Finally I got some face to face help. Two sessions today after calling around yesterday to see if I could talk to someone. I felt the dark wave of grief and despair rolling over me yesterday. I know this feeling. I know it very well since having my child. It was a very traumatic experience for me and I haven’t felt confident to seek a qualified professional as I didn’t have Permanent Residency and didn’t want to jeopardise my chances of getting to stay with my family here in Australia. Now I do have PR and I am working through this now.
The first session was a woo woo style practitioner. She let me ramble and ramble, and that’s what I did. I cried a bit, told my story, described how I felt in creative ways, and at the end did some sand play where I just created what was circling in me and brought it to the surface. That was fun, I always enjoy these kinds of ways of bringing out creativity and to help gain insight. I described what I thought about each piece I chose to add from her shelves of figurines. I chose a mini pot of flowers to add beauty and symbolise the circular path that life seems to be. I chose a native woman carrying a child on her back and a golly wog doll which is an inherently racist black doll that is very kitsch Australian, and I chose these because I feel empathy for them, and in my own plight I understand theirs better. I chose Merlin with a unicorn to help represent how magic is all around, I just have to ask and see it. I chose a happy smiling buddha because I want more of that in my life, but am not sure how to fully detach to get to that stage these days. In the middle I drew out two big eyes, like that Grateful Dead song that goes “wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world” as it’s been running through my head for days now. All in all, it was a good session and I appreciated having that kind of very soft space to talk about things.
The second session was just a few doors down, also upstairs in this downtown charming historic town. When I walked into the stairwell it smelt like beauty parlour that specialises in waxing, and it took me by surprise. I guess that smell went with how I felt when I was in the session, very similar to when you are going in for a wax, you know you need to do it, you know you’ll love the results, but for christ sakes the process is painful, but some areas are strangely very satisfying and almost enjoyable in their pain. The psychologist was an older woman who I can only guess has hair that reaches all the way down her back, she had it piled up high on her head into a bun, she’s of retirement age, but so youthful and full of energy as soon as she opened her mouth with a bright sparkle in her eyes. She wore older woman nice clothes, you know the kind that were popular ages ago and they’re still in fine knick but not necessarily up to date. She also wore a beautiful broach that coordinated with her maroon pantsuit which gave me a sense of comfort thinking about how my grandmother used to wear broaches.
We got down to business after I sat in her narrow office. I had already filled out the paperwork, which thankfully my husband’s work pays for these sessions so we don’t have to pay out the $175 per visit as the contract had read. I get five sessions with her under his program and I will use them all. She asked me to give her a summary of why I am there and what I’ve been up to. So I backtracked to 2010 and mentioned that after a head on collision that happened just months after arriving in Australia, that I received counselling which was very helpful. I mentioned that due to a Medical Treatment visa I was able to stay here, and that’s in the timeframe that I met my husband. I mentioned about going back to University and finishing my bachelors. I mentioned that although my husband and I both had chosen in our earlier lives to not have children, that together we changed our direction and intentionally created our son who was conceived on our wedding day out of love, and that he is all love. I then talked about how that pregnancy went haywire, and I ended up in hospital for nearly three weeks until an emergency caesar where he was extracted from my body, and put into the NICU in a plexiglass box and that a couple days later I was able to see him and all of it was very disorienting. I told her that before I was put under with the gas that I made peace with my life because I thought I was going to die, and how I had just left my husband’s hand in this stark white corridor on the way to the surgery area. I talked about how I had been so straight during my pregnancy with everything I was consuming and then all of a sudden I was taking major drugs to help me cope with the pain, and how that along with having to inject myself with a needle to help prevent dissolve the blood clot that had formed in my groin, was the worst kind of self harm I’ve ever known physically, and all of it took me so far from my natural clear headed state. I talked about the uncertainty when bringing home our child, and being all alone in Sydney with my husband working shifts of four days on and four days off, and not having any additional help and those first months were the darkest of my entire life. I shared how when I think of the newborn phase I think of the smell of Aquim hand sanitiser, chords, beeping, uncertainty, pain, hurt, and grief. I shared with her out loud things that I have never shared with anyone else that went on in my mind during that stage and I wept so loudly and it all came out. I completely lost it, and it may have only been in the first ten minutes of me walking in. Progress was being made.
She talked about the amygdala and how it stores all of our past experiences and how it’s like a volcano that has many layers and how when something gets triggered it then accesses every time I’ve ever had that feeling, and this made perfect sense to me. I had thought of it as wells of emotion within me, something I was holding, something I was internalising, something that was there always with me. She helped me to see that the release can happen by changing it to be a volcano versus a well, and to do whatever I need to in order to get the hell out of the fucking well. She didn’t say it quite like that but this was definitely how I heard it.
She talked about how this kind of trauma creates spikes in my cortisol levels and with that comes fight, flight or freeze. This was also an ah-ha moment to me. I know that my cortisol levels have been spiked from childhood due to having a very traumatic upbringing, and over the years it was clear to me what I was doing I was definitely fighting or fleeing the situation. This time around I have been full on in freeze mode. I hadn’t even considered that freeze was an option, and that’s exactly where I’ve been for the past three years. Adding on the waiting for Permanent Residency and that just created a stronger freeze feeling for me. So I’ve been on edge pretty much my whole life and in this last stretch, it has become freeze and now I get to fucking work it out so I can move forward. No more internalising. I see it, I understand, I have ways to move past this, and now that is what I am doing.
She talked about the importance of getting my levels checked to make sure all of my vitamins, thyroid and all other blood markers are normal in case that needed attention. Thankfully I’ve had those earlier this year due to the endometriosis. Oh speaking of endometriosis, she also said that by keeping all of this in my “well” rather that in a volcano, it would create disease in my body, and then I told her about the endometriosis, which completely makes sense. It came on strong and seemingly all of a sudden, and lasted about ten months. After using the Mirena IUD and getting PR, it’s amazing how it’s settled down, but not at all surprising as I’m not as on edge about everything.
She talked about the importance of deep breathing. 3 count in, hold for 3 and release for 5. She said that if I’m in freeze mode and I’m shallow breathing all of my cells think that they are also in survival mode. She gave an extra oomph to it by talking about Taming the Tiger, and with the breathing to clench my fists in the in breath, and release my hands completely in the out breath to signal to my body physically as well that it’s time for this to go. I loved this. I love that this is actionable and we did it in her office, and I could feel the difference. I will continue to do this.
Overall I feel completely drained from today. My eyes are so tired and dry from all of the crying I’ve done, by far more than I’ve cried anytime in the past couple years, probably not since my father died two years ago. Interesting that it’s also his birthday today, feels very auspicious. I don’t want to be that kind of parent and it almost feels like I’m honouring that by getting help now.
I see her next week and I really look forward to it. I am writing it out. I am moving past this. Thank fucking god. I’m so ready.