Raquel thought she was taking care of her body, but she was busy. She had a full-time job, three small children, and a prize-winning pedigree dog. She somehow managed to squeeze in volunteer work as well. Her friends would joke that she had superpowers- or had invented an extra day in the week.
When Raquel started to experience weak spells, she realized that she needed to take her health more seriously. She made sure that she was getting enough sleep, eating healthily and she started carrying a reusable water bottle wherever she went. But still, more and more frequently, she would find herself feeling dizzy and seeing stars, and sometimes she would even pass out for a few seconds.
Was it a medical problem?
Raquel went to her doctor who ordered all the necessary tests. When the bloodwork and MRI came out clear Raquel was relieved but also frustrated. The doctor asked if it could be stress-related, but Raquel said no, everything was fine, except for these episodes which were starting to cause real problems. She felt that it was too dangerous to risk having an attack while driving, so she couldn’t use her car. She was also extremely nervous to be alone with her children. Dizziness sounds minor but it was seriously unpleasant. When it hit her, Raquel felt unable to do anything except lie down and close her eyes until it was over.
Her body kept trying to get her to listen.
Even though the episodes didn’t happen every day, they started to take over Raquel’s life. She couldn’t make any plans without thinking through what would happen if she had an attack. She became hypersensitive to every twinge or discomfort in her body. In addition, she started to become more and more tense and anxious. The Doctor suggested that she keep a diary of the attacks with details about exactly what she was doing. In this way maybe they could trace a pattern and work out what might be causing the attacks on her body.
Was Raquel’s body sending her a message?
When Raquel brought back the diary a few weeks later, there were many incidents listed. The attacks included fainting on top of other shoppers in the elevator at the local mall, attacks in work meetings, and attacks when she was at home with her husband. “There’s no pattern,” sighed Raquel. The doctor looked at the list and said gently: “It never seems to happen when you’re by yourself. I know you said that this isn’t stress-related, but I recommend that you consider consulting with a mental health professional to see if there is something psychological going on here.”
Raquel came for therapy at Kav L’Noar with the simple goal of curing these attacks.
Raquel came for therapy at Kav L’Noar with the simple goal of curing these attacks. She assured the therapist that she had a great relationship with her husband. She had enjoyed a loving and uneventful upbringing. Raquel told the therapist: “I consider myself to be a balanced and well-adjusted individual. It’s true that these attacks have been making me completely crazy, but I was fine before they started. My husband is desperate for me to get back to my normal self.”
The therapist said that the body sometimes acts out what might be buried subconsciously. “Did you ever experience a trauma that might be coming out now?” Raquel paused for a long moment. “I was assaulted when I was in college seventeen years ago. But I was determined not to let it get in my way. Furthermore,I didn’t want to be a victim. I promised myself that I wouldn’t think about it because it would just drag me down. I moved onwards and upwards and I built a wonderful life for myself. At this point, I have no interest in thinking any more about the worst two hours of my life, especially when it happened so long ago.”
It’s important that you acknowledge what your body is telling you.
The therapist nodded. “I respect your approach, and I’m not going to suggest that we go back over every detail of what happened to you, (unless you decide you want to of course). But, I do think it’s important that you acknowledge what your body is telling you. Feelings that you thought you’d left behind are apparently very much alive and they are being triggered by the people around you. But those feelings are so overwhelming that you are literally blacking out instead of processing them. We need to address what is currently happening, and that could potentially involve thinking about the assault as well.”
Raquel was not convinced. “Surely if this was because of the assault, I’d have been experiencing these attacks for the last seventeen years. But they’re new! They only started a few months ago.” The therapist answered “that’s part of what we need to explore. These things are complicated. This isn’t only about a single event in your life. I’d like us to explore what is going on with you right now, but I’m absolutely sure that it will all connect.”
Raquel began to put the pieces together
Raquel and her therapist spent many months together. Sometimes they went in practical directions, doing breathing exercises for Raquel to employ when she started feeling dizzy. At times they discussed very specific elements of the assault or its aftermath. They talked about her marriage. They talked about what was happening at work. But it did all connect, and as Raquel began to put the pieces together and acknowledge all her different feelings, the attacks began to lessen and become less and less of a problem.
Raquel was able to go back to her routine. However now she didn’t feel the need to pack her days with non-stop activity and avoid having a chance to think. Now she was no longer afraid of stopping for a moment to acknowledge her feelings. Raquel is so grateful to her doctor for pointing her in the right direction, and to Kav L’Noar for helping her to get back to normal.
*All names and identifying details have been changed to protect client confidentiality.