I’ve got 20 minutes to talk at the World Hearing Voices Congress about supporting someone through a dissociative crisis. It’s happening in a couple of weeks so I’ve been working on it recently. I met up with Bridges co-facilitator Ben, and we nutted through some ideas until it coalesced into a coherent framework. I love that process. I tend to need to bounce off someone else to think clearly and plan something like this. There’s such a sense of satisfaction about taking the amorphous and ephemeral and being able to find some kind of underlying theme or order to them.
When I asked other people about what they find helpful or not helpful when they have been in a dissociative crisis, I got exactly the answers I was expecting – which is to say, a very high level of contradictory responses. At first this seems hopeless – it’s so much easier to be able to give a straightforward answer – if A, do B. This is the medical model – if infection, give antibiotics. The nature of what helps with dissociative crisis is highly individual, so much so that what will be of great help to one person will make another drastically worse.
But it isn’t hopeless. Many people who have these kinds of experiences are able to be very articulate about what will and won’t work for them. One of the simplest things you can do is just to ask and invite information. If the person is a stranger to you and not able to give you any of that information, there are still many things you can try, within a framework of useful principles such as those of Trauma Informed Care. Having a broad understanding of the kinds of things that people may find useful gives you a bit of focus for a trial-and-error approach with someone in crisis, so I’ll be going into those.
I’m giving this talk free here in SA next week for everyone who can’t attend the conference. Here’s a link to the flyer with all the details. Feel free to share it around, it’s aimed at everyone, staff, people with dissociation, family and friends. You’re welcome to come along. 🙂
Edit: Update, this talk has been postponed due to illness – new dates will be provided soon.
Yesterday, I got into using Twitter, and posted my Homelessness & Poverty post online with a link to her as it was inspired by a post on her blog. I got this back:
@amandapalmer: @sarahkreece amazing. beautiful. mind if I quote some of it in blog??
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Wow, talk about make my day!
I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately about life, and safety, and community, and mental health work. I saw my shrink on Monday and literally stalked about her office waving my arms around talking about this stuff, grief, frustration with services, and my burgeoning recognition that a life goal I have working hard towards: full time work and being off welfare, is not currently an option for me. I’m just not well enough to pull that off. I’ve also spent the past several years building a resume and career in mental health but I’m starting to hate the sector. It costs me so much to maintain credibility in that world. I want to make a difference and I want to be an artist. I think maybe I can do both from the same place. I think that maybe getting out of a framework where I feel a like a failure for needing welfare, useless and irrelevant, might be the most exciting thing I can do.
It’s finally occurred to me that I’m not at risk of the same kind of homelessness this time. I have people to store my books while I travel. I have access to a van with a bed in the back! I have a community of people who don’t just pity me, they value me! I bring good things into their lives. I don’t have to feel like a charity case because I have something to offer. I can afford to take risks.
I can walk out of the world of mainstream mental health and still have a voice and still make a difference. I can write, tweet, talk, and build services. I can also stop feeling like I have to fit in.
Whoo hoo! This is a good place for me to be. Today I dragged my bones out of bed and went to Tafe and gave a mad, passionate talk about mental health and Recovery. (see Recovery is not a one-way street) Tonks didn’t make getting out of bed easy
But I did it, and loved it, stalked around the room waving my arms around (See a theme?) reading poetry and raving about trauma informed care, and the need for freedom and dignity and real relationships. It was awesome. World Hearing Voices Congress 2013, here I come! I think I’ve found my feet.
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