I am not who I think I am

Today, I began my day getting triggered by my 6 year old son. I keep getting startled by him while I am sleeping in the morning, which then causes me to release all my fight or flight hormones in my body, and then I feel stressed and crappy at the beginning of my day.

Fortunately, it only happens while I am sleeping.

After getting startled awake, I then went to my neurofeedback appointment, which is a good place to go when you are feeling that way because they can help me bring my body back down to calm.

After calming my body, I then did another neurofeedback protocol I have been working with the last few weeks called “deep states.” I like this deep states work because it feels like you are dreaming while you are awake, and it helps you get in touch with your unconscious mind.

It is not like I go and my mind just accesses all my unconscious memories, but it does help me get a smidge more each time I do it.

Today, I processed a lot of familiar memories while in this deep state, and then I started having new memories that were upsetting to say the least.

I want to not believe these new memories from today, but even after I left I had the weirdest experience of having more and more memories involving the same person. It is like my brain would not stop downloading information into my awareness until there was no more room and I was utterly exhausted.

For better or worse, I had therapy today after neurofeedback.

In therapy, I was overwhelmed and felt suicidal. I had this feeling of impending doom because with these new memories comes the idea that I am not who I think I am.

My therapist thinks it is nonsense (my summation of what she said) that I am not who I think I am, but I don’t agree.

My identity today is based on beliefs I have about my life. It turns out my beliefs are wrong.

I built the foundation of my identity on the belief that my father loved me. No one else in my family did, but I thought my father did. I was wrong.

I have gone from believing I came from a family where one person cared about me, to understanding that I really came from a family where I did not matter to anyone, and was only in this family for their sick needs.

It makes sense now. When my father was dying, and I was sitting there with him everyday, he looked at me with pity, not love. He told others he loved them, but not me.

My false picture and selective memory of my father helped me create who I am. Since that is now known to be false, I am nothing but the garbage they believed I was.

I know I can get through this and define myself, but at the moment it doesn’t seem possible. The building blocks that make up my life are not what I thought.

I know some people might think I am dense for not realizing my missing childhood memories are going to make me feel horrible. But, I already know of horrific things that have happened to me. My childhood is already unbelievably horrible.

How can it be worse? I guess I answered my own question.

Barely noticing I have been missing in action

I have been MIA from the blog and other areas of my life lately. As typical for me, I have to really think where have I been.

I think maybe I have not been present as much as other parts of me who have other interests and have been using most of our time. Sometimes I barely realize when this is happening.

I have had moments where I have thought I need to write a blog entry, but then I vanish before I am able to do that task. Since I am not as present lately, it leaves me kind of scattered to write a new post (like this one probably is).

I have also been solo parenting for the past two weeks and it has been unusually difficult. School was out because of winter weather, my kids have both been sick at different times,, and I have been dealing with some difficult and new material in therapy.

I made it to the finish line as my spouse is now back, thank God. I only almost had two nervous breakdowns as we were into the second week.

Parenting is not usually this difficult for me, so I was frustrated to feel this way while the spouse was gone. Oh well, the kids are alive, fed, and made it to school when they weren’t sick.

The spouse was only mildly irritated with me for the chaos in the house because of the way I do things when I am in charge.

I had a therapy session a couple of days ago that was unusual in that I kept Rolodex switching throughout the appointment. By the end, I was frustrated because the time evaporated quickly, and it felt like a very chaotic and unproductive session. I kept “waking up” during the session and said to myself inside “why am I talking about this topic?” It wasn’t until later that I realized that was happening because I kept switching between parts.

I suppose this was the rebound of doing the very difficult session prior to that.

Sometimes we need a break, and just can’t be all things to everyone. Hopefully, the distraction of other parts doing their things will enable us to eventually get grounded again and feel more present and less scattered.

Thank you to those who checked in on me. I am doing ok, and working on getting back to my normal.

I hope to have something more interesting to write about next time!

Trying to process a stuck memory

I feel the tears nearby, but as a system of parts we all struggle to let go of them.

We have been working hard this week on a very difficult memory that we still don’t completely have. Interestingly, each day we work on this in therapy different parts show up and express very different experiences of the same memory.

Some parts remember this memory as if they were watching it from across the room of my childhood bedroom. Some parts are actively stuck in this memory as if it is still happening today. Others will say they weren’t there at all, but they know about it, and try to keep a safe distance from the entire subject.

There is incredible shame about this memory. It is so horrific in our minds we can’t even bring ourselves to share it with our therapist.

It is our biggest secret. One we all think about every single day, as the trauma is still fresh in our brains as it stays stuck, and because it was such a defining moment in our lives.

This is the day that obliterated the self of this body. There is no coming back from this horror, though our therapist would disagree being the optimist she is.

I experienced so many other traumas in my childhood, but I wouldn’t say they obliterated me. This one did.

How can I let go of something that has such a hold on me?

I am my own prisoner. Refusing to allow myself to let go of it for various reasons.

The stuckness of this memory in my brain is my own personal torture. Crazy to grow up being tortured by others, and then continuing to torture myself as an adult.

I am really trying so hard to process this memory with my therapist. I don’t mean to put up resistance, but I do.

She wanted to do EMDR this week with different parts and their experience with this memory. Everyone says “no” out of some extreme fear for unclear reasons.

Each session, a little bit of processing trickles out. So much of the time stuck in my head in “trauma time,” it is a wonder my therapist doesn’t fall asleep during my silence.

My therapist asks me questions about what is going on in my head, and she wants me to be present to answer those questions. But, I am not sure how to get her the answers unless I leave and go to the trauma to find out what I am feeling or thinking.

I think there is an addiction for me to feel the pain and sadness from the trauma as if it were happening now. I can’t put my finger on it, but there is something that really pulls me in to staying with it.

Tomorrow is a new day, and maybe this day will be the day the levee breaks.

The beginning of grief

Today has been a shit day.

My fucking therapist came back from a much needed week off, and is on her game and ready to tackle the subjects I avoid.

Fuck. I want to get better, so I am trying really hard to talk about what she thinks I need to talk about.

Fuck. She wants me to talk about and feel grief over the fact that I didn’t have a Mom, and instead had a monster to watch over me.

Fuck. I feel dead inside. I told her my mom feels dead to me even though we know she is still alive. I feel nothing for her. I learned from the very beginning she was to be feared, and I wasn’t to be loved.

Fuck. I know I need to do this but I can’t find it in me. I am searching and asking among my parts. I am scared exploring this grief could obliterate me if I find it. But, I look, knowing it could incapacitate me and render me back into the psych ward.

Fuck. I found a little substance about this grief/mom thing in my session today. My inside world revved up and felt like total chaos. Parts started talking some about her and us. Thoughts of cutting my wrists or throat kept weaving around in my head.

Fuck. My system crashed into a younger part who doesn’t talk or walk, and seems to only want to go to sleep. The part is in flashback and having body memories and reacting to sounds in a PTSD way. The part seems confused about where we are. I am so off course I can’t pull us out of this part.

Fuck. My spouse needs to go to the Lady Gaga concert she has been excited about. I can’t seem to pull out of it, but my outside children will need me to watch them tonight. Finally, someone gets us out of bed with the help of my spouse. The flashbacks are still happening. The part is still pulling us in. Finally, we break away.

Fuck. I need to go pick up my son. Can I drive? Can I speak? Can I snap out of it and act normal for him. Get grounded for fuck sakes. I mean, at least get back on planet earth. Ok, here, but just barely.

Fuck. The kids are home and in bed. I feel incredibly sad and like crying, but not letting myself explore to find out why. An insider says I know the fucking why. Yeah, it’s a minuscule piece of the grief seeping in.

Fuck. I hate that bitch of a monster Mom I had.

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.

 

 

The loneliness of my DID

For the past week, I have been struggling deeply with my Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID).

I have been rage-fully suicidal, and even a few moments of being homicidal. I don’t understand why I am having all these feelings and thoughts.

I don’t even understand why I have been making violent suicide plans that involve punishing someone who hurt me badly.

This is not uncommon for me, to not really understand what is happening within myself, but the degree of anger and extreme suicidality is unusual.

My brain goes from crazy, enraged to numb and dumb. It makes me feel less than human like this.

I have only one person who I can truly discuss all this with, my therapist. Yet, for reasons unknown to me, I decided to fire her this past week.

I went to session and asked her a question about how she knew a fact about my ex-therapist’s office building she mentioned in our last session, and I lost my mind with her attempt at an answer and I filled with mistrust and feeling betrayed, whether justified or not.

I switched through a Rolodex of parts who were losing their minds inside and outside my head. Suddenly, my whole system of parts seemed like they no longer trusted the therapist. This was unexpected for me, the one who tries to manage all of this.

In fact, I quickly found myself banished to a back seat in my own head. Instead, parts who are suicidal and want to punish the ex-therapist announced a violent plan to kill ourselves that they are convinced would wreck her life the way she did ours.

This feels satisfactory to them, but I try to remind them what it would do to my kids, and her kid. My system never wants to hurt kids.

I get it, she is such a fucking narcissist who has shown me no remorse for what she did to me or us. I get this rage. It is so similar to my own mother.

But, I don’t want to end my life to destroy hers. I don’t even want to destroy her perfect little life, but I do wish she would talk to me and tell me how sorry she is for what she did to me. We all know a narcissist isn’t going to do that.

I have been hiding my craziness from my spouse, children, and best friend. People would freak out if they knew what was going through my head.

Everyone wants to put me in a psych ward, and frankly, I am not interested in getting drugged and stuck in one of those places. I would rather risk it on the outside.

I have no one to talk to about this except a small group of people I know through the internet. Even some of them talked about me going into the hospital ☹️.

It’s lonely, trying to hide this madness, trying to keep myself safe, trying to contain the chaotic insanity going on inside when talking to my spouse or children.

Sleep is a good hiding tool, but too much and the spouse figures out something is wrong again.

I have found that really those who go through this similar experience of DID are the only ones who can really understand it. And even so, sometimes it is impossible to get adequate words out to describe what is happening inside.

I want help when I am at this dangerous level of distress, but I haven’t found anything helpful. Hospitals don’t help. They often times do more harm.

I wish my therapist could help me in this situation, but she is merely another human with her own life and trying to help people the best she can.

So, the answer continues to be loneliness, though I am truly thankful for my cyber friends.

The darkness from within

Today I went to therapy and had parts that have relationships with cults and religion out in session.

I am not happy about it because I do not like people to see this side of me, not even my therapist. It just seems like it is better left unsaid and unexperienced by the outside world.

My strongest cult part came out when they weren’t satisfied by the way the part before them was handling the discussion with my therapist. This part is quite intelligent, definitely more so than me. It has access to knowledge of religion and cults that I don’t keep in my accessible part of our brain. They can be scary and mean, too.

The time before when this part came out we were at a residential treatment facility in California. The therapist there really wanted to speak to this part, and I was surprised it came out.

He debated religion and discussed his feelings about the value of modern day human sacrifice as similar to what Jesus did. He believes in bloodletting and human sacrifice and claims this is necessary so other people can continue to live on this planet.

By the time he finished speaking to our California therapist, she was visibly rattled, and ended up calling the emergency crisis team to evaluate me. Though we didn’t get admitted to a hospital because we know that game, we were discharged from that program a couple of days later for reasons that are unclear to us.

Today, our regular therapist got her first glimpse of him, and I don’t think she likes him or us any more. She would deny this because that is the type of person she is.

But, let’s face it, no one wants to go down this rabbit hole with us. It is scary and dark and no good can come from it.

Evil scares people, and they fear this is what evil looks like up close.

At least that’s the way I see it.