“Not all scars show, not all wounds heal. Sometimes you can’t always see the pain someone feels.” Unknown
June is recognized as PTSD Awareness Month and June 27th, National PTSD Awareness Day. I am grateful that there is recognition to help raise awareness, but I truly hope that someday they change the name to Post Traumatic Stress. I no longer feel we have a “disorder”, diabetes is just diabetes, cancer is cancer, heart disease is heart disease. I feel that calling Post Traumatic Stress a “disorder” is another form of blame and shame…just my two cents.
I have learned that trauma and abuse leave an impact that for most intents and purposes, is never seen. It leaves the survivors with “invisible wounds” that make healing much harder. The pain and suffering tends to be ignored and without support it takes longer to make peace with the hurts and losses.
I struggle with a few of those “invisible wounds”, Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury, results of the physical and sexual abuse I experienced. I keep quiet about my inner struggles in my daily life but, in the advocacy realm, I have to say more, I want to end the demons of dissociation and the physical pain I deal with as a result of my childhood abuse. They impact my life everyday. I am not complaining, trust me, I know it’s in the past and I would love to just forget about it and move on with my life. But how does one forget about it and just move on when the child abuse I experienced keeps on calling my number? My dear friend Sherry calls child abuse, “the gift that keeps on giving.” Many of us have used dark humor to cope, my brothers and I did this all the time when we joked about the beatings inflicted upon us as children. It helped us to persevere with something we could never understand.
“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone..” Rose Kennedy
Some of my invisible wounds, my gifts that keep on giving came back to me in December of 2014…I started to experience severe headaches and intense shoulder pain that sent sharp stabbing pains down my right arm. My first thoughts were, aahh, it’s the holidays and I’m feeling stress, the headaches will pass. As for the shoulder pain, I thought I may have injured my arm by lifting something the wrong way and that too, would go away over time. But they didn’t, the pain and the headaches only increased in frequency…and the daily neck pain was getting worse. Ibuprofen, exercises, meditation, acupuncture, Reiki, mineral ice and a heating pad were not bringing an end to the discomfort. The headaches now morphed into migraines and the shoulder pain was intense and was affecting the use of my right hand and arm, it felt so darn weak.
Come March of 2015, my mind was starting to run away with me, I had been reading articles on the impact of childhood physical abuse and domestic violence and their ability to cause traumatic brain injury and was starting to wonder, was there something going on here? I did not want to give way to fear and anxiety, so I called my doctor and the neurologist who had treated me for my brain injury many years ago.
Long story short, after three MRI’s, I discovered that I had advanced arthritis and some herniated discs in my neck, the neurologist commented that this was so advanced I would have had to experience trauma to my neck starting at age five. I shared with him how my father choked me repeatedly and would pick me up by my neck and then shake and toss me to the other side of the room “That’s it” he replied. The cause of the shoulder and arm pain was pinched nerves as a result of my childhood injuries.
It was overwhelming and sad to think that my father was the cause of my neck problems. I felt numb, I cannot understand the hate that came from both of my parents. They left me with a legacy of invisible wounds, scars that may never heal. I can find the ways to help mitigate the pain and suffering, but they will always be with me. I don’t like it but I accept it. Physical therapy, some pain medication and soon, I will have a home traction unit to help ‘stretch my neck out’…I will get by and I will move on from this.
I know my friends, peers and fellow advocates, ‘get it’. I hope that we can begin a conversation among those who do not, how can we reach those who are not part of our choir? Perhaps, share this blog with someone you know who is not part of the trauma, abuse and mental health community. Is there an article you have read, a movie, a documentary, perhaps a radio show that helps to address some of the concerns survivors must deal with on a daily basis that you could send to a member of your community, your physician, church, elected official….someone outside of the loop? Can we all take a moment and send one person one piece of information that helps to address the issues of trauma, abuse and mental health concerns. We might gain a new ally. Let us keep trying to share Hope, Healing & Help….
Thank you & take care, Michael C. Skinner
“Only by facing the darkness can we receive the treasure – the light and joy of emerging released from all that has held us back.” Courage To Change
Resources for Trauma, Abuse & Mental Health – 2015-06-The_Surviving_Spirit_Newsletter_June_2015
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