Trauma and The Hunger Games: How it really is.

I want to talk about trauma. The conversation about trauma is becoming more popular in mainstream media. People are slowly accepting that it is not just veterans of a war that experience trauma but individuals who have experienced abuse, rape, natural disasters, illness, and oppression. Overall, I believe we are having the wrong conversation about trauma. As with much of our discussion of poor mental wellness, we spend a lot of time focusing on how trauma destroys the lives of those who experienced the trauma. There is no denying this is true. My experience with trauma caused by emotionally abusive relationships/friendships sometimes brings me to my knees with pain. I see how my fear of the trauma reoccurring my life leaves me in a constant state of fear which manifests as anger and thoughts that I am unsafe and the people I love are out to hurt me. What we seem to talk so little about it how despite the pain that leaves us on the floor we manage to stand back up and that despite the fear we continue with our relationships. People who have experienced trauma are some of the most resilient people I know. My own resilience often amazes me.

Image: Katniss crouched on the ground, looking off into the distance, wearing a black coat and quiver of arrows on her back.

I first realized that society had a skewed view of trauma when I read through Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins (the third book in The Hunger Games Trilogy) for a second time. To briefly summarize, The Hunger Games Trilogy is about an older teen named Katniss who lives in a dystopian version of the USA (called Panem) where the homes of its citizens are divided into 13 Districts and the main city called the Capitol. The Capitol is extremely wealthy and the Districts become increasingly poor and oppressed as you count from 1-13. To keep control over the Districts the President of Panem declared that every year, each District will give 1 young girl and 1 young boy as Tribute to The Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death, with the Victor (the last person left alive) is rewarded with a life of wealth. Katniss goes through The Hunger Games not once but twice and then goes on to lead the rebellion against the Capitol. Throughout the trilogy, Katniss experiences overwhelming oppression, violence, and loss. The trilogy ends with Katniss explaining to her youngest child that she still suffers from the memories of the Games and the rebellion but that she keeps going regardless of that pain. The first time I read Mockingjay, I remember being so disappointed that Katniss didn’t come out unscathed. I couldn’t understand why the main character of a book wasn’t living happily ever after. A few years later, when I read the book again, I finally understood. The author was showing real trauma. Collins didn’t want to give us a happily ever after because that is not how life works. Trauma can stay with you, show it’s face in your everyday life, and it does not have to completely consume you. No matter what Katniss went through, she dealt with the dreams and the memories. She married, raised her children and carried on with her life. In the final movie, she explains to her infant that she survives by remembering all of the good things that happen in the world. This is what many trauma survivors do, find ways to keep going.

We need to talk about the Katniss’ of the world. We need to talk about how we survive.

I am a fighter

Every once in awhile, a song comes along that reminds me that I kick ass. I’m not saying this to sound snobby but seriously, I look back over everything I have gone through and I have made it out. It doesn’t matter what has happened to me, who has happened to me, what I have done to myself. I kept going, always living, always pushing through and knowing deep down that all the bullshit would stop.

Check out the song that reminded me of this today.

“I will fall and rise above
And in your hate I find love
‘Cause I’m a survivor
Yeah, I am a fighter”

Recovery- James Arthur

This past Saturday (May 24th) I turned 25 years old. I had a few friends over and we had some laughs playing Cards Against Humanity and some drinks. My friend showed me this song, explaining that it’s currently her anthem. I almost started crying. Take a listen. I’m sure many of you will be touched by it the way I was.

“Recovery”

I don’t want to play this game no more
I don’t wanna play it
I don’t want to stay ’round here no more
I don’t wanna stay here
Like rain on a Monday morning
Like pain that just keeps on going on

Look at all the hate they keep on showing
I don’t want to see that
Look at all the stones they keep on throwing
I don’t want to feel that
Like Sun that will keep on burning
I used to be so discerning, oh

In my recovery
I’m a soldier at war
I have broken down walls
I defined
I designed
My recovery

In the sound of the sea
In the oceans of me
I defined
I designed
My recovery

Keep soaring,
Keep song-writing
My recovery

And I can hear the choirs keep on singing
Tell me what they’re saying
And I can hear the phone
It keeps on ringing
I don’t want to answer
I know that I used to listen
And I know I’ve become dismissive

In my recovery
I’m a soldier at war
I have broken down walls
I defined
I designed
My recovery

In the sound of the sea
In the oceans of me
I defined
I designed
My recovery

Keep soaring,
Keep song-writing
My recovery

In my recovery
I’m a soldier at war
I have broken down walls
I defined
I designed
My recovery

In the sound of the sea
In the oceans of me
I defined
I designed
My recovery

Keep soaring,
Keep song-writing
My recovery

 

To The One Who Emotionally Abused Me

I caused some damage first but sooner rather than later focused my anger on who should be the actual recipient of it, my ex boyfriend Ryan.

Ryan,

I haven’t spoken to you in about 4 and a half years but you still affect me every day. I didn’t realize it for a long time but I do now. You broke me and I believe that is something you would probably be proud of. My thinking is flawed because of the things you did and I can’t trust myself to keep myself safe from emotional abuse. I used to not be mad at you for what you did to me and our relationship but the more I see how my current relationship is suffering the more I become mad at you.

We were clearly a dangerous mix. I was eager to please and you were desperately looking for someone to love and to love you back. Without me you didn’t exist. You put your identity into our relationship which is why you had to control everything. I was the opposite. With you I didn’t exist. I lost my identity in our relationship which is why I let you control everything.

What exactly have you done? I can’t make decisions, even simple ones. I’m terrified of letting my partner down. I constantly think he’s trying to control me and any explanations of how he is not just make me think he’s trying to trick me into a false sense of security. I can’t trust myself to stat safe within my relationship. I am angry for what I let you do and what you did in the name of “love”. You took my life away because you were so scared. That fear doesn’t excuse the emotional abuse. I am an understanding person but I don’t think I’ll forgive you for what you did.

I don’t know how to fix this and I am deeply worried I will forever be afraid and angry. If you ever were this, and I’m using your name so people know who you are, I have a strong feeling that you would come up with your own story about how I was a horrible girlfriend for not “respecting” you. I will NEVER respect someone who thinks I’m horrible for wearing what I want, speaking to who I want and hanging out with who I want.

Don’t continue thinking that Michael took me from you. I left you. Enough was enough. No amount of tears, anger or negotiation was going to change your mind. I need to remind myself of that more. I was strong to leave you. I was right to leave you. I’m glad I left you. You did not love me, you loved controlling me.  I’m glad I left you. I left you.

Kristen

Survivor: World Suicide Prevention Day

I have been wondering what I will write about World Suicide Prevention Day 2013 since I woke up this morning. I don’t like talking about suicide, especially my own attempt, but in the spirit of this blog and my desire to help others I have to say at least a little something.

To be honest, the only reason I am alive right now is because my suicide attempt failed. While I’m sure many, especially my parents, where trying to prevent anything bad from ever happening to me, certain aspects of my emotional well-being were just not being given the attention they needed.

What could have prevented my attempt? Well, it would have been helpful if my peers had never told me I was ugly, or had supported me when I began to self harm in order to cope, and then not made fun of me for self harming, or ending friendships with me when I tried to dull the pain of people hating me for self harming by drinking and doing drugs, and if guys hadn’t used me because they knew they could get what they wanted from me because I hated myself so much, and if then if those guys then didn’t emotionally abuse me and leave me because I was depressed and self harming….are you seeing what’s happening here? It’s a giant snowball. It starts off small but over time everything got bigger and bigger until all it took was one more, “you’re worthless” for me to decide that enough was enough.

I still have moments where I wish I wasn’t but those are in desperate times when my mind is flooded with pain. I know that I won’t hurt myself and that thinking about suicide or expressing those thoughts to others is a way for me to explain that I’m really in pain.

I’m glad I’m alive.

If I hadn’t survived my attempt I never would have…

Graduated from Grade 12!

Grown up with my Bestie!

Been involved in activism! (SlutWalk 2012)

Graduated from University!

Stared public speaking about mental health!

Discovered my calling in working with children!

Seen Marilyn Manson live!

Seen Marilyn Manson live!

Met Michael ❤

Gone to Las Vegas (inside The Venetian)

Gone to Chicago! (At “The Bean”)

Been published!

And so much more!

I’m glad I’m alive.