This is a follow on from My sexual assault, how it affected my life and who I got help for my PTSD where I went into detail about my past, this will make more sense to read that post first. In that post I mentioned that I got help for my PTSD. I didn’t realised I had PTSD until I went to my doctor, they referred me to get spealised therapy that would help. If I’m honest as I said before I thought I was past help, I couldn’t see how therapy would help as I constantly relived what happened to me and it had ruined so much of my life. How could anything make it better?
My first appointment was to assess the extent of my PTSD and see if I was ready to face my demons and move on. The therapy itself, I was told, would be upsetting and intense as you have to go through every detail of what happened to you.
Up until then I had only ever spoken about it to a few people and never in depth. It was only very recently I could even say the word ‘rape’ so I knew this would be horrific. After an hour of crying and talking, the therapist decided I was ready, and told me before I could have the therapy I had to attend a 6 week group workshop on what post traumatic stress disorder is and why my brain was doing what it was doing.
My first reaction was no fucking way am I going to a group session, I don’t want to talk about it, full stop, let alone to a group of strangers. I was reassured that there were struck group rules that no one was to talk about what happened to them or ask anyone anything about their trauma. Even after the session we were walked to our cars so we couldn’t ‘befriend’ anyone in the group. After a lot of thought and encouragement from my other half and my friend I said I would go.
Best decision of my life.
There was so much we learnt that made something click in my head. What happened to me was in the past, but my brain still treated it as something that had just happened. This was because:
Imagine your memories live in a giant linin cupboard, the sheets live with the sheets neatly folded at the top, the towels live with the towel on the shelf at the bottom etc. But your trauma memories is a giant duvet, and it doesn’t have a home. So everytime you try to put it away you ram it in there and push the door shut. Inevitably the cupboard will spring open and the duvet pops back out making you relive everything all over again. In other words, the memory wasn’t stored properly when it happened, hence why it doesn’t feel like a memory.
This made so much sense to me and made me realise why I felt the way I did. This had a huge impact on me. The therapist also gave us techniques to bring us back to the right time zone when we woke up or we’re reliving the trauma. He suggested using essential oils and picking one scent to have with us at all times, the idea being over time you would recognise that smell as almost a “safe” smell to remind you everything is ok and where you are now. I told the group how I always read the last text I sent on my phone to bring me back which he thought was a great idea.
After the course I had only one session with the therapist as that is all I felt I needed. It took time but i managed to put it all in my past and move on. I decided to write about this to help anyone going through something similar, you are never past the point of being helped. You deserve to be happy to move on.
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