Breaking Trauma Trails: Facilitating the Healing of Indigenous People (Part 4)

3702998I recently wrote three blogs about my other initiative Sharing Culture – which is focused on the healing of Indigenous people – and what we are trying to do [Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3]. It is time to continue with another part, which will focus on our activities over the past 18 months.

Progress To Date
The first development was the Sharing Culture website, launched in late-2013. We set out with the aim of developing a small website focusing on historical trauma, healing and culture, primarily using the voices of Indigenous people (which is why you see so many quotes) within an organised framework. We wanted our audience to gain a basic understanding of key issues relating to Indigenous healing.

The information (written and film) I provided was obtained from web pages, books, science papers and personal communications. A considerable amount of research, reading and watching of films was involved in bringing this content together. In addition to this content, I included Stories, both of individuals (e.g. Professor Judy Atkinson) and initiatives (e.g. the Native American Wellbriety Movement).

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The dilemma of residential rehab

I first met psychologist Pavel Nepustil from the Czech Republic nearly ten years ago in Cardiff when he came to meet us and find out more about Wired In. We got on really well and have kept in contact since that time.

Pavel has a keen interest in Stories and in recovery from addiction. He has spent time working in the UK, USA, Mexico, Netherlands and Austria, and is still closely linked with the Taos Institute. His PhD thesis was entitled ‘The process of adjustment after the end of long-term meth use without professional help’.

Here, Pavel listens to Markéta tell her story about meth and heroin using. About what helped her to stop. And what did not help. 

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‘Recovery Stories – Episode 1: What Does Recovery Mean for You?’ by Cafe TA Center

‘At the 2013 Alternatives conference in Austin, TX, The CAFE TA Center invited people with lived experience to share their thoughts on recovery. Dozens of people chose to participate, and offered their reflections on the recovery process, how the concept of recovery has changed their perspective on mental health, and what public policy makers and the general public need to understand about the concept of recovery.

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Human Healing in the Age of Science – The Art of the Healing Shift: Dr David Reilly

I believe passionately that our systems of care for mental health and addiction are broken and need transformation. Sadly, the same systems of care are generally resistant to change.

The situation continues to get worse for two primary reasons. Firstly, the negative consequences of modernity include an increase in emotional distress, disconnectedness, social isolation and addictions of various kinds. Ever increasing numbers of people are looking for help.

Secondly, the poor outcomes of our mental health and addiction care systems are leading to disempowerment and lack of hope, which in turn further increase the problems described above. Moreover, people seeking help are often blamed for not getting better, rather than the system accept its own shortcomings.

We have the knowledge to do so very much better. Sadly, those of us who are trying to transform these systems so that more people get better often bang our head against a brick wall. Vested interests play an important role in underlying this resistance to change.

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‘Proposal From Italy: An International Collection of Recovery Stories’ by Giuseppe Tibaldi

UnknownPlease check out this important and interesting proposal.

‘Here is a new proposal from Italy: We want to start an international initiative to promote the writing of recovery stories in every country, with the ultimate goal of sharing at an international level the most compelling ones from each country.

Our proposal is born from an awareness that recovery stories are necessary today in order to give back to mental sufferance its meaning and transparency, to fight the biographical opacity of biological theories (the broken brain) and to guarantee decisional power to those who are offered (or imposed) mono-dimensional or dehumanizing treatments.

For me, personally, my interest in the writing of such stories came about from my reading just such a story more than a decade. The book, The Day the Voices Stopped. A Memoir of Madness and Hope, was written by Ken Steele.

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‘When we reject the single story we regain a kind of paradise: Why Jubilant Stories matter!’ by Cormac Russell

UnknownHere is a really excellent blog from Cormac Russell of Nurture Development.

‘This blog reflects on the dangers of becoming trapped in the single story. This is a ubiquitous risk. From getting trapped in our personal history, to the dangers inherent in how media shape messages for our consumption, we all need the inoculation that a multiplicity of diverse and contradictory stories bring.

“Show a people as only one thing, over and over again and they become that one thing.”

These are the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a Nigerian novelist who has dedicated herself to writing about the many stories of her life; her country and her continent. Her newest book, The Thing Around Your Neck, is a brilliant collection of stories about Nigerians struggling to cope within a corrupted context in their home country, and about the Nigerian immigrant experience.

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Our Faces and Voices: Aaron Kucharski

Unknown-7Here’s an excellent film clip which helps highlight the exciting recovery advocacy that is going on in the US. People like Aaron really are going to make a difference, particularly when they are united in their message.

‘Aaron Kucharski uses the Faces & Voices recovery messaging training, Our Stories Have Power, in all aspects of his life, even once when a police officer asked him, “Have you been drinking tonight?”

He said, “No, I haven’t. I haven’t had a drink since September 6, 2003.”

Kucharski, who is the advocacy trainer for the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) – New Jersey, says there was a point in his recovery where he shifted “from the shame of addiction into the pride of recovery.”

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Recovery from benzo addiction: Matt Samet

“One thing that helped me immensely was making contact with other people going through this. Just seeing stories that were so similar to your own and getting advice from people who’d been through this and knew there was another side…”

In my last blog on prescription drug addiction, Madeline mentioned Matt Samet during her Story. Well, here is Matt talking about his problems and recovery in a short Vimeo clip. You can read his Story here. Well worth the time!

‘Five keys to broad and inclusive community engagement’ by Jim Diers

giant-chainExcellent article by Jim Diers, Associate of Nurture Development, Faculty Member for the ABCD Institute and author of Neighbor Power: Building Community the Seattle Way

‘Building strong communities is not easy. In Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam documents the decline of community life in North America. He blames poverty, suburbanization, television, and more time spent at work.

Others have added fear, mobility, globalization, and increased professionalization and specialization to the list of culprits. Even so, my 37 year background in community building has taught me some simple rules of engagement that still hold true today.

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‘Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger’ by Barb Wingard

images-1I had a number of pieces of content ready to go on the website, had even organised them in an order. But then I found this powerful piece on Stories. This is an extract from the book Telling our stories in ways that make us stronger by Barb Wingard and Jane Lester (Dulwich Centre Publications, 2001)

‘As Indigenous people of this country, we have faced so many losses due to past and present injustice. Grief’s presence has been with us for a long time. Now we are seeking ways of speaking about Grief that are consistent with our cultural ways of doing things. 

We are remembering those who have died, we are honouring Indigenous spiritual ways, and we are finding ways of grieving that bring us together. We are telling our stories in ways that make us stronger.

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Introduction to our Recovery Stories section

2007_0116walpole0067You will see that I have put up 16 Recovery Stories on the website. They comprise part of a book I have been writing. This book is taking longer than originally planned, so I thought it was important that people see them now rather than later.

In putting together these Stories – some of which have been written by the person, others written by me after interviewing the person – I’ve wanted to provide insights into people’s journeys into and out of addiction. To me the most important part of these Stories is the recovery process, but it also also important to see how people travelled into addiction and how they lived a life that was dominated by substance use problems.

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The Anonymous People

“Many of us have carried a message of hope on a one-to-one basis; this new recovery movement calls upon us to carry that message of hope to whole communities and the whole culture. We will shape the future of recovery with a detached silence or with a passionate voice. It is time we stepped forward to shape this history with our stories, our time and our talents.” – William White

There is something cool happening in America a the moment. The Anonymous People are becoming less anonymous, thanks to film-maker Greg Williams.

Greg is touring the country at the moment showing his new documentary The Anonymous People, a film about people in recovery. And people are loving the film from what I am hearing. Here’s the film synopsis and a promotional video used for Greg’s Kickstarter campaign:

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