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Sufferer Sexual assault - body remembers, but brain is silent

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Strangelongtrip, May 17, 2018 at 6:39 AM.

  1. Strangelongtrip

    Strangelongtrip Was Brookekb

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    Hello everyone!! This is my first post, I hope it’s in the right place, if not let me know. I was diagnosed with PTSD in October 2016, but I think I’ve had it for much longer. I grew up with a narcissist father (emotionally and mentally abusive) and looked for that in my first partner. I was with my first boyfriend for 8 months in 2015 and he repeatedly emotionally, verbally, and sexually abused me, including raping me multiple times and repeatedly using coercion (which I thought was normal at the time) and inebriation. I never reported, there was no proof, and I feel guilty a lot because he physically abused his next partner (who came to me for help because she thought she was going crazy) and I know he’ll keep doing it until he dies. He was my first anything sexual so I struggle with all of that and the betrayal.

    The main sexual abuse happened end of April-October. It was like a switch turned on in me on April 28th, and suddenly I was flooded with horrific anxiety and hypervigilance, especially at night (when 95% of it happened). It starts around 6pm and lasts until I go to sleep, increasingly getting worse until my whole body aches, then I wake up early with not enough sleep, usually having a nightmare, and I’m buzzing with tension and anxiety all day. I’ve done some inner child work and everything and my mind is mainly calm, it’s just in my body and I can’t reach it. All I hear when I try to “talk” to the anxiety is “I want to rest but I’m not safe”. I’ve tried self soothing with coping talk but it doesn’t work. It’s not in my brain, it’s in my body.

    I’ve started working out to help and I know it’d be most effective if I went at night but I’m too anxious to leave my house after 6pm. I do simple stretches or walk and that helps some but the minute I stop it starts again. As soon as I can I’m moving out of my parent’s house which I think will help (but I’ve lived in another city before and it didn’t stop the nightly terror), and I’m planning to eventually get a service dog so I can be independent and work that’s around people and pays well after I graduate (I’ve had to quit multiple jobs because of the hypervigilance and panic attacks, but I’m so privileged and fortunate to have been pet sitting since I was 5 and have enough clients to sustain my lifestyle). I’ve also had to pull out of school twice because of the anxiety and suicidal ideation. I’m finishing college online now.

    So the TLDR of this long and winding post is that my body remembers my abuse and is really anxious and panicked and if anyone has any tips to soothe my body I would so appreciate it. Thank you all!
     
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  3. littleoc

    littleoc Making everywhere I go a better place Premium Member Donated

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    Welcome to the forums!

    Are you in therapy? These forums helped me get so much better, very quickly, but so did therapy. Specifically, EMDR. That helped me start being able to leave the house I was staying in instead of staying in there and hoping housemates would bring me food.

    Glad you found us :)
     
    Abstract, Sietz and Strangelongtrip like this.
  4. Strangelongtrip

    Strangelongtrip Was Brookekb

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    I am! Twice a week, but we haven't been doing EMDR yet. I'll ask my therapist to make progress on it! Thank you so much!
     
    littleoc and Abstract like this.
  5. WillyKat

    WillyKat I'm a VIP Premium Member

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    Welcome to the forum, and you're absolutely right that it's in your body. What works for one person might not work for others. You mentioned walking and I support that 100%. I walk about six to seven miles per day, beginning with a long one in the morning before work.

    I find the walk can be more mentally absorbing if I leave the phone behind and / or take my camera with me. Since safety is a concern of yours, leaving your phone behind would probably make you feel less safe. I'm fortunate that there's a ton of wildlife on my usual routes and trying to get photos of them puts my head in a good place. Some people listen to music or audiobooks or podcasts while they're walking.

    Have you considered arming yourself with pepper spray while you're out? A dog is great too, but PS is non-lethal and might give you a better sense of security.

    One thing I would add is not to set expectations too high. As with most things, you might not see results right off, but if you keep at it, you might one day realize, 'Hey, I haven't had an x episode lately.'
     
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  6. EveHarrington

    EveHarrington _______ in progress. Premium Member

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    Welcome!
     
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  7. Strangelongtrip

    Strangelongtrip Was Brookekb

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    Thank you so much! I had a really bad episode yesterday but my pain is down and I walked a few miles today, mostly let my body rest from the panic attacks. I've started trying CBD oil and that's subtly shifted my mood. I'll invest in some pepper spray, I always carried a brass knuckles type thing but I lost it. I'm also considering taking self defense classes, they start in the fall.
     
    littleoc and WillyKat like this.
  8. WillyKat

    WillyKat I'm a VIP Premium Member

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    Bonus points for self-defense classes: they are in themselves a fitness program.

    Judith Herman, in Trauma and Recovery, writes that wilderness programs, like rock climbing, etc. can be very effective. I'm paraphrasing, but they teach survivors that not all encounters with danger or with fear need to be overwhelming. The experience of a bit of fear and the experience of dealing with it w/o a panic attack lays a foundation for dealing with fear in other parts of your life.
     
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