December 12, 2019
Without breaking the cycle, trauma permeates through families for generations. In a presentation at the Institute of Technology, Brave Faces Advocates, David Martinez and Mike Skondin, shared their stories of mental health recovery with students getting ready to enter the medical field. Both speakers reflected on how intergenerational trauma led to challenges with mental health and substance use.
David, a retired firefighter/EMT, spoke about how alcohol was an accepted way for himself and his colleagues to deal with the traumas they witnessed on the job. He encouraged the students to use the help that is available to them today.
“It wasn’t cool back then to get help. Now there are employee assistance programs that you can use to deal with the stress of your job,” said David. “If you’re working in health care, you need to practice self-care.”
David is a Winnemem Wintu Tribal Member. He spoke about how ceremony became the foundation of his 20-years of sobriety. He urged the students to respect places that are sacred to the tribe, like the spring at Mt. Shasta headwaters. Due to contamination from cremated remains, the Wintu have not been able to hold their annual ceremony at the spring for the past three years.
“We understand it is a beautiful place,” he said, “but consider how you would feel if someone placed cremains in the pew you sit in at church, or in the challis you serve Communion with.”
Mike, a Marine Veteran, talked about his experiences growing up in a family where violence had been the norm, touching on the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences and the impact childhood trauma had on him later in life.“When I was growing up I was given bad information. My parents would fight, throw things at each other and then make up. That’s the only image I had of what love looked like.”
Today, he’s taking steps to prevent all ACEs in his youngest daughter, and how used the “good information” he’s learned in therapy to re-build relationships with his older children.
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