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  • Help, advice, other stories?

    Hello everyone,
    So, I have a problem going to the gynecologist. I was sexually abused as a child (an isolated incident), and yes, I have gone to years of psychological help. Thing is, I'm still terrified of going to the gynecologist. The first time I went was to get the pill, and when I told HER (I cannot have any type of male doctors) about what had happened when I was young, she agreed to give me a year's prescription for the pill without an exam. The following year, I went back to renew the prescription and get the exam done. I thought I would be okay, since I'd had an extra year of therapy, but no.
    As soon as she handed me the paper gown and shut the door, I had a panic attack and had to call my mom to come pick me up at the office. Needless to say, we rescheduled the appointment. My gynecologist prescribed me one valium to take an hour before the next visit, because she said it would calm me down.
    I was delirious. I barely remember going at all. I can only remember crying and my mom driving me home. I really don't want this to be the only way I can have exams done.

    Do you have any suggestions? How can I think of this differently? If you had fears about the gynecologist at one time, how did you get over it?
    Even if you don't think you can say anything to help me, I'd like to hear other stories from you about overcoming any kind of initial fears regarding the gynecologist.
    Thanks!
    sigpic

  • Having dealt with some trauma myself I have some questions, if you aren't comfortable with any of this please say so.

    How old were you when you were molested?
    How old are you now?
    Why is the doctors office such a focus? Is that related to the molestation or to the aftermath?
    I'm not a psychologist but have had some experience with counseling. I'm concerned when someone has spent a lot of time in therapy and is still so traumatized. A good counselor can be a huge help but a poor one (and there a quite a few) can do more damage than good. The reactions of the people around us can be sometimes more traumatic than the event. Every one is different and handles things in a different way. The purpose therapy (I believe) should be to give you coping mechanisms to move forward.

    What piques my curiosity is that the office visit evokes such a strong response, yet you are apparently sexually active? Or did you want to be on the pill for some other reason?

    Working on your self talk can help. I used to be very clastrophobic as a result of an abuse situation (placed in a small school locker all day by a teacher). I would have panic attacks when I was closed in - not just small spaces, once at an outdoor concert when they opened the gates the crush of the crowd around me caused me to panic. I lost the abilty to speak, ended up in the first aid tent, they thought I was ODing and I couldn't talk or stop sobbing to explain. In retrospect it had a humorous side but at the time was no fun! While I still avoid situations that are likely to be hight stress in that manner, I can now tollerate stuff I couldn't before. I've gone into small crawl spaces, attic spaces,and closets with the door closed. I can even tollerate crowds. Part of this is from my self talk and part from learning to use focused breathing.

    The self talk I used was telling myself that I am in control of this situation, I can leave it any time, Mrs. Emmons isn't here - I'm all grown up and she can't bother me, I am doing this because I chose to. The breathing involves focusing on that rather than on where I am. Breath through the fear. Focus on getting and controlling your breath, it is calming and helps you get centered and focused.

    Have someone calm, whom you trust with you for a couple visits. Have them hold your hand and talk with you. Distraction can be a great tool. I'll bet if you do this a couple times, then just have someone with you but not holding your hand, you will get to the point that you can handle it on your own. You can do this! Be gentle with yourself but firm. You are letting one little part of your mind take over and you have to quiet that part. You might try talking with your doc, tell her what you are dealing with and see if you could spend some time in the waiting room (no appt) and then some time in a examination room when you don't have an appointment. Just read a book for a little while? Sit and chat with a freind? Just to get some comfortable experiences there? Then get a couple of the paper gowns to take home. Try wearing them there. Laugh at yourself in the mirror (they look pretty unflattering don't they? Just get comfortable with that in a 'safe' place? Then it should be easier to put it all together without so much reaction. In the docs office you can tell yourself (self talk) I've been here before, read a book, no problem, worn these before, sure look silly. Don't focus on what you won't do. "I won't freak out" because all your brain will hear is "freak out" Focus on what you will do.

    Get a copy of Shad Helstatter's book, What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, I think you'll find it helpful in understanding better how your brain works.

    It won't happen over night but you can get past this! Stick with it.

    Comment


    • Originally posted by WildChild View Post
      Having dealt with some trauma myself I have some questions, if you aren't comfortable with any of this please say so.

      How old were you when you were molested?
      I was around seven or eight years old. The memory is repressed, so I don't recall exactly.
      How old are you now?
      I'm nineteen.
      Why is the doctors office such a focus? Is that related to the molestation or to the aftermath?
      I'm not sure. What happened to me happened in a small side room to the chapel of a church. I find that the kinds of people that set me off have little things in common with the molester.
      He was the son of my kindergarten, first, and second grade teacher. She taught me for three years, and I really liked her. I trusted her. I thought I could trust her son when he came around to Sunday School to help out, but you can see how this turned out. Needless to say, I'm no longer religious.
      I think doctors and such people set it off because we're all supposed to trust them based solely on what they do. I am not quick to trust anyone anymore. I don't accept the "she's a professional, you can trust her" bit, and I think it has to do with relationships I had at the time of the assault.
      I'm not a psychologist but have had some experience with counseling. I'm concerned when someone has spent a lot of time in therapy and is still so traumatized. A good counselor can be a huge help but a poor one (and there a quite a few) can do more damage than good. The reactions of the people around us can be sometimes more traumatic than the event. Every one is different and handles things in a different way. The purpose therapy (I believe) should be to give you coping mechanisms to move forward.

      What piques my curiosity is that the office visit evokes such a strong response, yet you are apparently sexually active? Or did you want to be on the pill for some other reason?
      Yes, I'm sexually active. The first time I had sex, I had dated my boyfriend for two and a half years. I had come to trust him.
      Same with my current boyfriend. We had dated for quite some time before I trusted him enough for close intimacy.
      Problem is, I don't trust doctors.

      Working on your self talk can help. I used to be very clastrophobic as a result of an abuse situation (placed in a small school locker all day by a teacher). I would have panic attacks when I was closed in - not just small spaces, once at an outdoor concert when they opened the gates the crush of the crowd around me caused me to panic. I lost the abilty to speak, ended up in the first aid tent, they thought I was ODing and I couldn't talk or stop sobbing to explain. In retrospect it had a humorous side but at the time was no fun! While I still avoid situations that are likely to be hight stress in that manner, I can now tollerate stuff I couldn't before. I've gone into small crawl spaces, attic spaces,and closets with the door closed. I can even tollerate crowds. Part of this is from my self talk and part from learning to use focused breathing.

      The self talk I used was telling myself that I am in control of this situation, I can leave it any time, Mrs. Emmons isn't here - I'm all grown up and she can't bother me, I am doing this because I chose to. The breathing involves focusing on that rather than on where I am. Breath through the fear. Focus on getting and controlling your breath, it is calming and helps you get centered and focused.

      Have someone calm, whom you trust with you for a couple visits. Have them hold your hand and talk with you. Distraction can be a great tool. I'll bet if you do this a couple times, then just have someone with you but not holding your hand, you will get to the point that you can handle it on your own. You can do this! Be gentle with yourself but firm. You are letting one little part of your mind take over and you have to quiet that part. You might try talking with your doc, tell her what you are dealing with and see if you could spend some time in the waiting room (no appt) and then some time in a examination room when you don't have an appointment. Just read a book for a little while? Sit and chat with a freind? Just to get some comfortable experiences there? Then get a couple of the paper gowns to take home. Try wearing them there. Laugh at yourself in the mirror (they look pretty unflattering don't they? Just get comfortable with that in a 'safe' place? Then it should be easier to put it all together without so much reaction. In the docs office you can tell yourself (self talk) I've been here before, read a book, no problem, worn these before, sure look silly. Don't focus on what you won't do. "I won't freak out" because all your brain will hear is "freak out" Focus on what you will do.

      Get a copy of Shad Helstatter's book, What To Say When You Talk To Yourself, I think you'll find it helpful in understanding better how your brain works.

      It won't happen over night but you can get past this! Stick with it.
      Thank you so much for this! I'll see about trying some of it, and looking into the book. Thanks again!
      sigpic

      Comment


      • Amarathine, I understand how you feel about being hurt by the people you are supposed to be able to trust. This happened to me in my childhood and as an adult last year... and you can lose faith in humanity in general, but that isn't the healthiest response, so you have to try to restore some of your own hope that most people are generally good.

        Gyno exams are crucial for women and something that you will be hurting yourself by not having them done so its important to find away to see it as medically as you do any other check up. Maybe bring your mom or a close friend to be in the room with you, and asking them about the valium again before your visit is also a good idea.

        I sympathise with everything you have went through and will continue to go through as a result of what someone else did, but you have to try to not give them control over you anymore, what they did is keeping you from going and getting important check ups.. and everytime you go through with them, you can pat yourself on the back, every step forward , even the small ones.. is a victory.
        Scars remind us of where we've been...they don't have to dictate where we're going.

        Comment


        • The whole thing of repressed memory is tricky. There is a lot of controversy about it. I have experienced it related to rape. I remember parts of the experience vividly but have a couple of blank spots. The situation may have been much worse than what I do remember or I 'lost' some minor memory of something insignificant. I will probably never know. I may think I was raped by one guy, with the assistance of 7 others or I may have been raped by some of the others as well, knowing wouldn't change anything in my life today. Knowing wouldn't help me in any way and I don't waste any energy on it. It is simply an event in my life. When I talk about it, it is with the purpose of helping others talk about what has happened to them.

          I fell and skinned my knees many times - still ride a bike, I've burned myself a number of times - still bake, iron and light fires (burned off my eyebrows once lighting a pilot light LOL). I was stalked and part of that experience left me skittish about looking out of windows at night for a while - I can do it now (it's kind of un-nerving to look out and see a face looking in). I bet you and everyone on here could list a number of traumas and some would leave you wondering; why would that bother anyone so much, others would have you wondering how someone could be a functional human being after that? Viktor Frankel's book, Man's Search For Meaning, is a wonderful book for this. As a psychologist, he examined his own and other's experiences in the death camps, he looked at why some people came through it and were able to go on and rebuild their lives and why others literally lay down and died. When you think of what some have lived through, it really puts your own experiences in perspective. For myself, it has been a help, I won't immerse myself in such stories but knowing that others have been through such horror and still kept the ability to love and grow and live productive lives, motivates me to do the same with my own much less traumatic experiences.

          The mind is both complex and simple, it can't tell difference between a real event and for example, a movie we react strongly to. The chemical responses triggered in the brain and body are the same. That is why the whole thing of working with kids is tricky. Therapists have, by the type of questions they ask, how they ask them, actually created "memory" of abuses. This was a big issue in the 80s. That and my own experiences are why I believe the most important thing is to simply accept whatever is the issue because regardless of what did or didn't happen it's real to you and your response is real, so you have to find methods of bypassing or coping and move on.

          I'm an analyser. I seek understanding and perspective which is part of my coping mechanism. I know this wouldn't work for everyone but sometimes being able to tell yourself, what you are doing (naming it) can help you step back just enough to keep it from messing you up. This might help you too, if you care to give it a try.

          Comment

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