Archive for the ‘ trauma ’ Category

Falling into a Crisis

Mental health crises are an inevitable part of the course when you live with the after effects of trauma. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), or EPCACE (Enduring Personality Change After Catastrophic Experience) as they are now calling it is something that is an everyday part of my life. As with most things, some days it’s bad, some days it’s alright and some days it’s average.

Some days however, it gets bad and then it stays that way. Well, it actually gets worse. You see, I get exhausted from a lack of sleep, from being constantly on edge, and from fighting to stay in the present day rather than slipping into the scary past. When I’m exhausted I can’t manage those symptoms as well so they get worse and I in turn find them harder to manage. At that point I spiral beyond “bad” and into crisis.

I’m in the crisis spiral again right now. I know the drill, take whatever drugs you need to ensure you get some sleep and rest. Do whatever you can to isolate yourself from sources of stress. Once I’ve got the rest it’ll reduce the severity of the symptoms, and I’ll have the strength to manage the ones that remain. It’ll all be easier. Right now it doesn’t feel like it’ll ever be easy again of course, that’s the problem. I’m struggling to have faith that things will ever feel better, and for all I tell myself that’s part of the viscous cycle I can’t quite grasp that it is. This time, my mind keeps telling me, it’s different. This is the time you don’t get better, this is the time you get drowned by it all. Continue reading

Leaving Abuse

[content note: this post covers my personal experiences with domestic abuse in some detail]

“Why don’t they just leave?”

“If someone did that to me I’d be out of there straight away!”

“If they were really being abused they’d run at the first chance!”

I’ve had all of these statements thrown at me and I’ve heard them applied to others living with domestic abuse. Aside from being generally unhelpful and blaming the victim for the abuse they are receiving, they are also based on a central faulty premise; that leaving domestic abuse is easy. For many of us that live(d) with it, it is exactly the opposite. It’s that difficulty that I’m going to discuss today.

To start with we have to remember a few things about domestic abuse; Continue reading

C-PTSD Flare, Stress & Compassion

I’ve been having a Complex PTSD flare, or EPCACE flare to go with the diagnosis on my medical records. Some new pills have managed to get the worst of the symptoms (somatic re-experiencing & full flashbacks) under control, which leaves me with some time to think about the other elements of the flare up.

Continue reading

Language Check: Victim or Survivor?

Edited to clarify post content.

When it comes to talking about people who have lived through traumatic events people often get hung up on ‘what they should call them’. In most spaces I visit online or in the world at large there are two words that keep being used to label those who have experienced trauma; victim or survivor.  There seems to be a continuous debate on which word is the most appropriate.

Should they be called a victim? Or does using the term victim make them sound powerless and  create a unnecessary negative label? How about survivor then? It sounds strong and empowering! Yet it can serve to minimise the pain and trauma by making it sound like it’s a thing of the past, something the person is clearly ‘too strong’ to still have enduring problems dealing with the event(s).

It leaves us in a pickle. If these two commonly used words aren’t quite right, which label is?

Long answer: Stereotyping people is not cool. When looking at issues of gender there are countless papers written on the harm caused by stereotyping people as either girls (feminine) or boys (masculine). A quick example is that boys get harmed by the societal expectation that they should never show emotion and girls get harmed by the societal expectation that they are automatically weak. In issues of disability we can see the harm the ‘supercrip‘ stereotype causes as it creates an environment where disabled people feel like if they can’t become a paralympian/get a job/’overcome’ their impairment or disability then they are failures. The same goes for people who have lived through traumatic events. Many don’t feel particularly strong for having simply survived, some feel guilty or angry or miserable or numb or a ever-changing mixture of all of the above. Depending on where an individual is they may or may not find it helpful to think of them selves as having been/being a victim. The point is that is their choice and it will rarely be the same choice as another person would make.

At the end of the day labels are powerful tools and are best used sparingly and respectfully. By trying to lump all people who have lived through trauma into one label you will hurt or distance yourself from those who don’t like being labelled that way. It is far better practise to let people tell you what they want to be called. If you have to use a general term to talk about a group of people (as I have had to in this piece) then using non-emotive language to do so is always best. Instead of saying ‘trauma survivor , ‘trauma victim’, ‘trauma sufferer’, ‘person afflicted by trauma’ or similar I simply talk of people that have lived through or experienced trauma. I try not to make value judgements because I realise they can do more harm than good.

Short answer: None of the above. Don’t label people! People have the right to self determine. If you have to label a group avoid using emotive language and stick to facts.

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