Another Christmas passed, thank goodness. It’s a terrible time of the year for some. For me, I spend the vast majority of the time with a mask on to shield the world from the dark void that resides within my head. This mask is exhausting, draining and in no way enjoyable to wear. It is however, necessary as only a select few professionals are equipped to deal with what horrors lay beneath. Revealing my true self to those that are not in a position to cope with it has cost me both friends and family members.
My dark void harbours demons that live with me inside my head. They out number me and dwarf me. They spend their time screaming at me and showing me images of myself hurting myself, taunting and encouraging me. I have been trapped in my head like this for 6 years now. Diagnosed with PTSD with comorbid depression and anxiety as a result of a marriage of physical and mental abuse, torture, rape, segregation and de-humanising behaviour, mutating me into the empty caucus that exists today.
After going through NHS standard treatment, spending thousands on private counselling, NHS secondary care with psychologists and psychiatrists I came to a decision. All of the drugs I have tried, all of the therapies I have been through, none could alter the dark void that inhabited my head, every single day, all day. I had no rest bite. It was constant. Many times I gave up the fight. Where standard treatment had its place, especially when I was in crisis mode and just could not find a reason to live anymore. I had decided to look at alternate treatments as additional support.
I researched and tried lots of weird and wonderful activities. From music therapy to meditation, yoga, EMDR, reflexology, massage, self-soothing and aromatherapy. I had learnt over the years that socialising and exercising were part and parcel of my support network and safety net so, along with the medication and talking therapy I continued this alongside adding in the slightly obscure and holistic approaches.
I worked my way through the list I had made, each costing a small fortune and all needing a commitment of a minimum number of sessions. So no quick fixes or magic wands unfortunately but I had given up that hope many years ago anyway so I persisted with them one by one.
Some offering a level of distraction from my head for a short time but none an escape from it. What I longed for was a rest bite from never-ending war on-going within my head. I would often hope to be hospitalised and medicated into a coma beyond the grasps of sleep. As sleep was a place of hell for me, nightmares cannot begin to describe the world that captured me during the hours of sleep. The demons seemed to gain power and take pleasure in controlling me into reliving my most painful moments in life.
Through a mental health peer support group that I attended I heard about a man offering EFT, Emotional Freedom Therapy. I did my research, read all the available clinical trial papers available on EFT and its impact on groups of participants with both PTSD and severe depression. The studies examined reported no adverse effects from EFT interventions and showed that it can be used both on a self-help basis and as a primary evidence-based treatment for PTSD.
At this point I had become an expert of visualisation and grounding exercises so I was not adverse to it. The tapping aspect of it did have me curious though. I also questioned its longevity but I tried to remain open minded.
After introductions, most importantly the dog meeting Paul (The EFT man) and judging him as a good character, I allowed him into my home. This would be the first time that I have had therapy in my house, typically I have gone to an office space, hospital or someone’s home but never mine. I thought this might be strange but actually it was a non-issue. We settled in the living room, sitting opposite each other with the dog deciding to settle at Paul’s feet. We both spoke through our mental health histories and life stories. Again, not a typical feature of a therapy session to have a conversation with a therapist but I found it oddly comforting as I found similarities and felt at ease that he would be able to handle the darkness that had taken over me.
I can only describe the session as a cross over between EMDR, mindfulness and acupuncture. Using ‘affirmations’ or saying the issue out loud and owning it whilst tapping specific points on the body. Through visualisation and being in the moment and focusing on the issue the mind is capable of reorganising. For me, we focused on the dark void filled with demons. After about an hour, which seemed more like minutes to be honest, a glass shield had been formed inside my head. Clearing a space between myself and the demons. I was finally alone in my head. At this point of realisation a tear rolled down my cheek. The first time in a long, long time.
The next day I awoke to still be alone in my head. I had no idea what to do. Before, my purpose, my all day every day was fighting the demons in my head. I had no purpose, I had no identity. This was confusing. I was not fearful, I was grateful for the change, the rest bite. I just didn’t know what to do with the space in my head. Luckily Paul carried out frequent welfare checks between sessions.
I know that it is a strange concept and in all honesty I have no idea how it works. I just know that for someone who had given up hope of growing old, someone who had simply given up hope of life, it has made a difference. What that difference is I can only explain as an internal safety net. Like what I imagine Professor X does to Phoenix to help her contain her mind in the X-men.
For those that need help, that have lost or are losing hope, for those that have been through standard treatment and have been labelled as treatment resistant, give EFT a go. I will be continuing with it, open minded, just see where I end up.