It’s my 50th college reunion next year. I have no wish to go, but I wrote a piece for the record book. Thought I might as well post it here.
I was nearly sixty when I realized I had been living with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This was the root of many long severe depressions, periods of terror, several breakdowns. Medication made a big difference, I felt so much better, life was so much easier, and I couldn’t remember ever feeling this way. That lasted as long as I kept to a life that was limited by what my depression could endure, but as soon as I started trying to have a larger life, things got tough again.
A friend whose life had been improved by doing Somatic Experiencing, a method of healing trauma developed by Peter Levine, kept insisting that I had also been traumatized. I thought that wasn’t possible, since even though both my parents were alcoholics, neither of them was violent. Finally, I started reading Peter Levine’s book, Waking the Tiger, where he describes his research into the physiology of trauma, and how animals heal. Peter Levine says an infant can be traumatized by being left alone in a cold room. I was forced to acknowledge that I had all the symptoms of PTSD, except for visual flashbacks. As I began working with Somatic Experiencing practitioners, I started to realize that the times when I felt helpless and hopeless were emotional “flashbacks” to infancy. In order to heal, I had to learn a lot about the physiology of trauma. I’ve worked with five different practitioners, and am enormously grateful to Caryn McHose in Holderness, New Hampshire, for the level of healing I’ve been able to do.
Two years ago I started writing a blog. It’s on WordPress and the URL is jennydeupree.com. I’ve put all this information in the Record Book in case it turns out to be helpful for anyone who has been struggling with the symptoms without knowing what was happening.