Episode 58: Trauma Accumulated, Misperception of Illness & Finding his way to be Impactful

Guest: Michael Skinner

Michael openly speaks out about physical, emotional, and sexual abuse he endured from childhood. He has suffered through post-traumatic stress disorder, major depressive disorder, among other painful experiences. Michael emphasized that he was leading a regular life, until an encounter he had with a mental health facility, at a time when he underwent a nervous breakdown, he attempted to seek help, as he sought to make sense of the flashbacks. He shares that his story is deeply rooted in stigma and shame he suffered, carrying the label of ‘mentally ill’. He shares his experienced of being invalidated by the healthcare system and being told ‘it’s all in your head’ after struggling with a mild traumatic brain injury. Michael’s story in its entirety is about the cumulative effect of all these events that had taken place in earlier parts of his life and how he had to cope and find his way with each experience. Michael was heavily medicated at times, and at times, uncertain if treatment was in alignment with his diagnoses, in addition to not feeling that the medical and mental health teams were deriving any of their practices from a trauma-informed space. Michael talked about other rejections he faced in later parts of his life, reprimands he felt he withstood once people found out about his mental health background, and how trying it was with many new starts he had to undertake. His key message to the listeners is that: there’s a wealth of resources to look at, to listen to, to read; find your path and keep trying different things, even if you must keep at it; borrow ideas and create your own healing; healing happens on all levels.


Guest Bio: Michael is an award-winning advocate, educator, writer, and critically acclaimed musical artist who addresses the issues of trauma, abuse, and mental health concerns through his work in public speaking, writing and his music. He is the founder of The Surviving Spirit; a monthly newsletter and website sharing resources on trauma, abuse, and mental health. Michael has appeared in various media including being a keynote presenter for the National Press Club, United Nations and The State Department as well as delivering presentations at schools, mental health centres and correctional facilities.

He was part of the ground-breaking episodes of Oprah Winfrey that addressed the issues of males sexually abused as children and has since appeared on many TV, radio and Internet shows and has had a few book chapter contributions. Michael has continued to help people by consulting and training the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, which has been crucial in helping to shape the policy initiatives and directives for the delivery and implementation of trauma informed care and services.


Passionate about:  

The Bristlecone Project – https://1in6.org/get-information/male-survivor-stories/

National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery – https://www.ncmhr.org/