Changing the world starts with self-expression and telling our stories
This gentle kindness with which we hold ourselves is what we must give the world. We will transform the world starting by sharing our stories and freeing ourselves from the shackles of stigma.
Jocelyn is a clinical social worker and an activist. She volunteers with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center and the Survivor Leadership Collective. She is also an individual with a diagnosis of complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) stemming from sexual abuse and trauma she experienced at a young age. Through her words and her work, she seeks to not only address the stigma surrounding mental illness, but also to challenge the systems and structures that keep us disconnected from one another.
I believe until people with power and leadership positions lead with their humanity, we will continue to see the staggering rates of burnout, physician suicide, and other problems in the field of medicine, mental health, and beyond. We are being asked to reckon with every single system of oppression that seeks to disconnect us from our humanity and seeks to disconnect us from the humanity of others.
When she was young, Jocelyn developed an autoimmune condition as a result of the trauma she endured. The condition impacted her entire body and skin. In high school, she experienced anxiety and depression and began to process long-buried memories.
Through the years, Jocelyn has engaged in different types of therapy to help cope with pervasive trauma symptoms, including hypervigilance, dissociation, nightmares, a sense of overwhelming shame, and helplessness. She also received graduate training, became educated in trauma recovery treatment modalities, and created her own makeshift therapeutic program. Working with a trauma therapist has been a critical component of her approach to recovery.
I believe in the power of self-expression and storytelling as a foundation of how we change the world.
Jocelyn is inspired by the teachings of Sonya Renee Taylor, who says, “we must name the power dynamics in a space and then work to disrupt them. Our liberation is bound together, and while we may not all be taking risks at the same level, we must agree to share in the risk.”
Jocelyn has found healing in activism. Through writing, leading workshops for trauma survivors, and exploring alternative modalities, such as restorative justice, Jocelyn has discovered the benefits of a multimodal approach to healing.
She also believes that, while stigma has impacted all her relationships and contributed to instability in her life, it has also helped her gain confidence to get through anything, and to show up authentically and courageously in life.
Trauma survivors often feel a sense of ‘lost time,’ and I sometimes feel resentful and regretful that I didn’t find a trauma therapist sooner. But I believe recovery is not linear, and seeds may be planted for us along the way. Each of the therapists I met over the years offered validation and hope, which were critical as I navigated many barriers in the vocational arena, including stigma.
Jocelyn believes in full recovery and is proud to be an independently licensed therapist doing work that she loves. She is married to her best friend and is grateful to feel tremendous support in her life after many years of feeling isolated. She encourages others to reach out for support and to find safe spaces to tell their stories.
Keep going. It gets better. Find allies whether at work, online, or in treatment. Choose people who lift you up when you’re riding the waves of frustration, despair, and shame while navigating microaggressions and ableism. You are not alone. Know that you are worthy of support.