Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Gang Violence

I wrote this about 18 months ago. Still very current, so I share again…

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder & Gang Violence

As a way of introduction to this piece, please watch the following link below…

How gang violence affects mental health – BBC News

Nothing is being said about the possible, and probable, cases of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) arising out of  the impact of gang violence in certain inner cities. PTSD is not just a probability experienced by young people active in gangs, but also people living in those areas trying to go about their everyday business and lives. Notwithstanding the assault on mental health and well-being of  young people not involved in gang violence, as well as on mothers, fathers, other family members and friends of those killed and/or assaulted: all inadvertently becoming victims of gang violence themselves.

As a mother of two black men and grandsons, their safety is a daily concern for me, especially when they are out and about in the world. That concern had already been there, though more centred around my fears of possible- and some would say probable- run ins with the law, and other ‘powers that be discriminatory systems.’ Additionally I myself can struggle with anxiety, so this ongoing climate of youth violence oftentimes compounds my own anxiety, which must also be the case for those already living with mental health concerns at this time. Therefore, one does not need to be affiliated to gangs to be affected by it and feel terrorised by it living in these kind of inner city war zones.

Then there is the direct trauma experienced when witnessing a young person being harmed and/or losing their life, as well as the mental health assault of Bereavement when a young person and adults experience the loss of lives of friends and loved ones. As is already known, Bereavement has its own special effects and process of recovery, which is far from easy. And I can put money on it that  out of those impacted, in whatever fashion, very few is in receipt of counselling, therefore ends up dragging all that unprocessed and therefore unresolved trauma into adulthood, and across generations. And so the devastation goes on.

Then there is ‘Complex Trauma’ which is very debilitating, let alone when it too is added into the mix of gang violence. A type of trauma that still has not received the recognition due. This kind of trauma comes from having experienced abuse during ones childhood; in this situation the trauma very much shapes you, whether you believe it does or not. And it shapes you deeply and physiologically when the abuse is experienced at the hands of family friends and/or loved ones themselves, the very people who are meant to be there to love, cherish, teach and protect you. I think this is where the saying, “Better the devil you know” comes from. This kind of early ongoing and personality shaping  Complex Trauma is also less straight forward- though far from impossible- to treat.

It is indeed a very sad reality that it is not the ‘stranger’ who oftentimes presents the danger to children: the threat is on the doorstep and in children’s homes. The danger is in the place the child is meant to feel the safest. It is of no surprise, to me anyway, that for some children gangs can come to feel more like home: more like a place where they feel protected and can finally gain some sense of belonging…

Now let us take a look at some statistics:

Over 51, 000 children in England were identified as needing protection from abuse in 2017, (The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC); 90% of sexually abused children were abused by someone they knew, (The National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC); 1 in 4 adults, males and females, would have experienced some form of sexual abuse by the time they are 18 years old: 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 8 boys, (One In Four).

And to further make mention, there is no hierarchy in child abuse: neglect, physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, bullying and online abuse, are all forms of child abuse and are equally damaging in and of themselves. And in particular regard to mental health, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem in any given year, and 1 in 10 young people will experience mental health problem, which oftentimes gets mistaken for run of the mill ‘teenage angst.’

Then there is the tendency for young black males aged 18-25 years old to be diagnosed with a psychotic mental health disorder, which is suspicious on the one hand because the statistic is marked and unchanging, but is of no surprise on the other hand when we seriously consider all the variables I am bringing to attention here. To me it is not rocket science why people from the black communities in general do not access counselling and other types of preventative service provisions and instead mostly presents at crisis points, and are over-represented in youth juvenile systems, prisons, social services, mental hospitals, and so on.

And in regards to the impact on the economy, in a study carried out in England in 2010, it was found that alone, mental illness cost the economy £105.2 billion. In spite of this figure mental illness is still under recognised and under treated in primary care.

Let us now take a look at physical health and well-being. The Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study, (Retrieved 25 March 2014, is a research study conducted by Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organisation and Centres for Disease Control and Prevention), well documents Adverse Childhood Experiences on adult physical health. The types of childhood trauma associated with adult high risk health behaviours such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuity, and severe obesity, and correlated with ill-health including depression, heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and shortened life span, are physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical neglect, emotional neglect, mother treated violently, household substance abuse, household mental illness, parental separation or divorce and an incarcerated household member.

Having gathered up these very telling social facts, and with the emphasis on Control and Prevention, the authors also identifies trauma-informed and resilience-building practises based on the research that is being implanted in communities, education, public health departments, social services, faith –based organisations and criminal law in America. We too on these side of the world shores can benefit from drawing some important lessons of  our own from pieces of research such as these, especially around control and prevention.

Indeed, Britain has started to make little headway, for example, in regards to domestic violence and abuse some lessons have be drawn from similar types of studies in Britain and are currently trying to be addressed in a primary care training and support programme called Identification and Referral to Improve Safety (IRIS, Ran by Queen Mary University of London, 2007-2010) IRIS is a collaboration between primary care and third sector organisations specialising in Domestic Violence and Abuse. A GP, on IRIS trained practise, has been quoted as saying:

“I’m now convinced that violence against women and children is a major public health problem with long-term consequences for women and their families. As an experienced GP, the whole project has been nothing short of transformational.”

And in regards to mental health and young black males being disproportionately diagnosed with psychosis, and as a community not accessing the more preventative services, I am aware of a piece of research that is currently being carried out by The Early Intervention City and Hackney Mental Health Team, in collaboration with a key player involved in a similar type of research carried out in America around this key issue.

So once again I say, more needs to be said, documented, and disseminated to all the key players in the Primary and Social Health Care fields – as well made available for the general population on the issue of PSTD. Also more need to be said and disseminated on Mental and Physical ill-health that surrounds and is also coming out of inner city gang violence, highlighting the social conditions that compounds these issues, namely poverty, discrimination, deprivation, racism, and Adverse Childhood Experience. Which brings to mind a quote:

“Hate yourself in the morning of your life, and by afternoon time you will be hating everyone else.”

In regards to treatment in the way of medication, yes it is not the sole source of help, but it absolutely has its place. It has its place when treating PTSD and other enduring Mental Health conditions, those that have become more ingrained, out of hand, and is havocking dire consequence on the person’s day to day life. But for true recovery, which by the way benefits the individual, the community, society and the economy on a whole, medication should be used in conjunction with therapy. With that combination oftentimes the need for medication lessens and can be weaned off from overtime. Once the trauma that has brought on the unbearable symptoms has been psychologically processed and satisfactorily physiologically regulated, one’s life can take a more productive and progressive turn, and head off in a happier and more wholesome life direction.

I have come to know quite a bit on this subject of PTSD and Mental Health, firstly from my own experiences, as well as in my work as a counsellor with women who have experienced historic and adult sexual and domestic violence. I have seen first-hand the impact of those traumas on mental health, well-being, relationships and self-esteem. To spell out more clearly, here are some of the symptoms of PTSD:

Sleep Disturbance like nightmares and difficulties in falling asleep and staying asleep; Flashbacks triggered by smells, associated memories, certain situations, almost anything; Intrusive Ruminating Thoughts that one feels that they cannot switch off from; Anxiety and Panic Attacks; Depression; Anger turned outward against others, and/or inwards resulting in violence towards oneself, e.g. Suicide, Self-Harm. Hyper vigilance, feeling always on edge, unable to relax; Paranoia, which in regards to gang violence can have some base in reality what with young people feeling unsafe in their communities, some feeling they need to carry guns and/or knives to protect themselves- or even Agoraphobia fearing venturing outdoors. Substance Abuse, Alcohol Abuse and Eating Disorders in an attempt at self and emotional regulation, as well as a way to self-medicate, numb and/or escape the pain. These PTSD symptoms and ways of coping are very real, as well as life-limiting.

In closing I am hoping at the end of this blog you can begin to see how very complex this issue of gang violence is and how very important it is that solutions to it come from all psycho-social angles. Let us not waste time splitting hairs about the cause and thinking our recommendations, in the way of solution, is the only one and best way forward. We have no time for score keeping and finger pointing: it is distracting and time wasting. We simply try everything and see which solutions works best.

This issue of gang violence and the immediate and far-reaching destruction it creates and leaves us with in its midst does not need knee jerk reactions and short-sighted opinions: it’s deep. It needs to be approached from the grass root up, then travel back down again to check out if what the grass root has said has been fully heard and taken into serious consideration. Then off we all go to implement, from the grass root up and back down again, monitoring and evaluating failures and successes.

This gang violence will be a slow, though steady and certain resolve,  far from a ‘peanut throwing sprint,’ which has oftentimes been the case with issues such as these, hence why not much have changed, and steadily gets worse. What is being called for – across the human condition board, is a Life-Change, from us all. And we all need to consistently take care of matters from our own end, then any place else we able to offer help: no more, no less.

And bless you one & all; You who are already out there making a difference. A dark place in the world lights up because of your efforts, so do not underestimate the power and importance of your difference-making much needed contributions. United We Stand, divided We fall.

Peace & Love,

Light…

Sweet Alchemy

#livingthelifeimagined #tribevibes#fringedwellers
#findingonespack#dreambutstaywoke

Greetings One & All. A while ago I created a Secret Facebook Group for Black Men & Women Inspiring Creators…for Dream-makers, for fringe dwellers, for the natural empaths, the sensitives; for those of us with a dream & no positive “cheering sections” in our lives to help hold that Dream, and bring it to fruition. Here is the invite, if you would like to join this Pack, Your Pack, and get the support Inspiration & encouragemnet needed to make dreams a reality, and live your best Life Experience Possible. I am developing this Safe Space slowly but surely…I am a Great Believer that Good & Great things happens organically, intuitively- never forcefully. Email me if you are interested in joining this  Creative Alchemical Space.

andstillirise9@outlook.com

Peace & Love,

Light🔥🧡

A Smile’s Light..

A Smile lights Up from Inside, and from there sets you Alight..

…You choose the What..of which YOU Desire.

This Lit Light happily remains & Delights when The One True Desire for you Is, Right…

to do right to live right to love right…not just as you solely desire…

So go figure…and reconfigure…

and let this human species Come Again…and together,

Do Bloody BETTER!

Peace & Love,
Light..

Just saying

Yes, some call it becoming an adult. The ancients calls it initiation. Whatever you call it, adults needs to be Woke. We meant to have independence of thought. We need to go out too on that independence limb sometimes, to truly call ourselves grown. The world, the earth, needs us to wake up: wake up and get back on “ancestral track…” It’s Now 0 Clock…

Just saying, we need to be grown & woke, especially to take the blinkers off and meet this world we live in face to face, and chose “things needs to be different.”

Difference mostly meaning more humane, more righteous- so much of the world is so totally wrong..

Not that it’s all bad; more people are waking up, I can feel the build of that Critical Mass..

But daily, we need to keep that focus…ESPECIALLY coming out of the nightmare that was Covid, that had many lessons to teach us, grown ups…the kind of growing up that separates us from animals…otherwise we more animal then grown ups…watch the same ole same ole news…there’s NOTHING NEW about it! Same news; same same ole wounds and lessons unlearned- calling for us to REALLY learn, from personal & collective Experience.

Just saying…The future needs that/us…the children needs that/us…We need to stop handing back down to the youths the same ole same ole shitty batons, expecting them to clean up, our mess…

Just saying..

Peace & Love,

Light…

Here & Now Time Stealers

Now that my moment to moment Presence in my life is more realised, I truly get the notion that my anxiety and tendency towards worry steals time from my 24 hour Today.

Anxiety and worry is all about the future, a time we can not visit in the Now of living. We are all equal on that footing. No human being can live in tomorrow; no human is given more, or less, 24 hours a day. Sit with that…

So anxiety and its close cousin worry are nothing but time/Now stealers. As simple as that…

Whether that anxiety is more trauma- originating coping strategy, and worry a natural born tendency- and/or a social conditioning, one that proves how caring we are by worrying about our loved ones…

whichever, they both mount to a waste of Here & Now time; all mounts to a constant leaking away of the equally- given 24 hours a day…

Anxiety and worry is only useful if living in the moment- in the Here & Now, is painful. That was the condition that made anxiety and worry come visit me…

Now, I am learning to release them both, especially as the pain is no more, and my Now is actually filled mostly with Peace and Joy.

So anxiety and worry I continue to let you go. Yes, over the years I became quite dependent on yous: Yous became my “better the devil you know,” but today I am being reminded that I can now turn mistrust into trust;

that I can allow The Process to do its thing…that I can allow the high regard I Now have for myself to fertilise & make sound the ground I am today walking on; releasing & freeing feelings of safety and trust in this Now time of my life.

So, no more wasting my time. It’s just that time, Now.🤗

Peace & Love,

Light..

To The Max

Living Life to the fullest, however I find myself, means, at this time, fully embracing existential angst & trauma triggers.

That reminder helped me just now to feel, even at a low, that Life remains good, and needs no fixing- just embracing & accepting, knowing Life has its seasons..

So I don’t have to Positive away my blues today. This too shall pass, so gotta ride this emotional storm out, and trust Daybreak – in Her Clarifying Steadfastness, to bring me back to Bliss..

The Ground on which my one true Spirit lives…in its Naturalness…So, I hold to This, as an infant in need of nourishment holds to its mother’s breast, hoping to be fed, on its way to rest…

One of my favourite quote says, “A heart that has learned to trust can be at rest in the world.”

Past trauma/triggers can have you, for mere survival (back then), believing this world cannot be trusted, so it’s best not to relax and let your guard down..

Turning mistrust around has been some kinda Journey; nevertheless, a Journey I remain on, and remain 💯 committed to. Love help/s me..

Peace & Love,

Light..

Mother, Earth Is Crying..

Learning and daring to Live, More, Simply…Got to simplify.. Earth is hurting…


Earth is paying dearly for our poor choices that cost Her daily; working, mindlessly, against Her….

like we can just eat & eat & eat off of Her, and it won’t deplete Her…And Us.
We take too much and give back little…Us

humans..


Signed: Your/Our Life..

P.s..It’s “Wake-up-Now 0 Clock.”

Peace & Love,

Light…

In Da Truly Me Flow, Of My Life In Da Sunshine…Everybody Loves Da Sun, Shine..

So, this week I was eavesdropping on my counselling, supervision and coaching sessions with my clients, meaning, I just became so present in that harmoniously unified flowing moment, when the observer becomes the observed, the seer, the scenery; the One The Whole, a real moment of Reverence….

and I saw That, that I Am, pretty bloody Marvelous! Pretty bloody Amazing, in and of myself and in how Skilled and Proficient I am in my work, in how I get The Process & The Work So Beautifully and marvelously across…delivering The Healing in such A Way that truly feeds, deeply & Intrinsially, the souls of the folks I Serve.

I saw how amazing I am as a counsellor, as a person, who is really Gifted in Problem-Solving: in bringing Light into the dark, of the heart of a person, Revealing their One True light to themselves.

Really gifted in seeing and viewing situations from all the angles that is humanly possible, That I have at disposal. I was bloody amazed at myself. It’s like I have turned on the lights in all these moments and areas in my life and am realising who the hell I am!

Yes, sometimes you need to curse, Words Of Praise! I look forward to more of those moments to moments Self-REALisation.

I look forward to expanding my Moment-To-Moment Presence; I look forward to slowing more of my life down and enjoying being truly Present and filled with true Real-Life Appreciation…to put more lights on in the mansion that is my Soul, and at the same time, the Soul of the world. To continue to simplify my life and my time. On Planet Earth We make life so very UnLike ItSelf. It needn’t be the case.

As I was walking down the street today all this came to me, and I thought, I need to write a Blog. I need to blog this HeartSoul- Out….This Heart Song…

Some people might think I am being “full of myself,” even arrogant, but even if that is so, who else I am supposed To Be Full Of (lol!!!)

What it is I am doing and sharing here- read my book Back to Love linked at the end of this blog which charts My Journey, which Shows & Tells My Story of how Early Life Experiences had once pushed me ever so far Out Of Life Picture; what I am doing here is both Witnessing & Re-cognising my Total Life, turn around…

My total life turn around from a direction it easily could have gone down..

This Blog, This Testimony- My Life Story, is nothing bloody short of a Miracle…And you better believe that Life, as it has turned around for me, has not come easy! The challenges- and some challenges continues for the likes of me, continues to push me to Growth, to date…

I Am, ever so proud of myself! Ever So Proud of Denise Marcia James!!

I Am, literally, a bloody Walking, Truth-Talking, Miracle! There’s a song from the 70’s called Walking Miracle by Limmie & The Family Cooking, that oftentimes comes to mind whenever I Reflect upon My Life.

I am very very proud of myself and I Deserve to Fly My Own Flag…to blow My Own Horn! To Celebrate My Life and The Effort I have put in to it…to get fully into It..to get Fully into It…Fully into Me..

The Effort I put into My Relationships- each & every single last one of them, whether they be my relationships with my/children; my clients; my partner, my friends.. As Daughter, Sister, Aunt: I really Show Up. I show up & Give My Best, My Heart, My Whole, My Soul; and Get that Dynamic Interchange back, from people to I give Fully to, Like That..

That’s the wonderful thing, you know, when you Step Forward, WithIn that Self-Reveal Flow; when you LIVE Your Dream, Speak Your Truth- and Are Your Truth, It’s Amazing…and A Double Blessing when That Light Frees & Ignites Up other’s Self-confidence, giving them much-needed permission, within relationships, To Do & Be, Likewise!

That is The Magic that bloody happens in REALationships….that’s what bloody happens when you live your truth, when you be who you truly are, and in so doing and being, Flow With The Beauty Of ‘All Life Is’…far from what It is not…Life Imagined, Fashioned Out Of Love…

So Good To Be…and Come, Home…To Me🤗

Peace & Love, Every Single & Whole Body..

Light..

I do not own the rights to Mary J Blige’s My Life track below..

https://linktr.ee/Fromtheheartsoul

FATHERS, WANTED & NEEDED

Oftentimes, and in the old days, Fathers, you were relegated to the sidelines of Family Life; to the back of things, with the world not fully grasping that your input is equally needed and valued..

Only you can Protect in that Super-Powered way: the one that keeps predators away, keeping children safe.

I wish you can see how much children needs you and how children can suffer so without your Divine Presence and involvement. This I say to All fathers.

For the Black father, in particular, the African, Caribbean, British, Nubian, my heart bleeds for you, and mostly bleeds because in the Western world your power has been trampled on & taken away…

Your influence, ripped from under you, especially when we were slaves, its impacts still very visible today..

There is nothing more I want to see, than the brothers standing tall in this society, reclaiming and cherishing his family, taking back up that Reverency.

Please, my brothers, come back home. Our younguns miss & needs you so. They need that baritone voice that lets us & the world knows, exactly where the lines are drawn…to help us love ourselves, and our reflections.

Just like slavery, crack/cocaine came in the 80s to destroy our souls, no one watches that, no one does the maths…In the Americas it came, to Britain too, and the Caribbean..

But this black woman, this Sistah, this mother of sons, and aunts of daughters, loves you so, and those of you gone AWOL, Come back home…back home and seated in place for re/generation..

Children are naturally forgiving. They just want their parents to see them, love them, teach them, spend time with them, keep them in line, give them that self-love and self-confidence they need in this life, to avoid being twice defeated in the race, as Black African peoples. Please believe, ITS NEVER TO LATE..

It’s never to late, if you’ve lost touch, to put in the work. And if your children won’t let you correct your mistakes, because its taking them a minute or two to forgive your lack of previous involvement, there are many other unfathered boys and girls in need of your kind of your time, your care, and protection.

We need the black mother and father, together again, and United; loving each other, visibly, so our children can internalise how black love looks, loves, feels, acts. Brothers & Sistahs Let’s stop tearing each of up!

Too much inner city trauma and blues. Now is the time to choose: to choose what’s best for the children..

So Daddies, come back home, to the fold, and let us, the black family unit, pick up where slavery plucked us, and our true stories left off…

Pick up and put ourselves map on The Map of Founding Mothers & Fathers, as Nature- not us- Planned it.

Prodigal Father, Come Home, the younguns needs you so!

Love & Much Light..

Your woman..

This…Good for a Re-Post…

A.D.D

Earlier today I was listening to Elizabeth Lesser’s book, Marrow, and I just had to share something I read there that resonated with me. Before I do, just to share that every book I read-that I reach out to read and/or it finds me- comes when I am facing something that is challenging in my life that is calling me to further growth and self/understanding. I loved Elizabeth Lesser’s book Broken Open, which I read maybe 10 years , or so, ago. Her soul speaks to and resonates with mines in an effortless and easy way.

I chose this book, which I am going to share an excerpt from, during this time of death being so very much part of our lives and the world with the advent of Covid -19. In the midst of covid-19 and its sudden prevalence of high death rates, especially back in March and April, and having experienced the loss of loved ones losing loved ones, I felt the need to make peace, again, with death: with this twin that comes with human life, which we humans finds hard to accept and live with, let alone bare when it comes knocking. I very much wanted to find a way to quell the fear in the world and the fear in my everyday, so off I went searching for the right (now) book. Books have always been My Way: My Way to find A Way.

Okay, now to share the excerpt that Spoke to me today and Inspired me to share it here…

“It never ceases to amaze me how much we all suffer from ADD, not Attention Deficient Disorder. The ADD I am talking about is Authenticity Deficiency Disorder, a condition you will not find in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders because I made it up…

But still, it is real and like many disorders Authenticity Deficiency Disorder manifest along a spectrum…

Some of us have a mild case: we go through the day with a low grade embarrassment of being human, hesitant to show our true face with all its odd and magnificent irregularities; reluctant to look inside and do some house cleaning and get to the marrow of the self…

Others of us fall on the more serious end of the Authenticity Deficiency Disorder spectrum: our sense of inadequacy and shame is overwhelming and crippling. Serious Authenticity Deficiency Disorder can take the form of depression, anxiety, fear, isolation; it can hold us back from fully living; it can make intimacy impossible…

Most of us fall in the middle of the Authenticity Deficiency Disorder spectrum: sometimes pleased about who we are, sometimes ashamed. Sometimes clear about our paths in life; oftentimes befuddled and stuck…

In the privacy of our own nutty heads we imagine everyone else got the instruction book, but not us. Indeed, we suspect there may be something uniquely wrong with us, but we keep that insecurity to ourselves; we keep it secret…

And then we try to cover it up with all different sorts of facades and defenses that over a lifetime becomes habitual. We try to look the part of someone whose got it all together…

Depending on what we think the world wants from us, we try to sound cool, act strong, be smart. Or maybe we hide behind a macho mask, or a good girl persona. Maybe we act the good girl part when what is called for is a rebel; or maybe we act the rebel even though there is nothing to fight..

Meanwhile, back in the Marrow, our shining soul is what the world really wants…

…but we don’t believe that.

We believe the opposite: that if we look too deep or share too much our basic unacceptability would be found out…

So, we relate to each other on the surface because if we reveal too much- show our cards, we won’t be loved, or won’t be accepted , or won’t belong…

We’d be taken advantaged of, we’d be judged, and excluded…

But that is a supreme misunderstanding…”

And so Lesser goes on…

Similarly, I believe that this world and its inhabitants have a supreme case of Authenticity Deficiency Disorder…I also believe that death scares us so when we are not living an authentic life; when we are not being our authentic self. Death scares us so when we know deep inside that we are not living a life pleasing to ourselves & to our true potential. That is what we are here to do and be, not carbon copies, not what the world tells us is acceptable; not how the world pigeon box us. We are, and we have, Agency.

Isn’t that what deathbeds regrets are full of….? Life-Unlived.…woulda coulda shouldas…

As the lyrics of a song says (the name of which escapes me) Be yourself; everyone else is taken..

I had it too, and am recovering therefrom…Daring Greatly every single day to be me, simply…

Peace & Love,

Light…

P.s. Let Your Authentic Shine Bright…

The world, like never before (in our time), needs Your Light…

Needs Your Difference-Making..Leave a Reply

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