Breakthrough

Some people thought I had a drug induced Psychosis ten years ago. Would you believe it was actually the following quote that tipped me over the edge!? Because my PhD was on hemispheric asymmetry of emotion, I began to see my PhD in literally everything: #HealingTrauma

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

This quote is incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein. He did not quote this. However, he did write of this.

For every quote I read, I could see half of it belonged to the left hemisphere (i.e. the rational mind is a faithful servant) and the other half belonged to the right (i.e. the intuitive mind is a sacred gift). Even Aboriginal proverbs: “Those who lose dreaming are lost.”

Graduation with a Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology (2017) following my first episode of Psychosis (2012).

Some people say be careful what you wish for. In 2011, I made a new years resolution to be “The year of potentiality”. Because I was not very bright at school and later ended up getting a scholarship to do a PhD in Psychology, I was genuinely curious what are humans capable of.

I was 27, so the “save the world” ambitions were already drummed out of me. My focus was more on learning some musical instruments and pushing my body to do the Great Pyramid Race (a horrible 12km mountain race from a pub in Gordonvale to the top of a mountain and back).

Top of the Pyramid, Gordonvale (2011).

I forgot about my new years resolution almost immediately, although I did learn to play the guitar and the piano, and I did complete the Pyramid Race. Towards the end of that year I was pretty depressed and lost. I was living in an apartment in the city across Munro Martin Park.

This park use to be a meeting place for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians who traveled down from Cape York. However, most of the First Nations Australians were “shooed” out of Cairns city with various approaches like sprinklers so they would get wet.

Munro Martin Park eventually turned into a Concert Park and so this meant more walls and more locked gates. One night I had a few drinks in town and was walking back to my apartment. I bumped into a friendly Aboriginal man who asked for a spare cigarette.

We sat together on the steps out the front of my apartment and exchanged stories of loss and grief of this new world and neither of us identifying as a material boy or girl. He was sad about the park and also that his job rounding up cattle had been replaced by choppers.

I was sad for him too and we both felt somewhat alienated staring at the green artificial plastic grass that was out the front of the apartment and had just been added to several places in the Cairns city centre. We had a wonderful laugh and cry together.

My friend Rachel who I was living with at the time wanted to go to the Woodford Folk Festival for New Years. I had never been to a huge festival like Woodford so agreed and we both signed up to volunteer. On the bus on the way to the festival one guy was reading a book.

We started chatting and exchanged some quotes. One of the quotes that he loved and shared was:

“Truth disappears with the telling of it.”

So I was always taught that festivals are “bad”. I was taught they are just a big piss up or drug fest, a waste of space and full of people with no direction or purpose in life. People of no value or the classic: People who don’t have a “real job.”

I was blown away, what I found. This festival was like a mini Utopia. The sheer amount of hard work, devotion and love that went into Woodford was seriously impressive. There was delicious vegan foods, artists way cooler than me, meditation areas with sacred music of goose bumps.

The festival also had a conference with leading scientists on cutting edge issues like climate justice. I did not take drugs at Woodford. If I drank, it was barely anything. I did not experience people irresponsibly drunk or crazy high. I saw a community of extreme talent.

At the festival there was a wishing well. I have only ever had one fascination in life and therefore one wish. My whole life I saw science and religions fighting. I saw beliefs destroy relationships and people even kill each other. I would often defend my Persian Bahai friend

when Australians teased her about her faith. For every criticism towards her faith I would throw the same back at science even though I was not religious myself. I was not for religion but I was also not proud of much of the arrogance I personally experienced within science.

So I made one wish and I put it into the wishing well: “I wished for the marriage of science and mysticism.” That night there was a New Years Eve festival and it was truly spectacular. There was a sign made in the shape of the letters “ME” that was set on fire.

At the end of the performance the sign was turned upside down and the word flipped to “WE”. Something happened to me at this festival. Everything just clicked and connected from the moment I arrived. Things that made no sense or only intellectually became an embodied reality.

My perception was enhanced. There were bricks on the ground with sentences carved in them like: “Love is the answer.” Normally I would just see something like this and not think too much of it. However, I read these words and felt the statement penetrate every fibre of my being.

The next day – New Years Day 2012 – there was a Tibetan dawn service. It was the most surreal experience. Nearly everyone was crying, it seemed for the world. The 2011 New Years resolution – that I had completely forgotten! – returned to my mind: “The year of potentiality.”

That’s when my PhD, the state of the planet and injustice and trauma all around the world made complete sense to me:

“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift. The rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

My wish for the marriage of science and mysticism became my living reality. I wanted my PhD to explain the hemispheres’ involvement in this marriage. I could see it played out from the beginning of history to where Psychology and Psychiatry are now

and the destruction of other cultures and their systems as a consequence of the intellect. I listened to a climate scientist at the festival Dr Graeme Taylor share his book Evolution’s Edge: The Coming Collapse and Transformation Of Our World. Even climate change was my PhD.

June 2009 – Evolution’s Edge has won the Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher’s (IPPY) Outstanding Books of the Year Awards as the book “Most Likely to Save the Planet”. The awards were given out at the Book Expo America gala in New York. The IPPY Awards are the world’s largest – over 4000 of the best new books competed for prizes this year. Evolution’s Edge was specially selected because it “exhibits the courage and creativity necessary to take chances, break new ground, and bring about change, not only to the world of publishing, but to our society.

I remember thinking no one will connect with climate change until they feel deeply connected to the natural world and you cannot deeply connect to the natural world unless you are deeply connected to yourself. I remember thinking my PhD could be the necessary link.

I remember thinking we need to deconstruct Psychology and help people drop the Psychological Mind to reconnect to themselves. I had already directly experienced this so I knew it was possible. I had no idea my year of potentiality would – exactly one year later – be this.

I had no idea my wish for the marriage of science and mysticism would come true at least in my experience. I felt the bricks on the ground. Love really was the answer. So I went back to Cairns and unsurprisingly this idea was not embraced. I was kindly advised to write a book.

I did not want to write a book outside of my PhD because that was my whole point. The exclusion of reality was the very reason so much of life and therefore ourselves has been rejected, destroyed, lost. That was the entire point: Where is the love in institutions and business?

Love was freedom. It does not require qualifications, complex theories, diagnostic categories, standardised testing, training, endorsements, and actually these things often get in the way of our innate capacity to be deeply human, genuinely kind, caring and compassionate.

Despite this, I seemed like a naive person, a free spirited hippie. My options were to soldier on with my original topic or to leave. But something within me had fundamentally changed. I no longer saw the relevance to my topic. We all knew that nearly no one would ever read it.

I found a genius locked away inside every single one of us and that was all I could now see and all I cared to talk about. How much Western education has discriminated against the majority of its willing participants because they did not colour inside the lines, or fit in box.

There are some sections of this time of my life that I cannot remember or I do recall but I cannot place events into the correct order. Trauma will do that. For example, I have previously written about a women who came into the lab one day wearing swimmers

with cuts and scratches on her legs after a night spent in the rainforest. The woman who said to me: “I have been connected to the Universe.” Shortly after the ambulance arrived and she was taken away to the mental hospital. I discussed how this deeply affected me.

While I remember both stories vividly, I cannot recall which one was before or after. All I remember is my PhD connected me to the Universe and the one other person who had a similar experience I witnessed being locked away in a mental hospital.

The only way I can describe the six months of my life that followed these events is that it was like taking an acid trip that went horrifically wrong. My reality melted not just as some poetic description. My entire reality became a living and waking nightmare.

I will not go into my symptoms of Psychosis other than to say that they were truly debilitating and terrifying. I can relate to Russell Crow, the movie A Beautiful Mind. I was in and out of hospital for 6 months. Although even once I was finally stabilised a part of me was gone.

My spirit died.

I barely held a conversation for the year after I left hospital. I seemed to be a lost cause. Some called me crazy behind my back. Some assumed it was a drug induced Psychosis. I took no drugs at Woodford. I simply made a new years resolution and I got exactly what I asked for.

I also wished for the marriage of science and mysticism and that dream was also realised although I could not materialise it in my PhD. Which ten years later I now understand why. What I never imagined in my wildest dreams is that ten years later my dream would flower.

I actually cried several time this week because whether other people can see it or not, Trauma Informed World is that wish coming true at least for me. Trauma Informed World is everything I wanted my PhD to be. It is the marriage of science and mysticism, unknowingly.

What is truly remarkable is that even if my beautiful supervisors had said yes – you can do that – it would never have worked anyway. Ten years ago I had not found Martial Arts, Yoga, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and India’s cultures, my partner from the Philippines,

Marcelo Alegre Rubic teaching free
Filipino Martial Arts, Las Piñas, Philippines.

or the trauma informed tools for wellbeing that collectively were fundamental to both of my recoveries. It is almost as if I had to fall and completely breakdown to find these treasures over the next ten years. I had the vision but I had zero life experience to make it reality.

Trauma Informed World was not even planned. That vision died with my spirit ten years ago. It was only because people like you kept asking for a blog and a website that when I finally did add all the pieces I wrote to it, the process itself put all my pieces back together.

This is why I emphasise the power of Trauma Informed Care as a mindset for personal, social and political change. It is this framework on the website that holds a safe space to address systematic issues such as racism, sexism, homophobia, climate change, all connected.

Australian Geographic: Laura Dance Festival, Hopevale Kids, Cape York, Queensland, Australia.

So my tears are gratitude. My tears are also loss and grief for those who were killed once upon a time for sharing what I have shared with the world. Tears of admiration that Australians have woken up so much that stories like this can be shared and are less shunned.

Tears of a lotus flower. The greater the mud the more beautiful the flower. I lost three years of my life to my first Psychosis. I lost eight months to my second Psychosis. I would happily go through both again to be able to share these words with you, alive and well.

I am living proof that your entire world can be smashed into a trillion pieces and you can recover and turn the broken pieces of glass into a kaleidoscope. I am living proof you can be absolutely terrified of something and find yourself in the heart of your once greatest fear.

I would like state here that in no way is my way necessarily an advised path or the right way. All I know is that I followed my heart against most advice that came from a genuinely loving place. Yes, it was dangerous, but it was necessary to become the person I was born to be.

Isha Yoga Centre, Tamil, India.

If you do tell your truth and it is denied, rejected, misrepresented or twisted and turned against you, please know that I understand as do the many others that this has also happened to. Also keep in mind the young man on the bus: “Truth disappears with the telling of it.”

I can see my errors looking back. I thought my truth was everyones. I saw a world where world peace is possible and free and I wanted all of us to be there. But that was never going happen immediately. Just because I see it, does not mean others do, no matter how clearly I see it.

What I do know is I am unbelievably curious what lies inside each one of us. Imagine if we lived in safe environments where we were all given the opportunity to explore how to flower. I am seriously no one special. I had a massive stroke of luck and privilege to study Psychology.

This is why my vision is a trauma informed world. There are as many paths to truth as there are people. We know the ingredients required and they are within reach. I want that sense of freedom to be a living reality for every person before we die. #YouBelong

The End.

Yesterday I sent this piece to Dr Graeme Taylor – the author of Evolutions Edge: The Coming Collapse and Transformation of Our Planet. We spoke on the phone for two hours. It just so happens that he and his wife will be in Cairns next week, so we can meet after ten years. #HealingTrauma

One of the most influential young women of the 21st century, Greta Thunberg, Environmental- and Climate Activists with Asperger’s.

#FridaysForFutures
#UpRootTheSystem
#DontChooseExtinction

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

With love,

Dr Louise Hansen
Psychologist
PhD in Psychology
Human Rights Activist

#HealingTrauma #Justice4Australia #YouBelong

Tracy Chapman – Fast Car:

“You got a fast car
I want a ticket to anywhere
Maybe we make a deal
Maybe together we can get somewhere
Any place is better
Starting from zero got nothing to lose
Maybe we’ll make something
Me, myself, I got nothing to prove
You got a fast car
I got a plan to get us outta here
I been working at the convenience store
Managed to save just a little bit of money
Won’t have to drive too far
Just ‘cross the border and into the city
You and I can both get jobs
And finally see what it means to be living
See, my old man’s got a problem
He live with the bottle, that’s the way it is
He says his body’s too old for working
His body’s too young to look like his
My mama went off and left him
She wanted more from life than he could give
I said somebody’s got to take care of him
So I quit school and that’s what I did
You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way
So I remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speed so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I-I had a feeling that I belonged
I-I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone
You got a fast car
We go cruising, entertain ourselves
You still ain’t got a job
And I work in the market as a checkout girl
I know things will get better
You’ll find work and I’ll get promoted
We’ll move out of the shelter
Buy a bigger house and live in the suburbs
So I remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speed so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I-I had a feeling that I belonged
I-I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone
You got a fast car
I got a job that pays all our bills
You stay out drinking late at the bar
See more of your friends than you do of your kids
I’d always hoped for better
Thought maybe together you and me’d find it
I got no plans, I ain’t going nowhere
Take your fast car and keep on driving
So I remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speed so fast it felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I-I had a feeling that I belonged
I-I had a feeling I could be someone, be someone, be someone
You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so you can fly away?
You gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way.”

#YouBelong

https://youtu.be/DwrHwZyFN7M
#IncarcerationNation

https://youtu.be/XUyfAme3i_U

https://incarcerationnation.com.au

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin
“Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of support we received overnight! We’re able to fund one more Indigenous Psychology student for a full three year Psychology degree from just a 10 minute appearance on ABC #TheDrum.” – Dr Tracy Westerman AM

If you would like to donate, please visit:

https://www.thejilyainstitute.com.au/about-us/
Australia’s political system is too broken to tackle climate change, and big polluters are determined to keep it that way. But we have a plan:”

https://www.climate200.com.au
My partner Marcelo Alegre Rubic who taught me do not let anyone control your life. #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

Kopika (left) and Tharnicaa (right) were kept at Christmas Island Detention Centre for nearly two years despite trauma informed calls to return them to Biloela, Queensland. Tharnicaa has spent most of her life detained by the Australian Government and is still in community detention to this day. #YouBelong

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:

Trauma Informed World acknowledges and respects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Traditional Custodians of the land and waterways on which this educational resource was inspired. I acknowledge and respect Elders past, present and emerging. I honour the continuation of educational, cultural and spiritual practices and celebrate the extraordinary diversity of people and relationships worldwide. This website contains images of deceased persons. There are also swear words in some of the songs presented that portray intense emotions. This website is not intended to trigger people who have experienced trauma. However, if you do find any of the content triggering, each page has a link to Australia’s National Helplines and Websites for immediate mental health support. These are my own personal views and comments and may not reflect the views of my employer.

Australia’s National Helplines and Websites:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/get-support/national-help-lines-and-websites

To provide the best information possible, Beyond Blue has listed national helplines and external services. All services linked to Beyond Blue are reviewed before they are posted.

Published by Dr Louise Hansen

This is a free educational website on Trauma Informed Care for survival and wellbeing. While each injustice differs, all stories share the same trauma: the negative operation of power. Let’s break the cycle of injustice and trauma together one day at a time. The byproduct of clarity is peace. Joy is peace dancing. Trauma is disconnection. Empathy fuels connection. Knowledge is power: “Love is the absence of judgment.” – His Holiness the Dalai Lama. #YouBelong

One thought on “Breakthrough

  1. Thank you Louise. It seems to me that if we approach the other with an awareness of trauma (and we are all traumatised to some degree or another), we can be part of healing the world because we will be therapeutic in our exchanges with each other.
    Pax
    hilary

    Like

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