Perspective


I survived a vicious lifelong battle with Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and the alcoholism that resulted from it - At least, so far. In surviving this battle, I’ve come to understand I’m a member of a group characterized by disproportionate burdens of mental health and addiction problems. You see, I was abandoned by my mother as a baby and raised by biological strangers. I was an adopted child. The research makes clear that adoptees, as we’re called, are statistically at higher risk in many areas of health and well-being and are significantly more prone to suicide. For me, clear symptoms of PTSD emerged as early as my adolescent years. When I acted out, I was punished instead of treated and when later treated, I was continually misdiagnosed by psychiatrists and prescribed inappropriate medications. Because the dominant narrative emphasizes that adopted children have been rescued instead of abandoned, the clinicians had little reason to look toward abandonment for root causes and they therefore no had inkling that the root cause of my trouble was that I lacked roots. In imagining the basis of my existence, I could only peer into a void - an empty canyon bordered by considerable conspiratorial deception and willful ignorance on a societal level. While it’s clear from existing research that adoptees represent a health disparities population, much work lies ahead in estimating the size of the affected population (increased risk does not equate to manifest illness) as well as the variation, severity and treatment of the problems experienced. This is no small task. The size of the affected population is without question non-trivial and the population complex. This research should be pursued with all haste and dedication to the interest of public health and compassion - not despite the effort required but because of it. But, while I’m personally prepared to take on this work, I think I can at this moment best serve by continuing the work of dismantling the socio-political narrative that drives the continuing significance of adoption as a source of pain and illness, as a source of health disparities. Instead of leaning on my doctoral training in the quantitative study of social stress and illness, I’ll instead tap into the artistic part of me that was more pronounced as a boy, the part that still daydreams and doodles and follows flights of fancy. I want to write about the experience from the inside and I want to bring you with me. My work is slow because I nearly died a few years back from adoption injuries and I continue to heal. While I look for the opportunity to rejoin the academy when my health permits, I’m writing this memoir - Vital Signs - about a lifetime of coming to understand the simple fact that I was in profound existential pain and that life itself depended on understanding its source. I experienced life as a character enmeshed in a psychological thriller, where the expectation was (and is) that there could be another tragedy at any moment, another attack waiting around the corner, another pillar of epistemology obliterated by revelation. It was simply an innate will to live that kept me from annihilation along with a stubborn sort of intellectual bravery. But once I arrived at the overlook, I could see for miles and miles and miles. I saw my whole life recast as a psychological thriller that seemed to write itself. It’s now my job to put it down in a form that can be shared. To give all I have in hopes that the next adoptee can hear me yelling in the canyon. Please like, follow, and share.

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