Saturday, December 31, 2016

Talking about Traumatic Memories

I’ve talked briefly about my traumatic experience, but it feels like it’s time to talk more about it.  Trying to access memories that your mind hid from you because they were just too much to deal with is…well it’s very difficult.  I’ve been reading The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel Van der Kolk and it does an excellent job of explaining traumatic memories.  These memories tend to be visceral, jagged, and non-sequential.  They don’t really make any kind of sense because when a person is truly traumatized their rational brain is bypassed and the experience goes straight to their emotional brain.  In other words, the experience is recorded by images, sensations, sounds, smells, but no coherent story. 

One very caring person suggested that maybe I was just picking up on someone else’s experience rather than it having been my own.  Now, I do tend to pick up on everybody else’s stuff (hazards of being an INFJ), but this was different.  Other peoples’ stuff has a fuzzy, disconnected feel to it.  I feel it, but it’s not mind.  When my trauma began to really raise its head the feelings were sharp, discordant, and very much mine.  Traumatic flashbacks are very visceral.  They catch you up and drag you along and all you can do is hang on for the ride and try to put yourself back together afterwards.

The private practice I’m completing my residential hours for my counseling license at has several unique services.  One of these is a brain queue using EEG, otherwise known as a brain map.  I’ve had two done – one before I had any memories from my trauma and another one recently.  The new brain map shows just how big an impact my trauma has had on me.  These are just a few of the things that show up on my recent brain map:  re-experiences intrusive memories; emotional numbing; dissociative episodes; amnestic disorder; mood disturbances aggression, rage; and the biggest one was the evidence of a concussion that I also don’t remember.

I’m going to do doing some more intensive self-help over the next few months.  Very soon I’ll be seeing a specialist who is trained in EMDR to help with the continuing process of dealing with my trauma.  I’m also going to be doing more intensive neurofeedback to help my brain networks operate more optimally and again, help deal with my trauma.  There are some unusual opportunities coming my way and I’m going to do my best to keep myself in good enough shape to take advantage of these opportunities.  All I can really do for now is wake up every morning, do the best I can to take care of myself and my kiddos, and go to bed every night.  The rest will come one way or another. 

To anyone reading this who knows someone else who has experienced trauma – be easy with them.  It takes a great deal of time and patience to effectively feel safe after having a truly traumatic experience.  My brain kept my memories from me for 36 years, so now I get to spend the time I have left nurturing myself.  Healing takes time, patience, and trust.  Hopefully I’ll be able to use some of my skills to help heal myself.

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