Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Survivors Speak: Healing Effects Of Early Childhood Abuse

I met Debbie E. on Twitter and was immediately taken in by her proactive, positive outlook on coping and healing. To give you a taste of what she's like, her Tweet from only a minute ago is: "I'm hungry for pancakes." Now that's a survivor who's healing! Today, in her own words, Debbie's journey from infant abuse to woman healing.

Growing up, I was abused to the point that, at the age of three, I developed PTSD and Multiple Personality Disorder. The abuse continued for years. I was diagnosed in 1991, after forever feeling that there was something different about me.

I didn't have many memories of the abuse, so I didn't understand the stuff I "saw" happening all day long, every day. Besides the flashbacks, I was constantly reliving the abuse. Forever, I'd been hypervigilant but didn't understand why. Dissociation was a constant. Depersonalization made things seem unreal at times. It made me seem unreal at times. Frequently, I felt disconnected from my body and my surroundings.

Since age three, I've been excruciatingly terrified of people. I still am. The stress of being around people immediately causes me to have flashbacks of abuse. And whoever I'd be around at that time, would suddenly "morph" into my abusers. I couldn't be around people without that happening. I saw and still see everyone as potential abusers. I trust no one. I'm terrified of everyone. But to me, it's always seemed normal, since I've never known anything else.

In 1991, I went on disability. On July 21, 2008, I was healed of the MPD. But I still struggle with the PTSD. It can still leave me paralyzed in fear as I relive abuse. It causes depression. Lately though, I've been forcing myself to be around people at church to try to get over my fear of people. In the 80's I'd gone to a different church. I told the pastor what I went through in my head each day. I told him what I "saw" everyday. He told me I was possessed. He said I was a vile, filthy, disgusting person. I was told I had flashbacks because I enjoyed them. This was before my diagnosis, but even afterwards, it was the same. I was told to stay away from people, and they stayed away from me.

Now, I go to Celebrate Recovery at my church. It's helping a lot. And I'm still in therapy. I do believe it could be possible from people to recover from PTSD. I've been working, slowly, towards that. For me, the MPD was uncomfortable, but familiar, and it just "fit." I feel the same about the PTSD. However, I've been working towards fighting against the flashbacks, since July. Some days, I'm not strong enough to do it, but other times I am. I'm not sure what it would feel like to no longer have the PTSD. It's all I've ever known. But I can see the light at the end of the tunnel with it.

Having PTSD has made me more compassionate and understanding to people than I may have been without it. It's my goal to start my own ministry of telling people my testimony/story. I've slowly already begun to do this in my Celebrate Recovery group. Everyone there was very accepting, caring and non-judgemental, so that helped alot.

I'm still terrified of people, but I feel I need to share my story. I'd also like to help others who have PTSD. My whole life, I felt alone. Nobody I knew had this. I don't want others to feel alone in their struggles. I thought MPD and PTSD would last forever, but I really do see the light at the end of the tunnel now. I want others to know there's a light at the end of their tunnels, too. There are people that understand and care. There is hope. There is healing.

Follow Debbie E. on Twitter @buffalopine, and visit her blog, Buffalopine's Blog.

(Photo: Choithim)


Anonymous said...

Keep fighting. Its definitely possible to live without PTSD. There's so many great resources here on Michele's blog. Keep reading, researching and trying different angles til you find what works for you.

All the best with your journey!

Dr. Dan Kaufman said...

Perhaps you already know but there is some great new research on the developing brain that points the way to how therapy using an understanding of brain development can help support healing for those whose early experiences were traumatic. One excellent book is called "The Brain Wise Therapist" and another "The Neurobiology of Relationships".

Dr. Dan Kaufman

Michele Rosenthal said...

@Dr. Dan! Thanks for the comment and book recommendation. I'm going to add it to the list of resources page. Send me others when you think they are appropriate!

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