Tag Archives: PTSD

Blog for Mental Health 2014

Just a few minutes ago, I discovered Blog for Mental Health 2014, and I was excited to participate.

Blog for Mental Health 2014

I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.

Now, why am I blogging for mental health? Those of you who’ve visited me before, will know, but for those who don’t, here’s a little about my lived experience. I have suffered from mental health problems for a slong as I can remember. My first encounter with the mental health system was in 2006, when I was being assessed for and eventually diagnosed with autism. I later got additional diagnoses of dissociative identity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder. These diagnoses were replaced by a diagnosis of borderline personality disorder in 2013. I have resided in a mental institution for over six years, and have met many people with various mental health conditions this way. I have also experienced first-hand the stigma that comes with mental illness. Therefore, I blog to raise awareness for mental health this year.

Time Heals All Wounds?

“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” – Rose Kennedy

As people who have gone throgh something traumatic, we often wonder when the pain will be gone. We wonder how long the grieving process takes. I wondered this when being confronted with the reality of my total blindness last year. When will I finally accept that there is no way, save for technological advancements that might come in the future, that I will be able to see again?

Looking at this quote, I realize that the trauma of my having gone blind,a nd all the other traums I survived, will never not have happened, and the wounds they caused in my mind and soul will remain. The mind will create scar tissue that protects the wounds from being torn open over and over again, but the wounds are still there. Treatment for PTSD is not aimed at making the traumatic memories go away – well, I’ve heard of some medications that could in the future do this, but whether that’s ethical , is another topic entirely. PTSD treatment is focused on restructuring the person’s memory so that the emotional burden is lessened. This is comparable to creating mental scar tissue. And the thing with scars is, they itch sometimes, reminding us of the wounds that are underneath them.

A person may have seemingly fully processed their trauma. I thought I had processed the feelings surrounding my blindness in 1999, when I moved to a mainstream school and my tiny bit of vision was insignificant. Then, in 2004, I lost that tiny bit of vision and was confronted with the reality tht the scars from the original trauma of blindness were still there. I learned to ignore my feelings with the help of a rather pragmatic psychologist, herself blind from birth. I thought I had created mental scar tissue, but I hadn’t or it was too thin. The wound kept being torn open, and at last I took a different road by asking to be referred to al ophthalmologist to find out if any sight-restoring treatment was still possible. I had surgery in September, but it was unsuccessful. Now, I’m trying to build another layer of scar tissue, but I realize now, the wound will remain.

This does not mean recovering from PTSD or other post-traumatic symptoms is not worth it. It is rather useful to be able to function well in spite of trauma. I also know that scars can make you stronger, ie. post-traumatic growth. This, however, does not mean the trauma is gone. It means we’ve moved on with our lives in spite of it.

BPD Day

Today, my husband and I attended an evvent for sufferers of and family of people with borderline personality disorder. First, a psychiatrist spoke about what BPD is. He was interrupted mid-sentence by three women who had BPD themselves and felt they were in a better position to tell what it is. This looked a bit foolish as it was obviously planned. After the women were finished, the psychiatrist took over and explained about causes and treatment. One important point is that there is no one cause of BPD. In fact, BPD is caused by many factors interacting, such as environment, traumatic experiences, genetics, neurobiology, etc. Another interesting point was that there are four different therapies for BPD which are on average each equally effective. Also, the therapeutic alliance is more importan than what type of therapy you’re following. He said that therapeutic skills are important in all psychotherapy practice, but to an exaggerated extent so in BPD treatment.

Then we went to meet some peer supporters who told their stories and had us ask questions. I had expected to sit and listen but ultiately was the most talkative on my table. One of the peer supporters said she suspected she was born borderline. I have discussed this topic before. Some personality traits, such as aggressivness or risk-taking, make someone more prone to end up in traumatizing situations. Also, people with certain traits experience more seemingly minor evetns as traumatic. For example, my husband later told me he had experienced the same event that one of the peer supporters said was traumatic to her, and he was unaffected. This is one reason I don’t like the narrow DSM-5 definition of trauma in PTSD. PTSD too is as much a brain-based and genetic condition as it is trauma-based. So are the dissociative disorders by the way. I hope eventually the DSM developing people will realize this and remove the mandatory connection of PTSD to specific traumas. Science is already there on the dissociative disorders, but sufferers need to follow. Note please that I am not saying that abuse or trauma has no role in these conditions, or that it isn’t horrible when it occurs. All I’m saying is that it’s not like you’ll only and always develop PTSD or a dissociative disorder if you’ve experienced a certain trauma.