Monday, 27 August 2012
18 months on
Has it really been over 18 months since I last posted? The time has gone quickly in some ways and dragged in others. In this time I have been contacted a few times with people asking for updates, which I find really touching and other people have been in touch to let me know that my story has helped them deal with some similar symptoms. All these things have helped me a lot.
Due to some fairly major changes in my circumstances I have to say that my health situation has not improved. If anything, certainly at the moment, it is as bad if not worse than it was when I last updated. After six sessions with my psychologist, in December 2010, I received news that I had been offered a job I had applied for - at the other side of the country. This of course meant stopping my appointments just after I'd started to notice a difference......there was no choice though, the new job was too good an opportunity to turn down. And so I moved.
To cut a long story short, I am only now getting back to where I was. I have just started work with a psychotherapist and I am really hopeful that she will now work with me throughout the journey to sort my head out. One big difference that came as a shock moving from Wales to England is the lack of organised mental health services available. After speaking to my GP in the first instance I was referred for counselling. My GP has my original PTSD diagnosis so that still stands. On the NHS you are entitled to six hours of counselling. One hour per week. And that's it. There is no long term waiting list, even with a diagnosis such as mine. Unless someone is exhibiting symptoms linked to hurting themselves or others then you are on your own. Even now, as I write, I find it hard to believe. But that's what I've been told by health professionals for over a year now so it must be the case.
In my own case, I had a stroke of luck. The lady counsellor I saw for my six NHS sessions was in the process of setting up her own charitable organisation to try and fill in some of this gap for people needing professional help. She is a psychotherapist and specialises in helping those who have gone through any kind of abuse. A couple of months ago she was finally able to open this charity for business and I have been able to restart my therapy. I have had to start with a new therapist, one of her colleagues, and we, of course, have had to go right back to the beginning. Again.
And so here I am. My symptoms are all attacking me full blast at the moment. The nightmares, the flashbacks, the panic attacks and the associated feelings of being overwhelmed by the slightest little thing. I have had three sessions with my new therapist so far so we are right at the beginning of taking the lid of this box, taking all the crap out and dealing with it to put it back in an orderly way so that I can replace the lid, neatly and in control of what is in there. I can't wait to get to that point....but for now I feel like things are floating at will around my head and that someone is stirring it with a big stick. I'm trying hard to see this period as a positive one. I have to go through this in order for things to improve - and heaven knows I've never been more determined to get there. I am more aware of my triggers than I was so that can help me to deal with the panics and I am coping better with the nightmares and can generally manage to get myself back off to sleep after them now. The whole situation is draining more than anything, just exhausting. My mind won't do what I ask it to do half the time, it's almost impossible to make the simplest decision and I double cross myself and analyse the most ridiculous things until I just can't think anymore. Again, this is all part of the process. I have been warned that the symptoms will get worse before they get better as my therapy starts to open up memories, emotions and experiences.
I will try to keep my blog updated when I can as I move from this point forwards. I know from my original post that I am far from the only one living with these symptoms and that many different traumas can cause the same reaction, sometimes years into the future as mine did. I have never once regretted sharing my story on here, from the moment I knew I had helped someone it was the right decision and as I have always said the taboo surrounding sexual abuse, PTSD and mental health in general make the whole situation so much more difficult to deal with.
Feel free to comment, as ever and I hope my story continues to be of some help in helping to understand PTSD.