Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Little Midget keeping me awake!

I haven't written on my blog for a while, but thought that I would share this particularly significant Somatic Experiencing (SE) session. I came into my session exhausted beyond measure. I said to T (Therapist) that I just want to curl up on the small sofa bed in the room. T agreed that was fine, and asked if I wanted to be covered up by a blanket. At first I thought no, but then when T persisted thinking I needed covering up I agreed and was gently covered in a nice warm blanket. I shared with T how bad things remained for me, how a drug trial had left me feeling terrible, and of course yet again I was in recovery from 2 surgeries (since my last blog entry). I said to T how I had had several days in bed over the past week with not only pain but a debilitating fatigue which was how I was presenting in that moment. I became tearful, and we welcomed and allowed the few tears to fall.

T explained (again - see previous entries) about how my body remains in a 'sympathetic nervous system' state of hyper-arousal and vigilance because of previous bodily traumas. T said that 'a little midget' (a lovely name) - was around in my brain like a continuous CCTV still looking out for threats that were no longer there anymore. I said how it was from my childhood that  I woke several times a patten that has barely been broken during an adulthood. There were reasons for extreme fear in the mornings for reasons I am not going into here - but this is why 'little midget' remained on alert in her sense for danger. T asked if I could try and communicate with little midget and ask her if she could just step aside for 30 seconds. T said it would be unfair to ask little midget to go at all far since she has been essential for my life-safety. We tried this, but it was difficult. We tried a few times, and eventually I shut my eyes for about one minute. T could tell I was looking more relaxed and peaceful. The trick is now to keep on communicating with 'little midget' and telling her she can effectively go 'off-duty' for periods of time as she does not now need to be around so much. If 'little midget' was now less around it maybe that my sleep would improve slightly as the sympathetic nervous system would be slightly turned down which is very much a part of the SE work.

I left the session very tired, and ready to go to bed almost as I got home. I made the mistake of eating something, when actually I should have gone to bed. As it was it was still 7pm when I did go to bed, and only because of such a long night of rest was I able to participate in a long choir rehearsal the next day and go away for the remainder of the weekend.

It is going to take quite some time with 'little midget' but perhaps if I just try a little dialogue with her each night, she might eventually learn to leave me for longer periods of time and then I might sleep for longer and have sustained and properly refreshing sleep, something I rarely have. Fatigue-driven and exhaustive sleep is just not the same. For now, thank you 'little midget' for all you have done for me, but you may now also rest yourself!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Relieving an experience as a baby

Here is the story.
Last night - very nasty tachycardia episode again. Had horrible dreams - being force-fed mince -  5 meals worth. Digestion very 'upset' and nearly had an accident in the park today (thankfully there is a public toilet). I was upset walking around the park. Very tearful. I had a coffee then went home. I was feeling incredibly distressed and 'colic' symptoms. I had been told constantly by my mother how I was a nightmare for the first 3 months (and more??) of my life, how I cried constantly and wouldn't settle. My suspicion following my substantial crying today is that I was most probably left to cry as the school of parenting probably said that the child  must be left and not constantly pacified. Anyway, I cried a good long time, wailing. I was then exhausted. The cat lay on my chest briefly. I was then extremely depressed and very distressed. I spoke to the Samaritans, and texted a friend who appeared out of nowhere 20 minutes after my text. She was brilliant.
After your email, I reflected on the needs of that baby. 'She' was hungry (I hadn't eaten for 7 hours) and very cold. She needed a warm bath and then tucked up in a bed with 2 duvets and an electric heat-pad. The adult read a book. After a while, the adult got out of bed to scoop up the cat who was then content to lie on my chest with her paws around my neck, and stayed for about 15 minutes. Her physical presence is absolutely crucial at the moment (as she is the nearest thing I have). I am now in a lot of physical pain, very achy, and emotionally exhausted. The little one will be put back to bed again soon - but not after seeing if she would like something else to eat before she goes back to sleep in the same very warm and cosy bed with the cat.
It appears to me that these episodes may come up often. I must try to understand at some level this is not to do with Izzy today, but 'Isobel', who is reaching out. If I can start to understand these experiences, I may feel less afraid of them, and so very depressed, because it is Isobel who is still depressed.  With the skill of the adult, I may manage to facilitate much of further childhood somatic experiences on my own, but not without the nearby presence of close friends to support the adult, who is alone in a unique process. I have done this before in 'Mind Body Bowen' work (alone) which normally requires a therapist presence, but just like I don't always have my therapist with me, I can hear their words, and trust the process. I will be documenting these incidents as they come up. 'Every body tells a story,'

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Medicinal Hugs!

When I last saw T (Therapist) for Somatic Experiencing®  SE® at the end of October, T wanted to work more 'hands-on' with me as part of our next journey of work. At the start of the session I briefed T about what had been happening - another 16 night stay in hospital to no avail, other than some essential repair surgery - so another General Anaesthetic. T asked how I was feeling right now - I said that I felt that there was a tight band along my diaphragm. We explored that sensation for a few minutes. T asked to move closer to me, and I agreed. T explained that T wanted to hold my hands, and would this be OK. I agreed. T's hands were warmer than my own, and I got used to the sensation of having my hands held, and moved my fingers about to change the feeling of connection. I started to feel more relaxed and the sensation in my diaphragm reduced a little. T then asked if T could put hands on my shoulders, standing from behind my chair. Again I agreed. Initially the pressure was light, so I asked for a more definite and firmer sense of touch, T obliged. T was there for about ten minutes. I felt more and more relaxed, and could feel T's hands there when T had finished.

T asked me how much I received hugs - I said that I did from some people, and we talked about how some people were better huggers than others. T explained how Oxytocin a hormone that makes you feel good is released during hugging, after about 20 seconds. This felt a long time to be in a hug - but T said to gradually increase the hugging time I had with people I felt comfortable, as this would be a really good thing for me. This, being my homework!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Somatic Experiencing® for Pain

I arrived at today's session in severe pain (pain score 9) with globalised trigger points of pain throughout my pain, like needles, and feeling an echo pain - like you get when you bang your funny bone (and it isn't!). I explained to T (Therapist) how when I had been in hospital with severe abdominal pain that pain had then spread to my entire body in this spectacular fashion ever since, and that there was now no abdominal pain. I told T how the hospital had failed to get on top of my pain and that although originally on admission the general surgeons had thought it was extremely likely to be endometriosis, but my usual surgeon had said it was going to be my Functional Bowel Disorder, even though, quite ironically, my digestive system was in fact functioning well.

I became tearful. I said to T how unbearable all of this was for me and that I was hardly able to walk 20 minutes before the pain became too much and I was in tears, this all being extraordinary for me. I also said how angry I felt about it all and how unfair it all was.

T sat closer to me and said he wanted to give me SE® today. T asked me if there was anywhere in my body that felt OK. I said that my chest did and part of my face. T asked me just to go into that area and to try and breathe more deeply. After a short while I was able to do this, giving some nice deep exhalations. I then started to cry quite a lot. T kept reassuring me that it was OK and that T was there for me. Not long after this, anger started to follow. T asked me to do something strange, T asked me to squeeze T's wrists as hard as possible. I did this, but felt guilty for doing so - because I could be hurting T. T said not to worry about it. We did this several times throughout the session. I then said to T that I wanted to scream, since we were in a place with other therapists, this was never going to be possible so T asked me to make a face of anger and to open my mouth as if I was going to scream without actually doing so. This I did, all as a release of anger.

T and I then discussed some imagery that I could use. I came up with some good ideas. One was that I was in a huge bath that completely maintained a hot temperature, that it was deep and that there were candles and very quiet music playing, but otherwise it was quite dark and quiet. Another imagery I then came up with was that I was standing against a wall and that a fireman's hose was aimed at the worst points in my back which were going to be 'zapped' away, or at least cooled down. The third piece of imagery included imagining that I had a drip that put in some local anaesthetic throughout my body.

T asked me how I felt. I know that I left the session a good deal calmer than when I went in and that the pain volume was turned down for a few days afterwards until I hit another shocking day. I am now back to obvious pain medication as well as use of my new tools.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Trauma - muscle spasms/twitches

The last few sessions I have been having Craniosacral Therapy rather than Somatic Experiencing® or SE® work. T (Therapist) wanted to do some more 'hands-on' work with me before then getting back into SE® work, or perhaps doing CST and then SE in the one session. T has said this is important to help facilitate the work. So far hands-on work has been difficult for me as it has been clear that at times my body has been too "freaked-out" to cope with it. In fact, earlier on, T tried to approach me closely and touch my foot - but it was much-too much for me. The fact he is now doing hands-on work is a huge step forward. Over the past two sessions T just wanted to be able to tune into my body in terms of the tidal waves that the body produces and to get a sense of them. T said that the tides were very slow. On the second session  T managed to do some abdominal work which had a profound affect on my tummy - having had another admission to hospital for severe symptoms relating to my 'Functional Bowel Disorder.' I left feeling as though the contents of my abdomen had gone, and although I experienced extreme fatigue for two days following the session, my digestion did improve.

So two weeks later, here I was for another session that started of with CST work, but fairly swiftly mutated into SE®. The difference? T was working on the left side of my body, (much more traumatised) than my right side. Early into the work I started twitching - with movement particularly coming from L4/5 in my spine like someone had poked me from the back https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MuyJvWCIwDM. All these twitching movements were familiar as they had begun in 2009 during physiotherapy work. For an example read: http://danceinjuryrecovery.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/constant-muscle-spasm-vascular-changes.html

After this had been going on for some time, T moved hands to one behind my shoulder, one behind my neck. The 'twitches' increased in intensity and in other parts of my upper left quadrant. T then removed both hands to see whether the intensity of the twitches would reduce. Although they did somewhat reduce, we continued to talk about them, how I had managed to 'be-friend' them over time. I said that I had no idea about how or why they had appeared, but that I had seen a neurologist, had an MRI and the neurologist had said it was a functional movement disorder, common in those with EDS. http://danceinjuryrecovery.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/functional-movement-disorder.html

T decided to move to my right-hand side because he felt it might be safer. Not long after I said that I really needed to use the bathroom, which I did. I thought it must be nearly the end of the session, but T continued to work with me.  I climbed back on to the couch, but after a few minutes T suggested that I go and sit down. I went to stand for a while and then said I felt 'completely like jelly' and as if 'I had no bones.' I had no point of reference to stabilise myself and felt a little overwhelmed. T then suggested I started to do some jogging like movements - just rising and transferring weight. I started to do this and to use my arms, and then it hit me. I had never been able to run properly - as an adult or a child. This meant I would have never been able to escape movement. T said that this was absolutely critical and so important. It meant that rather than be able to take flight from a dangerous situation, I only had the option of freezing, thus limiting my choices. I started to get upset, briefly, but the upset disappeared and I made my way to sit down.

T asked me what I could feel. I said I could feel my thighs. We focused some more on what else I could feel and what felt OK in my body. Although we didn't get to all points of the body, we covered enough parts that I was put back together again. The muscular twitches were still going on, but in minor capacity. I said to T, "I am going to have to use all of my skills for the rest of the day," which T agreed with. I left the session feeling a little wobbly to say the least, but that I would be able to cope with intermittent twitches, which I did.

There were no further repercussions of the session until 2 days later where I felt like I had been hit by a bus and as if I had lifted about 15 children. I felt very sore and achey and massively fatigued and then felt very nauseous, although I wasn't physically sick. The rest of the day involved having more sleep and taking some painkillers. By the day after I was in a better space again. I wait to see what we do next session, but it is abundantly clear that these 'twitches' are trauma-related, that we aren't yet sure what the trauma is about, and that the left side is the "problem" or most traumatised side.

For more examples of my 'twitches' see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JZblJySdXLE

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Retracing Motor Development (1)

In my last Somatic Experiencing® session, T (Therapist) started to work on exploring my early motor development between the ages of 1-2, which is where we think problems begun. I was easily able to sit up and reach things, but when put on my tummy and asked to reach for a blue ball, I used my upper body to pull myself along to reach it, with no use of legs. T was quite surprised that this was how I moved, and then we started to work on using my legs and arms in a coordinated fashion, but now actual crawling, as such. I found this very difficult and tiring to do, which greatly surprised me, although the second attempt was easier. T then asked me to kneel with my bottom on my legs. I wouldn't do this (after a brief attempt), because my calves felt 'sore and wired.' I then explained to T about all my previous micro-tears to my calves and how sensitised they were. T looked at my upper body and neck and then gave me some exercises including depressing my shoulder blades and looking up, and having my neck in extension, which again caused problems as it was too difficult for me to go straight backwards, my neck deviated to the left, like someone with tortocolis. T asked if I could straighten it, but my neck "didn't want to." T gave me other exercises for gluteals and illio-tbial band and psoas. We were about to look at some emotional aspects, but unfortunately ran out of time....

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Revisiting childhood development

Following a session where it was possible that my Somatic Experiencing work would be suspending, this was revoked during the session when I begun to share with T that I had started to feel like a child in the way in which I wanted to express my anger or upset. I said that I had images of a child sitting alone on a play mat with some toys and that I had wanted to shout (in anger), don't take my toy, its mine. On other occasions I had imagined that I was crying to the point that tears were flowing down my face and saliva (toddlers don't worry very much about tissues!).

I told T that in terms of my motor development that I was almost 2 years old before I walked and that I had never crawled but had bottom-shuffled in order to get about. I explained that although delayed walking was normal in our family, that it would have been related to my hypermobility and lack of stability. I explained how I had done lots of crawling in other somatic work - but acknowledged what an important part of development I had missed. Having had a look at T's own notes, T thought it was possible that I was stuck between 1-2 years of age in my development and that it was absolutely essential to revisit these stages. It was also discussed that this was possibly how/when my masking behaviour (masking emotions) had started. T said that it would be essential to go through all these stages in childhood/adolescence as they had obviously been missed. I asked T how I would manage this as it would obviously be inappropriate to be throwing bricks and shouting at people. T explained that the adult me would need to facilitate this work in a safe space - and that it was important to let out the anger/tears - perhaps using pillows to throw. I asked T if this was something we could go through in session and T said that it was. I will have to see what happens over the week, but have permission to explore these childhood states, and indeed as T says, this is absolutely essential.