Welcome to today’s podcast, a first-person recovery story which we believe is a unique contribution to the resources on extreme state psychology—particularly around the phenomenon of cutting.
The arc of our story begins with Julia, who’s lost in a hellish life predicament, feeling “intrinsically ruined”—with no sense of a way out. At this point, pretty much everything she’s known as reliable reference points have been lost, and her confused acts and thoughts are only begetting more confusion and pain. Making matters worse, the trauma that lies at the root of her extremely dangerous cutting and suicidality is being compounded by systemic abuse—even as she’s looking for help. Life has truly become a nightmare, and any hope she once had has evaporated in the heat of her turmoil.
In the depths of this abject suffering, Julia’s psychiatrist, Dr. Green, has become a person she’s beginning to trust, and he invites us—a small Windhorse team—to help support her. To Julia’s surprise, the team provided her with genuine relationships she also learned to trust: people who saw the unmistakable sparks of her health—a dignified and tenacious person with a striking history of sanity. From there, light slowly began to penetrate Julia’s nightmare, and her path—anything but simple—began to unfold.
Now nearly 10 years after her treatment ended, Julia joins her Windhorse team members—Janneli Chapin, Jack Gipple, and Chuck Knapp—for a discussion of her 12 years of working with us and Dr. Green. At times this is not easy listening, but the ride is more than worth it. In the end it’s truly inspiring how therapeutic relationships—smart ones that can go the distance (especially when love is involved)—have the power to invite people in extreme states back into ordinary and meaningful life, something Julia had lost all hope of ever having again.
Please note that this is part one of a four-part series. Our posts will eventually include links to Julia’s book, an essay, and a review of her book by a psychiatrist colleague of Dr. Green’s—itself an eloquent commentary on the unusual power of her story.
We hope you appreciate the profound courage it took for Julia to share this with us—especially the aspiration that she could be a voice for those still suffering.
Thanks for joining us,
Janneli Chapin, MA, LPC and music therapist is a core faculty member of the Contemplative Psychotherapy and Buddhist Psychology (CPBP) program. She has taught for Naropa University as an adjunct faculty over a span of 30 years and is particularly interested in mentoring students in contemplative meditation practices and how these inform the psychotherapist-counselor who seeks to decolonize multicultural counseling. She has worked in a variety of settings from community mental health, psychiatric and rehabilitation hospitals, family center, Maitri Psychological Services, Windhorse Associates, Windhorse Community Services, and private practice. Janneli and her family built an off-grid sustainable earthship in the mountains where people in extreme states of mind were invited in community to work in greenhouses, tend goats, and make cheese.
Jack Gipple, MA, LPC, CAC III is the Clinical Services Manager of Windhorse Community Services (WCS), in Boulder Colorado. He earned his MA in Transpersonal Psychology in 1991. He has worked extensively with families, couples, and individuals dealing with issues related to behavioral and substance addictions, as well as a wide range of mental health challenges. He taught in the Naropa Contemplative Psychology Department for a decade and has been affiliated with the Boulder Shelter for the Homeless since 1992. Jack co-authored an article with Chuck Knapp “Windhorse Treatment: Group Dynamics Within Therapeutic Environments,” in Group: The Journal of the Eastern Group Psychotherapy Society. He has studied and taught T’ai Chi Ch’uan since 1985. He is a top-bar bee keeper, pinhole photographer, yogi, gardener, home orchardist, father, and husband.