I am now half-way through the PTSR (Program for Traumatic Stress Recovery) at the Homewood Health Centre and it feels like it only started yesterday.
One thing this environment offers is a place I share with 30 peers who have personal experiences that are similar to my own to a certain degree. It creates a space in which I can express myself in an open and safe manner, without worrying about being judged or misunderstood. In this context, and through discussions and exchanges of ideas with both co-patients and professional staff, I am learning a lot by seeing things from a different perspective.
I have hidden my emotions my whole life, not only from others but also from myself
The strategies we are learning here are based on DBT (Dialectical Behaviour Therapy) and are meant to challenge deeply ingrained thought patterns. In this light, I realise that I am in for an uphill battle, and a big part of it will take some time.
The two challenges I face are the following:
Being aware of my emotions: I have hidden my emotions my whole life, not only from others but also from myself. As a result, I am completely out of touch with my inner feelings and experiencing or even describing my own emotions is something I am incapable of doing. I have to learn to feel, and the way to do it is by being mindful. Mindfulness – living in the present moment and being aware of myself as well as the world that surrounds me – takes practice, and I have barely touched the surface. I strongly believe that awareness is the key to the success of my recovery. I have to be patient and I am convinced that over time I will learn to be more in tune with myself.
Once I am able to observe what is happening inside of me, I will be in a position to apply the techniques and strategies I am learning in order to shift and reshape the way I respond to the world, to other people, and to my own inner experience. This second step, which I can try and start to put into practice as I am also doing step 1, will probably take years to yield noticeable results, but I am hopeful that I will one day be able to reach a point where I can finally have better control and understanding of my emotions, and respond adequately so that I can fulfill my needs in a healthy fashion.
This means that at the term of these two months at Homewood, the PTSR program will have provided me with skills and tools that I will be able to use in my daily life, but it also means that we should not expect me to be miraculously fixed when I walk out of the Homewood Health Centre premises.
The end of the PTSR treatment will mark the beginning of a new journey, one that may take a lifetime, but one that will eventually lead to the reward of a better life for myself and my loved ones.