Hard Decisions

Mastery-Spreading-yourself-thin

I have been spreading myself emotionally thin over the past few weeks. It has caught up to me in a series of almost continuous dissociation, hypomanic episodes, angry and physically violent outbursts, and self-harm. I have opened myself up to sharing an overview of my past with five new people in a matter of weeks, in the name of finding a therapist that is experienced enough to manage my level of trauma and my symptoms. I have finally found a trauma therapist I am very pleased with, and she happens to be Christian- which is important to me right now, as I cannot heal without God’s healing hand.

She is slowly working her way into my past through a very long intake process, and has not asked a single time about my trauma. She has stated that she primarily wants me to focus on staying present during session, and when I reported (she checks in regarding dizziness every few minutes) mild dizziness today, she had me stop the intake to share the tasks I had completed that morning. It took me several minutes to recall what I had done! It was clearly a rough morning full of dissociation.

She also stated that she strongly encourages me to have a psychiatric evaluation completed and most likely go on meds, because we cannot delve into trauma work until my symptoms are managed much better than they are now. This is a difficult step for me because I am breastfeeding and I do not want to wean. It is my daughter’s reference point for everything when I am around; she uses it to connect, feed, play, and for comfort. Weaning would change our entire relationship. I am not against formula feeding, as I formula fed my first, but I fought very hard to establish a breastfeeding relationship with my daughter and I am agonizing over the possibility of having to give it up.

And… she told me it would be best if I chose just one therapist. Friday is my termination session for the therapist I have been seeing for over a year. I trust her. I like her. I work well with her. I am attached to her. I do not want to say goodbye. New therapists are sometimes necessary steps to take towards healing, but it is going to be very difficult to say goodbye without shutting down.

Photo credit: http://yellowgazelle13.blogspot.com/2011/03/getting-closer.html

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Me

Woman Pulling Hair out

I’m bursting with anger and fear
There’s too much pain to shed a tear
Sometimes I’m collected and calm
Meeting their needs, I am their mom

Just one trigger and I am four
Curled up, I can’t take anymore
I try hard but I cannot speak
I’m gone and can only hear screams

More triggers and I am seven
Angry at my God in heaven
My memories and pain are here
Boxed up so the others don’t fear

Can I force myself to be five?
I feel so vibrant and alive
Creative stories in my mind
I get to leave my past behind

I have trauma, is this for real?
There must be honesty to heal
I am longing to be just me
How long until God sets me free?

Faithful God’s Wayward Daughter

Fotolia_woman-with-cross-e1335162465312

People have told me in the past not to challenge God. Actually, my husband told me this just this weekend. My reply was, “God is big enough to meet me in my challenges.” I am not a typical Christian. I wear jeans or slacks to a church where most women wear skirts (and men wear suits) because I feel vulnerable in dresses. If the pastor suggests we memorize a certain verse, I choose a different passage and memorize the entire chapter. If someone suggests I ought to be a stay-at-home mom in this time period, I send a quiet challenge by stating that if I can find a good full-time job, I would take it in a heartbeat (which is probably not true). I do not fit into the homemaker, homeschool mom category that many of my reformed Christian peers do. So I guess it makes sense that I’d fight the norm on shoving down any struggles in faith and doubts.

Instead of having shame that I’m questioning God’s plan for me, I think I ought to turn to God with my questions and faltering. He already knows I’m questioning His plan for me, I cannot hide it from Him. So why not bring it out into the open? I believe it is only through honesty that a person can heal in anything, including relationship with the Father.

The Bible is full of miraculous signs that God used to both to show Himself faithful and meet us in our needs, and it is also full of people who struggled in their faith. Elijah brought fire down from heaven as a sign that his God was the true God. Jacob wrestled with God. Abraham laughed at God. King David prayed that God would kill his enemies.

As I challenge God with “What do you have for me?!” and “Do something, Lord!” and “Where are You?!” I am met with verses such as, “Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” and “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You.” and “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine.” and “You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day.”

Truthfully, I would not have had the ability to manage a recent crisis at work if I had not been going through my own crisis. It was through my own journey of faith, therapy, and wisdom from a therapist that I was able to manage the crisis- and it was only a few days prior that I discovered the verses I needed and the necessary therapeutic techniques that would de-escalate the situation. I have no desire to be in the depths of crisis and spiritual warfare, but perhaps I can trust that all things do work out for good to those who love Him.

Photo credit: http://sylviabrowder.com/symptoms-of-spiritual-awakening-learn-why-youre-feeling-so-off-balance/

Re-parenting The Inner Child

inner child dressesDraw your inner child connecting with you

In the mental health world, we often consider those with complex trauma as “stuck.” This means that at the point where their trauma began, a portion of their brains stopped developing, and even as adults they exhibit some of the same emotional development they did at the age where they became stuck. Clients who are “stuck” may over-attach to those who exhibit desired parental qualities or are older. This can easily lead to unhealthy attachment. It is typically healthier to transfer these feelings onto a therapist, who is better able to manage these needs with proper boundaries. Talk of re-parenting usually occurs in these therapeutic situations.

I heard a beautiful story once of a family who re-parented a teenager with complex trauma, including reading children’s stories and tucking her into bed. Through this endeavor, the family changed the course of the teenager’s life and improved her attachment style. Though this is the deepest desire of all inner children, the time and effort this requires makes this kind of story quite rare. However, the concept is very common, especially in therapy.

Some therapists help clients re-write their stories as if they were their own parents, each chapter of the story being a different age bracket. Other interventions include encouraging the clients to listen to and meet the needs of the inner child. This may include offering her something as simple as a juice box, time on the bed with her favorite blanket, or a coloring book when she is having a tantrum. Through meeting these needs, it is theorized that the inner child will feel her needs are met and will calm down. I personally do not believe the child will ever become completely “un-stuck,” but the inner child can certainly be made to feel safe. With care, the child will not feel she needs to wreak havoc in her adult’s life.

When people hear talk of re-parenting, it is common to feel uncomfortable. After all, connecting with the inner child may remind us of how popular culture has turned diagnoses like Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) into something to fear or make jokes over. According to a study, DID occurs in approximately 1.1% of the population and ought to be better understood than a few movies. Dissociative Disorder NOS (DDNOS) is a far more prevalent diagnosis for survivors of complex trauma. Those with this diagnosis may have successful careers, and when their brains are engaged professionally, they exhibit no symptoms (this relates to their ability to easily separate from other parts of themselves). However, they have frequent and lengthy periods of partial or complete dissociation or feeling they are walking in a fog. Those with DDNOS often have a very strong sense of an inner child, who is developmentally the age of the adult when the trauma began (re: being “stuck”). It is the inner child who recalls and relives the trauma. However, they differ from DID in that the child does not have her own identity or take over completely. The adult is typically always in ultimate control of the mind and body, though they may feel the constant struggle of the inner child.

Some ideas on meeting the needs of the inner child

Cut your food into small pieces

Have a blanket to use for comfort

Have crayons and a sketch book or coloring book handy

Listen to kids music

Keep juice boxes in the fridge for her

Write letters to her

Allow her to keep a journal (giving her a voice will calm her)

Visualize yourself holding her and tucking her in at night

Keep your favorite childhood toy, or buy a favorite toy for her

Paint fingernails and toenails

Finally, if you have children, play with them. Allow yourself to feel nurtured as you meet their needs.

For more ideas on healing the inner child, read Courage To Heal or click here 

inner childA bed prepared for my inner child’s favorite doll, which should arrive Saturday