Trauma and dissociation
At the moment of trauma, one of the most traumatising, life-shattering parts of it is that we are entirely alone. We call out in the universe for someone to be there for us, and our call returns to us empty. We’re on our own. That’s a tough gig.
I’m not comfortable with the term ‘mental illness’.
I know there’s a lot of rhetoric around ‘parity of esteem’ for physical illness and mental illness, and that’s why the term has been pushed to the fore. But for me, mental illness and being traumatised are two different things.
It’s not fair that I have to pay for my own therapy. It’s not fair that I’m all alone. It’s not fair that I’m so unwell. It’s not fair that there’s no support. It’s not fair that I’m in so much pain. It’s not fair that I was abused.
You’re absolutely right. It’s not fair. So what are we going to do about it?
So I did it. I took the plunge, did what I’ve said forever I was going to do, and I started a blog. Cue angels and harps and fireworks and the X-Factor winner from three years ago to make the moment memorable. Or not.
Therapy is hard work. But often it’s the therapist who feels it most. It’s the therapist who anguishes in supervision over whether they’re doing the right thing, saying the right thing, responding in the right way. They doubt themselves, yearn for progress, hurt with the suffering of their client.
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.
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