For over twenty years, I have been working with people who experience mental health difficulties. This work is a result of my ongoing personal search for wellness and improvement in the quality of my life in spite of challenging mental and physical health issues.
I had always wondered if perhaps the horrible things that happened to me in my life were causing my deep depressions, my low self-esteem, my incapacitating anxiety, my night terrors and nightmares, my incessant flashbacks, my irrational fears. Perhaps it was not mental illness as I had been told, but rather a normal reaction to horrific life events; things like seeing a deadly accident and a dear friend killed when I was 5, like my mother going into a mental institution when I was 8 years old, like being molested and abused by an older male cousin, living with an abusive husband. The list could go on and on as it could for many of us.
Over the years I have talked to more and more people about this, and it is now widely recognized that this is true – that many, many people who experience mental health difficulties are having these issues due to past, recent or even current trauma. They may have been traumatized and been too young or too scared to remember it. When these issues are addressed as trauma-related, rather than caused by a brain disorder, people can, over time, heal, and enjoy recovery, wellness and greater life satisfaction. When you are seeking help, being asked, “What happened to you?” instead of, “What’s wrong with you?” facilitates the recovery process.
My own acceptance of trauma as the basis for my mental health difficulties has changed my path. In this book, I will share with you many of the skills and strategies that have been helpful to me in my recovery, and many that I have heard about from other people. Perhaps they will be helpful to you. I expect you have many of your own, and will uncover more as you continue your healing journey. WRAP is, and will always be, the cornerstone of my recovery.
More about WRAP for the Effects of Trauma
Mary Ellen Copeland, PhD, developed Wellness Recovery Action Plan (WRAP) with a group of people with lived experience who were attending a mental health recovery workshop in 1997. She is the original author of the WRAP Red Book, as well as dozens of other WRAP books and materials. She has dedicated the last 30 years of her life to learning from people who have mental health issues; discovering the simple, safe, non-invasive ways they get well, stay well, and move forward in their lives; and then sharing what she has learned with others through keynote addresses, trainings, and the development of books, curriculums, and other resources. Now that she is retired, and that, as she intended, others are continuing to share what she has learned, she continues to learn from those who have mental health issues and those who support them. She is a frequent contributor to this site.