Self-care is entirely counter-intuitive to survivors of abuse. To me as an abused child it is obvious that I am bad. I am being hurt because I am bad. And I am bad because I hurt. It’s a never-ending cycle of self-evident obviousness.
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. For a long time I didn’t understand why I was such a ‘wuss’, as I saw it.
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.
If you don’t have an LPA, many decisions will be taken on your behalf either by medical professionals or your next of kin or relatives. In situations where you have a domestically violent partner or spouse, or abusive parents, this could put you in a very worrying situation.
Coming to terms with flashbacks – understanding what they are, learning how to manage them, and eventually figuring out how to reduce them – is a cornerstone of recovery. Carolyn Spring explains what goes in the brain during a flashback and how to learn to manage them.
I could cope with it no longer. Every part of me – eyelids, throat, bowels – everything was clenched tight in a ball of furious unbearability. This feeling – such a feeling! – loomed up over me like some prehistoric sea-monster, ready to snap me up and devour me, ready to pilfer my bones and pick apart my brain. This feeling was too much.
After trauma our brains are sensitised to threat and our amygdala – our brain’s ‘smoke alarm’ – tends to react to burnt toast as if the house is on fire. In this article I show how to turn down the sensitivity of our smoke alarm – and overcome the impacts of trauma.
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