Trauma & PTSD: Mind-Body-Spirit Connection
For the past couple weeks, I've been working on the web-site. I've opportunity next month to complete the circle that defines the last thirteen-years of my life. In September, I'm returning to my former employer, BC Emergency Health Services, to share with Paul Swain, Director and his team, all the discoveries I've made up until now across my journey.
As this suggested I should put some work into the site, I thought I'd kill a couple of birds with one rock, and use what I've now put on the home-page here for others who follow this work who share my lived experience with trauma.
What is Trauma? It's simply a word. A word that points out that we've actually suffered a traumatic-stress induced brain injury. An injury that if we aren't guided near-immediately towards managing the after-math, leads to mental health consequences including PTSD, Depression, Compassion Fatigue, and Substance/Alcohol Use Disorders:
In Canada, estimates derived from reported cases of Post Traumatic Stress suggest that almost 9% of the 40,000 troops deployed in our most recent conflicts are living now with mental health challenges due to Post Traumatic Stress Injury suffered in deployment. I found this statistic some time ago. Today the total estimates are much higher.
In the United States, estimates suggest that a military veteran will die by his/her own hand every 65 minutes. The V.A. in the states released these statistics in 2013. That's 22 fine, brave, ramparts meeting their demise every single day. Since returning from deployment in Iraq and Afghanistan, Nearly 500,000 Military Personnel have returned to the United States living with symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury.
In both Canada and in the United States: We've now lost more of our Veterans to suicide than were lost during actual combat over-seas (Afghanistan and Iraq). The long, drawn-out, never-ending cycle of war, is doing emotional damage as well to our populations on the whole.
Studies suggest that in a human life-time most of us will experience at least a single traumatic event with potential to cause PTSD and other mental health issues.
Emergency First Responders are said to experience traumatic stress at rates of 20-35% above the rest of humanity. If you have lived through physical, emotional, sexual abuse or assault, these are all area's in the darkness of human life contributing to experiences of PTSD, Anxiety and Depression.
Tema Conter Memorial Trust in Ontario is tracking suicide in public safety workers in Canada. At last report, in 2017 we lost 14 First Responders to suicide. In 2018, I'm personally informed of 4 tragic losses for First Responder families in BC alone.
We're losing citizens from the general population too. For far too long, mental health care has frankly not been on governments in Canada's radar to the level the issues actually demand. Policy-makers love to profess that the issues that lead to suicide are 'complex'.
Suicide is depression's monster that those who suffer the condition must face inside. It's only when we learn that the monster lies that we have any ammunition at all with which to fight it. I survived my carried-out suicide attempt in 2015. It was the end-game of depression that took me there, as suicide is depressions final symptom that hopes, as all other of these conditions hopes to do: to take us out of life permanently.
I no longer believe a single lie my own depression hopes to tell.
I encourage all who visit here to stop believing that inner-monster as well. If ever it nags at you to die? Simply thank depression for the reminder of how brilliantly precious your life is each and every time the monster howls.
In the end, with depression, that's how I've learned to win.
One such loss is one too many frankly. I'm mindful of my personal efforts in BC over 13 years to raise the alarm on this issue. For too long, my own pleas and the pleas of many others, frankly and tragically, went unheard to the level that demonstrated our governments weren't taking the issue seriously.
Words? That's one thing. Right action, quite the other.
Have things changed over 13 years? Yes, they have. But not near dramatically enough, unfortunately, to satisfy me.
Our First Nations People and others living in the cultural melting-pot in Canada experience high-levels of mental health issues related to psychological trauma. This high rate of suffering is due to histories of inter-generational trauma or due to experiences of war in home nations, perhaps due to witnessing the Inhumane Experience in our World of Genocide.
The reality of the abuses upon Indigenous souls in this country may now be more out in the open. As we move slowly forward to address the harms left behind by colonization in Canada, most tragically in the exposed histories of Canada's Residential Schools: I unfortunately still today hear from far too many that suggests we remain on this issue Unrepentant.
I've personally committed to be part of the process of First Nations/Settler Society Reconciliation. I fully support the implementation of the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I fully support that as a nation we together address the 94 calls to action shared with us by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Canada.
To better inform myself on Indigenous Reconciliation and healing Issues, I studied these courses and materials, available online:
Persons acting as Care-Givers, whether at home living with and caring for a chronically ill family member or elderly parent or working as Care-Givers in Profession, these dedicated folks in our midst experience extremely high-levels of Burn-out and Compassion Fatigue.
We are just now accepting the reality of these issues in the Care-Giver Community. Secondary Traumatic Stress and/or Chronic Stress is the culprit for many care-givers in our communities.
I argue alongside Dr. Robert Sapolsky of Stanford and many others today:
Our understanding of the damage to health of stress impositions put upon the human organism are underestimated. The high-levels of stress we're living with in today's societies simply can no longer be ignored. Stress does, in fact, paint a picture of itself that determines it to be a killer.
This view is supported by Dr. Sapolsky's studies and it's rightly supported as well by Sir Michael Marmot and the Whitehall Studies.
Both together share bodies of their life's work that point out rather clearly that predictors of societal well-being and predictors of positive and negative health outcomes in the society on the whole, can be understood best with reflection upon the Social Determinants of Health.
I sincerely feel we'd be wise as a society to accept the findings of these researchers with open-minds; and should we not consider far more seriously that it is the impact of stress, mismanaged, that is at the root, along with citizen-traumatization of many of our social and physical ills in Canada?
After studying these issues, I'm personally convinced we should.
We live together in a very vibrant, but some-what potentially crazy-making society. We're competing together for brass rings that once we catch one, even the next ring won't be enough. Some argue that our true nature is actually altruistic ahead of the mating-rituals associated with need in primates to seek dominance over one-another.
Another virtual mentor, Bruce Lipton, puts it simply like this:
"(Want to know what ails you?)"
"It's the environment (you live in-socially and physically) stupid."
Bruce Lipton shares these words with a soul fixed-upon the well-being of all in humankind. The point is, while we focus on individual illnesses and symptoms of these sicknesses, we miss that our struggles with ill-health are the product of human-interaction with the social/physical environments we live in.
I've experienced this to be true. For me, there is no longer any inner-debate: If we leave out much of what we need to understand our illnesses, hoping that taking a pill can fix everything we experience as illness and disease, we're limiting ourselves, and our potential for recovery.
I've many such acquired virtual gurus in my life today. Including on addiction, Dr. Gabor Mate. Towards addictions, Dr. Mate says the same:
Please give this sense of their's some personal thought. If were honest with ourselves, chronic-stress and trauma permeates our society. There are many struggling with PTSD, Depression, and Substance/Alcohol use as adults having experienced Adverse Childhood Experiences that sets us up for later in life dysfunction. Others are struggling due to issues of violence and domestic violence. Some of us are victims of crime, accidents, medical-trauma, and natural disasters.
All such human experience can traumatize leading to illness.
There are studies today linking postpartum depression and the trauma of child-birth.
A new kid on the block for our society to consider is the issue of Sanctuary Trauma put upon us by those not rightly informed about traumatic stress, traumatic stress injury, and resulting conditions.
"Sanctuary Trauma and the 'Sacred' ... A concept developed by Dr. Steven Silver, sanctuary trauma“occurs when an individual who suffered a severe stressor next encounters what was expected to be a supportive and protective environment' and discovers only more trauma;." ~ Sanctuary Trauma and the 'Sacred' – Social Health
Sanctuary Trauma: Dr. Sandra Bloom M.D: Dr. Bloom shares her a brief introduction to the issue. I can share that all those I personally know or who I've coached towards finding for themselves clinical care express stories of a large number of sanctuary traumas inflicted upon them by family, systems-of-care, friends, community, and the society on the whole.
There is for us all much hope today. The reality of Trauma is opening up. The First Responder survivor-circle I'm today blessed to be part of share an expression from time-to-time:
"Heal Trauma? Heal The World."
I've come to a place in my recovery to share this journey mindful of the words left behind long ago from Socrates:
"All I know. . .is that I know nothing."
To appreciate as best we can all the issues we confront, the best defense is a good offense: Maintaining an open-mind ready to learn that which for a very long time has been buried away from conscious view: This will prop us up as we venture towards healing, which I understand completely, for many of us is a frightening unknown.
Much more is known about these issues today then when I started my own journey back in 1994. The emerging future holds much promise for those facing these challenges moving forward.
Neuroscience, for instance, is spawning in a way that over time will provide a game-changer for all of us, I suspect. In fact, the game's already changing as study of the human brain is now finally entering the discourse of science, with findings now being shared for us mainstream:
As frightening as it seems to face our dragons and to work with those who can support us as we walk through the recovery journey: Our lives matter-and quality of life restoration (or establishment) is the core goal of accepting the need to enter into a Trauma Recovery Process.
Trauma Recovery is about agreeing with reality, and it's about LEARNING how to peel back the layers of complexity like we might tackle peeling back an onion. There will be many tears. There is much hope. It's my personal hope that with right help you'll be able to do what we all need to do most:
Trauma leaves behind MUCH emotional and physical pain.
In order to get through it, we must find right support to hold space with us as we learn with our trauma-informed helper's support, how-to feel it all safely, on-way to healing it right.
It's my hope that for visitors to The Trauma Recovery Blog:
I've prepared the information I've found along the way well-enough that you'll have that place to start working with yourselves that wasn't in my past available to me.
For a visit to the updated web-site, please visit, The Trauma Recovery Blog
Darren Michael Gregory
If Today Was Your Last Day? No. What If. . .Today Could Be Your First?
Songwriters: Chad KroegerIf Today Was Your Last Day lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, In
Disclaimer: These materials and resources are presented for educational purposes only. They are not a substitute for informed medical advice or training. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified health or mental health care provider. If you have concerns, contact your health care provider, mental health professional, or your community health centre.
Darren Gregory © 2018. All Rights Reserve
Certified: Community & Workplace Trauma Educator Traumatology Institute.
Associate Member American Academy Of Experts In Traumatic Stress.