Tracks Through Trauma and Healing

I haven’t been writing for some time.  Months even.  I like writing, a lot.  It’s become a form of healing and self-expression for me.  But there is a down side to it.

Each time I release a new piece I have to wade through the people who come out to tell me how wrong I am and how I shouldn’t be complaining and how good I have it compared to others.  It never ceases to amaze me the volume of people in society who aren’t capable of consuming information and using it to either help themselves and others or, just seeing it as a story that isn’t about them in any way.

I decided to start writing these short blogs about different topics because I wanted to express and document my experience of life.  It’s not a personal attack on anyone else.  I want to share so other people can read and take what they need and leave what they find unpalatable or unhelpful.

But, people, please, if you cannot have an intelligent conversation with me about the content that you read on my blog rather than a pissing in the wind contest, save your breath and back away.

Aint Nobody

Another reason I’ve been quiet is because on my trajectory towards healing I have to take long breaks of introspection to sort through the barrage of information and advice on healing.  There is so much information out there now.  Again, that’s an amazing signifier of progress in this area.

All along I have been recommended Dr Bessel van der kolk’s work especially his book ‘The Body Keeps the Score’.  I have read little bits and pieces of his which have always been good.  Although I haven’t got around to reading the book yet.

Dr Bessel van der kolk is the founder and Medical Director of the Trauma Center; past President of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and Professor of Psychiatry at Boston University Medical School.  He particularly specialises in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

I myself have the symptoms of Complex-Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. I’ve been working through how this effects my physical body and health.   There is a tool now called the ACE’s tool that measures a person’s risk of social and chronic health problems.

An ACE score was created to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease. Think of it as a measurement of the long-term effects of childhood toxic stress. You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems.

My ACE score is 8 out of 10.  So I’m pretty high on the scale.

From the time I started to find ways to heal myself I have absorbed lots of information, I have participated in healing methods both Western and not as a kind of experiment to see what works.  I’ve been involved in research projects, I’ve seen Doctor after Doctor and specialist and guru and academic and shaman and healer and wise sage.

I’ve collected a lot of information and experiences.  I have been to Doctors who have run all the basic test that have come back normal and then I’ve ended up in hospital.  Currently there is a failure to connect physical health and symptoms with trauma and C-PTSD.  Some practitioners know about it, most don’t.

Over this time I have also formed a sense of what’s good for me and what works for me.  This knowledge didn’t come from anyone external to me.   It came from trial and error, experimentation, experiences and my deep knowing and connection to myself and my culture.  My intergenerational knowing, you might call it.

This entire time I have had my own thought processes around Western trained Doctors and Psychiatrists.  It seems Dr Van Der Kolk agrees with me.

I listened to a podcast of him being interviewed today and I love that my thinking on these subjects is in line with an expert in the field.

He highlighted that YES mindfulness and meditation are useful for everyday maintenance of keeping cortisol levels down in the body.  But he said they are nothing without self-compassion and self-reflection.  I have found this to be true.  At times I have meditated and mindfulnessed my little heart out and it has made zero difference because I didn’t believe that I deserved to have better health and an easier life.   Other times it has been my saviour.

He also highlighted that for people who suffer trauma it is not easy to even get into a space where you can use meditation or mindfulness and it can in fact be very distressing for us.  The quiet stillness can bring forth triggers and have us in a space of panic once again reliving all the sounds and flashes and thoughts of the original traumatic event over as if had just happened again.  I had to do so much self-work and self-pacifying to even get into a space where I was able to be quiet and still.  It took years.

He also highlighted that Psychiatrists and Psychologists like to think they hold the golden key to the ‘Mentally Well’ kingdom.   He spoke at length about the other therapeutic relationships we would have in our communities that are such a very important piece to the healing puzzle.

It was so refreshing to hear him go in-depth in this field instead of the usual ‘slap this mindfulness band-aid on it’ approach that is infiltrating medical professional spaces now when discussing mental health.

He also covered that creating trusting relationships was the key to real healing.

Good people helping good people is what is going to move us forward into an ongoing healing space.  Especially for Indigenous peoples this is entirely true.  We come from intrinsically connected communities that talk to each other and pass on healing from person to person through our ways of being connected.  We create healing medicines left here on country and passed on down through our ancestors.

We talk to each other, we uplift, we care, we laugh, we dance and sing and celebrate life together through our ceremonies.

People who suffer trauma need people they can open up to about what they are going through without fear of reproach.  Without the finger pointing and lecturing and judgement but instead be met with acceptance.   In spaces where we are met with acceptance is where we learn to accept ourselves and look at ourselves without judgement but instead with compassion.

What works for me so far has been a combination of Connection to Culture, people, land and nature, art and music, CBT, Medication, ongoing food intake maintenance and regular bodily movement.

My wish for everyone is that we can all access healing and therapeutic benefits when we need it to keep us all well and healing.  Too many have been lost to suicide and chronic disease.

Keep talking and sharing and healing ❤

healing pic

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