Apr 17, 2011

What I Didn’t Know Might Help You

I have written in several venues on these topics but believe they are too important not to repeat here. Please pass this information along to others who might benefit.

First, anyone who is on an SSRI type antidepressant should know they are only effective for a few years and possibly only one or two years. You should change to another SSRI every few years to ensure major depression is under control. I had been on Cymbalta for more than four years and have been trying to use adjunct antidepressants because I felt the Cymbalta wasn’t enough any longer. Unfortunately, this information did not come to my therapist’s attention until just before I admitted myself to The Center for trauma disorders recently. And obviously, my psychiatrist was also unaware of such research.

The Center switched me over to Pristiq which is similar to Cymbalta but now I must wait about 4 to 6 weeks for it to impact my depression level. I was told I may or may not be able to return to Cymbalta after the Pristiq runs its course. It depends on the individual.

Second, when an abuser parent dies, it can wreak havoc with the trauma survivor. I expected huge relief but, for me, the death was a trigger for suicide programming which actually worked. The attempt failed but the part did take over and overdosed. About five of the 12 people at the trauma center had experienced the recent death of an abuser parent.

My suggestion is to know the unexpected can happen and have a safety plan thought out and/or written down if you are a survivor with a living abuser parent. Some survivors do experience the relief and safety. The trauma treatment team at The Center was well educated about the impact of the death of an abuser. Am not sure why I didn’t know.

What also bears repeating is that there are only three reputable places in the country at the moment that treat DID, let alone programming. Possibly there are more. I am most familiar with Sheppard Pratt in Towson, MD, and The Center (PIW-DC) in Washington, DC. Actually, I hadn’t been aware of The Center until my therapist suggested it for me after the overdose. I knew I had programming to keep up attempts by different methods until I succeeded. I needed a safe place.

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Because of fears by the False Memory Syndrome Foundation suing therapists who treat DID, many of the country’s facilities have shut down in the past 20 years. This is a very sad reality for the many survivors of long-term childhood abuse. It is also a stance supported by the insurance companies. I have to say I was fortunate to be covered by a company that considered The Center to be “in network”.

The country’s mindset needs to change for more help to be available for those with dissociative disorders and survivors of abuse without dissociation. Treating trauma is a specialized area of care. I often wonder which celebrity will take up this cause on our behalf. The FMSF seems to have unlimited funds to prevent any effective offense.

At least we have blogs and Facebook and Twitter to share such information. What we really need is help, not just in facilities but in the number of therapists and psychiatrists who treat and/or understand dissociation properly. Central PA had no psychiatrists to whom I could refer clients when I was still practicing in 2007 who would see dissociative clients. And I think I was the last therapist who had availability to see new clients with dissociative disorders. If this is representative for most of America, it is tragic. Abusers win. Abusers with money can change the status quo.

After my recent experience, I wonder how many suicides could have been prevented if there were more facilities to treat trauma survivors when they are in crises. It is true that our traumatic upbringing makes us a likely population to end our own lives when we become too overwhelmed. Every time one of us suicides, the abusers win. I’ll have to hold onto that thought to keep me going until my new antidepressant kicks in.

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