I’ve been seeing my therapist for over three years, every week. During this pandemic we meet via telehealth. In this series come along with me through each appointment as I reflect on the session and my progress.
Last night, I made the decision after counseling to spend the evening with my family instead of in front of the computer writing this post.
For me, it was the best decision – my husband and I took our daughter down to the harbor with her scooter and we walked around, looked at flowers, visited the lookout point, and in general enjoyed each other’s company.
Then we came home, had dinner and watched some TV. Exactly what I needed.
A Review of the Week
I knew that my session was going to primarily be focused on my trauma screening & goals but I did have some things I wanted to talk about.
The affects of the LIVE Interview
Last Saturday I went LIVE on Instagram and shared my story of childhood sexual abuse. I talked about the affects and my healing journey since. Immediately after the interview I was overcome with panic, fear, anxiety – all the negative stuff. I hadn’t considered this would happen so it caught me off guard.
The interview also surfaced some anger I have towards the one remaining family member left, whom I don’t communicate with much anyway. She is the one person left I can aim any sort of emotions at regarding my childhood so I am sure some of my anger is misdirected simply because she is the only target. Regardless – the emotions that have surfaced are uncomfortable, and new.
It took a couple days to shake the feelings completely – but in that time I understood them, I paid attention to them; and I continued to hold myself accountable to my life now, while simultaneously feeling crappy.
I didn’t let myself get stuck in the ugly and I feel very accomplished. I’m proud of how I handled myself and I wanted to share it with her.
As I work through my feelings surrounding my son and the relationship we have, I have been facing off with realizations of co-dependent behavior. I know it was due to my trauma, and that I had little control in those early years as I navigated life in a dissociated survival mode – but that doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty.
I know that I am a different person now than I was even just four months ago, that I am actively countering that behavior to be a better mother for both my children, not just my son – but I still have some lingering anxieties regarding this particular situation.
As I learn how to interact differently with him and we move into a more mature mother/son relationship I understand my accountability to his childhood – but I need forgive myself for it and stop punishing myself mentally.
I am changing, I can feel it.
My biggest feelings of inadequacy come from the traumas of his childhood and the way my son struggles with his own mental injuries. I am working hard to let go of that.
I need to let him go. His healing is his journey, all I can do is be there as his mother, the mother he deserves, when he needs me.
I need to heal myself.
The Trauma Screening
Every four months I complete the PCL-C PTSD Assessment to score the level of my symptoms. It is a standardized self-report rating scale for PTSD made up of 17 questions that correspond to the key symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder. This particular assessment is for civilians, there is a screening specific to military personnel, the PCL-M.
When I first presented to therapy and I took this screening I scored somewhere in the upper 70s (out of 85). In the first few months of therapy as I moved out of my crisis mode, my score dropped significantly. However, as I reached the 40s I began to plateau – always gaining or losing 5ish points each time.
Trauma healing is hard. The timing of the screening has always played a part too. It is always in reference to the immediate 30 days prior and it never failed that we’d end up going through it shortly after some sort of work situation or real-life situation had thrown me into a tailspin.
I Had a Good Feeling About This Time
I knew last week when she said we had to do this that I was going to score well. I knew despite my wrestle with depression recently, that I have been dealing with my stuff head on. Facing it, processing it, coping with it, and working hard on being mindful and intentional.
The biggest positive from this pandemic has been the space it has given me for healing and I have not squandered it! I have made leaps and bounds in these stressful and uncertain months.
Last night after I answered all the questions, nervous a couple times as I felt myself answering “moderately” to a few things I’d kinda forgotten happened, she tallied them and with a smile said 28.
Woah – in the 20s!! I knew this was a big jump – I waited anxiously as she pulled up my previous score. I’m pretty sure her eyebrows raised a little when she saw my last score.
13 Points of My Life Back
This was a HUGE reduction in symptoms for me. Bigger than any for the last couple years. I knew I felt it – it was really nice to hear it reflect in the assessment. AND – I finally achieved one of my standing goals of reducing my score by 10 points or more during one period.
The biggest drop in scores for me were in the following categories:
- Feeling upset/unable to cope when reminded of past traumas
- Fears of an early death (super exacerbated in the early stages of the pandemic. Illogical anxiety style).
The first two are major accomplishments for me – two of my most difficult struggles and I am getting control of them. I am facing my life as it is with love and acceptance and because of that, as I move through my trauma its grip over me is loosening.
As I write this I feel tears of happiness, of accomplishment, and of grief from awareness at what I am overcoming, threaten the back of my eyes.
I felt good last night after my session and I wanted to spend those moments of connection with my family – and I did.
Last night, I thanked my counselor – I think for the first time – as we talked about my score. She has been pivotal in my healing – she has provided all the academic knowledge, the space and understanding, and guidance along the way that was necessary as I work through my childhood traumas. She is one of a very small group of people that I trust. She has provided me trauma informed care, for the first time in my life.
Last night my take away was that I felt good, and I saw my growth and my progress clearly, more clearly than ever before.
Stay tuned for next week’s post.
Related posts: read through my previous Therapy Dumps.
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