Starting Therapy for PTSD
TRIGGER WARNING: Birth Trauma
Anyone that follows my blog and twitter will notice that I've been a bit quiet recently. This is for a mixture of reasons - I've had some really positive and exciting things going on, but unfortunately everything in my life is being tainted by my ongoing struggle with PTSD. It feels strange to write that, to actually acknowledge it, but sadly that is the reality.
I am not at the point where I can explain everything around this, but I will say that I had an extremely traumatic birth of my son at the end of last year. There was a horrific life threatening situation for my baby which haunts me, and then following the delivery something happened to me in response to me having a post-partum haemorrhage which I can't begin to describe, which potentially should not have happened to me, which has left me with severe flashbacks and nightmares.
I reached out for help around 6 weeks ago, after reaching the point where I knew I needed some sort of assistance to get through this. I spoke my GP, and some very kind people working for the mental health services, and was referred for therapy for PTSD.
Last week was my first appointment. a zoom call with a therapist. That morning I had a physiotherapy appointment at the hospital, and I needed to walk down the same corridor as the labour ward, and found myself shaking, sweating and feeling sick. I was able to conceal this from the physiotherapist, but when I got home my already heightened anxiety was sky high, One of the problems I am facing is the constant feeling on edge - I have always been quite a jumpy person but I am now hearing my heartbeat in my ears at the slightest thing, let alone revisiting the place my trauma happened.
So by the time the zoom call began I was sat digging my nails into my hands feeling sick and shakey. I was absolutely dreading having to share what happened to me. The therapist introduced herself and immediately ran through the, what I could describe as threats, of not attending or doing your homework, how you would be discharged immediately. I appreciate the waiting lists are huge and they need to tell people this to use the time as best they can, but I wasn't planning on messing them around and couldn't help but feel a little frustrated at this introduction.
She then explained that we could do CBT or EMRT and began explaining both of these. On a normal day I would have taken this in, but I was in such a state that I would have to talk about what happened to me, that when she casually referenced that I would have to relive what happened to me as part of the therapy, I began to cry. I pretty much cried through the rest of the session. I took in next to nothing about CBT or EMRT, but my homework was to watch videos about both of them so I was able to catch up. I will talk about these in a future post.
As part of the explanation of the therapies, she referenced what happened to me as the worst part and visualising it. Again this had me crying, I was a bit shocked she casually referenced it, but I think that is the point of therapy so that when it is spoken of I won't react so strongly.
We then discussed a technique called 'dream completion' to help with my nightmares, It is basically thinking of a nice ending to the trauma dreams in which I wake up at the worst moment, to try and almost give it a nice ending. I took ages to get my head around this, again mainly because I was in a state but also because I am a practical person and part of my trauma is that I don't know if the awful action I suffered saved my life or was wrong, so I can't wish it didn't happen as I am obviously more than glad to be here. But she explained anything can happen in dreams, it doesn't have to be logical, and I was then able to use the dream completion technique to invent my own nice ending. I will see how this goes.
I came away from the session unsure. Was this going to help? It sounds horrendous having to relive my experience and I am not looking forward to future sessions. But I know that the way I am now is not good. I am plagued with guilt that I have failed as a mum by not being able to deliver my baby safely and I feel guilty and ashamed to have this PTSD stuff going on, I feel like I am a wimp and need to man-up (awful expression, sorry) and just get on with it. I am being weak and need to be strong for my baby. I just want to leave the bad stuff behind and get back to being me. So I am going to persevere with it and hope it helps me.
I will talk more about my journey in future, and will try to be more present on my twitter feed. If anyone has gone through therapy, had CBT or EMRT and is happy to leave a comment or message me on twitter, I would be glad to hear from you.
Sending love to anyone else feeling like you're not enough - you most certainly are the best mum your baby could wish for.