In part one I recounted my most serious suicide attempt, spoke about a series of violent events that happened to me as a child and began opening up about my direct experiences recovering from trauma. And I sought the answer to this question, “Do you know anyone was worked through trauma and is now a happy functional adult?”
My abuse was worse than most, less than some and some died. I lived a very atypical life first as an adult child of an alcoholic, as an Army brat and then torture survivor. Having moved many places around the world, I grew up in the distorted world of an emotionally disengaged sex-negative family.
I lived most of my life as a “hungry ghost” trapped inside of myself and constantly under threat of re-experiencing unresolved trauma anytime my emotions were triggered.
Ok, so to the answer I found… the answer trauma survivors seek to replace the dread and horror we live with inside every minute of every day.
Instead of committing suicide I decided to sell the gun and use the money to help pay for my next therapy session.
In therapy and 12 step programs I did the journey of 1,000
I have read many heartfelt, emotional posts the past few days about the passing of Robin William from a possible suicide. It’s a horrible loss of a great entertainer and person. The first thing that came to me when I heard about it – was to my surprise huge gratitude for all the healing and deep work I have done that brought me to a place where I am learning to live next to my darkness and have a much more healthy relationship with it, than the days of complete darkness and thoughts of suicide. If you know me you may have heard me talk about this before: the thing that makes me the most upset about this (for all of us) is how, I believe, that as a western society with very clear rules, structure and a support system we don’t treat addiction, depression and emotional disability as a problem like we treat physical illness. It’s hard to ask for a meditation break at work but very easy to get a smoking one. It’s hard to go to a 12 step meeting once a week on work time but easy to go to a Dr. appointment. It’s hard to get
Freedom From Childhood Trauma part 1
I remember the day when I took the 357 Magnum with hollow point bullets and put it to my head. I’d been rehearsing this for months. This was a way for me to get rid of the pain. I had bought a folding shovel so I could dig my own grave and the only thing that frustrated me was that I could not figure out a way to kill myself and burry myself afterward. I did not want to be found.
Today I look back at that behavior and clearly recall my pain. The insanity of my alcoholism, drinking every night, passing out over and over, drinking some more and itching. Itching all the time, all over my body.
I remember a time growing up when I was punished almost every day after coming home from school. One day the belt slipped and the buckle hit me in the eye leaving me with a black eye. My mother sat me down and told me about a “white lie.” Had someone confronted me at school the next day it might have saved me from the escalating violence that followed.
A few years later
With several AP classes to study for and SATs to worry about, it’s like there’s no time to even think about breathing, because at any given moment there are about 12 different things you have to worry about doing. Staring at homework for hours, I could get to a point where my whole body was so numb with exhaustion that I felt almost outside of myself, like my brain was, with no help from me, balancing chemical equations and telling my hand to write them down without engaging any emotionally active response in my heart or head. It’s not that I didn’t want to engage with what I was learning, or that I didn’t care about it, but there were all these different things barreling at me from all these different directions, and my brain shut down the way it does in times of crisis or trauma, so that only the immediately necessary things got done and everything else stops. I knew the “necessary” things—homework, studying, essays, review—were not as important as my emotional well being, but I made the conscious short-term sacrifice of my a healthy emotional life in order to meet statistical standards that I
This is a poignant communication between myself, a guest who goes by “G” and Dr. Jessica Zucker (a therapist and former guest)
My first son died unexpectedly one week before his due date. It has been five months and I’m so deep in grief and guilt and shame, I don’t see a way out and can’t see how I could ever have been a good mother since I am handling this all so poorly.
Here is what Dr. Zucker wrote to her.
I am incredibly sorry for your recent loss. You must be experiencing incredible amounts of pain and mind-numbing disbelief.
Have you received any therapeutic support since your loss? If not, would you be interested in pursuing some help in an effort to process the grief and heartache? I would be happy to help you find a seasoned psychologist– please let me know what city you live in or where the closest city might be to you and I will do my best to find you support.
Thank you for reaching out to Paul and requesting that we discuss stillbirth on his podcast. I think that is a brilliant idea, as 1 in 170 pregnancies
In general, Asperger’s Disorder is a form of autism. In the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, Aspergers has been combined with other forms of Autism into a general category of Autism Spectrum Disorders. However, there is still some contention about this, and many people with Aspergers prefer the label to Autism.
Unfortunately, the diagnostic criteria for Asperger’s is based on a presentation that is much more common in males. Females with Asperger’s tend to be more socially adept. Like their male counterparts, they frequently make social mistakes and are easily overwhelmed in social situations. However, unlike their male counterparts, females on the spectrum tend to be much more socially motivated. Because of this, they tend to learn how to fit in. They are careful studies of social interactions and have learned to copy social behavior. However, because they are essentially faking social competence, it takes a lot out of them. They become easily overwhelmed and tend to isolate for long periods of time or get hyperfocused on specific interests as a manner of coping with anxiety and an over-sensitive nervous system. However, also unlike their male counterparts, females with Asperger’s tend to have more
Maybe what makes me the most connected to the rest of humankind is the feeling I constantly have that I’m so different and disconnected. I’m aware enough of the world around me to know most, if not all, of us feel this way at some point. Still, I feel more different. Or different in ways that are less acceptable. Or maybe it’s just that I’m more honest than most people. I don’t feel the need to hide much and as a rule I don’t shrink away from facing hard things head on. When you’ve experienced the things I have, you kind of lose that deep need to be socially appropriate and you learn to live with the knowledge that running is futile. My first memory of life involves being lured into the room as my father was nude, drying off after his shower. He casually stole my 3 year old innocence as he talked me in to touching his manhood. There were multiple deaths and births in that moment. Shame sprung forth fresh and new, and continued to grow in me well into adulthood. In fact it contributed significantly to many of the choices I made, which I’ll explain more
Make Em’ Laugh
The Power of Laughter in the Therapy Room
Jessica Levith, M.A.
Most of us had lives previous to becoming therapists. After undergraduate in San Francisco, I moved to Los Angeles where I undertook stand-up and comedy writing. I then blinked my eyes, nine years passed, and I was thirty. At my birthday lunch I watched an older friend, who by all accounts had “made it” as a comedy writer, whiskey-nurse his latest out-of-work ulcer. I decided that lunch to go back to school, but I never forgot comedy.
What’s So Funny?
It’s sometimes difficult to picture humor itself as an intervention, but I believe it can be a powerful way to connect with our clients. I openly invite humor into the therapy room, because it often feels like our expected seriousness as therapists paradoxically pushes away our client’s chance for deeper reparative emotional experiences. I chuckle when I think about the archetypal, uber-serious psychiatrist, Dr. Leo Marven, from the 1991 comedy film “What About Bob?” I wonder how safe his clients felt in session with him. He sets up a clear power differential with his cold, lawyer-esque office to convey he’s there to “fix” clients.
I hate to share feelings unnecessarily, but maybe I should open up a little bit more about one of the greater reasons why I started this project: loneliness. I am so lonely I can hardly stand it. For the time being, I’ve moved past my desire for a significant other, and am solely focusing on the need for friendship. I’ve moved around so much in my life that I have no “core” group of friends. I go through phases of really making an effort to invite people places and/or forcing myself to participate in social gatherings, in an attempt to create this circle of friends. Then somewhere along the way, I get discouraged, or busy, or…self-centered. I find that when I’m lonely, I tend to only see my needs, which in turn, isolates me even more, because I can’t see past myself. Make sense? It’s a horrible cycle. And I don’t have the solution. It’s a fight to stay positive, but I know that turning my gaze inward will not lead me anywhere good. Thus, this project. I figure, if I can turn my attention outward, towards others, and their needs, and not on myself, that surely, a change will