My relationship with GOD is always the first thing to suffer when things get difficult for me in the mental health department. I forget how to pray. I forget how important it is to pray. I fight the feelings of shame and failure when things aren’t miraculously “better” just because I’m checking all the right boxes off in my How-to-Be-A-Good-Christian Workbook.
I lose sight of purpose and meaning. I withdraw. I feel alone.
In Jenny Cutler-Lopez’s book, Who I Am: American Scar Stories, I look at the amazing feats of people around me overcoming physical illness- cancer, accidents, surgeries; all with a sense of dignity- it seems – intact.
I have to choke back a shameful amount of jealousy sometimes. Mental health has a stigma. Serious mental health is almost an outright joke. People wrongfully compare my C-PTSD and DiD to depression, anxiety, bipolar, even schizophrenia, when the truth is:
It’s nothing like any of those.
It’s not even in the same family as some of those disorders. But people like me have to listen and nod politely to people who are explaining that they “understand” because they had a cousin who was a drug addict or how they were depressed after a major trauma or, or, or, or. The thing about mental illness, is that it deals with people’s brains and even if we did have the same disorder it can manifest very differently. If I was schizophrenic, unless you are telling me that you, specifically, also have been diagnosed with schizophrenia – I’m not going to pay much attention to your stories about people that you knew. No one with a mental illness takes much pride in being the object of your pity, let alone having to listen to how someone else is “crazier” than we “seem to be”.
C-PTSD has an extra letter because it has extra symptoms.
Dissociative Identity Disorder affects less than 1% of the population, meaning in every survey we are less than the margin of error.
So where am I going with this?
Proverbs 31:8 says,
“Open your mouth for the mute
for the rights of all the unfortunate.”
The most amazing feat I’ve ever experienced?
Someone telling me something I didn’t know.
We wander around with all this information in our heads and in our pockets (thanks smart phones). We Americans live in a culture that idolizes being right, being in the know. We have to know everything about politics, medicine, celebrities’ professional and private lives, sports, pop culture, and everything about every one we’ve ever halfway met (thanks Facebook).
People are always trying to tell me about my dog, my hair, my business, my health care, my relationship with GOD; things that I should be the expert on.
I’ve been trying so hard to swallow my jealousy and think that the things other people are doing are meant for them and that GOD has something special for me waiting just around the corner– but this is that corner.
This little blog with just a little over 100 followers, this is where I get to open my mouth for the mute. This is where I get to tell you something you don’t know, which is what it’s like to live like this.
Am I an academic authority on PTSD? No.
Am I an academic authority on DiD? No.
But do I live with these things? Do I know what it’s like to not recognize yourself in the mirror, to respond to another name, to have violent flashbacks, to wake from night terrors punching your husband? Yes. Yes, I do.
The book of Proverbs is meant to be a book of wisdom; a go-to text when you’re unsure about your actions. Inside, GOD has tucked away a command. One that is echoed in Jesus’ ministry.
There are so many organizations that seek to be a voice for the voiceless.
International Justice Mission secures rights and justice for the unfortunate and oppressed every day!
Rett Syndrome Research Trust works to find a cure for Rett, a disorder that leaves girls without the ability to speak as well as a host of other motor issues.
Shining Scars is a non-profit that hopes to help kids learn about scars and live with the ones that they have, not just why they have them.
Then lastly, there’s me, Rethink Trauma is about just that. There are so many issues that find their roots in trauma. But we always seem to want to talk about the issues and manage the symptoms instead of treat the cause. Trauma isn’t always what you think it is either.
I want to help people find their voice and understand that they aren’t alone. In a country of millions of people where those of us with DiD would take up a large conference room before a stadium somewhere, something like this blog can bring us together. The conversation about trauma can be healing. We’re not alone. You aren’t alone.
You or someone you love may not have found their voice yet, but know, I’ll be talking until they can. Even when it feels like I’m screaming into the wind or entertaining an empty auditorium, I’ll be writing and talking.
Lord knows, I’m good at opening my big mouth enough for a few extra people.