What it is like to have repressed memories resurface

A message from the Universe, I suppose. Everywhere I turn I am seeing videos and stories about repressed memories.

To some, using the words “repressed memories” brings up the idea they are not true memories.

I have to admit, I don’t even use the words “repressed memories” when I often think about or fight to remember all that has been forgotten from my childhood.

For me, I have always known I was the victim of a lot of child abuse. I just did my best to not think about it, and to try to move on with my life as if that didn’t happen.

There have been moments in my life when I was able to get away with not feeling like an abused person. It isn’t hard to pull off looking normal when people really don’t look that closely at you.

For instance, when I was in high school, my behavior was full of contradictions, but nobody really cared enough to pay attention or say anything to me.

In high school, I was the nerd who excelled in ROTC. I also skipped school and hung out with the druggies. I was a nervous wreck when it came to dating boys, and I was also spending a lot of time having sex with boys and men in dangerous situations. I was both super responsible, and super reckless.

I later learned this was my Dissociative Identity Disorder playing out without me realizing it was doing so.

Even with all those contradictions in my behavior, I didn’t try to figure it out. I was hell-bent on repressing my past and trying to pretend I was alright.

I could remember plenty of abuse if I wanted to. When I was in college and got raped, that stirred the pot for sure. After that, I fell in love with a man, which I later learned didn’t work so well with the idea of keeping my past repressed.

I had plenty of meaningless sex in high school, but now in college, having fallen in love for the first time, sex was extremely difficult, and becoming more difficult with each day that passed. My past was really coming back to haunt me as I experienced flash backs and younger parts while trying to have sex with a man I loved.

Being the martyr most CSA survivors are, I told this man to leave me enough times that he finally did. I was heart broken, which is probably what led to my first psychiatric demise and hospitalization.

Fast forward 30 years, and I can still remember countless episodes of me being sexually abused as a young child. What’s missing is that I often don’t remember right before, some of the during, and definitely not afterward. It’s like I don’t have complete memories of anything, but I know with certainty these incidents I do remember are true.

Nowadays, I am finally working to try to process these memories, and for me, I honestly have no idea when new pieces of the memories are coming.

Yesterday, I was sitting in my car after therapy thinking about a specific abuse situation I had mentioned to my therapist, and I described it in session as a random occurrence that happened to me. Not 45 seconds in my car I was consumed with flashbacks and voices of my mom telling me to get out of the car right before I walked toward the man in the parking garage. I must have been refusing which is a little surprising to me as I normally did what my mom said, but she wanted me to get out into a darkened parking garage by myself when I was around 5. I was terrified and knew no good was coming from me getting out of the car. But the flood of memories could feel her anger and her demands and her pushing me out of the car.

“Get out!”

This little piece of repressed memory has left me intensely suicidal for days. Somehow it was better to think I randomly encountered the creepy man in the parking garage than to know this was yet another man my mom had set me up for.

Another betrayal.

It is not like this is news to me that my mom was a disgusting, narcissistic, psychopath. I have known that for a long time.

But, this little piece of the memory still hurts so much. I guess it is hard to come to terms with someone’s evilness when you keep getting new pieces of evilness tossed your way.

It is not that I forgive, I don’t. It is not that I love her, I don’t. She deserves my hatred and worse, but I am limp with weakness when it comes to having any appropriate or real feelings toward her.

Incidentally, I ask my parts to tell me more, and I am often frustrated when they don’t. I feel like I can handle it, but now I realize each new fact brings new pain.

So what is it like to receive repressed memories. It is fucking awful, and there is nothing you can do to prepare for it. The best I can hope to do is to ride it out without killing myself.

Staying alive has been really hard with this stupid new piece of a memory. The worst part of a memory is not always what seems like the obvious worst part.

I do believe it is important work to work through memories to move toward recovery. I disagree with those who avoid it and say it is not necessary.

For me, I may not heal, or integrate, or even find happiness, but I will at least know who I really am before I die. And that has to be enough.

Switching between identities

Normally, I switch a lot during therapy because we are dealing with triggering material. Outside of therapy, it is usually more controlled and subtle. Sometimes, because I have co-consciousness with my other identities, I don’t even realize I have switched at first.

There are times when it is like the box of crayons (my identities) have been thrown up in the air and my identities don’t know which way is up. During these times, different parts pop up to “front” the body in no particular logical order.

In a system of other identities like mine (Dissociative Identity Disorder), there needs to be rhyme or reason to what parts are out when. For instance, certain parts need to be out for our children, as these parts know how to function as a parent. Other parts need to be out with my spouse, as these parts are in relationship with her, and are appropriate to have a sexual relationship with her.

This past week, my system feels like the internal house is burning down, and we don’t have the order and reason we normally do for who is out at any given moment.

My spouse, who knows I have DID, but doesn’t usually notice my switches, has definitely noticed this week. Little parts and angry parts and parts who like to drink alcohol have been out a lot. None of these ways is my normal way of being with her. Even though we have multiple parts who can be out with her, they are similar enough in a range of expressions that she knows what to expect.

The chaos and anxiety is high in our inner world. We are trying each day to tame it and get back to our normal. It sometimes seems like it is happening slowly, and other times feels like it is not happening at all.

I had a neurofeedback session a couple of days ago that was supposed to help with the depression and anxiety. It did help, but still the underlying chaos in my brain is still hanging around.

My memory is horrible right now. In fact, I can’t even remember what set us down this path we are on.

My spouse is being helpful and taking over more of the parenting jobs right now.

A couple of days ago I had my kids in the car and they had been arguing with each other and then both asking for something that I would have to say “no” to, and then listen to them both respectively melt down. Instead of saying no, I found myself not being able to breathe or talk. I was paralyzed. I said nothing. I fantasized about getting out of the car and leaving them there.

After that experience with my children, I knew I needed a break. I am usually rock solid with my kids. Instead, I was becoming paralyzed with anxiety, which is not helpful to my children, even though they didn’t even notice.

My switching is more like a Rolodex this past week. Rolodex switching is no fun. It is scary to go from identity to identity with no rhyme or reason.

To function at the level my life is set up for, I need to have more controlled switching. Otherwise, I will end up in the hospital and on the streets and lose everything I have fought to achieve in my small life.

It is funny, my private insurance company has denied my outpatient treatment, and even made it so my antidepressant is unaffordable. That’s fine, because I don’t like to take medicine anyway. On one level, I really believe they would like me to kill myself so they don’t have to pay for my claims anymore. But, if I don’t kill myself, it means my life goes backwards and they have to pay for inpatient treatment again, which is more than what it would cost for the entire year of getting me the outpatient treatment I need to avoid the hospital. Makes no sense, and don’t have the mental energy to keep fighting them.

I will do my best to hang on today. To try to move back toward our normal. It is unusual for me to be in this state of chaos for this long. I am worried, but I will probably forget that I am worried shortly.

Having DID is no picnic. It is not scary the way it is portrayed in the movies. Mostly just scary to the person who has it.

Living an inauthentic life

I grew up keeping my entire life a secret. I didn’t discuss with anyone the pain and abuse I was enduring. I also kept my internal world of other inside people a secret.

I knew it was not safe to discuss what was going on with me with others. I learned that my many abusers knew how to exploit me the more they knew about me and my inner system of people.

I would like to say this didn’t happen to me as an adult, but it did. When I was 21, I had my first psychiatric hospitalization for Major Depression, Anxiety, and severe suicidal ideation.

During this very lengthy hospital stay, a therapist on the hospital staff took a special interest in me. She would spend extra time talking to me, and made sure I knew I was special to her. Being 21, I had no idea the direction this was going.

I craved this attention from the hospital therapist, who incidentally was not my primary therapist. I wasn’t used to someone knowing the ugly truth about who I was, and still care about me. It was intoxicating.

It turns out, this hospital therapist was a master predator. She was one of the best I had ever experienced. She learned my inner system of people that began unfolding in front of her. She used that knowledge to exploit me sexually for 9 months.

The hospital knew what was happening and fired her to protect themselves. Sadly, the hospital and my private psychiatrist and therapist who were all aware of it did nothing to help me with the situation. They only worried about their liability in the matter. The betrayal of my private therapist and psychiatrist was worse than the sexual abuse I experienced from the hospital therapist.

So, trusting people with information about my inner world is really difficult. Everything I hear inside my head says to keep it private. The world can’t be trusted.

I live in this self-induced private Hell because I don’t want to be hurt any more. The worst part of this for me is that I don’t get to live an authentic life because no one truly knows me.

I have been married for 20 years, and you would think that person would know me. Nope. I hide things going on with me everyday.

I have pockets of people I can share different things with. My suicidal feelings are often the biggest secrets I keep.

I haven’t found it to be useful to share these feelings, and let’s face it, people don’t really want to know anyway. They say or think they do, but it only stresses people because they get scared about being powerless in the situation.

People would rather wake up one day to the news of my suicide thinking they had no idea. I am fine giving that to them.

Still, I hate living such an inauthentic life. No one knows the demons I wrestle with in my head. They don’t know the many people I share my body with that I must juggle. They don’t know the pain, anxiety, and desire to commit suicide I struggle with every day.

Instead, I do what I am used to. I ignore me and give everyone the me that they want to see. I can do happy or at least normal on many days. It is just another character role to play.

It leaves me in isolation where I am most comfortable. Some days I wish this wasn’t me, but the auto-pilot in me is strong.

Is my inauthentic life my own fault, or is it the wisest decision?

Maybe, one day I will live authentically, and my true struggle will be the story people know about me. That would be nice. Being a prisoner in my own mind is its own terror I subject myself to.

Is my overwhelm just an excuse for laziness?

I am confused at the moment. I continue to struggle with who I am. I mean, I know who I am and what I believe usually, but the other pieces of my identity don’t always back me up.

My family really needs me to work so our children and the adults can get all their needs met. We are struggling financially, and not too long ago I was bringing home a good paycheck.

These days, I feel like I can’t work. I am working at getting through the days and taking care of my kids, making major changes to my health, and keeping myself emotionally stable.

The fact that I am functioning by getting out of bed and going out into the world, and actively taking care of my kids everyday is a miracle that didn’t exist 4 months ago.

Yet, there is increasing pressure from my spouse, myself, and our mounting debt to get myself back to work in my old job so I can bring home that money again.

At the same time, I still find myself getting overwhelmed by little things from my old life that were easy then.

Today, my major accomplishments were to make myself breakfast, pick up my son from camp, take him to a park for an hour, and check Facebook a few times. Those few things literally took up my whole day and felt like all I could do.

I hear inside my head “you are so weak. Quit complaining and stop being lazy and get back to work.”

I never considered myself a lazy person, but maybe I am. Maybe the overwhelm I constantly feel is just an excuse to get out of work.

I like giving my family money so we can live a good life. I just don’t know if I can put myself back into that position of doing what I do to make good money.

I am good at this work when all parts of me are working together, and anxiety doesn’t hang close by. Sometimes I miss it, so sometimes I secretly dip my toe in the water and feel overwhelmed like I can’t do it. Then I feel completely inadequate.

Who am I? Am I this smart, talented, strong woman who is a good provider for her family, or am I this pathetic, damaged, weak woman who gets overwhelmed when a door slams too loud?

I don’t know. It seems like this is my fate to be on a polar opposite pendulum depending on the moment.

One moment I am feeling healthy and strong with the health changes I am making in my life, the next I am falling down my stairs again and re-injuring myself, and feeling depressed about the state of my health and the hopelessness of not getting help or answers from the medical community.

I was thinking earlier today maybe the medical community is just writing me off because I am 50. I feel like I am 30 in spirit, so it is confusing to be thought of as old.

My life is frustrating and good. I am smart, but cognitively impaired sometimes. I am strong, but easily hurt. I feel really healthy, then chronic pain consumes me again. I am super stable, and then utterly disabled by the chaos in my brain.

The only thing I know for sure is that I am usually a really good mom.

Other than that, who am I?

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.

 

 

When your friend commits suicide

As someone who has suffered from suicidal thoughts most of my adult life, I have found myself completely unprepared to deal with one of my best friend’s successful suicide this past week.

My friend caught me completely off-guard with her suicide. I thought she was one of my friends in the “worried well” category, not someone who would actually commit suicide.

I don’t think I have ever had so many emotions boomeranging around in my brain since I found out. To say it has “triggered” me is an understatement.

I went to college with this friend, and it is so significant because both of us really helped each other figure out who we were going to be in life. We debated and explored different ideas about our future identities on a regular basis.

We were so excited about our futures. Anything seemed possible.

At one time we thought she was going to marry a man who would be a stay-at-home dad because she was so career driven in college. That didn’t end up being true at all.

We both came from dysfunctional homes and had the burdens and wounds that come with that to wrestle into our adult identities.

My best friend ended up working full time in a successful career and raising four kids on her own. She loved her kids more than anything, but something went wrong.

She hasn’t been living in the same town as me for a while, so I hadn’t been keeping in good touch with her. Mostly seeing random Facebook posts that made me think her life was okay despite the pressure and depression I am sure she felt ongoing after her marriage failed.

I am so angry at myself for not keeping in better touch with her. Like maybe somehow I could have saved her from whatever demon was eating at her soul.

I am so angry at her for doing this to her kids, though I am scared to know the reason she did this. I am terrified there might be more to her story than I want to know that made her commit suicide.

I can’t wrap my brain around this. I am “the weak one” with mental health problems. Suicide is my thing, not hers.

I have never felt so desperate to bargain with God to turn the clock back so I could have the chance to help her. I just want the chance, but I know it is too late, so I sit in shock and confusion some more.

Why couldn’t she reach out to me. I am right here, and would have been there for her in a second. I am angry at God for not giving me that chance, and I am sad that my friend didn’t reach out to me.

I know suicide intimately. I would like to think I have learned to tame it over the years, and could have led her out of that darkness.

My friend’s suicide has certainly helped me take it off the table for myself as a real option. I am mad that she had to commit suicide in order for me to learn how it feels to the rest of the world when someone does this.

As a mother myself, I can’t even fathom what this has done to her children. My chest hurts thinking about how she could do this to them, especially knowing how much they meant to her. They were supposed to be the kids for her that “broke the cycle” of family dysfunction and abuse, and yet my friend didn’t accomplish that after all.

I would be lying if I didn’t say this terrifies me for myself and my children.

My brain hurts trying to process this and go on with everyday life. I want to take a pill or drink some alcohol to numb myself, but I know that won’t really help. But sitting with these God-awful conflicting, mixed up feelings is like a form of torture.

I am sorry if I can’t think of something clever to say. My brain is barely alive, and my heart is broken. And my friend is dead, and there is nothing I can do about it.

Like my therapist always says, suicide is such a permanent decision. I wonder if my friend really meant it to be so permanent, or if she was just in so much pain she acted out in a fit of overwhelming emotion.

I will never know, and it so hard to sit with the permanency of that knowledge.

I feel so empty, hurt, sad, and angry. I pray to God her children will somehow have

decent lives and not let this ruin them.

Sadly, I know I can’t control this. And the permanency of her death is so final, which both infuriates me and paralyzes me.

Today’s Treatment for Dissociative Identity Disorder and Sierra Tucson


For the longest time, I have bought into “talk therapy” as the solution for helping me heal my DID. Don’t get me wrong, I think there is great value in talk therapy with a therapist who understands DID.

The highly respected Bessel Van Der Kolk, MD, has done significant research on the best way to heal trauma is to work with the mind, body, and spirit. I didn’t fully understand what he meant until I had access to these therapies myself.

I have found that the traditional treatment centers for trauma/DID are giving lip service to his research by adding yoga or “movement therapy” to their programs, and the rest being individual or group therapies only.

In my opinion only, the traditional treatment centers for trauma are backed largely by the members of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). ISSTD is the most influential organization when it comes to teaching practitioners about trauma treatment, and its members are doing what little research exists about Dissociation. I applaud them for this.

As a person suffering from DID and complex ptsd, I’ll be the first to tell you my brain does not operate like a non-traumatized brain. The long-lasting problems of trauma are with the brain, not the emotions so much. My brain did not develop correctly as I grew up, and so my brain stays in this constant state of fight/flight/freeze, which has caused me numerous health and psychiatric problems. Consequently, it has robbed me of living a functional life.

I don’t like to think of myself as a slow learner, but on this very important point I have been. I listened to the ISSTD and their current three phase treatment protocol, and subsequently have been depressed and hopeless about my lack of progress despite my very committed efforts.

I am going to sound like a Republican here, which I am not, but I believe a handful of the private trauma programs run by corporations are doing a better job at treating trauma than the ISSTD traditional model.

Why? Because they are focused on the research done by Bessel Van Der Kolk, Peter Levine and others who get that the way to healing is through the mind/body/spirit, and have aimed their treatments in this direction.

I do not understand for the life of me why the ISSTD is not strongly supporting a treatment model that the mind/body/spirit approach addresses.

What I hear over and over from ISSTD trained therapists (and I am thrilled they are trained) is that they believe having a positive long-term relationship with the therapist is the solution. And don’t get me wrong, I do think it is an important part of the solution, but I believe this long-term talk-therapy only approach is doing great harm to the DID and complex trauma community.

Too many people either lose hope and give up on this treatment, or spend a big part of their lives doing only long-term talk therapy and only getting a little better and suffering through life. I have been suffering through much of my life despite access to good therapists and being highly motivated.

Recently, I had the accidental experience of going to the private psychiatric hospital Sierra Tucson. I wanted to go because their program is completely different than ones I had been to in the past, and they have a focus on the mind/body/spirit as the solution for trauma and the co-occurring problems that go with it.

I feel I must mention this about Sierra Tucson before I go further. As an institution, they are terrified of DID and don’t really want to treat it because they are afraid a person with DID will commit suicide while in their program. They had a series of suicides a few years back that got them into a lot of trouble, and as a result, they are skittish (this is what an admission’s person there told me). Of course, none of the suicides were from someone with DID, but the industry-wide fear and discrimination against those with DID persists.

I also should let you know that me, my spouse, and therapist had to beg them to let me come to their program. After two days, they finally agreed to admit me on provisional status.

That said, I want to talk about my experience there. Once I was admitted, I experienced that about 95% of the staff who worked with residents to be extremely caring and kind professionals. As someone who grew up not being cared for at all, and never receiving this level of care in any other treatment setting, this instantly created a huge change in my brain and how I perceived the world.

Once I started the program, I began individual therapy with a primary therapist, small group therapy with the primary therapist (where we were allowed to talk about our trauma), management of my treatment by competent psychiatrists, talk therapy with a somatic experience therapist, lots of good groups with a couple of exceptions, DBT therapy, family therapy, and the option to work on spirituality if you wanted to (though I would argue the entire experience is a spiritual experience for those that allow it to be).

I also got to experience what they refer to as Integrated Therapies. I went there in a lot of neck and back pain, so I got to meet with a pain doctor who got me off the opioid drug I was taking, and replaced it with supplements and a nonaddictive muscle relaxer. He set up for me to have regular physical therapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, and personal training to recondition my very unhealthy body.

Other Integrated therapies I experienced were acupuncture (which one time reduced my ptsd symptoms by 50%), Somatic Emotional Release body work, Shiatsu massage, Equine Therapy, Ropes Course,  EMDR therapy, Bio-Neuro Feedback, nutritional consultations (where they discovered I was pre-diabetic), yoga, Tai-Chi, DNA testing to determine the best medications that will work for my body, and psychological testing where the psychologist actually meets with you to go over the results (there were no surprises in my diagnoses).

Every person I worked with was on the same page and like a therapist to me. I got some of my best therapy from my physical therapist. The woman who styled my hair gave me an hour of solid self-esteem boosting therapy. The massage and acupuncturists all gave good therapy besides just their normal tasks. The chiropractor was fantastic and showed she cared about me. The techs who are in charge of knowing where you are were some of the kindest people I met. They were all so sincere with the love and care they gave me, which was such a healing mechanism in itself.

I can’t lie and say everything at Sierra Tucson is perfect, but their treatment modalities and culture of caring for patients is superb, and that makes me say you may want to consider it if other therapies for trauma haven’t worked for you in the past.

In my opinion, Sierra Tucson runs into problems because it is a corporation that clearly puts profit over client welfare. But, interestingly, as a business, they don’t realize what a gold mine they are sitting on for Trauma and Pain treatment, which are definitely their strong suits. They focus on advertising what a great substance abuse program they are, and in my opinion their substance abuse program today is only average, and I would definitely go somewhere less expensive if that was my issue.

Unfortunately, in my case, my primary therapist was depressed and dealing with her own trauma, and this greatly impacted what happened to me at their program. I had an opportunity to change because they were moving her to a less stressful group, and I made the critical mistake to stay with her and my group until I gave my trauma history.

My primary therapist dropped the ball on me from start to finish while I was there, and I believe this ultimately led me to getting administratively discharged in the middle of my program stay. I don’t want to beat up on her because she is a nice, well-intentioned therapist who in my opinion was working while impaired.

My Primary Therapist never asked me about my trauma history, so she had no idea how extensive it is. She gave me the assignment to give my Trauma History to the group, which at first I thought was a bad idea, and then I was feeling strong enough to do it without emotion.

I gave my extensive trauma history (only about 60% of what I know) to my group as she asked, and the next day she came to get me and said she was “worried about me.” At some point she asked me if I thought I had alters coming out trying to sabotage my treatment or wanted to leave against medical advice. This was 100% false as I am fortunate to have co-consciousness with my parts, and all my parts were quite happy about our experience there. I was never suicidal or wanted to self-harm while there. But the truth didn’t seem to matter as people who never even met me made the decision based on her statements.

After arriving back home, I am devastated that I don’t have the money or access to get the therapy I need. Needless to say, my depression and functioning is not good.

But, one very important thing I must say. My brain changed while there. I feel different. Not entirely by any means, but my brain feels a smidge healthier, and I have not had suicidal thoughts since I went there. And I don’t know how, but a traumatic event that happened to me over a year ago no longer has the emotional charge it had before I went. I can now think about it and not feel suicidal.

I can’t explain this change in my brain in words, but it was like I could feel what a normal, calm brain felt like. It is definitely different and not something I could ignore.

There really is an answer out there for my damaged brain to recover and leave the suffering behind. It is hard for me to believe, but also extremely upsetting because they put me out for no reason, and I can’t afford a comparable treatment program at this time.

In the long run, I am sure it would be cheaper for my insurance company to pay a reasonable amount to a comparable program, but I don’t think they think that way. I am going to try, so I hope those of you who pray will pray for me, and those of you who send positive energy, will send it my way.

Healing is possible…..