Retrauma and bad experiences help

wildbillp

New Here
Actually I agree with your first comment: take what anyone says here with a grain of salt. Each person should do their own research when considering a form of treatment. Go with what you are comfortable with and have researched well, however understand that researching and the experience of undergoing therapy are
not the same thing. Is IFS a good or bad thing? Neither, its a tool, like a gun or a knife, and its the intent of the tool user (therapist) that determines whether the tool is being put to a useful or harmful pupose. I have seen IFS do wonders for people when used properly, but with trauma and especially complex trauma there
are dangers with any therapy. Also almost no experienced trauma therapist will use one therapeutic approach alone. For instance I used IFS as the main therapy for reasons I explain below, but I also used EMDR, body based therapy, like sensorimotor therapy and basic CBT at times. An eclectic approach is usual.

I do not have PTSD or a trauma related disorder, but have worked with many who did over a period of decades. The reason I suggest IFS or a similar ego state therapy is that with complex trauma there is naturally going to be a fair bit of dissociation which will have split aspects of the person's experience, and sense of
self into ego states that are inaccessible or partially so, as they are behind permeable or semi-permeable barriers of dissociation and the disconnect between
the individual and these ego states can and typically will cause all sorts of grief as these ego states make their presence know over time. For instance intrusive memories/flashbacks are coming from an ego state still stuck in the trauma. The point is that the existence of these ego states and their ability to disrupt the life of the person is what the inner landscape of the person looks like so it makes sense to go with that and use an ego state approach to first of all help the individual understand what's going on and then proceed together in working with this reality. An important point is with any therapy the whole endeavor needs to be team work with the therapist greatly respecting the person he/she is working with, tapping into the client's experience, pacing the work by that experience. Nothing should be forced or done contrary to the client's will. By the way, I do not offer medical advice, only advice for therapy. There is a big difference. While meds may
be helpful for symptom control( e.g. anxiety) they are not the cure, they can at best treat symptoms and hopefully the individual who has the symptoms is then getting the therapy that he/she finds helpful.

So yes, take what I say with a grain of salt and do your own research. All the best to all of you as you journey on.
 

grief

Sponsor
I do not have PTSD or a trauma related disorder, but have worked with many who did over a period of decades.
so why did you join this website, which is a peer support group for those with ptsd?

with complex trauma there is naturally going to be a fair bit of dissociation which will have split aspects of the person's experience, and sense of
self into ego states that are inaccessible or partially so, as they are behind permeable or semi-permeable barriers of dissociation and the disconnect between
the individual and these ego states can and typically will cause all sorts of grief as these ego states make their presence known over time.
that is heavily variable. can you prove that this is true?

By the way, I do not offer medical advice, only advice for therapy. There is a big difference.
there actually isn't, because you're talking about someone's mental health, which is medical.
 
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joeylittle

Administrator
@grief - if you have an issue with a member, please consider using the report function.
so why did you join this website, which is a peer support group for those with ptsd?
We have clinicians join from time to time. You'll see in the Community Constitution that
MyPTSD exists to help and inform those who are directly or indirectly affected by these conditions through providing peer-to-peer support and educational resources.
(Bolding the important bits)

Clinicians can be viewed as having indirect experience with PTSD/CPTSD; they can also be an educational resource.

@wildbillp has so far been respectful and clear in their posting, including emphasizing that they are not providing medical advice any more than any of us does when we write about our own experiences.

In other words - members share advice on therapy modalities all the time. So long as @wildbillp continues to contribute, rather than soapbox one method or 'sell' members on any particular approach - they aren't unwelcome here.

Challenging posted info and requesting citations is always fine as well - no-one has to take anyone's word for anything; but if @wildbillp and @grief (or any other reader) want to open a more substantiated (read: source-citing) discussion on dissociation and ego states in complex trauma, I'd suggest opening a new thread for that.

And now, back to the OP's topic.
 

Skywatcher

MyPTSD Pro
Hi Rudolf: I am a retired psychologist and trauma therapist and before my retirement had worked with a number of CPTSD individuals and also Dissociative D.Os including DID. It sounds as though you have had a lot of early childhood trauma and this typically comes with a lot of defenses, often including freezing. If a child is in a vulnerable situation and those who should be protecting him/her are not only not protecting the child but hurting the child freezing and checking out is often the only defense available, the child can't run, can't fight back, what else is there? So the mind dissociates as a defense, a way of splitting off aspects of the trauma that are too hard to deal with. Over time with stress this becomes a default pattern for dealing with life stressors.

The key point here is that a therapist cannot, should not attempt to go right at the trauma directly with a trauma processing therapy, like EMDR, or hypnosis, or cognitive trauma processing, etc. What happens is that the individual's defensive parts will block these attempts one way or the other, or the trauma work can become over whelming. If the client(now an adult) can even access the memories the freeze response will often come up, or hyperarousal will make the experience
too much. A good rule is that the individual needs to be able to hold the traumatic memory in mind and stay within the "window of tolerance" (research this phrase
online to see what I mean). This is even if the person can get to memories at all, which they often cannot do, because of the overwhelming nature of it, and the defensive parts blocking.

What I would strongly suggest is that you find a therapist well practiced in an ego state therapy like IFS (Internal Family Systems) which is what I eventually came to
and has proven to be immensely helpful to complex trauma individuals( by their say so, not mine). It takes the person right where he is at starting with whatever
part is coming up, typically a defensive part that is trying to protect more vulnerable parts of the person. If you do not deal with these protective parts in a cooperative way (they are after all trying to help by protecting) they will block any attempt to process trauma. I would encourage you to look into IFS as it is such
a strength based way of working which is an awesome way to work . All the best to you as you journey.
I can identify with this. We were trying emdr, and all of that other stuff started happening, so we ended up switching to flash emdr and ego state stuff.
 

Rudolf

New Here
There is IFS in the schema therapy if I am not mistaken. But unfortunately it didn't help me, I can't feel my parts at all, including protection(detached protector), I can't talk to them, as I don't feel anything, and I don't understand how people make up these parts, including the inner child. Now after years of unsuccessful therapy, everything has become so aggravated that I cannot feel smells, tastes, seasons, weather, morning, evening, etc., my defense is now at maximum, and I doubt very much that after such retraumatization after such intensive therapy anything can be done. What if my defense will never open again now? A lot of the therapists I'm starting with now suggest I start working with trauma in the 2nd or 3rd session. I tell them I don't feel or remember anything, I feel crazy and dead, and they still want to go into trauma. I obviously don't want to go to trauma right now. The last EMDR therapist suggested learning to juggle as maybe that would help. I also have constant adrenaline and constant vigilance and a state of terror and death at the same time as dissociation, and anesthesia.
The bottom line is that I can't move even in contemporary stressful situations, like a couple of days ago, I can't feel what I felt a couple of days ago in some kind of conflict. And I'm looking for ways to overcome this defense. But I'm sure that going through dissociation into trauma again now is stupid, and I'll die, since I'm already barely alive after the last hailstorm of trauma through protection. I've even partially lost many of the functions I was able to do. Now I'm going to find a doctor, not an EMDR, but someone who understands what's going on, and who won't be rushed, even if it takes another dozen years.

Thank you all for your help! I appreciate it very much. Now is the hardest time of my life, I often in bursts of insanity, dreaming of going back to a state like before psychotherapy, when I was at least functioning, listening to music, watching movies, doing sports. And now I'm like a real crazy person. I'm sorry if there is a lot of negativity or complaining in my words. I'm just tired of fighting it.

By the way, recently with an EMDR therapist I practiced grounding and Mainfulness, but alas, I did not feel any change. Many might say that it takes time, but I don't know, I did it for a month, and it didn't get any easier. The only thing that helped me with my first doctor, with whom multiple retraumatization occurred, was the way he rebuffed my inner criticism, it changed me right away, my condition became different, the clouds went away. He said that because I was very traumatized, and there was a lot of trauma, my inner critic was just huge, and there was almost no healthy adult at all. And I can't fight back my inner critic myself, I can't change my condition that way.
 

RNrecovery

Learning
By the way, recently with an EMDR therapist I practiced grounding and Mainfulness, but alas, I did not feel any change. Many might say that it takes time, but I don't know, I did it for a month, and it didn't get any easier. The only thing that helped me with my first doctor, with whom multiple retraumatization occurred, was the way he rebuffed my inner criticism, it changed me right away, my condition became different, the clouds went away. He said that because I was very traumatized, and there was a lot of trauma, my inner critic was just huge, and there was almost no healthy adult at all. And I can't fight back my inner critic myself, I can't change my condition that way.
It took me years of doing grounding and calming work. Years of cognitive restructuring. I know it doesn’t work for everyone but I dove in and kept doing it when I didn’t think it it would and when I couldn’t see progress. Looking back the progress was there but excruciatingly slow. I never really noticed a changes. I just looked around one day and realized I was getting through my days and doing things I had given up on.

I hope you find a therapist who is astute enough to find something to starts to make life more tolerable then sticks with you. Glad you feel like this is good place to come. I’m pretty new and I feel
Lucky to have found this board.
 

Sideways

Moderator
In over 10 years of therapy, the majority of "therapy" I've had hasn't been about my trauma. Or my history.

The primary focus for me? Is the right now. The right now is shitty, so we're working on skills and daily living activities and habits that can improve my right now experience. And that's really broad - it includes things that will improve my mental well-being physiologically, as well as the "thinking and talking" types of therapies.

If you're terrified of EMDR, and definitely it sounds like you're currently just working flat out staying stable? My personal approach would be to put the past to one side, for now (which is, not "forget about it", but "we can deal with that later") and focus on here and now therapy approaches.

I think the experience with IFS in the US is probably a world away from what it's like in practice in Russia. I say that because I'm in Australia, and IFS here? Look, there are people who practice it, but it's still not one of the core, evidence-based treatments for PTSD. And you really do sound like you're coming damn close to having either/or a depressive episode or clinical levels of anxiety.

And in a way? That's good news. Because they all have evidence-based treatment available that doesn't include dredging up your past.

Sometimes our brain does the "I don't remember anything anymore" thing as a temporary coping strategy. So, maybe thank your brain for trying to help, and see if you can find a qualified psychologist or psychiatrist that can really focus on improving your current, lived, daily experience. They should be able to help gradually make some bit changes for you, over time, without necessarily talking about your childhood.

Schema therapy and IFS are 2 totally different types of therapy. And, along with EMDR? They are all therapies that I wouldn't personally touch unless I felt I had some decent coping skills already on board. It's those coping skills that make the big difference in our daily experience IMHO. Focusing your energy on making today better, and tomorrow better? Doesn't need to be all about your past.
 

wildbillp

New Here
Rudolf I am sorry that you are struggling so at this time. I do not know your personal story but from the sounds of your last post I think that both
Sideways and RNrecovery are touching on an important point which is safety and stabilization as something you likely need now. You are correct -
there is no use going into trauma processing when you do not, cannot feel safe and have some degree of feeling stable emotionally. If you look at the
internationally accepted standard for trauma work you will see a broad 3 step model and the first step is "safety and stabilization". Sometimes it takes months or
years of working on that aspect alone so that a person can learn to have some sense of safety. For some individuals the focus may never be on processing trauma
but on building safety and as RN says coping skills to help one deal with the present, never mind the past. Some therapists that do EMDR or other trauma processing methods unfortunately do not know enough about complex trauma and dissociation and may rush someone into trauma processing too soon
when the individual does not have a sense of safety and stability. BIG MISTAKE!

By the way its clear to me you do have parts that are coming up, your inner critic is an ego state/part, in fact a very common one for many
individuals who have been traumatized. I have worked with individuals with strong inner critics for a year or more before the inner critic began to see
the wisdom of cooperating and becoming less critical. As a side note, that is the way to work with these parts/ego states, we do not try to banish them
or get rid of them, even if they feel "bad" to us, instead like the difficult member of a family unit we work with them over time and they will eventually
evolve and be more cooperative. Every part plays a role, for instance the inner critic that feels like a bad part to you is actually trying to help you it is a kind
of protector that is criticizing you so you do better, yes I know, its not very helpful as it is but this is what it knows to do as a way of helping. I have seen even
the strongest critics learn to cooperated in time and change roles, for instance becoming a helpful advisor not a critic.

Another part is when you say " I am looking for ways to overcome this defense..." which suggests you have a
better part that wants to help you, even the part of you that reaches out to post on this forum and ask for help, is that not a part that is trying to help you
go forward? With so much trauma it is common for the "healthy adult part" as you call it (or the self in IFS language) to be buried under the trauma, and for it
to be difficult to feel or get in touch with, so no wonder it feels to you that there is "almost no healthy adult". If you can, trust that it is there and as I have already
said, trying to help you. Perhaps you can look back and see times in your life when you have stepped up to get help or do something positive, or achieve some thing you wanted to do. That would be your adult part, the real you stepping up. All the best as you go forward.
 

Sideways

Moderator
the first step is "safety and stabilization"
Yup. Exactly. Focusing on what is going to make a meaningful difference to feeling better today. And that's totally possible.
its clear to me you do have parts that are coming up, your inner critic is an ego state/part, in fact a very common one for many
individuals who have been
But this^^^, JMHO? Is the very opposite of helpful. For a complete stranger, with super high persistent dissociation, and limited real life support network...

This is the part of IFS that I think I'm with @somerandomguy on. A person who is flat out just surviving right now? Doesn't need their personality fractured.

Feeling better? Excellent therapy focus.

Throwing IFS in at this point? Dangerous. Wouldn't touch it with a barge pole, and would burn rubber getting the hell outta any therapist's office who isn't able to help with "feeling better now" without imposing fractured personality jibberjabber on the top.

JMHO. Take what's helpful, toss the rest. Hope you can find someone that will help you with the feeling better now stuff.
 

wildbillp

New Here
You are right Sideways, in the sense that going into trauma and into upsetting parts that hold the trauma is not the way to go for someone who is very
unsettled, destabilized, and not feeling safe. Safety first. With IFS or other ego state work there are ways of working with non traumatized, non threatening parts
that can contribute to a sense of safety and stabilization. This is what I was referring to in the last line of my last post, when I asked about times when R. has stepped up for himself or had a measure of self-efficacy( fancy name for belief in oneself) or success. Its possible to draw on those times/parts and on times when
he has found safety. If a person can not remember any, perhaps there is a place within his mind or person he can relate to for safety. The core self that IFS defines as
our compassionate self (Abe Lincoln called it the "better angel of our nature") can be such a place but can be hard to get to if a person is currently overwhelmed by trauma. But safety remains the first goal, by whatever means it takes to get there, IFS or not IFS. Also how can a person find safety in the current environments he or she frequents now. Some places/ people may be unsafe. I have worked with people who only felt a little safe locked in their bedrooms on their bed. Start with
where safety is, and build on that. The feeling better now stuff is indeed the first step.
 

Rudolf

New Here
Thank you all for your answers, and for your help.

I must add that really I am not safe now, I constantly feel threatened, animal terror, even at home. And this threat I began to feel after retraumatization, after trying to work through traumas related to my mother. Now I am terrified of my mother, because all my years she had keys to my apartment and would come whenever she wanted, and now that I have distanced my boundaries from her, we communicate once a month by phone, but I am still afraid that she will come and take me to the hospital, or to a monastery with my older brother.

They already did that a few years ago, they took me forcibly to a religious sect, like the leader told them that I have unclean powers. (that's bullshit).

So before therapy I lived and was not afraid, and now I am terrified of being in my legal apartment, just it is registered to my mother, but I inherited from my father. And when my mother suddenly begins to write to me at uncoordinated times, I am destabilized, and the danger increases. And in general, I am constantly afraid at home that she will come with her brother and take me somewhere by force. I know the law now, and I can call the police, but I still live in fear every day. And with this fear, I think no defense will open to injury. I'm on adrenaline all the time.

I think I need to work with a therapist to build security and then think about injuries, because right now I'm obviously living in a constant state of terror, anxiety, and depression. Afraid of doors, bells, phones, etc. Even though my mother lives in another city, it's a 2 hour drive to me. But I clearly put her boundaries, that she has no right to come to me. But I am still afraid. I want to re-register my apartment to myself, to change the lock, from which she has the key.

I would also like to move in, but unfortunately I can't do it now, as I am very poorly conditioned, and in general I am very underdeveloped in terms of independence.

Since most of the injuries were early, and plus my mother is hyper-parental, I have a very hard time coping with trivial tasks. Eh guys, I hope I make it.

Was watching the Noa Pothoven article yesterday, and realized that I'm dying just the same.

I wish my mother and brother would leave me for good. I feel chronically threatened by them. Including from the trauma when I was 17 years old, when my mother couldn't beat me anymore, when I started to fight her back already, she called my brother, he came and broke down the door in my room, and beat me up, because I stopped listening to my mother and being under her control. This was back when I lived with my mother.

And later, they took me away fraudulently, taking my passport, to a religious community for 10 sessions. If something happens that I am constantly terrified about, and my brother comes to me and starts saying that I don't communicate with my mother, I think I will kill him, but I won't let myself be hurt again.

Man, guys, how much trauma is there past these babies.

I had 2 beatings in the street by a bunch of people when I was 16.

And as a kid, beatings by my mother, and mental neglect, bycotts, threats, etc. How do I get over it all. Probably have to start with a new therapist, and with a complete break up of the family, although how do I break up completely? So far I've only been able to communicate once a month. I used to call my mother every day several times.
 
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