Here we go again

Mum was with us for 6 months while I attempted to function as her carer. For various reasons, it did not work out, and we took her home again in March and have arranged for professional carers to be on hand to look after her. My caring duties have not completely finished, but I now have a buffer of 250 miles or so between us, which really is much better for my own mental health (and hers, it would appear, although there are issues with her not taking her meds for bipolar which I can’t control from a distance and that is a frustration and a worry).

I expected that, when the stress of looking after mum was lifted, that I would get well again quite quickly but in fact the opposite has happened and I have retreated and isolated myself again with agoraphobia.

My physical health is quite bad at the moment, but issues have arisen (conversations on twitter and with my eldest child, mainly) which have make me realise that in fact my physical ill health may in fact be due to early childhood and repeated trauma.

The ACE score is a study which looks at Adverse Childhood Experiences, and uses it to predict a number of outcomes related to physical and mental health in adulthood. Out of a possible total of 10, I score 4 on the ACE quiz, and my resilience score is low (3 out of 14) when it should be high.

I am going to come back and look at this in detail, but it is such a hard subject to look at, I don’t really know where to begin. I feel as though I am having to force myself to open a Pandora’s Box of evil that I thought was long dead and buried.

In the first instance, though, I am told that the way back to health and wholeness (other than the standard pharmaceutical and CBT) is:

1) Talk about it.

2) Write about it,

3) Talk to other survivors and finally

4) physical exercise.

Due to the agoraphobia, physical exercise outdoors is not an option right now, it’s just too overwhelming, so I have brought the running machine in from the garage, and it’s set up in the bedroom, so I’m heading there next. I am annoyed with myself that I’m missing the beautiful sunshine and blue skies of spring in Cornwall, but it can’t be helped at this stage.

Also I have made an appointment to see my GP in two weeks to discuss the possibility that all my mental and physical illness is actually manifestations of Complex PTSD.

Just to clarify, the trauma that I received was not physical or sexual, but mental, emotional and spiritual in nature (church abuse amongst other things). I mention that, because for years I didn’t see it as abuse even though I knew I had been traumatised. What I hadn’t seen at all until this week was that I had unknowingly perpetrated some of the same kinds of abuse I had received on my eldest child. I can’t tell you how deeply I regret that.

Next time I will talk about the symptoms of Complex PTSD. I have given myself license to use that term although at first it felt a little bit wrong (because I associated the term with other types of abuse that are more serious and more damaging) but I think it fits, and in the absence of another term.

I don’t know who might be reading this, but if you have recovered or are recovering from mental/ emotional/ spiritual abuse and have Complex PTSD, I would be interested to hear from you. I can’t give any advice other than what helps me, and perhaps that can be another topic for another post.

Bye for now.

CBT Therapy

I have realised that my agoraphobia and anxiety is selective.

When I was having therapy last year, I was repeatedly told that what I was experiencing was a form of social anxiety – in other words, that the root of my panic and anxiety was due to a fear of people, or people’s judgements, or feelings of inadequacy or some such basic inferiority complex.

Nonsense.

The therapy I was offered, CBT, (cognitive behavioural therapy) might have been useful had the therapist actually been willing to listen to what I told her. But she wasn’t. She was determined to squeeze me into a neat round box. Presumably she was following a flow chart which didn’t allow for any free thinking, or square pegs.

What I have noticed is that I have no problem in social situations (though I may find them exhausting), no problem with crowded rooms, shops, restaurants, no problem driving, unless I am particularly stressed. The only thing I struggle with, regardless of stress level, is walking out in the open, and that has nothing to do with social anxiety.

I have been out a few times – pubs, restaurants, shops, over the last few months with no problems. But on a day-to-day basis I am practically housebound. I hate it. I deeply dislike the house I’m currently living in, but can’t seem to escape it.

I have good intentions – next week, I will definitely go out, for coffee, to see the sea, something, anything. But it never seems to happen. I’m dependent on circumstances forcing me out – hospital appointments, husband taking me out.

We’re supposed to be moving again soon and I really hope that will signal an improvement. But house moves aren’t known for their calming effect.

I really just want to shrug this anxiety off and start living a normal life again. The best therapy might just be immersion – just jump in, or out as the case may be.

But don’t hold your breath. I might just dip my toe in and sit in the garden.

Did I mention…

…Did I mention that I suffer from agoraphobia?

I don’t know what I was thinking, setting myself the challenge of blogging the favourite new places I find!

I haven’t actually left the house yet other than for absolute necessity, since New Year!