Tuesday 15 November 2016

Progress - self-help to get me through the PTSD

I am reading 2 books simultaneously, both by world-leading experts and pioneers of research, development and treatment of PTSD and its cousin C-PTSD (Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - which I am currently suffering from, triggered by the years of battling to get my son through his eating disorder). One is Professor Gordon Turnbulls Trauma - From Lockerbie to 7/7: How trauma affects our minds and how we fight back and the other is Bessel van der Kolk's The Body Keeps the Score: Mind, Brain and Body in the Transformation of Trauma. Obviously, with something like trauma, no two causes are the same. Also, in the second book, there is a lot of emphasis on childhood trauma and abuse. But the point is that, regardless of the cause of the trauma reaction, the symptoms and treatments of PTSD and C-PTSD are very similar.

One thing I found very helpful this morning is this... In his book Prof Turnbull describes how he was doing some group work. Most of the patients recovered very quickly and he was puzzled as to why one or two didn't - and also why successive treatments hadn't worked for other people who appeared to be 'stuck' in their PTSD.

He delved a little deeper and asked these patients if there was a relevant and significant trauma experience that they hadn't talked about; perhaps something from childhood.

Anyway, the long and the short of it was that - yes there was - and when treatment doesn't seem to be working it's well worth digging a little deeper to see if there's anything else lurking in your memory bank.

With me there are two incidents that stand out, both of which may be responsible for setting my brain up to be hyper-vigilant and on 'red alert', a state that I was in most of the time when my son was suffering from anorexia, especially as his moods became more volatile, violent and extreme. At the same time I was constantly walking on eggshells so as not to trigger off a potentially even more alarming and upsetting episode.

But this hyper-vigilance and 'walking on eggshells' wasn't something that was new. It goes right back to my childhood. I don't want to describe the particular incidents here. Suffice to say that one incident was a 'one off''; the other was ongoing on a day-to-day basis. (But I will add that I'm NOT talking child abuse here, just in case you are wondering.)

For the first time today, I faced these decades-old incidents head-on, and had a go at processing them using EMDR techniques.

I can't explain more here, but I really believe it helped. I may need to talk this through more with my therapist on Thursday.

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