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#16 Mental Illness Is Not A Life Sentence

Updated: Apr 13

We have looked at how childhood trauma can result in addictions and physical health problems. But trauma also sets you up for mental health problems.

What is a mental health problem

There are the more common problems like depression and anxiety disorders.

In the more severe cases you might get diagnosed with a personality disorder like bi polar, borderline or narcissism.


Today in our society theses disorders are mistakenly seen as life long conditions stemming from an inherited biological problem like a chemical imbalance in the brain. Traditionally they are treated with psychiatric medication.

The problem with these medications is that they numb pain and stop you getting in touch with deeper feelings - which is part of what needs to happen in order to recover from childhood trauma – the real cause of the issue.

That’s not to say that medication can’t be a great way to hold yourself together until you are stable enough to do some of the healing work. But I think this is a stop gap measure not a long term solution. Another reason for this is that psychotropic medications can contribute to the risk of physical morbidity and mortality. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4471960/)

Yet worryingly people are told they have to manage their condition with medication and are put on it for the rest of their lives.

Personality disorders came about because people spotted certain similarities in symptoms of mental illness and categorised them. So if one of your symptoms is that you are terrified of abandonment you might be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. And if you feel hopeless, sad or empty then you may be classed as bi polar. But these are simply the feeling states of adults who were traumatised in childhood.

If you were abandoned by your caregivers but couldn’t be present as a child to these feelings as they were too much for you to hold in your vulnerable state, then those feelings will not be processed and will therefore surface for you as an adult. This does not mean you have an inherited brain disorder, it means events have happened to you after birth that traumatised you.

Also it is understandable to feel sad and empty if you were never unconditionally loved by your caregivers . It is a normal reaction to an abnormal situation.

Dissociation

Dissociation is a common symptom which leads to one being diagnosed with a psychiatric condition. So let’s have a look at how this actually gets set up in a person rather than calling it a genetic predisposition or a chemical imbalance in the brain.

When children encounter an overwhelming and terrifying experience, they may dissociate, or mentally separate themselves from the experience. They may perceive themselves as detached from their bodies, on the ceiling, or somewhere else in the room watching what is happening to their bodies. Once they have learned to dissociate as a defense mechanism the child may automatically dissociate during other stressful situations or when faced with trauma reminders. This dissociation will follow them into adult hood.

However, a tendency to dissociate would lead a psychiatrist to diagnose you with a personality disorder for life but it is clearly rather a symptom of having gone through some really traumatic experiences as a child which can be healed and recovered from..

All across the world, people admitted to psychiatric hospital are being treated with medication and being encouraged to do pastimes like colouring in books and self pampering as this is believed to be therapeutic. The norm is that no time is given to looking at the root cause of their distress- what happened to them in their childhoods – which is actually the way out for them.

Summary

Childhood trauma sets you up for mental health problems.

In society we believe these to be inherited or a brain malfunction but they are not what we mistake them for

If you have mental illness you do not have to manage it with medication for the rest of your life.

You can recover.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19167067/