Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

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Telling my story…

November 20, 2013

is not easy. Nor is walking out my healing. There are many who would not understand my story. They would think it too fantastic…to unbelievable. They would not want to believe that such things even happen. Funny thing is…some of those same people will read the Old Testament in the bible and not question for a moment the child sacrifices and pagan practices mentioned there. (For those who are upset that I use the word “pagan”, get over it. That word is used in the bible, so if you don’t like it, take it up with G-d. I mean no offense.)

In addition to not being able to fully share my story, there is the fact that I still have to deal with what I dub “trauma” brain and PTSD. I kept thinking I was getting better and then things would happen that would seem to throw me backward. Now, the reality is that I AM better on so many levels. But my other reality, as I have been discovering over the past 6 – 8 years, is that abuse in childhood results in the brain developing differently than the brain of a child who is not abused. I have a whole page dedicated to articles on that topic. Abuse, Trauma & the Body/Brain  Most of the articles are technical and deal with medical studies. There does not seem to be much in the way of practical information on how to heal from this or live with this. So, I do the best I can.

There are some things I have noticed. One thing is that the PTSD leaves me very vulnerable to “over”reacting to stress. In other words, I cannot handle the same stresses that a non-PTSD person can handle. What might be merely an annoyance or discomfort for someone else can result in my insides shaking like crazy. The intensity can be huge. I also have flashbacks that are sometimes so strong that I want to rock back and forth to deal with all that energy.

It can be very challenging for me to be out and about as I never know what will hit or when. I can be at the store or on the road when, all of a sudden, I just want to be home…NOW. It diminishes over time, that is, until I get hit with some other life event that knocks me for a loop. Then I feel as if I am thrown back to square one. For a long time, I thought I should be able to fix this…I just need enough therapy or counseling. But that won’t fix a biological problem. Even the PTSD has a biological tie-in and is connected to the trauma brain…seeing as how the same things caused both.

Between trauma brain (which affects how memories are stored and retrieved) and PTSD (which leaves me more vulnerable to life’s stresses ), day-to-day living can be very interesting…to say the least. Oh, and did I mention that I am also rather amnesic? Yep, I am missing all but a handful of memories of ten years of my younger sister living with our family and a whole host of other things in my growing up years and some of my adult life. Some of it may be missing due to improper storage or non-storage because of trauma brain. Some of it is repressed. Some of it may be hidden behind the cloud of dissociation.

At least I now know that there is precious little I can do about a lot of this other than to pray and just keep pushing forward, one day at a time. I used to think there was something I was neglecting.

Ever since my son was arrested, I have been struggling a lot more than usual…a lot. I am forgetting things…or as one doctor once told me…I am probably not forgetting them, I am simply not recording them. I find myself oftentimes leaving things unfinished as I get so easily distracted. I cannot focus as well. Food gets burned. I leave things out in recipes (not often, thankfully, as I have really been working on checking my recipes multiple times while cooking).

Even before his arrest, I was noticing flashbacks, but my ability to handle them is diminished. Too much added stress, I think. I see things and can feel the stress inside starting to skyrocket, so instead of going through that door or down that tunnel to see what is there…what memory is trying to surface…I find myself pushing it away.

Anyway, that is life for me right now. Or at least some of it. I feel overwhelmed. I cannot call people I want to call. I am just making it through each day and trying not to feel guilty for not being “better” than I am. Yeah, I know this is not my fault and largely out of my control, but the rest of the world does not understand and that is what makes it hard. I so want to look “normal” to others because I don’t want to have to tell my story to them. But the reality is that, sooner or later, I need to tell at least a part of it. Maybe…just maybe…they will understand.

To all my friends that I am not calling. I am sorry. It is just beyond me right now and has been for quite a while. I was hoping things would calm down by now…but they are not. In fact, the family situation just keeps getting worse and I am fighting against the effects of it.

I don’t have the energy to proofread this. I hope it turned out OK.

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More Resources…

July 31, 2013

I am amazed at how much more information there is out there on how abuse affects the brain than there was only about 10 years ago. Back then you could hardly find anything…or at least anything for the lay person. Now, I see all kinds of articles and studies. There is more understanding of how the brain works and how memory is affected…lots of good information. I hope it helps someone.

I have updated my Abuse, Trauma & the Body/Brain page once again.  It looks like this will be an ongoing thing as more and more research is done. I hope that I will also see start seeing a lot of articles on successful healing and how the lives of survivors are made better.

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So, what’s new?

April 12, 2013

I am determined to lose the weight I have gained. How’s that for a goal? I think I am finally in the right mindset to do it. As I watch what is going on in my country and in the world in light of the scriptures, I am thinking I really need to get more fit.

Here is another goal. Continuing to write my jailed son. Yep…jailed. He has not been to trial, but is most likely facing life. Just writing the words stirs up all kinds of emotions. I am so tired emotionally right now. Our only form of communication is hard copy letters. It is difficult to really assess where he is inside. Is he telling me what he himself really wants to believe? Is he telling me he wants me to believe? What is real? Only time will tell. Each letter to him takes days to write…days of praying and thinking. Then it suddenly comes together and I write…and rewrite…and edit some more.

I cannot let my life go on hold because of what he has done. Neither can I just ignore it. His family is affected by all this…horribly. We are not physically close, nor are we especially close in any other way. I have given my son and his wife lots of space. The last thing I want is to be the “mother-in-law” that everyone dreads. Now, I need to draw closer, at least to my grandchildren. My daughter-in-law (whom I do love) is just living day-to-day and hour to hour. The challenges she has are huge and I am not there to be able help.

I am still adjusting to honoring Shabbat. Bit by bit, I get it more and more. It is becoming a time I look forward to setting aside during my week.

I ran across a post about dealing with Mental Illness in the “church”. I am going to reblog it because I feel it is a very important subject…one that really needs to be looked at.

That is it…for now. My brain is mush, but I wanted to get something in writing out here. I know how concerned I get when I don’t hear from someone in a while and I don’t want others to get concerned about me.

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What Is Healing?

March 16, 2013

When I first started out on this last leg of my healing journey…the awareness of DID and the realization of some of what had happened to me (which was an “aha-now I understand” time)…I had an idea in mind of what healing looked like. For me, it meant that my hard work (with G-d’s help) was somehow going to reverse all that had been done to me and there would be a complete merging which I called “integration”. I looked at it like a broken bone or a sickness. I wanted to be restored to the condition prior to the break of illness…or to be made even better. After all, they say a broken bone that heals is stronger in the area of the break and will never break exactly there again. I wanted to be like pre-DID and trauma.

Looking back, I would have to say that I was pretty naive, but not in a bad way. I believed what I needed to believe in order to start the journey and do what needed to be done. There were things I did not yet understand about DID and how abuse affects the brain. There were also implications in my view of healing that I did not fully think through…implications that would later change my view of healing…and again…not in a bad way.

Initially, my goal was simply to work on whatever needed to be worked. If I needed to face a memory…so be it. If I needed to reach out to an insider…so be it. Whether it was writing, listening, sharing, art…I did it. I believed that if I just kept doing what I was doing that integration/merging would occur naturally. It would not have to be forced. And it pretty much did happen that way. As I focused on healing, integration and merging seemed to happen almost seamlessly and without any real effort. Some of it happened in huge chunks during several days I spent with a counselor at her home. I stayed with her twice and through days of prayer and working with insiders massive amounts of integration/merging happened.

Over time, I came to realize that not all of healing is as simple as that. Now, I believe that a huge part of healing is to simply live my life…enjoying it as best I can…and seeing the beauty around me in addition to seeing what is evil in the world. I walk in the Spirit of the Creator, trusting Him to show me whatever I need to see and to help me with whatever I need help with. He has always been my greatest Healer…my best therapist. And He has helped me see that my idea of what healing looks like was very faulty.

I know the Creator can do anything and I believe He could even make it like nothing had happened…but that is not real. Like so many others, I had to come to terms with a childhood I simply never had. It was not just a matter of putting the brain back to how it was originally created. All my childhood experiences shaped and affected my brain. Removing the effects of the negative experiences does not replace them with the positive effects of the good things that never happened!

I also realized that all those things that did happen a part of what make who I am today. And even with all my foibles and what I perceive as “weakness” and “brokenness”, I am a pretty awesome person. I am a walking miracle and I am doing pretty darn good considering all I have been through. So, part of healing is also accepting imperfect functionality.

So…maybe…healing is not about restoration (like a broken leg). Maybe it is more about learning to live as I am and celebrating the me I have become and the me I am becoming. Maybe it is more about giving myself the freedom to enjoy life now…without guilt and with less and less impact coming from the past. It is about accepting imperfect functionality. (What is “perfect”, anyway?) It is about learning not to compare myself to others…not my abilities, my weaknesses or my strengths. Every one of us has abilities of some kind; we just don’t all have the same ones. We all have weaknesses and we all have strengths, regardless of how healed or broken we are. It is about not comparing my healing journey to another’s. We all walk on different paths.

I know I still have more to learn, but I carry one thing with me on my learning/healing journey…one very important thing. I know the Creator of all things and I know who I am in my Creator. I know I can trust Him to continue to lead me. Whatever is ahead, He will help me to face it.

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22 Faces — Jenny Hill and Judy Byington

January 24, 2013

22 Faces is a fairly new site dealing with Satanic Ritual Abuse. It shares the story of Jenny Hill, the only known survivor of an intended sacrifice victim. The goal of the book written about Jenny’s life and the website is to offer information about ritual abuse and to offer support and hope to survivors in the form of several resources.

I am always wary when someone approaches me to share their site or services, as Judy Byington did. I have experienced enough of people not being what they present themselves to be. Or simply of them not being altogether altruistic. I really try hard not to let my nightmare experiences with some therapists online keep me from putting good resources out there. So, here is 22 Faces.

I do not know Judy Byington or Jenny Hill. I have no personal knowledge, good or bad, about them. However, when I read what happened to them on Dr. Phil, I was not surprised. What he did to them is, sadly, very common among “talk show” people. They are not interested in the truth, but in ratings. I watched the clips they showed on Dr. Phil’s site and felt very unsettled. I was uncertain what to believe.  After reading Jenny’s “Open Letter to Dr. Phil” and now Judy’s “Dr. Phil — The Rest of the Story”, I am disgusted. I have read of such things happening to others I know so I have no reason but to believe their take on things, especially since I saw hints of it even in the clips Dr. Phil has on his site. It took courage to approach him and go on his show. Shame on him for the way he treated them!

Below are links to 22 Faces and to their responses to what happened to them on Dr. Phil. Read them and judge for yourself. There is also a letter on their site from another therapist who has worked with clients who have DID/MPD which I have linked to on my “What is SRA?” page.

22 Faces

Jenny Hill’s Open Letter to Dr. Phil

Dr. Phil — The Rest of the Story

 

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More Articles on the Effects of Trauma on the Body

December 28, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Genes and Immune System Shaped by Childhood Poverty, Stress

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bullying by Childhood Peers Leaves a Trace That Can Change the Expression of a Gene Linked to Mood

 

Increased serotonin transporter gene (SERT) DNA methylation is associated with bullying victimization and blunted cortisol response to stress in childhood: a longitudinal study of discordant monozygotic twins

 

Factors underlying variable DNA methylation in a human community cohort

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Healing in the midst of living…

December 5, 2012

Healing can be hard when you also have to focus on living. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all go someplace safe where our physical needs were met and there were safe knowledgeable people who could support us and walk with us as we face our pasts and work toward our futures? It sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Oh, how nice that would be.

The reality, though, is that most of us do not have anything even close to that. We take snippets of time here and bits of space there and try to sort through what is happening to us…attempting to make sense of the experiences that are rocking our world. We have any combination of families and loved ones to take care of,  jobs to tend to , classes to take, sick ones to nurse. And somehow, in the busyness of life, we try to heal.

There are so many things I had to learn about how to heal without taking a vacation from regular life. Recognizing and accepting my limitations goes a long way…instead of fighting them. When I feel overwhelmed or like I am pushing against a wall, I find it is better to take five to ten minutes and go hole up in the bedroom (or some other safe alone place) than to try to keep on slugging through it. Just taking those few minutes to breathe and refocus helps so much.

What about when I cannot leave or don’t have the option to be alone? I try to find an opportunity to close my eyes for a few seconds or minutes. Or, if that would be seen, perhaps I can sit somewhere just outside of the conversation zone and just sort of “tune out”  for a minute or two. Letting my mind wander, or even just listen to other conversations without taking part in them can really help.

How do I extricate myself when I find I am engaged with someone? Go to the bathroom. Seriously, if I am at someone else’s house, I can quietly excuse myself and then take my time getting back…a reasonable amount of time, of course, as I don’t want to be rude. When I come back out, I do not have to go back to the same conversation, especially if there are scattered groups around the room or house. I can go get a breath of fresh air or even just sit in another room for a minute or two…just long enough to not be considered rude. If someone notices and asks, I can just say that I needed a moment to sort of clear my mind and/or just soak up the wonderful atmosphere of the event. Or I was just taking a moment to feel appreciation for all my friendships…or whatever other creative thing I can come up with. And, of course, because I always want to be as truthful as I can, I make sure that I actually do something suitable for the environment and the people and go with it.

Being able to take good care of myself when I am feeling stressed goes a long way toward my healing. It helps to keep me from slipping backward. And when I do get some precious alone time to work on my healing, I don’t have to spend it decompressing. I am ready to jump in because I have been dealing with the day-to-day stresses as I go along.

Sometimes, though, I do need that alone time to simply relax…or to simply not have to answer to, or be responsible for, another person. It might even be a good time to take the phone off the hook. Or take a nap. Or just do something I find difficult to do when others are around. I work on doing as much as I can when I am not alone so that I can be most productive for my healing and personal growth when I am alone.

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What is healing…

December 4, 2012

I am not really sure what healing looks like. I think it is different for each person. After years of looking at it, I still don’t have a solid definition, but I can share with you some things that sure look like healing for me.

Healing Is

Healing is being able to laugh…even in the midst of pain.

Healing is being able to cry…even when others are around.

Healing is being able to somewhat identify what I am feeling,
and hopefully…even being able to have an idea of WHY I am feeling it.

Healing is knowing when I need to decompress,
being able to identify safe places to decompress,
and then…doing it.

Healing is being able to sense whether a person or place is safe
And then being able to keep myself safe.

Healing is being able to find joy in life.

Healing is being able to see good things…even when bad things are happening.

Healing is being able to have gratitude for what I do have
rather than bemoaning what I don’t.

Healing is being able to be productive in some way every day
even if I am the only one who recognizes it.

Healing is being able to take a step forward,
no matter how tiny
and even if it is only in my heart.

Healing is being able to face some aspect of my past…without completely crumbling.

Healing is being able to recognize that some part of my history,
no matter how small or big,
no longer has a hold on me.

Healing is being able to make plans…and know that they might actually happen!

Healing is being able to say that I made it through
another minute,
another day,
another hour,
another week,
another month,
another year,
another anniversary,
another flashback,
another body memory,

Healing is having the freedom to fully unleash my creativity and
sing again,
play music again,
write again,
talk again,
share again.

Healing is being able to give without manipulation
and receive without manipulation
even more importantly… recognizing the difference.

Healing is being to allow myself to truly love
and open myself to the potential for heartache without fear,
knowing that I can rise above anything that happens.

Healing is allowing myself to trust others
and being trustworthy myself.

Healing is giving myself permission to live life to the fullest
without thinking much about healing or hurting or my history.
It is allowing myself to temporarily “forget” that I even have an abusive history.

Healing is knowing that I was a victim who dared to survive
and am now a survivor who dares to thrive.

Healing is being able to put words to my experiences,
words like
“rape”
and “sexual abuse”
and “incest”
and “satanic ritual abuse”.
And healing is to put them without capital letters because
I am bigger and taller and stronger than they are
and I refuse to give them capital letter power in my life.

Healing is being able to cry and know that I am OK
and everything will be alright.

Healing is being able to see my Creator’s love for me
even when I know I don’t deserve it.

Healing is being able to see His hand in my life…even during the most awful of experiences.

Healing is being able to see His protection and how He got me through.

I may think of more things to add to that list. As I do, I may edit

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Updated Page…

December 3, 2012

I updated my “Abuse and the Brain” page. It is now called “Abuse, Trauma & the Brain” and I added two more articles at the bottom.

These two articles deal with soldiers who have PTSD. Why do some have it and some don’t? They are beginning to study these soldiers lives PRIOR to going into battle to see if there is a clue there. It appears, so far, that it is possible that those who develop PTSD in combat actually already have it. They have had traumatic experiences that caused them to have some symptoms of PTSD prior to the military, symptoms which subsided a bit while in combat, but then came back with a vengeance even worse afterward.

I have to say that my personal experiences seem to bear this out. I have difficulty watching videos that have intense scenes in them. I used to be able to “handle” it when I had to, but it is still there. You would think that, with all the healing I have experienced that it would be better and, in some ways, I so seem to be better able to handle it. However, in some ways it is worse.

I think  my age and the fact that I no longer have the strong young body that could take the stress and bounce back faster is a factor. I simply don’t have as much energy for the “fight”, so I try to be careful about what I expose myself to. A little bit of nervousness (like when I am going to sing) can turn into a raging shakiness that almost incapacitates me. I feel things to the extreme and I believe it is due (at least in large part) to how my brain developed because of all the earlier trauma.

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Another Poem…

October 30, 2012

You can go here to see the poem I wrote today.

An October Poem

Every year it “bothers” me less. No…I don’t think that is the right way to put it. It is just that I am less aware of it…or I am aware of it later in the year. I don’t think about it as soon. But once I am aware of it, it does bother me.

I think, too, that it bothers me inside. I “feel” it on the outside as a kind of fog and struggle to concentrate, but I oftentimes don’t connect what I am struggling with to the time of year until later. I “think” it is not bothering me as much when, in reality, I think it is.

I work hard to push things aside so that I can do life…and that is fine. There is a time and place for that. But there is also a time and place for recognizing what is and working with (and through) that.

So, here you have it. Writing the poem was good. It was therapeutic. It was needed. I have GOT to work on the office for a hide away.

My life is still a bit too full. I am still working on it…figuring out my priorities. Things will come together, but I need to give myself some breathing room…especially during this time of year. It is OK to fall apart. It is OK to not be able to do all I would “normally” do…or that I want to do. It is time to be extra good to myself.

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Friend walking Chicago 5k for NAMI

August 6, 2012

My friend, Meredith, of whom I am so proud…is going to walk the Chicago 5k for NAMI. She writes about it here: Walking the Chicago 5k for NAMI.

NAMI stands for National Alliance on Mental Illness. For more information on who they are and what they do, go here: NAMI.

But, back to my friend, Meredith…she is walking to promote awareness AND to raise funds for the work NAMI does. She even has her own page where you can donate on her behalf here: Meredith’s Walk for NAMI page!

I encourage you…even if you cannot donate at this time…or go walk with her…at least leave her some kind of message there cheering her on.

Go, Meredith! You rock, my friend!

 

 

 

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Life Is Good…

August 4, 2012

Life is good…I cannot complain. I am growing spiritually and some mighty big changes might be around the corner. Right now I am pretty tired and is late, but I just wanted to check in. I talking to my former therapist once a month. That feels good. It isn’t really therapy. In fact, I don’t know that it ever really has been. She was always an amazing, understanding support to me. It is nice to just be able to check in with her. I do still miss being able to see her. It always felt more like visiting with a mentor than it did seeing a therapist.

Life is good…I am slowly getting into a bit of a routine even though hubby works a really odd schedule that is practically no schedule at all. I pretty much get up around the same time every day…regardless of when I go to bed. That is a step in the right direction. Every once in a while I oversleep, but I think I am just catching up on my sleep from the nights when I don’t quite get enough.

Life is good…I am loved by my husband and children. I am loved by the L-rd G-d of Heaven and earth. I know who I am…even if I am still a bit amnesic. The amnesia does not really bother me. I know who I am. I know enough about what I have been through that the rest does not matter. I do admit that it still feels kind of weird not remembering living with my sister. But what I do remember does not encourage me to want to remember any more.

Life is good…my body seems to be healing. (I will claim that it is.) I am at peace with my G-d, with myself and with my fellow-man. Although there are some who have issue with me…I am OK with that. I am OK with seeing things differently. I am OK with agreeing to disagree. For me, disagreeing does not mean being disagreeable. It just means being different.

Life is good…my world may be changing in a big way again…soon. Although I am not a huge fan of change, there are changes that are very good. If this one happens…it will be very good.

Life is good…I feel my creativity is sparking up again. I like that. It is fun. I am being challenged in some areas and I am holding my own. That feels good. I am doing OK. Yay!

Life is good…I feel SAFE! I hope you do, too.

I hope that life is good for you, too.

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‘Treat Anxiety with Computers instead of Drugs’

June 14, 2012

‘Treat Anxiety with Computers instead of Drugs’.

I found this to be an interesting article and thought you all might appreciate seeing it.

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Feeling out of touch…

June 4, 2012

Ahh…here it is!

Life can be difficult enough as one who has been through serious trauma. Add to that the changes that take place in day to day life and it can be difficult at times to find my footing. It is helpful to have things I can do to help ground me and bring some continuity into my life. Most of the things that really help me, though, are still out of reach.

For example, a regular routine would be nice, along with some alone time. My hubby is finally back to work, but his schedule is as frustrating to him as it to me. His days off and hours worked on those days are always changing from week to week. He never gets two days off in a row. It makes it hard to plan when you don’t know his schedule more than a week or two in advance. They don’t even post the schedule on a consistent date.

Our son is home educated, which is fine, but he is so far behind that he will be schooling through the next couple of months. That means he won’t be able to take days off to go work for someone here and there doing odd jobs. No real alone time for me. Plus, I need to be available to help him with his schooling although, thankfully, he is able to do most of his work independently. (One bright spot, though…he will be gone for about a week sometime this month.)

I really miss being able to soak in the bathtub. I call it “cheap therapy”.  What a wonderful thing to be able to just sit behind a closed door and soak away the stresses of this life and this healing journey. It has been seven and a half years since I had regular access to a bathtub and, boy, has that been felt. I miss it SO much and, even now, just writing about it makes me want it. We have the bathtub, but it isn’t finished to the point of being able to use it.

Then there are the regular times of meeting with someone. I miss being able to just go in every week and know that I had one hour in which to talk about anything I wanted/needed to talk about. No judgment. No lack of understanding. Full acceptance. Unconditional love. To just be able to have a sounding board for the events of my life and how I was handling them. It wasn’t even about “therapy”. We both agreed that I pretty much did that on my own. It was just about being able to put my thoughts and feelings into some sort of order and be able to articulate them to someone who really cared and understood and who had the expertise and knowledge to put things in perspective.

Journaling helps, but it really does not help nearly as much if someone else isn’t reading it. In other words, writing for myself is not as effective and helpful as writing for someone else. I started journaling because life’s events were happening too fast for me to be able to share with my therapist without taking the whole session time each week. So we agreed that I would journal and email it to her so she would be caught up by session time. That really helped because she knew what was going on and she knew how I was handling it. She gave me feedback, if she felt I needed it, during the session and we could work on anything of concern. In fact, many times, she was going to bring something up, but found that I had already handled it by session time. It was important to know that someone was reading what I wrote and keeping an eye on my progress. I really miss that. Blogging is sort of like that, but not really. People may or may not respond and there is no real continuity. Plus, I don’t typically go as deep with blogging as I would with private journaling.

When I first moved here, I tried doing phone sessions. She agreed to it because we had worked together well for some time. But it was awkward. So, I tried to find a local therapist while she and I continued to talk a couple of times a year. Working with the local therapist turned into a nightmare. Even if I had the money, I am not sure I would ever work with a “local” one again. I put local in quotes because there is no such thing as truly “local” where I live. The closest ones are about an hour and half away.

I recently left a message for my former therapist to talk with her again. I have NO idea how I will be able to afford it, but I am asking her about the cost of maybe a once a month time of talking. I really feel as if I need to be able to check in with someone on a regular basis and I just don’t know of anyone like that around here. Naturally, I prefer face to face, but phone will have to do. Although, after reading the post by Dr. Kathleen Young that I shared two posts back, now I am wondering if maybe she has Skype. It would be SO nice to be able to see her, as well as talk to her again.

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Sharing Another Post on Trauma Brain…

April 9, 2012

In my post before this one, I had shared a link to a post on another blog that talks about how trauma affects the brain. Well, here is a link to another post from that same blog.

More on How Abuse Affects the Brain

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