MY MOTIVATION FOR THIS BLOG BEYOND SELF-WITNESSING
I went 36 years without knowing I had complex PTSD/dissociation or seeking help for it. I only realized something wasn’t right because I got to a point where I really couldn’t ignore my problems anymore. Denial, minimization, and my calm (i.e., dissociated) demeanor are a product of dissociation and complex PTSD, but they did not flag me as having PTSD. Even after I realized something was wrong, I might not have gotten a proper diagnosis because most mental and physical health providers are woefully under-trained to recognize trauma or its psychological effects. I got my diagnosis because privilege (good health insurance and a mental health system that is based on the needs of White class-privileged people) gives me access to care, and my research training let me figure out what to screen for.
Trauma comes in many forms: some of what I experienced was in my household (and some of that was influenced by White supremacy, and some of it may have occurred anyway); other stuff I experienced was very much abuse that society directs towards trans* people. ‘Big’ and ‘small’ abuses towards me as a trans* person mattered, yet few providers are trained to recognize and interrupt collective traumas. Providers themselves are not free from perpetuating collective traumas such as racism, and care itself must usually be accessed in an inaccessible system.
I have access because society has given me privileges and has encouraged me to pursue a PhD, which helps me navigate a flawed system. This whole situation is fundamentally unfair and wrong. Everyone should have access to non-judgmental quality care that meets their needs. I cannot talk about my own journey without also considering it in relation to others. To not do this would be traumatic. I can’t really explain it except to say that I guess on some fundamental level being ‘marked’ means that other people’s trauma affects me.
While I am focusing on my lived experiences in this blog, these lived experiences are felt in a larger context: my own journey is not separate from this larger context. To be my full self I have to bring it in. I have to be present in my body in a toxic society. Maybe some of I what I learn as I inch forward will be helpful for others who don’t have as much access or privilege in a flawed system. Maybe some of what I learn can address collective traumas. This stuff is complex. I just know that in witnessing myself I am also witnessing this larger context, however flawed it may be.
WHY NOT ‘HEALING’ TRAUMA?
Having complex PTSD and a dissociative disorder means that I have been fundamentally shaped by trauma. It has made me who I am, and that self is less integrated than people without PTSD. My response to trauma as a child allowed me to survive and thrive though.
Sometimes the patterns of dissociation I developed as a child serve me well as an adult. For example, dissociation has allowed me to listen to, and witness, other people’s stories and grief, without directing attention to myself.
Sometimes being less integrated than others does not serve me as an adult. Afterall, not recognizing depression could go South quickly….
While I am working to become aware of how Other Specified Dissociative Disorder-1 and complex PTSD affects me, I don’t know that ‘normal’ integration lies on the other side. I mean putting crazy glue in my cracks might connect the different pieces, but the cracks remain.
People sometimes say that cracks make things beautiful, and it is true. It is also true that no cracks are beautiful, and that having cracks is painful and unfair. I cannot ‘heal’ from this because I cannot so drastically change who I am. I can address it though. This blog primarily focuses on my attempts to do so.
While I understand trauma is created by society, I will not intellectualize trauma (much). I will highlight how my body understands trauma in this society, and in relationship to others, and I will highlight how I am moving through dissociation and complex PTSD.