One of the reasons I’ve been away from the blogosphere is because I’ve been having therapy. I’m currently half way through my treatment of EMDR for chronic PTSD.
Without going into too much detail, I went through a few traumatic events when I was 8 years old. I’ve had PTSD ever since. I don’t remember who I was without PTSD, it has become a part of who I am, and it affects me every single day of my life. The traumatic incidents, well, fully sane adults would struggle with it, it’s really not surprising that I, at 8 years old, couldn’t deal with it. I’m not going to mention the whys, or hows, I don’t feel it is important. The fact is, I have PTSD and right now, I’m working hard at EMDR to try and get a bit better and hopefully get to a place where this stuff doesn’t affect me everyday.
Instead of explaining what EMDR is, because that would take a heck of a long time, I’ll leave this link here for anyone who wants to find out what EMDR is, but very basically, it’s desensitisation of traumatic memories and has been proven quite effective in clinical trials.
Today, we focused on the feelings surrounding the incidents, like how I blamed myself for what went wrong, how I feel like I’m a failure because of what happened, how I feel weak because I couldn’t deal with it [despite the fact, as I mentioned earlier, I doubt anyone would have survived the incidents intact] and how I really struggle to let myself be happy because I’m always scared that things are going to go horribly wrong, that any happiness I experience will inevitably be taken away from me.
EMDR is hard. I doubt I would be able to cope with the side effects if I wasn’t taking my medication. I’m suddenly and very randomly remembering things that happened in between sessions, things that I never dealt with, scenes of absolute despair and I remember the most the feelings I had at the time, I feel feelings like the scene is happening right in front of my face, because it is. PTSD is very physical for me, I feel it in my chest, in my stomach and in my throat. I’ve been feeling pretty nauseous pretty much the entire time since the first session.
I’ve noticed some positives already though. I feel safe talking about what happened with my therapist and I’ve never really gone into this much detail with anyone. I’ve struggled to tell people that I have PTSD because I’ve had mostly negative reactions in the past. People usually say, “But that was YEARS ago, it’s over now, why do you still struggle with that, get over it”. It’s not that simple, obviously. It may seem like years ago to other people, but for me, it’s like this stuff is still happening right now and it doesn’t feel over and I NEVER feel safe. I have very real nightmares and I relive the experiences over and over and I have to be on the lookout for triggers that I actively avoid to make sure I don’t randomly start shaking or having panic attacks or being sick out of nowhere and of course, you cannot possibly avoid all triggers unless you live in a hermetically sealed box.
I have found that it’s almost completely pointless talking about PTSD offline unless the person you’re talking to also has PTSD, and not many people have been through something so traumatic that they’ve ended up with PTSD. Well, that’s not entirely what I mean, lots of people have PTSD I’m not saying that I’m a special little snowflake, because I’m really not, but offline, in my everyday life, I’ve never met anyone with it. When I tell people I have it offline, 99% of the people have no clue what it actually means only that they’ve heard combat veterans get it so they end up saying really unhelpful stuff like, “Get over it already”, which is absolutely the dumbest thing you can say to someone with PTSD. If people with PTSD could “get over it already” they would because trust me, online, people with PTSD are amongst the strongest people I’ve ever met despite the fact none of them, myself included, believe that they are. It’s a lot harder to even tell someone I have PTSD so it doesn’t feel worth the effort. I tell people I have Bipolar disorder and nothing really happens to me, they are just words, I tell people I have PTSD and the fact I just mentioned my PTSD makes me feel triggered and sick etc, even if I don’t go into why I have it. Also, they tend to put blame on me for having it, and by suggesting I could just “get over it” if I really wanted to, but I “chose” not to, so therefore it’s my own fault. I blame myself enough thank you very much without your ignorance blaming me too, I tell you what I don’t understand, why people can’t just be happy they don’t understand and never will, nope they HAVE to judge you for it.
I will say though, telling people online, they tend to already know a fair bit about PTSD so I’ve suffered less judgement and instead received compassion and empathy and they are the majority.
Anyway… Hit a nerve. It’s just, out of all the stuff I’ve suffered with, PTSD has BY FAR the most negativity, blame and judgement attached to it when it comes to telling other people. Even more so than the eating disorder I recovered from, which by the way, was how I coped with all this PTSD stuff before I had meds or treatment.
So yes, it’s been kind of nice in a way to talk about it in a safe environment where I am not going to be judged and the focus is on fixing it, even though it causes my eyes to leak at every session. I say eye leakage and not crying, because I’m not crying, but my eyes are if that makes any sense. I think I’m scared of full on crying, and that’s something I need to work on too, because the whole point of these sessions is to actually process it and feel the things I was supposed to feel back then.
Categories: mental health