Approaching Trauma Therapy

“You have no real trauma in your life; you could get better in the click of two fingers if you really wanted to”

These were the words an ex-therapist said to me quite a few years ago. I have never forgotten the smug look of disdain she wore on her face that day, nor the distress it caused me, nor the invalidation of the other therapists at the treatment centre. 

For someone who struggles to acknowledge many aspects of my past, and chronically invalidates it, what happened that day was the straw that finally broke the camel’s back. It dug me into the ground, it destroyed my trust and it ruined our relationship completely. It totally stunted my entire recovery process, and has continued to do so in ways even today. It has consistently gotten in the way of my current therapy as it has been a huge block to me feeling able to even consider doing trauma work. 

As my current therapist and I near a new type of trauma therapy known as EMDR (eye-moment desensitisation reprocessing), the old therapist’s words are stuck whirling around in my head – taking me over like Death Eaters. 

I have convinced myself that when we start EMDR, my therapist will ‘realise’ that there is ‘no material’ for us to even work with. In my imagination I envisage her throwing her arms into the air, and exclaiming and sighing with disbelief that “there really is nothing to process”. I am scared that she will finally seeing my past like that old therapist did – as insignificant, uneventful and petty – and that this really is the hard and fast truth.

I feel like such a fraud. 

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18 thoughts on “Approaching Trauma Therapy

  1. I do, too – in fact I posted about it just today (funny coincidence!). What I didn’t put in my post (not because I’m hiding it, but just because it didn’t seem relevant at the time – but it definitely does now, in light of your post!) is that my therapist is trying to convince me to do clinical hypnosis (with an expert, but my therapist would be there as well) – it’s apparently really good for processing trauma. My therapist says that in one session with the hypnotist, we could accomplish what would take us months. The thing is, like you, I am afraid that I am a fraud, my illness is all a sham, my trauma doesn’t really “count” as trauma, and there won’t be anything to come out of it… that literally nothing will be revealed through hypnosis… which will leave me stuck and suffering forever, I guess.
    As somebody commented on my blog, the truth is that we’re not a fraud. We’ve just been invalidated to the point where we believe we are.
    I hope that you try the EMDR and that it works for you (while I’ve never done it, I’ve heard great things). Lots of love you you xxx

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  2. You know the truth inside. That first therapist was full of it. We can’t just “snap our fingers.” If we could. We would. “We aren’t stuck in the past. The past is stuck in us.”
    What if you talked to your therapist about your fears?
    Don’t doubt yourself. Depression and PTSD are often stigmatized and also not taken seriously

    Liked by 1 person

  3. UGH. I want to shake people who invalidate one’s trauma. And you know, people respond differently to different things depending on past events, how people respond to it, whether other things happen shortly before or after, etc. I mean, there’s so much that can affect how a person responds to an event. I really wish too that people would just not invalidate other people’s experiences altogether and for a therapist to be invalidating, that’s just the worst.

    You are not a fraud. You are a unique individual who responded to whatever happened to you in your own way.

    Hell, people wonder why I’m not more screwed up which is pretty crazy in and of itself, you know? But again, people respond differently. My sister and I were in the same place on the same day when the traumatic event happened. We responded differently, we still respond differently. We have different triggers, different ways of coping and not coping. There is no one size fits all for trauma and bullocks to anyone who feels that way!

    I hope ultimately, you are able to have some healing from the trauma you experienced and that your experiences and your responses to those experiences are validated along the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. WOW. This is very similar to what I’ve been crying about for days. I have, in fact, been saying it to myself. “you don’t have real trauma, you’re just too sensitive. get over it like everyone else.” I JUST began with a new therapist and I’m terrified to open up. Feeling like a fraud is such a good description. Pros and Cons list might be helpful and fact checking – which this post will help me with. I am very sorry you are feeling these feels. It’s awful. I appreciate the post all the same. x

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve just recently been diagnosed with bpd (after years of bipolar mislabels) and am confused about this point…
    while my teen/adult life has not been without suffering/trauma, there’s nothing there in early childhood to explain the traumatized way i felt…

    when you’re talking about doubting the significance of your trauma, is there a specific catalyst you can point to that you feel is unworthy of the reaction it caused or are you saying you don’t know if there is a catalyst?
    (i’m months away from my first appointment to assess treatment options so i’m doing some obsessive inter-netting).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Trauma can include chronic invalidation which is one of the most common things people with BPD have experienced. Yes there are also some more pinpointed traumatic experiences in my life but I compare myself constantly and feel like my past doesn’t justify how my brain works today, like it only would if what happened was worse, etc.
      I don’t think my BPD was catalysed by one thing. I don’t think personality disorders work like that, it’s a mix of biology and environment and many many catalysts coming together to lead to a not so healthy (but often completely understandable) way of coping with life. Hope that makes sense 🙂 best of luck x

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  6. Hello, I’ve just started reading your blog, which means I haven’t read a lot of it. However, I just wanted to make a comment or two.

    I think you’re very courageous, at age 22, for speaking up in such an intelligent and forthright manner about your BPD. I want to encourage you to go through w/the EMDR till you and your ‘T’ feel complete. You can always go back to them should something come up that hadn’t before. (I would hope they’d leave the door open for you.) Then try the hypnosis, IF the person has a good track record! Remember, you’re the consumer paying their salary.

    Finally, self-care. Developing a quieter mind through proper breathing and other tools takes time and effort. Not going to the negative quick fix – drugs or alcohol, etc – requires support. No one can do this on their own. I hope you can put some kind of support system in place with the help of family, friends, your T, etc. What you’ve been through you’ve experienced or you wouldn’t have BPD! Stay away from anyone who says differently. They’re toxic and they should lose their license or your friendship.

    Why am I writing to you? I’m a 62 year old woman, married for 30 years to a wonderful man, have had BPD (PTSD, depression, anxiety, panic and OCD) most of my life. I was only dx’d 5 years ago! And I’ve been in therapy for 42 years. I could go on but I won’t.

    I know where you’re coming from as I’ve gone through a lot of the same feelings. And I’m getting better about some things – not bragging – just saying it takes time, support, hard work on oneself, taking small risks a little at a time, learning to love oneself and others, being kind to oneself and others, forgiving others and oneself, having a regular schedule, etc. The list goes on and on.

    May God bless you with peace, hope, joy and much love. 🕊

    Liked by 1 person

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