Posts Tagged Mental health

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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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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Living with trauma stories from the royal commissions

Living with trauma stories from the royal commissions

It’s hard to avoid stories about trauma and abuse in the Australian media right now. Between the royal commission into institutional child sexual abuse and the royal commission into family violence, a stream of stories are being reported every day. I want to share my own feelings about this, and connect with others who may be feeling similarly. I am heartbroken to hear so many stories of pain – and worse, how often people have had their stories denied and ignored. I am heartened that these stories are coming into the light, and hopeful that we will start to see […]

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Just a cry for help.

Just a cry for help.

There were many times in my past when I sought help at hospital emergency departments. Usually when I had self-harmed or was fearful of suicide.
 
And almost every time I felt the ire of medical staff who clearly viewed me as a time waster. I was someone less worthy of their time, skill and compassion than the other patients under their care.
 
So often we dismiss people’s pain by saying things like ‘just a cry for help’ or ‘just attention seeking’. This article explores the implications of these beliefs. It is a plea for greater compassion in mental health care.

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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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Just keep typing: A night of madness

Just keep typing: A night of madness

What is it like to lose yourself in suicidal urges? And how do the police and mental health system respond? Read about one night when I got lost in my madness and was on the edge of suicide, and what happened over that evening and the following day.
 
This article draws on actual journal entries. It may be triggering for some people to read.

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When I went down the rabbit hole: My beginnings of madness

When I went down the rabbit hole: My beginnings of madness

A first admission to a psychiatric ward is a startling experience. I am not sure that anyone ever expects to end up in the ‘looney bin’. Certainly I didn’t. This is a place reserved for other people, for properly crazy people.
 
As it turned out, most of my fellow patients were far removed from stereotypical nutters themselves. We crazy folks have many experiences and talents, but none of them sufficient to keep us out of the ward. I was to meet mathematicians, artists, musicians, an admiral, and several versions of Jesus. Mostly people were disappointingly and comfortingly normal.
 
Read this reflection on some of my first experiences of madness, and my first stay in a psychiatric hospital.

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Forget the can of worms. Safe first steps for trauma recovery (Part 2 of 2).

Forget the can of worms. Safe first steps for trauma recovery (Part 2 of 2).

How to start working with trauma safely and gently

 
Are you thinking about addressing past trauma?
 
Trauma work can be profoundly healing. But it can also be painful and distressing, so it can be helpful to think carefully about trauma work before you start.
 
This is the second of two articles that shares strategies for how to start thinking about trauma in ways that are gentle and safer. Topics in this article include:
 
7. Learn to brake and accelerate
8. Pick the right support people
9. Impacts on others in your life
10. Your goals for the process
11. Tell your story – or don’t – choice comes first
12. Learn the facts about trauma and its impacts

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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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The blog that shouldn’t be written. And why I’m writing it.

The blog that shouldn’t be written. And why I’m writing it.

I was a consumer of mental health services off and on for nine years. Diagnosed with depression, schizophrenia, borderline personality disorder and many more labels. I experienced involuntary hospitalisation, massive doses of medication, and electro-convulsive therapy. I was told I would always have this ‘brain disease’. I was told that I would probably never recover or work again. During this time my identity went from being a successful, creative, attractive, strong woman, to a hopeless, fat, unemployed mad woman with no future. Today I am a general manager at a major mental health organisation, a board director, an adjunct research […]

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