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Childhood abuse/PTSD/lifelong health problems

(33 Posts)
pukkapine Sun 24-Feb-13 11:33:51

I’m not sure where to start with this, but I’d like some anonymous opinions without having to give voice to what I’m thinking to anyone in RL just yet – I’ve namechanged. I know this is going to be long so I apologise in advance. I’m also not sure this is where I should post this, so if you think there’s somewhere more appropriate then I’ll re-post. I’ve also had to change a few of the details or be vague so as I’m not recognisable.

I was severely physically, emotionally and sexually abused by my mother from the ages of about 2-14. I’ve had medical professionals tell me I’m ‘lucky’ to have survived some of the injuries, and my therapist said it was the worst case of abuse she had come across. I’ve had a lot of therapy for delayed-onset PTSD as a result of what happened. I’m in a much better and happier place, and largely of late I’ve felt a lot more content, like I’m not living in the past anymore etc although it’s been far from plain sailing and there have been blips along the way where I’ve really struggled, including one now. I have a wonderful happy family of my own with 3 young children and a fantastic husband who are very much my focus and drive.

7 years ago I started to experience dreadful pain all over my body. This coincided with the first symptoms of PTSD that came out. To cut a very long story short which involves mis-diagnoses, cocktails of medication whilst trying to raise a young family and deal with PTSD, I have been diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, about a year ago. The diagnosis absolutely fits with what I experience – largely in the form of widespread long-term pain, and fatigue as well as a lot of the side issues associated with the condition. Since the diagnosis my medication has been changed and I’ve seen massive improvement. However, I am still (and likely always will be) in daily pain that affects both me (mentally and physically) and my family.

The reason for this post is that as I’ve been doing more research in to Fibromyalgia I’m constantly coming across the link between it and PTSD (and in some research going as far as to directly implicate childhood abuse). I’m starting to find myself getting angry and upset that not only did I go through all that pain and trauma as a child, but as an adult trying to put it behind me, I’ve got a life-long pain condition that seems to be directly linked to what happened as a child. This is on top of other physical issues I live with daily because of the abuse e.g. I’m partially deaf as a result of a head injury.

I’ve never felt the need to hold my mother accountable before. I’ve felt it would be futile and wouldn’t change things, in fact might make them worse – she (and my immediate childhood family) are in complete denial over what happened. History has been rewritten. My mother doesn’t drink like she did then. Lots of differences. But now I’m finding myself thinking surely she should be accountable for this? That I’ve got a lifelong medical condition caused by her treatment of me and the severe stress I went through. It affects me and it affects the people I care so much about now. I try very much to not let my PTSD or Fibromyalgia affect the family, and friends say I’m very good at it not, but it greatly affects me: I’m in pain all the time, I frequently suffer from fatigue (debilitating levels), and when the PTSD has been particularly bad I suffer from flashbacks and panic attacks, and have had real problems with anxiety. It’s like I can never get away from it.

To me it seems my mother is now living life knowing she got away with it – that’s my opinion. My sister swings between thinking our mother can’t remember (she was an alcoholic), to asserting ‘it wasn’t that bad’, and outright denial of things that happened. Although she did once have a tiny window (a few days) where she admitted her part in things, apologised, and acknowledged that she knew how one of my more severe injuries had happened (I couldn’t remember). To all intents and purposes my mother now lives a life a million miles away from what she was then. She is very wealthy through a highly successful career, she is very respected professionally, and ‘on the surface’ none of ‘this’ ever happened.

Since reading more about the Fibro and knowing it will affect me for the rest of my life (along with the trauma of the abuse albeit that is much improved through therapy) I’m finding myself wondering if I do want to confront her, and indeed seek compensation for the lifelong condition I’ve got as a result. Just writing that now and giving voice to that thought for the first time I’m thinking it’s mad and would bring more heartache for me, but is it even possible to effectively sue someone for ‘causing’ something like Fibromyalgia? I guess it couldn’t even be proved that it was her actions that caused it. I’m actually feeling quite bad about admitting I feel this – I’m not after her money, it’s not about that, but since discovering about the Fibro it’s making me more angry about what happened than ‘just’ things like the PTSD and effects of injuries like my hearing.

I don’t know what to do with how I feel I guess and can’t stop thinking about it, I’ve been having flashbacks again, and my anxiety is quite bad. I have probably answered my own question there which kind of suggests maybe I need to take this back to therapy… but even that makes me angry – where’s the money going to come from for that – our family.

If you’ve managed to read all this and have any words of wisdom, I’d really appreciate it.

ThatVikRinA22 Fri 01-Mar-13 00:18:09

hi pukka

please look into a therapy called "rewind" therapy.

i had it for PTSD and child abuse/trauma. it works. it takes away the emotional response from the memories - you still remember but you dont feel the emotion - its fabulous. and fast. for me, 8 years of dreadful abuse from step father were sorted in 20 minutes. i was such a sceptic. but it does work.
hth. find some peace. find a therapist who works with "rewind" - its quite amazing.

buildingmycorestrength Fri 01-Mar-13 00:46:49

I get it.

I had PTSd and reexperienced events in my body during treatment. I was literally physically reliving events because of the way the amygdala stores trauma memories.

I found certain patterns lodged in my body and went to a body worker who helped dislodge the memories. She was a craniosacral osteopath and it really helped. Weird, but it helped.

ThatVikRinA22 Fri 01-Mar-13 00:50:33

rewind therapy works by altering how memories are stored in the brain.....i think its so useful.

and fast.

and there is no need to speak about what happened if you chose not to do so - so its not traumatic in that respect.

OP do look into it. its well worth it. i cant recommend it enough.

buildingmycorestrength Fri 01-Mar-13 11:15:26

Also, I have been thinking a lot about justice for victims of abuse in the family lately. So much in the news about victims of abuse from strangers/celebs/institutions and I have been wondering about the fact that abuse in the family is much more common...but how to seek justice?

No answers for you, I'm afraid, but I'm sure an organisation like NAPAC might help.

http://www.napac.org.uk

pukkapine Fri 01-Mar-13 20:52:42

Hi everyone – thanks to everyone for your help, advice and opinions. I’m gradually trying to digest them. I’ve had a really wobbly week and feeling very anxious and easily upset, probably because I’m currently so tired due to flashbacks playing up again, so I know I gain a lot from all your collective wisdom but struggling a bit to see the wood for the trees.

vicarinatutu is Rewind therapy anything like EMDR? I had several sessions of EMDR as part of my last counselling and I would say it was the most successful treatment I’ve had. The sessions themselves were fairly awful and intense but they really worked at switching off the power of flashbacks, and I didn’t have to vocalise too much. But of late they’re creeping back again (well new flashbacks). And I don’t know how to vocalise to anyone in real life that actually I’m struggling again, and I don’t really know what to do. I don’t even really know what’s getting to me most. When I started this thread I thought it was just this realisation about the Fibro and anger trying to find a way out, and now I don’t know. Just know I’m feeling fairly crappy at the moment sad

ThatVikRinA22 Sat 02-Mar-13 01:11:07

Hi pukka - its not quite the same as EDMR, ive copied and pasted a few lines on how it works from a page i found on the net....this is it:

"Once relaxed, clients are asked to recall or imagine a place where they feel totally safe and at ease. Their relaxed state is then deepened and they are asked to imagine that, in their safe place, they have a TV set, a video player and a remote control.

They are then asked to step to one side of themselves, in essence, out of body and watch themselves watching the TV screen, without actually seeing the picture. (Enabling them to create a significant emotional distance).

Clients are then asked to watch themselves watching a ‘film’ of the traumatic event they encountered. The film begins at a point at which the trauma took place and finishes at the point at which the trauma ends and they feel safe again.

They are then asked to float back into their body and imagine pressing the remote control rewind button, enabling them to see themselves travelling very quickly back through the traumatic event from safe point to safe point. Then they watch the same images but with their fingers pressed firmly on the fast forward button.

This process is repeated at a speed dictated by the individual concerned and as many times as needed until the scenes evoke no emotion.

If it desirable to instil confidence for facing the feared circumstance in the future - for instance driving a car or getting in a lift – the client is then asked to imagine a scenario in which they are experiencing the circumstance in question but doing so in a confident and relaxed manner.

Once accomplished, the client is brought out of relaxation and the Rewind is complete.

Besides being safe, quick, painless and side effect free, the Rewind technique has the added advantage of being non-voyeuristic. There is no need for intimate details to be voiced, as it is the client who watches the ‘film’ and not the counsellor. "

i did this - it took about 20 mins, i found a safe start memory, and a safe end memory and then just "replayed" events of the 8 years in between - i didnt have to speak about those events.

The therapist who was excellent, just need to hook the emotion - so i talked about the very first event, as soon as i got emotional, she stopped me and said it was enough to hook the emotion that we needed rid of....i then did the full therapy, and it worked. before i couldnt talk about any of these events without shaking or shivering, and sometimes getting emotional - after the rewind - all change. its so so weird but i feel removed from the upset - i can remember things in detail - but the upset. fear, all gone. i can recount things in a very impassionate way.
its so odd. but works. and i was the biggest sceptic going....

cats22 Sat 02-Mar-13 20:49:07

Vicar, thanks for posting that. Did not know technique was called Rewind.

Shakey1500 Sat 02-Mar-13 21:23:27

pukkapine just wanted to say how brave I think you are.

I too was abused (though certainly not to the extent as yourself), have had an extremely distressing depressant episode, which I think was my "rage" manifesting. Thankfully I have come out the other side and like yourself, have a happy family life. Depression still rears it's head but I have coping mechanisms that keep it at bay thus far.

I still see my Mum and like yours, has re-written history and wears rose coloured glasses. Also similar, she has on rare occasions apologised but it's all to little too late.

I sincerely hope you feel physically better soon and that you find more peace thanks

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