Why saying ‘You’re not bad really’ doesn’t work (and what to do instead)

I used to think that one day, maybe one day (a long time in the future), I’d be ‘normal’ and then I wouldn’t have these thoughts any more.
Sometimes I would sit in bed, unable to move, unable to get up and get dressed and get on, because I felt so demoralised at the incessant torrent in my head. I was paralysed with the overwhelm of my self-hate. Ironically, the one thing I thought I was good at was finding fault with myself.

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How shame saved my life

What if shame is nothing to be ashamed of … but instead is the hero in our story?
Even as I write it, my head is twisting inside-out, upside-down to get used to the idea. But it’s something I’ve come to firmly believe is true, no matter how counter-intuitive it may feel.

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Anger says no

For a very long time, I didn’t ‘do’ anger.
In the family I grew up in, the adults were allowed to be angry, and even my sister was, but for some reason I wasn’t.

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When there’s no hope

Real hope isn’t cheap. Real hope is born out of a bloody struggle. Hope has guts. Hope is what you’re left with when you’ve stared down the despair. So how did I get from hopelessness to hope?

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Where’s your safe place?

Years ago, when I first started therapy, I was invited to imagine a safe place. I didn’t understand the concept at all. First off, I didn’t understand how powerful positive visualisations can be. Secondly, I didn’t know how to feel safe. And thirdly, I didn’t have anywhere that I could summon to mind and feel positive about. Bummer.

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Self-care: what would you do for you?

Self-care is entirely counter-intuitive to survivors of abuse. To me as an abused child it is obvious that I am bad. I am being hurt because I am bad. And I am bad because I hurt. It’s a never-ending cycle of self-evident obviousness.

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Traumatic aloneness

At the moment of trauma, one of the most traumatising, life-shattering parts of it is that we are entirely alone. We call out in the universe for someone to be there for us, and our call returns to us empty. We’re on our own. That’s a tough gig.

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Distress is not illness

I’m not comfortable with the term ‘mental illness’.
I know there’s a lot of rhetoric around ‘parity of esteem’ for physical illness and mental illness, and that’s why the term has been pushed to the fore. But for me, mental illness and being traumatised are two different things.

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It’s not fair

It’s not fair that I have to pay for my own therapy. It’s not fair that I’m all alone. It’s not fair that I’m so unwell. It’s not fair that there’s no support. It’s not fair that I’m in so much pain. It’s not fair that I was abused.
You’re absolutely right. It’s not fair. So what are we going to do about it?

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Starting

So I did it. I took the plunge, did what I’ve said forever I was going to do, and I started a blog. Cue angels and harps and fireworks and the X-Factor winner from three years ago to make the moment memorable. Or not.

Or not.

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We have to do the work

Therapy is hard work. But often it’s the therapist who feels it most. It’s the therapist who anguishes in supervision over whether they’re doing the right thing, saying the right thing, responding in the right way. They doubt themselves, yearn for progress, hurt with the suffering of their client.

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ABOUT ME

Carolyn Spring helps people recover from trauma and to reverse adversity. She is author of Recovery is my best revenge: my experience of trauma, abuse and dissociation and numerous other books and articles.  Carolyn has delivered extensive training throughout the UK for both dissociative survivors and professionals working with them. Having worked for a number of years with extremely traumatised children as a therapeutic foster carer, she set up PODS (Positive Outcomes for Dissociative Survivors) in 2010 to promote recovery from dissociative disorders. She now works more widely in the field of mental health and adversity and brings a wealth of personal experience and research to her writing and training, bringing a rare positivity and the belief that no matter what people have experienced, recovery is possible.

“I have spent my entire adulthood reversing adversity. I developed dissociative identity disorder (DID) as a result of extensive childhood trauma, leaving me helpless, hopeless and suicidal. Alongside this, I developed chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS/ME), leaving me wheelchair-bound for several years. I wasn’t able to have children and in the end even my marriage ended in divorce.

I’ve spent over a decade researching and learning how the brain is impacted by trauma and suffering and how it can process and recover from such suffering. After spending years believing that I would never recover, I began to find the answers. With help, I began to turn things around to reverse adversity.

If I can turn things around, when I had so much going against me, then so can you. And that’s the hope I want to offer you. I want to show you how it’s done. It’s not easy – it takes a lot of hard work, but I want to share with you everything I’ve learned over the last fifteen years. Because recovery really is possible.”

MY BOOK

RECOVERY IS MY BEST REVENGE