For years, I have had trouble talking about all of the events and thoughts that are not acceptable to me. All of the self hate and blaming. I advocated for myself and my insurance agreed that I could go back to my therapist of 15 years.
When he saw me and saw how depressed I was, he was immediately concerned. Then, he mentioned Shadow Work. Since regular therapy, journaling, and medications were not helping; I thought why not try this new type of work. I went on Amazon that day and ordered a shadow work journal.
When the journal arrived there were some recommendations in the front. First there was no wrong or right way to answer the questions. The second, was that there were not judgements, just write what came up first. Having complex PTSD comes with dissociation in most cases. Mine has gone past that to DID. It helps having specific topics and questions to answer. I find that I am surprised at what I am writing.
Each entry also includes a section to write what you like about yourself as well as an event that may trigger memories. There are some surprises about what might have triggered me.
Therapy this week was more productive because I had thoughts to talk about and elaborate on, which then turned into even deeper questions. It has helped a little with the feeling of self loathing. I realize I was to little to control what was said and done to me.
Shadow work seems to be helpful. I am going to continue with one question a day. I am going to use it for topics to talk about in therapy.
COVID19 has brought many changes to all of our lives. I know as someone with a mental health issue I have had some interesting experiences. The first couple of times that I tried therapy over the internet, the signal was not so great and I could not hear half of the things that my therapist was saying. That was an easy fix. We now just have therapy directly moved the phone and we go over everything that I need to discuss as well as homework.
My psychiatrist has been the harder of the two. My outpatient psychiatrist has now become inpatient. During this time, I have had to work with a new psychiatrist. My medicines have been hard to keep track of without any appointments. Some have had refills, others did not have any left, and still other were questioned by the insurance company. This week, I am beginning to keep better track of what I need.
Having therapy while on the phone can be interesting. Cats are getting in my lap and meowing. The kitten is trying to eat all of the non food items in the house. Not to mention that I feel exposed. I like the office setting. I can take my artwork in and discuss what I have worked on. There is no way to do that over the phone.
I know that things will improve with time as all of the glitches are worked out. Maybe, I will finally be able to have a face to face session. Here is hoping that things go smoothly. Remember to use hotlines and reach out to others if you are struggling.
After moving an hour away from my therapist a year and a half ago, I continued to drive there every week. There were many weeks that I could not mentally make the drive. I did not even know if I was safe to drive that far. I often “go away” while driving and try not to drive to often or to long a distance.
An insurance change opened my choice of therapist and allowed me to see some of the therapists around me to see if they fit. I had an appointment last week that seemed to go well. Yesterday, I had my second appointment. The therapist seems to respect my boundaries and seems knowledgeable about how to care for someone with trauma.
I feel bad that I am leaving a therapist that I have been going to for years and know most of the things that have happened. I need to process those events and need to do so in a way where I am not stressed out from driving.
I shall see how the next few weeks go and make a decision. It is such a huge choice.
Over 10 years of therapy and relatively nothing has changed. Treatment resistant, medication resistant, unable to assist. All of those have been written on my paperwork.
I told my therapist the other day that I want to die, yet no way of dying is 100%. It has been suggested that I get out and join a club. I tried a book club. The book had to many triggers and the discussion was even worse. Child abuse, spousal abuse, and substance abuse were all a part of the book.
Then I am told to go out and do normal activities. I have panic attacks at the store that leave me frozen and feeling like the store is closing in around me. I always feel like I will be attacked at places that do not have many people around like gas stations. My vocal cords seem to freeze up when I want to ask for something.
I have resorted to buying things online. Even then, I do not answer the door when the doorbell rings because I am scared of who may be on the other side. I feel like people can tell I am damaged by the way that I shake and avoid eye contact.
Then there is the anger that can be activated at any time. This is not normal anger. I am afraid I will actually hurt someone else. Anything can set off the anger and once it begins I have trouble stopping.
Where is my place in society? What do I do if I cannot leave the house and am scared to hurt people? How do I perform everyday tasks while the space is closing in on me and I am shaking to the point of just wanting to sit and scream for help?
How do I begin to work through this? When are my thoughts not automatically going to go to not existing? Who am I ? All of these are questions that I need to answer, yet do not seem to know how.
Therapy seems to be like Groundhog Day every week. I cannot seem to get out anything that I need to talk about. I still hear that”What goes on in this house stays in this house.” Even worse, I was told all my life what to do. What to like. How to dress. Even what to order off of a menu. I think that I was in my twenties when I finally told my abusers that I could read the menu by myself.
Today, I am not sure of anything. What color do I like, what is my favorite food, what flowers do I like? All of those questions and more persist throughout everyday. I am not sure of who I am or even if I like myself. I was what someone wanted me to be for so long that I am not even sure who I really am at this point.
I saw my therapist yesterday. He thinks that I really need to put the walls down that are preventing me from dealing with what happened to me.
I am so scared to do that. Right now I am living in a place of denial and I know that it is not healthy. It is just that here I do not feel anything and have not harmed myself for a couple months.
Then there is the part where I am confused as to where to start. I am waking up unsure of where I am. Sometimes I think that I am back in the house where I was abused. That might be a good place to start. There are so many things that happened it is like a choose your own adventure book. Except, each adventure is really it’s own horror story.
I am afraid to begin to harm myself again. The cats and having to take care of them are helping. It at least gives me a schedule. My husband encouraged a pool membership and I guess I could go there and write.
I thought being away from my abusers would make things easier. Living each day knowing that I am not going to see them is less stressful, yet the memories remain. They are etched into my mind.
I guess that I need to begin with something. Maybe sitting outside will help? Maybe I just need to jump into one memory with both feet and get out when it becomes to uncomfortable. I only know that I need to start somewhere.
How does one explain this feeling to someone else? Just existing. Getting up, feeding the pets and hopefully myself, and then going to bed. Repeat. Very little to no joy in anything that one does or happens.
Disconnected from everyone even while in the same room. Feeling like their is a transparent barrier between myself and the rest of the world that I just cannot break through.
I feel this way even with my therapist. In appropriate and predictable fashion, I am not going to therapy. What is the point? To be told that I will feel better is like telling someone that they can touch the stars. No matter how close they seem, that will not happen. The barrier is there as well. I just sit there in silence feeling uncomfortable. What is there to talk about that has not been said before?
It is not that I do not want to feel better. The coping skills I have learned seem to be ineffective. It is pure white knuckling at this point to try to get through the day.
I went to the new doctor yesterday. I think that she thought it would be an easy appointment. It was anything but easy. She saw all of the evidence of my self harm and of course the typical questions followed. I told her the truth and said that I have had a plan since I was around 10 years old.
Why aren’t doctors taught about patients who have experienced trauma? Instead they are put into situations where they are overwhelmed by the patient. Not only do I have a list of diagnoses, i also have a lot of medical issues. The doctor did not seem to know where to start.
Tests were ordered and I have to return in a couple of months. I am glad the doctor is being careful, yet I am scared that the doctor is in over her head. Maybe she will turn out to be one of the best doctors that I have had, if not at least she will gain some experience.
On another front, therapy is not going well. My parts do not feel heard or even like they have a place in therapy. We have had one doctor who could handle us and she is gone. At least she acknowledged that multiple parts could experience an event completely differently. Right now we feel unheard. We feel like the therapist is trying to sweep us away instead of making us part of the therapy. We are hopeless that things will change at this point and are considering options where we may have a chance to participate.
Right now, we are lost. We do not belong anywhere except for hidden on the inside. We have had to many years of that to keep doing it, it does not work and eventually leads to self harm as a way of expressing that those parts are there. We are hoping that something gets resolved soon.
Why can’t I just get through all of these memories. My therapist says that talking about them will lesson their strength, yet I have not experienced that. Often I find myself thinking about what went on in the past. Sometimes something reminds me of a memory.
Self-harm is not a solution, yet it seems to help decrease the severity of feeling helpless. When I think of my kids and my husband I feel lucky. When I think of where I am at in my life I feel horrible. The physical illness that prevented me from finishing nursing school is much easier to take then the social workers who did not accept me due to my PTSD.
How many times can I start over and try again?
Then there are the reminders about what has happened to me. Dates of the year, smells, or even the way that a stranger may look. It is like I cannot get a break even if I want too. Thoughts of how isolated my parents kept me along with their cruel punishments still paralyze me into staying in the house where it is safe.
The thoughts also turn to nightmares and daydreams where I cannot figure out if I am still asleep or awake. Intrusive thoughts take over and I think of how to stop them. It is not a good path to be on.
So much has happened this year. I have moved away from my abusers, I have a new cat, I have stayed out of the hospital, and I have found ways to relax or at least have tried.
I should feel better. I should be moving on with my life. Instead I still am scared to leave the house. I am not even sure why. It just causes a panic attack to get near the door.
True, I was able to get away from the proximity of my abusers and where the abuse happened. The dates and events still live in a corner of my mind and in some ways have gotten louder.
Today, I feel like my body and mind have created a prison for me. One that causes me to believe that the outside is dangerous. One where even when I close my eyes I have nightmares of what happened. One where I still lose time and easily get stressed out.
I am realize that all the move did was to separate me physically. Mentally, I am still that girl who was abused, teased, and unwanted.
Hopefully, the next year means that I will be able to work through some of this, yet I am reluctant to discuss what went on. Somehow I need to find a way to live with this and stop contemplating ways to end all of this discord and unrest.