banksy illustrationI could fill a book with violence. The brutal invasion of body, mind and soul where it felt as if trauma had stripped and fragmented the essence of me. In many ways it did. Aged 14 the Psychiatrist wrote ‘significant anhedonia and suicidal thoughts’. I accrued five diagnoses over the next 30 years. Do not underestimate the impact of how disclosure is responded to. Padded cells, strait jackets and seclusion re-enacted abuse. I have cycled between functioning well to prolonged periods of being acutely unwell. The most recent lasted 8 years and resulted in losing my job, my marriage and any last semblance of dignity and self-respect. Repeated electroconvulsive therapy, increasing volumes of medication, being deemed ‘too unwell’ for therapy and years in and out of the emergency department and inpatient unit, introduced harms of its own. Oftentimes I don’t even believe intentionally. Helpless, hopeless, powerless sums up both what traumas did and what the system perpetuated.

Violence. This is what I knew and this is what I unleashed on myself from a very early age. Self-harm manifested in various forms from eating disorders to cutting. Unrelenting attempts to cleanse, calm, forget, remember, punish, feel, numb. A world of contradictions, confusion and aloneness. I longed to feel whole. Enough. Worthy. Acceptable. My knives became my best friends and ensured any potential for safe, compassionate connection could never be. There is so much stigma, ignorance and fear around it that it reinforced all my deeply held beliefs. Those who loved me watched in horror my self-destruction and lived afraid with ever-increasing hopelessness. Every day that I choose healing, I also make my amends. Guilt could consume me and comes in waves but I know only diminishes my ability to be fully present in the day. In this moment. Healing can be painful at times but is something also very beautiful and quite extraordinary. Waking with purpose in my heart. Hugging my children close and feeling their breath on my skin. Reading a poem. Laughter. Walking barefoot in the Autumn leaves. Connecting. Truly connecting with others. Slowly, tentatively, coming home to me.

This has been a watershed year for me. My diagnosis was changed to Complex Post Traumatic Stress. I leave out the word ‘Disorder’. Through educating myself and being blessed to be working with an EMDR Consultant specialisedWomans eyes in dissociation, I have finally been seen. I am being heard. So many years of trying to breathe to life a history of memories into a timeline of events needed by services, failed miserably. Firstly, because I never felt safe enough but also because I’ve learnt that trauma memories are encoded differently and remembered within each cell in this body I disowned. This splintered, fractured, fragmented me. Parts born to help me survive, I abandoned. Silenced. I blamed them for what had happened. For not doing better. Some of them are only very little and yet the burden of shame woven through their very being, when it surfaces, can devastate me. A deep, felt sense of unworthiness. Contaminated. My therapist is helping me find a new language and write a long-forgotten story beyond the confines of words. She has been teaching me safe, gentle ways of getting to know, listening to, accepting and nurturing these parts. Who they are, why they are and what purpose they have served? In this listening I am finding me. All of me. And the solid, stuck, stupefied soil is loosening. As she walks alongside, curious, questioning, inviting and opening possibility with deep compassion, honesty and in her own imperfection, so the seeds of compassion for my woundedness are being sown.

sculpture of hands holdingTrauma in essence disconnected me from myself and others. The world became dangerous as did I. It is in relationship that I am healing and I am so grateful for the people in my life today. Three years ago, it was predominantly me and the four walls. My daily connection was the walk to the chemist to collect my script. ‘Gently, gently Lisa, oh so gently’. Kind words spoken from the heart. Someone wanting and willing to see me. In my totality. These words have begun to fall quietly into the softening soil as I action new ways of being. It takes practice, commitment and courage to create different pathways. It is with great excitement I tell a story. A new way I have thought, behaved or been a little kinder to myself. And I am also afraid. But so ready. This has not just happened. The journey began three years ago in a Treatment Centre in South Africa nestled in the heart of the sugarcane fields of KwaZulu Natal. I have always felt so separate. On the edges. Not belonging. Too much or not enough. Unworthy. And I have warred with and hurt and rejected my truth, my essence, which I believed was damaged beyond repair. What I learnt was that everything is interconnected.  I might be just a tiny drop in a very vast ocean but I have a place. I am discovering and using my voice and I will continue to reclaim me. I am not thinking my way free. Gently and quietly I’m learning to hear the sound of my own heartbeat. I’m treating this body a little more kindly and embracing deeper vulnerability and the unknown. When the darkness descends, I hold on. I allow love in. I do my best to accept the journey is the goal. And I deeply and fully embrace and celebrate the times of laughter, joy, calm and contentment. Whatever each new day reveals I remember all that I have to be grateful for. I do not quite understand this second chance at life but I don’t think I need to. What I do know is that my life, in so many ways, has been touched by grace. And I will endeavour, in all my imperfection, to do my best to share all I have been given.

Author: Lisa Morrison

Epione wants to personally thank Lisa for emailing us and for the courage to share a part of her journey. All credit to the people with lived experience who choose to occupy this space and offer hope that recovery is always possible. If you’d like to share how you’ve overcome trauma and how you’ve been recovering, please get in touch with us at – We look forward to hearing and seeing you.


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