Debra* is a 65-year-old female who has struggled with maintaining social and personal relationships. Her past is filled with traumatic physical, emotional, and sexual abuse from her family. In addition to her abuse, Debra’s mother also died young at the age of 42, resulting in Debra raising two of her six siblings who had complex medical difficulties.
When she first started as a client at Nexus-Gerard’s Outpatient/Community Mental Health Services, Debra was not able to process or talk about her abuse at any length, but she was suffering from panic attacks, anger, high anxiety, high depression, social isolation, hopelessness, irritability, racing thoughts, flashbacks, and sleep disturbances. She also did not feel present in her marriage and had a history of alcohol abuse.
Finding Ways to Cope
Throughout her work in therapy, Debra participated in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to process negative thought patterns and develop coping skills. Trauma narratives and talk therapy helped her forgive those who abused her and gain insight into her past experiences.
Debra also learned how to track her mood daily to continuously evaluate the impact of how her mood and history of trauma affected her everyday life. In one instance, she felt as though she was still clinging to the side of a building (where she was once abused) and after successfully completing therapy, she is now able to stand at the top of the building, looking down at herself and move on with her life.
Life after Therapy
After ten dedicated months of therapy, Debra was able to process her mother’s death, the loss of her own personal childhood, and all of her past abuse. She has since reconnected with her husband and found love in her marriage once again. Debra’s insight and willingness throughout therapy helped her work through her past and address negative thought patterns. She now has a more positive relationship with her family, is free from anxiety, and is planning vacations with her husband.
*Name and some details have been changed to protect privacy.