Many of you have already read personal posts and posts in general on psychosis. I continue to post on this topic because it is so misunderstood and there is so much ground-breaking work happening right now. It is because of this renewed understanding that I feel I can be more vocal.
I experienced psychosis in 2000 while living abroad and it has taken me many years to unpack the experience and understand it. I never pursued conventional medicine or psychiatry because I instinctively knew it would harm me further. Thankfully, I was never given a diagnosis and I was able to see my state of being as it was…I was broken and hurt…and my psyche was attempting to repair itself.
What I didn’t know then…that I know now…is that I embarked on the healer’s journey… Then, it seemed like mere survival… Now, I see that the poetry of that journey allowed me to put back together a dismembered soul.
So, for about four years after that break-down, I lived with a debilitating depression, intrusive thoughts, heart palpitations, panic attacks, dizzy spells, nausea, paranoia and GI issues. It really was a living hell. Even though I wish I would have had more support (like the Open Dialogue program mentioned in this article), I always met the right person or fell into the right situation to take me a step further on my healing path. During my healing and recovery, I had moved to San Francisco…so many healing modalities were at my fingertips.
It wasn’t until 2008 that I had a flashback and then a series of dreams…and long conversations with my remaining family members that I still am in contact with…that I was able to piece things together. I finally understood that I was a survivor of childhood abuse. I could finally see the sickness and imbalance in my family of origin and realize…that for obvious reasons…my psyche simply broke down and could not handle the instability and dissonance imprinted on my system from my childhood.
Because of this experience with psychosis and the resulting healing journey…this is why I do what I do. Nourishment should be available to all who seek it. Deep listening should be available. Plant medicine should be available. Support systems should be available.
Extreme states of consciousness are an interest of mine. And, healing family dynamics and complexes are as well… Ancestral healing… Personal healing… I deeply feel that we have a natural urge to heal if we are given permission to walk the healing path.
The issue with psychosis though…as the article points out…is that it is often-times (if not always) rooted in the family system…as well as the cultural system. So, it takes a lot of courage to see that. Many do not want to see that and this stunts the healing path. And, as long as we look away, the severity of these conditions will continue to increase and these kind of individuals will be pathologized (and some willingly accept that, that is their choice).
To be honest…I am ok with my personal narrative. Of course, I don’t want others to go through similar things… But, I know that my experience with psychosis and healing is part of a much larger picture of a mechanical, hierarchical system that is simply out of balance, violent, manipulative, and unstable.
As this big machine cranks along, many others will snap under its weight… It is unfortunate…but that’s what’s going to happen. Hopefully, we will allow these people who break under its pressure to become our menders, our healers, and seers, our artists, our poets, our peace-makers, our bad-ass band-aids to an ever crumbling system. If we are wise enough, we will mitigate their experiences of psychosis with social support, nourishment, and positive, healthy challenges.
15 years later…I look back at myself then. I realize that I am a completely different person. Or maybe I am simply more myself now? I was told by an intuitive…having told her nothing of my past…that she felt that I constructed my own birth canal and re-birthed myself. I couldn’t agree with her more. Onward.
“The findings of several such trauma-based studies have been particularly striking, essentially shattering any doubts people may still have about environmental and relational factors playing a major role in precipitating a psychotic condition in a young person. For example, a 2004 Netherlands study followed 4,045 participants who were initially free from psychotic symptoms for 3 years. They found that victims of child abuse were 9 times more likely to go on to develop psychosis, and that the victims of the most severe child abuse were 48 times more likely to develop psychosis (Janssen et al., 2004). And in 2007, a UK study went over the records of 8,580 participants to identify the correlations between a broader array of childhood trauma and psychosis.
They found that individuals with 3 types of trauma were 18 times more likely to have subsequently developed a psychotic condition, and that those with 5 or more types of trauma were 198 times(!) more likely to have subsequently developed psychosis (Shevlin et al, 2007). In contrast, research into biological or genetic correlates for psychosis has not been able to establish degrees of correlation anywhere close to these (for a particularly comprehensive review of the literature on childhood trauma and psychosis, see Read et al., 2008).”