The Price Of Trauma

It’s been a complicated, stressful, and emotionally messy week. ‘No change there, then’, I hear you say! To be honest, I thought I was close reaching my breaking point these last few weeks. It’s certainly felt like I was at rock bottom – but as it turns out, there was a hidden trapdoor I didn’t know anything about just waiting to spring open and give that extra little bit of depth and doom to plummet down into. I really need to stop saying, ‘how much worse can it get?’ because invariably the universe seems to think I am issuing it some kind of challenge.

My wife came home sick late last week with a fever and by early Monday morning we got the confirmation that it’s COVID – we knew anyway, the rapid deterioration and the developing symptoms were there and clear to see. This is unbelievably stressful on many levels- she’s actually very unwell with it, struggling to breathe and I can see that’s she’s scared – and nurses don’t tend to get scared with health stuff because they’ve seen so much shit in their careers that they shrug most stuff of as ‘you’re not dying so you’re fine!’ To see my wife in tears via FaceTime (because she’s isolating) is heart breaking. She is the solid rock in this household and suddenly she’s more like a jelly than a chunky bit of granite.

I’m trying not to let myself run away with what could happen but it’s hard not to – you all know what I am like. I know it won’t help anyone if I start catastrophising and so I keep on keeping on because I have to hold it together and remain calm for the kids, but there are things that are a disaster already just a week in. Like me, if my wife doesn’t work, she doesn’t get paid. She doesn’t get sick pay in her job and SSP doesn’t come anywhere close to covering what’s not coming in from her salary. So, once again, we are on a really financially precarious footing. We’re still not recovered from her losing her job last year and every day she’s not in work is another bill that becomes a challenge. Like many people in their 30’s and 40’s we have no savings and a lot of unsecured debt.

I text and cancelled my Monday session with Anita on Friday because that’s the only area where I can cut anything from our budget– everything else is already on a knife edge, every pound accounted for. It felt rubbish because, now more than ever, I really need my sessions. I am not in therapy twice a week because it’s ‘something to do’ I am there because without it I don’t function. Therapy is a huge part of my maintenance plan but also my fucking healing!

I really hate that mental healthcare is so exclusive and based on your ability to pay for it. I hate that my system is so traumatised that without that routine of my Monday and Friday sessions I swiftly fall into a place where I don’t cope. I did once-a-week sessions for years with Em and it was horrific for those young parts that just don’t have any sense of object constancy. I spent the whole time anxious and spiralling in the abyss between the appointments. Twice a week is much better but even that’s not perfect.

I know I am not the only one that feels like this. I feel angry that I am saddled with the bill for trauma that was done to me and it’s the reality for so many of us we’re left footing this enormous bill. When you exhaust your ‘quota’ of NHS therapy you’re left to manage by yourself. Discharged. ‘Goodbye and good luck!’ A lifetime of trauma doesn’t just get resolved in 12 months of once-a-week sessions with a psychologist (and that’s if you are even lucky enough to be given that and not just 6 sessions of CBT). When I start reeling off my history and the coping mechanisms I have built over the years it’s clear as day that this isn’t short-term work.

So what do you do when you hit the end of your NHS entitlement? Essentially, you’re faced with a choice – accept that this is the best it’s going to be for you or take on the equivalent of another mortgage to try and help yourself some more…and cut everything unnecessary out of life to facilitate it.

It’s insane.

If you had a broken leg that wasn’t healed the hospital wouldn’t say, ‘well, you’ve had one cast, and that’s your lot – hobble on’, they’d look again at how to try and mend you. When I had cancer they didn’t say, ‘We thought based on your initial scans that you would need 8 rounds of chemo. However, looking at your most recent scan we can see the treatment is working and the tumour is shrinking but the cancer’s still there. We now think you need another 4 rounds of chemo and radiotherapy, but tough, we don’t have the budget…’ I mean, can you even imagine? – Of course they booked me in for more chemo and the radiotherapy and because of this I am still here. And yet when it comes to mental health it’s tough shit and that withdrawal of support feels so abandoning and rejecting which again taps into a lot of the trauma for childhood – not being worthy of care and support, being too much etc.

It’s hideous, really.

It stresses me out to think about how much debt we have accrued over the years just so I can go to therapy. Sometimes it feels counterintuitive because the financial lack of safety negates the benefit of therapy. I hate feeling unsafe and financial insecurity really impacts my well-being. I panic about money a lot. I take on more and more work to try and cover the shortfall but in turn I feel exhausted and burnt out. It’s a vicious cycle but I literally don’t know what else to do.

My wife can never understand how we never have any money when we both work so hard, don’t drink, don’t eat out, don’t socialise, don’t buy presents for each other even at Christmas and birthdays. We make sure the kids have what they need but it stresses me out when their feet grow or they need new clothes (which seems to be all the time!). Our holidays (which we didn’t have any at all for 6 years) go on credit cards piling on the mountain of existing debt. It’s hard to explain to her that all this is down to the fact that she is married to a basket case whose system is so fucked that therapy is like life support.

I feel bad about it, but what’s the alternative?

Anita text me on Sunday evening to see how I was and said we could do our session if I wanted and arrange payment later. When I cancelled my session with her I told her that we just couldn’t afford it. I declined her off because it’s not like there’s a magic money tree in the garden that I can shake in a few week’s time and miraculously find another £50 hanging off a branch. It was kind of her to offer but really it just moves the problem.

We got confirmation in the early hours of Monday morning that my wife did have COVID and by Monday lunchtime she had deteriorated so much that I text A in a panic and asked if we could check in during the week. Maybe there’s a treasure chest lurking under the patio?! Suddenly, everything just felt really unsafe and out of control because the COVID diagnosis directly impacted another medical procedure and ugh…it’s just too precarious…but of course it also sent my brain on ‘we just cannot afford this’.

Anita and I fixed up a time to talk on Wednesday and I just ploughed on in survival mode – feeling increasingly ‘not ok’ and also panicky and disconnected from A. The last session we had face-to-face had been a nightmare for my system and the fallout from it has been huge. I feel like I am just fizzing with nervous energy. My nervous system is wound up like a tight spring and I feel like I am going to either explode or collapse soon.

I have been trying hard to look after myself through all this – eating properly etc (which is a fucking miracle given my ‘go to’ under stress is to starve myself) but even with self-care I was totally done in and exhausted by Tuesday evening and took myself to bed early – like 8pm. I couldn’t sleep, though. My brain was whirring and I just felt like talking to Anita online was going to make everything worse. I have been hanging it together with rubber bands and chewing gum but this is only possible because the child parts have been locked away. There was a very real possibility that an online session could trigger them, there’s no space here right now, no privacy I could end up falling down another trapdoor.

I felt incredibly unsettled – so much so – that I text Anita at 10pm to cancel our session:

A, I’m really sorry but I don’t think I can do tomorrow. I’m sorry it’s short notice to cancel. Things here are really hard and I just haven’t stopped running since Friday. I’m completely exhausted, stressed out, and drowning. Tomorrow is my crazy busy day and we’ll be up home-schooling from 7am. I can’t see how I can fit it is and talk to you – there’s no private space to speak to you either. I can’t escape to my room.

Also, I know that I am on my edge and as much as I want to talk to you, I think given how bad things feel it might actually make things worse because distance doesn’t help and I feel really far away from you already. It’s that thing where my brain doesn’t even think you exist or believes you are dead. I’ve sort of thrown all the non-coping parts in the cupboard because I can’t do my life right now. I need to be armoured.

I don’t know if you got the email I sent you last week but it’s very much in the needing to survive it by going it alone. I know that that’s not ideal but, actually, I can’t give space to the parts that are terrified and spiralling because I can do nothing for them – but what I can do is not trigger myself further by putting a screen between us. I cannot afford to fall apart. I hope you understand. X

She replied a little later with:

I am so so sorry to read your message and do totally understand. Please do let me know if there is anything I can do to help. Think of you with lots of love xx

I didn’t reply as it was 11pm and there was nothing to say anyway.

I could not sleep despite being absolutely exhausted. I tossed and turned and felt absolutely awful. My brain wasn’t consciously thinking of anything but my body just would not relax. I got cramp in my feet. I felt hot and cold. The anxiety was horrendous. That feeling of falling through the black abyss, the young stuff about being unsafe and uncontained was massively activated but it wasn’t really in regard to Anita even though I felt somewhat disconnected from her. It was 4:45am the last time that I looked at the clock and then I finally fell asleep for an hour and promptly had a plane crash dream (and have had it every night since).

I woke up feeling terrified and my heart was racing. And then my brain clicked. 20th January. A year since the horrible session when Em compared me to a tick, and the session that led to our termination on the 3rd February. This time last year was absolutely fucking horrific. It’s been on my radar that January was the anniversary of it all going to shit but somehow the date of ‘tick gate’ crept up on me. Of course, I am worried and stressed about the here and now but there’s also a big undercurrent of anxiety about this stuff with Em and that, I think is why I feel like everything is life and death. It’s that early annihilation stuff being tapped into.

I responded to Anita’s text when I woke up. Honestly – I’m like the tide changing all the time. I briefly outlined what I had realised when I woke up and asked if we could speak at the time we had arranged. We spoke yesterday for half and hour. It was very adult and I didn’t mention any of the stuff about Em or the attachment stuff or feeling disconnected because opening it up didn’t feel like a brilliant idea given I had a solid run of 10 hours ahead of me juggling my kids and teaching my lessons. However, it was connecting enough and I am so glad I have her in my corner.

I don’t know when I will get to see Anita face-to-face again. I have to isolate until Sunday and so far, I feel fine…so fingers crossed I don’t get sick, too. But ugh. It’s all too much stress not knowing how things are going to work out and money…fucking money man…

I know this is just a rant but actually I realised that money is such a huge thing and I know for a fact that I am not the only one struggling with the price of trauma – and therefore the price of therapy. I think what’s hard, too, is that we value our therapists so much that it’s not a case of thinking the therapy is ‘too expensive’ or ‘not worth it’ – it’s just simply unaffordable sometimes and that’s far from ideal when you REALLY NEED IT! It’s not easy to talk about this, either. I feel incredible amounts of shame around being unable to afford therapy – and this leads to all the stuff about not being worthy of it, deserving of it, good enough…it’s a vicious cycle but then £100-150 a week for years and years and years is just not realistic for lots of us is it? But like I said before, what other options are there?

I hate to be so doom and gloom but I just feel rubbish right now.

x

31 thoughts on “The Price Of Trauma

  1. CB January 21, 2021 / 11:08 pm

    Sending you SO MUCH LOVE 💜 this is heartbreaking to read. I so get the money thing, it’s not about whether therapy is worth that money because it is, it’s that we just can’t afford it for all these years. You know where I am if you need and it helps 💜💜

    Liked by 2 people

  2. LovingSummer January 21, 2021 / 11:18 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear how hard this is for you at the moment. If only there was something I could do to help you in your pain.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. easetheride January 22, 2021 / 1:38 am

    What a heartbreaking situation! I too understand how therapy can be like a lifetime, so when that’s taken away of course you’re left to pick up the pieces. It sounds like so much is going wrong for you right now, when all you deserve is for them to go right. I hope that therapy can stay a part of your routine and you figure it out financially. That shouldn’t be a legit reason not to get help and yet it so much is.

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 22, 2021 / 9:11 am

      Yeah. Totally. It’s just so hard juggling. Hopefully things will pick up in a week or so and wife will be able to return to work… but right now she can’t even get out of bed 😬

      Liked by 1 person

  4. slantgirl January 22, 2021 / 2:02 am

    RB!! That’s just so hard. First, I’m so sorry your wife is ill with COVID! I hope she is on her way to recovery.. and the $$$. Yeah, I so hear you on that – knowing it’s worth it, doing whatever you can to make it happen, knowing my trauma means my family cuts corners. It’s re-traumatizing! I hope things return to normal soon.

    Liked by 3 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 22, 2021 / 9:13 am

      Thank you 😊. I think it’s a big thing that is not really acknowledged about therapy. I mean there’s a lot of literature about therapy costing enough to be a solid commitment but actually it really isn’t talked about from the perspective of the client who is long term and sacrificing lots of everyday pleasures. It’s not a life. And lack of financial safety is re-traumatising for sure. X

      Liked by 2 people

  5. skinnyhobbit January 22, 2021 / 10:38 am

    Is sliding scale an option? T put me on that when I couldn’t afford therapy anymore. My landlady is on sliding scale too because she doesn’t have steady income. We both do gig work and have chronic health issues so can’t work salaried full time anymore.

    I’m so sorry things have been so awful and I’m sending yous and all your parts and your loved ones love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • skinnyhobbit January 22, 2021 / 10:40 am

      I took the sliding scale out of desperation because like yous, I’d sacrificed everything else. No pleasures, no nice stuff, was crying over food costs etc.

      Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 22, 2021 / 2:50 pm

      I don’t know. I find talking about money really, really hard. I’ve occasionally brought up how things have changed for us financially in the last year- i.e wife’s new job pays £800 a month less than the last one 😳 and how she doesn’t get sick pay etc but I don’t feel like I can ask for a reduction in fees which is why I’m literally like a working spreadsheet with money in and out. From the outside we are not on a low income but our mortgage and debt servicing is epic. I would love some new underwear and clothes- and yet I’ve not bought any new jeans in a decade! Lucky for me my body hasn’t changed! Things are getting a bit worn though!! Ugh. I’m glad you were able to get on a sliding scale. X

      Liked by 1 person

      • skinnyhobbit January 22, 2021 / 3:09 pm

        My T says paying for therapy shouldn’t cause stress! I find talking about money really hard too but genuinely couldn’t afford her regular rate despite paring everything down except insurance (or I’d lose coverage).

        It’s worth trying but I get the reluctance to ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  6. behindapaintedsmile30 January 22, 2021 / 11:21 am

    I’m sorry that things have become even harder. It’s just relentless with no let up.
    Is your wife eligible for the self isolation payment? Have you thought of increasing what you charge your students? My therapist increased her fees this year. At times like these you have to pass the cost onto the customer.
    I hope your wife feels better soon and the financial pressure eases even just a little. x

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 22, 2021 / 2:54 pm

      Thanks lovely. I’m done in. I don’t know if she’d be eligible to isolation payment because she’d her ssp – I can’t imagine they’d give both. The majority of my work comes through an agency and so the fees are fixed – unfortunately. But I hear what you’re saying. I’m just hoping that my wife gets better soon and that I avoid it. We can’t afford for me not to work. How are you holding up? I’m behind on blogs and don’t know if you’ve posted. It’s been so relentless here. I’m hoping to rest this weekend. Xx

      Liked by 1 person

  7. JH January 22, 2021 / 11:26 am

    I’m so sorry to hear everything that you’ve written in this post. I don’t have words, but sending all the positivity I possibly can. You are cared about by your followers on here, and hopefully you can lean on us for a bit of support to help you through. 💜

    Liked by 2 people

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 22, 2021 / 2:55 pm

      Thank you 😊- this place is so brilliant and I feel so lucky to have ‘met’ so many like-minded, supportive people. I’d never have made it through this year without you all! X

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Claire Louise January 22, 2021 / 8:20 pm

    I don’t have many words right now, but I’m sending lots of love x

    Liked by 1 person

      • Claire Louise January 23, 2021 / 5:48 pm

        Sadly had to have one of my beautiful doggies put to sleep yesterday so my heart is breaking 😢 💔

        Like

      • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 23, 2021 / 8:08 pm

        Oh love! I’m so so sorry to hear this. It’s the worst pain saying goodbye to a fur baby. Thinking of you x

        Liked by 1 person

  9. findingawaythroughthestorm January 23, 2021 / 10:19 pm

    Have you considered applying for pip? It’s not means tested so if your employed you can still apply for it. I read a therapists interview somewhere that said that might be an option for some people to help pay for it. I’ve thought about it but haven’t tried yet but I think it’s something I might look into more

    Liked by 1 person

    • rubberbandsandchewinggum January 23, 2021 / 11:40 pm

      It hadn’t even crossed my mind. Tbh I have heard so many horror stories of people trying to apply for PIP who REALLY need it and getting nowhere that I can’t see how would get it. I have funded everything privately for the last 7 years and so my GP records have no mention of mental health service requirements since I had 16 months of NHS therapy and all kinds of referrals into ED services etc. I am sure they would look at my records and say ‘well, if you were really needing it you’d be a service user and on medication’. I will look into it, though.

      Like

      • izzie33 January 28, 2021 / 12:25 am

        Definitely worth looking into PIP. Though, yes it’s hard to apply (looong form) and hard to get, but you can always drop out of the claim if it gets too much at any stage. For example lots don’t get an award until they take it to Court appeal. But if you have a read through of certain helpful forums eg. BenefitsandWork it can help you to fill in the forms and see what evidence you need to give (letter from your private T useful). It’s tough though, explaining on paper to strangers, how your trauma affects you in the here and now, so important to be mindful of that.
        Have you looked into whether you can alter your debt repayments? Change your mortgage type?
        https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/debt-advice-locator
        Clearly you are all set on budgeting if you’ve got your spreadsheets done 😉 but maybe there’s something else that can help in how much you have to pay out each month?

        Like

  10. Sara January 24, 2021 / 3:37 pm

    I am so sorry that you are enduring so much right now. I hope your wife recovers quickly. My heart is with you. 💗

    Liked by 1 person

      • Sara January 26, 2021 / 1:17 am

        Sending hugs to you. I know I’m no therapist, but I’m here and I know others on WP are as well. So keep writing and sharing and releasing some of what you are carrying. I’m thinking of you, hoping things begin to improve, and am here in any way I can support from afar. 💗

        Liked by 1 person

      • Sara January 26, 2021 / 3:12 pm

        💗💗

        Like

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