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Stages In Healing?

Discussion in 'Mental Health Issues' started by Nyx, Oct 26, 2010.

  1. Nyx

    Nyx Learning to love myself

    Just out of curiosity... Do any of you know if there are common stages we go through while healing? Like denial, fall-outs or any other?

    It's a curiosity of mine because I'm new to therapy, new to this road towards healing, and I really hate not knowing what lies ahead. I've already been through a lot of emotions just the past weeks and I think I would better handle them if I knew what was coming around the corner.

    I know we are unique and have different ways of expressing/feeling/perceiving, but what if there's a common ground to it?
  2. anthony

    anthony Tech Support Staff Member

    Healing is sporadic at the best of times... and cannot really be classified into expression stages.

    Is there a pattern? Yes... denial is typically present initially, though denial can still be present after healing in regards to one or two specifics that the individual keeps from others during the entire process... usually a tell tail sign after a year when the person isn't getting any better / finding any relief. Denial can be assigned to secrets or merely the true effort being given into tasks... ie. I did my best (realistic - I gave up the moment I started having some anxiety or a panic attack) vs. I broke down the first time, achieve x the next time, achieved y the next time, went backwards a bit the next time... achieved z the next time after having a break for week, etc etc.

    Its like people who tell me they've been in therapy for years... my response will be the same, either that they're bludging with a reliance upon the therapist to fix all their problems, which isn't going to happen, or they haven't been working / as open / as honest as they think they've been. One only ever needs ask themself... do I still have secrets from my therapist regarding trauma? Have I told them the whole truth? The list goes on...

    This is what puts sporadic into the healing equation... being that whilst a person may in healing one area, the problems continue from another area they are hiding / denying.

    So its extremely hard to say there are stages...

    If you truly give trauma therapy your 110% devotion for six months of your life, you will find an intense few months of absolute, agonising mental and physical pain, you will hit absolute bottom with depression to the point of wanting to kill yourself, etc etc... but then once you've hit your true bottom, you can only go up... and when at your most vulnerable (bottom) you are also the most open and honest, because you just don't care.

    Saying this... you could go through this and keep a secret... so a year later you decide to release the secret and then go into another spiral... though if the majority of your trauma is healed, then the spiral will be much less.

    I would say the pattern for healing trauma is pretty much all over the place, as what emotions you feel for one, you won't for another; what patterns you take up during one trauma you will change during another whilst working through them.
  3. Nicolette

    Nicolette Here In Spirit

    The three stages of healing trauma

    STAGE 1: Victim

    Person identifies everything within the context of the trauma, resulting in difficulty functioning in daily life.

    o Establish a therapeutic foundation with the professional.

    o Educate and support the individual for the recovery process.

    o Grieving process needs to focus on specific details of the abuse experience.

    o One needs to GO into the Pain to GET OUT of the Pain. The majority of professionals neglect this important recovery process-thinking the person will be 're-traumatized.' If done effectively there is immediate release and relief.

    o Identify 'triggers and diffuse them.'

    o Identify barriers in treatment and overcome them.

    o Process Anger/Rage, Sadness, Shame, Guilt, Humiliation

    o Identify themes in the trauma experience and how it impacts the person's functioning.

    STAGE 2: Survivor

    Person identifies abuse as past and is functioning moderately, but maintains primary identity with the trauma.

    o Establish a foundation for deeper work.

    o Process Anger/Rage, Sadness, Shame, Guilt.

    o Address difficulties with partners/family and develop strategies to deal with them.

    o Identify long-term stress and complicated coping mechanisms-replace coping mechanisms with healthy effective behavior and attitudes. Dispel the chicken or the egg dilemma.

    o Identify and restructure belief system.

    o Prepare for and confront perpetrator(s) and co-perpetrators(s).

    o Therapeutic tools include: Guided imagery, therapeutic journal writing, meditation, dream analysis, hypnosis/regression, exercise, dance, music, movement.

    STAGE 3: Thriver

    Person no longer primarily identifies with the trauma-new awareness regarding trauma is integrated with the remainder of personal history resulting in healthy functioning.

    o Establish foundation for the thriver stage.

    o Individual develops healthy strategies for living life, able to deal with life's issues with ease.

    o Individual lets go of trauma identity and forgives perpetrator(s) and co-perpetrators(s).

    o Individual develops strategies to deal with some 'flare ups' of old behavior patterns.

    o Individual integrates the trauma with other life experiences-able to talk with ease about the experience of verbal, physical or sexual trauma and by whom.

    Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dorothy_M._Neddermeyer,_PhD
  4. Nyx

    Nyx Learning to love myself

    I think re-traumatizing actually happens only if the person stops the healing process. If we give up after exposing something just because it's hard, it's like living everything again and not healing it. Again.
    This is the thought that makes me go further, even if sometimes I feel like dying. And my T really made a point in telling me over and over again that there is no way around it, that I have to face it. I think maybe she's not convinced when I tell her I'm not going to give up, that I really want to make this go away, even with all the pain.

    Thank you, Nicolette, for the research. This will help me in time and I hope it will others.
  5. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Administrator Staff Member

    My therapist suggested that there are 'stages' as such to 'healing'. Denial, grief, anger, shame, sadness, deppression, etc. They are in no particular order, and we may go backward and forward through these stages, and also get 'stuck' at a certain stage (sometimes for years). I think this goes some way to explaining the 'rollercoaster' analogy, which most can associate to.

    Therapy helps to establish, where in the process you are 'stuck' and help to move you on. But during this process, you may need to revisit the 'stages', or visit each stage, for each trauma. There will be lots of ups and downs as you unburden yourself, and lead yourself to acceptance and 'thriver'.

    The sexual abuse/assault will still have happened to you; but it won't have such a grave and negative impact on your life. During therapy, you will have learned new thinking and behaviour patterns and removed all the negative thoughts and beliefs surrounding the abuse, so that when it is remembered it doesn't have the stress, anxiety, shame, fear, guilt etc associated to it.
  6. anthony

    anthony Tech Support Staff Member

    The problem with healing trauma, is that stages are in essence, or become, individually felt emotions. This is why nothing in concrete like what you see with AA exists, because its impossible to categorise individual emotions.

    One trauma may encompass shame, another won't. One may have denial, another won't. Healing trauma is more not about stages, but about emotion recognition. When you can learn to identify the root emotion, then you know what you feel, thus you can work on that feeling.
  7. Nicolette

    Nicolette Here In Spirit

    While I agree in detail with my husband I still believe stages can provide a general expectation & to some can offer a guide of measure to let them identify if they may be stuck.
  8. jadebear

    jadebear Guest

    And how is that done? How do you learn to identify the root emotion?
  9. Nicolette

    Nicolette Here In Spirit

    I think the first step Jadebear is to allow yourself to feel rather than keep it stuffed down or pretending it didn't happen or keeping it a secret....remember anger is a response to your emotions and masks the underlying emotion. You often talk of how 'pissed off or angry" you are. If you can look past the anger I think you can only then start to identify your emotions.
  10. anthony

    anthony Tech Support Staff Member

    Look in the anger section of articles on PTSD Forum... it tells you all about how to identify the core emotion, then what to do with it. If you struggle with it, then tell me about it here and I will answer the best I can to help you identify.

    I'm sure you have read them... and if you remember, it starts at identify the problem, then breaking that problem down into feelings, ie. how it makes you feel, then you isolate each emotion and tackle each... the combination of emotions attached to each and every individual issue you hold, is what underpins the overall emotional response to anger itself, being the response. Your loaded up with too much emotionally, you explode. If you don't explode, you physically breakdown and endup hospitalised for a complete mental breakdown... being your brain has reached the point that not even anger can subdue your emotional core any longer.
  11. Nyx

    Nyx Learning to love myself

    Wow, in that case, I hope I keep getting angry. At least until I learn to identify my emotions and deal with them... I was talking about my "shut down"s and now I've realized that I may have had breakdowns. When not even anger could let me out. But can you come out of a breakdown by yourself? I was never hospitalized for this.
  12. Nicolette

    Nicolette Here In Spirit

    Of course you can. I sat on the floor for 4 days once unable to do anything other than just sit there, unable to dress, shower, don't think I ate and just went to the bathroom. I just couldn't take any more but I was not suicidal....just totally shut down mentally.
  13. Nyx

    Nyx Learning to love myself

    Ok. But can you prevent them from happening?
  14. Nicolette

    Nicolette Here In Spirit

    You can't prevent a shut down if you are overloaded, you have gone to far when you reach that point.....you have to stop yourself before becoming overloaded being saying 'no' to something or learning to let go of what you can't control and just accept that you can only do what you can do.

    Then, once your stress levels have reduced you have to pick one thing to focus on and start working on 'fixing it' to start minimising your stress. It may be as simple as dealing with how you feel about something non trauma related and then once that is dealt with start on the next thing on the list which is causing you heartache. Each little thing you knock out of the way by dealing with it lessens your stress and then opens you up to be able to deal with the bigger issues like your trauma. It's like chipping away at the outside, to remove it and uncover what lays beneath and exposing it. You can't expose the underneath while loaded with other things covering it.
    cherryblossom and Nyx like this.
  15. cherryblossom

    cherryblossom Administrator Staff Member

    I think this is my down fall. I don't know how to say no, and then I find myself overwhelmed. By then it's often too late, I've hit the bottom, and then it's one hell of a climb back up.
  16. Nyx

    Nyx Learning to love myself

    Take it easy. If it is, let it be for a while. If it's not, not panicking over it will help. Whatever comes, let it be. ou'll be just fine in the end, even with all the storms.
    cherryblossom likes this.
  17. anthony

    anthony Tech Support Staff Member

    Yep... had one major one before being diagnosed, and several smaller one's up to the point and just after diagnosis... but pulled myself up. This was all before any real trauma education... only a little intro therapy during some of the minor breakdowns. They where a rough few years...
  18. jadebear

    jadebear Guest

    I seriously don't know how to 'allow' myself to feel anything other than anger and rage. The emotions are there, somewhere, I just don't know how to access them.
  19. Nicolette

    Nicolette Here In Spirit

    My suggestion is to pick a time where you can be alone with no time pressures and no interruptions and just 'sit'. Sit by yourself and let the thoughts run through your mind. If the thoughts make you sad, allow yourself to cry, if they make you angry have a pillow you can punch the crap out of, if you want to scream just do so etc.

    My guess is you are 'programmed/wired' how to act with only allowing certain reactions - anger and rage as they scare others away, keeping them at a distance and subconsciously pushing them away (protecting you). I watch you here - you reach out for help then you go back to patterns of anger and rage like deleting your diary. Deleting your diary hurts no-one yet it protects you from re-see the you that you allowed out at times.

    Just sit and be still........it will come when you are ready. :hug:
  20. jadebear

    jadebear Guest

    I think that was one of the things I liked about drinking...even though I would end up depressed and crying, it would feel good to let it out. It didn't feel good at the time, but the next day it did.

    I was programmed to be seen and not heard. Talk and you ran the risk of being killed, or someone else being killed. Emotions weren't allowed. No matter what was going on, we had to pretend it wasn't. We were taught that as long as we looked good, dressed in nice clothes, etc, then all was good, that it wasn't what was on the inside that mattered, it was what was on the outside that counts. I was taught to not talk about anything at all. No matter what happened, we didn't talk about it....ever. I was told what I could and couldn't say and my mom would rehearse what I would say before she took me somewhere. I wasn't allowed to show anger either, but that was the only emotion I was able to get away with.

    Even as an adult, up until my dad died a couple few years ago, it was reinforced. All the times I wanted to get help and start therapy, they would find out and talk me out of it. They would tell me things like "don't ever go talk to someone, they will tell you that you were molested...and you weren't". "don't go see anyone, they will convince you that things happened that didn't", etc. I gave up trying. It took me awhile to go to therapy once he died, and I still have a hard time opening up. That fear of talking never left.

    So, I see the pattern of reaching out and then pulling back, I do the same in therapy. It's just a hard thing to undo. I've been doing it my whole life.

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