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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Support Groups » Seeking resources & help for abuse flashbacks

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Author Topic: Seeking resources & help for abuse flashbacks
chandelierlake
Neophyte
Member # 44426

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Hello! I hope I am posting this in an appropriate area. I thought it could fit into a few different places, so I just picked one.

I have been experiencing a lot of flashbacks, triggers, and dissociation lately as a result of incest that I experienced as a very young child. I have been going to therapy fairly consistently since I was five, so I've always been pretty self-aware in terms of what will and won't trigger me. Lately, though, it has been bothering me more than usual.
I have been having a lot of nightmares. I live with my girlfriend, so she gets to handle the majority of my ridiculous reactions. I sometimes wake up screaming and begging her to check the closet or open and shut the door or blinds. I will sometimes start crying uncontrollably as we're trying to fall asleep. I know she cares very much about what I'm going through, and she tries as hard as she can to comfort me and to let me "get it out". In comparison to everyone else in my life that knows about my abuse, she is the most sensitive and empathetic. As much as I appreciate everything she does and how much she tolerates, I really do hate to put so much baggage on her. I feel bad for disturbing her sleep (although she insists that I shouldn't), and I know it's difficult for people to come up with something to say in response to something so heavy.
I also experience really severe dissociation. My therapist gave me an exercise where I am supposed to pick five things around me, touch them, and say their names aloud or to myself. It helped to keep me grounded for a while, but the fuzziness and floatiness comes back fairly quickly.
I suppose what I am asking is: what else can I do to help myself move past what happened to me? I know that I can't ever forget it, but I want to come to a point where I feel as if I have healed. I spend far too much time wondering which aspects of my personality have developed as a result of my abuse, and which ones would have been there anyway. Does anyone know of any resources (or activities) to help with this?

Thank you so much! Any response is appreciated!

Posts: 7 | From: Virginia | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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I'm assuming you're still in therapy? If so, do you feel like your current therapy and therapist is working for you, on the whole?

How do you typically manage your triggers? What are your usual tools?

Would you like some suggestions for books about this?

One thing I can dive in and talk about is that I find I feel -- as a sexual abuse survivor and someone who works with others -- that trying to figure out what parts of us have to do with abuse and which don't tends to be a very fruitless endeavor. For sure, I understand being inclined to try and do that, and I've been there myself. But at a certain point, especially the more I worked with other people, it became clear to me that a) there was just no sound way to try and sort that out accurately, and b) even if I could, I am who I am, regardless. In other words, even if this thing or that about me is related to abuse or assault or my healing process, does it matter?

While any of us who have been abused obviously are going to wish that wasn't part of your life experience, it was. And like every part, especially trauma and other big stuff, it will have an impact and be part of who we are. Plus, while I sure wish I hadn't been sexually assaulted or abused, I also know that there are some parts of who I am that ARE part of that or my process of healing from that, parts I value, actually, very much. I also know that I have failings or fears that may have to do with that or with something else entirely, and that I can still work on those things without knowing their source. Know what I mean?

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Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
chandelierlake
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Member # 44426

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Thanks, Heather!

I am still technically in therapy, though I haven't been in a few months. There were some insurance hang-ups, and my schedule has been pretty full. But I do really like the woman I have been seeing, yes. She's the one who suggested the exercises. She is really receptive, and she responds in a way that feels very right to me. I know I have seen therapists in the past who have responded to disclosures in ways that made me feel silly or even uncomfortable, but she definitely doesn't.

If I feel myself starting to think too much about what happened, I may write about it. If my girlfriend is home and available, I will sometimes talk to her. I have a pretty lengthy list of things to do if I start to panic, but I am not really in the habit of consulting it (though I know I should be). I am also aware of a local support group that is starting up in my community, but it's starting at the same time that I am planning to move.

I would really love book suggestions!

I know that it is the hugest waste of time to do that. I mostly just look at my reactions to certain things and think "How would I have reacted to that if this hadn't happened to me?" It's not wishful thinking so much as What if? I have been making an effort to stop doing that, though, because I know it will only drive me up a wall.

Thanks so much for replying so quickly!

Posts: 7 | From: Virginia | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

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Of course!

Per your therapist, have you asked if she might be able to see you pro-bono or at a very reduced cost? Some dedicated therapists will, especially when they have been seeing someone regularly and know how crucial therapy is to them. Might be worth asking.

For sure, sounds like you may need to look at that list of helps with triggers again. If this is mostly about nightmares and sleep, you also might want to check your environment you're sleeping in out. Can you identify anything that might be triggering in it? Like, is it too warm, too close to a wall or window? Are there too many pillows (can feel suffocating)? Sometimes even just rearranging things a bit can help (other times it can create new triggers, so it's iffy). Has anything recently changed in that environment that might be an issue?

Too, is there something that you find very comforting, in general, are you doing that before bed? Like, listening to certain music, reading something that makes you feel good, doing a little meditation to better relax?

Per the books, a couple I'd suggest to start with are The Sexual Healing Journey: A Guide for Survivors, by Wendy Maltz, The PTSD Workbook: Simple, Effective Techniques for Overcoming Traumatic Stress Symptoms by Mary Beth Williams and Strong at the Heart: How It Feels to Heal from Sexual Abuse by Carolyn Lehman and Laura Davis.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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