I made this tree in hospital last year. I was “stuck” in trauma. Caught in a panic attack cycle for months on end. The dark roots is intergenerational trauma and all of today’s injustice. Today I’d like to say trust your Doctor. Unless there is good reason not to. #HealingTrauma
Some Doctors are very helpful. Some traumatising. I will never forget my first Psychosis 10 years ago.
I had an appointment with one Psychiatrist. I told her that my head was on fire, that it would not stop burning, and that I think I have Schizophrenia.
The Psychiatrist said to me: “It is just stress sweetheart.” Shortly after she pulled out two pairs of shoes from under her desk. Then she said to me: “Which shoes do you think I should wear to the races this weekend?”
I remember leaving this session. I broke down crying. Balling my eyes out in the nearest gutter. Lost inside my own mind. Lost in this world around me. Chain smoking. Wanting to die. I was already paranoid. Now I had lost complete faith (i.e. trust in the unknown) in Psychiatry.
This is why I share my lived experience. I know how it feels to be completely powerless, and the ones with the power meant to help you, often sadly just don’t get it. So you feel more lost. More disconnected. More distrust. More paranoia. More trauma. Tragically, more suicidal.
I want to strongly emphasise now that today I can genuinely say: Trust your Doctor (including Psychiatrists). Unless there is good reason not to. Out of the four Psychiatrists I experienced as a patient: two were brilliant, one was okay, and one focused on themselves.
Psychiatrists are not the problem. It took me a very long time to see this. Power is not the inherent problem. What one does with power is either helpful or harmful. Systems exist for good reasons: they keep us safe, make life easier, prevent harm, etc.
When a Psychiatrist – or anyone – understands a system well, they can use their understanding of the particular system to empower us all. I would not be alive today – and certainly not this well – without many different people using a range of systems congruent with life.
So would you believe it!? I now even trust systems. Unless there is good reason not to. A system will always have its limits because it relies on a framework and the framework itself is not life. Life is forever unfolding and changing and no single life can ever be contained.
Old mate Dalai Lama once said: “You need to learn the rules so that you can learn how to break them.”
What!? This peace keeper!?
There is an important lesson here. If we continue with our current trajectory, the rich will become richer, the poor poorer, and the tortured more tortured. Now add climate change to that mix. It is not a pretty picture.
Thankfully, many have broken the rules before us. For example, Psychiatry once considered homosexuality to be a disease. This is no longer the case thanks to millions of rule breakers. So today in Australia you are no longer sent to jail for same sex intercourse (of legal age).
Bessel van Kolk also broke Psychiatry’s rules with The Body Keeps The Score. It is now widely accepted that Yoga (a system) can be more helpful than medication for trauma. But let’s be very clear here. This is not just about Yoga. Such insight has cultural/political implications.
When I grew up in Australia you were considered weird if you did Yoga. I knew few vegans and who really cared about climate change, right? I was not taught about Genocide or the Stolen Generation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (or their systems) until University.
Mental illness, addiction, domestic violence, child sexual abuse, trauma and suicide were mostly (and still often) met with silence or judgment, blame, punishment, shame and stigma. Today I see these issues increasingly met with science and compassion in Australia and worldwide.
Today I see Western scientists and First Nations cultures increasingly working together because their systems share a universal framework (i.e. reality), that is congruent with life (i.e. safety, trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment)
rather than against it (i.e. a closed off system creating more and more walls). This shared system is not just incredibly powerful, its framework unbelievably versatile, varying from person to person, country to country, culture to culture. I could not see this “stuck” in trauma.
Today I recognise every system depends on a framework; it is either congruent or incongruent with life; the framework itself was manmade; this means it can change; it already is. I dream of a world that uses this trauma framework to break down laws with zero connection to life.
I dream of a world where people in a position of power are trained to see beneath a Psychiatric Diagnosis. A world where every breakdown might actually be a breakthrough. A return to the truth and beauty that exists underneath our names. I can already see this world. #HealingTrauma
Now you know the power of Trauma Informed Care. Let’s turn this framework into a mindset for personal, social and political change. If you are unable to, you might need help first, to get safe or become ‘unstuck’ from trauma. Reach out for trauma informed care. #YouBelong
Dr Louise Hansen
PhD in Psychology
Human Rights Activist
#HealingTrauma #Justice4Australia #YouBelong
Trauma Informed World was inspired by Kopika and Tharnicaa; two faces that remind us everyday of Australia’s cruel refugee system. One of many systems in Australia that remind us of the negative operation of power. #HomeToBilo
You can listen my talk with Dr Cathy Kezelman AM, the President of Blue Knot Foundation on my own healing journey, training and study and how it has informed my work and advocacy for a trauma informed world here:
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