When Trauma Response are Helpful – And When They Aren’t.

When Trauma Response are Helpful – And When They Aren’t.

In the big picture, the thing I know that I need to do is to be aware of when I’m in that mode and act accordingly. There can be some great benefits to hypervigilance and there can be some real downsides. If I’m aware of it, I can scan the environment as necessary without ignoring other important, but not dangerous, bits of information, and watch out for my own overreactions. I can consciously use the skill that I learned as a trauma survivor for my own good without it wrecking my day-to-day life or causing more anxiety.

It’s a tricky line to walk, and I’ll be the first to admit I don’t always do it so well.

Some Conversations Are Easier Online

Some Conversations Are Easier Online

I have understood this for a long time. I can write here and don’t have to see anyone react immediately when they read it. I can see their reaction when I tell someone about being abused in person. I can watch their facial expressions and body language. I can see every bit of their discomfort, and their signs of dismissal cut me. If you don’t think telling someone in person that you need their help isn’t scary, I can only assume that is because you’ve never done it.

So when you see someone share something on social media about their mental health, and your response is to wonder why they didn’t just talk to you about it, remember how much harder that is. Maybe they aren’t ready yet, or you just haven’t done enough to earn that trust. Consider how many people in your life may be dealing with very difficult things they just haven’t told anyone about yet.

When it Comes to Abuse, Trafficking, and Violence, Do We Have a Race and Gender Problem?
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When it Comes to Abuse, Trafficking, and Violence, Do We Have a Race and Gender Problem?

What I want to address, however, is how our society defines victims and how it leaves far too many people behind. The article above is a great example. How many people, if asked about sex trafficking, picture little white girls or women abducted from Target? Probably a lot. For many, the only information they’ve ever gotten about trafficking are warnings about Target or shopping mall parking lots from their Facebook friends. They don’t know how many teenage boys from broken homes, living in poverty, are pulled into being trafficked. How many gay youths, rejected by their families, fall victim to it? How many immigrant children here, with no parental supervision, are sold off by the people who should be protecting them from sexual slavery? 

Those stories, even if they’re told, are not going to grab national headlines. They are not going to evoke world-wide outrage and sympathy. Those are things that happen to “other people”. We might even be tempted to start looking for reason why it’s their own fault, or at least the parents fault, right? 

From a media perspective, we also have to keep this in mind. An abduction of a young white girl from her home, is a rare event. It’s actually newsworthy because it happens so rarely. When it happens, it’s shocking. A trans, minority, teen being coerced into selling themselves, with no one to turn to for protection, isn’t any of those things. A gay male teen being kicked out of their parents house and trying to make it through homelessness, is also not something that happens so rarely that there would be major news coverage of it. These things happen all of the time. So often, that they aren’t really news. 

So, which group should we have support and services for? I’d like to vote for ALL OF THEM. But that will take educating people about the reality of who gets abused, who gets trafficked, and for us all to accept that it happens everywhere. Until we get there, and are willing to see all different types of people as victims, we will continue to fail one group or another. That’s not acceptable. 

What’s So Toxic About Positivity Anyway?

What’s So Toxic About Positivity Anyway?

This is really my biggest problem. Sometimes, sadness, grief, anger, and uncertainty are entirely appropriate, so why are we telling people to ignore those emotions?

Look at it this way, when we watched George Floyd’s death on video, we all felt something, and it probably wasn’t all that pleasant. Or, when we read the overwhelming number of deaths from COVID, we felt something. Maybe we all didn’t feel exactly the same thing, but we all felt something, and maybe most of all we felt a need to do something about it. If we had simply flipped the page and focused on what we are grateful for, we weren’t changing anything, we aren’t doing the things we need to do to keep ourselves safe and well. We are just ignoring it.

You Can Still Smile, Even Wearing a Mask

You Can Still Smile, Even Wearing a Mask

I’ve seen many people in the Mental Health Advocacy arena talking about this new reality of people wearing masks in public places. The main concern seems to be losing something that is small, but can be invaluable, the connection that comes from smiling at someone in public. Now, I don’t want to dispute the importance…

To See Depression You May Need To Read Between the Lines

To See Depression You May Need To Read Between the Lines

I read about an interesting study out of Ohio State University yesterday. The headline immediately got my attention as it seemed to really show how much stigma there is about depression and mental health in college, but then it took a turn. First, the immediate take away from the study: When college students post about…