I hit a milestone of sorts today, one that I didn't actually see coming.
I have been in therapy for...oh...about a year straight now. About this time last year, I finally realized that what was going on with me was bigger than anything I could handle myself. The panic attacks were multiplying. The insomnia and nightmares were getting worse. The triggers seemed to send me spiraling faster and deeper.
Whatever it was, it was too big for me.
As it turns out, I had developed PTSD on top of already having a long standing anxiety disorder. Not a good combination, trust me.
When too many bad things happen, when too much loss happens, when there are too many tragedies, when there is too much struggle, sometimes we can't deal with it all.
We think we can. We get by. We function, barely. All the while, though I was functioning, my brain was unable to process everything.
It got stuck.
I got stuck.
I needed help to find a way out, and I finally went and got it.
The things that happened were all terrible and awful. There really is no way for me to sugarcoat any of it. I know that sometimes when you are in the thick of an experience, it's possible to over exaggerate the degree of its significance in your life.
I couldn't have possibly over exaggerated this.
In a lot of ways, I probably tried to minimize it as much as I could purely as a survival mechanism.
The trouble was that even when life started to calm down, when the tragedies stopped coming, when the losses slowed down, nothing got better for me. I had to go back through it all, reliving it in therapy, allowing my brain to untangle the connections and process it properly.
PTSD has been explained to me as a giant tangled ball of holiday lights. There might be different strings, they each have a beginning and an end, but once they are all tied up together, it seems impossible to think you could ever get it all untangled. Each string represents a separate trauma.
EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprogramming) is targeted therapy for PTSD. It forces you to go back to the moment the harm occurred over and over and over again until those connections can be loosened. It eases the jumble apart, lets the ends find a way out. Over time, you find that the strands are all neatly separated, ready to be stored safely where they belong.
I couldn't even begin to try to explain why or how it works. I just know that it does.
I graduated today.
I completed EMDR. I untangled it all. Memories or things that would have been triggers before are just mildly uncomfortable occurrences now. I can shrug it off and go on now instead of slipping down the rabbit hole.
Without being drug down and held hostage by the past, I am free to live in the present. To look, with hope, to the future.
I wouldn't wish what happened to me on anyone. I wouldn't want another person to have to endure what I did. As hard as EMDR was, as terrifying as it was to relive it all, as reluctant as I was at times to keep it up, it saved me.
And now I am here.
On this side.
I have a few more scars...but hey, scars are sexy, right?
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