This is a story about what you get when you put together body work, psychopharmacology, lots of trauma therapy, and one very tired woman.
These days I’m almost standing back on my feet again after six or seven weeks of lying around the house either in utter despair or riding out the wild roller coaster of medication changes. The one thing that hasn’t smoothed out yet is sleeping at night. Tabitha has been responsive and helpful, and we’ve experimented with amitriptyline, melatonin, muscle relaxers, Benedryl, benzos… a lot. Usually I either can’t sleep at all, or I sleep restlessly and can’t wake up the next day. Some days I haven’t been able to do much of anything until 4 in the afternoon.
Can you imagine if I hadn’t quit my job last September? My life would be caving in. Sometimes I feel afraid of what lies ahead. Will we ever get this figured out enough for me to work regularly again?
Last night I tried muscle relaxants (cyclobenzaprine) for the first time. I didn’t sleep until late and as usual woke up at 3:00, at 3:30, at 4:00, at 5:00… but each time I went back to sleep easily. Such a relief not to toss and turn, hot and uncomfortable for hours.
Awake but not yet up out of bed this morning, I could feel that my body was unusually relaxed. I moved my leg just a little, and it started shaking a lot. It reminded me of the tremors from the TRE (Tension & Trauma Releasing Exercises) class I took last fall. I found that by just moving my knees a little bit, I could stimulate a very intense form of the tremors the class taught us to create in our own bodies. As usual, it felt freeing to let me body shake so hard–and by hard, I mean if you’d seen me, you might have thought I was having a major seizure.
While I was shaking like that, I had the sense of a very young part of myself saying, “Grandpa hurt me.” Clear, direct, simple. And my shaking felt like I was accepting that and letting her bring it up and shake it out.
I let it go on and on, until I could feel myself getting tired. I stopped the tremors (by firmly locking my knees straight). And then I got up.
In therapy session with E this afternoon, I told her about this in a roundabout way, first filling her in on that various sleeping experiments Tabitha and I have been conducting. Then I told her about waking up with ultra-relaxed muscles and the TRE-like tremors.
“It would be interesting to know what would happen if you deliberately thought about a traumatic memory when you were shaking like that,” she said.
“Funny you should say that…” And then I described what I’d experienced.
“That’s so amazing!” She was surprised, I think, in part because I was calm, not agitated as I so often have been if a memory or something comes up for me.
It’s not that we’ve never gone in this direction before. Once, when I was very stuck, she had us both lie on the floor and talk, and then I’d been able to say something about a very young girl and my paternal grandfather. But I never went anywhere with that (except to my usual quicksand pit: “I don’t know if it really happened… I probably made it up… I’m so terrible…”).
Today I don’t have strong urges to push the idea away from me and deny it every happened. But I do see myself allowing some distance–oh, that happened to her, the girl. Not to me. Maybe that’s healthy? Maybe that’s why I don’t feel any waves of fear, disgust or shame?
All I really feel is exhausted; I’m both sleepy and feel like I’ve had an intense lower body workout. I’m ready to crawl back in bed already (9pm). However, we are leaving tomorrow to visit my husband’s family for 10 days, so I need to pack and prepare for a 10-hour flight, jet lag, and spending time in other people’s homes, on their schedules. Since Tabitha and I still haven’t found a reliable resolution to my seep challenges, I’m a bit nervous about how this will play out. Who knows, maybe I’ll be lucky and find that a 9-hour time difference is exactly what I need to kick me out of my insomniac behavior?