Today, I got this

Today, I refuse to be a prisoner to my past. I have been fortunate in that I have managed to accomplish a lot in spite of growing up in a home where I was not loved and abused on a daily basis.

I am fortunate to have accomplished what I have. Maybe just lucky. Either way, I am grateful to have gained and experienced as much as I have.

My greatest blessing has been being able to parent two beautiful children. For all the shit the universe has sent my way, I finally won the universe lottery with my children.

With all my many blessings, my life is often still a shit-storm. I am affected every day in some way or another by the horrors of my childhood. But still, I persist.

I have wanted to give up. My love for my children kept me here during those dark times.

Today, I am glad I am still here.

After a really difficult two years, today I finally feel “good” and am living with some clarity that has alluded me for some time.

I feel like someone of value. Someone who matters. Someone who can contribute to this world.

Yes, I can.

I have had this feeling before, so it scares me a little as I know it can be ripped from my being again.

I can become “dirt” again.

But today, yes today, I will not let my perpetrators and demons rule my life. I accept them as part of who I am. I accept them as part of what has made me into the beautiful person I am.

Yes, I have experienced a lot of evilness in life. I was raised and hurt by a lot of evil people in this world.

But, I am not evil.

Experiencing evil does not mean evil owns you.

We each own ourselves. We may need to take our time clearing this evilness from our memory banks, but most importantly, know that we are not evil no matter what was done to us.

We have the opportunity to own and choose our futures.

Today, I know I own mine. I got this.

Screw those who treated me like garbage. I am a beautiful human being who is capable of so much.

No one can take my soul from me. It’s all mine, and I choose to live and love and contribute to this world.

The Benefits of Neurofeedback for the Traumatized Brain

Neurofeedback

Let me begin by saying I am a huge believer in the amazing benefits of neurofeedback for everyone. In fact, if you were around me daily, you would probably hear me griping about why neurofeedback is not done in every doctor and therapist office in the country, and the madness of insurance companies not wanting to pay for this very effective tool for so many ailments.

I was first introduced to neurofeedback this past Summer when I had gone to an “integrative” treatment center for trauma. As someone who was becoming more and more frustrated by the short-comings of talk-therapy alone, I was looking for something that would address the entire mind-body-spirit of my being.

I have experienced severe childhood abuse, which resulted in a lifetime of wrestling with Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Depression, and Anxiety.

Many of us would like to believe that once we escaped the childhood abuse, we are free to live a happy life. What most people don’t speak about is the lifelong affects severe childhood abuse has on a person’s brain and physical health, which contributes to the lifetime of struggling with various forms of mental illness as a result.

I have been in treatment for my severe trauma on-and-off for 28 years. I think during that period most people in the field of treating trauma would agree with me that they haven’t always known what they are doing with treating trauma.

Today, so much more research has been done to show more effective ways of treating trauma. For instance, EMDR has solid research behind it as a very effective tool to help many trauma survivors process their trauma faster, which means many people are not stuck with the aftereffects of trauma for their entire life. This is huge, but not always told or offered to trauma survivors. Though, to be fair, trauma survivors are more likely to stumble across EMDR than they are neurofeedback.

If you read a lot about trauma, or are in the field, you should be aware of the cutting-edge trauma experts like Bessel van der Kolk, Peter Levine, Dan Siegel, Pat Ogden, and Stephen Porges. There are a lot of other so-called experts out there, but most of them are what I would term “old school,” as they have not embraced the significant importance of addressing the mind-body-spirit when attempting to help people with trauma. They are sticking mainly to talk-therapy only as an approach, and this is a horrible disservice to those who have been traumatized.

I live on the East Coast, and found myself not making any progress with the swamp of trauma symptoms I was stuck in while I was doing extensive talk therapy only. I decided after doing a lot of research to head to California to get help with my trauma symptoms that were so severe I wasn’t able to function in my life. I was desperate as I had been in bed for 17 months, and generally not participating in my life,

After arriving in California, I quickly had an entirely new vocabulary for trauma treatments, and I was open to just about everything. I am tempted to go into all the different therapies here, but I want to stay focused on the neurofeedback. Neurofeedback therapy for trauma survivors was a given for every therapist and good trauma treatment center I looked at on the West Coast.

Ideally, when you begin neurofeedback, you want to get a QEEG or “brain map,” which is a snapshot of your brain and how it functions over a fairly short period of time (for me, it was 40 minutes under different scenarios). This brain map is so valuable because it can be compared to what a normal functioning brain looks like, and it can also be used to show that during the brain mapping period, your brain might look similar to someone who has anxiety, ADHD, PTSD, pain, depression, etc.

In my case, my brain map looked worse than even I expected, so it was a little overwhelming to sit with the results. I had done a brain map of my son who has some attention and sensory issues, so I had an idea what it was supposed to look like.  In layman’s terms. my brain showed a shit-storm of color in areas that should have shown up white, and my brain waves were extremely erratic and all over the place outside the normal range. For someone with complex-PTSD, this validates the daily symptoms we experience.

I learned a very important word called neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to reorganize and heal itself by forming new neural pathways. This concept is so, so important to think about when looking at healing trauma.

Once my rational brain came back online, I knew I could repair much, if not all, of what was wrong with my brain through neurofeedback.

Through only 15 sessions of neurofeedback, I came out of it with some extremely important results as a trauma survivor. I don’t know how else to put it, but my mind was stronger. I was no longer depressed. I had less anxiety and an easier time going to sleep. Most importantly to my overall healing from trauma, the 15 sessions put me in a place where I could regulate my emotions better, which means I could tolerate talking about the most difficult parts of my trauma, which is something I was not able to do prior to the neurofeedback.

The inability to tolerate difficult or overwhelming emotions is probably the single biggest reason why trauma survivors stay stuck in talk therapy and don’t make the progress they need to move on with their lives. Yet, my experience in the old-school trauma circles that dominate the trauma industry is that there is almost no mention or even knowledge about the benefits of neurofeedback for trauma survivors.

If I look today at all the mainstream trauma treatment centers in the U.S., there is no place that is currently utilizing neurofeedback despite the extensive research that supports its usage. The only places that seem to offer it are the places where your insurance will not pay, and you are expected to pay out-of-pocket $40-50k per month for treatment. That’s the only way to get intensive cutting age trauma treatment at this moment.

The good news is that you can find neurofeedback offered on its own in some outpatient settings. I live in a major city, and there are probably about 14 options listed on a Google search for people to pursue neurofeedback. Typically, if you have severe trauma, you can expect to do 30-40 sessions for the neurofeedback to stick for the rest of your life.

When I returned to my home city on the East Coast, I found an excellent neurofeedback provider, and I am really looking forward to updating you on the continued results I experience to lessen my symptoms and to help my brain function the way it is intended.

neurofeedback_1

My hope is that you take away from this that neurofeedback works for many, many problems people struggle with. Besides the symptoms of trauma, it has been shown to help people with ADHD, Autism, Insomnia, headaches, Anxiety, Depression, and overall improved brain performance, which is why you will hear of Olympic athletes who use neurofeedback to enhance their performance.

Neurofeedback is not new and whacky, There is lots of science to support it. Don’t expect your doctor or therapist to recommend it, because that is not likely to happen. But, if you are feeling stuck or want to get better quicker, it is a no-brainer to take advantage of neurofeedback to help heal your brain.

And if you think your brain is just fine as a trauma survivor, let me mention when I took the brain QEEG, I was feeling relaxed and nothing was bothering me too much. But, what showed up on the QEEG was a huge amount of anxiety that I am so used to experiencing everyday that it did not seem like a big deal and was unnoticed by me. This unnoticed anxiety I am used to living with has already caused me some serious health consequences.

musclebrain

The bottom line, if you have the means to do so, look into neurofeedback and give it a try. It is easy to do, and the results can be life-changing. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t benefit from a stronger functioning brain, even if you think you have no issues. If you have a severe trauma background, do it. It will save you years of talk therapy time and money, and will give you a better quality of life.

 

 

It will never make sense

I often find myself in a place where I am trying to make sense why abuse has happened to me throughout my life.

It is common for abuse survivors to think about “the why.” I can get stuck in this place because I want to believe I had some control over what happened to me. In other words, if I can just figure out what I am doing to cause the abuse, I can change my behavior and it won’t happen anymore.

I struggle with the idea that there was nothing I could have done differently to stop the abuse from happening. Admitting that degree of powerlessness is extremely scary.

Instead, I struggle to accept there is no logical or spiritual reason these awful things have happened to me.

I have to accept as an adult the people who abused me were sick people, and it wasn’t my fault even as an adult. Power imbalances are still in a lot of places as an adult, and I certainly never learned as a child how to stop predators from hurting me.

You would think I would let myself off the hook for the severe abuse that happened to me as a child. Nope. I am always looking to make sense of it, wondering what I did to deserve such horrific things to happen to me.

It is especially hard to understand when I meet other adult woman around my age who haven’t suffered any abuse as a child or an adult. This knowledge does a number on my thinking, and my beliefs.

My “go to” belief about myself in trying to understand the abuse I have suffered is to believe there must have been something inherently bad about me when I was born.

My therapist often can help me pull out of that belief at least temporarily by asking me about my own children and whether they could have been born inherently bad. Knowing the innocence of a baby, I know it is not possible, except maybe in a Hollywood movie.

On a good day, I have to understand that I will probably never understand the cruelty and sickness of others, and this is probably a good thing.

Accepting that some people are just sick and twisted for their own reasons, and it isn’t going to be logical, is hard for me.

I know, on an especially good day, that both in adulthood and childhood, I did nothing to deserve the abuse from the many sick souls I encountered.

I know I am a good person. I am not perfect, but overall, I am a compassionate and loving person who carries around a lot of deep wounds underneath.

I have to stop trying to make sense of my life, and why so many people hurt me.

The logic will never explain the behavior of sadists, narcissists, and pedophiles.

I hope to one day be free of trying to take any ownership of “the why,” because no one deserves what happened to me.

No matter what.

Searching for life

Many days I find myself wandering, and wondering what I am doing and whether there is any real purpose to it.

Sometimes these journeys searching for my life take me far from home. Many of the times they have been clearly for nothing, and have just left me with the feeling of being further lost than when I started.

I keep searching for my life, and just can't let go of the idea that one day I will find me, and get to live that life that has been missing.

I read and study and talk and write about my search for my life. So often it seems pointless for me, but I stay inspired because I know I am slowly putting enough pieces together that I can help other damaged people suffering from severe trauma find their way back into the lives they were meant to have.

Being lost is lonely and pointless. Today I walked 7 miles along the beach and busy touristy streets, and did not really have a connection to it all. In fact, I had no idea I was even going to do it until I had done it. I still don't know why I did it.

My whole life I have been lost, and never meant to find my way. Living in confusion land protects me from feeling my pain, and the herds of people who abused me.

There are moments, though few and far between, in which I can reach through the depression and despair and believe I will find answers for myself and the others who come behind me.

We all deserve hope, but I realize sometimes it is just not there.

Each day I choose to wake, I know I still have a little hope. This little bit of hope keeps me searching for the answers for those of us who are lost and need to be found.

I am closer to the answer. Hang in there with me, and together we will find our missing lives.

The pieces to the puzzle are coming together. Have hope because I am going to put them together for us.

Then we will have life.