Reading – Australia in the middle of “mental health crisis” with unnecessary deaths escalating

“Suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians aged between 15 and 44, with almost seven people taking their life every day.”

As a US resident, I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of what is going in in Australia. Do any of my Aussie readers have more insight into this statistic? It is alarming, to say the least!

Australia in the middle of “mental health crisis” with unnecessary deaths escalating

TED Talk By A Cancer Survivor – Does Being a Survivor Define You?

This TED talk by Debra Jarvis is about being a cancer survivor, but I think the ideas presented have a lot to offer for abuse survivors as well. Sometimes it’s easier to stay a “survivor”, and allow that to be an excuse for our behavior, or to allow other people to define what being a survivor means.

Truthfully, no one gets to define your experience for you. How you choose to grow and how you choose to view your trauma is your choice. At the same time, you’re a survivor and more.

Reading – U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

“Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan, particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records.”

I’m sure many of you saw this article somewhere online over the weekend after it was posted to the NY Times site. It is absolutely appalling, but for some reason, not surprising to me. As a society we seem to be unwilling to “judge” other cultures, or to say anything bad about any Muslim culture in particular. In many cases, that’s a good thing.

In this case, clearly it is not. In our rush to be cooperative to a potential ally, we’ve apparently lost sight of the fact that any culture which violates basic human rights like this, cannot be viewed as acceptable.

U.S. Soldiers Told to Ignore Sexual Abuse of Boys by Afghan Allies

Reading – Your Best Defense Against Childhood Sexual Abuse

“When we build a bridge of communication between our children and us they know they have our support. They know they can run to us and share the good, the difficult, and the scary things they will encounter in this life.

Because we have cultivated a relationship with them that they can count on.”

As I’ve said many, many times, raising strong kids with open, honest, relationships with their parents won’t necessarily prevent all sexual abuse but it sure makes a kid a much more difficult target. Predators target kids who do not have these things. They seek out kinds who are vulnerable and more likely to keep secrets.

Your Best Defense Against Childhood Sexual Abuse

Reading – Conversation can stop suicide, specialists say

“This week, mental health professionals are marking National Suicide Prevention Week, offering advice on how to respond to someone who may be on the verge of killing himself or herself.“You can make a difference, especially if you can get somebody to talk about it,” said Elsa Ronningstam, a psychoanalyst, McLean Hospital psychologist, and board member of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Many completed suicides, people don’t talk about it — they just go and do it.”

Anyone who takes the time to listen — calmly, sympathetically — can save a life, said Dr. Christine Moutier, the foundation’s chief medical officer.”

Some really useful advice, to help get beyond just asking “Are you OK” to help have caring conversations with someone who is troubled. Whether they are suicidal or not, couldn’t we all do with trying to have more caring conversations anyway?

Go read the whole thing!

Conversation can stop suicide, specialists say – The Boston Globe

Reading – No, Sexual Abuse Doesn’t Turn People Gay

“The problem with the “you were molested and that’s why you’re gay” line of thinking – besides that it isn’t true – is that it dismisses people and their experiences. It neatly wraps up a version of people, labels them, and puts them in a category. There they can be filed away and forgotten. Otherwise, we might need to spend more time with them to find out that their lives are nothing like we thought they were.”

I’ve been on the other side of this same coin before, as a male survivor of sexual abuse. People assume that I am gay when they interact with me online. The sad thing is, it’s not just religious people who do that, it’s also been gay men who see a male talking about sexual abuse and just assume that the author is gay as well.

It’s quite awkward to have to correct them, but the reason I don’t appreciate it is exactly what Tim says here. Don’t take one fact about my life and assume to know me. It’s rude.

No, Sexual Abuse Doesn’t Turn People Gay –

Reading – How Your Story Can Save Someone’s World

“In this magnificent digital age there are so many avenues to be a peer mentor or a healthcare product reviewer that don’t begin and end with Yelp or Amazon.

You want to make a difference and help change the world but don’t know how? Share your experience by starting a blog, sharing a post on Facebook, writing an oped for your local online newspaper. Tell us what you think of Sir Thumps-A-Lot brand pacemakers, how to deal with your ostomy bag when going to the prom, or which new upstart in-home healthcare service is the best.

You will eventually find a tribe — be it minuscule, moderate, or gargantuan in size — who will appreciate your honesty and your voice.”

So true, especially for something like mental health where the symptoms are invisible. It’s important to know there is a tribe, however small, of people going through the same types of things that we are.

How Your Story Can Save Someone’s World

Reading – 7 Dangerous Myths About Depression in Men

Oh look, more lies about depression, this time specifically about men and depression.

I know many of you are not surprised by the truth, but we have to keep spreading these out as far and wide as we can. There are still too many people struggling with depression who believe these things, and too many people who believe them about others who are struggling with depression.

Please help spread the truth!

7 Dangerous Myths About Depression in Men

Review – Your Life After Trauma by Michele Rosenthal

YLAT-coverI was offered  the chance to review this book a long, long time ago. I kept picking it up and putting it back down, then picking it back up again a couple of moths later, and putting it down again. Part of that is just my busy lifestyle, with the work and the traveling. Part of it was also how much this book covers, and how deeply it gets into the topic. (The ebook is 312 pages, not a quick read!)

I don’t say this to scare you away from the subject matter, though. Quite the contrary. This book could be a very useful resource for someone trying to wrap their heads around trauma and how it affects you. The steps Michele takes you through are invaluable, but as someone reading it after having moved out of the target audience for the book, it can be hard to follow. (Not to mention having to pick it back up after time away! But that’s on me, not the book.) You’ll really want to be prepared to work through this book, but if you are ready to work through your trauma, this would be a good place to start.

The one thing I absolutely found myself in agreement with Michele about is the same thing that is written on the top of the book’s website: (Where you can read a sample)

You cannot go back to who you used to be or could have been.

The book then goes on to talk about the science of trauma and how it changes us, period. Once the reader accepts the core truth that they can’t go back to life before trauma, then the book will take them through the next steps; looking at who they were before the trauma, who they are now, and who they want to be. There are plenty of steps to each of those three processes, but again, the book has you covered, with tips and tricks on getting to the “post-trauma identity”.

Personally, I really identified with this approach because it was similar to the approach my therapist wound up taking with me. In a nutshell:

  • Mourn the child you were before the abuse
  • Recognize that you can’t go back to that child
  • See what being an abuse survivor is doing to you now
  • Figure out what you want your life to look like, and figure out how to make that happen

I didn’t have this book when I was going through that, but the ideas in it make a ton of sense to me. If you’re about to embark on that journey to identify what your life after trauma looks like, you could do a lot worse than having this as a resource.

Have you read this book? What was your opinion?