Birth Trauma Causes Depression
This client came to me for help with the depression which she had had all of her life, and which had caused her to take several months at a time off work. She has a key role in her workplace and her employer funded the sessions. I find the metaphors in our lives fascinating - I loved working with Rose because she kept coming out with such clear images! We have the answers, we just have to look in the right ways to find them...
She described how, when she feels the depression coming, it feels as though her brain batteries are wearing out - everything slows down, including her speech. She had suffered from breast cancer 14 years previously and had experienced major surgery. She described how she reacted to challenges 'like an ostrich', by burying her head in the sand.
We began by using the Movie Technique and I asked her to find the most difficult time when she was dealing with the cancer. We tapped on the day she went to be fitted for her prosthetic breast, but it quickly became clear that there were important issues with her mother who had gone with her for support, but had taken her new husband along too. We then tapped 'Even though I wanted more from my mother, I accept myself truly and deeply... Even though my mother never gave me enough...'
We also tapped on one of her main concerns at the time, fear of leaving her husband and children if she were to die: 'Even though, they wouldn't cope without me... I'm the planner and the doer... I have to be there... I keep things under control...'
As we recounted the fitting day, the moment when she actually saw the boxes with the prosthetic breasts on them sitting on the shelves, brought a big reaction and she said 'It was a black, black night with no stars...' As we tapped and her levels came down, she was able to say 'They're just boxes.'
I finished the session with a choice which would bring together the two parts of her which I was seeing: 'I choose to remember that I am strong and I am vulnerable... and that's ok... I can be strong... I can be vulnerable ...'
Over the next three sessions, certain themes became clearer - her mother's shouting, being forced into the middle between two people and trying to make things right, being rushed, and the ostrich response of just staying put. It became clear that birthdays had a resonance. When she was a child, for instance, she had rushed to get a present for her mother, but the hankies she'd bought were thrown back in anger as not being good enough. She said that she hated birthdays and hated Christmas. At the end of the third session, when we explored the feeling of always trying to make things ok, she said 'I feel as though I'm always on the edge of a cliff, clinging on and scared I'm going to fall.'
At the end of the session, I couldn't help myself saying 'I wish I knew more about your birth...' and suddenly she began to tell me about the recurring dreams which she had of squeezing through small spaces, of going downhill in a car backwards and not able to see where she was going. This was what I had suspected - that she might have experienced trauma before and during birth.
She came in triumphant to the next session announcing that she'd asked her mother and found that she had been born three weeks late, and had to be induced! She also had a list of other similar recurring dreams - moving to a new house and realising that although it was bigger, she didn't like it, getting into her wedding dress which was too tight and hearing her parents arguing in the next room.., trying to pack too many things into the car and worrying that she would be late for work because she was taking too long and the children in her class would be left unattended.
We tapped a little on a shock which she'd had at work and the difficulty of dealing with sudden new things, but then she had the realisation that her brother had nearly died during his birth and then her mother had had a miscarriage, so 'I was the one who was waited for... to make everything all right... a girl!'
We tapped on 'Even though they were waiting for me... ' and 'I had to make it right...' which linked of course to her feelings now of not wanting to be rushed, and needing to have control over things. We added 'Even though I was a little girl and I couldn't make things right, I was doing the best I can... and that was then and this is now... and then I was a little girl and now I'm a grown woman... and maybe I can make some things right, and maybe I can't...'
We also tapped on the dream of going backwards in a car - the surprise of it and that it might happen again. When her level did not go right down, I asked what was holding it there and she said anxiety, so I asked if we could put that anxiety in a box for now. She agreed and put it in a shoe box. As we tapped 'Even though I've got this box.... ', she put the box in the cellar, with two little versions of herself inside: 'Dithery Me and Blanket Me', describing the two selves she feels, with the blanket representing her need to shut down and snuggle in. We kept tapping on the box, and eventually she saw it moved out to the garage, then covered in dust and eventually she said that she might be able to throw it out in the spring when she does spring-cleaning. We tapped on 'I can do it in my own time... it's safe now... Even though I feel dithery sometimes, and everything's my fault because I'm dithery and the world is too fast, I forgive everyone who's ever tried to rush me ... And maybe 'dithering' is just me checking things out and getting it right... '
In our final session, when Rose was already describing major improvements in the ways in which she was she was dealing with life and its challenges, and how, though some difficult things had happened, she had not gone into the depressed state, we began by tapping on another dream which she'd had the previous night - it involved waiting for a bus which didn't come and water of some sort. Rose is scared of water and can't swim. After a little tapping on 'Even though that bus isn't coming, I'm waiting for something to happen, and nothing's going on...', I asked her to go back and imagine what might have happened before she was born to make her scared to move forward. She said that she might have heard her parents shouting so we tapped on 'Even though I could hear them shouting... it was scary out there... Maybe I don't want to go out there... I don't want to take the plunge... Nobody can make me!!!' We shouted this bit. 'But maybe now I can begin to heal that baby me who was so scared... maybe I can heal that mother, maybe I can heal this grown-up me, too.' She said that when we spoke about healing the baby, she had an image of holding her baby self and rocking her, but then she wondered who she would be if she lost the anxiety. So we tapped on 'I don't know who I might be if I let go of that anxiety...' and she discovered that she had learnt a lot from the anxiety and suggested that there might be a third option. We tapped on 'I choose to embrace my anxiety, but maybe now it is time to let go of the pain and enjoy moving forward... Maybe I can enjoy both of those parts of myself and also a third one which is as yet unknown!'
Rose now, for the first time, has an understanding of what might have made her the person she has been. She has not needed to take time off work, is feeling in control and is now enjoying the idea of making changes in her life. (Incidentally, Rose is also dyslexic - I have found with previous clients that there is a possible connection with this and birth trauma.)