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Posted Monday April, 26th 2021

Childhood Trauma Is Not a Mental Illness

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I was born in 1982 into a divided family and grew up below the poverty level. My mom and dad divorced before I was a year old, and my family did not get together unless we had a funeral to attend. From a very young age, I was abused verbally, emotionally, sexually, and physically by my parents and family members. In addition to suffering from an unstable home life, I was bullied by my peers and the popular kids at school. When I started showing signs of this abuse and neglect—including rages, relationship challenges, and defiance, which were really cries for help—I was passed around among the local clinicians. They diagnosed my behaviors as mental disorders instead of holding my abusers accountable and addressing the trauma I was living through. By the time I was 10 years old, I had been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Attachment Disorder, Adjustment Disorder, parent-child relational problems, a partner relational disorder, and a developmental disorder. One doctor even hooked me up to an EKG and then told me I had “abnormal brain cells” that caused my blackout rages.

Though I did try to tell my mom and Child Protective Services (CPS) about all the bad things going on in my life, my mom (who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder) insisted that I had inherited her “biochemical imbalances.” So doctors also placed me on one psychiatric medication after another, including Zoloft, Tegretol, and Tofranil, to name a few. A few years later, doctors prescribed Seroquel after adding Bipolar Disorder to the other pathologies I’d been diagnosed with.

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