RESPONSE TO SCHOOLS TRAINING FOR AN ACTIVE SHOOTER

I’ve shared a lot about my past experiences working within our local school district and how I saw my story repeating itself with abused and neglected children being heavily medicated on psychiatric medications and shuffled through our broken systems. When the counselor of the school told me CPS has always been the way they are and that we just need to hope they make it out like I did, I was outraged on the inside! Innocent kids were being set up to fail because this community simply refuses to follow the laws that were put in place many years ago about children’s welfare and their rights as the most vulnerable.

Since I began my journey as an advocate and activist, I’m finally reading Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book, “The Body Keeps The Score,” his book validates so much of what I’ve been speaking up about mental health issues and a failed mental health system that’s making billions of dollars on people who don’t even know what they’re experiencing.

According to Dr. Van Der Kolk, half a million kids in the United States are placed on antipsychotic drugs. Children from low-income families are four times as likely as children with private insurance to be placed on antipsychotic drugs. These medications are given to abused and neglected children to make them more manageable to deal with, but it actually interferes with their motivation, play, and curiosity and eventually sets them up to fail as a contributing member of society.

The author also mentioned Sigmund Freud’s statement in his early years of psychiatry regarding the diagnosis we are familiar with known as schizophrenia. He said, “These people aren’t suffering from visions and paranoia caused by schizophrenia. They’re suffering from painful memories.”

As I read this book written by a man who fully understands our painful world when it comes to mental health and trauma, I feel so validated and just want to shout at the top of my lungs even more by reiterating what I’ve been saying! “YOU’RE NOT CRAZY!!” With all the schools jumping to train for an active shooter, I often think back on my experiences as an educator who witnessed the main key factor our kids in schools are missing, which is proper mental health support. People who have no idea what we go through and how much our thoughts are distorted that changes the physiology of our brains and makes us seem mentally ill really need to re-educate themselves about trauma because it’s not a mental illness and we don’t need medication to fix our wounded souls. What we need is a strong understanding community who realizes when we’re wounded through relationships, it takes genuine relationships to heal.

When you go back in history with the mass shooters or any murder or violent offenders, it all goes back to the same thing- adverse childhood experiences that aren’t properly addressed in our systems. Schools-instead of being reactive, why not be proactive about a child’s cries for help and stop blaming such horrific crimes and behaviors on mental illnesses that’s rooted in trauma.

My story is a testament to this fact that many are ignoring and it’s time we start addressing adverse childhood experiences and the psychological damage one experiences instead of pretending like avoidance will make it go away because it won’t and our future generation is depending on us to stear them in the right direction.

To learn more about Dr. Bessel Van Der Kolk’s book, “The Body Keeps The Score,” you can find his information here at this link I’ve provided below.

https://besselvanderkolk.net/index.html

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RESPONSE TO OUR NATIONWIDE IDENTITY CRISIS & DAILY SHOOTINGS

I was reading a recent blog by Dr. Caroline Leaf and she touched base on something I’ve been sharing for quite some time now regarding mental health issues and our crisis we’re facing nationwide. She said, “It is unfortunate that, in today’s world, many people are exposed to the message of medicalized misery. There is this notion that if you feel sad, depressed, anxious, on edge, in pain or hurt, then there is something wrong with your brain: you are ill and need to suppress or control this with medication. Yet human suffering is pretty much unavoidable; it needs to be processed and dealt with, not ignored or suppressed. We don’t live in a bubble; we live within the context of life’s many challenges, with all the ups and downs, tragedies, bad decisions and mistakes that define our humanity.”
Everyday-multiple times a day- the news is sharing another story about a massive shooting that’s happened and multiple people have lost their lives. Innocent people, young kids and adults who still had a life ahead of them, have lost their lives to someone who has flipped out so badly they think it’s the only solution by killing people. We hear about school shootings more frequently. Riots taking place in prisons. And the list of violence goes on. As I write and share about all the grief going on in this world, I also think about the ones who have identity issues as well. Men thinking they’re women. Women thinking they’re men. And the same question keeps reverberating in my mind when we’re faced with these difficult topics- what’s happened to them? Who’s hurt them so badly they think their natural born identity was a mistake and they run from it as if they’re a mistake? And what about the shooters who go on their killing rampages? What’s their story?
The question many have grown accustomed to has really damaged a lot of souls and humanity is dying off physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually- because like Dr. Caroline Leaf’s statement- the world around us plays too many mind games making people believe they’re mentally ill when really they need a safe place to go to process their hurt and regain what the enemy’s stealing daily.
Sadly, even churches submit to this nonsense. I know because my wounds towards church runs deep and still does. There was a time I was lost in this fallen world trapped in lies I was told my whole life and made to believe there was something wrong with me. I would stare at myself in the mirror with pure self hatred because that’s what verbal assassination does to someone.
I was introduced to perversion before I even learned my alphabets. I was made fun of so badly in school I believed the lies they told me about myself and my body image. When I saw myself in the mirror, it was like staring into the mirrors of a fun house because my views of myself were made to believe I looked like a horse. My own mother even told me I was fat and ugly and nobody would ever want me. By the time I was 10 years old, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and body dysmorphia, which is an anxiety disorder that distorts the view of yourself and your body image. As I got older it got worse because the world continued projecting mental illness diagnoses and medicating my pain while our churches sat idly by and did nothing to stop them from stealing my innocence.
By the time I was old enough in the public’s eyes to move into adulthood, I was trapped in a little wounded girl’s mind and wasn’t able to even function in society because that’s what trauma does to someone. I’m not sure what was worse. Being abused on all levels or being told I was mentally ill while the church sat idly by and allowed the lies of the enemy to take hold of my identity and kept insisting that I’d burn in hell if I didn’t believe Jesus Christ was Lord over heaven and hell. My reality- I was already living in hell because nobody ever told me I could have heaven on earth.
Although I have been set free from glory to glory and still a work in progress, I still look at the broken world around me through the lense of a wounded soul and understand the depths of people’s pain. I still struggle with churches today because I’m sitting in a mess none of them defend me in while I’ve stepped into other people’s pain by sharing my own personal story and experiences. It’s been a daily battle combatting bitterness and resentment, but my anchor to Truth is what sustains me, and I never knew His strength until I’ve had to face yet another challenging circumstances my human mind is having to survive through as I lean on His words, “His ways and thoughts are higher than mine. Lean not on your own understanding. Cast your burdens upon me and you shall find rest and peace.”
Life has been brutal because I don’t go along with the crowds. I know the debths of my pain, which is why I share so openly. I look around and life still isn’t fair for me, but when I read the news daily, I know deep down somebody needs to know they’re not alone in their grief and their pain, so I will keep writing knowing they can’t take this away from me.

WHEN NOBODY’S LISTENING

I finished my book about a week ago. Who knew I’d finally see the completion of something I started a few years ago. When I first had the nudge to write a book, I was condemned with shame and guilt from a socially unacceptable story. I only told the parts of the story that were accepted in daily conversations when conversations came up but was paralyzed with fear to share the other parts. The parts where I committed adultry. The parts where I got stuck in trafficking to support my drug addiction. The parts where I checked out mentally, emotionally, and physically when my twin toddlers needed me most.

It was a hard journey just to face all my painful memories and heal, let alone write an entire book about what happened, what it was like, and what’s happening now. Through my journey of exposure and personal grief I’ve faced behind closed doors I have lost so called friends, faced unemployment, abandonment by the body of Christ, and have been left to clean up the messes alone. Before I went public with my story, I gave my all to a local ministry I also watched the insanity continue with while I faced a season of depression myself. I was learning how much our painful memories dictated our here and now if we didn’t get a handle on knowing ourselves and how to manage the symptoms of Complex PTSD, or in my own words-a wounded soul.

I watch the insanity I escaped from unfold right before my eyes in my community and beyond, so when I began to speak up and advocate for those who needed a voice, I felt empowered and in control of what I failed to control many years ago because I didn’t know myself and my self-worth. But what happens when everyone you thought stood for and with you as you began a social injustice movement for those who couldn’t articulate what was happening to them as they too face injustices in our community and beyond with mental health issues and trauma that many who haven’t lived through don’t really understand what we face even years later because the body keeps score, and they place labels on us as if our pain doesn’t matter to them? You begin to lose yourself and your identity all over again as you drown in your own new trauma you’re faced with because you’re retraumatized through the grief that nobody’s listening to.

For months I’ve tried wrapping my mind around how people can still be so cruel even to survivors who were just trying to help the misunderstood. I’ve stood back and watched innocent kids in our schools being diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar, personality disorder, anxiety and depression disorder, etc. while nobody addresses the part about healing and restoration or responding to the root of their mental distress.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or DSM-5 is a handbook psychologist and psychiatrist use to diagnose symptoms of mental illnesses and mental disorders, but they don’t or won’t even acknowledge Complex PTSD, which is a mental condition many are suffering from but are being misdiagnosed.

For years I suffered behind closed doors because I thought my symptoms were due to a prison sentence I was given when they diagnosed me with borderline personality disorder and other disorders I didn’t even have, and when I was told my addictions were caused by a disease. Nobody told me the only way to freedom was to address the wounded child from within who was abused, neglected, and ignored in her cries for help this community medicated and sent on her way to face the demons on her own. I thought I was losing my mind when uninvited memories invaded my life and interrupted my parenting, work, and relationships with others. When I was awoken from nightmares that felt so real and reliving my painful experiences. When I walked around with a chronic broken heart and chronic fear. When my emotions were deregulated and triggered by smells, sounds, and behavior that reminded me of my abusers. When I faced rejection, abandonment, exclusion, and betrayal anxiety and panic attacks were so unpredictable I’d have racing heart palpitations and gasped for air because I was short of breath and couldn’t breathe. And when I’d break out into cold sweats all at the same time. Nobody told me my body from the inside out had to heal and laying my addictions down was only the beginning of healing.

As I sit back in my current situations with an unknown future because I have faced yet more bullying from a community who set me up to fail many years ago as I watch the insanity continue, I often wonder if anyone is listening. Did I pour myself out to help others overcome for no reason? Do I write and share my story openly only to face more challenges and adversities as my intentions were to only see the other captives set free? Although I sit in the unplanned circumstances because I’ve continued to pay for my past and choices that were made because I couldn’t function in society when this community documented for 5 years that my overall functioning was being interrupted, I know this too shall pass and I will see the hand of justice move on my behalf despite those who have turned against me and haven’t made my journey easy. Our God always has the final say in everything we face on this side of heaven.

“Do not fear [anything], for I am with you;

Do not be afraid, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you, be assured I will help you;

I will certainly take hold of you with My righteous right hand [a hand of justice, of power, of victory, of salvation].” Isaiah 41:10 amplified

YOU’RE NOT CRAZY

A few years ago I was sitting in a Christmas Eve church service when all of a sudden a lady began running through the congregation frantically during the candle light part of the service. She was yelling something but I never made out what she was saying because I was sitting towards the back. The church staff and/or volunteers immediately grabbed her and rushed her out as they called the sheriffs to escort her to our local mental health hospital.

Days after the event I couldn’t help but think about the inner turmoil that lady was experiencing. It was actually very close to home because that was also my story many years ago. My emotions were so deregulated I thought I was losing my mind because I had so many negative feelings running through me. I was in and out of psychiatric hospitals believing the lies many projected on me my entire life and believed I was mentally ill due to chemical imbalances. I couldn’t cope with life and faced major obstacles when it came to relationships. Just like that lady, nobody ever took the time to listen to what I had been through. They just assumed I needed psychiatric treatment and avoided the spiritual side of my soul, so I found myself lost in the different systems who also misunderstood me.

Since that evening I’ve had a deep desire to understand the human mind and how others end up where I made it out of. I’ve concluded based on many more similar stories that it’s the same story over and over. I listen and observe and have found the connection between the people I’ve encountered as I listen to their stories. The result- they all came from broken families, abuse, and dysfunction. What saddens me even more is they are labeled with diagnoses of personality disorders, bipolar disorder, anxiety and depression, schizophrenia, etc. as if something is wrong with them. These labels entrap them and they become slaves to their distorted thoughts and negative behaviors as a result of their stinkin’ thinkin’.

Adverse childhood experiences studies have proven that a child’s brain chemistry is rewired during abuse. Because many in the mental health field don’t fully understand the link to our thoughts controlling the functions of our brains, people continue to face more challenges with their mental health and decline even more so as they’ve submitted to what we were never meant to submit to.

Over the years after discovering my own behaviors I had to break free from what was rooted in all the abuse I endured, I have also finally made connections to some of my deepest triggers I still struggle with as I continue breaking free from what I was unable to connect the dots to until recently.

Not only did I experience abuse on every level, growing up I was also surrounded by people who never saw the beauty in who I was created to be nor did they tell me what I was good at or gifted in. Instead, they ignored their own brokenness and pointed fingers at me as if there was something wrong with me when I struggled with certain behaviors that were linked to all the abuse. I have several in my family who are master manipulators in making one believe they have issues, yet they refuse to address their own brokenness and flaws.

Since I’ve made this connection and finally understand myself on a deeper level, I no longer put up with people who point fingers at me and try to make me feel bad for having natural human feelings, or try to convince others that there’s still something wrong with me when I have my moments of grief that’s taken me over a decade to clean up.

Society has made it unacceptable to feel as they throw antidepressants and psychiatric drugs at people and try to convince them they’re mentally ill or crazy. We all face challenges in life. Some are more severe than others but it doesn’t make us crazy when our minds were never meant to carry such burdens. As I continue to heal and grow myself from a very traumatic childhood, I am learning what is and isn’t healthy relationships.

Adverse childhood experiences are real and are being discussed more as many come forward with their stories. When you hear and recognize you’re not alone in your struggles and journey of healing and restoration, you also come to the conclusion that you’re not crazy and there is hope beyond such torture in life. Like a butterfly, we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds and past abuse and hardships can be redefined, and we can live a new life apart from the not so good memories of our past.

OUR SCARS HAVE BECOME OUR TESTIMONIES

A couple of weeks ago I was riding my bike and ended up taking the wrong turn. This caused me to lose control of my bike and there I went sliding across the pavement. Luckily my gloves saved me from skinning up my hands, but I certainly felt the sting on my elbow and knee from the impact on the pavement. Over the last few weeks my outer wounds have healed, but I still have a huge scab covering both of my wounds. Every time I bumped up against something I was reminded I have wounds that still need complete healing.

This analogy describes my journey I’ve been on the last few years as I’ve opened myself up and share openly about my journey as a past drug user and past outcast to society. It’s been difficult sharing what I’ve been through because people keep trying to shut my story down and blame society’s mental health crisis and addictions on mental illnesses that haven’t even been clinically proven. My story is a story that needs to be shared because so many are lost in the same battle I’ve made it out of. When people shut me down, it reminds me of all the past rejections I went through when I cried out for help all those years as an innocent child whose innocence was stolen while this community documented my cries for help and labeled me mentally ill instead of addressing my wounded soul.

Many years ago I was unable to function in society. I ran the streets and turned to illegal substances and it’s lifestyle as a way to cope with a life I didn’t choose. Being abused on every level and facing all the additional forms of abuse from our local and state agencies left me extremely wounded. Instead of having a loving and supportive family, I was left to fend for myself and process unthinkable abuse no child should have to endure. I was completely robbed of a mother who couldn’t function in society either because she was also labeled with a few mental illnesses during her mental breakdowns. When I was roughly 10 years old, my mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and many other emotional and mental disorders.

The years to follow became unbearable, and I began to lose myself in the midst of my own traumatic experiences I was living through. I don’t ever recall having healthy stable relationships because I didn’t know how to. I was a prisoner of my own distorted thoughts and became more unhappy with myself and my appearances. I hated who I became but continued the cycle of addictions because it gave me false identity that ended up taking more away from me than I anticipated.

When I went public with my story, I worked for our local school district. I saw the need to help others who were battling the same brokenness I was once trapped in. Looking back and understanding my mom, I know now she simply didn’t know how to cope with her own past wounds from her dysfunctional and abusive family. She also held onto lies that she wasn’t wanted because her biological mother gave her up to a family she didn’t feel loved by. Because her wounded soul was labeled with diagnoses such as schizophrenia and other disorders, I was robbed of my own mother who never dealt with her own trauma she projected out on me. I’ve witnessed so many same/similar stories, so I felt compelled to speak up to help others overcome what took me years to break free from and still breaking free from.

People who have never lived what me and my siblings went through have no idea how crucial it is for people to have a safe place to run to and discuss what our bodies were never meant to carry. We were never meant to carry such burdens and it’s even more damaging when society keeps shutting people down with mental illness labels and not allowing others to freely discuss their past experiences that’s wounded their soul.

Since my journey began from surviving to thriving and now wanting to equip others, I am reminded why I kept my secrets locked away for so long and believed the lies I was trapped in. I was reminded every time I bumped up against my scabs and was convinced I was a mistake because my pain didn’t matter to anyone. Now that I’m on the other side of healing and restoration, I know differently no matter the recent pain and rejections I’ve been through because I know there are still others battling their internal messes from a past similar to mine and they need our voices to rise.

WE ARE WHAT WE THINK

The other day I was listening to a Mary Kay national sales director speak. As I was listening, something she said really stuck out to me. She said, “When we’re born, we’re not born with thoughts. We’re born with instincts. Thoughts are formed based on our lived experiences.” She went on to explain her statement to encourage others not to allow past experiences that created negative and distorted thoughts about ourselves and our identity dictate our future and what we’re created for. After I heard her statement, I instantly referred back to factual information I recently shared in a previous blog. Here’s what I previously shared.
The lower part of the brain is wired at birth. This is what we call the genetics part of the brain. It’s the part that allows the newborn to eat, sleep, drink, stay warm or cool, and eliminate. The upper part of the brain is developed over time. It’s the part that isn’t wired at birth and allows us to think, reason, learn, remember, and regulate our emotions.
As I finished processing her encouraging message, I also thought about the lies people in clinical settings keep projecting on others. Just the other night I was listening to a clinician share information about mental illnesses that hasn’t even been clinically proven. Everything she listed on her PowerPoint were all the labels I used to be trapped in myself before I found the truth that continues to set me free. The exact same labels she shared almost destroyed my life and my twin boys’ lives because I was unable to function in society due to the extent of trauma I endured and the brain damage it caused.
In my journey, I have discovered many mental health agencies are not fully equipped with accurate information but people believe them because they hold high educated positions. Because people believe them, they get stuck in lies about their struggles and believe they’re held captive to diagnoses that holds people in bondage to addictions, eating disorders, brain and mood disorders that dictate their behavior and lifestyles. We need to understand the enemy and the true battlefield in our minds that can defeat our purpose if we don’t start fighting back aggressively and strategically. We need to understand the power of our thoughts and know we actually do have control over what we think and agree with. We need to know the truth to discern which thoughts are lies and which ones aren’t. If we don’t, our minds will continue to be the enemy’s playground and our lives will be impacted.
How often do we fall victim to someone else’s labels they project on us or others? I know I have and it’s paralyzing. I used to hold onto false guilt and shame because my deregulated emotions were so unpredictable since I didn’t know how to cope with a life of abuse and a dysfunctional family I was born into. I was trapped in lies that damaged the normal function of my brain, so I had to get a hold of the one true fact that many Belivers are falling short in which is renewing our minds continually. We were never meant to conform to this world and its ideas.
My life is a testament to the truth I just shared in this blog. There was a time I ran the streets and could not function in society because I was addicted to drugs and its lifestyle. My twin boys didn’t have a mother in their early years of their lives because I simply didn’t know how to get my life in order. Addictions and mental health issues are connected to each other and it’s up to the one lost to make a decision to renew their minds, detox from lies and negative thoughts about themselves, and fight back against a lifestyle that’s destroying their lives and their families’.

PAIN DOESN’T DISCRIMINATE

A few years ago, I was encouraged to start blogging about my experiences with sexual, emotional, mental, and physical abuse I endured my entire childhood. It was also around the same time I retrieved almost 1700 documents from my childhood Child Protective Service’s records. When I read through the documents, I was filled with all kinds of emotions. I had to face more grief because people in this community knew about the abuse I endured but did nothing in response except blame my behaviors and deregulated emotions on mental illnesses. On top of all of those documents, I also retrieved my school records, additional clinical documents, and our local mental health system’s documents.

All of these resources also documented my cries for help. One clinician stated over a 5 year period that I was in an unsafe environment that interfered with my overall functioning. The schools placed me in special education diagnosed with mental illnesses I didn’t even have. Our local mental health systems diagnosed me with mental illnesses I didn’t have as well and loaded me up on psychiatric medications.

Their idea of behavior modification was to diagnose me with borderline personality disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, emotional disturbances, ADHD, oppositional defiant disorders, body dysmorphia disorder, and the list goes on while giving me psychiatric medications that have almost the exact same substances illegal drugs have. This set me up to fail because when I was 21 years old and on a 7th grade level, I honestly didn’t know how to cope, so I fell into the cycle of addictions statistics say we fall into.

After cleaning up messes upon messes upon messes over the years, I accepted a position with our local school district a few years ago. I had no idea I’d be on the path I’m on now standing up for those affected by trauma when I began my journey with our local school district. When I speak and write, I don’t think about one particular race. I think about all who haven’t found their voices yet because we honestly do have a mental health crisis and servere misdiagnoses taking place in our mental health systems. 43.8 million adults face mental health issues in a given year. Think about that…

When I witnessed the root cause from a personal perspective/lived experiences and as an educator, I laid my life down as a single mom who spent thousands of dollars to complete undergrad school and stood in the midst of fires because the exact same thing I grew up in continues to this day. If I were privileged, I would not have so many oppositions I’m still facing to this day. I’ve taken financial hits, been made fun of, accused of being privileged and told I don’t understand what minorities experience, rejected by churches and leaders, and have faced unknown future because many stand against what I know I’m called to do. The sad part about this whole situation is people I’ve talked to behind closed doors acknowledge that we have a problem, but they fear losing their jobs and reputations because it’s not an easy task to stand up to.

My last year with the school district pushed me to work harder and get louder because I believe in what I’m called to do for all of humanity no matter race or background. I honestly don’t know what white privilege is. I often try to wrap my mind around the false accusations because I’ve gone through so much alone. The friends you think are friends have turned their backs on me. I’ve cried more tears than anyone will ever cry in a lifetime. I know pain so deep suicide sounded better than living.

I realize my outside appearance can be decieving, but my blood is the same color and the hurt and pain I’ve felt over the years relates more than my outside appearance. I fully understand I will never know what life is like being a race other than a white female, but I promise I can relate more than not, and that’s why I have chosen to wake up daily and speak about a crisis many aren’t trying to stand up for.

TRAUMA IS NOT A MENTAL ILLNESS; IT’S A MENTAL DISORDER THAT CAN BE RESTORED

I’m preparing to speak tomorrow to women I’ve never met. As I’ve been preparing and looking back on my journey this far, I can’t help but think about the ongoing crisis we’re facing with generational trauma, addictions and mental health issues. I feel compelled to speak as a former trauma survivor who was once lost in the systems, diagnosed and medicated for mental illnesses I didn’t even have, faced homelessness for many years, and was misunderstood by those around me because I couldn’t function in society.
I can’t stress enough how much more people re-traumatize others by telling them they have mental illnesses, diseases, and biochemical imbalances when really we’re dealing with trauma and grief that’s not talked about as much as mental illnesses are nowsdays.
In previous blogs I’ve shared a little bit about the physical reactions our bodies go through when we’re experiencing traumatic events. Trauma is especially more complex when our brains aren’t fully developed. Here’s a recap of what I’ve shared before.
The lower part of the brain is wired at birth. This is what we call the genetics part of the brain. It’s the part that allows the newborn to eat, sleep, drink, stay warm or cool, and eliminate. The upper part of the brain is developed over time. It’s the part that isn’t wired at birth and allows us to think, reason, learn, remember, and regulate our emotions.
Since we now have the foundational information about a normal development, it’s extremely important to understand what trauma does and how it parallels to a traumatic brain injury that inferres with one’s mental, emotional, and cognitive abilities. If a child is constantly exposed to an unsafe environment, the lower part of the brain over-develops from reacting to fear, while the upper part of the brain under-develops.

Here are some examples of trauma that people overlook when they’re assessing them in mental institutions: abuse, neglect (not being wanted, verbal, psychological abuse and bullying, divorcing parents, growing up with substance abuse parents), sexual abuse, domestic violence, loss and abandonment through death or divorce.
All of the things I’ve mentioned change the physiology of our brains and make us look like we’re mentally ill because our emotions are deregulated and cause mental breakdowns. We were never designed to carry burdens, and it’s really sad how society has a way of making people believe they’re mentally ill instead of fully understanding trauma and the effects it causes in our bodies. We have anxiety and panic attacks because our nervous system gets stuck in unprocessed trauma.
When people place mental illness labels on us, it blocks us from fully processing our traumatic experiences because we’re trapped in lies of having biochemical imbalances. We get lost in an identity crisis and don’t fully heal. It takes genuine relationships, a good therapist, and time with the One who created us to fully heal. Until our mental health systems and surrounding communities fully understand this, we’re going to continue to face the same challenges.
This is why I share from my own personal experiences and expose my past brokenness because nobody ever explained to me what was really wrong with me all those years I suffered through distorted thoughts that caused deregulated emotions, depression, addictions, homelessness, etc. Because I stand in freedom from a past that shouldn’t even have this much freedom, I will continue to stand in the gaps for those who need truth until I see complete change and others fully walking in their own freedom from traumatic pasts like ours.

A RESTORED SOUL AND A SOUND MIND

The other day I was sharing with my students my early experiences in the workforce. I haven’t thought about my past experiences and first job in over 20 years. In fact, during that season of my life I don’t remember much since I became a pro at stuffing my hurtful experiences and minimized them because everyone else did too. Of course I only shared briefly with them about my experiences but on my nice drive home I began reflecting on my journey and what I shared.

As I reflected and allowed those memories to fully surface so more healing could take place, I was hit with a flood of emotions because it was another reminder of the mistreatment and rejection I felt that took deep root in the pits of my soul. My first job was at Arby’s in Waxahachie. I remember the excitement I felt at first because it was the first good thing I’ve ever done considering the life I escaped from back home in my hometown. Although I was grieving the losses I endured back home and the idea that my mom didn’t want anything to do with me during the toughest years of my life, I had a little bit of hope restored when I felt wanted and needed at my first job.

At that time I was 16 years old living with a bunch of strangers in a home juvenile probation placed me in. Prior to my placement, I escaped a barrage of sexual, emotional/mental, and some physical abuse. All I knew was abuse and neglect so by the time I reached the treatment facility I was pretty broken on the inside. I had severe emotional and behavior issues because I suffered with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that went undiagnosed until my early 30s. Instead of responding to my wounded mind and heart and getting the proper diagnosis and treatment back then, I was made to believe I was mentally ill and taught how to cope by taking medication that was supposed to help “modify” my behavior and deregulated emotions. Because I lacked the proper social skills and didn’t know how to perform my job duties, I was let go shortly after I began the job.

I remember feeling extremely afraid and anxious because all I ever knew was abandonment and rejection when I messed up, and my probation officer threatened me often about the youth prison I was on my way to since I couldn’t behave in society. I lived with chronic fear and heartache while adults around me continued to mislead me. I felt like everything was my fault and was unable to even articulate what I’m able to speak fluently on now because the labels and misdiagnoses re-traumatized me. I dressed like a boy and shopped in the men’s department because I felt so unworthy and disgusted with the the person I was becoming.

By the time I reached young adulthood and was released from the system, I literally could not function in society. I fell into the statistics of addictions and ran the streets for the next several years. I was stuck in the cycle of abuse and broken relationships and continued to experience trauma from the exposure of the street life. I didn’t know anything different and believed the lie that I was just a lost cause to society and family I didn’t know.

The people who proclaimed Christianity around me made fun of my mental breakdowns and accused me of just simply being crazy. I had a deep desire to get well but I honestly didn’t know how because I was trapped in all the lies I grew up believing about myself and my identity. I was afraid to speak about everything that happened to me since nobody listened to me anyway and blamed my issues on diseases and biochemical imbalances I was supposedly born with.

Since my recovery from the street life, I have found a journey of a restored soul and sound mind despite my ongoing effort in addressing my bruises from the past. It’s totally ok to admit our weaknesses so others understand this isn’t a journey of perfection. I’ve also found my worth as a lady who’s been given new life despite my traumatic past. I no longer believe the lies I believed growing up and find joy in dressing myself up and shop in ladies’ wear now. Although I’m not where I want to be in this journey, I’m not where I used to be as a broken menace to society and that’s the focus we need to focus on while we’re on a journey of healing and restoration.

BREAKING FREE FROM FALSE GUILT AND SHAME

The other day I was listening to a speaker on Ted Talk. She shared openly about her experiences with sexual trauma and how therapy was helping her navigate through the different emotions she was experiencing. She also opened up about her struggles with celebrities experiencing compassion for sharing about their struggles with being bullied, yet she’s experienced grief instead of support and compassion when she opens up about the sexual trauma she’s been through. What also stood out to me was her comment about breaking the stigma on socially unacceptable topics such as abuse because society does in fact have a way of making people feel like they have a biochemical mental disorder they’re born with.

Her comments challenged me to reflect on my journey even more as I share openly about my past and what it was like living through trauma and coming out of it when I was failed by my community and systems that claim they’re helping people. I’m rejected more often than not…even by nonprofits that proclaim they stand with victims and survivors. I don’t share as open as I do to make myself look good or point everything out that I’ve been through. I share because I encounter people every single day with same or similar stories and survivors need each other to help each other overcome. It hasn’t been an easy journey in my field of work either. Instead of being supported, I face discrimination when I talk about my past journey in jail and mental institutions. If I didn’t recognize the same unethical insanity continuing today, I would not even share what I share.

My reality- I’m a trauma survivor who was completely failed by many around me. I have lived with symptoms of PTSD and don’t know anything different as I’ve cleaned up messes over the past decade. I have suffered financially. I have physically hurt during my healing. I have mentally suffered. I have been rejected and made to feel worthless as a survivor in my own community as I speak publicly to help others overcome, yet I still wake up daily with a deep desire to share openly so others can receive the proper treatment since we live in a fallen world whose greed triumphs people’s wellbeing.

When that Ted Talk speaker spoke about her own personal experiences, I felt so connected and validated with someone else who faces oppositions instead of compassion and support by others in her community. In order for us to make sense of such dehumanizing acts and overcome the overwhelming feelings of grief, shame, and guilt, survivors just need to know they’re not alone and can overcome no matter what. Since I know the debth of pain we suffer just to push through, nobody in this community will ever intimidate me by going behind by back and pointing out my past journey of being in jail. At this point in my life, my faith in God outweighs my fear of man; therefore, I will continue to share openly and unapologetically so others understand they’re not alone on this journey.