I came to be a therapist quite late in life after a successful but ultimately unrewarding career in business. I always felt that there should be something more to life than making money, and it struck me repeatedly how mental health difficulties disrupted the lives of so many of my staff.
My therapist is retiring next year. I’ve worked with her for nearly five years and I’m not ready to finish therapy yet, so this is a difficult issue for me. Having spoken to PODS, I’ve realised that many other people face the same or similar situations, so I thought I’d write about how it’s impacting me and how I’m dealing with it. But I have DID, so I have a variety of responses…
… it has really struck me how many people with a history of complex and severe trauma cannot get any help whatsoever via the NHS. Many are passed from pillar to post, either being told that they do not meet the criteria to receive services (they are not quite suicidal/traumatised/distressed/non-functioning enough) or that they exceed the criteria (they are too complex/suicidal/traumatised). This leaves people feeling understandably ashamed, powerless and frustrated…
I was abused by my dad, and also my grandad. And in many ways, I want to just leave it there and not say any more, because every time I say it a huge cloud of fear comes up and a voice screams in my ear that none of it really happened.
It’s like, for a moment, my heart falls into my feet and I’m overcome by this terror that I really am just making it up, and that there’s something terribly wrong with me that I would do such a thing.
It might have been ‘just a routine blood test’ but that didn’t stop me passing out. Again.
From a teenager through into adulthood, even the word ‘medical’ could render me light-headed. I couldn’t bear the sight of blood, I couldn’t even hear descriptions of blood; hospitals and doctors and dentists and needles were meticulously avoided. Someone once described to me an accident they’d had involving a mangled leg, and within 5 seconds I was starting to feel faint. Within ten I was sweating and shaking. Within fifteen I was unconscious in a heap on the floor.
For a long time I didn’t understand why I was such a ‘wuss’, as I saw it.
What are the most frequently asked questions on the PODS helpline? Client Services Manager reveals the main questions – and her answers.
Dr Nick Read, a retired medical professor and now a psychotherapist, explains the link between trauma and irritable bowel syndrome – and what can be done about it.
What do you do when the worst thing you think could happen to you does happen? Do you fall back into old habits, ways of coping that you’ve worked so hard to reform? Or do you work the problem? … In this searingly honest and vulnerable piece, Carolyn Spring talks about how she coped with a double loss of attachment figures and how what she had feared the most actually became a springboard towards new growth.
You’ve come a long way. Misdiagnoses, mistreatment, maltreatment even—but eventually you’re here. You’ve found a therapist willing to work with you—either privately or on the NHS—and so now you’re expecting it just to happen. Right? Wrong!
Rather than engaging with mental health services because we trust that they will be helpful, many of us—rightly or wrongly—fear any involvement with them partly because we fear losing further control by being ‘sectioned’. We fear losing our liberty, losing the right to make decisions about our life, and losing the right to choose the kind of treatment we receive.
‘Can we heal?’ she asked, quivering with the significance of what she was saying, as if her very life depended on it. ‘Can we really heal?’ I could well understood the agony in her eyes. I lived for many years overwhelmed by trauma, the symptoms of unhealed suffering. And if recovery is impossible, then why are we even trying?
The beginning of understanding was really just that—a beginning. Little did I know how much I had to learn and how much I really didn’t know. When my peer supervisor mentioned to me this strange word ‘dissociation’, it was an entirely new concept to me. Now I wonder how that can be.