Thursday 3 August 2017

Are you, the parent, having a spot of bother with PTSD following the eating disorder?

I first mentioned PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) three-and-a-half years ago at the end of 2013 in this blog post from December 2013. And, as you'll know if you've been following my blog, I've been struggling with PTSD ever since. Or, more accurately, C-PTSD (Complex or Chronic PTSD - the result of lengthy exposure to trauma). I also know of other parents of young people with eating disorders that are currently struggling with trauma-like symptoms. As their son or daughter recovers from the eating disorder, they - the parents - find themselves debilitated with this confounded C-PTSD thing.

It's because of this double-edged sword aspect of an eating disorder - the young person's struggle with and eventual recovery from anorexia, bulimia or another eating disorder, coupled with the parent's struggle with and eventual recovery from C-PTSD - that I've been writing about both topics in this blog.

I'm a firm believer in the effectiveness of Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy as an evidence-based treatment model for C-PTSD (and PTSD). I had 30+ sessions of EMDR recently and it really helped to process all the 'old stuff' that was constantly going around my head like a cement mixer.

EMDR has helped with nightmares, flashbacks and a whole manner of other C-PTSD symptoms. There's still stuff left - primarily a horrible anxiety that sits in the centre of my chest like a fist-sized pulsating, strangulating blob. I still find it hard to tackle 'big things' - like big work projects and so on.

And processing all those bad memories from the eating disorder years left me with a massive hole in my life. After all, I'd spent eight long years, first battling to get my son diagnosed and referred for eating disorder treatment followed by the equally-as-traumatic struggle to get him recovered.

Following his recovery, the C-PTSD (as insidious as the eating disorder) began to take over my head and filled it, jam-packed-full, with nightmares, flashbacks, memories that felt so very raw and 'present' rather than 'past', and a stultifying fear that my son would relapse back into an eating disorder.

So when the EMDR sessions processed much of the 'old' stuff - the memories, nightmares, etc - it left a massive gap. There were still issues that needed fixing, but there was also this growing realisation that I had no idea 'who I was' or 'where I was heading' in a post-eating disorder world.

I am currently working my way through a practical workbook by Michele Rosenthal entitled 'Your life after trauma - powerful practices to reclaim your lost identity'. I have high hopes that it will help me to figure out who I am and where I go from here as well as helping to fix the remaining C-PTSD issues.

Because I know that there are other parents struggling in a similar way, I plan to (continue to) write about my road to recovery here.

I hope it helps! So watch this space...

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