I've been wanting to post a follow up to my last blog for a week or so now but it's kind of hard to find the right words (I know. Me lost for words..... that's not normal!). I suppose the first thing is that I can honestly say I have no regrets about sharing my situation. Not one. I have been contacted by so many people since hitting that 'publish' button. Some on Facebook, some on email, some on Twitter. Some have been people I know, others I don't but every single one has been supportive and a few have been through or are still going through similar issues and situations. To hear from them that my post was such a help and a comfort was a huge deal to me. I hoped it may help someone, somewhere...... I never even considered that I would KNOW it had helped. That is a humbling feeling.
The one thing that most of these messages had in common was that they asked for me to post updates. People want to be able to follow my progress, some of them are thinking of taking the step towards the same kind of help.
It's hard to know quite what to update and what not to. As I said in my last post, it's all too easy to be taken over by PTSD and the causes of it. But I don't want to dwell on it. There's a whole lot more to me than what I am dealing with and I don't want to be characterised by pyschology appointments and symptoms.
But, on a practical level, I have now had four appointments with my psychologist and I have to say I couldn't really hope for them to be helping any more than they are. I have seen a number of counsellors over the last few months and I have to say the difference between them and the lady I am seeing now is huge. Counsellors listen. They are great at listening and sometimes that is all you need. You talk to them and, when there is a lull in your speech, they look at you, nod and say 'Hmmmm'. That's it. And, as I say, sometimes that is perfectly adequate. This time I needed more and I am getting it. My psychologist also listens but she asks questions, she gives opinion and offers advice that may help. She helps explain what I am feeling and why I feel like that. She explains my symptoms and puts my mind at ease. And that is priceless. I couldn't understand why I don't have a chronological memory of the events of the rape. I don't. I have snatches of memories. Smells, still images, sounds......I can remember some bits but I can't remember what order they go in and things that I would have thought I should remember, I can't. At all. I now know that this is perfectly normal for PTSD and so now I am not worried about it.
I'm not going into too much information about my individual appointments, I'm sure if anyone has any specific questions they will get in touch. I am always more than a little nervous on the day but the time I spend at the centre isn't too bad. We started on a timeline so that we could get more of an understanding into the kind of 13 year old I was, that will help us to understand more how the abuse affected me. We spent a good three weeks working through that and we have also talked about more recent events and how past experiences colour them too. This is one thing that I am finding fascinating. I am still so affected by my past. I know that sounds fairly obvious, and it's not neccessarily a bad thing....but I am so aware of it now.
Yesterday......well, yesterday was tough. I knew the day would come that I had to relive the details I can remember of the rape. I was expecting it a few weeks ago but it didn't happen then. It happened yesterday. And boy was it difficult. There were many tears, many tissues used and eye makeup streaks aplenty.....but I managed it and I am so proud of myself. Last night was hard too and I find this a lot after my appointments. I can feel fine as I leave the building, fairly positive in fact but I was told right from the start that after each session I have to give myself time and space to react. And it normally starts to hit me about an hour later. Reactions can come in physical form like a headache or more of an emotional form...... Last night I had the lot; shaking, headache, I felt sick and I felt dirty and I cried...a lot. I just allow these feelings. I don't fight them, don't analyse them, don't question them. I just ride them out like a roller coaster. I can feel as low as I have ever felt but I know it will pass. There is a part of me at this point that wants to get in touch with my close friends...to scream, cry, shout and just let them comfort me.... I think for the first couple of weeks I probably did. And it helped at the time but then, afterwards, I regretted it. I know my friends will disagree with me here, but I felt too needy. I felt weak. I felt a burden. And so now, I generally get through this stage on my own. I don't ask for help and I just allow whatever I feel to come and go because the bottom line is that I have to come to terms with my past, my feelings and my experiences. Other people can help but they can't do the work for me. I have to that on my own. That is probably the hardest lesson I have had to learn so far. Don't get me wrong I still need help sometimes. I still need hugs and, when I do I am lucky that I have people ready, willing and able to offer support (and the best hugs going). It's been so important for me to learn when to push through and stay strong.....and when to shout for help!
I'll update again as I go along....and, as before, I really hope my experiences may help others.