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I did a radio show this morning on the Annapolis shooting. Not what you expect. Topic: Grudges.

Blurb:

The recent shooting at an Annapolis newspaper was done by a man who held a long-term grudge against the news outlet. I am going to discuss grudges and what distinguishes a grudge from a reaction to a traumatic event. We need to ask ourselves who, if anyone, committed a wrongdoing and has the wrongdoing been addressed?

Good therapy, bad therapy, after abuse or traumatic event

I had a few decent therapists. One was a short-term one whom I had right after I was raped in 2008. I liked her because the therapy was practical, informative, short-term, useful, validating, supportive, confidential, and had a beginning and end.

Not once did S doubt my word nor did she say “The patient claims she was raped.” No, our relationship was based on trust.

She didn’t rely on the opinion of other practitioners. Instead, she listened to my account, and relied on that and formed her own opinion, which she shared openly with me.

She shared information with me, for instance, what to expect next. She asked me questions about, for instance, nightmares. When I told her I felt unusual fears I had never felt before, such as fears while in enclosed spaces, she told me that feeling that way was quite common among rape survivors. I shared with her that I had gone out on a wild spree and purchased extremely bulky shirts, and was afraid to wear anything that touched my breasts. I was also afraid to wear anything that could be pulled down. She told me that this didn’t surprise her. I told her I wasn’t having panic attacks, only that I was avoiding things I didn’t previously avoid.

I still lived in the same building he lived in. This was problematic. I kept running into him. He assaulted me again, but this wasn’t rape. It was scary enough as he was forceful with me. My therapist urged me to stay away from him. She realized just how difficult this was for me. She suggested that I move. Sure enough, I had to  move anyway due to construction. I relocated to a different building. End of story. Therapy ended with this therapist and I found someone else.

S did me a favor. My previous therapist, G, had completely ignored that I was raped. And my  psychiatrist likewise. It all flew over their heads. Had it not been for S, I probably would have suffered far more trauma than in fact I did.

Rape has been around forever, and most likely, it isn’t going to be eliminated entirely. I wish, though, that there were “hospital abuse” therapists you could go to. There are all sorts of trauma centers, but not one that I’ve found recognizes medical abuse, or its subset, psych abuse as legitimate sources of trauma.

I don’t think abuse in medical facilities and nursing homes can be entirely eliminated. I’ll tell you why. There’s a hierarchy in such places where workers are caught in the middle. They are under stress, working long hours and also, nights and weekends. They work with dangerous equipment and drugs and sometimes, items of high value. All these are high risk factors for abuse and workplace bullying. The patient is on the bottom and has very little legal protection.

I think should abuse occur, the abuse should never be denied. The abused patient should never be told it didn’t happen. The patient’s trauma should never be trivialized. If possible and practical, the law should become involved. A trained person might be able to assess whether legal matters should be pursued and where to go to find legal help. A trained person would help the victim escape further abuse. A trained person might get the victim in touch with the media so the victim can share his or her story and be safe from retaliation. A trained person would know medical people who do not abuse.

I believe I now suffer from trauma because I didn’t have that. I was told it never happened. I was told I deserved what I got. I was told the unit didn’t exist. I was told human rights were trivial. I was told they were only doing their job. I was told their reputation was more important than my life. I was told I “needed” the abuse. I was told I was making a mountain out of a molehill. I was told I had a “perception problem” I was told I was “oversensitive.” I was told I was “ungrateful.” I was told something was “terribly wrong with me.” I was told, “You are just complaining because you didn’t like it.”

Okay, what if you went to a therapist after being raped and the therapist said the following:

“You are complaining that you didn’t like being raped.”

“He couldn’t help it. He was doing his job being a man.”

“You asked for it, didn’t you?”

“You’re making a big deal over sexual assault.”

“You’re just oversensitive about sex.”

“You deserved it because you are a woman. What did you expect?”

“He gave  you good sex and you are ungrateful.”

“So you slept with him and then you twisted the story around.”

“You’re a mental patient and something is wrong with you, so anything you say won’t be taken seriously.”

So for me, the abuse was denied. I was told it never happened, and no way could I possibly be suffering from trauma. Sorry to say, I still suffer today.

I am human

I been dealing with trauma stuff for days now. It’s rather difficult because although I am certainly not phobic or shy, nor do I ever have panic attacks or, say, “nerves,” I still have this trauma in me. I want to always remember what happened but without the memory being so charged with emotion.

I can look back on all sorts of other stuff that happened to me, good and bad, and I don’t feel upset at all. This is what people don’t understand. I speak of all kinds of stuff that happened and it doesn’t cause me to fall apart nor does it harm me in any way. Even if I weep over something, say, missing my late boyfriend, it doesn’t mean I am becoming unglued nor unstable nor do I need a hospital or therapist or pill. I am only joyful or sad, normal human emotions. I can handle it, and want to have real feelings.  I want to feel them, because I am human.  Those people that are offended by simple sadness or joy on my part certainly shouldn’t go to the movies, shouldn’t read books, shouldn’t have friends or relatives. They should stay in their little “group therapy” where they are sheltered from anything real.

I am not interested in these fake social situations. I don’t want that anymore and it’s not part of my life.

A small part of my experiences haunt me terribly. Maybe time heals. I don’t know. Please don’t feel like you are causing me to become unglued if you mention similar things. I am not falling apart and I don’t want to “fix” how I feel. Just let me feel it.

Please do NOT diagnose me with any psych diagnosis. I am offended by such things. I don’t need amateur shrinks in my life. In fact, I don’t want any shrinks in my life at all.

Yes, I can be sad, I can be what they call “depressed,” I can be joyful, I can be angry, I can be scared. I can be in a mood to joke around. Can I please be allowed to be human and have a full range of emotions without some asshole turning my normal feelings into a disease?

Trauma is a normal state, too. True, all that shit shouldn’t have happened, but reality is that there are a lot of people out there who have terrible things happen to them. That’s life. Many are traumatized. The trauma reaction protects us. Allow me, please, to experience trauma, because I am a living creature, who, like all other creatures on this planet, has this built-in reaction.  I don’t wish to take pills for trauma nor do I wish to pretend it doesn’t exist. It does. I just want to live my life like everyone else. I will be patient and this will pass.  If I were allowed this freedom, that is, freedom from psych diagnosis, my life would be tons easier. I think that others feel as I do, in fact, I know so.

 

Back to writing…

Yesterday was half crappy and half rather decent. I was in a bad space when I woke up. I guess just tired of insults, bullying, and other insulting crap from people in USA. I was discouraged and exhausted.  Also I was replaying the events of August 2013 in my mind. Sometimes, their faces, their voices, their actions are crystal clear to me as if these horrors are still ongoing.

But they are not. I am safe from this abuse now. I must remind myself of this. It’s only a memory now. Even a horrific memory cannot harm me, no matter how terrifying.

Still, I found myself asking, “Why did they do this?” Over and over. There are no answers to this. They saw me as SUBHUMAN. I won’t ever know why, though I often speculate.

Yeah, I was terribly thin. It was still me, inside that body that wasn’t much more than bones. Something inside was still thriving, a heart still beating.  But they only saw a half-person. A worthless piece of shit they could kick around.

I’m awfully lucky to be alive.

Last night, I met up with  my friend, my new friend here. I am immensely happy. How long has it been since I actually saw someone and spent time with them this way? It was so rare back in the USA. I recall anytime I saw anyone I would thank that person profusely. Afterward, I felt sad, figuring it would be another month at least before I’d be lucky enough to have meaningful human contact.

Most had no clue. They had spouses to go home to, roommates, kids, family, or employment. Or enough appointments with people that got paid to talk to them. They cherished their alone time. I cherish it, too. Privacy is essential to me. But no one had any conception of what I went through. I’m not shy or agoraphobic.  I never understood why folks ran away from me as if I were a leper. I told myself if one more person turned their back or said “no” I’d go nuts. Then, one more person would do just that. I am lucky I am alive today.

Just seeing those turned backs…again and again…It was too much to bear. Even now, seeing this so clearly in my mind, I can feel inside me just how it felt then.

I am so happy I have a friend to hang out with.  We are both very happy about it and are planning another get-together soon. Imagine that. Other folks take companionship for granted, but I sure don’t.

Further thoughts on “success”

Hello and happy very late evening! Or at least for me it’s extremely late…..

I want to wholeheartedly thank those who have supported me during this time and over the past bunch of years. I feel blessed. Wanna know why, specifically?

It may seem trivial to you, but to me, this is a big deal….

I used to have to write copious notes before I spoke in any official capacity. Even when I saw my psychiatrist years ago, I feared losing track of my thoughts or of forgetting what was most essential in our meeting. I usually had a written agenda, a list of side effects and various “symptoms.” I tried my best to report in an organized way.

At some point during 2010, I had to get off the drug Thorazine due to Tardive Dyskinesia. I was able to get off this drug without too much trouble. I was happy that Dr. Pearson was cautious and well aware that TD can worsen as the drug is reduced. These drugs are scary! Anyway, once off, I was delighted with a couple of things:

First of all, the sunburning from Thorazine had become a serious problem in my 50’s. I sunburned so easily that I had purchased special sun clothing, including the hat you see me wearing in the photo now displayed here on my blog in the sidebar. I even had to cover my hands. I couldn’t wear sandals and most clothing didn’t protect me adequately. The sun’s rays would penetrate a t-shirt, my socks, everything. So this clothing helped the parts of me that it protected. I found sunscreen too annoying to apply and reapply all day long. Fighting sunburn was a daily battle, in summer or winter or even cloudy days.

Once off Thorazine, I no longer had this difficulty. I was free to go outside without feeling like I was risking turning into a lobster or perhaps Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This new freedom was a delight to me.

The other rather noticeable difference was in my speech. I was thrilled that the slur in my speech was suddenly gone. For years, I had been embarrassed that I sounded doped up over the phone and in person. I have sound files of myself speaking and it’s appalling to me now. I recall in retrospect so many times the slur was a dead giveaway that I was on drugs. I recall people assuming I was drunk or stoned. Now, with Thorazine off that cocktail list, my speech was becoming clearer. This was important to me because now that I had finished grad school, I was ambitious about giving readings of my written works. I knew that my voice was now clearer and that I could speak faster without verbally tripping over myself.

Dr. Pearson began to make the statement that my more rapid speech was “mania.” This of course wasn’t true. The problem was that she’d never heard me in my own voice before.

As it turned out, I spent a couple of years being quite angry. I know my speech reflected how I felt inside. I was having the Black Box Warning effect from the antidepressant I’d been given. I recall some ten days following the start of this drug I felt like I had a machine gun firing inside me. I did indeed report this to my psychiatrist, who said it was “nothing to worry about.”

Of course, I had a rather good reason to be concerned. I put off how I felt and tried to ignore it, as my shrink had instructed me. It was nothing, right? It’ll go away in a few days……….

Wrong-o. It sure didn’t. I was full of constant fury. I sometimes spoke nonstop. The more people stayed away (not that I blame them) the worse my nonstop speech became, because I never had anyone to talk to. This was an awful cycle that almost ended in my own self-destruction. I thought the way I felt would never end.

It’s been now roughly three years since the start of that drug. I’m happy to say that yes, it did end, and I’m glad I rode it out. The Black Box Warning effect (which I’ll be writing about in my current book) continued and in fact worsened when I was withdrawn from the drug way too fast. Seriously, no one wanted to be around me! I’d complain bitterly of loneliness, in response to the way folks avoided me.

It could have gotten so much worse. What bugs me is that at the time, I was meeting new people who assumed that the Black Box Warning me was the true me. Meanwhile, I’d try to say, “I’m usually not like this,” but hardly anyone believed me. I got so frustrated!

I guess I’d made a bad name for myself. A bad reputation. I couldn’t erase that history. The abuse in mid-2013 further sealed my inevitable potential demise. The scene became more and more oppressive as time went on.  I needed to relocate or make a drastic change in my life. As you know, I did just that.

I’m amazed at my progress. I’m away from all that nonsense I had to deal with, and the effect of that drug has gradually worn off. At this point, I feel I am accelerating with my progress, developing increased confidence and strength. I am even feeling the effects of trauma lessen.

Yes, you can get better.

Every time I make a real effort at something constructive, I move forward. Tonight, I was on the Tenney show again. I didn’t have any script I was reading from, nor even notes.  I was rather amazed that I was able to be far more organized than I was before, say, a couple of months ago when I was on the same show.

I don’t believe I rambled nor was I overly charged up. I was able to speak with conviction and passion, yet I felt I wasn’t repetitive or obsessive.

Dr. Pearson often complained of my repetitiveness. She said I spoke of nothing but the abuse. Um, maybe she should have listened, eh? Wasn’t she a mandatory reporter? Was she only in the business of making me look like a criminal for speaking out? I think she herself was rather obsessed with getting me forcibly drugged and silenced. I think instead, it was her responsibility to heed what I was saying and request an investigation, instead of assuming I was delusional. I recall her exact words, “Patient rights are trivial.”

I knew then, and of course now, that nothing could be farther from the truth. Patients so often believe they don’t deserve respect. They are the lowest of the low. Staff always know better, supposedly, and patients are assumed to be ignorant children.

I am proud of myself. I do not receive any Mental Health Disservices, nor do I take their drugs. I’m not against drugs alone but I am certainly not in favor of a person’s life being in the hands of a prescriber.

Is recovery possible? You folks know I shy away from that word. I feel what’s to recover from are those 30+ years that my freedoms were not only discouraged, but in the end, completely prohibited.  I needed to learn that there’s a whole other world out there. I’m beginning to get that.  Maybe you can call it Growing Up. Or Growing Away from the negative concepts driven into me by Mental Health Disservices.  Perhaps this realization occurs when a person’s life is fully in her own hands. I am certainly on my way.

Wicked good article for those wanting to help survivors of trauma

Here’s the link:

http://sojo.net/blogs/2014/01/13/new-normal-ten-things-ive-learned-about-trauma

Here’s my commentary:  As I’ve stated, the above article appears to be directed at “helper” people, I’d say friends and family of someone who has been through trauma,  or perhaps is grieving. The article suggests trauma like “something bad happened to me.” It is distinguished from grief, but also the author states that grief can be a big part of trauma. Am I right here? You really do lose something.  You lose a huge part of yourself.

 

 

Intergenerational Trauma and Healing

Intergenerational Trauma and Healing.

I have a lot to say about this.  I watched all three videos and found myself wanting to take notes.

Recently, I heard there was some “study” done that determined there is a high incidence of “eating disorders,” or shall I say “eating problems,” among descendants of Jews and other minorities that had been incarcerated in Hitler’s concentration camps.  The person who pointed this out to me also mentioned that some groups of Jews end up getting handed the “surveys” more often than anyone else.  So how accurate this is is anyone’s guess.

Still, I know many Jewish kids who grew up with a cultural hangover from things that happened fifty years ago, or even 2,500 years ago.

Lest we not forget, they’d say.

We kids were fascinated, always wondering when we’d get to see an old person’s “numbers.”  They tended to cover up those tattoos, kept them under their sleeves. But we knew these tattoos were there…sure we did.

Those memories cast a shadow over our lives. We lived in that shadow, not often seeing light.

What am I supposed to say when someone demands that I pray to Jesus? We didn’t have Jesus or Santa in our home.  These were only statues to me.  The guy on the metal cross and the plastic Santa.

Reactions to trauma aren’t “disorders.” They are normal.

Have you been given the label “PTSD”?  Take the “D” off of it right now.  There’s nothing “wrong” with you.  So saith me.  Instead, the world needs your voice.  Instead, what you need is to be loved and reassured.  If you have experienced something rotten, I’m truly sorry that it happened and I wish it didn’t.  No one can undo it.  However, it’s my wish, and I assume your wish as well that what happened to you never happens to anyone else.  What we all need to do to see to it that people stop being mean and that we all have a safer place to live.

I can give you a super good example of why I say “PTSD” is not a “D” at all.  My little dog, Puzzle, isn’t mentally ill.  She can’t speak in words, so no one can say she’s ever said anything irrational.  She’s never taken psych meds so no one can give her a diagnosis based on what meds have been “effective” for her in the past.  Has she ever tried to kill herself?  Has she ever overdosed?  Oh yeah, she overdosed on chicken bones a number of years ago because someone had thrown them on the ground instead of in the garbage and I didn’t see them there in time.  The bones went down the hatch quickly cuz that’s what dogs do.  It was my own fault that I was not able to teach her to give up what was in her mouth.  Was this a suicide attempt on Puzzle’s part and is she mentally ill?  Um, I think chicken bones are yummy for dogs and she’s rather typical.  So were the vet bills.

Do you see what I’m saying? Back to PTS____.  We as a society speak often of abused animals and how they tend to cower and act scared.  Do we call them mentally ill?  I don’t think so.  They are traumatized and their behavior is a normal conditioned response.  They have learned from their bad experience to be fearful.  What do we do?  We are animal rights activists.  We beg for the rights of these abused animals and beg for them not to be killed and beg for homes for them, donating our time and money.  We bring them into our homes.  We love them and cherish them.  Why don’t we do this for our abused humans?  Instead, society gives them the message that something’s “wrong” with them, makes them feel even more like crap, segregates them into ghettos, “programs,” hospitals, jails, medicates them, therapizes them, supervises them, or manages them, but certainly doesn’t love them.

Puzzle was traumatized when we first moved to this apartment.  I’ve spoken of it here before.  A lady shoved a shopping cart at her.  I couldn’t undo what was done and it shouldn’t have happened.  The lady still lives here.  She’s one of the many residents I feel sorry for her cuz (between ourselves) she herself is a victim of ongoing abuse, but that’s a whole other story.  This is low income housing and an incredible number of people here are lonely and deeply unhappy.  You’d think it’s a quaint home-like place where little old ladies live, but the truth is, it’s a very violent and harsh environment.  There’s a lot of shouting at all hours and you don’t feel safe here.

The Housing Authority doesn’t want people wandering the halls with shopping carts that come from the supermarkets and these shopping carts are supermarket property anyway.  I’m sure the presence of shopping carts in our narrow hallways are a hazard for fire and rescue efforts.  But this lady walks the halls using a shopping cart instead of a walker.  She owns a walker but prefers the shopping cart, so I’ve since learned.  (Her claim that she couldn’t afford one and didn’t own one wasn’t true.) Whether the walker isn’t comfortable to walk with or isn’t properly fitted and the shopping cart fits better…I don’t know much about walkers, actually and am no judge.

I was walking with Puzzle, just coming in from a walk, having just moved in, not thinking of any of this and not knowing that the residents had already made up their minds.  They felt hostile toward this new girl they’d never met before and had not even spoken to.  They never bothered introducing themselves.  They simply decided they didn’t like this girl and her dog.  She was an ugly girl.  From the other building.  A Jew.  I guess someone heard the girl crying.  What a slut.

So the lady said she was scared of Puzzle while I was walking down the hall and that’s why she reacted the way she did.  “Get away from me!” and she shoved that cart right at Puzzle.

I didn’t know it then, but looking back, I can tell you that Puzzle’s personality changed after that.  A few of the changes have never gone away, but most have faded gradually.  She became extremely fearful.  I’d say for a year after that, she’d assume you couldn’t be trusted until you proved yourself trustworthy.  This was new.  Observers would ask me if she was a “shelter mutt.”  Over time, this distrust has faded and she’s back to being the loving dog she once was that assumes everyone is good.  That’s because I gave her lots and lots of love and exposed her to as many other people as I could that loved her as well.

There are behaviors I see in Puzzle, though, that originated with this shopping cart event that have never disappeared.  She gets upset when the doorbell rings or when someone knocks.  A guest is not necessarily someone she feels she can trust.  I don’t have people inside my home ever.  I did have CBFS but most of the CBFS personnel I dealt with didn’t even like dogs and wouldn’t pet her or show interest in her.  They’d even look repulsed when they saw her or they’d visibly flinch or move away or rudely bury themselves in their cell phones.  The maintenance people are rude and I tend to dread their coming in here.  I always hope that they send one of the ones with manners that likes Puzzle.

Puzzle enjoys traveling on the bus and subway.  She takes up a tiny amount of room on my lap.  It’s transit policy that I can’t take up more than one seat even with a dog, so I either leave my knapsack on my back or I take it off and snuggle Puzzle between my body and the knapsack.  She loves being snuggled.  I try to sit next to someone that smiles and me and invites me to sit rather than sit next to someone who looks grossed out at the idea of sitting next to a dog.  My instincts are pretty good.  I almost always choose someone wonderful.  I pray for someone who is lonely.  I want Puzzle and I to make someone’s day.

I want to end this article with a little story about love.

Where is God?  What is God?  God is love.  God is the voice of those lonely, often nameless strangers that speak to me on the bus.  God is the homeless girl I met on the CT1 or CT2 bus, I can’t recall which, who had shared with me that she cared about her relative (was it an uncle?  I can’t recall) more than anything.  She was on her way to yet another shelter and didn’t have enough change to pay for the bus.  The bus driver told her, very rudely and in a lecturing tone, “Grow up.”  She asked me in earnest for some tips on how to quit smoking and said she was trying very hard.  I thought surely, she’d seen a lot of life if she’d lived in shelters.  It was all I could do to listen to her story and of course, I told her how I’d quit smoking many years ago.  She’d bummed her last cigarette off of someone.  She was doing everything she could just to survive this world. All she wanted was for her sick relative to be well.

Puzzle and I have met so many.  There have been men with whom I have spoken as well, men on their way to the shelter in Waltham, men hoping to find employment.  I see them on the 70 bus, headed for the shelter.

Many people tell me their story, and thus doing, without knowing it, I have renewed hope and the will to go on with my life when otherwise I would have ended it.  A simple conversation.

I don’t give a shit if that lonely person may have been drunk or “out of it” or if some doctor has stated that the person is “mentally incompetent” or how many drugs the person was or wasn’t taking.  Or if the person was a working person that society assumed was okay, but inside, was deeply unhappy.  Do you understand that this fleeting conversation on whatever bus saved my own life?  That smile, those tears of relief and that person saying, “You and your dog Puzzle made my day.”

You ask me where is God.  I am telling you, this is God.

We should all be so loved again.  Throw out the “D” and let’s all embrace.