OMG My new therapist is a bad ass feminist and trauma specialist.
I HIT THE THERAPIST JACKPOT!!
I had a double session this week. My first private session and the group session was also private because no one showed up but me. One of the group leaders is my therapist, but she's been away for a few weeks, so I really didn't know anything about her.
Immediately she showed me an MRI (? some scan) of a traumatized brain, it's basically got very little going on. And then showed me the normal brain which has a lot of activity. We then talked about my symptoms and she immediately agreed I had PTSD, and explained that my cognitive problems come from it. It makes a big difference when someone shows you a scan of brain, then you can see it's a real thing and that there's evidence and yes, you are actually thinking differently. This was very validating, because I've kinda leaned towards that I'm over reacting and maybe I have gotten stupider. But now I know that isn't the case, it literally is that my brain is not functioning properly, and that we need to re-train it. This gives me so much hope.
We actually talked a lot about my problems and applied DBT skills to help me.
And we talked about my trauma. I wanted too, she said I didn't have too and explained that normally we don't go there first. I went through it fast, I skipped details, but I get the gist of it over with and manage to stay present but of course, upset. How no one listened to me or believed me. That it felt like I was shouting "The house is on fire" and they kept telling me that fires were impossible and then when they did the surgery they said "Oh yes, there may have been a fire."
She believed me and oddly had a similar story. She said, you've been through major medical trauma. I was shocked, because I keep thinking okay, this me over reacting and I'm making a big deal about nothing. (you've probably noticed the 'I'm over reacting' pattern.)
She explains that I'm not. I mention the doctor's last name, and she immediately asks is it (insert fake names) 'Kyle' or 'Steven?' . I say both of them.
She looks unimpressed and then explains, that I'm not the first. And quickly asks me if I am suing the hospital. I say "No, because they'd kill me in court and I'd commit suicide from the stress and humiliation."
She tells me "You're right. They would. I wouldn't be allowed to treat you. You can't even get a lawyer in this city to represent you, because all of them golf together. I've had women who have been physically harmed, lives ruined and you can't do anything. They will ruin you, and you won't win. I do not like Steven or Kyle, both are big shots in the hospital and the hospital will do everything to crush you."
Me "I know. I spoke to lawyers in Toronto, and basically they told me I'd loose everything. There's no justice for patients that have been injured. You can't do anything. It's the worst, because you know it was wrong, but there's no justice or protection. And no one cares because they think it's okay. The CPSO barely does anything, unless it's sexual abuse."
This was a very validating conversation because I've done so much research. I've always known I wasn't alone. I always knew there were others. I knew the hospital uses your trauma to keep you silent. I knew the system was unfair. It's kinda a relief to know I am right, and that's it's not me being paranoid. But now, I can't stop thinking about how many more there are like me. Or what I can do about it.* It was great to finally have someone take my side. Not try to explain to me how hard it is to be a doctor, that I have to understand their side, that they didn't mean it, or anything else. To have someone that immediately acknowledge that I was lucky I didn't die, that the system failed me, and that yes I had suffered a lot.
*I'm actually making art about it, because I think women's health needs to be talked about. And there is too much misogyny. I almost died because people think women complain too much, that we are neurotic and don't trust what we say about our bodies. That the pain must be imaginary because it's too impossible. And it needs to stop.
I told her that my family told me to stop getting treated in my city and move back home because they were sure they were gonna kill me. I didn't because I was scared of what would happen if I waited another year for treatment. So I stayed.
She told me another hard truth. "You can't get treated at this hospital again. As soon as they check you in at the ER, they'll see you've been in psych and they won't believe you. I want you to trust your body, but you will need to go to these other hospitals instead. "
"I know... I'm reading about the treatment of psych patients. They call us 'swallowers' and want nothing to do with us because they think we are attention seeking and no one can help us."
A big trigger for me is not being listened too, so immediately if I went to an ER for heavy bleeding and they told me I was lying (which I have been told on many occasions) I would have trouble not freaking out. I use to loose 375mL of blood a month, and then it jumped to 1000mL (thank you Diva cup and basic math) But I was lying of course. My family doctor believed me, my haematologist believed me, that's about it.
We talked a lot. I actually got so much out of both sessions. She's good a directing and following my flow. I ended up with so many diagrams and images. It was really good. As much as I was annoyed for having to take more time off work, I am super happy about it now. Because it's going to be worth it.
I understand that DBT therapists are made to be your ally, and I really didn't want to buy into it, but damn, I was so ready to be combative and she immediately won me over just by listening and knowing something about my cultural background.
We even got to relationship and my boundary setting problem. I got all this cool homework to do. I need to learn how to trust myself again, the whole over reacting bit is from the 'grooming' that my ex did to me in our emotionally abusive relationship.
It's like I see part of myself coming back. I can do this. I can get better.