Trauma Informed Revolution

November 23, 2019

It invites us to ask, "To what am I in bondage, and to what are we in bondage?" (The Message Bible)

Let us break the bondage of trauma with trauma informed care. (me) 

Earlier this week I attended a trauma informed care training for continuing education.  The whole point of the training is to introduce trauma informed care into behavioral health settings that need to get up to date, as trauma informed care slowly is becoming the new standard.  What I really liked about it was that we learned practical ways to take the information back to our workplaces-let the trauma informed revolution begin!

The trauma informed training made me reflect on a lot of painful memories but it also left me grateful for my recovery, and for my mental health care treatment team.  A lot of bad memories spin around my last hospital stay, but when I hear stories of hospital abuse, I realize that my doctor did the best he could.  He listened to me and tried to make me as comfortable as he could. Unfortunately, one good doctor cannot make up for other, awful staff.  As I thought back, I realized how many of traumatizing memories from the stabilization unit were from watching how the staff "cared" for the other patients.  I experienced a lot of first hand trauma in the beginning of my stay, but towards the end, the trauma was secondhand, as I watched patients be ignored and cry from distress.

As the training went on, a lot of us talked about how discouraged we are about the rise of prisons and hospitals that are for profit.  How can these programs get better when they are not bound to at least state and federal regulations?  The answer: certified peer specialists and certified addiction recovery empowerment specialists as hospital and prison treatment staff.  As the only certified peer specialist working for Dekalb County drug court, I am helping lead the way for trauma informed care coming out of jail.  (I must mention that I have a friend who is doing peer support work in Dekalb County veterans and mental health court by conducting NAMI mental health support groups.)  It is  our hope that one day every hospital and treatment program be required to include CPS and CARES professionals as staff, even in private, for-profit places.  People with lived experiences in the mental health system are the missing ingredient for trauma informed success.

The last assignment on day two of the training was to write a speech where we advocate to start a talk about the impact of trauma and why it's important to address.  The audience could be to anyone we wanted, from family members to our workplaces to our peers.  I wrote a speech towards the staff working at Dekalb County drug court. I was glad to discover that I already am doing well in addressing trauma with my peers, but my dream is to impress upon the judge why talking to my peers in a trauma informed way is important.

Here is my speech:

I just attended a trauma informed care training.  You might wonder why; what is it about?  Let's talk about trauma and why addressing it is important.  Ninety percent of the people that use behavioral health services have been through trauma.  Trauma is when the body and mind are overwhelmed in fear of what has happened and have no idea how to cope.  The body/mind is flooded with negative hormones and this affects the whole body.  This can occur at any time, even to a newborn.  Continual flooding of these negative hormones changes a person's physical health, their mental and physical development, their whole view of the world.  If we do not address the trauma then true recovery will not happen.  We need to change the conversation from, "what's wrong with you," to "what happened to you" and then our whole world can start to heal.  How can our organization address trauma so that we can start the healing process and have better, more lasting physical and mental change?  (By the way, this focus on trauma will save money in the long run.)

What do you think?

Everything I wrote is true!

Yes, trauma from as early as birth can affect and change a person because of the intense flooding of negative hormones.  When a person is constantly flooded with these hormones, perhaps because of violence or poverty or neglect, the person's whole mind, body, and spirit are changed.  '

However, there is hope!  Validation, support, encouragement all help, but the main key is validation.  As we talked about the importance of validation, I felt pride in being a follower of dialectical behavioral therapy, which is a skills based therapy with validation at the heart of it.  I very well understand how resistant a person will be to recovery unless they feel validated.

Our experiences are real!

By acknowledging our painful realities, the space is opened up to allow for a better reality in time.  People do not have to be stuck in trauma their whole lives and behavioral health places need to know how to become healing centers of hope instead of continuations of pain.  I am proud to be a certified peer specialist and I am proud of the hard work my peers and my colleagues do.

Have you learned anything new about trauma?

Let's talk about it!

Spread the word that addressing trauma is important and that transformation from it is real.

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