Author:Paul Gilmartin

Oliver Sykes

Paul’s 41 year-old friend talks (and laughs) about his arrested emotional development and struggle to be an adult after a childhood where he often had to parent his parents because of their addictions, mental illnesses (including hospitalizations and suicide attempts) and lack of boundaries.

This episode is sponsored by Audible.  For a free 30 day trial and a free downloadable audio book go to www.audible.com/mentalpod and sign up.

 

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Gillian Callahan Chachere

The Marriage and Family Therapist Intern opens up about the rarely-discussed trauma of miscarriage, the lack of traditional grief support in our culture, and the surprising results she got from seeking an alternative healing therapy (a full spectrum doula) after her fifth miscarriage.

The blog piece that Gillian wrote is called The Closing of the Bones.

Her therapy website is http://gillianchacheretherapy.com/

The Youtube piece that Paul referenced about sexual trauma survivors’ is here.

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Bulimia & Anorexia w/Noemi

The 24 year-old first generation Mexican-American is currently unable to stop her anorexia, bulimia or blackout drinking.  She shares what her struggle is like and about the abusive ex-boyfriend whose chaos and trauma-bonding helped distract her from her feelings and finally she shares about the family life where most of her pain originated

This episode is sponsored by Cards Against Humanity visit them at www.cardsagainsthumanity.com

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Former NHL Goalie Clint Malarchuk (voted #3 ep of 2014)

The former NHL goalie opens up about his difficult childhood and the OCD that helped him professionally but ultimately almost ended his life.  He shares about his anxiety, depression, alcoholism, suicide attempt and the PTSD from a skate to the neck that almost caused him to bleed to death during a televised game in 1989.   Clint has survived it all an more importantly got the help his “cowboy” upbringing had stigmatized for years as “weak”.   Clint’s book is called A Matter of Inches (in Canada it’s called The Crazy Game).

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Joni G.

“No man ever pleased me like cocaine did.”  The 60 year-old shares about the drug that helped her with her ADD, feel skinnier, prettier and more powerful especially when she began dealing it by the kilo.  She also opens up about her stint in prison and the things she learned there that helped her emotionally when being treated for breast cancer.  She is currently a certified drug and alcohol counselor studying to become a MFT (Marriage and Family therapist).

This episode is sponsored by the hilariously offensive party game Cards Against Humanity and their 10 Days or Whatever of Kwanza.   For more info go to www.holidaybullshit.com

This episode is sponsored by LootCrate.  For 10% off any subscription go to www.lootcrate.com/happyhour and use offer code HAPPYHOUR

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Her Unspeakable Trauma Healed Through EMDR: Guest Blog by Lynn

Healing trauma through EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing)

 

You know fear is a hell of a thing, and when you live with it constantly, you forget what it’s like to live any other way after a while. I have suffered with PTSD for nearly a decade. In my early twenties, I was kidnapped and sexually assaulted before I escaped with my life after 3 days. I’ll spare you the unpleasant details, as they don’t really matter in the long run. At least they don’t matter to me anymore.

Before the birth of my son at 32, I dealt with the fear through self-medication, mostly with alcohol and meaningless sex, but I always mixed it up with various drugs and binge eating. I suppose for a long time, I didn’t realize I had PTSD because I was in an emotional and physical fog. After my son was born though, and I didn’t have the choice to deal with my issues through alcohol, everything started to come to the surface. I was like a dormant volcano about to erupt. My emotions were out of control and I was living in almost constant fear. I was afraid to sleep and had severely unwanted thoughts about tragic things happening to my child. When you experience trauma and realize that the world is an ugly place, it seems almost impossible to protect your child from it. Fear consumed my every thought and shame was the overall feeling I had most of the time.

This was about the time I discovered the podcast. I had mixed feelings about it at first because sometimes it would trigger the fear, but for the most part I felt like I had a community of people who understood me, oddly enough, without even interacting with any of them. While listening, I was introduced to EMDR and started researching it relentlessly. It made a lot of sense to me, the connection to REM sleep and processing memories. I haven’t slept well in years, and my nightmares are very vivid. The idea is that when our brains are in REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, is when we are dreaming and processing events and memories that our brains either determine to be useful to us or that need to be disposed of. When we experience trauma, those memories become stuck and we never process them. This then manifests itself in other physical and mental ways that is usually damaging to us.

I don’t know why I waited so long to start therapy; I suppose I wasn’t ready, but I finally found a great therapist in my area that uses EMDR. I have to say, I am shocked at how well it has worked for me. After the first session, I had one hell of a week. It stirred up so many emotions in me, mostly about my childhood and less about the trauma. I experienced a lot of anger and sadness in that next week, but in sifting through those emotions, I realized something. The fear was gone. My unwanted thoughts almost disappeared, but even when they would make an appearance, I was able to think about it briefly and let it go. I realized it was only a stupid thought and not reality.

I have been seeing my therapist once a week for about two months and each session brings something else out of me, and while there is some pain there and some more stuff coming to the surface, I feel like I can handle it for the first time in my life. I feel like a survivor instead of a victim. Its hard work, but I’m finally ready to take it on. My therapist says that results don’t typically happen this quickly unless a person is truly ready to deal with trauma. I certainly don’t want to set a person up for false expectations, but for me, personally, EMDR is saving my life. It’s like my brain is a computer and someone is cleaning out all of the old files.

What I have noticed as well, it that I am not used to the stability. When you’re life is a roller coaster for so long, you get used to ups and downs and sometimes get a high off of the drama that comes with that. I don’t know how to function when things aren’t going haywire. My therapist says stability can be hard when you try it for the first time. I still have a long way to go and I am a big believer in therapy now that I have found a good therapist for once. You have to be honest and not be afraid to fall to pieces in front of someone, but good therapists do exist. So I keep going, putting one foot in front of the other and trusting that my body and mind can heal itself if I let go of my old ways. It seems to be working well. I still don’t sleep well and I still get depressed, but the fear is gone and I consider that success. One thing at a time.

 

 

 

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Samantha C.

Born with achondroplasia dwarfism to emotionally unavailable Taiwanese immigrant parents, Sam shares about being a “litte person” and the ways support groups have helped her navigate dealing with love addiction, sex addiction and co-dependency.

SquareSpace sponsored this episode.  For a Free Trial and 10% off, go to www.squarespace.com and use offer code MENTAL.

Harry’s shaving products sponsored this episode.  To get $5 off your first purchase go to www.Harrys.com and use the offer code Mentalpod

 

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A Letter to Little Me: A Guest Blog by S.L.

I did not grow up on the mean streets of Detroit or Chicago.  I grew up in a mind-numbing number of homes that began modestly and rose like a soufflé into an Italianate San Franciscan Mansion circa 1906.  And yes, it survived that earthquake.

Had I had its foundation I might have come through better than I have. This is the reason I am writing to you — tiny, five-year-old me — so that as you grow up you will know how to trust your instincts, get help, and stay away from those who hurt you. I will always, strongly be with you in spirit.

As I’ve walked the corridors of this life that will become yours (with some changes I pray) I’ve met hundreds of people. Many of them shared their stories with me. I was privileged to write them.  The subject never was incest, but that’s my focus now — so that my story doesn’t become your story sweet child.
Number 1: First, it’s okay to adore daddy. I know he’s going to teach you how to ride a bike and tell time. But never let daddy touch you in your private places.  If he does, tell mommy and if she doesn’t believe you, tell your teacher to call the police.
By the time I was your age little me, I’d already been moved from Belmont, CA to White Plains, NY. Daddy kept getting into trouble at work. He had affairs, which means he slept with someone other than mommy. So then we moved (before you were born) to Barrington Hills, IL; then to Hillsborough, CA, to Pacific Heights, San Francisco, CA and on to Russian Hill, San Francisco.

No one ever talked about child abuse in our parents’ circle of friends. They talked about silly things like the San Francisco Symphony’s Black & White Ball.

The grownups I knew and you’ll meet, little one, groomed their daughters by sending them to Frank Kitchen’s Dancing Academy in tiny white gloves and black patent leather shoes.  Those parents told their children, “you should be seen and not heard.” So, just like them I was seen and never heard. I want you to be heard.

Little love, don’t believe you are not perfect because you are.  You are God’s gift to this world. You are special and have a gift to share.

Number 2: When daddy and mommy tell you to come downstairs in your nightie to kiss good-night their friends, pretend you are sick. If you go, my love, a man — many more than one man will touch you while he holds you in his lap. That’s wrong.
Precious child, when you are sent to the private girl’s school in a uniform; when your classmates tell you they are better than other people; do not believe them — because they are not.  No one is better than anyone else.  And with people who look different from you, you must always remember — they have the same hopes you do. They are the same in every way except their skin color is not the same as ours.  If mommy or daddy tell you that brown people should be called, “Jose” or “wet-back” or others with darker skin, “Nigger” I want you to close your little ears and repeat what they said to your teachers. Be brave and tell everyone, because this is ignorant and wrong.
You will never be alone because I am always with you.  When daddy came into my room (that someday might be your room) I was a little older than you are now.  You are too small to be told exactly what happened, but I pushed daddy as hard as I could. He fell through a glass door. It was so loud that mommy must have heard it.   But mommy never said a word. The next morning daddy said to me, “how did you break that window?”

That scared me.   So after daddy went to work, I ran to mommy. I told her that daddy was touching me in the night when she was asleep.  She said I was a liar.

I began to think she was right.  She was not right.

Number 3: When or if this happens to you, cling to the truth. You have the right to have a good life.  It is hard not to believe mommy but mommy is the liar, not you, and I will love you no matter what.
Again, because daddy doesn’t tell the truth I need you to tell someone what happened. Tell many people what happened. Forget mommy’s rule to “never complain and never explain.”  If people come to take you away from mommy and daddy, you will survive. I promise you.

Please walk away from mommy and daddy. Don’t look back.  I looked back, and came back again and again.   Nothing ever changed, my heart.  There’s a grownup word you’ll learn later.  The word is narcissist.  People who have this illness can’t care about your feelings.

Don’t blame yourself if you can’t do what I’m asking the first time you try.  That’s okay.  I couldn’t do it either for many years.  And when I stood up as tall as I could I was thrown out of the family.  It was a prominent, society family which meant a lot then to some stupid people. Girl friends said I was committing a kind of life suicide for doing it.  But I did it and I survived it and you can too.

Look at mommy and daddy carefully. They are just people. They are just flesh and blood. They will age and die. What you do now will free you from the worst kind of bondage.  Don’t internalize their lies. Celebrate the gift you are and all you will become. Their lives are not more important than yours.

I see you clearly with your pretty dress standing while daddy takes your picture. When things change and they will soon precious, I am at your side as is God. Believe you have the foundation and the strength of the mansion on the hill. It wasn’t crushed by the earthquake of 1906 and with your new, growing foundation you won’t collapse either.

~

This short piece is for anyone of any age who is struggling with the effects of verbal, sexual and physical abuse in their family. I did survive the abuse. I did fight back. But I was so psychologically entangled with both my parents I ended up coming to their rescue over and over again. I am working through it.

If you have survived abuse in your family I weep with gratitude that you have.  God bless you.

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