It's estimated that 1 in 8 people globally live with a mental health illness, and in some areas, this number is higher.
Living with any type of mental health issue can stem from various sources, and is challenging. For some, however, the repercussions on mental health affect many aspects of daily living, and can leave the person feeling alone.
It may surprise you to learn that Mental Health Awareness month has been observed in the US since 1949. The term PTSD, however, was not added to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders until 1980, and it has only been in recent years that more has come to light on what past traumas can do to a person's physical and mental health.
One reason for developing a mental health disorder is trauma. The dictionary defines trauma as:
1. a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.
2. physical injury.
This blog will focus on the first one.
The shadows we carry
Being in practice for nearly eighteen years now, and around thirty years total in the medical field, I have seen firsthand how past trauma can affect a person's health in the present day. Shadows of the trauma can hide, presenting themselves in unconventional ways.
I was motivated to write my latest novel, We Have Shadows Too, as a way to educate on the effects of trauma, on the victim, their family, their relationships, and what functioning looks like in everyday life for some survivors.
One of the write-ups I did for promoting the book reads like this:
Rella Cooper is a successful architect with a bright future. But whispers rustle in the recesses of her mind. Have parts of her past been locked away, along with trauma she has no memory of?
Not is all how it seems.
Explore the psychological layers of the human mind.
Is it better to live in the shadows? Or with a truth you can't share?
In my research, and in treating patients, it is evident that yes, we can hide many secrets from even ourselves. It's astonishing how far the mind can go to create layers, to the point of completely blocking out painful memories as a way to cope and continue living, especially if the trauma occurred at a young age.
Rella's mind created an elaborate way to deal with the childhood trauma that initially, she had no memory of. Physical cues were there, but as far as Rella was concerned, she had never been abused.
The question then arises, is it better to leave these barriers raised, or to reveal what's on the other side? At what point are we promoting healing, or doing further damage?
This dilemma, and many others, are explored in the book. And the answer for one person may not be the same for the next.
As one reviewer wrote:
Respectfully told, this gently laid out story reveals ways the mind might defend itself
and that it doesn't have to be undone to free the soul.
Follow me this month for daily posts on my social media having to do with mental health: