Posts Tagged ‘trauma’

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Starting out three months too soon,

He didn’t make it.

My twin was too little,

I took the nutrition,

This you’ll hear, is my rendition.

Left alone, parents aside.

Only touched out of necessity,

Rarely for love comfort,each time much brevity.

Fed through my head because I couldn’t feed.

A little weird, I think, because apparently I managed my needs:

In the womb, next to my brother,

The moment we’re out I don’t get another

Moment near him as they swooped him away,

Or fell into the bucket, there’s none who will say.

None who can or will tell me the truth as I stare off into space,

Appearing aloof.

Bitterness abounds as my family breaks apart.

It was at my birth, at my start.

Sure there were problems and problems before,

I can’t help but think I added to the stress more.

Regardless, I was an innocent life,

Quite fragile, delicate, and constantly under the knife.

They thought I was stupid, young, naive.

I knew what was going on, always protecting my reality,

Not wanting to believe,

That my parents couldn’t love me,

That they constantly grieve,

The three children they had

1 dead

1 dying

and the last, keeps trying.

That’s me, the last, a bundle of unknowns,

I stepped away to grow up on my own.

From a very young age I never connected,

They blamed birth, the brain bleed, always something indirect.

They never stepped up, they never confessed,

That all this, all this came from distress.

If they were dead, this life might make sense.

At the very least, I would have evidence, and my world not as dense.

I despise them, I pity them,

For parents they are not.

I used to want to leave, ran away a lot.

No one helped me as I sat in despair.

I was the crazy one, life perfectly unfair.

I was judged, ridiculed, abused all the time,

When I asked for help and spoke the truth, it was as if I did the crime.

I didn’t, I was just a little kid,

Shouldn’t have to take care of myself,

Yet I did.

This pattern created a grown up too soon,

From the age of 6 I was off, zoom zoom.

I began to rebel, only from them,

I began to stay away, always sent to my room.

The monster within me wouldn’t leave,

As I destroyed my things, myself, all in a vain attempt to grieve.

For not having a mommy to cuddle with when I was upset,

Not having a daddy as he was filled with his own, deep-seated regret.

I did have Barbara, emotionally and completely destroyed.

I did have Ken, an unstable adult child, who I sometimes enjoyed.

Then there’s Michael, who never really liked me,

He noted this before and to the police I was crazy,

And last from my childhood was Judi, far from a lady.

I yearned to connect, to please have a family,

No, not for me,

That would be uncanny.

As my world unraveled, I followed suit,

How did I not die on this treacherous pursuit?

I was done, ready to die,

What kind of life is this, all alone, with no one nearby.

Somehow I’ve lived, they call it fortuitous,

They call it a miracle, they call it bliss.

I don’t know what to say,

I just don’t want to struggle, through this, day after day.

I want to live, to stay alive,

Yet there’s uncertainty and death has been near,

The angels called for me, and I was like a deer,

Caught in the headlights, unsure how to proceed,

As the angels waited nearby,

Would I concede?

I didn’t go, not wanting to die alone,

But I was ready, done with the drone,

Of being sick, unloved and unwanted,

The only hope I had left, slowly dissipating,

My life was on the edge as I was done fighting,

Too scared to die, too tired to live,

I drifted through the night, unable to give.

I woke in the morning, rather confused,

The medicine finally worked, I didn’t lose.

I was alive, albeit tired, weak and meek,

Wanting to finish school, week after week.

I loved where I lived, not wanting to leave,

Yet I had to, this time,

If I wanted to breathe.

Life is breath,

Breath is life,

I must remember this pattern to be rid of the strife.

I’m alive now, I’m writing this down,

Missing Denmark, my twin, and my upside-down frown.

I was happy there, though I was sick.

I had friends, ones I could pick.

I’m lost here, where I don’t belong,

I’ve nothing here, not even a mom.

I have me, only me, someone I despise,

Who stole from a baby, ripped apart a family,

All by being alive.

 

 

 

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If only it were that easy. I finally have a family I believe would understand what I’m going through. My host family cares about me more than my biological family can and ever will. Friends and mental health professionals have suggested I open up to them and tell them that I struggle with eating, well that I have an eating disorder. It’s not that I’m afraid they won’t get it. It’s that I know it hits too close to home for them. My host brother (who lives away from the house with his fiance and son) had a serious girlfriend a few years back who struggled with what sounds like anorexia. When my host mom began describing the situation a few months back, I felt her heartache for her son and this girl. Things didn’t work out between them, I believe because of her eating disorder.

When I began treatment this summer a few occurrences are necessary to mention. Days before entering my first treatment facility, I had an anaphylactic reaction. At the time, I didn’t panic; it was actually a nurse at the school health center who flipped out more than I did. I calmly reassured her as I swallowed allergy pills (of course that day they didn’t have Benadryl or the like).

A few days later, I was admitted inpatient for what was supposed to be a short (2-3 day stay) to make sure I was stable before heading to a residential facility for eating disorders connected with the hospital. About three days after the anaphylactic reaction and one day into treatment, the allergy resurfaced, my leg and throat swelled yet again. In my first eating disorder treatment, I was constantly utilizing liquids to meet my nutritional needs. I was given excessive amounts. If I finished any less than 100% of my meal, I was given one Ensure Plus (I’m sure if you’re reading this, you’re a pro on calorie content, and there’s no need to trigger someone even more). If I finished less than 50% of my meal, I could look forward to having to down 2 Ensure Pluses. It was certainly not a liquid calorie for solid calorie equivalent. It was unfair and I was often noted as “not-compliant” with the meals and told I’d stay longer because of this.

Insurance company wasn’t on the same page as the treatment center. I wound up remaining inpatient for 9 days which I know isn’t long but remember I was only supposed to be there 2-3 days and then transfer to a residential facility. Upon an immediate, abrupt and unexpected discharge, (thank you insurance), I went to an extended day program not connected with the facility (since insurance refused to cover residential at that point) and began my journey there. Liquid supplements occurred every so often for me.

My body seems to always have expressed itself more than I can express my emotions. Lo and behold, I developed a bizarre condition where it felt like food was getting stuck and backing up in my throat. Like any “decent” treatment facility, a group therapist prompted our group as to if anyone else has experienced such a phenomenon and if so, raise hands. Every hand in the room was raised. It was all I could do to not scream out, “this is different, I just know it”, and so I sat silently, knowing within me that it was.

After weeks of having most meals finished with a Boost or Ensure Plus (this facility does calorie for calorie exchange so that’s a relief), the directors prompted me to seek medical advice. Not knowing where to turn, I decided if the problem’s in my throat, let me go to an ENT (Ear Nose Throat) doctor.

Upon seeing the doctor, he noted inflammation in my esophagus which he could tell by bubbling forming in the back of my throat. He sent me for a liquid swallow study. After the results came back, the doctor said there didn’t appear to be anything acutely wrong, yet referred me to the gastroenterologist. I scheduled an appointment for the following week.

Things were progressing pretty well in treatment, I was bringing up traumas and feeling them a little bit emotionally. This occurred after weeks of narcoleptic fits or “seizures” after delving into something emotional (I now can attribute this to traumatic stress release and the shaking wasn’t actually a bad aspect, it was my body’s was of discharging the negative energy). One night, after progressing to a lower level of care in IOP (Intensive Outpatient), I was having a regular conversation with other clients. I had switched mainly to liquids for the rest of the meal. This was a common occurrence and o one thought much of it at this point. As I was mid-sentence, I felt something come up my throat. At first, I thought it was something that used to occur. When I was 14/15, I would often have a clump (sorry for graphics) of what appeared to be semi-solid mucous come up my throat. I attributed this to anxiety at the time. However, as the object of this night was traveling up my throat, I quickly realized this was not the same. It was almost as if someone or something was trying to force me to vomit. Let me clarify- I have never engaged in vomit behaviors. I always knew my throat was sensitive and in this disorder, I wasn’t trying to kill myself.

I quickly got up from the table to find something to spit this into. Bathrooms are locked during meals, so I found a tissue and spit the thing out. Only later did I realize that it was undigested food. I sat weeping the rest of the meal, alone (as I was always a slow eater) and by then, people had finished their meals. My dietician happened to be sitting at the same table as me that night and said I should get an appointment with the gastro earlier than a few days from then. Long story short, after many procedures (some traumatic, some not), it was found that I have Jackhammer’s Esophagus or Hypercontractile Esophagus. Essentially, peristalsis doesn’t function as expected and succinctly for me as it does others. My esophagus contracts so frequently that it doesn’t allow food to move down as needed. The radiologist performing and evaluating one of the studies said “we don’t see this pattern of swallowing in your age group, we see it in 80 year-olds”.

I don’t feel special. I am quite certain (whether wishful thinking or not) that my physical problems are mostly related to the excessive traumas I’ve endured. It’s interesting to me that I develop a motility disorder while undergoing Eating Disorder Treatment. Rather than put my thoughts and feelings into words, my body speaks for me.

I care so much about my host family and how they’d be affected and perceive my eating disorder, that I can’t bear to let them in on this. They’ve already adjusted much on my motility disorder and buying foods I can bear with. At least, they managed that for a week or two. I feel like a burden already. I don’t want to hurt people who’ve shown me the most kindness anyone has ever shown me for extended periods of time.

So, I sit here and write this post as I hear the dishes clanking and the laughter emanating upstairs.

 

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I’ve talked a lot with the Somatic Experiencing Practitioner I see. Even though this kind of practitioner does less talking and more body work, the option to do so hasn’t been around as I’ve been abroad. Every week, we’ve done FaceTime conversations.

I digress. The reason I mention the talking is because one thing under heavy discussion is that I continually overwhelm therapists or other similar practitioners to the point that they will do one of a few things:

1. refer me elsewhere

2. say they don’t know how to help me

3. say they’re not willing to help me

Due to these reasons, I find it very incapacitating at times to begin an opening up process or merely letting anyone in. I don’t actually believe there is an individual out there who can hear it all and take it in-being an active attuned listener who can express true empathy. I am not looking for sympathy-there is a major difference between someone feeling sorry for me and someone who has the ability to step into my shoes almost quite literally. With the SEP, we discussed how some people just don’t have the capacity to handle it all.

You know what? People’s capacities suck! If I have to endure the amount of shit I’ve had to, the least someone in a helping profession can do is not give up on me again. I’m sick of expressing myself and told to stop sharing in a group because even a therapist is overwhelmed at my situation. Most of what I’ve gone through has been an unfortunate series of events that I’ve had no control in (at the time). How I currently react to the past is mostly within my control.

It’s fucking disheartening when people can’t even listen to my story, never mind experience it. After all, I’m not asking them to go experience chronic childhood physical abuse and neglect. I’m not asking them to have endured 20+ traumas as I have. I’m asking them to listen, to be a compassionate human being. Apparently that is even too hard for most people, even the “trained” professionals.

The larynx is responsible for the voice which is located in a region most people would consider the throat. So I guess technically, this wasn’t my throat, yet this was the first word that popped into my mind tonight as I was speaking with my Somatic Experiencing Therapist. She asked for sensations that arose when I made contact with my throat and instead of sensations, I gave her words. After all, that was the first thing that came into my mind.

Tonight however, my “throat” and me were two separate entities for lack of a more accurate depiction. My throat spoke to me and I spoke back.

Lately, I’ve been having problems with my esophageal spasms (Jackhammer Esophageal type). If I didn’t already have an eating disorder, this would be a great way to propagate one. I can see now that it stems back from long before I was able to form memories. for this time period, all I have to reference are medical charts from my home for the first two months of life, A.K.A., the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at New York Hospital.

I read in the charts that there were times when at the doctor’s direction, feedings were discontinued for me, sometimes for more than one day.

This leads me to believe that this is where I learned a pattern, namely the pattern of defeat and then to reset/rebound/get back to baseline again. I was going to be all corny and write, “get back on my feet, no pun intended”, but then there would be a pun, and oh look I did that anyway.

It’s a matter of resilience and what people do when confronted with a difficult situation. And it’s true, you never really know how you’ll react or cope until something comes your way. For me, the pattern seems to be that even at the worst of times, when negative circumstances arise, I tend to have a decent ability to sit in my shit, and then come out from it stronger in the end.

For an excellent understanding of resilience, if you enjoy TED talks, check out Brene Brown and resiliency. I don’t know how to make the fancy accents on the 2nd “e” in her name, but I’m sure it’ll pop up… or click here for easy access:

However, this is not a pattern I want to continue. I don’t like that a negative circumstance is what I need to live positively and more strongly if you will. I want to have a fighting spirit without the constant reminders in the form of some traumatic or challenging situation.

Back to the topic at hand-conversations with my throat. I had my hand placed on my throat during this conversation:

Throat (imagine a person slumped over in a chair, this is how my throat is acting, not literally, just defeated): Why should I work now? You’ve neglected me for so long.

Me: Yeah, but it was hard-wired for me to do so from a very young age. No one took care of me, they ignored me. It became a pattern, habitual

Throat: Yeah, but what about now, now you have control.

Me: I know I do, I can’t describe it better than I was hardwired to not feed myself.

Somatic therapist interjects: I prefer to think of it as “conditioned”. You were conditioned to do this, not something that can’t be changed.

Me: Oh yeah, sorry, forgot that word. Hard when learning a new language to remember words in other languages (I’m learning Danish). Then I relayed this information to my throat.

Throat: (scoffs)

Me: I’m not really sure what more to tell it, because it has a point.

Therapist: try just sensing it.

Me: Ok.

Throat: You know, you abused me, you treated me badly.

Me: What? I may have an eating disorder, but I never have purged. How could I have treated you badly?

Throat: You may have not purged, but c’mon, I’m connected to your whole body.

Therapist: You know your throat has a point, do you agree?

Me: Oh yeah, absolutely (not sarcasm).

Therapist: So can you sense anything changing in your throat?

Me: I reached for my drink to test.

Therapist: No I want you to just feel it.

Me: A sudden burst of energy-Upon doing this, my feet began bouncing up and down nonstop for minutes, I probably would have run a mile if I were standing considering the speed and duration of my movement.

(Many minutes later)

Throat: I need (therapist). She’s got skills.

Therapist (chuckles): Lots of people have skills. You just need a person.

Me: Yeah, but my throat knows that you can help it.

Therapist: How does it know that?

Me: Because you helped other parts in the past and my throat was witness to that. Like remember the time we had a session and you said normally you don’t go that fast with your clients but my body was in crisis? First, you put your hands on my kidneys and then you moved to my left side and said there was a lot of heat in my stomach region. Then, it was kind of like a volcano after some time and began spewing out (the negative energy). Then you moved to my neck and the upper part of my chest, but you didn’t get to my throat that day. My throat felt neglected, forgotten.

My throat became more neutral, which was better than the initial distant teenager feeling it first emoted. Hoping that I can learn to listen to my body and we can work together more often than constantly fight with one another (physical symptoms manifesting as a way to express that something’s not ok).

When I feel autistic-like, exhibiting a lack of social skills, I become frustrated. Then I remember that there are a few obstacles I’m facing, namely being institutionalized for the better part of my young adulthood. Inappropriately, improperly institutionalized by parents who fail to recognize faults in themselves and find it easier (and it probably is) to put the exposed kid under constant supervision.

At the first place, I begged to leave upon my first phone call after 30 days of being there. Did I mention that this place actually did “allow” or rather force me to call my mother two weeks into being there, not to wish her a happy holidays or anything, rather to inform her that I had engaged in self-injury after 2 years of not doing such.

Did Anyone care to ask why I had performed the act? Nope.

My friend and I were talking and he was messing around on a fitness machine. He fell and cracked his head open and when I went to get help from staff, they began helping him medically all the wrong ways. I informed them what would be best to do in this situation and rather than listen, they shooed me away. If felt more than unimportant and an absolute waste of space and the sharp objects practically called my name.

Be it known that years later when I spoke with the admissions coordinator she told me she was really scared when she admitted me, knowing that there would be a break in treatment due to the holidays and I was extremely suicidal (just got out of what was supposed to be a 3-10 day hospitalization but turned into 17 days without any fresh or outdoors).
People are typically in the program for one year, maybe slightly more. Thanks to my formed dependence on the program, I remained there for 1 year and nine and a half months. That was the first one.

There were four subsequent placements and eight other hospitalization since that time. In total, I have been in mental health treatment (only counting residential and hospitalizations) nearly three years of the past seven years. Holy shishkabob, no wonder integration is a challenge

I think they expect me to fail. I think they yearn for it. If I fail and if they don’t respond to my needs, then maybe I won’t reach out to them. Those twisted people, the ones who are supposed to help, yet stray away at the first signal of need. They call themselves help. Really they’re just in it for the blasted money.

Sometimes I think I did something so awful in a past life, I must’ve been worse than Hitler to be so undeserving and not worthy of love or affection or happiness in this life. I must suffer along knowing that my pain seems endless, trying is at a point futile. I just want to be happy and help others, why must road blocks constantly develop?

Why can’t the pieces of the universe align for more than short periods of time? Why am I alive and constantly being teased, good things dangling in my path for a mere moment and suddenly ripped away. It hurts. Life hurts.

All who would win joy, must share it; happiness was born a twin.  ~Lord Byron

I’ve always thought I was a twin; every time I mentioned it growing up, my parents would act as though I was being ridiculous and scoff or brush the thought aside. Fortunately, I landed in eating disorder treatment two and a half months ago. The outpatient setting and transitional living home I reside in is validating, more so than other places I’ve journeyed to in the past. It was at this place that I was referred to a somatic therapist about one month ago.

To think, it’s been only one month I’ve been seeing this amazing human being is beyond me. I had yet to cry in front of her though I have two session per week with her. Then, last Friday happened, and last Friday was quite an experience.

Quick note about somatic therapy: it’s when a therapist deals with bodily responses to trauma, and yes, we all hold trauma of some sort, it doesn’t have to be abuse, neglect or torture. The somatic therapist I see incorporates touch as she holds a massage therapist license as well.

The first session with her she didn’t touch me at all, she sensed energetically that my system was not ready to handle it. Gradually, she integrated touch, almost always starting with my kidneys/adrenals.

Last Friday, I mentioned to her that my eating disorder therapist believes I hold my trauma in my throat. I’ve been having many throat issues and have had to resort to a soft diet. We ended up on the topic of babies and suddenly, for the first time in her office, I realized I had to close my eyes. I hadn’t yet closed them in her presence because I never know what will happen if my eyes are closed, my safety feels compromised.

However I closed my eyes and put my hood on. Up to that point, I hadn’t worn a sweatshirt on the table. It is ideal for her to have closest access (without touching) to my skin. She asks me to take it off usually, and I obediently do, but not Friday thankfully. My hoodie is a security blanket and extremely soft.

Upon closing my eyes, I saw a baby. Have you ever gone to a museum where they outline the stages of a baby in-utero and you see a small object about the size of an egg surrounded by amniotic fluid? That’s what I saw. Then I thought to myself, “I thought I was a twin” and instantly I saw two of these fetuses, mirror image of one another.

As though I were looking through a kaleidoscope, the image in my mind remained, along with a slight beating or pulsation as though it was to a heartbeat or someone’s breathing (like the carrier of the babies). I saw the color yellow flood through me and then miniature babies, maybe 8 or 10 were in a kaleidoscope image circulating about in a circle, in various positions. 

The image then returned to the two babies, facing one another. One baby detached from the circle and began drifting off. I began to feel an overwhelming sadness. When the therapist asked me what was going on, I explained to her that the other baby was leaving, saying to me, “I’ll be waiting for you.” It wasn’t in a creepy way, just sincere and matter-of-factually.

Suddenly, there was a bright light and I was surrounded by about four sets of arms over me, and a mask on my face. At this point, the therapist had hand placement; one on my lower neck and one on my chest. My breathing was rapid. I told her I barely felt the presence of her hand on my chest and she began a sort of kneading motion with her knuckles, not harder so much as to bring awareness to my body.

I felt an extreme pressure on my chest, not from her and not from anxiety. It was the sort of pressure one would use to stimulate a baby upon birth (as an EMT, I am aware of this tactic). My breathing continued to be erratic, my left hand was tapping up and down on the table. She took her hand off my back and placed in beneath my left hand. I made no motion towards it. She asked me what I wanted to do with her hand. I said, “instinctively, I want to grasp it”. She asked why I didn’t, to which I replied, “because then that would mean I’m in this world. She said, “You are in this world.” I, as the baby speaking, said, “I made the wrong decision, I want to be with the other baby. She said, repeatedly, “You’re here, you chose to be here. I continued to reply that I didn’t want to be, I made the wrong decision. She asked me to decide if I was ready to have this happen, to be present, to let the other baby go. I wasn’t. Usually, she doesn’t push me into any sort of decisions, this day she did a bit it seemed.

We ended at the point of conflict; my choosing to be in this world though I don’t want to be. I badly want to be with the other baby. Not wanting me to think too much about it, she said to not rationalize what had just happened. I haven’t too much though I’ve thought about it most of the days since. Seeing her today, she said, “Happy 5 days since your birthday”.

A few sessions ago, she mentioned that my nervous system is like an infant’s and to my therapist at the center, she said it’s like a newborn’s. Even if my age progresses, if my emotions are never dealt with accordingly, age will remain inconsistent to my developmental state.

I saw my psychiatrist today, the first person to get intimate with my case, “a little too much” as she said in a joking manner. She said I have to consider my situation as though I’m an orphan. Even though I’ve thought that constantly, and said to a few people, this was the first time someone else brought this to my attention.She spent a lot of time with me, much appreciated.

Today, I arrived slightly late to session because my psychiatry appointment today was delayed, resulting in my delay in arriving to the somatic therapist’s office. She didn’t want to use the table today (where touch often takes place). She asked me to sit with being alone, to feel what it feels like to be alone. An overwhelming emotion flooded my body and a steel gate went down, and I went blank and unable to talk.

This has happened before, not in her presence though. She came over to me and put her hand on me. Later on, she explained to me that my cells froze and that was validating because then it was as if someone else was validating my experience, someone so gifted and knowledgeable and attuned to others’ bodies. Someone who won’t run away and enjoys a “complex” case.

Even though my individual therapist can’t handle me too much right now and is struggling through her own stuff, I’m very grateful she referred me to the somatic therapist. My experiences are finally feeling more real as opposed to surreal, and at least one other human being on this earth cares about me.

Someone cares about you, somewhere, somehow, even when you least expect it.