Monday, February 13, 2012

Whitney Houston and The Power of Words

Yesterday, I was saddened, as were many all over the world, to hear of Whitney Houston's death in a hotel, in a bathtub. Alone. The airwaves filled with moving tributes and loving words before, during and after the Grammys, where her life and talent were celebrated. I couldn't help but wonder if Whitney knew how much she was loved and respected. She had a successful life, yes, but she also had a 15 year long traumatic marriage where she was abused and hurt repeatedly.

Those of us with PTSD know that we can feel swamped with overwhelming feelings of loneliness, grief and fear in our darkest moments. It is easy to pay attention to people who hate us and harder to connect with our core feelings of self-love.

The media is awfully hard on people, except when they are dead. When stars die, they are painted in the rosiest light possible. While alive, dirt is dished because dirt sells stories. By reading these stories and salacious websites we all contribute to their suffering.

I wonder what if? What if Whitney had heard all of these tributes before? Before the medications and the bath and the lonely hotel room. What if her life had been filled with kindness and kind words? What if we all refused to participate in mean talk, mean TV, mean internet parodies and shows? It is easy to think that we are removed from each other. But what if we are not?

In my experience, most people's lives are filled with private suffering. Meanness can push some over the edge. Love, inclusion, compassion and understanding can be life saving. Who could you support today with kind words and thoughts?

If you are feeling low, down, shamed or not worthy, know that there is love in this world. It may be hidden from your eyes, but it is there. Today I send kind thoughts your way. I hope you will do the same for me and for your brothers and sisters out there struggling in a world where it can be hard to feel valued. Take good care, each and every one of you.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dissociative Identity Disorder

DID (dissociative identity disorder) is the outcome of early and severe trauma and always involves multiple levels of PTSD. Some of you may know it as multiple personality disorder. Unfortunately there is still a lot of ignorance, fear and titillation around DID. I just returned from speaking at the 2nd annual Healing Together conference in Orlando, Florida, which was organized by and put on for those suffering from DID and those who care for them. I have never attended a more open-hearted, mindful and enlightening conference. About a third of those there had been diagnosed with DID. Robert Oxnam, the famous scholar who came out as a multiple on 60 minutes was the keynote speaker. Contrary to what you might believe, there was much laughter and open sharing of stories. Jaime Pollack, the bubbly and energetic founder gave the opening and closing speeches. She shared her process of coming out publicly with DID, while still holding her job as a preschool teacher. The sharing of her story, as Robert's did, allowed those around her to share the abused parts of themselves and feel cared about and accepted. In the end, Jaime exhorted those with DID to adopt a "so what" attitude to their multiplicity. It is just one more disability in the world and nothing to be ashamed of. Thanks Infinite Mind for putting on such a wonderful conference! If you suffer from DID or extreme trauma, I hope to see you there next year!