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Can You Let People In? Can You Express Emotions? Holes In Your Memory?

Discussion in 'General' started by Awakening, Oct 15, 2007.

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  1. Awakening

    Awakening Well-Known Member

    I have so many questions, and I'm feeling very confused. I'm hoping for some insight. I've started a diary so I won't list the 'traumas' again here.

    1. I'm just discovering I have this amazing support network and I'm delighted & overwhelmed by it. I have my doctor, my therapist, my husband, my boss, and a couple of close friends. Only the first 3 know what I'm dealing with precisely but still I have this great genuine support.

    I feel conflicted about their support. I push for more support, then withdraw completely. I lash out at them. I feel if they keep up with this 'behaviour' of support & kindness I'm going to cry or unravel in someway.

    2. I feel this rock of pain on my chest, pretty much constantly to varying degrees of intensity. I manage it, sometimes it overwhelms. I feel disconnected from everyone else. Like I live in a dark world. I have all this badness, darkness inside of me. I want to share that burden in particular with my therapist but unable to.

    Part of me thinks it would be wrong of me to share the darkness with some other poor sucker, the other part of me is simply scared witless.:eek:

    3. The answer is to talk about the details of my traumas. Yet I genuinely don't remember details. This makes me doubt the reality of them. Particularly the incidents with my uncle at 5 - 7. I only 'remembered' that after the assault at 18. I'm now 31 and only talking about those things now.

    I find myself obsessing over collecting evidence. I endlessly google 'repressed memory' or 'false memory syndrome'. My therapist says 'theres not a doubt in my mind that you are telling me the truth'.

    So pheww, this is long. But here is my questions;

    1. How can I let people in? How can I make it okay to receive their support? How do you do it?

    2. I feel emotion but I can't express it, particularly in therapy sessions. How can I express emotion? How do you?

    3. Is it possible that I don't have PTSD? And instead have FMS or acute stress disorder? Could my 'general anxiety' have caused me to have pseudomemories?

    Thanks, I'm feeling really lost right now.:crazy:
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  3. John_R

    John_R Member

    Hi Awakening,

    First let me say that I wouldn't even try to diagnose you as I'm not qualified, but I can share my own thoughts and feelings regarding the rest of your post.

    My own experience is that I often feel like I'm a burden to those who love and support me. On one hand I really want their support, but on the other I feel so guilty that I withdraw into my little dark world too.

    As an example, I'm in a new relationship, and over the past 4 1/2 months I've already ended it twice, and tried to push her away last week. I love her, and thank God she is a loving compassionate woman. She wants to understand my illness, and she wants to be part of my life, but it freaks her out as it should considering that we're talking about getting married next year. She sometimes will say that she doesn't want to walk on eggshells, or she doesn't understand why I "can't get over it" and "I don't know if I can handle this". In all fairness to her I am also a recovering alcoholic, and she fears the possibility of relapse and violence. I've not been violent to anyone for over 18 years now just for the record. However, her concerns are valid.

    When I try to explain what it's like it causes all sorts of negative feelings and the intrusive thoughts follow. Last night I said to her as I was leaving that maybe we should end this now. I was feeling like I was putting this huge burden on her (which I am) and it was causing me all sorts of guilt.

    Now, I know myself well enough to know that when I feel like that I begin to distrust and then anger sets in and the next thing I know I'm off to the races.

    It's very hard for me to share my feelings, and when I do I feel so completely vulnerable. I'm so much more comfortable in my own dark place, but when I'm there I want someone to help me pull myself out. I often feel like a walking contradiction.

    I have dreams and memories which I often don't know if they are real memories or not too. I try not to dwell on them because I just don't want to seek out more trauma from my past. I often suffer from nightmares, and I noticed over the years that they contain a mix of real memories, emotions and a mix of unreal events that my subconscious incorporates from my everyday life.

    When I do reach out and trust others to help me I become fearful because I know that they are people with their own issues and imperfections. There is always the chance that they will let me down even though they love and care for me. But, when that happens my trauma comes right back as abandonment and betrayal is so much a part of my PTSD.

    The thing that I used to do a lot is I would share part of something with a friend, another part with my significant other, and still another part with another friend. That is pretty useless really because I'm only getting a little help from each, but none of them know the real issues behind my trauma and behavior. I think because you're seeing a Dr. That is who you should trust the most, and dump on the most. The reason is that it's what your Dr. gets paid for. It's a job.

    Anyway, if you can get anything out of my post that's great, but the main purpose of my post was to let you know that I can identify with what your going through.

  4. Lisa

    Lisa Well-Known Member

    Hi Awakening,

    Lots of good questions there... !

    I can't answer all of those questions right now, but I have some knowledge of memories that were not always remembered (AKA 'repressed' or 'recovered' or 'dissociated' memories as termed by different approaches in the memory field of research). I don't know if it is possible that you don't have PTSD and have acute anxiety instead, but the FMS question is relevant in what I'm about to write about.

    There is a brilliant website that you have probably come across, but it really, really helped me - it's a website by Jim Hopper with a page on memory. It's scientific research and scholarly resource based, and I believe a reputable source. The False Memory Debate is explosive, but I found this site a nice starter on researching and thinking around my own memories. I advise that you read around on 'False Memory Syndrome' and use all the information you gain from many websites, both for, against or a bit of both in the debate. I searched and researched the term False Memory Syndrome, but I also searched Dissociated memories, repressed and recovered memories as they are all fundamentally talking about the same thing. I think it is important to develop your own informed and educated opinion from the same information that professionals have...

    Off the top of my head, I believe that caution is to be taken with the 'False Memory Syndrome' debate because those who formed it initially were accused child abusers themselves (slight bias perhaps!). However, caution is also to be taken with Recovered Memory Therapy also as there is some research indicating memories that arise through this have been thought to be false (though to the person in every way feel it to be true).

    The American Psychiatric Association released a statement in regards to False Memory Syndrome airing caution and advice of professionals to not form an opinion, though I only briefly read through that as I came across it while searching for something else (therefore not sure if that is the current position or not exactly). But basically it stated that: it is not news that memories are forgotton (or more technically termed, not accessed); that there is plausibility of remembering memories, that were initially not remembered, and this is not questioned where there are hard facts of the existance of the memories being true; and reminding the profession the huge importance of treating patients who disclose history of abuse impartially because the impact of disbelieving things like this can do more damage - especially while there is no hard set evidence pointing in one direction with FMS.

    There is evidence of 'repressed/recovered/dissociated' (whatever term is used) memories because there is obvious evidence for the truth, just that the person who experienced it didn't remember (like car crashes, aspects of car crashes or robberies etc). Dissociation has a lot of supportive research, and it is thought that dissociation is the likely mechanism for memories that are not accessed fully or at all.

    I also know that implicit memories (emotions, sensations etc) are more trustworthy. There is also evidence of 'recovered' memories being true because there is documentation of people who have been told by someone that they witnessed their abuse, and there is medical supportive or hard evidence of it, yet the person who was abused remembered nothing about it until being told or triggered fo this... I believe and evidence suggests it cannot be denied that trauma sometimes is not remembered until it is 'triggered'. The question, is it possible to form memories that never happened unwittingly? And this is a little more difficult for experts to tease out the answer to

    I've got some personal experience of remembering early abuse I did not explicitly remember growing up, though had the implicit memory before having the triggered flashback. I have been very scared to think about it for fear of 'falsification' so I have purposely not dug around in my mind because of that.. but I still cannot stop my mind being triggered at times with the memory. Since reading around the issue, I am less confused over my own truth, and believe myself logically now, as well as emotionally. I have fragments of a memory, including physical sensations, and emotional and physiological reaction. I cannot fake that, and I remembered it when I wasn't in therapy. I took a long time to admit and accept it for what it is, and I know if I could have ignored it or convinced myself it wasn't true I would have. I know it's true, and I always knew really. Now things make a lot of sense about me as I grew up... my behaviour, and my problems as a child fit now. Lots of things I could say about all this... but basically my point is having done this, read around, thought, and also looked at my medical records (which also indicates distress and trauma at the age I have the memory of) I now trust my memory as truth. I am making sense of parts of the memory that I cannot put into words yet, but I am still personally decided not to 'dig' to remember the rest... if my mind wants me to remember the rest, it will give me no choice, which has been what has been happening anyway.

    I hope you can use some of this to come to terms with your own memories in some way. It is a difficult thing. I don't know if your memories are 'real' or not, and I don't want to pass judgement... only you can say what you think because it is your life and your memories and your mind. But I hope explaining my 'journey' and how I went about it helps you in some way.

    This is quite a huge issue/question in itself and I know I haven't covered everything I could have but am currently suffering a severe 'man cold'.... so I may come back to this and post some more at some point.

    Hope this is useful.

  5. Awakening

    Awakening Well-Known Member

    John & Lisa, I can't thank you enough for your comprehensive posts.

    Extraordinary, really. I'm very much comforted by them, and will spend some more time reflecting them on.

    I didn't think my post really made any sense & that no one would get what I'm on about.

    John - yes guilt is a big part for me too. I really want the support but once I get it feel the need to reject it. You summed it up so well. I wish you the best in your new relationship. It's hard for everyone. I know my husband cops a bit and requests that I stop taking my frustration/anger out on him. Yet he remains caring.

    Lisa - thank you for all this information. I think you have summed it up better then the websites or I have. I know the Jim Hopper site you have referred to, but have to admit I found it hard to concentrate on reading all the info. I have trouble reading large amounts of data, but I just read some bits & it sounds great.
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