A lot of joy & a little grief // Week 3+4 of SPD Treatment (+a break)

Hello there lovely friends! I’ve got very behind on the blogging & Instagram front, because I’ve been very busy with all the learning, feeling and healing that has been happening over the past few weeks! It’s been a little bit of a rollercoaster, but even in the bits that felt like a downhill slope, I’ve learned so much, and have made so much progress. In my last post, I told you that I couldn’t believe how much better I felt, and how fast the treatment was working… and two and a half weeks later, I’ve come so much further than that! I am amazed and overjoyed at what I am now capable of again, and so beyond grateful to my therapist, Carrie, who is a superstar.

Here’s some things that have happened in these three weeks!

 

I tried to see a psychologist…

… cue disaster 😆 Oh gosh, this one’s a hard one for me to talk about, but here goes! So STAR offers a holistic approach to treatment, which I think is wonderful, and they involve psychologist sessions as part of their treatment plans. This is really important for adults, because people that have been unknowingly suffering from SPD their whole lives are likely to have encountered some difficulties, such as misdiagnoses from psych professionals (🙋), or traumatic experiences.

For me, my emotional regulation is all tangled up in my senses, and it’s really hard for me to process grief. My ex-boyfriend broke up with me over a year ago, and for me, it often still feels as raw as if it was last week. My senses are intertwined with my memories, which are triggered really easily by a smell or a sound that is linked in my brain to that time. I’ve learned that SPD can also amplify emotions, meaning that when grief hits me, it’s to a greater extent than a neurotypical person might experience, to the point where I can actually feel it as physical pain.

I’m a pretty positive, proactive sort of person, and I’ve done my best to find positive things to direct my energy towards in the past year, like my lovely kitty Babs, and working on my Instagram, my card shop, mental health advocacy and music. I’ve tried to process it too, I’ve gone to therapy (which didn’t work, because I didn’t know I had SPD 😅), and talked about it with my loved ones, and tried to give it time and space… and I’m happy most of the time now, except when I’m not, and then it hits me with the same force that it did a year ago.

I was excited to talk to a psychologist who knew about SPD, and hopefully get some strategies to deal with this, because I would like to stop feeling so sad thankssss, but unfortunately it was not a very good match, and it didn’t go very well at all. The good thing out of that day though was that I fully realised how safe I feel with Carrie, who told the psychologist to leave, in a very friendly non-dramatic way, and cancelled our other sessions with her.

As things have got better over the past couple of weeks, I’ve actually been feeling this grief more frequently, which I was feeling a little freaked out about at first! I had to miss a day of therapy this week because I’d spent several hours crying, and ended up sleeping for most of the day, and I was not feeling good about it. But we arrived at therapy the next day, and Carrie explained that this was good work and amazing progress: I had spent a day grieving and I didn’t have a meltdown. As my senses are becoming more regulated, and my arousal is returning more frequently to a calm state (in the green on the curve in my last post!), my brain is realising that it’s safe to process these emotions now. And even better, because I’m not spiraling into a meltdown as soon as they come up, the emotions are actually being properly processed and recoded in my brain. So when I feel sad, I’m now actually able to sort that information so that I’ll be less sad in the future. Phew!

We might be having another go at introducing a different psychologist this week, but we’ll see how it goes. Definitely on a healing path with all this now, which is a huge relief!

 

My pal Rebecca flew over to spend the break with us!

In all their intensive treatment plans, STAR puts a break in the middle. It’s a week away from therapy to rest a bit, consolidate all the information you’ve been learning, and to put some things into practice. My amazing friend Rebecca flew over from home to spend the week with us, and it was so fun! Becca has been an incredible friend to me always, but this past year especially so. When I was unable to leave the house, or even really talk, she’d drive up to visit me every week so that we could just watch TV shows 😄 I haven’t been able to do many normal friend things in a long time. So it was so cool to get to practice everything I’ve been learning with her here!

One of my goals that I set in my first week here was to be able to go out to brunch with a group of my friends. We decided that if I was able to go out somewhere with just Becca in the break, that would be a great halfway goal! I thought it would be cool to take her to Sweet Cooie’s (the amazing ice cream shop I talked about in my last post!), because that’s just the kind of place where I would love to be able to hang out with my friends. We ordered banana splits, which involved a lot of talking to the lady at the counter, and on the spot choices about flavours and toppings – a challenge for this girl with discrimination issues! The shop was also pretty noisy between the milkshake machine and small children. Amazingly, I felt great the entire time, I made decisions, and I was able to chat to both Becca and the friendly ice cream lady! I couldn’t believe how much of a success it was, and it was a huge confidence boost.

We did lots of other amazing things too, like…

  • going to a cat cafe and playing with kittens
  • visiting the Celestial Seasonings tea factory and tasting different teas
  • shopping for Halloween things
  • watching lots of Miraculous Ladybug!
  • decorating pumpkin cookies
  • making sensory bottles which you shake up, and then watch the glitter and confetti settle
  • wool shopping and lots of knitting

 

It was a really lovely time 😊 Thank you so much for coming over to support me Becca pal!

 

I made leaps and bounds in everyday things

Our hotel pool closed for the fall a couple of weeks ago, which was a bit of an issue, because swimming is my most regulating activity. Being surrounded by water gives your body lots of proprioceptive input (the sense of where it is in space), and it seriously grounds me like nothing else. But it turned out to be a really positive thing, because it pushed us to go find a public swimming pool, something that felt really out of my reach – but we found a really nice one, and we’ve gone there several times now! I would have had no idea that I was capable of that if our pool hadn’t suddenly closed.

I’m also frequently managing other public spaces now, like busy or noisy shops. My system is coping so much better all round! It’s amazing, because we’ve barely touched on my auditory system, but by working on my internal senses (proprioception, vestibular, touch, introception), my external senses have calmed down SO MUCH. STAR calls these internal senses the foundational four, for this very reason – addressing these first gives a foundation for the visual, auditory, smell and taste systems to be able to be better regulated. Without doing any work on my auditory system, it’s calmed down so much that I keep forgetting to pack my noise cancelling headphones when we go out!

I’m fitting much more into my days too, which is really cool. Before we came here, I could manage one or two activities in a day, but now I’m managing so many things. I keep being surprised that it’s only the middle of the day when I get to lunchtime – it feels like I’m fitting three or four days into one!

There’s so many other things too… I’m able to talk more in therapy. I’m starting to trust my decision making again. I can figure out what my basic sensory needs are, even mid-meltdown. My meltdowns are getting further apart and less severe. I’m waking up more easily in the morning. My science brain has switched back on! My days are feeling so much lighter, and so much easier 😊

 

Phew, that was another novel, wasn’t it! Thanks so much for reading 😊 This week is my last week of therapy, which feels crazy! I feel like I still have so much to learn, but at the same time, I’m feeling so much better than I could have ever imagined after a month of therapy. It’s super exciting. Have a lovely week, and I’ll be sure to let you know how this week goes!

All my love,

Sarah

  1. Eleonora

    October 3rd, 2018 at 10:52 am

    Sarah, I loved your post. Can I ask you why therapy didn’t work neither this time and in the past? No details needed of course… I think I suffer from SPD, definitely have been experiencing all the symptoms during the last few months, and it’s so severe it’s distrupting my daily routine. I have been adviced to try therapy along with OT. I would also like to find out more about what kind of activities they’re using to improve your sensory issues since I’d like to know what I could possibly expect if I do finally find an OT that works on adults with SPD in my country. Love x

  2. Divya

    October 4th, 2018 at 9:12 am

    ahhhh yay! It’s amazing to hear you making so many leaps and bounds.
    Oooh and I saw Caleb yesterday! But I thought it would be weird if I ran up to him to say hi but it made me miss you a lil bit.
    I can’t wait till your back. <3

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