This is an excerpt from an article out today in After Party magazine. Full text. I say it often but I think it’s so important that we trauma survivors speak about our own experiences. The medical model inadvertently creates a lot of silence, shame and secrecy by stigmatizing symptoms of trauma as mental illness. Trauma is common. Half of us with experience trauma and 10% of all women will get PTSD. I’m honored to be profiled and to speak about living with traumatic stress and writing about it as well.
As part of 2016’s National Recovery Month, we released another list of our favorite recovery bloggers. But not all of those bloggers are actually what we would designate as “sober.” Meet Christine “Cissy” White, the woman behindHeal Write Now. In recovery from PTSD and an eating disorder, she rarely touches a drink or drug and doesn’t identify as an alcoholic or addict, but she does share one major commonality: she’s a survivor. We recently interviewed Cissy to discuss her journey in the blogosphere and more:
How long would you consider yourself to be in recovery from PTSD, or is it even possible to quantify it?
I was diagnosed in my early 20s but for a long time I was in rage rather than recovery. I was like, “I have PTSD from childhood—not fair.” And it wasn’t, but I spent a whole lot of time fighting the fact.
What made you decide to start Heal Write Now?
I was desperately searching for everyday women writing about trauma and how it impacts our lives, and even though one in 10 women get PTSD and adverse childhood experiences are common, there was almost nothing about living with trauma. There’s plenty of clinical and diagnostic stuff but there weren’t women writing about the way we are living in the present. I needed to know someone had been through similar or worse and came out the other side. I wasn’t sure it was ever possible and I wanted proof. Plus, as a writer, I was tired of writing around the edges of truth, dodging, weaving, avoiding and saying incomplete truths.
How has blogging helped your recovery?
Writing, in and of itself, has healing benefits and writing in community is also incredibly powerful, but only if people feel safe and are completely free to share. For some of us, blogging is a way of creating community. I’ve “met” so many people online and know in my soul and bones I am not alone, in a way I didn’t most of my life. We can share, relate, talk and even joke. In the trauma community, healing happens a lot in therapy, where there’s a shrink or specialist and a survivor, one-on-one. But it’s the people in the chairs I sat in before and after me I want to hear from most.
I blog with the feminist belief that just telling the truth has power. I get the most, as a reader, from honesty and people saying how it actually is, not the ways we wish, hope or pretend it is.
Have there been any downsides to being public about personal matters?
Yes; lots of them. This is not for everyone and there are serious things to think about. Here’s the short list of concerns I’ve had to work through or learn to accept:
- My kid can Google my article. I have had some serious conversations with her about PTSD, addiction and abuse. I want her to learn things from me and that’s been a real consideration.
- Future in-laws or employers can read words. There’s nothing I don’t stand behind that I write, but what I’m comfortable writing is not necessarily what I’d share over coffee or dinner. Though I write about most anything and everything, I’m actually fairly private in my day to day life. This can make for some strange dynamics. That said, most people are busy living their own lives and don’t read or care all that much.
- The words are out there in a cyber age. They can’t be unsaid and even though I believe in writing truthfully, for my own healing and as a social justice issue because there are so many people dying of shame, secrecy, addiction and symptoms of trauma, I don’t relish that I make others in my family embarrassed or uncomfortable—either of me and what I share or by exposing “dirty laundry,” so to speak. That’s not always easy or comfortable.
- There are some safety issues and concerns beyond privacy. I’m writing at times about people who are alive and who have betrayed, offended or been violent. Not all of them are dead. I’ve worried that I’m poking the wasp’s nest by writing.
All that said, I continue to do it without regret. It’s the truth and I have never felt more authentic, grounded, real and inhabited in my skin, environment, relationships and life. And so many people write to me relieved someone is acknowledging the lifelong consequences of adverse childhood experiences on physical and emotional health.
Full profile Q&A in After Party magazine. Full text.
You Matter Mantras
- Trauma sucks. You don't.
- Write to express not to impress.
- It's not trauma informed if it's not informed by trauma survivors.
- Breathing isn't optional.