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Repressed rage and re-traumatization

Discussion in 'Support Subforum' started by Penny2007, Jun 16, 2019.

  1. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    The essence of Dr. Sarno's work is getting in touch with your repressed rage. But has anyone here been retraumautized by a trigger event that just blew the top off of their repressed rage? This is what happened to me.

    Two years ago my mother came to visit. The back pain started before she arrived. After she left the pain got so bad that it started waking me at night which in turn gave me sleep anxiety and within a short time I spiraled into debilitating anxiety. I was put on antidepressants for the first time in my life (almost 50 yrs old at the time). As a side note, I believe the anxiety was somewhat facilitated by the declining hormones of menopause which reduced my ability to cope any longer with my very difficult emotions around my mother.

    The traumatic event came many months later after I was switched to a different antidepressant which made me hypomanic. The psychiatrist took me off of it cold turkey which caused withdrawal symptoms from hell. He did not believe the severity of my symptoms and told me it was all in my head. This was the re-traumatizing trigger to telling my parents, as a child, that I was being molested, and them not believing me.

    In the aftermath of this and as a result of the severe reaction I had to the drug withdrawal and subsequent drugs a new Dr. put me on to get off the previous drugs, I basically lost my mind and rage just poured out of me at several different people in my life. I lost my job and my life was turned upside down. I realize now that this was just displaced rage. My poor husband receiving a good portion of it :(

    It is a year later and I'm off all drugs. I rarely have TMS pain but continue to struggle with anxiety. My therapist thinks I suffer from complex PTSD in general and PTSD from the experience with the drugs and negligent treatment by the psychiatrist. I feel like part of my anxiety is caused by the suppression of sadness. Sadness at what happened to me last year which would have been difficult for anyone but was worse for me because of the trigger to my neglectful childhood. Perhaps I'm also repressing my rage again as I feel like I should have gotten past all of this by now.

    Has anyone here worked through this type of thing or have other thoughts on this?
  2. Andy Bayliss

    Andy Bayliss TMS Coach & Beloved Grand Eagle

    Hi Penny,

    It seems you're doing wonderful work with your symptoms, and psychological understanding. About sadness and rage, and your current path: I support you in your intuition about this. It is through our own inner guidance and experimenting that we discover and relax these traumas. Sadness is at the bottom of many symptoms, in my experience. With a good therapist you can explore this safely. I think it will open to love in you, your deepest inside love and understanding for your life. It is this love which heals. Good luck to you.
    Andy B
    Penny2007 likes this.
  3. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    I haven't been through the exact same thing, but I just wanted to say a few things which may or not be useful.

    Firstly, I'm so sorry for what happened to you both as a child and as an adult (with the child still within). I am truly sorry. You didn't deserve that treatment at all and none of it was your fault. I hope ALL of you knows that.

    I know anxiety extremely well and I understand retriggering stuff too. I literally couldn't even say the word "abandonment" for many years as an adult without bursting into tears, because I felt so horribly abandoned as a child. I had this issue so bad that if I was with my boyfriend and he went out of the room to make a cuppa, I would be in terrible panic if he was gone for more than a few minutes. I didn't understand that for a long time - but I later realised it was my abandonment stuff. I have got over it now.

    Visiting my mother is what started my chronic TMS illness 4-5 years ago, although I had never tied it to that until last month. So you're doing really well in recognising where the triggers have come from.

    When we experience trauma, it is stored in the cells of our body as a memory. So, many people with an especially traumatic background have to do some "bodywork" too. If you've never read The Body Keeps the Score by Bessel Van der Kolk or Waking The Tiger by Peter Levine, I recommend them. You have to release the trauma that's still within your body as well as the mental stuff and learn to reinhabit your body in a safe way.

    Bodywork can include anything from Yoga to Somatic Experiencing to EMDR. I have just started yoga and I feel ZERO symptoms during a yoga session, even if I have felt terribly sick beforehand. Literally ZERO, which is incredible, seeing as even walking to the bus stop makes me feel dizzy (I have Vestibular Migraine). You will have to see what you are comfortable doing to start with, but I would suggest you look into some form of bodywork. I have no doubt, it will help you tremendously.

    Keep on being courageous, and sad if you need to, angry if you need to. You can absolutely get over this.

    Warmest wishes.
    Penny2007 likes this.
  4. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    Thank you
  5. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    @zclesa - thank you for your kind words. I did a couple of sessions of SE and also read some of the book, Waking The Tiger plus another book by Peter Levine but it really didn't speak to me. Is "The Body Keeps the Score" different? I do yoga twice a week. I like it but can't say it is exceptionally helpful.

    I feel like I need to work more on feeling my emotions. Problem is that I really can't afford my TMS therapist anymore (by Skype) who was the best person to help me with this. I do see a local subsidized therapist who specializes in trauma but focuses on exposure therapy which I don't like as much.
    zclesa likes this.
  6. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    @Penny2007 The Body Keeps The Score is quite in-depth. There is an audiobook version on YouTube, so maybe you could start listening to it and see what you think.

    What was SE like? Did it help at all? I've never done it, but when I was a psychotherapist, I did trauma work with people. I used NLP Timeline Therapy, which is super-quick. I also used EFT, EMDR and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy. I wish I could still do these things on myself, but I am too migrainey these days to think or see straight very much. I did not realise it was TMS until recently and now that it's become chronic, it's difficult to do the techniques myself. But I will be using them once my migraines have eased up. Sensorimotor Psychotherapy is particularly interesting, but it's not that well-known - there are some videos on YouTube about it.

    I wonder what type of yoga you do. My counsellor told me I had become detached from my "felt sense of self". I went to a Buddhist Centre to do my yoga (I'm a Buddhist), and within the first two minutes the teacher mentioned the "felt sense of self", and went onto inhabiting the body, feeling safe etc. I guess I picked the right class! I think the teacher and the way it's taught matters very much, just as it does when you do any type of therapeutic stuff.

    I once read a book by someone called Nadia Smith called "How Did I Get These?" She had a double-hip replacement and after reading Louise Hay's work, she realised all her problems were psychosomatic. She started doing Qi Gong. She didn't really feel that much better until she discovered something called "Spontaneous Qi Gong", which is less controlled and more about letting the body do what it needs to in order to heal. This links a lot with Sensorimotor Psychotherapy.

    So, all I'm saying is don't give up on Bodywork just yet. Sometimes one form is more helpful than another - and it will depend on who is working with you. Some of them really get you to feel your feelings as well as physically releasing them, like Cranio-sacral Therapy. I have no personal experience with that, but one of my friends who had been deeply traumatised did it with remarkable results.

    Exposure therapy can be really tough. I would not recommend it personally for anyone who has PTSD, which needs to be handled more gently, unless you do it in the right way. I did "Exposure Therapy" with a client who was so traumatised she actually had DID (previously known as Multiple Personality Disorder). We had developed very deep trust before we did it. We collected special items from her home that made her feel strong, safe, and loved, and we drove to the field where she had been abused. She was shaking, nauseous and frightened on the drive, but she wanted to do it and trusted me. When we got to the field, I held her hand, kept reassuring her, we got out all the objects, we did a metta meditation together, and I did everything I could to make her feel safe, understood, and loved. The process took about half an hour and she never ever had a flashback about that field again. She never even used to be able to drive on the roads near that field before we did this. And now she can even drive to the field and has fear at all. Quite wonderful.

    Gabor Mate wrote: “Trauma is not what happens to us but what we hold inside us in the absence of an empathetic witness.” You didn't have an empathetic witness. In my client's case above, I served as the empathetic witness, because she wasn't ready to be her own at that point. But you can be your own empathetic witness. You don't need to go straight to the most traumatic things. You can start smaller, building up your "muscles" so to speak, until you can face bigger things. So if Exposure Therapy is all that is offered, gather all the resources you can that make you feel safe, strong and loved when you approach the situations. Hold your posture tall, big and wide - this "tells your body" you are safe and strong and releases the required chemicals. Look up "power poses". You can practice them at home to get you used to doing them. Then you can decondition your anxiety.

    In the meantime, the TMS work like journalling might be helpful. Be patient with yourself. You will heal and you will be OK. Throughout all my life, which has been extremely troubled, and throughout my career in the helping field, I have come to believe that there is an answer to everything. There really is. It's just up to us to look until we find it nd when we think we've got it, give it everything we've got to make it work for us. I don't mean over-pushing yourself. I just mean committing entirely to it, just like my brave client did.

    You will heal and you will be OK.
  7. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    @zclesa - I only did 2 sessions of SE so don't know enough to explain it. It focused on how you feel in your body as you speak about past events and then somehow releasing the stuck physical feeling of the trauma. How you do that eluded me and it felt a bit "out there" to me so I didn't connect to it and didn't pursue it.

    Exposure therapy for me involved just talking about what happened to me at the hands of the psychiatrist over and over until it didn't evoke the same emotions in me anymore. For a specific traumatic event like that it seemed to help. However, that trauma was just on the back of all sorts of small traumas from childhood, hence the label of complex trauma and I feel exposure therapy is just too drawn out and unfocused to treat complex trauma.

    Intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy is what my previous TMS therapist used and that helped me the most. Through this therapy I came to understand that I'm always looking for a solution to every problem I have because it is so uncomfortable to just be OK with whatever is going on. I have a need to fix everything and this aggravates my anxiety.

    Like you, I have also always felt that there is an answer to everything, you just have to look hard enough to find it and then throw yourself into it. This is very ingrained in me and served me well until everything crashed around me. It's a way to feel in control and thus safe but for me it just turns into an obsession with the hopes that this new thing will fix me or solve my problem and enforces my hypervigilient personality which causes more anxiety.

    I'm not sure I explained that properly but it's something I believe that many with TMS struggle with. My therapist used to refer to it as my brain wanting to go down a rabbit hole.
    zclesa likes this.
  8. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    BTW - I think one of the reasons that exposure therapy for my complex PTSD is not helpful is because I have repressed a lot of the emotions around my childhood traumas. I can talk about things that happened very matter of factly without feeling much. I also react inappropriately by laughing when retelling events that make me feel uncomfortable. So talking about my childhood Ad nauseam is not what I think I need. I need to get in touch with and feel some of the emotions I've never been able to feel.
    zclesa likes this.
  9. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    @Penny2007 I completely get that the "answer to everything" thing could become an obsession. For me, it is just a source of hope and motivation. It depends on how you view it. I have overcome bulimia, self-harm, Borderline Personality Disorder, huge social phobia, severe alcoholism and more. There was always a way. And I believe the same about TMS and trauma. That's all. I never want to feel how I did when I was 21 and thought that there was no answer - so much so that I attempted suicide 7 times. The "always an answer" thing is just never letting myself lose hope that I can heal.

    And sometimes the answer is letting go as well.

    Yes, of course, being who I am, I threw myself into TMS work too much at the beginning and have given myself a bender of a migraine (abreaction) as a result. Lesson learned. It always takes me a few mistakes to learn, because that's who I am too. Giving it all you've got does not mean thinking you have to push or do things perfectly, or to cling to one "method" that will truly save you. It's just about committing to your healing path even when it's hard, even when you have to change tack, even when you face hurdles. It's just about refusing to have your life limited any further.

    You have what I have too sometimes. That inability to connect with the feelings from past trauma. I sometimes talk matter-of-factly about things that happened and laugh to deflect. I am much better than I was with this, but still have some things I can't feel just yet. I believe it comes to us gradually, but it might be worth looking up "felt sense of self". Steven Kessler has also written some great stuff on this. His books on the 5 Personality Patterns have been really helpful for a lot of people, but you can read stuff on his website too. Gendlin's Focusing technique might be a bit too much for you at the moment, but it might be worth reading about it.

    Warm wishes.
  10. Penny2007

    Penny2007 formerly Pain2007

    @zclesa I feel for what you went through. Sounds very rough. I'm glad you are finding your way. Many thanks for the book and other recommendations.
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  11. zclesa

    zclesa Well known member

    @Penny2007 I haven't read the Kessler books myself, but he has really helpful exercises and information about reconnecting to your "felt sense of self" on his website. The books might or might not be right for you, but I do think understanding more about the felt sense of self and how to gradually start getting in touch with it could help you a lot.

    Wishing you well on journey.
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