Life, Therapy

Finally talking about my trauma in detail

I experienced a traumatic event four years and nine months ago. I decided to do DBT PE (Dialectical Behavior Therapy with Prolonged Exposure) to treat my PTSD eight months ago. And today, I finally talked about the trauma in detail in therapy.

I’ve been building up to this for so long. I’ve gone over the traumatic event in my head so many times in varying levels of flashback-y-ness but always fairly anxious states. This has been a part of my life for so long.

But I had never said it out loud to another human being. I had never said it in order from start to finish. (well, the finish of one part, at least)

This feels like a watershed moment. Something small but fundamental has shifted inside of me, a change that will grow more pronounced as I continue this treatment.

I am still going about my same daily activities and interacting with the same people, but I feel a little different, as if I’m experiencing everything with freer eyes. It feels a little like what getting baptized felt like, or what traveling to another continent for the first time felt like. I knew logically what to expect, but now I’m experiencing it emotionally.

Of course, it was also really hard, and this is also only the beginning. But I finally said it!!!

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Affirmations

Affirmation #8 — I’m a survivor

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It says:

 

I’m a survivor

I don’t won’t give up

I will survive

Keep on surviving

I am strong enough to handle this

Life is still worth living even when there’s pain

I am going through a rough time, and I will make it through

I will get back up again

Not giving up today

I know that I’m really really really gonna be okay

 


Credits/citations: The first four lines are from the song “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child. Those aren’t quite the lyrics because I misheard them, but I like them. “Life is still worth living even when there’s pain” is a line from the radical acceptance part of my DBT handbook, DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, second edition, by Marsha M. Linehan. The last three lines are from different parts of the the song “Get Back Up Again” from the movie “Trolls.”  

Affirmations

Affirmation #6 — Something is better than nothing

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Something is better than nothing 🙂

You may have guessed that this is something important to me from the fact that it’s the name of my blog. 🙂 I’ve actually had this sticky note longer than I’ve had this blog. I wrote about what “Something over Nothing” means to me here a while ago.

Affirmations

Affirmation #4 — Self-Validation

(note: mentions of death)

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It says:

 

Self-Validation

I have been through a rough time.

I am grieving.

It makes sense that I am sad because there are important people missing from my life.

It makes sense that I am angry because their deaths block my goals of spending more time with them and showing them my love.

It makes sense that I have thoughts like, “I don’t understand why I’m not dead yet,” because with all the people that have died, it has shaken my foundation and made me more likely to believe that anyone can die at any moment. AND, at the same time, the vast majority of people I know have not died, and there is no rational, causal reason that I would have died, either.

It makes sense that I have the thought, “I don’t understand why people are nice to me,” because I have received conflicting messages and amounts of help in the same situations.


I wrote this when I was struggling with the thoughts mentioned above. I was invalidating my feelings and feeling shame, guilt, and anger at myself for thinking these things and reacting this way. I was just making it worse. So, I wrote this rather intentionally to validate myself. Because what I’m feeling and thinking is valid and comes from somewhere, even if I don’t always know where that is.

Coping Skills

Websites — anxiety symptoms, grounding, grief, student with mental illness

I’d like to share some websites I found recently that I really like and have found helpful. (to be clear, I’m not getting paid by these websites or anything; I have just found them helpful and want to share them in case they could be helpful to others, too)

Anxiety symptoms:  This one lists a ton of symptoms associated with anxiety and describes what they feel like and what causes each symptom. I have struggled with identifying what I am feeling physically, emotionally, and mentally, describing it, and knowing when it is something worth worrying about or something harmless. This website helps by including lots of different ways people might describe a certain feeling or symptom.

For example, the “dizziness or lightheadedness” description includes feeling “off-balance, unsteady, that you might faint or pass out,” “difficulty placing your feet because your perception of the ground may seem wrong or incorrect,” feeling like “your legs may not support you,” and about 10 others. It notes the different ways dizziness can occur, like out of the blue, in waves, persistently, at varying intensities, etc. The page also offers possible anxiety-related causes of dizziness, like hyper- and hypoventilation, an active stress response, persistently elevated stress, and sleep deprivation and fatigue.

I think this is useful if you want to understand what is happening in your body or mind, learn more about anxiety in all its different forms, put a name to things, or to help with hypochondria and differentiate between illness and anxiety symptom. A list like this is something I’ve felt a need for in my life for a long time, and I’m so glad I finally found something like this.

(https://www.anxietycentre.com/anxiety-symptoms.shtml#symptomslist)

Grounding techniques for coping with flashback and distressI think I’ve linked to this website before, but I really like it, so I’m sharing it again. It lists a lot of things you can do right now if you want to become more grounded. It’s easy to read, even if you’re in that flashback-y state and are having trouble concentrating. I had bookmarked this site a while ago, and I recently used it again when I really needed it because I had it conveniently bookmarked. It was helpful. If you think bookmarking this site could be helpful to you, too, then I recommend doing that! 🙂

(https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/flashbacks.htm)

What’s your grief: This is basically a blog about grief with lots of niche topics that are written about in helpful ways. I hadn’t really dealt with grief, at least not debilitating grief, in my life before the recent deaths of my uncle and grandmother. This website helped me understand it, see how normal it is, think about how I’m grieving / going to grieve, and gave me some recommendations for movies about grief (Coco and Mary Poppins Returns, apparently! I’ll have to check them out! 🙂 ).

(https://whatsyourgrief.com)

Saving your grades from a mental health crisis (by Not Yet Hermione on Tumblr and rewritten in what I think is a more readable way on 7cups here): This is a guide on how to deal with school when you have a mental health crisis or near-crisis / rough time. It has helpful and realistic tips and things I didn’t think of, like asking to submit homework through email if you can’t make it to class to turn it in (something I could have used earlier this week but that didn’t occur to me) and making time for “I feel like crap” time in your schedule so that you don’t avoid your emotions and don’t just push through all the time. And the guide reminds you that your mental health is more important than school and has some encouraging things to say, which I kinda knew logically but are still nice to be reminded of.

(https://www.7cups.com/forum/StudentSupport_114/StudentMentalHealthSupport_1211/Savingyourgradesfromamentalhealthcrisis_193340/ )