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Recovering from child abuse......help needed

(407 Posts)
adelicatequestion Sat 05-Sep-09 23:39:22

Hi

I have been having hterapy for almost a year now for child abuse issues.

The problem I have is no emotions. I talk about the abuse as if I was buying a bag of potatoes or commenting on the weather. I can;t seem to bring out emotions about it to process them,.

Daily I have panic attacks and wake up in the night shaking.

Has anyone been thorugh this. What are the stages you go through. Will I ever be able to experience emotions. I do cry about other things - sometimes, but am not an emotional person.

TIA

HelensMelons Sun 06-Sep-09 10:43:57

Hi ADQ

I think it's a defence mechanism when we detach the emotion from the experience - I might be wrong but I also think that this can be a symptom of post traumatic stress syndrome/disorder (?) - I don't think detachment like you are experiencing is uncommon so don't be hard on yourself.

There are a few different type of therapy or techniques that can help though. EMDR is supposed to be very effective with PTS - your therapist may be able to do this or refer you for it. There is also a technique called Sensory Motor Therapy that is a gentle but excellent way of tieing up thoughts/feelings and experiences.

I don't think there is any hard or fast rule about how quickly you move through therapy - things have a habit of jumping backwards and forwards but it sounds like you are definitely on the right track!

adelicatequestion Sun 06-Sep-09 17:08:11

Thanks Helens

I have mentioned EMDR a couple of times to my therapist but she's not trained in it and doesn;t seem keen to recommend I try it.

She says the emotions can be very intense. As I am not used to feeling emotions, I think there is a reluctance to let me do it.

I am getting frustrated because I want to experience it, but at the same time am worried it may lead me into a very negative place.

I have been diagnosed with complex PTSD.

The psychiatrist has said when I'm ready it will happen. I'm interested in hearing from people who are a bit further through the experience than me. I don;t like the thought of it taking years!

TIA

HelensMelons Sun 06-Sep-09 18:11:20

It sounds like your therapist is taking things very gently with you given your dx. I suppose opening up to all the feelings could be very overwhelming for you and I guess she is trying to create a very safe place for you when those feelings do begin to return.

If you are a bit frustrated and want to move things on with her, you can always share that with her, it sounds like you have a good relationship.

I expect people dip in and out of therapy all their lives if they want to - get one thing sorted and then something else crops up!

adelicatequestion Mon 07-Sep-09 15:22:14

Hi Helens

I have discussed my frustration and am quite angry that EMDR or EFT isn;lt being sugested.

I keep being told, when you are ready the emotions will come..........I just wish they'd hurry up as they are costing me a fortune!

HelensMelons Mon 07-Sep-09 18:09:58

Lol ADQ! Yes, it is expensive!!

rhksmum Mon 07-Sep-09 18:20:57

I too struggle with emotion, when I'm talking to my psychologist its lke I'm reading it from a book.
My cpn says it will come in time hmm
I guess the worry for me is what the consequences are if I do show any kind of emotion, I was never allowed to show emotion and if I did pretty bad things happened.
I know sometimes when I'm in a sessions I can sometimes feel the tears coming but I manage to pull myself back.
I do wish sometimes I could let go but I always remember what happened when I did as a child and that stops me.

dittany Mon 07-Sep-09 18:22:21

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

adelicatequestion Mon 07-Sep-09 22:24:00

Thank you all

rhksmum - I can relate to what you;re saying. I can feel emotional but will never cry in front of anyone (except DH).

dittany - my therapists partner does emdr but they don;t seem to want me to do it. I'm guesing its because I've never done emotions and they're maybe worried that I won't cope with an outburst of emotion . She keeps telling me that it is very intense. I've read a lot about emdr but what would it be like for someone who is not used to emotions.

My emotions were switched off (I think!) when I was sexually abused from ages 7 to 12 and never really came back. Plus no one in the family was very emotional either. Feelings were not discussed much.

Thank you so much for replying. It's helpful to be able to discuss this.

adelicatequestion Wed 09-Sep-09 19:52:46

I had another session today and opened up to the details of the abuse.

I felt all teh emotion physically, but still did not get in touch with emotions.

Does anyone know how to do this? What techniques will help withoutit being so intensive I can;t cope.

alypaly Wed 09-Sep-09 20:11:21

adelicatequestion hi fellow sufferer.sad
I was abused from the age of 8 -12 years old, by my stepbrother who was 10 years older than me. But it did not affect outwardly me til i was 33. I too suffered from a distinct lack of emotion but had the panic attacks like you. I used to lie awake,what seemed to be all night with my heart racing and just feeling so panicky...felt as if i was having a heart attack at times.

Came to light after having DS1. I just sat there trembling,actually physically incapable of making a cup of tea or organising anything. I actually had convinced myself i was going mad. Went to my Gp for help and he said i was having a nervous breakdown. Kept the abuse to myself til i was 33 as i thought i was suffering from post natal depression. and then after i had my breakdown, i told my mum about the abuse.
Guess what.she didnt believe me. My worst fear, I felt so alone. Ended up caving in and ended up in hospital for 3 months. Missed DS1 walking as a result. How I hate my stepbrother for what he took away.
Have not spoken to him for years only to tell him what I thought of him as a paedophile. I know exactly what you are going through. It took lots of psychotherapy sessions for me to open up and at times i wondered why i was there, until one day a girl started talking about her abuse and then my flood gates opened.

adelicatequestion Wed 09-Sep-09 20:37:35

alypaly

I can relate to a lot of what of what you say. I had blocked a lot of mine out and was okay until I had DD1 and then had panic attacks. I felt very down and my HV organised counselling for my DH!

How far thorugh your recovery are you? I told my hterapist today for the first time the details of what happened -and I couldn;t cry! Is that wierd. I felt like I wanted to, needed to but couldn;t.

I hope I will be able to soon as I think that when i do it will release a lot of the emotions.

alypaly Wed 09-Sep-09 20:50:13

I am through it now( well i think so....but have found it difficult to have meaningful relationships anymore...dont trust men..now split up from DP1 as he did the dirty on me.) although i reckon it took the best part of five years ( yes I know thats a long time)for me to feel 'NORMAL'.I have never forgotten what he did to me, i have just learnt a different way of coping with it.My consultant told me different ways of dealing with it, from writing a letter to my brother with all my true feelings,,,to phoning him. I actually felt as though people viewed me differently, like some mad woman and i actually thought i looked different too.
I didnt speak to him for 13 years and then i had to when my mum had a stroke. I eneded up looking after her 24/7 at my house and i had to invite the bast* round to my home. I didnt let him come past the entrance hall. He made me feel physically sick and dirty and i actually sprayed air freshner in the hall when he left to cleanse the air.
Needless to say he didnt help look after his mother and didnt even know she had died til i rang him 3 months after the funeral.
He didnt even visit her in her nursing home...i hate him so much

alypaly Wed 09-Sep-09 20:54:54

I ended up being my own therapist as these sessions didnt really do much for me...i was a bit cynical,but writing the letter helps. whether u send it or not is up to you, but it helped me cry, it helped me get angry and sad and all of this eventually gave me the courage to ring him up and tell him, to his face that he was a paedophile. The worst most hypocritical thing is that he is a lay preacher

adelicatequestion Wed 09-Sep-09 21:07:58

alypaly

Don;t all forms of abuse wimd you up. They are so unfair and so wide reaching into peoples lives.

I might try the letter, because i need to get in touch with the feelings. At the moment I feel the emotion through physical things like my stomach, pains etc and I'm sure a good cry, rage etc would lessen this.

Thank you for sharing your experiences. It helps a lot.

alypaly Wed 09-Sep-09 21:27:54

Hi ADQ...mine used to manifest itself with weird stomach pains..not like IBS just pain...no bloating...and i used to get a weird pain in my armpit right into my chest and shoulder. I used to end up sitting on the settee with my arm round my head just to ease the feeling of tightness in my chest...which i now know was stress.My heart used to race,feel faint and dizzy...at times the panic was so bad i thought i was going to peg it.
It took me going to my doctor (who was really understanding, as he too confided in me that he had had a breakdown and been in the same hospital)and basically begging for help and saying that i had reached rock bottom. There were no more rungs on the bottom of my ladder.

I cant stand it when i see child abuse on the tv or even suspect it in real life...it makes me want to cut their bits off...they are useless to society and a danger to our children.

How old were you when it happened, if thats not too personal a question. and now?

adelicatequestion Wed 09-Sep-09 22:22:45

The abuse happened between the ages of 7 and 12 and I'm in my early forties now.

I feel like I'm on the edge of recovery. It's just this last little bit of feeling the emotions (although that may be a longer road than I think!).

Thanks for your kind words. It's nice to talk to someone who is out the other side so to speak

alypaly Wed 09-Sep-09 22:53:18

so you were the same age as me really.|Was it a family member?
I had my breakdown at 33 when i had DS1 and I am now 53 and still single. I am slightly numbed by it all and really struggle to have an emotional relationship.
Do you have a partner?

alypaly Wed 09-Sep-09 23:04:18

ADQ...when i reached the shaking stage ,I really felt as though there was no way out and i literally just collapsed with mental exhaustion.
My consultant was very clever and he likened my panic attacks to being chased by an invisible tiger. You get the edrenalin rush which makes your heart beat fast ( fight and flight reaction) but then there is no end and you keep feeling panicky for absolutely no reason that u can put your finger on. When you get adrenalin in a normal way its like running a race ,you get it to sprint and when you reach the tape it subsides and then you feel calm...but there is no end tape in a panic attack ,is there?

Its funny since i have come out of the other side ,I would actually love to do counselling.
If you need to chat i am here...feel free.

I know it helps to talk especially to someone who has been there too...and there is light at the end of the tunnel although it sometimes seems very dark and frightening. I hate cliches.

adelicatequestion Thu 10-Sep-09 18:23:18

Thank you so much alypaly

No it wasn't a family member. It was several different people, mainly family friends and babysitters.

Currently the tunnel is very dark, but I know I need to go through it to come out the other end. I find it very hard coping with the memories and experiencing the feelings again.

I have a great DH who is helping me lots now that I have told him and am opening up to him.

alypaly Thu 10-Sep-09 23:19:42

if DH will let you, keep repeating the stories until they create a reaction in you, of anger or crying..anything... (sobbing uncontrollably at times)and keep repeating it until you can talk about it without crying or reacting. Thats when you know you have got part of the way through it. ( i know you have said you dont feel anything at the moment and that is your own personal defence mechanism( and mine), but if you hold your emotions down you will crack up( hence the shaking) and i am sorry to be brutally honest...You have got to let it all out and open those flood gates otherwise it will haunt you forever. You will never forget it because it has destroyed part of you childhood and innocence, you ahve just got to learn how to move on and deal with the hurt it has caused you. I hope it hasnt put too much of a strain on your relationship with D
h. It did with me,i completley went off sex after DS1 and i know it was to do with the abuse and not baby,i just felt soiled and dirty and frigid.

adelicatequestion Fri 11-Sep-09 22:39:38

I haven't told DH any of the details. I don;t know how he'd react.

Since my daughter was born, thiings have been strained with DH but are significantly better since my hterapist said to tell him and let him help.

I just keep wanting to cry at odd times in the day. Something will happen to set me off and then i run off and hide because I don;t want the children to see me.

Thank you for this alypaly. You're helping a lot.

alypaly Fri 11-Sep-09 23:45:22

ADQ...glad its helping.Its true, it does help to talk. Did you find it made you promiscuous as a young adult or did it have the opposite effect. If its too personal a question, i totally understand.

My family were not emotional either..maybe it was their generation ,or some people from that generation.It took my mum til i had my breakdown to actually hug me and hold me properly. I have kept a card from her, for 20 years, that she sent to me whilst i was recovering in hospital, with a mummy duck with a big wing round her duckling and it still makes me cry now.And she died 2 years ago unfortunately.

Dont hide your tears,even from your children(how old are they) Just tell them ,mummy is sad, but not about anything they have done.They will help you recover too.
I didnt hide my tears from my boys and i can honestly say it hasnt affected them.They are 21 and nearly 17 now and they know that i am a victim of abuse from my stepbrother.
They dont know most of the sordid details about this pervert, but they know how much the abuse has affected me. Believe me ,he needs locking away and he has had the audacity to blame it on our mother for not showing him affection...thats a good line of defence isnt it? Blame it on someone else...OMG

Once i had had a few psychotherapy sessions ,I actually started to find them a little contrived and they stopped helping.
I felt as though the therapist was just like a wall to bounce a ball off , a sounding block really. In fact sometimes it used to annoy me when she would say.."well how do you think you should deal with it, what do you think you should do" .At times i wanted to scream at her or hit a wall...but I didntsmileMy frustation with the situation used to make me shake all over sometimes,and my heart used to race uncontrollably.

After my three month stay in hospital( where I went voluntarily)...it was a private hospital for people with severe depression... there was an anaesthetist,an airline pilot,a lady with tinnitus, a self harmer...all types of professionals but people with a common link, ... severe depression.Some undoubtably caused by some form of abuse or violence.
After 3 months,I ventured home for just 2 or 3 hours at a time, or for as long as i could cope with. Everything......even making tea,toast,hoovering used to make me shake.
My head was like scrambled egg, no ability to concentrate( my brain computer was on definite overload....is that how you feel? and my eyes felt strangely blurred. I honestly thought i had lost the plot and was constantly asking my DP if i was sane.
Do you fel as though you are loosing it at times..its frightening isnt it?
I was sanesmileThank god, but just a shadow of my former self,whatever that was.
I had no self confidence and dreadful panic attacks for years,terrified of going out for a meal with DS1's god parents, or anywhere for that matter. Eventually was persuaded to go out for an indian with them and half way thro, i had to come home, as i burst into tears in the restaurant and had an awful panic attack..but they understood.
It took 2 years of constant talking (when i had the chance with my partner) until i actually got sick of hearing my own voice and the tears stopped. I even went through every horrible detail ..he literally wanted to kill him...as it did destroy alot of our relationship,physically.
I hope you might feel as if you can talk to me ,if i can help i will..but dont loose faith in yourself...you wil get through this,its not easy but you will be able to do it for yourself and only you can do it.

adelicatequestion Sat 12-Sep-09 09:28:43

Alypaly

I can relate to a lot of what you say.

It didn;t make me promiscious. I was the opposite.

It's sad the effect it has on people. I actually don;t feel depressed, just extremely overwhelmed by the emotions that I'm not used to feeling.

My therapist and psychiatrist are fantastic although I do get very angry with them, but it's not them I'm angry with. One day I will process that too, but its very early days yet.

At the moment I'm craving that hug that you talked about.

alypaly Sat 12-Sep-09 14:26:49

its peculiar actually, it made me slightly promiscuous when i was a teenager..but then when i had more meaningful relationships, i just clammed up and went cold.
I think as a young teenager ,because of what had happened with the abuse...i wrongly connected sex with love and affection and was not capable of seperating the two.

Now i see the error of my actions...but it was because of my stepbrothers constant abuse from about 8yrs old, i knew no different.I thought it was normal til i went to grammar school, but then the threats started.
Its funny ,i think my mind has blotted alot of the pain from my earlier years, as i cannot really recollect anything of my childhood other than fear and crying. I think its your bodies protection.
Have you found your mind has blocked alot of your childhood out too? why are there so many evil people around,BOTH men and women?

Does DH not hug you or is that difficult too!
I used to hate being cuddled by my ex as he never knew when to draw the line at just a
cuddle and quite often i didnt want it to lead to sex....i just wanted that BIG HUG.

Sorry if the conversation is quite
personal....and escpecially as we dont know each other. Maybe its a shame we dont.
You sound as if you are struggling with exactly the same things as i did and very occasionally do. I know its hard but try to open up as it will help release the anger...try those letters...i kept mine for years ,intending to send them . I didnt, but then i plucked up the courage to speak to him...or more to the point, yell at him. My language was pretty colourful I can assure you. I know it sounds awful, but i cant wait for the day he departs this planet...i hate him so much. One day i may tell his daughter as she thinks i am a weird, unfriendly auntie( i was actually scared she was being abused by him too, as her mum died when she was just 10.She used to go and share his bed...yuk...to console herself.

try and let some of the pain out to me if it helps...i really dont mind...smile
<<<hug>>

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