I was surfing WordPress blogs, reading one interesting story after another, when I got to this blog post about human trafficking:
Thank God, I don’t know anything about human trafficking or the victims’ sufferings that I cannot even imagine; but there was a section of the post that was so familiar to me. It was a list of PTSD symptoms that female victims of human trafficking reported. I found the list shocking, in a way, because it exactly described my life, my feelings, and my inability to cope after David left me. (There are repeated Discards with a narcissist, smaller rejections and then more cruel and more final Discards; but I’m referring to 06Apr2013 when David chose to return to his native Canada and leave me in Israel.) I admit that I feel ashamed because maybe it is petty to compare trauma from human trafficking to trauma from narcissistic abuse, but this blog is for me to write about my own feelings and I had all of these same symptoms when David left me. After all, no-one is competing to see who had the bigger trauma. Everyone’s suffering is probably unfair, unjust, and just sad. (The world needs Moshiach.)
PTSD-Associated Symptoms and the Percent of Trafficked Women Ranking These Symptoms as Severe:
75% – Recurrent thoughts/memories of terrifying events
52% – Feeling as though the event is happening again
54% – Recurrent nightmares
60% – Feeling detached/withdrawn
44% – Unable to feel emotion
67% – Jumpy, easily startled
52% – Difficulty concentrating
67% – Trouble sleeping
64% – Feeling on guard
53% – Feeling irritable, having outbursts of anger
61% – Avoiding activities that remind them of the traumatic or hurtful event
36% – Inability to remember part or most of traumatic or hurtful event
46% – Less interest in daily activities
65% – Feeling as if you didn’t have a future
58% – Avoiding thoughts or feelings associated with the traumatic events
65% – Sudden emotional or physical reaction when reminded of the most hurtful or traumatic events (Zimmerman et al., 2006)
I was especially having trouble with what’s called my Startle Reflex. I was so skitterish that people were teasing me at work by playfully saying “BOO!” to me in order to watch me jump back three feet. No-one meant any harm and no-one realized that I was jumpy from trauma. I was the only American out of 600 employees and they just thought it was some cultural difference that seemed silly to them. Still, they managed to get me several times a day, every day. This was why I originally sought out a professional grief counselor. When I realized that my symptoms were not subsiding at all, even after four entire months without David, I knew to seek professional help.
This is what I posted on my Facebook page, 30July2013:
My thought for the day:
Many of you know I’ve been struggling with a painful depression after a loss. I finally admitted that sometimes people need help.
So I spoke with a grief counsellor and she pointed things out to me that I couldn’t see. She gave me techniques on how to cope better and in healthier ways, and she bolstered my confidence. I feel much better because I asked for help from a trained professional.
Whether you have lost a pet, or a relationship, a lifedream, or had an actual death in your family, a Professional Grief Counsellor can help… but you gotta ask. Two thumbs up for grief counsellors!
I received so much unexpected positive support and encouragement from that post. I had no idea it would resonate with so many of my Facebook friends. Here are a few of the responses I was sent:
………..but you do have to have the strength to ask!……..and that is the whole point Rivka, 1st you need to recognize the need, 2nd you see that you need to look within your network of friends or seek professional help and that is how you put it all back together…….the worst thing you can do is hide away and use some misguided idea that you have to tough it out……….what you need to do is surround yourself with love and light……something our tradition teaches us……..in times of sorrow we don’t withdraw from life…….we expand our circle to heal!
I am so sorry on your Loss, You are right Any Loss is devastating and they all have had great effects on me. My Dad, Niece, My dogs and cats. People need to understand and reach out to others whether its a friend, or even a specialist to help them get thru their pain and learn to accept and cope with the loss. In my case, my spirituality and faith has saved me.
Keep talking it does help.
Day in and day out for four months, I was distraught beyond description; yet it was my exceptional ability to be pranked at work that led me to ask for help. I was really lucky because since I went to college for Mortuary Science (ie. funerals), all I had to do was phone one of my classmates who was trained in Grief Therapy and she helped me by email for free. (May you be blessed again for your loving care to me. She just had another grand-baby.)
The Grief Counselor did several things for me.
The Grief Exercise: Every night before I lay down to sleep, I was to pour myself a glass of water; tell myself out loud that “Tomorrow I am going to feel a little better.”; and then drink the water. In the morning when I awoke, I was to look at the empty water glass on my nightstand and remember that “Today I am going to feel a little better.”
It was such an odd yet simple exercise that I agreed to try it. I do think that it helped to reprogram my brain, to allow me to entertain the idea that I could somehow recover from being left behind. It was certainly a step in the right direction. “Tomorrow I am going to feel a little better.”
“Tomorrow I am going to feel a little better.” is copyright © 2014 by 18mitzvot. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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