GOALS - Forgive myself! Find my voice! Be vulnerable!
Inpatient experience cont...refer to the previous blogs for the beginning of my inpatient hospital experience.
FYI - I have a strong NEED to talk about my experience in person and on here. Like my friend put it, "The experience was a WHOLE THING". This particular blog is about one of the most therapeutic moments I had there and how it unfolded.
My cottage mates were from different places but most seemed to be from somewhere in Florida. During my 32 days inpatient, my cottage mates changed off and on as some finished the program, left the program or new pts came in. I am in no way defining these women by their diagnoses but I did want to share with you some of what we, as one cottage, were struggling with. PTSD/Trauma/sexual trauma/rape, depression, anxiety, bipolar 1and 2, Schizophrenia (different types), Meth addiction, multiple personality disorder, suicide attempts and self harm, suicidal ideation, OCD, and other drug addictions. Moods, fuses, and patience were tested until our medication regimen started working for us. I have NEVER been exposed to or have witnessed such raw, hard core mental illness' - EVER. With that being said, I saw how broken the world was by just being a participant to my cottage. There were 40ish other residents in different cottages with other mental issues and emotional pain as well.
On the second one-on-one visit with my therapist, she asked if I had ever done EMDR therapy. EMDR therapy stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and is used a lot for treatment of PTSD. I had not. I was scared, felt vulnerable, and it took me a minute to agree to it. I would be out of my comfort zone, not in control, at her mercy and I had to trust her (I really just met her). I also knew she would be observing me closely while my eyes were closed and that brought a little anxiety. For EMDR therapy, I wore headphones that were connected to a device that sent alternating beeps in my ears for different periods of time. Before starting, she asked me to think of a "Target memory" that was hard and stressful. While the alternating beeps were going off in my headphones, I had to focus on that target memory while my eyes were closed. The goal of EMDR is to retract stuck memories or hard memories that you repressed. The beeping stops after a few seconds (therapist controls this), you take the headphones off, and talk to the therapist about what came up for you in your mind. Once you've discussed what you remembered, you put the headphones back on and continue your thoughts about that subject as the beeps start again. I think we went about 6 or 7 times before we finished, talking and discussing between each one. It was different, it was hard, and it was exhausting. When we finished our cycles of EMDR and the headphones were put away, she asked me to think of a container of some sort. I was like, WHAT? She said, "any container that you can think of - big or small". I didn't know where she was going with this but I thought of a cargo storage container, aka "C Can". I've seen them converted to camps, bars, offices, etc and thats what I thought of. I imagined mine with a window and a door. ANYWAY, she told me to close my eyes and store everything I thought of during EMDR and what we talked about today and put it in that container. She said that it would be safe there, and to let the container store it until we picked it up again to talk about it more.
I left her office and immediately had to join the rest of the residents in large group. This is when I wish I could have gone and taken a nap. I at least wanted to sit alone to start to process what just happened. Those aren't the rules, though. The rigid schedule remains and therapy continues, as scheduled, 7 days a week.
Later that night when I was lying in my bed after my shower, I was thinking about and analyzing my experience with EMDR therapy and the container with the window and door. As clear as day (in my head) I saw a young girl about 10 years old or so moving from one end of the container to the other. She would look out of the window then go back to walking from one end to the other. She had blonde hair and was barefoot. She was not frantic but was trying to find a way out. AS CRAZY AS THIS SOUNDS (and I know it sounds crazy), that young girl was me. My inner child! Up until this very moment, I have hated her, disrespected her, viewed her as dirty, blamed her, and shamed her. That's why I didn't have self compassion or self love for myself for all of these years. I've viewed my inner child as someone who was a part of me and should have known better. A child who should have said no, fought back, walked out and was to blame. Unfortunately that's what sexual abuse will do to you. The abusers are free of shame and the survivors become full of it. Now I "see" her trapped in a C Can, stuck, scared and unsure of what to do next. I just laid there kind of in shock. I was in shock because this was the first moment that I saw her and felt compassion for her.
I had attempted inner-child work here at home but couldn't get past the hate towards her. That's one of the places that I was stuck!!! I despised her for so long, always dismissed her but now I feel somewhat sorry for her. THIS WAS HUGE and I had to figure out my next move.
Much love and more to come,