Does childhood trauma cause mental illness?

by Jody B.

A close friend asked the other day how I think my trauma has contributed to the variety of mental illnesses I live with which got me to thinking that not only did it contribute to mental health issues, but it started so young that it in fact changed my entire development and personality. I never had a chance to develop properly, especially on the emotional side, because for me, there simply was never a time I wasn’t traumatized.

My birth mother was a cigarette smoking, drug addicted alcoholic who gave birth to me, a drug addicted, drunken … Read more...

You know that family–the one that appears so happy

by Sonja Dawn
You know that family--the one that appears so happyNobody knows what goes on behind closed doors? That was my family.

We appeared to be a happy family, with loving parents and three happy, healthy
daughters. I am the middle child and I appeared to be a typical middle child who felt ignored and left out, but really I just wanted to be left alone. The attention I received from my family was frightening no matter how hard I tried to change it.

I did want what any person wants, a loving family, but that is not what I got. I remember one particular day very … Read more...

The drug dealer I thought I hated

by Jenny Derr

I attended a program at Godwin High School this week, which was organized by Project Purple, of which I am a member.  The ORBIT program, which stands for Opiate Recovery By Intensive Tracking, is a Henrico County Sheriff’s office initiative, which serves to help inmates battling addiction to opioids.

This particular program is called In Plain Sight, and the residents of the program set up a typical teen bedroom on the stage and then ask members of the audience to come up and see if they can find the 50 items related to drug use, … Read more...

A bipolar diagnosis doesn’t mean I’m a serial killer

by Jon Farrow

The moment you’re diagnosed, that’s what you become, a psychopath. You are a witch in a society fascinated by the thrill of a hunt. To even utter the word bipolar brings cogitations of whether you could be a killer. So you bury the new explanation for the pain you’ve always felt. The answer you’ve always been searching for is considered a vulgar word.

Bipolar is an adjective thrown around to describe anything inconsistent, such as the weather. To even speak of it in anything but a satirizing tone is written off.

That pain of being written off … Read more...

Why I can’t own my story

by JL

Why I can’t own my story--a story of sexual trauma
JL’s self portrait

Scratchy white tulle, a silky pink ribbon wrapped around my waist, two little pink bows in my short brown hair. This is how I remember, the first time. I wrapped my skinny arm around Pooh’s neck. I couldn’t go anywhere without him.

It was Easter Sunday and everyone was arriving. My mother, always the hostess, was pouring drinks and toasting to Jesus’ resurrection. The doorbell rang once again and I knew it was him. He was my absolute favorite person. I ran toward the front door and wrapped my skinny arms around his neck. He … Read more...

There is nothing you can do until they ‘hit bottom’ #MythBustingMondays

by Teresa McBean

I have few commitments; I have a host of good intentions.  One of my commitments is weekly attendance at our Family Education Program on Thursday nights. I attend unless I am out of town or sick enough to require an IV and suffer from a fearful expectation that I should be getting my affairs in order.  This is how committed I am to busting myths about Substance Use Disorder and providing hope and healing for families struggling with this dread disease.

These educational meetings support recovery by educating family members and loved ones of folks who have … Read more...

I lost my sister, Lindsay Pollack, to suicide

by Ren Bell

Lindsay started suffering depression as early as middle school according to friends

About 12 years ago, my life shattered into pieces. My sister and her boyfriend killed themselves in my dad’s car. The same Nissan Altima that I gleefully drove at age 16, earning a speeding ticket on Powhite Parkway.

When my mom called with the news of my sister’s death, I slumped on to the floor in a jumble of gasps and hot tears. All I could say was “no, no, no” over and over again. I pounded my fists on the carpet, my vision blurred. … Read more...

Radical acceptance of my mental illness

by Anna Wieder

This morning I laid on the floor. And cried. And prayed. Which for me is just talking to God.

I didn’t feel like I had the strength to go on. I told God I hurt. I didn’t have the words for how much I hurt. I was glad He knew anyway. I felt shame and defeat. And I felt so tired.

“I hurt and I’m fighting.”

And then I realized, there is a lot of fighting in me, too. 

Maybe this is where I am at this moment – in the midst of fighting my story. … Read more...

Where was God when my child died?

by Tamara Rollison and Lloyd Braswell

Where was God when my child died?

Where was God when my 19-year-old son Logan died from severe bleeding and broken bones hours after he slammed his truck into a tree?   I think God went on vacation that summer morning and left no miracles behind, at least not for Logan and me.   Against my will, my soul was deposited on the grief trail, a journey no parent should ever have to experience…but many of us do. 

Even the most perfect of parents and best of kids draw the short stick in life and bad things happen.  I used to have high … Read more...

Breathing strategies to quiet anxiety or manage grief

By Karla Helbert

Breathing strategies to quiet anxiety or manage grief

We breathe all the time, right?  So, what’s the big deal?

Most of us are not breathing properly for optimum health and well-being.  We have poor posture, we sit for long periods of time, stare at screens, and move very little.  Many grieving, anxious, or traumatized people have the sensation of being unable to breathe fully. Sometimes you might unconsciously hold your breath until you find yourself gasping for air, not even realizing you weren’t breathing.

If we have been hurt, are grieving or have experienced trauma, we may feel like we want to be slumped down, … Read more...