Archives for the month of: October, 2013

Dental Tips for Trauma Survivors

Going to the dentist can inspire anxiety even in those who have not experienced trauma. But it can be downright unbearable for some who are survivors of sexual abuse. I came across this page with some tips for making it a little easier for survivors to endure dental appointments and wanted to share.

I saw my doctor a few days ago, and she put me on metformin. I don’t have diabetes, but I do have insulin resistance syndrome. That, couples with my other lab results, makes my doctor pretty sure that I have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. My partner has said a few times that she thinks I have it, and it seems to be the case. We can’t really see if my ovaries do, indeed, have cysts, because that would require a vaginal ultrasound which is just not happening. But it’s one of those situations where all the other signs are there, so it doesn’t really matter if we did the ultrasound or not.

My doctor also gave me the name of a gynecologist with access to an OR who could sedate me to do an exam and pap. The idea of this freaks my partner out a LOT, and I have to be careful of what I say to her about it so that I don’t trigger her. However, it doesn’t bother me at all. I just want to go to sleep and have it over with.

I got an email from my father on my birthday, pretty much begging for me to have contact with him again. I am considering it. I think I may be able to stick up for myself at this point and enforce my boundaries. Even though he has been emotionally abusive in the past, I do miss him. It makes me feel very weird to miss and want to contact someone who has hurt me so badly.

I guess I really don’t have too much to say.

*Trigger warning for gynecology*

My body has been doing this weird and crazy-seeming thing (although not totally crazy, I’ll explain). My period has been totally irregular for the past six months or so, which I have attributed to my partner going on the pill and messing up my cycle. I went about three months without a period, and then got it right when I was scheduled for my physical at the beginning of September. Then I got it again on the first of October, and tonight I woke up to a surprise when I went to get ready for work. Yup, my period…again. I’m over a week early. And guess what I have on Thursday? An appointment with my doctor.

I also had my period at my physical last year. The year before, my doctor had tried to do a pap smear and it was a disaster. It resulted in a flood of memories and nightmares and flashbacks and bodily sensations. I had always had vaginismus and had tried to have pelvic exams before, but to no avail. That was the first time anyone tried to do a pap, and my body completely shut down. My doctor literally could not get anything in, she said it was like a brick wall.

It would seem that my body has decided to defend against a pap smear or any sort of gynecological examination by having a period every time I have to go to the doctor. It is frustrating and weird, but also amazing and I am thankful for it. My doctor is great, and we have discussed my history and what to do about a pap several times, and I know that she will never try to make me do one. She seemed traumatized when she tried to do one two years ago, after seeing how I reacted and knowing that just putting her finger in there before I shut down was excruciatingly painful for me. When we were talking about it last month, she said, “I’m trying to think of a solution that is less traumatic for everyone involved.” My body, though, doesn’t trust so easily and is defending itself.

The purpose of my appointment this week is just to follow up on some labs (my thyroid meds needed to be adjusted last month), but my doctor was also going to talk to a gynecologist about putting me under in order to have an exam and pap smear. So I think we will talk about that, too. I would like to have a pap if possible, because my grandmother has had uterine cancer, and my mother has had abnormal paps in the past. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to be totally put under and that my insurance would cover it. I would also like to know if there is any scar tissue or evidence of the abuse. I know it happened, but I think concrete evidence would help.

Today I am thankful for both my wonderful doctor and my body, for believing and protecting me.

The days that are the most stressful in my work are the days in which I am the most sure that this is my true calling.

The past few days have been good and the next few should be good, as well. I have today off from my internship (Columbus day off? Why? So weird.) so I won’t have to do my normal 16 hour Monday. Instead, I am going to catch up on laundry, have lunch with my mom, and take a nap. Then I get to sleep again at night! It is such a treat to sleep when it’s dark out on the days I have off from my regular job.

The other day my partner and I had somewhat of a sexual breakthrough, and we’ve been feeling much closer and connected since. I’m beginning to believe that my vaginismus may be something I can overcome eventually. I am going to wait until I graduate to really make a go at taking care of it, but I think it just might be possible.

Another good thing: I went to a bookstore today and picked up “The Witch’s Daughter” by Paula Brackston. It’s been a long time since I bought a new book, because I tend to feel guilty about reading for pleasure when I have all this wonderfully dry and boring reading to do for class. My next course’s reading should be more interesting, but it doesn’t start until October 25, so I have some time to read my new book before diving into the class reading. I’m looking forward to getting sucked into a new story.

I’ve also been more active on Pinterest in the past few days. I’m collecting pins of nice, pretty, calming spaces (both outdoors and indoors) to look at when I’m feeling anxious, sad, or overwhelmed. It’s fun to look for nice things when I’m in a good space and know that they will be there when I’m feeling bad. In addition, I’ve been thinking about some things that I would like to do when I graduate. It will have been three years that I haven’t really had weekends free, and two of working ridiculous hours due to internships. Assuming I get a nice job with 40 daytime hours right off the bat, I will suddenly have much more free time and ability to do things in the evenings and on weekends. I’m thinking about joining a book club, as I love to read and I need to rebuild a social life. I would also like to reconnect with a few choice friends. It has been difficult not really having anyone outside of my partner and classmates to talk with just because of time constraints. In addition, I would like to find some volunteer work to do. I was a patient escort for Planned Parenthood for awhile, and it was great. I think I might like to do that again.

I am sending out loving, kind, and healing thoughts to anyone who may read this.

I saw my therapist today for the first time in a few months. I cancelled my last scheduled appointment, and then she ended up having to cancel the one we rescheduled. I think I did a pretty good job of acting like I’m doing really well. She has shown that it’s no use to talk about the sexual abuse with her (she forgot about it after I told her the first time), so we tend to focus on the emotional abuse and my relationship with my father (or lack thereof).

At one point, I told her about the most recent times my father has tried to contact me, and said that I was expecting more attempts soon because my birthday is coming up. I ended up talking about how I hate my birthday, and it seemed like she couldn’t really understand that. Even if I’m doing pretty well in general, my birthday is always marked by sadness and self-loathing. It sounds immature, but I always get that feeling of “I wish I had never been born” on my birthday. I always feel stupid, useless, and guilty on my birthday. I think maybe it’s anger that should be directed towards others being turned inward. In any case, birthdays are not fun for me. Getting gifts is embarrassing and seems crude (but I love giving gifts to others, so this doesn’t make sense). My mother always wants to have a special dinner, but I hate choosing where to go or what to have. I worry that my choices will make someone upset if they don’t like what I choose. I don’t like being the center of attention. But at the same time, I feel selfish because if they were to forget my birthday, I would be very hurt.

Growing up, birthdays were a huge deal for my father. If my brother and I didn’t remember someone’s birthday or purchase an extravagant gift for them (even distant relatives and even when we were far too young to be expected to remember birthdays, let alone give gifts), we would never hear the end of it. My brother is hopeless at remembering dates, so the responsibility always fell on me. Yes, as an elementary school child, I was more worried about getting a suitable gift for an uncle I had never met than about school or friends. And if my father’s own birthday wasn’t special enough? Forget it. The sulking, pouting, complaining, and then outright abuse would be at its worst. One year, he hinted for months that he wanted a Carvel ice cream cake because that had been a special thing when he was a kid. After the birthday celebration, he complained that we hadn’t put any effort into his birthday because we bought a Carvel ice cream cake instead of baking a cake ourselves. Clearly we didn’t value or care about him.

Then there was the issue of our own birthdays. This was always a fight between him and our mother. Technically, he was supposed to get us every other year for our birthdays. But this was kind of impossible because birthdays don’t always fall on a weekend (duh) and he always chose to live at least three hours away from us. It wasn’t realistic for him to have us for our birthdays on “his years” if they didn’t fall on a weekend. Make no mistake, he did not want us for our birthdays because he wanted to show love or celebrate with us. He wanted us as part of a power play against our mother. If he did have us for our birthdays, he would throw parties that were attended by none of our friends (he lived far away, remember) but all of his fancy textile business colleagues, customers, and VIPs. And if we weren’t sufficiently entertaining to his guests, we would have hell to pay later.

So you can see why birthdays are a more stressful than joyful occasion for me. My therapist said that she wants me to try to have a positive script ready for my birthday so that I don’t have the usual “You are worthless, stupid, and a horrible person” running through my head. I told her that I would try, but I’m not sure if it will make any difference. A stupid mental script isn’t going to undo years of that stuff.

I wish people could just accept that I don’t like my birthday and stop trying to make a big deal of it. My partner keeps talking about the gift she got that I am going to love and what kind of cake I want and all that. We are going to a fall festival the weekend before my birthday with a good friend we haven’t seen in awhile, and I think she has this idea of making it some sort of birthday thing. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate her wanting to make it a good experience. But I just know I’m going to be sad and angry anyway, and it would be easier if we just chose to ignore the day altogether because if she puts in all this effort I’m going to feel really awful for not enjoying it.

I feel like a spoiled brat writing this. I just can’t figure out how to deal with my birthday and make it seem like I’m enjoying it to others. I’m usually good at hiding my emotions, but they are so visceral on my birthday that people who know me well can tell I’m not right. Any suggestions?

I haven’t felt like writing lately but I probably should. I’ve just been sad and a lot of stuff went down at work this week (nothing to do with me, but just a really bad situation that was traumatic for a client). Here is a song that I forgot about until just now. It usually makes me cry but I feel sad and numb right now so it isn’t working. Haven’t slept much in the past few days. Hopefully after class tomorrow I can catch up a little and not be such a mess. Oh yeah, and I have a cat now. He’s great. It’s pretty crazy how calming it can be to have a friendly animal to come home to.