I have to say, having completed my first full day at college plus travelling (by wheelchair), I’d forgotten how exhausting it all is, having not done it for many years. I got caught in the rush-hour. I haven’t had the ‘pleasure’ of that for years, thankfully!
I arrived at college early so had time to have a much-needed coffee which always calms me down if I’m feeling anxious (I know that goes against all the health guidelines about caffeine but it works for me!). The course started at 10am. It was really strange being amongst other people in a learning environment. It’s been many years since I’ve been in a classroom of any type. I took notes on my laptop because of my physical inability to write. The topic was interesting…Food and Mood of which, having been anorexic, I thought I was an expert on! But this wasn’t about calories and kilos but about the chemical changes that take place in your brain and how that ties in with nutrition. There was only five of us given that a couple of people were away sick and another couple had backed out at the last moment. I was pleased in a way as I find working in a large group too impersonal.
We stopped for a lunch break and I got chatting to two of the other students over coffee (and a banana, my lunch!). We got on really well and swapped phone numbers so we could stay in touch and in fact, I have already spoken to one of the girls from there this evening which was nice.
Then came the afternoon group (a totally different ‘kettle of fish’ altogether). I felt intimidated both by the size of the class and also by the tutor who seemed very unapproachable and obviously wasn’t used to working in a mental health environment despite the fact we were studying NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) which is a type of therapy or way of managing life. Useful? Yes. Interesting? Yes. Interaction between students and rapport with tutor? No.
We were working through several leaflets, handouts and books, breaking NLP down into various sections. I found it quite fascinating and could connect with most of what was being said or studied. But suddenly i was overcome and shocked by a flood of unexpected feelings which left me completely paralyzed and locked in my own little world. Why? Because we’d turned the page and the not-so-approachable tutor announced that we were going to talk about triggers!! She was apparently referring to positive triggers like evocative memories of music, smell, feelings etc. I was ‘gone’ by then….flashbacks flooded through me, memories of abuse including smell, touch etc suffocated me. She mentioned pleasant scenes from the past being positive but all that was going through my head by then were very negative, abusive, terrifying scenes from the past. I found myself holding my breath; my eyes welling up; my body shaking and then the PTSD took over and I had a full-blown panic attack followed by uncontrollable sobbing.
I managed to wheel out of there into the kitchen, swiftly followed by one of the students I’d got chatting to earlier who made me a coffee and sat with me for a while, for which I was very grateful. I couldn’t go back in to rejoin the class though as I was too shaken. I really hadn’t foreseen that one coming. However, on a positive note, I’m not giving up. I’m going back on Thursday to have another go, including tackling the NLP group as this time I will be prepared, just in case, although the centre of the topic will have probably moved on by then but if not, I will stay with it and not let my abusers prevent me from furthering my education as they did as a child.
I will have a future and move on from being held back by my past. I will not let those bastards win. This time, I will beat them!