Had my session with T, and even though I spent part of it talking about my mom (who is okay, but still not 100%) and our water extravaganza, we did do the trauma work we talked about at our previous session. After going through my trauma timeline a couple of times, I picked out my first panic attack because I felt it would work easily on the trauma layout she talked about. I did it the night before our session, even though I was exhausted and stressed out from the week.
It was easier than I had anticipated to lay out the panic attack on a timeline, and afterward I realized it was because I’ve done it many times since then. Not only in my head, but on paper and on my blog…though the depth of detail has varied. And so I wondered if I had cheated myself in using the panic attack because it didn’t really disturb me to lay it out or discuss it. I started out our “trauma work” with T by saying as much…that I was worried that I was cheating myself and T shook her head. She said maybe my brain was just allowing me to start with something that wasn’t so difficult so I know how things are going to go and that it won’t get me all worked up. And she reassured me that even if it wasn’t difficult for me, it was still worth doing, because anything I do in trauma work is good.
So she had me “tell her the story” of the panic attack in first person. And during the retelling, she had me continuously center myself, so that I told the story in a calm manner. Really, I was more intense on telling the story, but not panicked. I didn’t feel any flashback type feelings, I just wanted to get through the story and be done, especially telling it in first person. But she would stop me and make me take a break so I didn’t rush through it. When we were done, she made me “tell” the story in a comic book-type panel…six panels and I was to pick the highlights of the story and draw them into the panel. As I have told her before (like when she made me draw my “safe” place), I am not an artist. Pretty much stick figures everywhere. But once I drew the pictures, I had to retell the story again using the pictures. When I was done, she repeated the story back to me based on the pictures I’d drawn. She said it’s important to the person who experienced the trauma to know someone has heard them and validated their experience. And then she said the panic attack is now contained in the cartoon panel, there for me to retrieve when I want it, or leave there as if it is “stored” there. Interesting theory, but again because this is something I’ve gone over time and again, I don’t feel anxious about it anymore.
I reminded her after we finished that we talked about relating my pain to this trauma work, but after talking we both agreed it probably wouldn’t fit properly into the framework. Which stinks, because I’m really trying to find a way to put the body memory (and “trauma” memory) of pain into my past. Not sure if she’ll be able to come up with another way to do that, but I guess we’ll see.