Come Out, Come Out, Wherever You Are…
Actually, I don’t know if any of my monsters are under my bed. The creatures haunting me from my past have scattered like little gremlins playing hide and seek - and I am on a quest to find them.
I’ve been on this quest for awhile now. To my surprise, most of those I find end up being scared, lost, and lonely. Sometimes they want to continue hiding, but most are glad to be free to join my ‘inner child’ playing in my safe place – a treehouse in the center of my mental landscape.
To be honest, there isn’t just one ‘inner child,’ and they aren’t all children. I’ve been diagnosed with several trauma-related mental health disorders over the course of my journey – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (#PTSD), Dissociative Identity Disorder (#DID), Borderline Personality Disorder (#BPD), and Dissociative Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (#DDNOS). There are a few more, garden-variety diagnoses thrown in there too, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (#GAD), Depressive Disorder NOS, etc. Most who know me would be surprised at the BPD diagnosis. They might accept the PTSD diagnosis, and agree with anxiety and depression, but only a handful know my pick of the options – Dissociative Disorder NOS. Only a handful that is, until I publish this initial post on my blog.
… Or Whoever You Are!
I’ve allowed myself to be diagnosed with Dissociative Identity Disorder in the past. The defining criteria of this disorder, formerly listed as Multiple Personality Disorder, is the existence of two or more distinct identities within the same person and the identities experience dissociative amnesia (or severe impairment in recall) between them. I allowed this to happen because I was still deeply entrenched in the fundamentalist, evangelical church, and needed desperately to believe I wasn’t possessed by demons. I didn’t tell the pastoral counselor who diagnosed me I was gay and coming out of the closet. I was working in a church, for a Christian ministry, and my livelihood depended on me keeping this job, in this church. The DID diagnosis provided me the safety I needed at a very difficult time in my life.
I am in a far better place now. Like I said, I am on a quest to find healing, a journey to what I call a trauma-informed life. Some of you may ask why I would choose to put my personal information about such a private matter out into the world – beyond my ability to control who now knows this intimate information. My reason is simple – I am not alone.
Red Rover, Red Rover…
I am a man of much privilege. As a white, upper-middle class, cisgender male, I walk through this world relatively unscathed by discrimination and intolerance. I have a PhD in Social Work from one of the top ten social work schools in the country. I am an Assistant Professor, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with over 12 years of experience. Because of these roles, I have access to cutting edge research regarding the treatment of trauma-related disorders. I also have health insurance and fortunately, can afford treatment for my own mental health symptoms to experience healing.
…Please Won’t YOU Come Over?
I am telling you about my privilege because I know there are countless others who can benefit from treatment for their trauma-related stress and yet do not have access to these services. There are many barriers in their way. For some, stigma surrounding mental illness prevents them from reaching out. Others lose the battle with their own sense of shame –
they should just get over it and move on. Some live far away from trained professionals who could help them. Many lack the financial resources to afford co-pays and deductibles. Even others do not realize their struggles in life are a result of unresolved trauma in their past – monsters beneath their bed, skeletons in their closet, ghosts in their attic and demons in their basements.
So, I am leaving my traveler’s log here, out in the open. It’s a trail of breadcrumbs, not so I can find my way back, but so you can find your way forward. I realize that your quest will be vastly different than mine. No two paths to a trauma-informed life are the same just as no two childhoods are identical.
Tag, You’re It!
This blog will show how one human escaped from a past plagued with cruel monsters to a trauma-informed life of joy… Well, okay, joy and a bunch of other not so joyful stuff to be perfectly honest. I will introduce you to some of my monsters, my ‘inner child(ren),’ my mental landscape. I will allow you to sit in on some of my therapy sessions, from Emotional Freedom Techniques (#EFT) to Eye Movement Desensitization Reprocessing (#EMDR). I will share intriguing stories of healing, recovery and new research in the world of trauma-informed living. I also welcome others, like you, to share tales from their own quest. Maybe there is a song that speaks to you from behind your childhood bedroom door. Perhaps a sketch you made, or a written reflection you’d like to leave for other weary travelers. Regardless of how you made it this far, I encourage you to keep moving forward. I invite you to join me along my way, even if only for a short while. #TraumaInformedLife