10 Paramount Things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”

The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child

by Nancy Verrier

Nikki’s Rating: 10 out of 10

Summary: A book meant for anyone involved in adoption, “The Primal Wound” explores the trauma that all adoptees experience through the process of adoption. With emphasize on the adoptee’s experience, Verrier provides information on how best adoptive parents, biological parents, and the adult adoptee can help themselves and heal from this trauma.


10 Paramount Things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Adoption

Even though 6 out of 10 Americans have had a personal experience with adoption (themselves or close family/friend has adopted a child or put up a child for adoption), adoption is not an openly discussed topic. Verrier shares new insight and knowledge on this stigmatized subject.

2. Nancy Verrier

The author of “The Primal Wound”, Nancy Verrier is an adoptive mother and it was her personal experience with her adopted daughter that brought her to doing research on adoption and the trauma that occurs. Personal experience brings so much more substance and Verrier is able to provide a wealth of knowledge because of this.

3. Adoption Triad

“The Primal Wound” addresses the whole adoption triad: the adopted child, the biological mother, and the adoptive mother. It is written in a way that any individual in the role of the adoption triad should be able to understand and empathize with another role in the triad.

4. No Blame

Verrier makes a point to stress multiple times in “The Primal Wound” that the biological mother is not to blame for the trauma experienced by adoptees. Instead, she points to society as a whole for lacking resources that could have been available so that she could have kept her child. Improper treatment of drug addiction and/or mental health, poverty, unaffordable childcare, lack of sexual education, etc. are issues that many women face that may contribute to placing their child up for adoption.

5. References

Verrier meticulously cites multiple references and sources throughout “The Primal Wound” providing credence to her work and theories.

6. Validating

As an adoptee, “The Primal Wound” was so validating. A must-read for any adoptee, adoptive parent, or biological parent of an adopted child!

7. Suggested Reading

A super helpful list of other books is listed at the end of “The Primal Wound” to help readers further explore their interest in adoption and/or issues that may arise from being part of the adoption triad.

8. Issues

“The Primal Wound” does an amazing job of presenting all the issues and challenges people can experience if they are part of an adoption triad, especially for the adoptee. Self-esteem, attachment styles, intimacy problems, guilt, mourning, etc are all addressed.

9. Solutions

Not only does Verrier present the multiple issues that may arise from the experience of adoption, she also makes suggestions on how to solve some of these issues, especially by going to therapy.

10. The Writing

While “The Primal Wound” is a wealth of information, it never seems overwhelming or confusing. Verrier presents her supported theories clearly and includes her own personal experiences or those of people she interviewed to provide examples.

What are your favorite things about Nancy Verrier’s “The Primal Wound”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

7 Intriguing Things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Impulse”

“Impulse” Impulse Book 1

by Ellen Hopkins

Nikki’s Rating: 7 out of 10

Summary: Tony, Conner, and Vanessa, three teenagers with one thing in common: they attempted suicide. All three are now in a psychiatric ward together and somehow become friends. As they come to grow and love each other, they explore the events that led them there. But most importantly, they need to help each other find a way to keep going, to be able to survive on the other side of the psychiatric ward walls.


7 Intriguing Things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Impulse”

(May Contain Spoilers)

1. Free Verse

Ellen Hopkins always writes in a unique style of free verse poetry, which makes for a quick, powerful, and fun read!

2. LGBTQ+

Inclusiveness and support of the LGBTQ+ community through having a character who identified as LGBTQ+. Also appreciated that Ellen Hopkins normalized the idea that sexuality for some individuals can be fluid and that the teenage years are filled with exploring and learning about ourselves.

3. Author with Guts

One of the most fantastic things about author Ellen Hopkins is that she writes about tough subjects, drugs, mental illness, abuse, addiction, suicide, etc. She is a badass who brings up the stigmatized and darker human aspects.

4. Mental Illness

Ellen Hopkins really captures the distorted, irrational thinking that can take place amongst those with mental illness. But most importantly she leaves you with the concept that just because someone looks “all-together” or that they come from a wealthy “good” family doesn’t mean that they are not suffering inside or that they couldn’t have mental illness.

5. Defining Sexual Assault

Another important point that Ellen Hopkins makes is that an older woman having sexual relations with a little boy is sexual assault. It is disgusting and wrong to portray such an event as anything other than sexual assault but often these situations get turned into “Oh she was just ‘teaching’ him” or “I lost my virginity to my nanny, I’m the man!”

6. Bipolar Disorder

Having bipolar disorder, I feel that Ellen Hopkins in “Impulse” really captured how bipolar disorder can express itself in people. How they may behave and may think. Total truth in regards to those with bipolar disorder often enjoying the manic episodes.

7. Medications

While many people with mental illness take medications to manage their symptoms and improve their lives, there is a piece of very important information to take into consideration when it comes to medication. That is that the situation is most dangerous and potentially life-threatening to the person and those around them when they are either first beginning or coming off of medications. In potentially all situations involving a mentally ill individual committing a heinous crime, it is not the mental illness to blame but rather the effects of psychiatric medications on the brain. And of course, the chances of suicide are extremely high during this time and Hopkins really captures that reality.

What are your favorite things about Ellen Hopkins’s “Impulse”?


Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Curing Mental Illness

Star Bubbles 1.2I spent days thinking about this…

One of my followers emailed me after reading my post “Living with Mental Illness.” He asked 2 questions. I will attempt to answer one of these tonight.

Fred Kat: “Do you think the condition (mental illness) is reversible?”

As someone who is diagnosed with mental illness, has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, and works full-time in the mental health field, this question is seriously loaded and not easy to answer.

My answer: No.

Mental disorders a lot of the time make actual physical, chemical, and anatomical changes to the nervous system. Also, all our brains are continuously changing. Our neurons are making new connections. Repairing others. Destroying useless ones. A never-ending affair.

Likewise, we are continuously changing moment to moment. We are the sum of all our experiences. Good or bad.

So I would never use the word “reversible.” I don’t think anything is truly reversible.

Even if you don’t consciously remember something, you do somewhere. Somewhere in you physically, mentally, and/or emotionally remembers. You cannot “reverse” it.

But Nikki, what about curing mental illness? Do you believe that is possible?

Again, no.

But there is hope…

Just as nothing is reversible in this universe, nothing is permanent either. Change is the only constant.

Is there hope that things will get better? Yes.

Is there hope that you won’t always feel this low or this high or this out of control? Of course.

Can you learn tools, skills, and techniques to help yourself and keep yourself mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally well? Absolutely!

Is that a cure? No.

But is it enough? Is it worth it to keep fighting? Is hope for the future worth the heartache, disappointment, and stress we experience each and every day?

YES!

I have seen true powerful transformations in my life.

I have seen people who have hit rock bottom. Go from owning a home to homelessness. Have nothing but change in the bank and own only whatever they carry. I have known people who could not figure out what was real or not, their perception of reality being that skewed.

And I’ve witnessed these same people turn their lives around. Some of these people are now holding jobs, are housed. Have had their children returned to them. Many of them are now supporting others on their road to recovery.

So yes, there is hope because the possibilities for our wellness and recovery are endless.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Living with Mental Illness

Red Gerbera Schism 1.1

I was once asked, “What’s it like having a mental illness?” This question was asked by a very good friend of mine. This friend never experienced mental illness. He asked with sincere curiosity. He had never known anyone with mental illness (that he knew of besides me). The question was asked because he didn’t understand. He didn’t understand why I sometimes struggled. Why I struggled with what he thought was nothing to struggle about. Like getting out of bed.

There are days that I really have to push myself to get out of bed. I have to give myself a pep-talk, think about good things that could happen that day, and really convince myself that staying in bed forever is not going to help my shit mood that I’m in. Some days, getting out of bed is my biggest accomplishment.

Then there are the other days. Days where my mind is racing. I feel like I can take on the world. Sleep is not something I need anymore, I have tons of energy and I’m excited to do… EVERYTHING!!! Those days, I really have to question every decision I make simply to try to avoid possibly doing something I would end up regretting once I was more clear-headed.

And then there is the random thoughts of worthlessness and suicide that just pop into my head. I literally can have nothing, nothing bad happen. Nothing that made me upset, triggered, anxious, or even excited, elated, or happy. Just an average non-eventful day where I feel contentment. And then driving down the freeway on my way home from work, randomly I think: “I should drive my car off the side of the road and kill myself.” No particular reason why. It’s like somewhere inside me is a part that wants to die. Insidious thoughts of suicide have haunted me for as long as I can remember, even as a child.

But how could I explain this to someone who has never experienced this? How could I communicate the difficulties I face simply from being me? That I’m in constant war with myself. That I want to live but I’m also so exhausted from being hyper-vigilant of my moods and thoughts. Continuously reminding myself that no, I don’t actually want to die, I’m very happy with my life, I just have suicidal ideation.

I thought long and hard on how best to explain what it is like living with a mental illness and this is the analogy I came up with:

Every person in the world is in their own small boat. We are all sailing across the sea of life. There is no visible end or destination, we just sail along until death claims us. As we are sailing, there are storms on this sea, waves that crash into our boat, and all we have is a small bucket to use to toss the water out. These waves and water filling the boat are the struggles, challenges, and perhaps even trauma that we all experience in life, storms are situations that affect multiple people at once. And our small little bucket that we are using to try to keep our boat afloat represents our wellness tools, supports, and coping skills in life. The quality of the boat represents are resources. If you grew up in poverty, your boat may be made from rotten wood, while an upper class white male may have a boat made from lightweight carbon fiber.

So everyone is on their small single man boat, doing their best to sail in the ocean of life, with waves crashing down on us as life throws trials and tribulations our way. For those with mental illness, our boats have holes. It may be several tiny holes, one giant crack in the hull, or one small hole that doesn’t seem all that bad but it is a hole nonetheless. So while everyone else is scrambling to toss the water out of their boats from the waves, those with mental illness are trying to fix our boat while still dealing with the crashing waves. We may be lucky and be able to patch up all the holes and/or get a bigger bucket by getting help through therapy, medication, peer support, etc. Or society may fail us and our holes could get bigger, causing our boat to sink leaving us to swim until we get the help we need. Once we are swimming, we need the help of others. We need support to bring us out of the water, rest our exhausted body and mind, and build another boat for ourselves.

Keep in mind that the waves and storms could cause anyone to develop holes in their boats. Mental illness knows no boundaries. Mental illness can affect anyone! Any social class, race, religion, age, gender, culture, financial status, or sexual orientation. Sure some of us may have better boats, better resources, bigger buckets but it is possible for anyone of us to develop mental illness. And if we do, we are dealing not just with the constant crashing waves of life but also a boat with holes.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this! Did the analogy make sense? Did I totally miss the mark and you don’t agree? How would you describe having mental illness if you were asked?

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Moo Moo Moods

Watercolor Petal Painting Trail 4Uh, I’m in just one of those moods. Have to laugh at myself cause I was just complaining about a book character the other today because he was always, “Whhhhaaa me! My life is sooo hard! (complaint, complaint, etc.)” And now I happen to be in “one of those moods”. Lame.

It’s annoying too because it’s also hard for me to identify why I’m in a shit mood. Of course there is the usual, everyone has bad days and good days, but having bipolar disorder I always question if it’s my mental illness. I question a lot of things because of my mental illness…

Example, when I decided that I was going to paint and try to make a career out of it, the first thing I asked myself: “Omg, am I manic right now?” No, my thinking at that moment wasn’t about what inspired me, what led me to want to paint. No, my first thought was questioning my sanity.

So when I’m in a mood like this I have to ask myself, “Did something occur today that would cause my foul mood? Am I just experiencing a case of the blahs that everyone experiences from time to time? Or am I having a mood swing?” which then leads to into more questions. “Did I not get enough sleep last night? Have I changed anything in my routine that may have cause a full-blown swing? I took my pills yesterday, right? Am I over thinking this? What can I do to get back to my normal content self?” And on and on. Totally exhausting to be perfectly honest!

Regardless, it’s the last question that is most important: “What can I do for myself to make myself feel better?” It ultimately doesn’t really matter what is causing the shit mood, it is how I deal with it and I know that. So I’m going to go use one of my wellness tools and either paint or read to bring my mood back up a bit.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.

Personal Responsibility

Lily & Rose Petal Painting Trial 1Personal responsibility, I am responsible for my own actions, choices, behavior, and words regardless of my mental state. So that means it doesn’t matter if I am symptomatic or if I am under the influence of drugs/alcohol, I am still responsible for my actions and must face any consequences that occur because of my behavior. I try to always be mindful of this, as well as realizing that what I do, can affect others.

Realize that I’m not saying to live your life according to what others think or expect you to do. I’m saying when making decisions, pay attention if a choice may hurt another person and contemplate if it is worth it. Choosing not to go to college for whatever personal reason (school is not your thing, you would rather go to a trade school, you want to work/travel, etc) may piss off your parents, it might cause them to be disappointed and possibly cut you off financially. However, it is your life and you are trying to achieve happiness for yourself, make whatever decision you think is best. Now if you are choosing to get behind the wheel while drunk because you MUST get home and get sleep since you have a big presentation tomorrow, consider that you are creating a situation that may kill another person. For fuck sakes people, there is Uber!

Some of you may be thinking, well every time I get behind the wheel I create a situation that may kill me or another person, the pollution that my car is emitting is contributing to global warming, which is negatively affecting more than just humans. These are all true but these are situations that are not technically choices we have, instead, they are situations that are created by our society that are necessary to function in that society. In every city I have lived in California, never have a had a job that was close enough for me to walk/bike to, public transportation in this county is shit and unreliable, and most jobs now ask if you have your own means of transportation and if you don’t, no job for you. Ultimately my society has created an environment in which it is almost impossible to function without driving a vehicle daily but personal responsibility comes in on how I drive my vehicle. I have choices on if I get behind the wheel while under the influence of drugs/alcohol if I choose to speed dangerously or weave through lanes.

So while living the life you want, make good choices and pay attention to how your choices affect others, try to create the least amount of damage as possible.

Be Authentic. Be Unique. Be You.

As always, thank you for reading. I would love to hear from you so feel free to contact me or comment below. And if you would like to support this blog and/or my paintings please become my patron.