The joys


Oh, the joys of PTSD! Just when you think everything is going ok, something comes along and bites you on the a$$. Well, in the head, really.

I saw my therapist this week. I realised afterwards that I’d been holding on to a lot of stuff that didn’t start to come out until it was nearly time to leave. (Really? Bet that’s never happened before?!?!?!) Anyway, she told me she’s out of the office one day next week because she’s appearing in court against a man who raped his 3 year old child.

I didn’t realise this was a trigger, but it was. Who does that? I mean seriously, who does that? Who rapes a 3 year old child? And how can they sit in court and protest their innocence? That’s just so so wrong. That’s disgusting. That’s just… ugh.

I’m so not coping with that. Talk about triggery. Ugh.

I have absolutely no idea why this was such a big trigger for me. I wondered if there was some memory of my own surfacing, because I saw my bedroom in the old house. I can see the grey-green carpet and the orange-yellow curtains. I can feel the curly texture and see the wavy pattern of the carpet. And I started hearing things, or thinking I was hearing things, I’m not sure. I think it was my voice, or my voice in my head, I’m not sure of that either. I’ve never had an auditory experience like that before. It’s scary and freaky.

Here’s what it’s like when this happens.

It’s like the world slows down and speeds up all at the same time. Things start to spin wildly out of control inside. I’m flooded with emotions. I’m spinning uncontrollably but trying desperately to hang on to the present at the same time. Everything around me becomes more distant but larger than life, all at once. And if the trigger is really bad, like this one and the fishy one, I start feeling like a little kid again, even thinking like a little kid. It’s like I’m being transported through time and space. It’s weird and freaky and scary.

And then the inner critic starts up with her incessant criticism and sniping and negative talk. Ugh.

This happened a few days ago and I still don’t know why, damn it. And I had had such a good day too, when this happened. I’d felt pretty funky in the morning so I spent the day doing things I like – cooking, ironing, watching my favourite TV show on DVD. And then this. Days of this. Bleuch. I feel so broken when this still happens, and now I’ve slunk so low I don’t know how to get out of it.

I remember Back Up Therapist saying triggers and flashbacks are all the worse when you can’t figure out what they mean. Hell yea.

I’m still struggling to maintain a connection to the present. I’ve been quite dissociative for a couple of days. Flicking back and forth between the present and somewhere else, though I’m not even sure where. Derealised, depersonalised and forgetting things. I messaged my therapist earlier today but I had no idea what I said. I went to the supermarket and I have no recollection of what I bought, or why. I don’t like this one little bit.

The urge to SI has been stronger than it has been for months. I have French doors at the back of my house. I don’t want to go near them. I’m afraid I’ll put my hand through them. Or my head. Each time I smoke I want to stub the cigarette out on my leg. I’m too afraid to go near the back shed because that’s where the Stanley knife (box cutter) is. I went to the supermarket and all I wanted to buy was food that I know will make me sick.

I hate this trigger business. I hate the way it sneaks up on you. One minute everything is fine – the next, I’m “vortexing” out. I messaged my therapist earlier today to see if she could talk to me. I haven’t heard from her. Rationally I know she’s probably busy, but inner critic and inner child are going gang-busters with over analysis.

I’m so exhausted by all this. I’m not sure I can keep doing it.

19 thoughts on “The joys

  1. One moment at a time… breathe and try to slow everything down…

    I’m so sorry this is happening…

    Please take the best care you can of yourself… more so now that everything is so delicate.

  2. Hi Kerro, I think the trigger is the feeling. You relate to the feeling of the child who was raped. It may not be that anything similar happened to you at that age or any other, but perhaps it is the feeling of abuse and violation.

    Unfortunately it has happened to friends of mine with traumatic pasts, that when they are feeling a bit stable that part of them goes: Oh you’re feeling OK? Then maybe you are ready to deal with this. Just as they feel a bit stable another memory comes up or they get triggered by something. This really sucks.

    I hope your therapist got in touch or you have found some other support to help you get through this.

  3. Dear kerro, i am so sorry you are in such pain right now. When I feel triggered, what helps me most is to do what I can to feel safe. Do you feel you need to go to the hospital? If your therapist is unavailable and you are feeling at risk for self-harm, I hope you feel that you could reach out for further and more immediate help if you need it. You deserve to feel safe. You always did.

    I’ll be thinking of you and wishing you safety and peace in your mind and heart. And safe hugs if you want any (((dear kerro)))

  4. @ Lost in a Maze – thank you. I’m sorry you can relate, but it’s nice to know I’m not alone. My therapist isn’t available at the moment so she said we can talk about it tomorrow. I am just trying to do as Castorgirl suggested and take it moment by moment until then. Thanks again.

    @ Katie – thanks hun. I would probably feel safer in hospital but I’m not going there. Uh uh. No way. I am seeing a friend for coffee this afternoon, I’m hoping that will be a distraction and pass the time. I’m panicking about where I’ll sit though. I need to sit with my back to the wall so I can see what’s happening and make sure I’m safe. Geez, the things we do. Thanks for the hugs.

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  6. hi kerro~ it sounds like you are doing what feels right for you right now. i’m glad you’re spending time with a friend today. i hope that goes well. when i feel triggered and unsafe, there are little things i do that help me feel safe. comfort and self-nurturing things. and the time passing helps me. the further away i get from the trigger and the more positive experiences i can give myself meanwhile, the more stable and grounded i feel. the more distant i get from the bad feelings and mental images.

    what helps me are doing things like watching good, funny, wholesome movies, connecting with things that mean something to me and help me remember who i am and what is important to me, spending time with safe and happy friends i trust, and wearing layers of clothes if i can, or if i’m in my house, a big robe and cover with blankets, eating comfort foods, listening to music, etc…

    when in a restaurant, i can relate to needing to sit with my back to a wall, and facing the door and the people. i think when you’re in fight or flight mode, and feeling hypervigilant, that is a natural orientation to want in a crowd. it feels safer.

    i’ll be wishing you well each day and hoping you feel better soon~

  7. My guess is that this taps into vulnerability fir you. You can see clearly the vulnerability of that 3 year old. We often don’t see how we too were so vulnerable. It may be that that is the connection.

  8. Oh Kerro, I’m so sorry this happened. I’ve been out of touch for a few days – no internet access. I hope you are feeling a bit better now.

  9. @ Katie – thank you so much for your kind thoughts and comments. It’s been a tough week. You’ve helped.

    @ Lothlorien – yes, I think you’re right. I can clearly see the vulnerability of the child. But I also see the strength of the mother and her willingness to protect. I never had that.

    @ Harriet – Thanks for your good wishes. Glad to see you back online!

  10. Hi Kerro,
    Sounds like a dissociated memory fragment. Those are a hassle, because you only get a bit of feeling or a physical sensation and no explanation. It sucks.

    What works for me is to make myself as safe as possible (teddy bear, locked room, music, sunshine, therapist office, whatever makes it different from when the abuse happened) and then allow myself to experience it. Sometimes then I get more information to go with the first bit, which helps integrate it and extinguish the flashback by integrating it as a normal (if unpleasant) memory. It’s all about traumatic memory overflowing the brain’s ability to store and integrate it at the time and then floating around, disconnected from anything else, getting triggered when there’s something similar in some way. Very disorienting and scary for sure. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

    The kind of person who would rape a 3 year old child is a sociopath. They don’t have any conscience or connection with others. My abuser was a sociopath.

    You’re going to get through this. I hope you connect with your therapist for some support. I’m sending you thoughts of support and strength.


  11. Thanks SDW. Stupid brain, huh? I mean that facetiously, of course, but really. Can’t it leave me alone for a while? Sigh.

  12. I’m sorry you are having such “joys”. I don’t know exactly what’s going on. But maybe one thing is that you are having a reaction to your therapist standing up and defending a child. i know my psychiatrist has testified at trials and i have huge reactions every time.

  13. Paul, I’m curious… what are the reasons behind your reaction to your psychiatrist defending a child? I can’t work out if, for me, the reaction is due to the rape itself, or the vileness of the offender, or because no one protected me, or some other reason.

  14. For me, and I don’t know if it’s true for you, there are a couple things going on. First, when you testify at a trial, against the defendant, you get attacked by the defense and they use the usual tricks that many of us are familiar with; things we often face. So that’s big because it feels like I’m also getting attacked. The other piece is the sense that my doctor will really “walk the walk” by going to trial. I find it validating in that sense and it’s kind of a bonding thing. But, again, this is what I’ve figured out for me. I can’t say it’s true for you.

  15. That’s funny Paul, because I also found it hugely validating, comforting, strengthening that my therapist would stand up in court for a little kid. I loved that she’d do that. It made me kinda proud to be her client.

    On the flip side, I’m not sure. I don’t relate to the “attack” elements as you do. May be it is just all about me, and the fact that no one protected me in the way that this little girl’s mother is protecting her. I’m not sure. I’ll have to think more on that one.

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