Sometimes when I write I will talk about something that I call “Scenes From The Loveseat” meaning day in day out I sit with people, an endless stream seeking help. And time and time again I see the same thing.
Oftentimes what we call a mental health diagnosis is just trauma’s way of asking for healing.
We live in a world where children witness their parents die. Small children, the kind of children who still believe in Santa Claus. Or parents have children who are murdered, they complete suicide, they die from drug or illness related complications. The same children that once believed in Santa Claus. Some people were touched or sexualized inappropriately. Or they grew up gay and in hiding, or black and unable to ever hide. Or a woman that was taught to be less than. Or a white man who has DEEP feelings like EVERYone else, but is told not to EVER show their depth. Never.
But then, then when those same people then express or show their pain, they’re told not to. Or not right now… not in school, not at work, not in class, not at home. Nope. Not now.
To make it even doubly complex, we have nervous systems. Systems that as I have shared many times are mammalian and reptilian. Systems designed to keep us safe, but systems that don’t know how to talk. Literally. So it’s a real crapshoot whether or not you’ll be born into conditions where the world is safe- and where your nervous system and talking parts of your brain (Wernicke’s and/or Broca’s area(s)) will connect. Or not.
Safety responses in the brain will even shut memory down to keep a person relatively stable. So sometimes or maybe even often (!) trauma is there but we can’t even remember it!
We call trauma, or used to call it speechless horror. Overwhelm without words. And then designed a mental health model that diagnoses based on behavior, and what a patient can tell us. Or can remember if they’re lucky. Or not. We call it the rule-out. No trauma? No trauma diagnosis. So what then do you become?
- an addict
- eating disordered
So then the treatment regimen becomes skills based/coping focused. Meanwhile, the monster still lives in the trauma closet. Puppeteering your nervous system, making you think you’re nuts. When really you just need safety.