Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Comments by fluffybunny

Showing 24 of 24 comments.

  • Yup those are all helpful therapies!
    Carrying on from my previous comment: I especially dislike anyone who trademarks their therapy and says “If you want to get better, see a practitioner trained in this method I created.” This seems to be the case especially in trauma therapy. Trademarked therapies are the worst in terms of decreasing hope. Usually the inventor will warn you that you cannot do anything to help yourself without professional help and you should definitely turn to professional help AND it should be someone specifically trained in their method.
    Ok well, what if there are no ‘X,Y,Z’ practitioner in your area? What if you can’t afford it? What, are you saying people are stuck with their pain for life just because they can’t use YOUR method? Ridiculous.
    I often also find that these ‘inventors’ are actually taking methods, concepts and ideas that have been around for centuries but presenting them as if they invented them.
    I read a really frustrating book once where the author was describing the concept of mindfulness and the idea that you should proceed at your own pace and that you need to find a safe space/person. However, instead of saying it like this they made up some weird jargon for it and kept describing how they came to this amazing discovery by reading hundreds of studies and research papers and how it’s this awesome new discovery they had made that no one in the psychotherapy world had thought of before and man…it was an annoying read! (And yes, it was a trademarked therapy :P)

  • Alex, I love everything you write 🙂 You really do give hope. I love your ending “I say this to give hope, and also to remind that we do have the power to address life on our own terms. Trusting our own process and inner guidance is vital to heal dependence on psych drugs.”

    I want to just add “to heal dependence on psych drugs or any particular therapy system.” I’m actually very pro-psychotherapy but only when it is flexible. So my comment pertains to those programmes/systems where the author or therapist insists THIS (their) way is THE ONLY way to heal from whatever. I find that really insidious. There are as many ways to heal as there are people on the planet. No system can fit all perfectly. Some will come close but we’ll find we still have to make modifications or skip parts or add parts or sometimes do the opposite of the instructions for an infinite number of reasons.

    I think that’s why many people who do a particular therapy or self-help programme get discouraged, because at some point what they’re being instructed to do will feel wrong for them and they feel like ‘Well, since this is apparently THE way to heal and it’s not working for me I guess I’m stuck like this for life.’ and that can be very dangerous too! So following your own inner guide is key but it can be so hard to trust sometimes when you’ve got ‘experts’ telling you that this is how you should be progressing or dealing with x,y,z…

  • I don’t know how many people will actually read my comment but I just wanted to put my thoughts out there. I’m not an expert on cultural psychiatry but I have noticed how a society’s ideas and discourse around mental health really shapes a person’s hope and ideas about recovery.
    Our society is saturated now with the idea that anyone going through a tough time is doomed for life. I feel that before (in whatever century you want to imagine this) often it was tough for people with trauma, anxiety, depression because these things were not recognized at all and you were for the most part just expected to suck it up and tough it out (unless you were a woman, then it was normal to be hysterical of course!).
    Now we have completely swung the other way. Now recovery is difficult because you are made to believe you are ‘scarred for life’ and ‘psychologically damaged’ or at worst you have a ‘broken brain’. I know that some of these ideas come from good, but absurdly misguided, intentions. Some in the mental health field go overboard to validate the suffering so much that you feel that because you have been through something difficult you will never be the same again.
    Imagine if you were doing ok in life and then something traumatic happened to you and you started experiencing various distressing symptoms. So you start doing some research and reading but in your reading you are repeatedly being told that your life will never be same, you can only now hope to ‘manage symptoms’. That this thing that is happening to you is abnormal and you are scarred for life. If that’s the only information or discourse you are surrounded by it’s going to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. You internalize that message.
    Now imagine you live in a society where trauma is considered a completely normal part of life. When something traumatic happens no one treats you like a damaged victim but shows you support and empathy and the discourse is “Yes, something terrible has happened to you and your reactions are completely normal and human. This is what happens to all of us but we can integrate the experience and move on with life. This does not have to be a lifelong burden.” In a society like this you would be more calm about your distress, you have hope or you know that it’s ok, that your reactions are just part of being human, not a ‘fault’ in your system. And when you know that what you’re going through is normal, that others go through it, and it’s not a reflection of your character or a moral weakness, the distress goes away faster because you’re not constantly worrying about it and what it means.
    I am just so sick of psychiatrists and some psychologists (I say some psychologists because not all are like this) who are of the opinion that “You will never get better on your own without PROFESSIONAL help.” And even more insidious “You will never get better on your own without MY TRADEMARKED method of recovery.” I mean really, for thousands of years people have been living through trauma without psychiatry and psychology and for thousands of years people have healed and found comfort through other means (obviously not all but there must have been many throughout the centuries!).
    I’m really confused as to why in the West everyone is so quick to divide things into normal/abnormal. (Ok, not that confused, big pharma money is obviously enticing, but you know what I mean). Why can’t anxiety, depression, worry, anger etc. just be human? Not normal, not abnormal, just human. I think we’ve become obsessed with ‘being normal’ in the West and we are losing resilience. Instead of seeing pain as part of life we are terribly frightened of it and will medicate it at the slight sign of it. We are losing the ability to be self-compassionate and self-accepting, but this is actually how you get through the pain. By being open to it, accepting it as a NORMAL part of life (not a disease) and nurturing ourselves through self-compassion.

  • Hi Tabita, two things stood out fo me in your article and I believe they are connected. Firstly I found it interesting that you reffered to your own depression as situational. I assume you mean it arose because of specific events/circumstances that arose in your life. I got the impression you were using his description to differemtiate from other types of depression though your daughter’s depression seems to be situational as well because you rightly say that her psychiatrists never asked about her environment and what was going on in her life. Both your depressions are from the environment (I use this broadly environment meaning your living conditions, relationships, employment etc.) as you have realised this is hecause of so called “mental illness” it is our environment from the nuclear family to society as a whole (different for everyone obviously).

    This reminded me of somethig I came across about a year ago. In the country where I live we have a regular ad on TV for a depression webiste. I never used to pay attention to it and thought it was a public/ministry of health production. Eventually once I started getting interested in t he mental health field I visited the site. It wad frightening. They had videos of so-called success stories of people overcoming depression and all bar one ended up on anti-depressants. Each story started with the person talking about events leading up to their depression, examples of these events were: bankruptcy, double mastectomy, car crash and amputation and a refugee story. And you think well it’s obvious why they are depressed it’s only logical, they need love and support from family and community and ways to work through trauma. But each story ends with the person now taking anti-depressants and that’s about it. I was saddened and angered. How can it not be obvious that its the environment and life events that cause this, how can one still believe it’s chemical imbalance after listening to these stories?
    Also I know that gut health is important but the healthiest person with thd perfect diet will be depressed undef the circumstances I mentioned above.
    Anyway, I really enjoyed your article and I’m happy that things turned out for you and your family!

  • I always love your comments Alex 🙂 I feel that we are on the same wavelength. Just when I have been pondering over something I log on and see you’ve posted almost the exact same thing I was thinking!
    I completely agree about the “learned” responses! And you’re right, it’s hard to change until you stop and think about how you are responding and why. I have also found “heart work” to be extremely helpful and beneficial.

  • Ok lets say that everything in the article is completely true, that there are all these myriads of way to “pass on” “mental illness” to your child… the logical conclusion is that people, men and women, should make sure they are in optimal condition down to the cellular level at the time of reproduction or else! Be careful… might create a scary illness in utero! Ok, so how many people are in this peak condition at any one time? I think we’ll have about 2 couples reproducing a year. And hey! Presto! No more “mental illness”… also no humans 🙂

    Seriously, everything is said to be harmful these days for a baby in the womb. It is causing pregnant women a lot of stress… about the things they eat, the products they use, the activities they engage in etc. Obviously be reasonably cautious, don’t eat raw meat, avoid medications as much as possible and whatnot but seriously! The stress caused by the scientific motherhood police is probably causing more harm to baby than anything a pregnant woman puts in her mouth.

  • Hey Meaghan! You’re definitely right, trauma lives in the body. As a yoga instructor you may be interested in looking up Trauma Release Exercises developed by David Berceli which are designed to relax muscle tension due to trauma. His newest book is called ‘The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process’. I have found it extremely helpful 🙂

  • Ah we are on the same wavelength Brenda! I posted a comment about trauma and multiple diagnoses and straight after your article appeared! You are one beautiful, strong lady! 🙂 I agree… we always need to ask” What happened?” and then we can start healing. I find Kristin Neff’s book “Self-Compassion” to be a great first resource for that. Thanks for posting!

  • That’s awesome Alex! I agree 100% with everything you said. I believe that basically toxic families teach their children that they are defective humans in some way or other. Maybe they get treated as selfish or lazy or ugly or are given the message that failure and mistakes ARE an option and if you fail theres something wrong with you. Sometimes they even get blamed or held responsible for things outside their control. The list of how children are demeaned can go on and on. And as you say children internalise this and carry it through to adulthood. Its not until you stand up and say no, I’m perfectly fine the way I am, I am not defective, I am just like everyone else, no worse no better can you heal, not until you put the lies to bed!

    What I have also come to realise is that most mental illness diagnoses can be symptoms of trauma: OCD, social phobia, generalized anxiety, depression etc. I’m sure people who come from abusive backgrounds can recognize themselves in many diagnoses descriptions. All these ‘disorders’ can easily connect to trauma. For example, social phobia can clearly be the result of having extremely critical or demeaning parents/family members. generalized anxiety disorder as well. If you were constantly expected to be perfect with the threat of punishment you may have a constant state of worry about everything, like being hypervigilant about anything that can go wrong in any situation. I could go on…

    I wish people would see these ‘disorders’ not as discrete occurrences but the branches of the same tree, or the symptoms of an underlying issue that needs to be healed.

  • Thank you both for your kind and interesting replies 🙂 there are two really good resources on dealing with effects of trauma and negative patterns due to trauma. One is “Self-compassion” by Kristin Neff and the other is “The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process” by David Berceli. They don’t deal specifically with childhood issues but are thought provoking none the less and describe how trauma affects our self image and body.

  • I don’t think anyone disagrees that eating healthy, whole foods has an impact on your overall wellbeing. That’s common sense. The hostility comes in response to the claim that healthy foods and supplements alone will cure everything and make your life wonderful and grand. I think that people whose emotional distress started purely 100% due to lack of vitamins and minerals are extremely rare. It’s like people whose emotional distress started due to a physical disease. Rare as well.

    Yes, everyone should eat as healthy as possible and I think this will help reduce symptoms of anxiety, depression etc. but that’s the thing: nutrition helps reduce negative symptoms and helps you feel fine. it does not create a sense of deep, spiritual or inner joy, only you can do that through reflection, positive relationships and so forth.

    On another note, why there is a hostility towards the trauma explanation of distress… I believe people scoff at the childhood trauma theory because they either a) have not experienced trauma when young, or b) they think of adverse childhood experiences through the point of view of an adult or c) they believe time alone heals all wounds and no other support is required. They think ‘Oh a bit of criticism or name calling or even getting the belt once or twice couldn’t have created such problems for you! And anyway if it did time should’ve healed that by now.’

    They forget what its like to be a child. To be small, vulnerable with absolutely no defences or strength. Being hit or humiliated even once can be traumatic for a young person because of this. People who deny the trauma theory forget this. They forget how frightening an adult can be to a child. But not only verbal/physical abuse traumatises children. Neglect and ignoring does as well as the loneliness and rejection is overwhelming to a little child.

    Unfortunately these issues have become parodied in the media as mummy/daddy issues. In many films and TV shows therapy clients are portrayed as neurotic control freaks instead of real ordinary people with real pain and that really really doesn’t help.

    Do I believe every single person who is in emotional distress has childhood trauma? No. But I do believe that its a lot more prevalent than the average person realises.

  • Sandra, thanks for your honest article. I can appreciate the bind you find yourself in. I want to pick up on an idea someone has mentioned earlier and that is the problem starts a long time before the person makes it to the psych’s office. I have found a lot of mental health discussion focuses on what to do after the person has begun experiencing severe distress. This is good, we obviously need to support people on distress. However, there is little preventative care going on in the most broad sense, in the world. I want to talk now about why. From now o when I mention distress I am talking about any extreme feeling states: depression, anxiety, anger etc.

    Sandra, you say that people find their distressing experience overwhelming, life disrupting and just want it to stop and that’s where the drugs come in. It is obvious that you want to help once they are in this state.

    My feeling is that people become terrified of their distressing feelings because of two major factors. Firstly, society in general has swallowed the medical model and the discussion about emotional distress is on emphasising how it’s some random occurrence which can stroke with no cause or warning and then lasts a lifetime or that its some genetic defect you are stuck with for life. So already it sets up the person experiencing the distress to feel helpless. There is no encouragement of self reflection as to what could have caused the distress and that perhaps distress was an unfortunate but absolutely normal response to the circumstances and situation. I mean imagine if people were told that the flu was some terrible thing that needed a lifetime of medication, that no other remedy such as bed rest, fluids etc. Would help. How would the average person respond to the flu then? So already we set people up to feel helpless at the first sign of distress and they end up believing meds are the only solution.

    What compounds this helplessness is that often people who get to this severe distress have had their self esteem destroyed in traumatic relationships. So now even if you told them that this distress is normal and can be dealt with non medically they refuse to believe that they as an individual can because they have no sense of self efficacy. But if they believe that they have a biological screw up and they have no belief in themselves to handle difficult situations imagine how frightened they become when distressed.

    I met a man once who was in the mental health field and he told me that in over 20 years of practice he only put 5 people on medication and reluctantly so. In fact he helped countless people get off them for exactly that reason: taking a pill every day reduced their sense of self efficacy and hope to be able to overcome their difficulties on their own.

    I have recently become aware of how woefully we are lacking preventative education. This is especially needed among youth. Imagine if everyone was empowered with correct information so that if they ever did experience distress it didn’t scare or disrupt their lives as much as it does now. Imagine of everyone had a real and strong belief in their own self efficacy… 🙂

  • Sally! Your last sentence summed up exactly what I was trying to say in a paragraph! Lol! Thanks 🙂 I too find it appalling that traumatized people who need self-care and support the most are often made to feel even more terrible and selfish by basically being given the message that they are selfish for not taking care of their abusers’ feelings by not forgiving or by not thinking of others (being grateful). Its like “this person/people abused you but you need to forgive them so they don’t feel so bad. Don’t be so selfish and forgive them so they can get on with their lives.”

    I read somewhere one definition of forgiveness that I like and that was that forgiveness is basically when you heal from the trauma and no longer let the abuse have a negative impact on hour life. I like it because it has nothing to do with condoning the actions of the abuser… which I something a lot of forgiveness pop psychology implies. I’m shocked at how often victims are asked to “see things from the abusers point of view”. Its like the whole exercise is about finding an excuse to to let the abuser off the hook. In perfect world when two people hurt each other they would be able to come together and discuss what happened with each clearly expressing what they think and feel about what happened. If you think about that’s why therapy is for, to discuss what happened and let all your emotions out in a safe way. Imagine if we could just do that as people. Everyone gets hurt at some point, the trouble is that often we have to suppress the experience but what if we could openly talk about it without fear and the people who caused the hurt listened emphatically? Maybe we wouldn’t need forgiveness as such because we could all come to mutual understandings… I have a lot of thoughts on all this in my mind at the moment…

  • Also I just wanted to add that there are different types of gratitude. It is beautiful how you feel grateful for your daughter after the horrible accident. I think it’s natural and automatic to feel grateful when things could have gone horribly wrong but didn’t, we don’t even have to try to feel gratitude, it just comes. I’m talking about that forced gratitude where you have to look for things to be grateful for.

  • At least this is a step in the right direction. Anything that’s more flexible than the “you have a biological disease for life” message is better, I think. Hopefully this common sense message will be developed and more young people will get to hear it.

    Often I hear people in the wider world dismiss childhood experiences as causing trauma or emotional distress down the line and the problem with that is they’re looking at it from an adults perspective. “Your mother/father did/said X to you? That couldn’t possibly affect you now that you’re 30.”

    Adults forget that kids and yes, even adolescents (despite what they themselves claim) are impressionable and swallow the messages they get from the adults around them. If you’ve been told or shown throughout your younger years you are worthless/selfish/lazy/ugly etc. that message sinks in, wreaks havoc with your emotions and self-image and can take a while to undo.

    I think the reason that the emotional distress from childhood experiences lingers into adulthood is because no one teaches kids and young people what effects the trauma/abuse can have or how to deal with it. So when they end up with feelings of depression and anxiety it’s labeled as “bad brain chemistry which obviously needs to be medicated for life.” instead of an unfortunate, but normal response to their experience.

    We may not be able to eradicate the world of all abuse but if we could give kids and adolescents the skills/tools to not buy into the negative messages that abuse creates and how to create a positive self-image themselves it would be so awesome and prevent problems down the line.

    Conclusion: children and adolescents are impressionable and need to get the right info!

  • Ok, I’m sorry to be somewhat cynical but this is one concept I don’t particularly agree with. This is not directed specifically at you but at “gratitude and mental health” in general. So many times I have heard motivational speakers or self-help books go on about how you just need some gratitude. I know that you are making a good case for it and your argument is not a simplistic one (as I have seen one speaker tell a room of young people that happy people are grateful and so if you’re not happy you just need to be more grateful) but there’s something that just doesn’t sit right with me about this whole topic.

    I think that for me personally, when it is implied that a person is suffering because they are not grateful, or that they can feel better if they show more gratitude, it sounds like victim blaming. It’s like being told off “You’re not grateful enough. Look at all these wonderful helpful people and all the good things in your life. You’re being a bit selfish by not recognizing all these things.”

    It’s like one more thing you have failed at. I wish I could express myself a little bit better about this subject but I can’t seem to find the words at the moment.

    I agree with being grateful for beautiful and joyful things in the world (such as nature, being alive etc.). For me, people who have been through trauma often feel helpless and out of control, they have low-self esteem (I think sometimes due to not have been able to control the traumatic event). I think the first and most important thing is to find your inner strength again. It is always there but we need to reconnect with it after trauma. The first thing is to feel good about yourself again, self-acceptance.

    Gratitude is focusing on things outside yourself, not on your inner self and sometimes feels like putting yourself down “I’m so grateful these people are putting up with a crummy person like me.” which makes things even worse.

    As I said I haven’t been able to articulate my thoughts exactly so I apologize if anything came across as too negative. If gratitude makes you feel good and gives you strength then that’s awesome.

    Personally, when I hear the oversimplified message (and as I said, this article was not oversimplified) of gratitude=happiness I cringe because basically what it sounds like is you’re selfish and that’s why you’re unhappy when nothing could be further from the truth. For people with trauma from abusive relationships (family, friends, work etc.) it is often the message they have been getting “You are a selfish, bad person.” And hearing that message is painful. Being told you just need to be grateful feels just as painful: Right now you are ungrateful, which really means, selfish or self-absorbed.

  • Ok, sorry but I’m going to have to be a bit critical here. You say in your article:

    “The problem is that even if we could reliably find exactly what caused the problems, this does not give us any direction about how to help cure the problem.”

    I find that this is a very incorrect statement. Many people here (and I’m aware that it’s not everyone, however) believe that trauma is a precursor to a lot of emotional/mental/spiritual distress (“mental illness”). Therefore, you need to address the trauma (what happened in the past).

    You are right about one thing is that sometimes too much emphasis is put on CHILDHOOD experience whereas the traumatic event/s could have happened at any point in the past. You are also right that some therapists just talk for the sake of talking which is unhelpful.

    However, for someone who has been traumatized in any way (physically or emotionally) dealing with the here and now is not always all there is to it. The pain of the trauma needs to be addressed for people to heal. For example (and this is a very straightforward example to keep things simple), you may have someone who was emotionally abused by their parents when younger and now as an adult finds themselves anxious in social situations. You can focus on the present day problem with helping them overcome their “social anxiety” and feel comfortable in social situations with their peers but that is not necessarily going to resolve the pain, anger and/or fear this person has in relation to their parents and carries inside them. It may help relieve those feelings but it’s not necessarily going to fully release them.

    Do you see what I mean?

    I am not saying your techniques are wrong or not useful but I have found that only addressing the problematic behaviours/reactions in the present only goes so far and to have deep healing the past needs to be addressed. This is trauma processing or trauma integration. The way that people process their trauma is different, and we all need to figure out how it is best done for us personally. For some it is just talking to someone about it (that’s why talk therapy is often helpful), for some they need to confront the person/people who played a part in the trauma, there are also body based techniques for trauma processing such as EMDR (requires a highly skilled therapist to do) or Trauma Release Exercises (which are gentle and can be done at home. Look up TRE David Berceli).

    I’m a bit worried because it sounds like you avoid talking about a person’s past and only go there if they bring it up. However, often people don’t even make the link between their present pain and suffering and past trauma.

    In saying that, I also do not agree with prolonged, drawn out conversations about the past that go nowhere and dredging up every single negative event. A talk therapist needs to have the skills to make sure that the talk is productive and not just talk for talk’s sake.

  • Robb3, you bring up something that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. Sometimes I get really riled up and want to write an article or a blog or something about the injustices of psychiatry for the mainstream public. But then I remember that the medical model is so entrenched in society is that no one will take you seriously if you don’t include this “but they work for some” caveat. And that would defeat the purpose of anything I would write. I feel people who a’re already on medication get extremely upset when anyone criticizes said medications. I can see why but it doesn’t help the discussion. If you go around trying to present information on why any psych drugs a’re dangerous or why people shouldn’t be taking them it’s very easy to paint you as an inhuman monster who wants to take away people’s only means of relief from their emotional suffering. Unfortunately this view only exists because so many have bought into the biological model. I feel like people believe less and less that other forms of therapy can help them. Psychiatry has resigned them to drugs.

  • This is exactly the issue! People get quite defensive as if someone wanted to come into their homes and take their medication away. I don’t have a problem with anyone taking medication if they truly think it’s helping. I do have a problem with every piddly thing being diagnosed as a “life-long, biological, mental illness” and drugs being the first and mostly only treatment available.

    Trauma of any kind produces a vast array of symptoms which psychiatry will label as clinical depression, anxiety disorder etc. If anyone is reading this comment I thoroughly suggest David Berceli’s books on trauma. He explains this so well and gives gentle exercises to work through trauma (which I don’t have time to explain here but are very helpful!)

    Anyway Jonathan, my point was that I fully 100% agree with your well written last paragraph 🙂

  • It’s not just psych medications. Doctors will dismiss side-effects of other medications too, even if there are lots of people out there having them. The oral contraception pill comes to mind. A great little thing if it works well for you, but can have terrible side-effects, which should be obvious since it messes with your hormones but yet a lot (not all) of the side-effects are denied.