Sacred Are The Whispers

Those whispers so diverse
from ‘I love’ to screams of pain
 screams that are whispered
like a sinking boat, sliding down
in deep waters

So many facets she is in one day
joyous in the sunlight to agonized
in symptoms, the thieves
in her life, she can’t understand
she whispers in distress

Sacred are the whispers
from eras past when she felt loved
and fulfilled, ‘You’re welcome,

my pleasure’ and ‘I love you too’
she smiles, knowing her loss
will never be known

Published in Know Thyself, Heal Thyself


How Trauma Affects Our Body

There are a lot of people going about their lives with the effects of trauma affecting their body, sleep, mind, and relationships. They often seek help from a physician and are given a prescription that either doesn’t work, or numbs their mind and emotions.

Trauma takes many forms — we mostly associate it with a form of violent physical impact. These can be a car wreck, rape, assault, being shot etc. Continued domestic abuse is trauma, as is being hit once by someone you trust, being bullied in childhood is trauma, any abnormal parenting is trauma although as children we believe it to be normal. Whenever it is realized as harmful people often don’t know what to do.

Other trauma may be the death of a parent, or their abandonment, being forced to do labor around the house (I don’t mean age appropriate chores like doing dishes, or helping to wash the car).

Many ailments are caused by trauma; headaches, neck pain, back pains, tension, insomnia, anxiety, memory loss, stomach problems.

This is because we are body and mind. They are not separate. If an ailment is begun though trauma, it is no less real than being caused by inflammation.

Here is an example. A young woman was driving a car and reached a four way stop. A truck was coming from the left, some 100 yards away. The young woman started to cross the junction, in accordance with Californian law.

Her next memory was feeling incredibly tired. She proceeded to drive but the car was making a clunking sound. She pulled over and tried to get out to look out the outside of the vehicle. The driver’s door would not open. She climbed through the passenger side and walked around. She saw only a large dent.

Getting back in through the passenger side, she caught sight of her hair in the rear view mirror. It was red with blood, all down the long length of it, and her shirt was red with blood too, and some on her jeans. She saw a bluish grey mark about one inch in a triangular shape. She still was unable to realize what had happened.

Deciding to turn around to get help, she came across some people roughly her age. She stopped and asked if they would call her home number. She noticed that they looked scared of her.

All this time her ability to drive was not impaired.

When we are in shock we continue to function.

The next thing she knew was that she had paramedics talking to her and cutting off the car door. Then she was in the ambulance being asked what year it was. She was troubled that they did not know. She is unable to recall if she answered or not.

Her next memory is in the Emergency Department. Someone she could not see said that she need stitches. A shaver started to buzz. This triggered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from a previous, devastating incident. She started to scream, tears flowing. The staff were kind enough to reassure her. She was able to gradually stop her screams.

In all, she had 40 stitches in her head from the top of her forehead going over her skull, and above her right eyebrow.

The husband of the family with which she was living arrived with another of her friends. We’ll call that man Joe.

The paramedics had called Joe and told him to get to Pomona City hospital quickly as the young woman was bleeding out badly. This was a trigger for Joe, as his brother had committed suicide a few years previously.

When the hospital finally said that young woman could go, she sat up to leave but her friend insisted she remove her shirt and, wearing a shirt over a T shirt, gave her shirt to be worn home. This was the first time young woman saw her shirt properly. She described it as having a red front with just a few places of pink and white stripe left visible.

Joe carried the young woman to his car. He later carried her into the house.

His wife wanted to help her wash her face. On seeing her reflection in the bathroom mirror, the young woman passed out.

This accident traumatized the young woman. For years she was terrified when a car approached a T junction with the road on which she was driving. A highway she had used regularly with a left turn became a torture. One day she was waiting to turn, but froze. She could not trust her own judgment anymore even though the car wreck had not been her fault.

Fortunately, a very kind driver drew level with her on the right and signalled to pull out at the same time. She thumbed up her thanks and pulled out in tandem with the other car, dropping behind as her next turning was on the right.

  • Carried. When the young woman was carried by Joe, that tight holding started a recovery. Trauma is lessened by tight hugs, holding, and cradling. A nervous system so damaged by the violence and anarchy of the car wreck, responds to tight holding. In all, Joe carried her four times, as on the way home from the hospital he took her to church to be prayed for. He was hugged by older people who were there. Her peers were too scared of her wounds. He then carried her back to the car, and then carried her into the house. Later, he would carry her when she fainted after having her stitches removed.
  • Talking. Many friends visited her while she was recovering. The couple let her use their double bedroom during the day, and she often lay beside her friends as they talked. This started the healing process. Traumatized people tend to repeat themselves if they have no one to listen to them soon after the cause. This has been noted in patients who have been in Intensive Care.

So, we see that the two main therapies are holding and listening. These are the primary needs of a baby. If they are not held they will not thrive. If they are not heard when they cry, their needs cannot be met.

I have laid my body over a woman who was crying from trauma. I was careful not to be inappropriate. A man in my care collapsed. His face was drained of all color. I knew he was bleeding internally. An emergency was made and I knelt beside him shouting his name, it brought him to near consciousness but the paramedics got it wrong and put him on their gurney with both head and feet raised. They should have only raised his feet so that blood would still reach his heart and brain.

References: My notes taken while in a therapeutic relationship with the young woman. Sue Chamberlain, SRN, Intensive Care nurse, UK.

Published in Know Thyself, Heal Thyself


It Has To Stop

The execution of George Floyd started a movement to stop the extrajudicial killing of black men and women in America.

I say started because the feeling sparked by his murder was the culmination of anger about far too many executions of black people just going about their business. The names are far too many. The years, no centuries, are too many.

Three months later a black father is shot repeatedly in front of his children by white cops. Jake Blake is not dead, but the violence against him is unspeakable. The trauma his children suffered is unimaginable.

Why does this keep happening, even while there are still protests about the execution of George Floyd? It seems that more conversation and examination of attitudes, bias, and prejudice has gone on here in the UK than in the States.

The National Guard is sent in. Again. This accomplishes nothing except more division, more prejudice, more injury.

Trump says the law must prevail. That it is illegal to execute black men on the street seems to pass him by. That he has privilege seems not to occur to him. He does not engage in dialogue or express any sorrow that fifty two years after the assassination of D. Martin Luther King Jr., we are still trampling on black people as less than white people.

He is a self -confessed white supremacist. He was galvanized into action because America dared to vote in a black President. The current POTUS has no concern for race relations whatsoever.

In Santa Clarita, CA, black youths have had police guns pointed at them for playing in the street. My friend posted photos to Instagram. Why should young teenagers face guns for simply using skateboards? They are traumatized.

What will it take to stop the violence and executions, the trauma, the fear, the ignorance? Why are white cops so violent that it is so normal?

I am crying. I can’t bear it. My white privilege makes me want to vomit. Change will certainly not come while Trump is around. I so hope that America will oust him in November. All I can do is pray.


I want to share this… CPTSD…

Most people are familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that results from a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster or car accident. But, there’s a closely related condition called complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is becoming more widely recognized by doctors in recent years.

CPTSD results from repeated trauma over months or years, rather than a single event.

What Are the Symptoms of CPTSD?

The symptoms of CPTSD usually include those of PTSD, plus an additional set of symptoms. Oh how fun. We get additional symptoms!

Here are just a few symptoms of CPTSD, that I’ve experienced myself at times:

1. Reliving the traumatic experience

This can include having nightmares or emotional flashbacks. I have these.

2. Avoiding certain situations

You might avoid situations or activities, such as large crowds or driving, that remind you of the traumatic event. This also includes keeping yourself preoccupied to avoid thinking about the event. I definitely avoid crowds a lot and also even driving has been a trigger for me.

3. Hyperarousal

Hyperarousal refers to constantly being on-alert or jittery. For example, you might have a hard time sleeping or concentrating. You might also be unusually startled by loud or unexpected noises. I also call it hypervigilance. I have this symptom often. Even yesterday when babies were crying next to me at the bank, I felt extremely startled and it affected me.

4. Somatic symptoms

These refer to physical symptoms that don’t have any underlying medical cause. For example, when something reminds you of the traumatic event, you might feel dizzy or nauseated.

These are definitely not ALL the C-PTSD symptoms, but just four of them. I know without a doubt I suffer from these. Not always, but sometimes — which is also why this diagnosis can be complex. It’s important to know that symptoms of both PTSD and C-PTSD can vary widely between people, and even within one person over time. (Another complex thing!)

Sometimes people with CPTS are irrational too. Their thoughts and beliefs might not always match up with their emotions. They might know that, logically, they should avoid their abuser. However, they might also hold onto a sense of affection toward them.

What Causes C-PTSD?

Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how traumatic stress affects the brain and leads to conditions like CPTSD. However, studies on animals suggest that trauma can have lasting effects on the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex.

These areas play a big role in both our memory function and how we respond to stressful situations.

Any type of long-term trauma, over several months or years, can lead to CPTSD.

However, it seems to appear frequently in people who’ve been abused by someone who was supposed to be their caregiver or protector.

My ex husband was a Vietnam vet (he himself had PTSD ). He stalked and threatened to kill me for many months before leaving me in a foreign country , South Africa, where I was singing in a show. This happened in 1996 but is still traumatizing to think about. He took all our money out of our joint bank account and left me penniless with no way to get home, to the U.S.

OH DING DING! So, THIS (according to my therapist) is considered a long-term trauma! Hence C-PTSD.

Even though in many war veterans (and in the fictional Jack Ryans case), they experienced physical trauma, emotional trauma is also a legitimate and real cause of C-PTSD.

Yes, this is a complex medical condition but I believe that the more we talk about it and bring it out of the shadows, the sooner we can come up with better solutions. I’m glad that trauma related disorders are finally getting the attention they deserve and that scientists are spending more time on researching them.

Maybe someday these trauma issues won’t be nearly as complex to understand. That’s my hope.



I was interviewed…


Compulsive liars…

Have you ever known someone that you asked a fairly innocent question, like ”Did you ever have a beard?”, and much later you discover their reply was a lie? You wonder, why on earth would they have lied about that? What difference would telling the truth have made? And your opinion of that person slips a bit.

Mostly, telling you the truth, yes they had a beard, in fact a couple of times, wouldn’t have made a difference at all. They are just in the habit of telling lies. They might lie about where they used to live, and you don’t realise because they say it so easily, until someone else tells you where they lived and you just wonder why would they lie?

These people are compulsive liars, or pathological liars. They started to lie when they had low self esteem, and then it became a habit. They know they are telling a lie, they know that the lie may hurt you, but lying is such a habit that they tell the lies.

This is a mental illness. It needs counselling to explore when and why it started, and help to start telling the truth. People like this often have a narcissist personality. Examples are Trump, and Boris Johnson. They are players on the world stage. I would guess that Erdogan in Turkey is one, and Prince Andrew certainly showed signs of narcissism during that appalling interview. And very likely told a pack of lies. There is no c0ndition of not being able a sweat because of an overload of adrenalin.

So the pathological liar starts when self esteem is low, most usually during puberty, because that is when self esteem is most vulnerable. It might be after a trauma, or the death of a family member, particularly a parent. They start to lie because the truth doesn’t seem adequate, or maybe a sibling is doing better. Or they have idolised sibling when there is a wide age gap.

It’s difficult to deal honestly with this person. You don’t realise they are lying but something doesn’t add up. You refer to something they told you and there is no appropriate reaction. They have a mental illness that makes lying the easier option. Even when they know they will be found out. Or they don’t know you happened to see the email alert on the screen of their phone, and later tell you they didn’t get an email that day.