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Living with PTSD (Potentially Triggering Material)

I was raped a little over 20 years ago now.  It was by someone I knew and trusted and it occurred in my own home.  I was physically injured, concussed, ashamed, afraid, embarrassed - all the usual things.  

I never reported it to the authorities and never spoke to anyone about it.  I had never been a particularly social person, but afterwards I isolated myself completely other than heading off to work dutifully each day.  

After 18 years of almost constant battles with anxiety, flashbacks, nightmares, triggers, etc, I finally sought help from a psychologist.  Initially it was for pain management as I suffered a severe back injury about 2 years after the rape.  So after almost 2 years of occasional appointments I finally told her during a particularly difficult time (anniversary) what had happened all those years ago.  

So early last year I was officially diagnosed with PTSD. On my clinical psychologists advice I have undergone a series of Exposure Therapy and CBT last year.  It was a long, arduous and extremely difficult process.  However, it did help to some degree.  

However the nightmares, anxiety symptoms, etc continued.  This was probably made worse as last year was an extremely difficult one for me all round.  My little 11yo niece was killed in a car accident, my brother seriously and permanently injured, I was retrenched from my job when the business was sold, and I found out that my husband was cheating on me again. So I guess none of that helped.

And then on 29th February this year it was the 20th anniversary of my trauma.  It seemed to hit me even harder than usual, I dont know why.  There just seemed to be triggering events around every corner, it was awful. I struggled very badly.

My psychologist decided to try EMDR treatment once things settled down a bit. She felt it would help with the emotional content of my traumatic memories.  So between April and early September this year, I have undergone 10 2xhour EMDR sessions. I am now on a break to see how things are now.

But in the meantime she wants me to talk to people about what happened, as it is an important part of the recovery process she says.  However I find this really hard as I do not have any friends (my hubby is a narsissist according to my psychologist).  I have become very isolated other than for my part-time work which I was lucky enough to find in January.  I do some volunteer work in the aged care industry, which I enjoy.  But I just do not have any friends I am able to talk to.  My family live a long way away, and I could never tell them anyway.  

Although I am still unable to verbally speak about the rape, I can now write about it, and even think about it to some extent, without bringing on a panic attack.  So that's progress. I hope that by discussing it further and by learning how other people cope with their PTSD symptoms, I can further desensitise myself from my traumatic memories.

Hence my decision to try an online forum.  I look forward to responses from other people who have had similar experiences to myself.  I am definitely more of a listener than a talker, so I hope that I may be able to be of assistance to others here as well.  

Thankyou for taking the time to read my story.

1,198 REPLIES 1,198

Re: My introduction - Living with PTSD

Hi there @Sherry

Firstly, not sure if anyone has welcomed you to SANE yet, so .... WELCOME, I hope you find some comfort in connecting with other members Smiley Happy 

No your story is never old and tired, and everyones experiences are different. I'm so glad you decided to share your most private parts of your life, it must have been so hard for you to do.

You have gone through so much in your life, especially last year, what a terrible year for you! I'm so sorry to hear about your family and your relationship struggles. It is good progress though, that you can now write about what happened to you without it causing you to go downhill. I'm not sure if you mentioned, but what are the ways you do cope with your PTSD?? Other than the EDMR sessions. 

There are many members here that have struggled with the same things you have. @BlueBay is also suffering due to childhood abuse, same as @Former-Member and @MoonGal. Maybe they would like to contribute?
you might even like to check out some of these other threads here,  here and here

Again, welcome to the forums Sherry! 

Zahlia

Re: My introduction - Living with PTSD

Thankyou so much for the welcome Zahlia. That is lovely of you. I will respond further regarding my coping methods when I have more time. I would love to hear from the others you mentioned as well. xx

Re: My introduction - Living with PTSD

Hi @Sherry

I am sorry to read your story.  I feel for you so much.  Reading your story brought tears to my eyes because I feel for you and know how difficult this must be for you, even to be on here and write

In 2010  (at 45 yrs) I remembered I was sexually abused as a child by three different guys at different times  From age 9-12 yrs old .  I suppressed these traumas until 6 yrs ago and BANG - it all came out.  I am seeing a psychiatrist and also a therapist. I was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, ptsd, BPD.  To go through telling these people about my childhood abuse in detail was overpowering, unimaginable, pain, hurt, torture.  To relieve exactly what happened - i was a complete emotional wreck.  Each session would leave me physically and mentally drained for over a day.  I too had the same feelings has you - guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, my fault on all points.

I have tried EMDR about 4 yrs ago being refered to a special psychologist who deals with that.  We only worked on one issue and it sort of has worked.  i can visualise the trauma and not get overwhelmed like i used to.

To make things even more worse, i told my parents (more my mum) and it all came down crashing on me big time.  They decided to abandon me and haven't spoken to me since then.  This is the most hurtful thing that has ever happened to me in my life.  It feels like a big kick in the guts.  No siblings talk except for one who doesn't call me, it's always me that has to ring her.

I think with time you will be able to talk about your rape.  Exposure therapy sounds interesting.  I can understand how difficult the process would be.

I am seeing a new psychologist in November, a female who deals with childhood trauma and BPD.  I am hoping that i can build a relationshiip with her and feel comfortable in opening up and talking.  My problem is now that i have to tell her everything from the beginning and that is so draining. She also does EMDR.

I hope things work out well for you.  Happy to talk anytime.  take care xxoo

 

 

Re: My introduction - Living with PTSD

Hi Sadgirl. Firstly thankyou so much for your lovely post. Although I am deeply saddened for what you have had to endure as a child, and now as an adult.

I am lucky - my assault occured when I was an adult - I was 36yo at the time. I cannot imagine what you as a 9-12yo child had to go through. I am so sorry.

I guess you dissociated back then? I did at the time of my rape, for some time after, and still do occasionally. I think suppressed memories are similar to dissociation, in that it is a protection mechanism.

I am now 57yo, so a little older than you. Isnt it strange how our brains work? Do you know what actually caused you to suddenly remember all those suppressed memories when you were 45yo?

I am pleased to hear that EMDR had a beneficial effect for you, as I think it has also for me.

How incredibly sad that your parents abandoned you for something that occurred a long time ago, none of which was any of your fault. If it is any comfort to you - perhaps your Mum particularly feels guilt for not having protected you back then. For not having known that something was up.

I am very sorry that you do not have any family support Sadgirl, thats very unfair and very difficult.

Do you have other friends who you are able to turn to for support when you need it? Are you married, have children of your own?

Exposure Therapy was just awful, but I did persist, where I believe many do give up because its just too hard. My therapist is a very good one, and I trust her. Although even during the therapy I was still not able to vocalise what had happened. I would just clam up, shake, cry and freeze. In the end she asked me to go away and write it all down. And we managed to move on that way.

Now I use writing as a therapy. Whenever I get really low, angry, afraid, I write. It can be long and jumbled, sometimes making little sense. But it helps to get it all out I have found.

That would be hard having to see a new therapist Sadgirl. It took me 2 years to develop enough trust in my psych to tell her about the rape. And in the end I didnt actually tell her, she just managed to pry it out of me unexpectedly. Then it was like the cat was suddenly out of the bag, and I couldnt put it back in again.

But at least your new psych is a specialist in the field, so hopefully that is just what you need. Is BPD Bipolar Disorder? I dont know a lot about it. I do have OCD though, which I developed as a coping method after the rape. It is extremely annoying at times, even though I only have a relatively mild case of it.

Thankyou for the offer to talk anytime. I really appreciate that. Same here. You too take care. xx

Re: My introduction - Living with PTSD

What a dreadful year you've had @Sherry. Rape impacts for life. Isn't it amazing how keeping silent is so typical of rape victims. I was five when three soldiers had their way with me. It took 64 years before a friend intervened in my intended suicide and I was diagnosed with PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

A year into therapy I had exposure therapy; the intention of the exposure therapy was to work through and eliminate the main trigger to PTSD. In the end that worked. The triggers I used to react to no longer bother me. Sometimes I am confronted with triggers I don't know about, but I have learnt to cope with that and I can manage the panic attack. I have learnt to keep my anxiety under control. I agree with you Sherry, exposure therapy was by far the hardest thing I did, but I am so glad I did it.

It was and still is a long road to go. It's still a roller coaster. When I had nightmares every night, I now have nightmares once every couple of months and I can calm down by remembering that I'm safe and this is a memory.  So over all, I'm a lot better off than I was four years ago.

I might add two psychologists worked with me; one is a trauma specialist and the other specialises ins CBT. I needed both at the same time.

I hope the EMDR does for you what you are hoping for Sherry, @BlueBay.

Re: My introduction - Living with PTSD

Hi @Sherry 🌷🌹🌸🌻🌼
Sorry to hear what you've been through.
I have struggled with PTSD, anxiety and depression since I was a teenager. Will write more sometime soon. Not feeling well at the moment, but I wanted to say "hi" and ask what Exposure Therapy is. Thanks. 💕

Re: My introduction - Living with PTSD

Hi @Ffm48 Nice to meet you. 💕
🌷🌻🌹🌺🌸
I'm interested in hearing what Exposure Therapy is?

Re: My introduction - Living with PTSD

Sorry to read about your struggles. @Ffm48 🌻🌼🌷🌺

Re: My introduction - Living with PTSD

Hello to @BlueBay and @Zahlia 🌷🌼🌻🌹🌸🌺

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