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Taming the beast

23 May, 2013

Today had me back with J and she was raring to get started on PTSD treatment. Eek!

I could tell from my fidgeting and inner tension I wanted to “flight” this moment of impending doom. (Even now thinking about it tears well in my eyes.)

J was all about setting up a safety net though and finding my “SUDS score”. Words went flying about with minor understanding as I enter this new world.

So I moved over to the computer screen to be hooked up to a biometric thing called an “E-wave”, clipping a sensor onto my ear and holding my thumb on a box.

Then we watched “traffic lights” as I tried to “relax” and get the colours to green which signified an non-aroused state.

That bit was fine, focused on breathing, going to a “happy place” (where is that exactly?!), thinking warm thoughts.

Then the next bit which I struggled with. Flying a hot air balloon around the world. The more you’re in the green (like the previous exercise) the higher and faster the balloon travels.

The graphics were basic as you get brought over mountains, through storms, across deserts (where camels went faster than me as I was in the red).

Along with the changing scenes is music which changes in tempo and volume.

What threw me out after I’d first got “green” and my balloon flying was a storm front, then it was the music change to something that felt ominous.

I struggled with my focus so much. I was conscious of gripping the E-wave in my hand tensely. Finally the ten minutes were done and I was thankful I wouldn’t have to see the camels overtake the balloon again.

J thought that maybe this exercise was not going to be the best for me to master but we’ll be plugging me into the E-wave each session to see how I’m travelling.

Another thing J wanted me to do was find my “SUDS Score” (Subjective Units of Distress Scale). In a book J suggested I get (I’ve bought it on Kindle), The PTSD Workbook by Soili Poijula and Mary Beth Williams, they had a SUDS range of 1-11.

J asked how my SUDS score might be and I said 8 or 9 (quite distressed). It’s something J wants me to keep an eye on. After seeing the workbook I think I might buy a little notebook I can slide into my iPad case so it’s close by when I read through the exercises.

We wrapped up doing a breathing technique from Smiling Minds which was easier for me to do.

After I’d finished with J I went to talk to my immediate supervisor about leave details. He spotted the pages I’d been given on the SUDS score and I said it was just one more thing for me to work on.

He was amazing though, saying he’s been in the job 27 years and seen a bit himself and there is no way anyone could do our job and not be scarred by it along the way somehow and how PTSD was a “normal” reaction.

He’s one of the few in the job that I trust (with my thoughts) and we talked briefly about how there are jobs we deal with that we just don’t want to share with family as we want to protect them from the horrible things.

It was refreshing to have the understanding. I’ve sent him an email to thank him for such a simple conversation.

My head is still a bit addled by dabbling too close to the unwanted but laughing with colleagues later and even being there after an upsetting phone call for one of the girls made me grateful for my colleagues.

Bed soon


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