When I was 16 I was raped by 8 guys...
I was beaten, drugged and tied up...
I fought back and sprayed them with mace, but since I have asthma I really sustained the most damage from it. I remember gasping for air...and not being able to get enough... (not only were my bronchial passages constricted and in spasm, but my oxygen intake was even further restricted by the fact that I was gagged). I was sure I was going to die, but refused to go down without a fight. Right before I lost consciousness I remember WISHING for DEATH. To my surprise, I woke up the next day. I was black and blue, swollen, and bloody... but I was alive.
It's amazing how strong and complex the human mind is...I did not remember a thing ... I knew that I had been attacked but could not recall any details... By the end of 2 years I remembered the names the guys were calling each other...
My mind cushioned the blow by providing the details to me gradually... as I was ready to handle them.
It took me a long time to come to terms with what happened to me. I couldn't make sense of it until years later... when while working as a nurse I encountered an 82 year old patient who had been raped... she'd been badly beaten and had multiple fractures including her jaw and several ribs. She refused to eat (in her case, drink-as her jaw was wired) and she would not speak...to anyone. I went into her room, closed the door, held her hand, and told her my story. She burst into tears and hugged me, explaining that she was so revolted by the thought of having been forced to perform fellatio on her attackers that she could not imagine using her mouth for anything again...we held each other and cried together... I assured her that it was possible to heal from such an experience. She began to speak, to eat, and to heal. It was at that moment that I realized why I had lived through my experience... it was to help other people who were hurting. I felt like a load was lifted off of my chest... suddenly whatever pain, confusion, and suffering I had experienced had meaning.
I believe we can transcend the pain of any experience - no matter how horrible - and grow from it, become stronger, and help others.
I have a number of theories on mental illness... some of them extremely unorthodox. We seem to understand so little about the human mind. Medication is not *THE* answer. Aside from the fact that many patients are non-compliant, medication only treats the symptoms... Though I am not opposed to the use of medication (herbal, homeopathic, or conventional) in some situations as a temporary measure, I believe we have to get to the cause and redirect our minds... to switch gears, so to speak. This can involve a long process of retraining.
Every human being has his own hell. We must get to the root of each individual's BASIC problems and begin to reconstruct the foundation.
Take the basic concept of TRUST, for example...
How can one who has been emotionally battered learn to trust?
I believe (in fact I KNOW) it can be done.
I recommend starting with Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning.