invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

Dr. John Breeding on trauma March 17, 2009

I found this video at the lovely and very helpful beyond meds at ning website. Unfortunately, I’ve been sick the past several months and haven’t been able to spend as much time there as I would like. Anyway, this video left me feeling confused and intrigued:

I am interested because today I was reminded of my rape. It’s not an unusual occurrence-it’s a past traumatic experience that is almost always there lingering and sometimes taunting me or shutting me down, etc. Today, some of the many memories came up again. the gravel driveway. my head banging against a tire. the sound of my underwear being ripped off of me. the rest, mostly a blank. a bathtub. my friend holding my hand. blood. wearing nothing but a t-shirt. I was fifteen and then suppressed the events of this evening for nearly four years.

Three key things Dr. John Breeding mentions in this video in regards to healing past trauma(s) are:

take care of yourself
go slow
allow expression

Well, the first two, I don’t know how to do. The third, not a problem. Although I was raised in a home where I felt loved but misunderstood. But, and most importantly, there were rarely any expressions or emotions allowed-we didn’t talk about anything of substance. Pretty much everything was swept under the rug. If you’ve seen the beautiful film “Ordinary People” you’ll have a better picture. I don’t blame my parents for this-I have forgiven them-they were raised this way. My parents also tried to find a quick fix which is what led to my first psychiatrist visit at the age of 13 after I showed signs of depression and voiced suicidal thoughts. Again, I don’t blame them. I imagine they were doing the only thing they knew to do in that situation. That first visit led to over twenty years of psychiatric medications to include: Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Effexor, Abilify, Seroquel, Remeron, Wellbutrin, Xanax and Lamictal. These are the ones I can remember. And, not one of them worked for more than 2 years. Actually, Lamictal was the only one that seemingly worked that long. I saw many psychiatrists and therapists over the years following my first visit at thirteen. I even checked myself into a mental hospital. NOTHING WORKED. But during all of the above visits, I was always labeled with something-depression, double depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar-and given meds and ridiculous tools from therapists that never worked.

Here’s where I’m going with this. So, I was raped at 15. But, what happened BEFORE that? Is there a trauma that I’m still blocking/suppressing after all of these years? I’m nearly 36 now. I know why my parents brought me to see that psychiatrist at 13-I repeatedly told them I wanted to die! But, why?!?!? I have absolutely no clue and this concerns me. How does one face and heal from a trauma that does not exist in their mind? My maternal grandmother was deemed mentally ill and spent a lot of time in mental hospitals, she had shock treatments, she was medicated most of her adult life. She died fairly young, due to complications of diabetes, during a very difficult time in my life. I was heavily medicated and we had never once had a discussion about her illness or her life. As I mentioned in a previous entry, I always assumed that I had inherited her “mental illness” but is that what she had? Is that what I have? My grandmother, for example, I know after much digging around and asking my aunts lots of questions, I know that her father burned to his death when she was around five. I’m don’t know anything about her mother, my great-grandmother, I don’t recall ever meeting her. But I do know my grandmother lived in orphanages and foster homes. I’m pretty certain she was sexually abused. So, for some reason, after my great-grandfather died in that fire, my grandmother did not stay at home. I remember my grandmother’s mysterious sister showing up at her funeral and everything was hush hush. Now that I think about it, I believe my grandmother also had a brother and he was not at her funeral.

My grandmother’s life, what I know of it, reeks of trauma. Which is exactly why this video caught my attention. I must blame some really bad doctors and therapists for not addressing and treating the trauma but instead labeling me with whatever they felt suitable, medicating me and moving on to their next patient.

Regardless, I’ll be heading to the library to check out some books while I can’t afford therapy or acupuncture and facing the trauma I know about. First on the list I suppose will be Trauma Through A Child’s Eyes by Peter Levine and Maggie Kline.


5 Responses to “Dr. John Breeding on trauma”

  1. giannakali Says:

    Although I was raised in a home where I felt loved but misunderstood. But, and most importantly, there were rarely any expressions or emotions allowed-we didn’t talk about anything of substance. Pretty much everything was swept under the rug. If you’ve seen the beautiful film “Ordinary People” you’ll have a better picture. I don’t blame my parents for this-I have forgiven them-they were raised this way.

    THIS is your trauma…it is traumatizing and inherently abusive to sweep stuff under the rug and to not take feelings seriously etc.

    This is where we all go wrong. We, in general, are not cognizant of the fact that our society is deeply sick and abusive and even those we love have hurt us inadvertently. It’s appropriate to have forgiven them, yes. BUT the trauma remains and most likely needs to be addressed…sometimes that means getting back in touch with the rage of how your parents were not there for you. IT DOES NOT MAKE THEM BAD PEOPLE..

    the reason we have so much “mental illness” is becasuse NO ONE is willing to take responsibility, least of all family members…

    we’re all in this dysfunctional, crazy making party together…it’s not a blame game…it’s about learning how to heal and STOP the cycle.


  2. Marian Says:

    When we talk about abuse, we usually mean the abuse that leaves visible bruises on a person’s body. This is actually the only abuse, society recognizes as potentially traumatizing. While it still cringes at this recognition, since abuse is a sign of dysfunctionality, and society prefers to regard itself as being perfect, rather than in any way dysfunctional.

    However, visible bruises can’t always that easily be denied, and not everybody’s credibility can get questioned – I just read about a new book where the author, a Norwegian expert in law, does question the credibility of people with psych labels who report abuse. The author is male, of course… – So, a certain amount of abuse is recognized. Which almost never is recognized as being potentially traumatizing, is verbal and purely psychological abuse, not to mention in it’s sometimes really subtle, “sophisticated” form, the double bind or the mystification. While these can have just as devastating effects as physical abuse.

    Read “Verbal beatings hurt as much as sexual abuse”, and read
    this intro to Bateson’s double bind-theory, and this article by R.D.Laing on mystification. – And when you feel more and more lousy while reading, as it happened to me, you know, that you’re on to something…

  3. Marian Says:

    P.S.: Biological traits are hereditary, yes. And so are sociological and psychological ones. Although the latter aren’t genetically inherited, but learned, socially “inherited”, by copying others’ behavior. First of all that of our primal care takers, who, in most people’s cases, are our parents. What we learn from them marks us for life, unless we succeed and become aware, conscious, of how their behavior marked us.

    The moment, someone can show me the genes for “depression”, “bipolar”, “schizophrenia”, whatever “mental illness”, I’ll believe in a genetic inheritance of “mental illness”. Not before.

  4. annenco Says:

    Agree with the above comments.
    I use the film “Ordinary People” to describe my family as well and for sure growing up in a family like that made it’s impact and I’m just recently learning how far reaching that has really been in my life.
    Another book I’d recommend if you haven’t read it already is “Invisible Girls” by Dr. Patti Feuereisen.
    Best wishes.

  5. clementine Says:

    thank you all very much for your comments. Marian, I will read those links as soon as I can prepare myself for it. my best to you all.

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