Link – Researcher explains why PTSD is more like a physical illness than an ‘invisible injury’

PsyPost: Why were you interested in this topic?

Dunkley: We were interested in this topic because PTSD is still very much seen as an ‘invisible injury’ and a huge burden on the sufferer and military healthcare system (as well, of course, all healthcare systems). By ‘invisible injury’, I mean that there is often no overt sign that someone has this disorder, and many people with the illness suffer in silence, and feel like they are to blame for their symptoms and some of the problems that come with them. We wanted to show that the disorder has a physical, biological basis, much like any other physical illness we might think of. There has been a lot of work in this area over the past 10-15 years, and we wanted to contribute to that area of research.

It’s interesting to think that there are physical signs of something like PTSD, as it lends credence to the idea that yes, this is actually a disease, but I do worry that looking for physical symptoms of some mental health issues will lead to further stigma for issues where none is found. (Which should never be the case, suffering is suffering, and should be dealt with as such, whether there is a physical symptom or not.)

On the other hand, if PTSD can be diagnosed and treated properly because of this research, then that is definitely a good thing.

Researcher explains why PTSD is more like a physical illness than an ‘invisible injury’

Andy Woodward, the Sheldon Kennedy of English Soccer, 16/11 disclosure ripples out to 3 more clubs and 100 more CSA reports

This blog had its Clinton and Trump moment ten days ago when I read about Andy Woodward’s disclosure that I stumbled upon at the Guardian last week, passed the story to Mike who posted about it himself as it grew and built up over the past week and a half. Throughout this time I hadn’t watched Woodward’s solo interview on the Victoria Derbyshire BBC Two news magazine show despite reading the articles, and as Woodward, much like Sheldon Kennedy in Canadian Hockey, was disclosing alone, I thought that any progress would be as slow as in the Canadian case(s) and that nothing else would happen before Christmas when the general historical abuse inquiry down in London had stalled. I was happy to be proved as wrong as all the pollsters that said Hillary Clinton would win the US election.

The BBC’s collected summary to the end of Friday 25th November is here: . When Paul Stewart’s disclosure was a front page article in the Daily Mirror on the previous day, it was the same day that I carried out my own first updated disclosure since the end of compulsory therapy, with all the memory dredging effects as all of the others. So yesterday, Friday 25th November, was an echo of the way Jimmy Savile’s story exploded when it was reported fully for the second time without suppression, except the fact that the interruption was not eight to nine months, but at least 12-18 months after the last time the offender was jailed and a massive 21 years since the previous Channel 4 documentary on the same subject.

I had to rewind and catch the complete interview up online and then the BBC showed the complete version that wasn’t split by the news and weather, twice more. It is available at BBC’s iPlayer and most likely Youtube for the rest of the world although I was proud to see Sheldon Kennedy himself retweeting the same interview and just for once, in an era where the BBC makes itself an easy target for criticism, presenting the type of news journalism that justifies the licence fee across television, radio and online. Not having seen Woodward’s solo interview nor any overnight print coverage into Friday 25th November, made this group interview even more emotionally powerful to watch and hear in its complete form.

Then halfway through the day from the initial reaction, the offical historical CSA enquiry announced that it could expand its remit to include sport and not just soccer/football once the main bulk of active police investigations had finished, the IPCC released a report critical of the handling of some non-sporting historical CSA cases ( ) the NSPCC dedicated football hotline ( 0800 023 2642 ) saw its 50 individual callers double to over 100, and as a result of other former players disclosing and causing internal inquiries at Manchester City, Stoke City and Newcastle United alongside Woodward’s and Steve Walters’ Crewe Alexandria club, that meant four police forces investigating historical CSA charges against youth team players (Hampshire, Cheshire, Northumbria and London’s Metropolitan police – with the natural hope that resources would be shared). The fact that the FA threw open its doors and wanted to meet anyone affected, as opposed to slamming them in victims’ faces in 1997 when Channel 4 tried to cover the issue, marked another step in the right direction. The total lack of trolling and judgement from almost anyone interviewed in the follow-up pieces on the BBC and Sky News and then Channel 4 news in the evening, made yesterday a Savile-scale watershed and as commented by Jason Dunford, had the potential “To Make Jimmy Savile look like a choirboy compared to [offenders operating in football]”.

So keep checking all your usual news sites since we now expect the story to run at least until Christmas will force a natural break to enquiries. The various forces, all affected clubs and the Football Association will all have to work together with the NSPCC to deliver evidence and justice on the one hand, and therapeutic services to all affected and their families on the other.

Link – Hope For Healing As A Male Survivor.

I still have my bad days but the good days far outnumber the bad.  I still struggle but my struggles are much less than they once were.  Now, my struggles become my teacher, rather than my tormentor.

It’s always good to be reminded that there are so many survivors, just like you and I, who have proven that there is healing after abuse.

Hope For Healing As A Male Survivor.

Link – Six come forward after Andy Woodward’s story of abuse at Crewe

Andy Woodward’s harrowing account of the sexual abuse he suffered from the football coach Barry Bennell in the 1980s has led to six people coming forward to the police and the Football Association setting up a helpline for potential victims.

Following up on something we linked to earlier this week.

Unsurprisingly, once one former player came forward, others have become emboldened to do the same with their own story of abuse as youth team players at Crewe. Youth sports, especially at the elite level, is a place where coaches have a ton of power over young people, and their futures. In the UK, there’s nothing more elite than being in a youth football academy, but that’s no excuse to not have things in place to protect children. Hopefully, this can lead to some real change.

Reviews Elsewhere – Stronger: Develop the Resilience You Need to Succeed.

Saw this review over at Pysch Central and while the book itself doesn’t speak to child abuse or mental health, the idea of developing resilience is something that resonated with me as an abuse survivor.

Because, in the end, isn’t healing from abuse, and the struggle that goes along with that just a form of resilience? Wasn’t surviving childhood in the first place a form of resilience?

And, mostly, doesn’t every survivor who is struggling to heal need to know this:

To illustrate how failure builds resilience, the authors discuss the analogy of strength training. We tend to assign the power of getting stronger to the weights that a person lifts. But the dumbbells or barbells actually damage your muscles. “The stress of lifting creates tears in microscopic muscle fibers,” the authors explain. “The body then uses internal nutrients, especially protein and anabolic hormones, to repair this damage … It’s not the weight, per se, that causes the muscles to grow, but the internal physiological attributes and nutritional resources interacting with the catalyst of weight lifting.”

In that sense, you actually leave the gym a weaker person, but you wake up stronger.

Let’s think of our struggles not as a sign of weakness, but a sign that we are growing and becoming stronger through them, and then keep going!

Link – Andy Woodward: ‘It was the softer, weaker boys he targeted’

When the abuse started, Bennell used threats and blackmail to make sure his victims did not go against him. “What he’d do sometimes, to show the fear factor and make sure I never told anyone, was get out some nunchucks,” Woodward says. “He was a master with them. He’d tell me to hold out a piece of paper. I’d be physically shaking. Then he’d hit it with enough force to split it in half and make a little comment: ‘You see what I can do, you see how powerful I am?’

“It was either threats of violence or he’d use football to manipulate control. If I upset him in any way, he’d drop me from the team. ‘At any point,’ he’d tell me, ‘you will go, you will disappear and that dream won’t happen.’ It was emotional blackmail, all the time.”

Andy Woodward’s story of being abused by a youth coach is something we’ve seen in the US and Canada as well, and I’m sure it’s hardly the only story out of the UK like it.

It is so important to keep an open line of communication with kids who are playing youth sports, and make sure they have somewhere to go with the truth, and that the authorities act accordingly when claims are made. Youth coaches have so much power over the future of the kids who play for them, and that power needs to have a check in place, or we’re simply inviting pedophiles to go into coaching!

Link – Healthy Relationships Matter More Than We Think

We know that good relationships are so important to our happiness, yet we may not know just how vital they are to our health and well-being.

What do our connections to others give us? And what happens when we don’t have them?

In all honesty, there is just so much good stuff in this article, you should just go read the whole thing.

Go on…

Link – Setbacks Are Not Permanent

I ask myself when will I realize that setbacks are setbacks?  That they aren’t destiny.

I’ve always struggled with believing the bad. I always assume that the bad stuff is real and the good stuff is a facade. So if I make a mistake or I struggle or I fall,  I assume that is me and that is how things will be. When I’m doing well and moving forward and meeting my goals, I assume it’s the fluke. Eventually I will fall, my reasoning goes, and all will be back to normal.

But this experience about a month ago is making me question that way of seeing the world.  If we assume we are the negative and the failures, then won’t we inevitably find negativity and failure?  After all, what is the point of standing back up if you believe the fall is the destination?

An interesting thought. Often times when healing from childhood abuse, or dealing with an addiction or myriad other conditions that we talk about here, we have bad days. Some times on a bad day we make some bad decisions.

It’s not the end of the world. It’s a bad day. Now, those decisions might come with some consequences that we have to deal with, but a bad day does not define the entirety of our healing. It’s a bad day, or a stretch of days. Hopefully there are more good ones than bad ones, but a bad day is not the end of all the progress you’ve made up to that point.

It’s just a bad day. Tomorrow will be another day in the journey.

Setbacks Are Not Permanent

Link – What happens when mental health education isn’t taught to kids

“Education can’t get rid of mental illness but it can give you the tools you need to do what you can to stack the odds in your favour that you won’t get it,” said Kutcher, a former member of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s youth advisory committee.

Without this education, misinformation and isolation run rampant. Stigma festers, kids turn to dark corners of the Internet for advice, and they take up dangerous coping mechanisms, according to Dr. Alexa Bagnell, who is chief of psychiatry at IWK Health in Nova Scotia.

Bagnell works primarily with kids and adolescents diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety and other kinds of mental illness. Timing is integral.  Seventy per cent of young adults fighting mental illnesses say their problems began in childhood or adolescence.

“A lot of youth who seek [professional] help don’t know a lot about mental illness beforehand,” Bagnell said.

This is interesting, because I don’t think it’s just teenagers who may be dealing with a mental health issue and not know it because they aren’t familiar with it. I’ve seen it in adults occasionally too, as they miss the signs of depression and blame it on something else instead of getting help for it.

How many people would get help if they knew what it was? How many people would be encouraged to get help if more people were aware of mental health?

Why not teach people of any age?

What happens when mental health education isn’t taught to kids

Link – Connecting with Others, Friendship Enhance Mental Health

Human connection is so important and effective because it breaks through the isolation and loneliness common among people living with mental illness. Connecting with someone else allows people to share their humanity, to exchange stories, to celebrate life’s joys and to empathize through life’s sorrows. Friendship also motivates, inspires, and encourages. While it might be difficult to take the first step, it’s a step you’ll be glad you took on your life’s journey.

Friendships and human touch are two things that are proven to help mental health, and sadly are the two things that child abuse survivors often fear the most. Clearly, though, it helps keep us centered and based to have those relationships, and how much healing can we do when we feel that centeredness around us.

Here’s hoping you can find that too!