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Has Your Childhood Trauma Become Your Identity?

For a lot of people with Childhood PTSD, the work we do to HEAL traumatic memories can become so consuming that we come to think of ourselves — to the exclusion of other parts of our identity — as traumatized people. This can be depressing and limiting, and it doesn’t have to be this way. …

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To Heal Childhood Abuse and Neglect: Talk Less. Write More.

For a lot of people with Childhood PTSD, talking about traumatic memories can make symptoms worse — worse than if we were to do nothing at all. Yet talking about the past is the default mode of therapy for virtually everyone who is depressed, anxious or troubled about the past. It’s true that talking can …

To Heal Childhood Abuse and Neglect: Talk Less. Write More. Read More »

This is What It Feels Like When Your Brain is Dysregulated From Childhood PTSD

People who had a rough childhood often go through life feeling — knowing — that they are a little different than most people. It’s common sense that early exposure to violence, addiction, abuse or neglect can have a lifelong effect on mental health and behavior. Until recently, researchers understood these effects to be mostly a) …

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The Never-Ending Wreckage of Growing Up Poor

Today you’d probably lump me in with the middle class, but I carry some residue of having grown up poor. I work with people who work hard to help the poor, but have not themselves ever been poor. There are things they don’t understand. People who grew up with money tend to think that poverty is …

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Brain Dysregulation is at the Root of Childhood PTSD: Learning to Re-Regulate Is Where Healing Begins

To heal from Childhood PTSD, it’s crucial to understand the role of dysregulation, which is the underlying problem that most conventional treatments have never really repaired or understood. Why I say Childhood PTSD, I mean the physical, neurological, emotional and behavioral effects on adults who had trauma as a child — abuse, neglect, exposure to …

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Growing Up “Hippie Poor” vs. “Hillbilly Poor”:

Recently I finished J.D. Vance’s excellent Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, a book that’s part sociological analysis about poor white Americans, and part memoir about growing up with a drug-addicted mother and all the crappy crap that goes with that. I come from the opposite corner of the socioeconomic spectrum (well, the …

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Why Does it Seem Like EVERYBODY Suddenly Has PTSD? Ten (Unscientific) Theories

Since “post-traumatic stress disorder” appeared in the DSM-III in in 1980, the concept of PTSD in the public imagination has grown from a novelty to an accepted reality to a comic hyperbole that can be used to mean “overreaction” or “lingering stress,”  as in “Ugh, that traffic jam gave me PTSD!” PTSD is real, but its …

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Charm School for Feral Girls

One afternoon in the sixth grade, all the girls in my class were sent to the cafeteria for a special, one-time class whose topic was a secret. We’d already had the men-stroo-ation talk, so why the mystery? The lunchroom chairs were arranged in rows. The teacher of the class was the mother of one of our classmates, who stood before …

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Poor Girl’s First Real Job (Ten Things I Learned as an Admin Assistant)

When I was sixteen I interviewed for a job at McDonald’s and didn’t get it. Before that I’d worked as a phone solicitor and before that, a babysitter, yard worker, necklace stringer and flower-seller, and I raised and sold baby rabbits, and made nachos to sell at fairs.  When I was in college I worked …

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Boyfriends Are Poison (and Other Tips for Girls Who Grew Up Poor)

Here’s what they tell you: Work hard in school. Love yourself. Get enough sleep. Say no to drugs and tobacco. Don’t consume sugary drinks. Use a condom. Don’t let yourself be pressured into sex. Accept your body. Get a career before you have children. Eat five fruits and vegetables a day. Breathe!  Don’t bully. Dream big. …

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