Not been on the forum for a very long time. Bit selfish of me to ask for help i guess. Sorry :/
Not struggling as such, but have a question..
How do you know when you've recovered?
I am in a fairly ok place, but still struggle a little with the following :
Anniversaries make me anxious
Talking about it is tough
Still feel myself pushing back the memories, some more than others
I dont expect myself to go back to who i was before these events (mainly because i dont know who i was), but want to know what it is like to be 'recovered'. Is there such a thing? How can you tell? Is it that you are able to think about the bad things without it upsetting you? Is it no guilt?
Hiya, I’m really glad to hear things are going well for you at the moment. I’m not sure there is such a thing as ‘recovered’ so much as there is a state of being ‘in recovery’, by which I mean that, in my experience, recovery is best thought of as a journey, rather than a destination. Sometimes it’s a bumpy journey.
I am a childhood sexual abuse survivor, and there have been long periods in my life where I have thought that I would never get over it, and then there have been long periods of time where I had thought that I WAS ‘over it’, but my honest experience is that it never really leaves you. Sometimes, when life gets hard, I find it’s all still brimming under the surface and I need to deal with demons I thought I had put to bed long ago. But, as you go through life you gain strength and coping mechanisms and the knowledge that - when you are down - those down moments are just that - MOMENTS in your life, and not your entire existence. You gain the trust and knowledge that things have been good before, and one day they will be good again. The tough times are never your final destination.
The things you have described yourself as still struggling with are very common in people who have experienced a traumatic event. Trauma prevents the brain from filing memories away in the same way that it usually would; trauma memories are ’hot’ memories, rather than ‘cold‘ memories. They tend to float freely around the brain and pop up unwanted, without you willing to access them, unlike other memories that you can decide whether to access or not, and whether to pick them up or put them away. This is why such memories can be triggering to anxiety and can be hard to talk about - because they bring back a panicky feeling of losing control. However, these effects of trauma can be managed and reduced over time, especially with professional support such as cognitive behavioural therapy.
I had CBT in the past specifically for PTSD and found that it helped me with the things you have described (being able to talk about things without all of the intense feelings rushing back to the surface, being able to access the memories when I choose to, but not having them free floating in my brain and needing ‘pushing down’ etc). But I still struggle with low self esteem and find myself in and out of depression. Anxiety is a frequent battle for me. Some days are better than others. I don’t think I will ever be fully recovered, but I AM on the journey of healing and recovery, and I’m gaining strength all the time on this journey. I’m a survivor, and it sounds like you are too. Keep going!
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