The abuse and trauma I experienced led to a number of unhealthy coping mechanisms because they were the only ways I knew how to cope, and it didn’t feel like anything else helped. I struggled with self-harm, an eating disorder, and suicidal thoughts—which led to two suicide attempts when things got really bad and felt absolutely hopeless.
I’ve been going to therapy since I was 14, but nothing ever seemed to work until I was 24 and found a new type of treatment: Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Through DBT, I’ve learned healthy coping skills to replace my ineffective ones and have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Rays of hope are beginning to shine through the clouds that have darkened my life.
I’ve struggled with flashbacks and dissociation for the past 10 years. These flashbacks have caused major depression, unimaginable fear, self-hatred, and distrust of others and experiences around me. The next step of my treatment is to directly target the trauma and PTSD symptoms through Prolonged Exposure (PE). This type of therapy allows the patient to experience the trauma in a safe environment, ultimately reducing the severity of PTSD symptoms and improving the quality of life. PE is an evidence-based treatment, which means it has shown to be one of the most effective treatments for PTSD. Over the course of 16 weeks, the client recalls the details of the traumatic event in as much detail as possible and then listens to a recording of it daily. By re-experiencing the traumatic event through remembering and engaging with it, rather than avoiding reminders of the trauma (triggers), the client is able to process and move through the trauma, and triggers feel less intense and life threatening.
In DBT, you cannot do trauma work until you have demonstrated that you are able to cope without life-threatening/ineffective coping skills like self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Otherwise, it would mean you are not in a place where you can handle doing direct exposure work to the trauma. After over a year since my last suicide attempt, my therapist told me in our most recent session that she thinks I am ready to start Prolonged Exposure. I felt both terrified and motivated upon hearing this. Scared because I know it’s going to be incredibly hard work, but hopeful, because this is what I have been holding on to this whole time and I know it is my best chance at regaining my life back. I’m desperate to find peace from my past. I’m desperate to heal these wounds so one day I can have a family and enjoy the many blessings life has to offer.
However, the hopeful news that I was given Monday afternoon was met with crushing disappointment by the evening. My previous means of paying for treatment was no longer an option, and I was left feeling completely overwhelmed about how I would afford treatment. I was so fearful that I would no longer be able to receive the help I need in order to stay alive and continue on with my fight for recovery. The cost of DBT services and PE is high, and without support from family and friends, I don’t know what I am going to do. So that brings me to why I am here, and why I decided to open up and ask for help, despite how vulnerable and scary it all feels.
If you are able to donate any amount, or could share this with your friends and family, it would be so, greatly appreciated. Thank you so much for taking the time to read through this. I am truly grateful for your support.
- Tammy Morrison
- Kendall Shumway
- Sheri Meacham
- Kathleen Clark
- Bob and Denise Hansen
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