Monday 30 December 2019

Trauma Focused CBT: Sessions 3-5

(Trigger Warning: Multiple mentions of Abortion)

I'm sorry for my lack of posts recently. A lot has happened generally; including in my personal life. I've been feeling very down and anxious, as well as angry, upset, and irritable. It's made concentrating on blogging pretty much impossible. I think I'm starting to come round now, and at least try to keep up to date with my blogging.

I have had about 5 sessions of Trauma Focused CBT now, and although I don't feel like there's been much/any progress yet, I do feel positive that this is the right type of therapy for me and I will find things easier to cope with in time. I'm not sure how many sessions of this type of CBT I'm allowed, but I'm hoping there are at least a few more!

The sessions have been difficult, but productive. I have had times where I could talk in detail about the abortion, and times where I want to talk about anything but. For the times I am getting triggered/overwhelmed however, there are tools I have obtained to deal with it. I will explain some below:

Grounding: This is very useful for when I dissociate. A type of grounding I use, involves the 5 senses. When I find myself dissociating, I have to try and find/describe something I can see, smell, hear, touch, or taste. This reminds me that I am physically here right now, in the present time. When dissociating, I can often feel like I am not real, my body is not in the physical world, I'm not in the present time even. Grounding helps me to remind and reassure myself that this is not true. I am here, the past is in the past, the trauma I have been through is not happening now etc. I won't lie, it's not easy and it does take time, but most of the time this technique works.

Safe Place: This visualisation technique is used for when I am overwhelmed and panicky after talking about my trauma. A safe place is somewhere in my mind that can be anywhere; fictional or real. Personally, I like to visualise a sandy secluded beach in a warm climate. I can visualise this on my own, or my therapist can guide me to focus on certain things about it (e.g. the sight of the waves, the smell of the sea, the feel of sand between my toes etc). Performing a gesture such as clenching an object or my fist can help bring me to this place too. I clench my fist and imagine I am grasping a handful of warm, soft sand. Like grounding, this is difficult and takes time to focus on, but it can give me a short break from thinking about my trauma. This also slows down my breathing, heartbeat, racing thoughts etc.

Mindfulness: I find having a guided meditation video/audio recording, or having my therapist guide me, helps with this. I can use this when I'm feeling overwhelmed and panicky, or even when dissociating. It brings me back to the present time and helps me to focus my attention on things happening, stimulating my senses etc in the here and now. During mindfulness meditation I may be asked to focus on how my chair feels against my legs or back. I may also be asked to focus and describe the sounds in the room. If I have any thoughts about the traumatic abortion, instead of fighting them, I need to accept they are there, but try to shift my focus back to the present and remind myself that the trauma is not happening anymore.

I have been working through my PTSD booklet as well, and have got up to the part where I list feared situations, from most feared to least feared. For me, feared situations involve conversations about my abortion, someone else's abortion, using the word itself, stories about baby loss, and pregnancy scans. I may go into this in detail in the next CBT based blog post. The point of this task is to slowly expose myself to each of these situations. As you can see in this post, I am trying my best to use the word "abortion" instead of "termination", because this is the scary word for me. To me, it sounds more harsh, although I couldn't really explain why. It's not healthy to avoid using a word however (unless the word is a slur of course!) so I need to train myself to feel less scared about this.

My next session is coming up in about a week's time, and we will be focusing on the specific fears I have. This will be a difficult session, so I may need a few days to process things before I blog. In the meantime, I hope everyone's Christmas went well and the New Year brings good things.