After learning about the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study while in graduate school, I experienced an epiphany. As a public health student, not only was it a revelation to learn about such a revolutionary study in the field of trauma, but also a personal moment of clarity. Finally, for the first time in my life, I felt as if all the previous adverse experiences I had endured were universal, normalized, categorized, understood—and I wasn’t alone.

    Understanding Trauma through the Eyes of a Watertown Resident

    This week is the anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing and the gunfight and manhunt in Watertown that followed a few days later. When I remember this time 3 year ago, I think of the people at the finish line—those who were lost, others who survived the traumas, and the people who risked their lives to help strangers—and most importantly the resiliency shown by so many.

    As a Watertown resident, I also think of my experience being on “lock down” in my home. I live close enough to the location of the gunfight that my husband heard the sounds as they occurred. I was awakened by helicopters flying low over my house in the middle of the night.

    Empathy: A Critical Communication Skill

    Empathy is a critical communication skill for all people and is especially important for health care providers. Some individuals lack the capacity to understand how their actions make others feel. Adults with cognitive difficulties, histories of repeated trauma, and even so-called “normal” people can have difficulty connecting and understanding other people’s experiences. These people lack empathy.

    Who Knew the Mailman Triggered My Trauma?

    More than two years ago I detoxed out of a medication assisted treatment program after 15 years on methadone. Methadone helped me stabilize my life after a 20 year run with street opioids and just about every other “recreational” drug that was available. Over the time I was in the program, I enjoyed a very robust recovery.

    When I withdrew from methadone, I experienced--and continue to experience--a recovery within a recovery. The last two years have provided me with some insight into trauma, recovery, and ways of learning to cope with the events in my past that would have triggered me back into substance use. (Read more about Steven's experiences with trauma and recovery.)

    Subscribe to t3 threads instant blog announcements

    Recent Posts