Bad Dreams

Yet more flashbacks triggered by bad dreams. It just never ends does it?

I’m two years down the line now. I thought things would get easier but I feel stuck at a plateau of sadness once again. This nagging dragging down feeling has left me feeling low, vulnerable and pretty crap. All agencies seem to have abandoned rape victims by now so I’m creating a trauma stop – a place where people like me don’t need to hide away when they are feeling like shite. This last year I’ve had more fleeting suicidal thoughts than last year which quite surprised me. They came initially but then went away after the flashbacks subsided with a grateful reprieve but then came back to haunt me. All I can do is flow with them until they go away again. It’s draining all of this I make no bones about it – I wake up exhausted day after day thinking how can I have slept when I feel so utterly knackered?

I’ve let the guy go that I was with. I miss him terribly but I was feeling like a complete burden to him. He gave me stability but I couldn’t see how we’d end up in the future so I let him go – at least he can be free to find a non smashed up soul. He bought a puppy – I thought – well a puppy will bring you far more joy than this empty husk. So I continue on, in search of, – what ? I have no clue. The only thing I know is that I still exist here – it must be for a reason this suspended animated state? Surely it must? This last week has been a really bad run of bad days – it’s just my life, my stage of life and where I’m at here on this trauma journey. Big punctuations see? Big full stops, unwanted pauses, some really great flowing sentences. This is my rape journey. This is the reality which no healthcare professional unless they’ve been through this themselves will ever comprehend. You can’t “ fix” rape trauma sadly, you just have to provide good solid continuous nurturing support when people like myself are on their downward wave until we are riding the up wave once more. I wish commissioned services would create longer term strategies? Please take note of my voice healthcare professionals if you read this?!

Physical After Effects – long term

So as I reckon I’m so emotionally strong I do find I have PTSD symptoms – the crippling anxiety, the disconnection at small stresses, the nausea and panicked feelings and sheer exhaustion day in day out where all you want to do is hide under the bed covers and never come out. Yet I think – well – I have choices, I either give in to these feelings and end up topping myself or I accept the fact that this injured brain of mine is still healing and give myself a chance to allow it to heal. I have felt suicidal over this last year – more like a helpless feeling which has dragged me down time and time again. I accept this is the new me and I hope next year I may feel different but hell Rome was never built in a day I suppose? The low feelings ( and this is why I’m writing them out of me to help others understand) are like a dragging sensation – like you’re on the verge of both crying and about to be violently sick. When they happen they are so debilitating and so I just keep in my house where it’s safe and then try and cry if i can to try and alleviate the feeling. It’s no good trying to stifle the feeling as then it magnifies and I end up feeling so dizzy that I can’t stand up. I get massive migraine like headaches that accompany it. I developed pityriasis Rosea which is like a stress rash all over my body too which is my immune system fighting like shit with itself. That also compounded my feelings of unattractiveness a lot I think which then totally made me switch off from feeling sexy or attracted. It comes and goes all these feelings but to the outside world everyone thinks I’m this great career woman with a beautiful life. If only they knew how terrible I truly feel day in day out but there really is no point burdening others with my crap as they are not as emotionally resilient as myself I see and if I have shared how I feel then they then go into overkill mode ringing me all the time which then makes it all far worse.

To tell or not to tell

Well this is a subject in its own right which makes me feel so crap right now. I’ve decided to end my calm boyfriend after a year because though he is supportive we lack connection and cannot seem to get together in terms of getting closer as a couple. I don’t think or feel this comes from my part weirdly so I’m just accepting this is just the way it is. I am really ready for a committed relationship now and he just doesn’t feel the same I guess so I know I must for the sake of allowing us both to grow as individuals let him go find his becoming whole. I now know what a relationship is like where two people retain their independence so that’s a really good thing. I suppose my mind feels ready to join someone on that life adventure track once more. I get approached regularly by people asking me about myself but generally I reject any advances. It’s so difficult as to do I mention “it” – this huge elephant in the room? What if I get to really like someone and then I tell them and it puts them off me? What if I tell them before they have had a chance to get to know me and that then puts them off me? I can’t win can I? All I want is to be treated normally but with someone who really is strong emotionally and has my back. Is that too much to ask? I feel so up and down of late – veering between – everything’s great to absolute what a catastrophe my life is and what’s the point in trying to aim for a more qualitative life and relationship? I’m a single mum trying to weave my way through life with absolutely no one who really gives a shit whether I live or die right now but I know I have so much love to give and that I’m a good person so there’s a reason I’ve been dumped here at this point in life despite me not understanding the “ why” right now. So I guess I’ll just keep on trucking until something emerges. All of these articles from professionals I’m reading about stages you go through are really all a load of codswallop – I often wonder if these researchers only have small samples of transcripts or something as half the stuff I hear said does not resonate with me. I need to be having talks with men about what it feels like to date after rape – to even think of dating once more. I know I need to put myself out there in order to stand any chance of finding a person who will get me and be there for me. I’m looking after me just fine right now and I’m ok and I’m happy with myself. I just think it’s such a waste if I couldn’t be part of a real authentic joined up couple. My rape though it has shaped me does not define my future or my hopes and dreams and I’m not going to ever accept a second class life thinking that’s all I deserve after my experience.

All these psychological theories around fear

Fear it seems motivates us. All of the researchers have different theory models around how we can get into post traumatic growth mindsets based around FEAR models. These are psychologically based on something called

“Fear appeal ” which is a term used in psychology, sociology and marketing. It generally describes a strategy for motivating people to take a particular action, endorse a particular policy, or buy a particular product, by arousing fear. A well-known example in television advertising was a commercial employing the musical jingle: “Never pick up a stranger, pick up Prestone anti-freeze.” This was accompanied by images of shadowy strangers (hitchhikers) who would presumably do one harm if picked up

Within this fear appeal different people have come up with some pretty spectacular theories as below:

Drive theory

According to the theory, a threat that portrays the negative consequences of non-compliance to a recommended behavior is expected to create fear. In order to relieve the emotional tension of the threat, the “drive” state motivates behavior conduct that reduces the tension.

The Extended Parallel Process Model Theory

EPPM is based on Leventhal’s danger control/ fear control framework and on Roger’s protection motivation theory.[1]It is commonly used in health communication campaigns when a message is attempting to persuade audience members to adopt a healthy behavior. In order for fear-based campaigns to be effective, they must induce a moderately-high level of fear and a higher level of self-efficacy and response efficacy. When the audience feels that there is a higher level of fear than efficacy, the message is ineffective. In short if you’re more scared of something and you believe you can’t get over it then you won’t. Risk versus reward!

Self efficacy is , a personal judgment of “how well one can execute courses of action required to deal with prospective situations”. In simple terms what we believe we can do in a situation.

The Health Behaviour Model suggests that people’s beliefs about health problems, perceived benefits of action and barriers to action, and self-efficacyexplain engagement (or lack of engagement) in health-promoting behavior.[2][3] A stimulus, or cue to action, must also be present in order to trigger the health-promoting behaviour.

The transtheoretical model of behavior change is an integrative theory of therapy that assesses an individual’s readiness to act on a new healthier behavior, and provides strategies, or processes of change to guide the individual.[1] The model is composed of constructs such as: stages of change, processes of change, levels of change, self-efficacy, and decisional balance.[1]

The transtheoretical model is also known by the abbreviation “TTM[2]and sometimes by the term “stages of change

The transtheoretical model of behavior change is an integrative theory of therapy that assesses an individual’s readiness to act on a new healthier behavior, and provides strategies, or processes of change to guide the individual.[1] The model is composed of constructs such as: stages of change, processes of change, levels of change.

The theory of reasoned action (ToRAor TRA) aims to explain the relationship between attitudes and behaviours within human action. It is mainly used to predict how individuals will behave based on their pre-existing attitudes and behavioral intentions. An individual’s decision to engage in a particular behavior is based on the outcomes the individual expects will come as a result of performing the behavior. Developed by Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen in 1967, the theory derived from previous research in social psychology, persuasion models, and attitude theories. Fishbein’s theories suggested a relationship between attitude and behaviors (the A-B relationship). However, critics estimated that attitude theories were not proving to be good indicators of human behavior. The TRA was later revised and expanded by the two theorists in the following decades to overcome any discrepancies in the A-B relationship with the theory of planned behavior (TPB) and reasoned action approach (RAA). The theory is also used in communication discourse as a theory of understanding

So the question is that I need to now consider in order to help myself through all of this is what model am I using? Is the model I am using really so important? Is the model I use something which creates a barrier for my fear and thus my own healing and understanding?

What’s your fear model in life? I’m guessing not many of us have actually asked ourselves this question really? …

What do you do when those you report to don’t fully understand how to support those in trauma?

So here goes – same old same old once again. It kind of boils my blood when I am questioned with a successful outcome I have achieved.

In my life I support others through abuse. God how I wished when I was going through my trauma that more professionals would be transparent enough to show me their human side – even hug me for my efforts to get through all of this! Yet no – we appear to have lost our common sense approach to supporting those with trauma. Long gone it appears are the days where you can give someone a simple well done non sexual hug. Gone are the days when you can call someone by a name that you both feel comfortable with that allows you that connection to know that you have one other person in the world that actually really does get what you’ve gone through. All of it seems lost and as professionals we are forced to dehumanise ourselves to ” follow process”.

Only those like myself who have realised the importance of the human bond after such a traumatic experience seem to have retained common sense and a realness.

So I say and my advice to all those sitting in high ranking positions where policy seems to overtake actually caring and compassion and really supporting people – for gods sake – don’t you think it’s time to stop and think about why you are doing what you are doing?! If a traumatised abused person comes towards you just like a toddler may do after they have fallen over and they need a quick hug – well bloody give them one and reassure them using your human instincts – it could make a massive difference to their health and well-being when they look back in the future. Remember it’s the journey not the end result that’s the most important. It just infuriates me when I see inhuman robotic practices these days. How can people in power transform our systems if they themselves know very little about the reality of trauma? This is a changing landscape and we are still living very much in a blame culture society I feel. It’s very little wonder that so many people disconnect from our support systems.

This is so wrong

I see other women going through their own journeys and it amazes me time and time again what kind of an ignorant works we live in. I mean it’s not like we are cavemen anymore is it? How can the judiciary and police systems in other countries remain so corrupt?! If it weren’t for the officer in my case and knowing that he believed me i could have done something really stupid at my lowest points. Thankfully I’m over this, yet when I read and hear about this then it takes me back and I can really understand what this poor traumatised young lady must be mentally going through. It’s wrong on all levels this real life situation and just when you see one step forward then you then see a dozen backward steps. It got me thinking – there needs to be more joined up working across the judicial system, the police forces, the SARCS and community supporting organisations and the NHS between regions. The whole system seems to operate in isolation which is so wrong. It’s making me sit here and think how I can improve the situation.

How can we heal truly from the effects of rape and trauma of all of us operate in isolation with our services? Can there not be some kind of standardisation that creates a framework but not just in the financial commissioning sense?