“When I Turned 21, I Remember Distinctly Being Proud Of Myself For Being A Solo Black Girl, Living in a Diverse Community with 0 Black People That I Knew, Who Made It That Far. At 39, I’m Thanking Every God or Goddess That Could or Would Exist, Because I Shouldn’t Be Alive.” – Devon J Hall
Yesterday evening around six or seven pm last night, the entire world came crashing down around me.
I’m safe, I’m secure, I’m loved, I’m going to be okay, but the state of shock that I am in, is difficult for me to find words for, so I thought I’d write about it because that’s how I usually deal with my garbage and bullshit.
It’s fascinating to look at your life, and see all the points in your world where shit was just weird. From the time I watched a friend meet another friend, to the time one of those two people was shot to death in such a public way that it made news across the country.
From realizing how the person who you share a name with was a part of something you didn’t know existed, to realize that yes, actually you did know, but hypnotism and abuse stole those memories from you. All the little “full circle,” or “half circle” moments that make you who are you, are really special, and I don’t think that we all get to – or need to for that matter – dissect everything that we’ve been through.
Lots of folks don’t have time to understand what it is they’re going through. They have parents, family members, children, and all kinds of people in their lives that distract them from being able to deal with the variety of issues that may be holding them back.
It’s a privileged few that get to spend as much time as I do, and the people who are like me, focusing on our mental health, and where our entire lives were completely destroyed by grown-ass adults.
I cried a lot – and I will probably continue to cry. And I’ll fantasize about murder, and death, and violence, and breaking all the things, but I won’t actually go out and act on those feelings, because I’m one of the lucky few that still has a connection to something that grounds me and keeps me safe.
Part of it is family, and another part is old friends and new ones coming together to hear my story, another part of it is medication – cannabis and sleeping meds – and another part of it is family, and there are all these different “parts” that keep me going, that other people don’t have.
I hesitate to give advice about “getting over it,” and ignoring the bad stuff in favour of the good, because I don’t think that toxic positivity helps anyone. I think pretending to be happy when you’re not is a gift, it’s something that we learn to do because if we let ourselves cry then we often feel like we won’t be able to stop.
I say we, because I’m really not that original, and I know that there are a lot more people out there that can resonate with what I went through than not.
“No, Remembering All The Good People, Places and Things, Are Not Going to Solve Your Problems, But If You Let Yourself Take the Time To Remember, You Start Building Anchors To Pull You Back From The Darkness” – Devon J Hall
Every day this year, I’ve been feeling more and more like I’ve been losing control over my life. Because of memories, because of abuse, because of trauma, because of PTSD, and largely because many people don’t understand how my brain works, and I don’t completely and always know how to show them how my brain works.
It’s really hard for me to constantly do happy posts, but I’m trying really hard to focus on other aspects of things that interest me, in order to keep the blog interesting and to make sure that I’m not only focusing on the darkness.
Writing about storytelling from a fan’s perspective, and focusing on things that are other than trauma is a huge part of the reason that I didn’t have a complete and total breakdown. For years now, like many children of trauma and PTSD, I have been remembering in small amounts, but last night, in particular, it was like enough of the puzzle pieces was put together that I can see the full picture of not only what I went through, but also dozens of other children, who were adults, who either became non-violent survivors, or abusers in their own right.
Addiction, Poverty, Houselessness, Racism, Disability, Trauma, and PTSD, All Combine to Create Humans That Struggle, and Yet Somehow So Many People Find Ways To Build Happy, Healthy, Positively Inspiring Lives…So It Can Be Done Right?
I’ve seen some of the most broken people, or rather people who thought they were broken, go and create the biggest dreams for other people.
I have seen some of the most “look at them they can do anything,” people, fall at the slightest trigger, myself included.
It was so much easier for me to say “I have all the answers,” when I didn’t even know what questions to ask. Now that I do, I’m finding the people who are supposed to have the answers, just like I was back in the day, but very few of them have the answers to the questions I am asking.
I’ve learned more from the online Mental Health community than I have from anyone else. I think that’s because patients are crowdsourcing their experiences, and their skills, in ways that help other patients heal.
Part of it is that six years in to understanding what I went through, and how the ways in which I responded affected others – as well as the hundreds of other stories I’ve heard from around the globe, and the very few I’ve seen or heard of here at home, I’m a lot more calm now than when I first started to discover what it had taken to get to thirty three or so.
Every year that I’m alive, every hour that I stay alive, is a rebellion against the grown men of North DElta, Surrey, and abroad who went out of their way to convince me that I, and the boys in our group of survivors, and their loved ones, didn’t deserve to survive what they were putting us through.
A lot of people know what I want, I want to get to the place where I can focus more on helping others, than worrying about my own mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual safety. I want to get to the place where I can take all the things I’m learning about Mental Health, into practice by teaching others who are “professionals,” what victims, survivors, and more importantly, their patients need.
I personally don’t find it helpful when I call my psych nurse to tell her all the things that are triggering me, and her only response is “take your medication.” Medication doesn’t change the fact that I am being harrassed, or that men who raped me – who set me up to be rate – who set other women up to call them rats in the press (and yes this has happened locally,) as a way of control, are still out there, getting away with crimes that in many cases they were groomed to learn how to do.
Sometimes we need to break things, or we need to laugh about it, or cry, or scream, or talk it out, but very rarely is “medication,” to the only – or even correct – response to dealing with trauma. Especially when in the moment, all you want is to know that a) you aren’t alone and b) you are believed.
Feeling validated is hard for some people to achieve, because too often the people in our social networks don’t often understand what we’re going through or how to deal with us when we have a panic attack and explode. Not everyone in the world is trained to deal with those who have mental health issues.
We as patients are constantly learning and relearning the old techniques and how the old can mix with the new, and the learning curve can be deep and scary, especially when we’re stuck at the place where we’re too afraid to ask for help, because we sometimes don’t know what “help,” means.
It would be easier for me to hire a cleaning crew than clean my own home, but it was trying to settle into the idea of cleaning my house that set me off on the panic attack that revealed a lot of shit that I already knew, but hadn’t fully accepted. I’m still in a sense of disbelief.
I didn’t know that I could be surprised by much, because I’ve seen a lot of ugly, but it’s not even what I survived, it’s how much of it. It’s knowing that for 38 years I was stuck in trauma, and it’s only been in the last year that I’ve been able to wake up to much trauma I’ve been holding back, or rather hiding from.
Making the decision to face all the junk you’ve had to experience, just so you can MAYBE get to a place where you MIGHT be able to start following your dreams, is the scariest shit that I’ve ever done. Guns, drugs, gangs, girls, men, rapists, actually staring it all in the face and seeing it before you and working out the puzzle of why you, or how you, or how the people you didn’t even remember growing up with, is a lot!
It’s a movie franchise, and out of everything that I’ve been listening to over the last six years, the only album, the only artist that made it all made sense was Disturbed. That’s when I broke the fuck down, and I’m still not done breaking down, but as long as I’m alive to cry, I’m not doing too badly.
There’s lots of laughter in my life today, in ways there didn’t used to be, either at someone from my past, or a situation, or a reminder, or a letter I get sometimes, and the laughter helps. Everything that pulls me out of the darkness for even just a few minutes, is another anchor that keeps me going. Maybe it’s a hope, a wish, or a dream, maybe it’s the work of taking what I’ve learned and putting on page.
The only question you need to ask yourself, is what can YOU do, to pull yourself out of the darkness, when you don’t have the voices of friends, family, Ohana, and allies to help yank you out? What makes it hurt just less enough, for you to keep going?
I don’t have the answers for you but I hope you find the ones you need.
Sending all my love,
Devon J Hall