Thursday 7 December 2017

Trying to describe why this is Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder, and wondering what can be done about it...

Each of the therapists I had for my (what I assumed was and what was diagnosed as) PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) attempted to get me to believe and accept that my son's eating disorder, and all the horrors that came with it, was in the past. The idea was to 'process' the nightmarish memories so my brain began to accept that it was history and I could start to live a post-eating-disorder life free of nightmares, anxiety, fear, dread and all the other stuff that was causing nasty symptoms and making me feel 'strange' and 'trapped'.

And, yes, if you take the eating disorder years memory by memory - for example the memories of my son swimming out to sea or attempting to climb onto the house roof - then these memories, as individual memories, are indeed in the past.

But the effects of the trauma go much deeper than that.

There is the constant fear, described yesterday, that my son may relapse. This isn't the same as - for instance - having been in a car crash or terrorist incident and living in fear that it might happen again at some point in the future. Yes it might. But then it might not. Indeed in some cases there is a high probability that it might not. And living life primed 'just in case' is no life at all.

I believe that our fear, as parents of young people in remission from a serious eating disorder, is different, which is why it needs to be classed as Continuous Traumatic Stress Disorder (CTSD or CTS).

My therapists were talking as if my son was / is 100% recovered, eating fish-n-chips and cream cakes without batting an eyelid, living a fabulous eating disorder free life and generally skipping into the sunset with a huge smile on his face.

If only this were so...

Instead, I'd be lying if I didn't admit that he - and, as a result, we - has been left with a big legacy from the anorexia years.

The co-morbid depression is an example. He is still on SSRI antidepressants. He still has mega "downers". Like yesterday, for instance. Downers where it only takes me to catch a glimpse of his dark look, hear him yell out in frustration or hear him tell my husband that his "life isn't going anywhere" and I'm right "back there".

Right back there, in the land of the deep, dark, ice-cold, stultifying dread. 

I sit at the dinner table opposite a depressed Ben and I'm "back there" in the same seat and at the same dinner table as in the eating disorder years when mealtimes were too horrendous for words.

I sit on the sofa, near a depressed Ben and I'm "back there" on the same sofa and in the same room as those frequent evenings when he'd scream out, pinching the skin on his skinny belly claiming to be "fat".

Last night I told my husband that these incidents take me "back there" and make me want to "just flee". He replied: "Well go then", which I didn't think was very helpful...

This morning I was wondering how CTSD is treated - or if indeed it can be treated because it's almost like treating someone for radiation sickness when they are living in an ongoing radioactive environment - so I googled for more information and came across an article which lists the symptoms. I have many of these symptoms. You can see this article here>>

So what can be done about it? I really don't know, because what I don't want to do is to throw more money at therapists who, although they may take the edge off some of the problem, aren't addressing the real underlying issue which is that, like it or not, this is an ongoing thing.

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