"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly..."
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder/Trauma
I have worked with many men and women that were abused as children: physically, emotionally, sexually, and/or verbally. Some individuals have experienced Abuse or Trauma as adults. Spousal Abuse, Rape, and Victimization from a crime are only a few causes of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Even severe weather experiences can create Trauma Reactions ( hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, etc).
Some of you remember all of the details leading up to the event, but have forgotten the specific incident.Your subconscious mind may be giving you brutal reminders through nightmares and flashbacks (experiencing a moment where your body is remembering the event, but you can only envision pieces). Others may remember every single moment. Every day they are tortured by the feelings, the pictures in their head, and the physical sensations of fear, panic, and the inability to get away.
Some of you may have no specific memories of anything traumatic, but you have either no memories of childhood prior to a specific age or spotty memories with a major time block missing.
Symptoms of PTSD
- Feeling Detached
- Depression or Feeling Blue
- Experiencing Flashbacks of the Trauma
- Inability to recall all of your childhood (in the case of childhood sexual abuse)
- Sexual or Libido Issues (increased sexual desire/promiscuity or decreased libido)
- Fear or Discomfort about being touched physically (a hug, handshake, or even being brushed up against)
- Problems Concentrating
PTSD IS A NORMAL REACTION TO AN EXTREME TRAUMA
Since everyone is unique, everyone’s experience and reaction to trauma is different. Some of you have learned to dissociate – emotionally “checking out” when the abuse occurred. When you think back on the incident your point of view is from a safe distance, perhaps from the corner of a room looking down, or from a place physically above the event.
Some of you have already seen other therapists or medical professionals but are still struggling with anxiety after nightmares, swinging between feeling angry, frightened or numb, and exhausted having seen a multitude of medical doctors for physical issues such as headaches, physical pain, depression that is simply dealt with medication that the most recent drug rep dropped off, and that annual fear of having to have a pap smear with an OB/GYN that doesn’t remember that you were assaulted, thus requiring you to have to tell your “story” over yet again.
Typically, when I have a patient that has experienced rape or sexual abuse as a child, I offer to contact your OB/GYN prior to your appointment and remind them of your history. I also offer to come with you if you feel that you just can’t go alone. I use a lot of hypnosis and guided imagery during our work together so I have often gone in with patients and sat up at your head and helped to relax you so we can send you to a safe place during this exam. If you are uncomfortable having me there, I can send you with a stress management MP3 to put on your iPhone /smart phone so you can put on headphones and listen to my voice guide you to a safe place. I realize that you need to have complete control during medical exams, and I am willing to prepare you and assist you in whatever way you need.
The most important thing for you to know is that with me you have permission to say NO and STOP. These were things that you may have said but were not heard before. Whenever we work together, if we do an exercise and you feel uncomfortable all you have to do is raise your hand and we will stop immediately. If you can use you words to say “Stop” then that is fine too. But as you probably know, when a flashback occurs often the words don’t come. So using a hand motion will let me know that you have gone far enough.
I have worked with many individuals with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for the majority of my career. Some individuals, depending on the severity and length of the abuse, are only occasionally distressed by these memories. Others find that when they start to remember, the flashbacks and nightmares can be overwhelming. I spent years working with individuals that had what was called Multiple Personality Disorder. This is now renamed Dissociative Identity Disorder, but the symptoms of dissociation are the same. If you were traumatized, but did not “split” ,through therapy we can work through the pain of what happened and help you to get rid of the nightmares and flashbacks of the event or events allowing you to have a more normal and comfortable life and relationship with your partners. By addressing the problems through therapy, hypnosis, and art therapy, and journaling we can stop the cycle of abuse that is being replaying in your mind.
PTSD ISN’T ABOUT WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU,
IT’S ABOUT WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO YOU
Karen Hoving, Ph.D.