In the past 3 years I have conducted experiments on a living human brain. Mine. I necessarily studied developmental trauma, trauma theory, the neurobiology of trauma, and trauma resolution. This is due to the Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) I acquired from early, repeated, severe, unpredictable toxic stress from childhood neglect and abuse. My experiments focus on neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to “rewire.” I have worked to install new wiring that is positive and pro-social as I have let the old negative trauma networks dissolve.
My CPTSD exploded about a year-and-a-half ago, since I finally had a safe place to deal with it. I turned to the medical system for help and it swallowed me. Due to the toxic effects of a medication, a negligent psychologist, and systemic failure of the massive local hospital system, I spent a week in the dank belly of the American mental health “care” beast. It was a kind of Cuckoo’s Nest lite, a mental hospital owned by Universal Health Services (UHS). According to a Buzz Feed investigative report, UHS is “America’s largest psychiatric hospital chain” with “more than 200 psychiatric facilities across the country.”
I experienced and witnessed the same kinds of abuse as detailed in the Buzz Feed report. It was easy to see that hospital staff “tried to keep beds filled even at the expense of the safety of their staff or the rights of the patients they were locking up.” The facility was understaffed, utilized clearly unqualified staff, neglected housekeeping and nutrition, and provided no individualized care, only mostly lame supposed group therapy sessions and piles of pills. Staff deprived patients of their rights and even threatened self-admitted patients with commitment if they tried to leave before their insurance benefit ran out.
Thanks to lots of journaling, plus support from family, friends, and an attorney, I managed to survive that unnecessary incarceration without going crazy. However, it took months to resolve the traumatic experience, during which the medical system continued to let me down and even re-traumatize me for a second time in seven months. Of course, one cannot recover from trauma while the trauma keeps happening, so these incidents greatly impeded my recovery from prior trauma as their effects are ongoing.
What I found was a system grossly unprepared and short of resources to deliver necessary services or appropriate care. This makes the system and its facilities a danger to trauma survivors. Fortunately, it seems the hospital system is interested in working with me to make improvements. I’ll soon have a meeting to find out how we can work together.
My experiences with the American model of mental health “care” convinced me to speak up on behalf of myself and countless others who have unnecessarily been re-traumatized by the medical profits industry, which especially monetizes the needs of the most vulnerable; those whose nervous systems were wired by trauma. Although CPTSD robs me of energy and abilities, I have slowly begun to work for positive change. This began with creation of a 1/3-page information card I hand to care providers and ask, “Please take a minute to read this before we begin.” It was my first attempt to inform healthcare providers about my condition and how they can, with just a little info and some thoughtfulness, avoid retraumatizing me yet again.
Developmental Trauma is the number one health crisis in the world, but America largely ignores it. I intend to spread awareness, help educate providers and the public, and push for positive reform. Therefore, the focus of my blog will be on topics like neuroplasticity, CPTSD, self-care, the neurobiology of trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), somatic recovery practices, polyvagal theory, attachment theory, psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy, emotional and spiritual aspects of illness and healing, inflammatory diseases, chronic disease at midlife, whole foods plant-based diet, veganism, pharmacogenetic testing, honoring the process, expressive arts therapy, the importance of felt sense, the human need for community, and the value of play, kindness, and compassion.