I experienced my childhood primarily through multiple forms of abuse from my father. This occurred for years without the rest of my family really being aware of my suffering. I felt helpless, but never hopeless. There was only one therapist in the small town where I grew up and I only went to one therapy session. I felt if I told her anything that my family secret would be out.
Growing up I put all my effort towards school. I thought going to college was my ticket out. However when I was a teenager, I was bullied and I started to skip school. My longest record of absence was 6 weeks. I started experimenting with marijuana and alcohol. By the time I was 18 years old, I was drinking and smoking marijuana on a daily basis. I was consuming so much alcohol I would blackout everyday. I was raped eight different times, by eight different men. I graduated High School a semester early and went to the community college until I could move away to a four year University and escape my father. I had hoped all of my problems and issues would all go away once I was out of the house.
Unfortunately I began having major difficulties mentally. I attended therapy at my college but it did not seem to help. I kept trying with the same therapist for a year. She knew my history and recommended EMDR. It didn’t make any sense to me that by following an object with my eyes would have any sort of change or positive outcome with my severe PTSD. I thought it would be a huge waste of my time. During all of this I was experimenting with LSD, opium, psychedelic mushrooms, and other drugs.
I was referred to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me with Bipolar Disorder-Type I. I began an aggressive regime of psychopharmacology and I was encouraged to do EMDR, but I refused again, basically laughing that it would help my trauma. We did talk therapy for about eight years and I found it to be helpful. I was medicated with Geodon, Lamictal, Prazosin, Clonidine, and Clanazapam to name a few. I went to a partial outpatient program and worked with a new therapist. I do not believe she understood my situation. I began having thoughts of people stalking me and that people were watching me though my laptop. I thought that every song I heard was about me and the song was making fun of me. I had over 10,000 songs on my devices. My mother took me to The Menninger Clinic. I lived in Menninger for four months. I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar I type with psychotic features.
Eventually I was on thirteen different medications to manage my symptoms and could not function in college any longer. My current psychiatrist referred me to a psychologist, Perry Passaro, Ph.D. We agreed to a goal of helping reduce the number of medications I was on, once we reduced the psychotic symptoms. I rapidly got off of five powerful medications: including an atypical antipsychotic and two mood stabilizers. We did this by reprocessing my severe developmental trauma through the EMDR I had been avoiding for almost ten years.
EMDR was more effective than any psychological treatments I had in my entire life. It was a game changer. The intrusive memories, flashbacks, night terrors and paranoia from my complex developmental trauma became less present relatively quickly. EMDR targeted my trauma but to my surprise it also resulted in a reduction of my delusions and hallucinations. We continued desentized the psychotic symptoms and night terrors and the hold they had over me began weakening almost immediately with EMDR.
I am finishing my undergraduate degree with a 4.0 GPA and I hope to be a psychologist. I believe my healing, although I do continue to have a serious mental illness, can allow me to help others live healthier, happier, and more peaceful lives.