Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

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.

dimsum123 Sun 24-Feb-13 11:46:20

I totally understand how you feel. And there absolutely is a strong link between childhood abuse and physical and emotional health problems in adulthood. If you do a bit of googling you will find plenty of research that shows this.

I have health problems which I am 100% sure were caused by the abuse and neglect I suffered in childhood at the hands of my parents.

I have recieved 'compensation' from my dad. He gave me quite a lot of money a while ago on the unsaid understanding that I would then 'forgive' him and my mother and resume contact with them. Instead I took the money but still refuse to see them and I feel no guilt whatsover. They took my childhood and many many years of my adulthood so they money they gave me was actually just a drop in the ocean compared to what they stole from me and how they made me suffer.

pukkapine Sun 24-Feb-13 12:28:13

How did the situation with your dad giving you money arise? My parents are always literally throwing money at my sister - we've been struggling financially for the last 5 years or so and they have just stood back and watched - in fact on one memorable occasion nipping in to an antiques shop to buy an item worth over £10k! But again that makes it sound like it's about the money, and I'm not sure it is. Although it is galling to see her going on holiday after holiday living in a huge house etc whilst I struggle daily in pain and mentally because of her. I've never had the courage to cut them out of my life though, or even be sure if I want to. I love my dad, and they are still together.

something2say Sun 24-Feb-13 12:43:00

I understand.....

Here is my two penne th.

We heal in layers. We are able to handle a bit of this, and later a bit of that. I would wager that your body is bringing up the pain in safe chunks for you.

I would start speaking differently about having fybro for your entire life. Shy write off your entire life to this??? Have it now. Not forever.

I wouldn't expect anything from your mother. Do you think she will own up and pay? Most a users don't own up, let alone pay.

I think you are angry and rightly so, and she caused your body pain, which you are now able to face. I would rage at the sky but forget your mother. Forget the wider family supporting you. In the face of them not doing so, you may regress and be hurt afresh.

Can you go no contact and just get into what you are feeling? Don't bother asking for them to understand, don't even ask or speak to them about it.

I cut my family off about 7 years ago now, my abuser many years before that. At the time I did the rest of them, I used to cry 'I have lost EVERYTHING!!!!' When I cried, I lay on the floor face down and wept and thought about how I lost everything. It went on for about two years. I passed thro it because I gave it voice.

That's what I think you should do. Give voice to your body's suffering and do not expect them to validate it. Stay away from them, stay with people who do validate you.

Huge hugs from one who understands xxx

garlicbreeze Sun 24-Feb-13 13:16:09

Pukka, you have my unconditional sympathy.

As to your theory - yes! But it's not a medically recognised (or understood, nor much researched) connection. I have a related illness, which also began around the time I started acknowledging the extent of abuse in my life. As I progressed in therapy, it got worse. It was a psychiatrist who sent me for diagnosis - as far as I'm aware, these are the only physical illnesses that are routinely diagnosed by mental health specialists confused and sad

There's an old theory - 1970s, I think - that "depression" is entirely the result of suppressed anger. Although mental health diagnoses are now far more sophisticated, the premise that anger, fear and helplessness provoke physical symptoms is well recognised. With good luck, persistent application and adequate support you may succeed in fully recognising the depth of the damage that was done to you and feeling all of the negative emotions attached to that. This, paradoxically, would be the start of your recovery - which seems to rest on a Zen-like acceptance of the facts as they are, followed by peaceful rebuilding of a healthier life. (Things being what they are, this tends to not to happen in a tidy progression.)

Remember that "these illnesses" can go into permanent remission - ie, recovery is possible.

It was interesting to see Dimsum's post about 'compensation'. After some rather challenging episodes with my mother and my feelings, she became eager to give me nice stuff. She's not well off, so nothing dramatic, but she has now stated aloud that it's her attempt to make up for my childhood. This has been linked, in detail, with my establishment of boundaries around her. I accept her presents (I need them!) Some survivors reject them; the choice is individual but the importance of setting one's own terms wrt the abuser is communal.

Here are some links for you.
Pete Walker on Complex PTSD. Read the whole site.
Alice Miller.

Are you on the Stately Homes thread? Very helpful, ime smile

There may be something on this thread that you relate to.

Here's wishing us all a steady and complete recovery. xx

dimsum123 Sun 24-Feb-13 14:43:41

My dad gave my siblings some money so i assume he felt he ought to offer me the same. Even though he was a bullying abuser he was always financially generous. I initially said no to the money as i felt like i was being bought or bribed. But after a while i began to see it as compensation and then decided to accept the money. There was a lot of toing and froing about what i was going to do with the money even though he had said it was 'no strings attached' but eventually to my huge surprise he gave me the money to spend as i pleased. I still have no contact with any of my family. And i'm sure my siblings in particular have reinforced their long standing view of me as an ungrateful horrible cow as i took the money and gave nothing in return. It does hurt that my siblings have been so judgmental and critical of me and my actions in relation to my parents when they were NOT abused or neglected like I was.

I would recommend Alice Miller and all her books. They are what helped get through the painful task of facing up to just how awful my childhood had been and coping with it's legacy to me as an adult.

I am so much better now. After a journey of around 7 years i can truly say I am happy, contented and healthy both emotionally and physically. At one stage my health was so bad i was contemplating suicide as i felt i couldn't go on in so much pain. It takes a lot of hard work but you can and will regain your health, emotional and physical.

GregorSamsa Sun 24-Feb-13 17:14:33

This is the recent study showing a link between adverse events in childhood and autoimmune disease processes in adults.

It would be surprising if a similar link didn't exist for eg. fibromyalgia and ME, but I suspect the authors focussed on the diseases with known physical causes in order to exclude those diseases which are generally already accepted as having a psychosomatic component.

It would be harder to prove the link for diseases that lack known, measurable, inflammatory markers, I suppose.

GlitteryShitandDanglyBaubles Sun 24-Feb-13 17:28:28

I understand, pukka.

As my ishoos began to surface, I was crippled with either migraines, or severe acid reflux, I was unable to eat for days at a time, in agony, throwing up fruit flavoured rennies or laying down in a dark room doped up to the eyeballs, wishing it would all end!

This stopped as soon as I started counselling. It wasn't easy. I still have the occasional attack, but nothing like it used to be, and I have my health back, to a huge extent. So I get you.

My mother lives in Spain, sunning herself and sipping cocktails with her paedo husband. Makes me sick. I want to shout - but it's not fair! And it's not. But I could never ever live with myself if I had the things she has done on my conscience. I know I'm a better person, although it's difficult to say that out loud.

Dh has said on more than one occasion that we should bill her for all counselling and psychotherapy, prescription charges, OTC medication and dental bills.

Would it be useful to you to write a letter holding her to account, say whatever you like, then burn it?

dimsum123 Sun 24-Feb-13 18:39:20

And I have also spent a small fortune on therapists and medicines. I have also been unable to work for the past 10 years due to my various health issues. So when i add it all up my parents owe me far more than what money they actually gave me. They'll never realise it though. I know they feel hard done by, as if they are the victims and I am the mean and nasty baddie.

izzyizin Sun 24-Feb-13 18:45:26

Looking at this from a purely pragmatic point of view, if you have 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 it's possible that reporting your mother to the police would bring about her prosecution for the offences, albeit now historic, she committed against you and a resulting conviction would pave the way for you to sue for compensation in the civil Courts.

Alternatively, you could proceed to sue her for compensation in the civil Courts where the burden of proof is less than that required by the criminal Courts.

In the first instance I would suggest you consult a solicitor who specialises in criminal/personal injury claims.

pukkapine Sun 24-Feb-13 20:36:02

Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply, I really appreciate it. A lot to think about. I feel a mixture of relief and shock that there are others who do ‘get me’ – that don’t think I’m insane for this link between the mental and the physical. It’s one of the things that’s stopped me from mentioning it’s right up there in my current thoughts to either DH or my close friends.

something2say - I’m not sure if I could go non contact. I’ve given it a lot of thought over the last couple of years. We don’t see much of them (maybe 4 times a year). I don’t speak to my mum on the phone (maybe twice a year), but do speak to my dad on the phone every couple of weeks. I know it hurts him how little I have to do with my mum, but I can just about cope with this level of contact. But I get the benefit of still being in touch with my dad. As I said before I love him, and worry for him and his health, and although he wasn’t innocent throughout my childhood (I guess in some ways an enabler although a lot he didn’t, and doesn’t, know about), I know he loves me, and I can’t find it in myself to walk away from the only parental ‘love’ I’ve had. It sounds awful but I keep hoping she dies first and we get some time with my dad without her around. I really admire you for cutting them out. I guess I live with the compromise which is most ‘comfortable’ for me – have a little contact but daily surround myself with DH and my friends. I also see your point about trying not to think of the Fibro as lifelong.

garlicbreeze - thank you for the links, I’ll have a good look when I get a proper chance. I’m not on the Stately Homes thread – a year or two ago I had a good read, including all the back threads, but I couldn’t bring myself to post. I didn’t know where to start and things were still too raw then. I was living in hell with the flashbacks and anxiety and it was about all I could do to care for my kids. I’ve found it really bloody hard to talk about what happened to me (don’t we all?!) and I simply wouldn’t know where to start. Had enough problems starting this thread!

dimsum123 thank you for sharing your story – it’s really encouraging to read how you’ve come through it

Glittery - I’ve written her several letters during my therapy! When I was first in therapy I didn’t feel any anger at all – I still struggle to feel angry (or recognise it as such). My therapist used to gradually encourage me to write more of the anger out. I’ve also written (but not sent) letters to various other people as a result of the therapy – my Gran (who was more of a mother figure, who died 4 years ago and miss terribly), my Dad, teachers, professionals who let me down, sent me back to her etc. I do find writing very therapeutic though, have fallen out of the habit recently. I sometimes want ‘someone’ to read what I’ve written, like I need my voice heard, but feel it would be hugely self-indulgent to ask a friend to read it. And I think I stopped writing so much because I felt hurt that here was my voice not being heard again.

izzyzin - the thing is I’m still scared no one would believe me and it all comes down to my word against hers. I was lucky to survive being beaten around the head in to unconsciousness with a fire iron. I have largely lost the hearing on one side due to it. I have MRI scans from 2001 showing the damage to my ear and the old fractures. However, at the time (1987) when I was eventually taken to the hospital nearly 2 weeks after the original injuries and had a broken arm as well as the head injury my mum said it was due to falling down the stairs. I also confirmed that story. My sister thinks I was in and out of consciousness for 4-5 days. But despite telling me all about that incident once about 3 years ago, her apologising for not getting me help etc, she now denies it ever happened. There are several other injuries that I received medical treatment for (repeated dislocated shoulder, dislocated jaw, broken bones, glass cuts requiring stitches) but every time a cover story was made, which I went along with, and my mother was a highly respected medical professional so I really was screwed – and I guess feel the same applies now.

Even within the last year when I’ve felt more confident admitting to people what happened and I had to have an ultrasound because of ongoing problems with my shoulder and I explained to the doctor that I had dislocated it several times in childhood and he said that was very unlikely, children don’t just dislocate shoulders – I couldn’t bring myself to say it was due to abuse. So I think I still think I won’t be believed although I have finally told the truth to DH and a few friends. I think seeing what you’ve written I doubt I’d be able to talk to a solicitor so this is all pie in the sky thinking anyway. I only managed to tell my GP exactly the reasons for the anxiety and panic attacks because I broke down in front of him and he got me to write it down.

GlitteryShitandDanglyBaubles Mon 25-Feb-13 09:45:57

You have evidence of your abuse on your medical records, so it will not be a case of your word against hers... You do not have to witnessess to the abuse either.

Maybe contact Victim Support and discuss a possible way forward?

I think, as izzy says, you have a good case.

And it can be very valuable to say that what happened to you was wrong, and in fact, a criminal act. Which it was.

NicknameTaken Mon 25-Feb-13 10:20:38

pukka, I have no advice to offer. I just wanted to say that the idea of a little girl going through all that has brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could look after her somehow.

PeppermintPasty Mon 25-Feb-13 10:29:37

Hello pukkapine.

I'm a solicitor and, until a change to non-litigious work 5 yrs ago, I was a personal injury lawyer for 15 years.

There are lots of issues here. If I were to strip it down and look at it legally only, if you were to go to a (good) PI lawyer, they certainly wouldn't dismiss your claims. You could always show them this thread as a starting point for any discussion, if you felt unable to talk immediately.

The things that would be going through my head if you were telling me what happened to you would be to do with causation, which is a legal(ish) term for linking the damage done with the accident, or abuse that occurred, either historically or recently.

The fact that it is "historic", as it's likely to be called, does not mean it is impossible to prove. You will know that I'm sure from cases coming up time to time in the news.

You need to have a "cause" therefore, for someone's injury or injuries, whether mental or physical. That is proved by medical evidence that is obtained at the time that the case is being prepared by you and the lawyer.

Lots of injured people worry that this means a doctor will examine them and find nothing wrong, or will simply comment on the historical accident/abuse in passing. This is not correct! A good consultant will, through examination of any records available, and through consultation with you, be able to reconstruct what happened, and will then be able to reach a medical conclusion.

Remember that all of this must be proven to be "on the balance of probabilities", which basically means looking at all the evidence gathered in, and assessing what is most likely to have happened, and what would be the most likely outcome following those events. If the most likely outcome is the injury you suffered, you will have proved your case, and shown causation.

Hmm, probably made it sound smoother than it ever is....Having said all of the above, I spent a lot of time in litigation persuading people that they shouldn't litigate! Sounds counter intuitive, but here's the thing: it drains you financially and mentally (and finances are still relevant even if you have a no win no fee type agreement), and it may never give the litigant the result they really crave, whatever that may be.

Looking at what you say wrt your case, the fact that you have medical records, even if they do not record the truth as far as you're concerned, will all help your case as a consultant/specialist preparing a court medical report for you will be looking at it all with your current statement beside him or her, and with the benefit of hindsight. A good legal team would be able to easily establish the real reasons for the hospital/gp appts, and blow apart any stories ie lies from your abuser/s.

I'm sorry for going on so long. I could go on indefinitely....But in summary will say that if you believe that getting some advice from a decent lawyer will help you in dealing with this then do it. Even if you get out of the appointment and think "that's it", it may boost you. But if you do get advice, then from what you have said, I think you have the makings of a good case. it wouldn't be easy, and it would take a long long time, but you might just get your justice. You would need an absolute shit hot pi lawyer IMO, clearly with experience of abuse cases, and that would need researching.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Mon 25-Feb-13 10:33:28

I clicked on thread as I have ME and depression and find it quite disabling. I had am abusive childhood (mother also an alcoholic). I am currently having flashbacks often and get angry on behalf of the innocent girl in them.

Like you I'm currently struggling with the fact that not only did I not have a childhood but its seriously affecting my adulthood. I was bright, oxbridge should have had glittering future but have had difficult relationships and lost my job through me. I had so much hope and excitement about life when I first escaped the family 'home' as I thought it was over. I'm in my 30s now and since having children seen to be suffering more.

I'd love to be able to move on and not be crippled by anxiety and fatigue.

PeppermintPasty Mon 25-Feb-13 10:39:44

Oh btw, I was talking above about the specific injury/ies where there is an established link between the abuse and the injury, and there can be a finding at the very least that "on balance" the actions caused the problems. Fibromyalgia may be deemed to be too "remote" a result to be proven. However, I bet you can't be the only person with this particular diagnosis re fibromyalgia. Proving a causative link between that and the abuse would no doubt be difficult, but I have been out of the game for 5 years and so am not up on the research in this area-there may already be a link. Any lawyer would have to raise this question with the medical specialist concerned of course.

I'll shut up now smile

pukkapine Mon 25-Feb-13 11:10:06

PeppermintPasty - please don’t feel the need to shut up! I’m really grateful for you taking the time to give all that advice. And to be honest reading it has kind of confirmed for me that I’m not ready to pursue this legally, if ever. I don’t want another fight on my hands. I don’t even really want my mother to know what she did to me HAS affected me. I quite like the idea that she thinks my life is rosy now (even if that’s not entirely true when you factor in my health issues, but she knows little about these). You can see her effectively sucking lemons when she sees our happy family and our children. I don’t want to be trying to convince and prove things that happened to strangers, or have her deny them. I’m only just starting to feel secure in telling details to DH or close friends and trusting that they will believe me without question. I think you’re right in that the mental cost in some instances would be too great, and not necessarily lead to the outcome/closure/sense of justice that I guess I’m looking for.

Glittery - I’ve had quite a change over recent years in accepting that the blame in no way lies with me for what happened, and the closest friend who’ve I’ve told about what happened (as well as my therapist) have really helped me to see what she did was ‘criminal’. On one occasion my friend got very upset and angry about what I had told her (not at me!) – I couldn’t handle it at the time, but afterwards it was really helpful for me to see what the real reaction to what my mum did should be. I’ve spent my life minimising it, but I do get now that it was a criminal act (or a lot to be accurate). Similarly NicknameTaken it’s helpful to hear your reaction to what I’ve written – it just helps me to access what I feel about it and that it’s ok to be sad for me as a little girl.

CanIhaveagiraffeplease - I hope this thread hasn’t upset you too much – I understand exactly what you’re saying (hence my thread!) – it just seems so wrong that no matter how hard you try to move away from your childhood it still haunts you through health issues (whether mental or physical).

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Mon 25-Feb-13 11:35:56

Not at all upset me. Just sort of nice to see someone who 'understands' the unfairness of it all and also struggling with fatigue. Its horrible isn't it :-(

I'd love to know how to move on. Really sorry to hear all you've been through though. I think its only recently that I've realised the link between fibro/ME and traumatic pasts. It would be even better if that led to an understanding of how to overcome it. I've also got food issues I'm struggling with and yet again realised its all liked in.

Its made me all the more determined not to screw up my kids childhood but I'm so scared sometimes that not having had a normal healthy pattern to follow or fall back on its so much harder!

hilbobaggins Tue 26-Feb-13 22:56:57

I'm so sorry to read about the traumatic experiences you have endured.

I would really encourage you to look at the work of Dr John Sarno (google him). Dr Sarno is a brilliant US based back doctor whose theory of mind-body medicine has helped thousands (including me) free themselves from debilitating pain. I have read an awful lot about this topic and Sarno's was the first theory that made medical sense to me.

In brief, the theory is that the body creates symptoms to distract the mind from a reservoir of unconscious and unbearable rage (rage, not anger!) buried deep within the psyche. This stops the sufferer from having to experience the depth of these 'unwanted' emotions: effectively, the brain is trying to to protect itself, if that makes sense, by swapping psychological pain for physical pain because the psychological pain is too threatening. The theory even proposes a 'goodist' personality type that tends to suffer from what Sarno calls Tension Myositis Syndrome: non-confrontational people-pleasers who repress emotions. 'Cure' lies in understanding exactly what is happening on a physical / psychological level and directing attention towards the psychological and away from the physical (that's a VERY superficial explanation but hopefully gives you an idea of what it's all about).

The theory was originally proposed for back pain, but he has recently expanded it to include other conditions including fibromyalgia, stomach disorders, headaches, fatigue and depression.

Like anything else its only a theory, but it's a well-researched one, based on thousands of case studies, and hey - It worked for me. I cured myself of crippling back/ knee / foot pain by reading 'The Mindbody Prescription' and applying the techniques. You can pick it up really cheaply second-hand on amazon. Hope this helps.

garlicbreeze Wed 27-Feb-13 00:43:39

That's so interesting, Hilbo. While I am extremely wary of theories that lean towards "all illness is psychological" as practised by Unum, Atos and our beloved government angry, there obviously are powerful links between stress (emotion) and physical symptoms. The physical effects of stress hormones can even be measured nowadays. They can be devastating. We know emotional distress can kill suddenly (heart attacks, for eg,) and it can kill slowly, too.

You're absolutely right to use the word RAGE and I almost posted that correction to my reply where I said "anger"!

In another discussion on a CFS/ME thread, it's been noted that patients with a diagnosis of depression are automatically labelled psychosomatic by traditional (physical) medics. I wasn't aware this is actually policy but, like so many others, have had to try various peculiar approaches to my GPs when seeking attention to physical problems, as it was obvious they'd decided I'm a whiner before I even arrived. If there were a whole medical sector devoted to holistic (?) psycho-physical medicine, maybe that really would be helpful. As things are, though, you wait two years for counselling and then it turns out to be the CBT you've already done half a dozen times.

What you've written, about referred pain and a try-hard mentality, echoes everything 'survivors' know about abuse and its long-term effects.

At the end of all this ... we're still left with an understanding that psychiatric injury has left us with genuine mental and physical illness. The cure, if we arrive at one, will be an amalgam of bodily self-care, psychological repair and emotional balance. If you can find a protocol which deals with that in a structured way and works for you, so much the better!

pukkapine Thu 28-Feb-13 18:44:37

wow, that's really interesting reading - I think I'm going to get his book to read more. I'm aware that I have seriously repressed rage/anger - I literally hadn't felt any until really very recently, and even now I don't know when it's anger or I'm upset, and I have no coping skills for anger. I am terrified of ever being angry.

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to come back to this thread - I found it all a bit upsetting and it's taken me a few days to build my nerve back up!

garlicbrain Thu 28-Feb-13 19:38:49

So good to hear you've managed to read it and are taking a constructive attitude smile

Btw, "constructive" and "forward-looking" do NOT have to mean burying past hurts and pretending everything's fine! We wouldn't underplay the amount of time & effort required to physically recover from a bad car crash, for example, but seem pretty keen to act as though nothing's happened when the injuries are emotional / psychological. Both patients need to understand the damage and what's involved in recovery.

Here's a quick introduction to your HPA Axis smile

hilbobaggins Thu 28-Feb-13 21:43:16

pukkapine - wow, I get this, I really do! Feeling anger/rage and knowing how/when to express it appropriately is such an important topic and one I struggle with on a daily, if not hourly, basis. It is immensely frustrating.

I know I am often deep-down angry; I know that it manifests physically in my body. I still don't know how to 'express' it effectively in the moment. Years and years of not expressing it in the moment have built up my reservoir of rage! It seems to turn into a depression for me at the moment - I think I simply shut down emotionally. I was never allowed to be angry as a child and my mother, who was an angry screamer, used to terrify the life out of me. So I really understand when you say you are afraid of being angry.

What I like about the Sarno theory is that he doesn't just say, oh your pain is psychological/psychosomatic; he acknowledges that the pain is very real and explains its physiological cause and the role that the (very real psychological or physical) pain is playing in your life.

I think that this work (trying to stay in the moment, feel rather than repress the emotion, learn how to express myself authentically) is life-long work for me.

PrincessTeacake Fri 01-Mar-13 00:00:18

I can completely understand where you're coming from pukka, I have fibro too and was also sexually abused in childhood. So, in bullet forms, here's what has helped me cope.

* You do not need to acknowledge the people that have hurt you or the people that cover for them. Sometimes people do make excuses for abuse because they can't wrap their heads around the thought that a person they love could be capable of such monstrous acts. That's understandable but not excusable, and it is easier to think that the victim is exaggerating than confront reality. You don't need to acknowledge their pain if they refuse to acknowledge yours.

* Fibromyalgia is a great big pain in the arse and still no-one can say what causes it, but connecting it to your abuse gives the disease more power than it should have. I like to treat mine like a grudging prison warden, sort of "I'm going to go rock-climbing today whether you like it or not, but tomorrow I promise i'll stay in bed and listen to showtunes all day." Find your coping mechanisms and it will all get easier.

* Be thankful for what you have, I know it's difficult but it works. Fibros a horrid thing to have, but so is cancer, osteogenesis imperfecta, polio, schizophrenia, being the relative of a murder victim, living in a warzone, and I could go on for ages but you get the idea.

* You are a living miracle in and of yourself, because you survived your abuse and went on to have a healthy relationship that produced three children. It took some very intensive therapy to help me get over my sex phobia and I still have problems, so overcoming that is a testament to how strong you are.

* Learn to see the funny side of your illness. I do a little stand up comedy and I love talking about my illness (100% heckler proof) and I have a number of disabled friends who feed me material. It can be found if you look hard enough.

CanIHaveAPetGiraffePlease Fri 01-Mar-13 00:08:09

I'd love to hear that princess! Whereabouts in the country are you?

Does sarno give any suggestions for recovery?

Funnily enough I was wondering about the hpa axis the other day. At the cfs clinic they had mentioned its a bit like the flight or fight response is over activated and switched on to alert too much.

I was reading an adult child of abuse book which mentioned in traumatic childhoods your flight or fight is constantly triggered as you have to watch for your own safety etc.

Just an interesting connection. Makes sense he childhood was a state of anxiety and fear, triggering the fight flight response that that mightbe screwed up into adulthood.

Still working on how on earth to recover though. I want a life where I feel I'm enjoying some of it, not just still stuck in survival mode.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now