I’ve been in therapy for a month and a half now – it helped a little, at first. And then it just went downhill, fast.
I was having severe panic attacks, that lasted days, without reason. I experienced true insomnia for the first time ever, being unable to sleep at all for days at a time, combined with ridiculous night sweats. Then I’d start puking around 3-4am until the girls got up, spending the rest of the day so nauseous I couldn’t eat, and in a state of chronic fatigue – if I hadn’t known better, I honestly would have thought I was pregnant again. It would last 4-5 days, easing ever so slightly with each passing day, until my body would finally crash and I’d sleep off the last of it. It happened 4 times between the end of May and the end of June, causing me to lose a total of 25 pounds, before I started thinking maybe it was a symptom of a physical problem – hormonal, thyroid, something…because I didn’t FEEL stressed, or even particularly anxious, leading up to the attacks (outside of the general anxiety I think we all feel about the world right now). So I went in for some bloodwork – they’ve been doing car side service, but I was in full panic mode while I was there, so they brought me inside. The doctor was so kind, he sat and talked to me for a good half hour to calm me down, and assured me that I looked to be perfectly healthy & I was probably just experiencing extreme anxiety…when I insisted that I am not an anxious person and didn’t even feel stressed, that it HAD to be something else, he asked if maybe there was something else subconsciously causing it – maybe something from my past. While at the time I didn’t really make the connection, I was so emotionally distraught and physically drained that the tears just started pouring out. He continued to talk to me for a bit & suggested I look into therapy while I waited on my bloodwork results to come back.
I was so desperate to stop the attacks that I was willing to try anything – so I talked to a couple friends that I knew had done e-counseling previously, and decided to schedule an appointment; I chose an older male therapist because I feel like women are too emotional (sorry) – I didn’t want pity or sensitivity; I wanted someone who could be objective and direct & had zero ability to feel like they could “relate” to me.
He did help me realize the connection between the lack of control and lack of protection I felt I had as a child – which I’ve spent my entire life overcompensating for – and now as a parent, during a pandemic, having very little control and not being able to guarantee the protection of my own children —— that it was hitting my subconscious. Hard.
I haven’t had another severe attack since then, though I have continued to feel more anxiety than normal – I assume that’s nearly everyone these days though. On days I feel particularly on edge, I’ve been taking OLLY stress supplements, which do seem to help (I had gotten a prescription for Lexapro after the first attack, but I had the WORST attack of them all after taking it – literally couldn’t get out of bed for days because my panic was x1000 – so naturally, I am terrified to try any other meds anytime soon)
Once I got the anxiety managed though, it seemed he had very little interest in helping me really process my past – all he wanted to focus on was the present, which isn’t relevant to how I feel. I KNOW I have a good life, I even know I am a good person – I do my best to be a good wife and a good mother, I have a good husband, I have my tribe of mom friends and I have a couple long time friends; I have everything I need, I have my shit together, I look fine from the outside. But inside, I still feel broken. And every single session he used the phrase “fake it til you make it” and I just wanted to scream, what the fuck do you think I have been doing, my entire life? I don’t want to fake it anymore. I want to fucking FIX IT. And he just kept assuring me that I’d feel better, eventually, if I just kept focusing on the positives in my life. Which, don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of growth mindset, but positivity is not my issue – I lay down with my girls every night and recount all the best moments of our day together. I am not a negative person, just a broken one.
I told him I thought there might be more abuse, but that I couldn’t remember/was still blocking memories – I wanted to know how to retrieve those memories. He said that I’ve probably remembered everything I needed to and not to worry about it. Don’t worry about it? Don’t fucking worry about whether or not I was sexually abused by multiple people, as a child? Just, don’t worry about it??? Obviously that was the last straw. I quit.
I’ve had several people, including Tanya, pushing me toward EMDR therapy & I’m almost finished reading an incredible book about it (Getting Past Your Past) – I have to admit it sounds too good to be true; I did contact a couple local EMDR therapists about it though, but haven’t heard back yet. Even if I do try it, I don’t want to get my hopes up that it will give me my memories back. But maybe it can help, either way. I just feel like I reopened a lot of wounds by starting therapy, and now I’m just left here bleeding profusely – and honestly I know these are things I should have processed a long long time ago, so I don’t need to just stick a bandaid back on and give up now; I owe it to myself to finally work through it, no matter how hard or frustrating it is. I have to fix this in order to find peace.