Recovery

Creating a new voice

Creating a new voice

One morning in 2009 I was sitting in the psych ward, working out ways to kill myself, when something unexpected and creative happened to reawaken my lost hope.

I was being plagued by a terrifying voice in my head. I thought I was evil and had to be destroyed. The psychiatrist had ignored what I wanted and needed and was putting me back on medication and forcing me to stop my trauma therapy. I was despairing. In the midst of this seemingly inescapable torment, I was visited by someone who showed me a way out. Something unexpected, creative and new.

I wonder if there is anyone who could job-share with the judge? You know, so he’s not so alone? Could you create another voice to work with the Judge?

Trigger warning: This article talks about self-harm, suicide and child abuse, although it does not go into detail. It may be distressing for some people to read.

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The seeds of my recovery: A new community and a little Scotswoman

The seeds of my recovery: A new community and a little Scotswoman

‘I am not sure when it happened.
 
But at some time between naming the dream, and starting to work towards it, in a myriad of tiny little ways, the dream began to take hold of my heart. It transformed from a joke into a deep motivation.
 
I wanted to do this. Kaz would help me to do this. I could do this.’
 
How the seeds of my recovery began to take hold after I went to a community-managed mental health service.

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Speaking unspeakable shame

Speaking unspeakable shame

The night I put myself on trial and began to see my madness and shame in a whole different way.
 
Childhood trauma gave me shame, and shame sent me mad, growing over time like a mad monster.
 
How unravelling my shame in a ‘mock trial’ helped me to heal.
 
Trigger warning: This post talks in detail about the emotional impacts of rape.

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Writing about me without me.

Writing about me without me.

What is written about us in hospital records? Whose version is the truth? Can we find ways to co-create narratives about our lives?   I recently watched Madness Made Me, the short online film about Mary O’Hagan’s story. It got me thinking about the power of words and those who use them.   I have long been inspired by Mary O’Hagan. I still remember the first time I saw her speak at a conference, and her strength stretched out to me across the auditorium. I wanted to be like her. A survivor, speaking her words with intelligence and humour, unashamed […]

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Living with the magnetism of madness

Living with the magnetism of madness

I am on intimate terms with my madness. Together we have been seducers and lovers, escapees and bad asses, competitors, companions and mortal enemies. These days we are more like constructive collaborators. Well, that’s a bit of a fib. It’s like that most of the time, but some days my madness and I still have a bit of a barney. The important thing is that I am the one who retains control. Mostly. It wasn’t always like this. For most of my life my madness was an unknown. An invasive other self and alien other world. And sometimes, awful as […]

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Talking about trauma can feel really, really hard. But it can get easier.

Talking about trauma can feel really, really hard. But it can get easier.

The ordinary response to atrocities is to banish them from consciousness. Certain violations of the social compact are too terrible to utter aloud: this is the meaning of the word unspeakable. – Judith Herman, 1992 Over my years of working in mental health services to promote trauma informed practice, many professionals have expressed surprise – sometimes even disbelief – about the exceptionally high rates of trauma prevalence amongst people diagnosed with mental health conditions. They tell me that hardly any of their clients ever talk about trauma. Some tell me that they already ask their clients about trauma, but people […]

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