Please help me through this project for my BA. I'm begging anyone for help.

Please help me through this project for my BA. I'm begging anyone for help.

Posted by Ellymay4 on May 2, 2017 4:22 pm

My name is Shannon, I am a student at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL. I am in the Rehabilitation program, set to graduate spring of 2018. I am currently working on a project on quadraplegics. My ex fiance (he broke up with me) was paralyzed when a tree fell on him in a logging accident, in Sept 2012. This project is triggering me so badly, that my professor is begging me to change topics. I refuse. I want to help the families and patients get through this, because I can honestly look a family member in the eye and say, I promise, it gets easier. It gets better.
Every time I try to work on this project, it triggers me, and I have a complete and total meltdown. Not only from his accident, but also how his family reacted after the accident. They tried to kill me because I wanted him to live. His injury was T9 incomplete. He gave up and never regained any movement. Which crushes me. He had nothing to live for after his family forced us apart.
I need serious help. I've seen counselor after counselor, and they all suggest that I power through this, because I want to work with families and patients so badly. I have been in their shoes. I know what they are thinking and feeling. My professors have told me that the kind of experience I have, can not be trained. So there is no one better to help a family member through this than someone that has been there.
I did help a family through an accident in Sept 2016. It was very difficult for me, but I made it. His wife told me she wouldn't have made it without my guidance. So that made me feel good.
I'm not sure how to not be triggered. I thought after 4.5 years had passed, I'd be okay now. But I'm not. I just need help. Some guidance on how to get through this project, with less mental breakdowns. They mentally, emotionally, and physically wear me out. The nightmares and flashbacks are coming back. His family stalked me, so that paranoia is coming back, even though they have no idea where I am living currently.
I'm begging, someone help me. I KNOW I can help people. I have last September. But I can't have a breakdown in the middle of helping a family. I need to be strong for them. I feel so lost and helpless.
Thank you,

Re: Please help me through this project for my BA. I'm begging anyone for help.

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on May 3, 2017 3:56 pm

Dear EllyMay 4,

I am so very sorry for what you went through and continue to go through. Of course you have a posttraumatic stress reaction, most people in your position would. When I had my accident as a young man, my wife and two little daughters all had posttraumatic stress reactions.

As far as the duration of your suffering is concerned, that number of 4 1/2 years really doesn't matter. What matters is whether you are getting better, worse or staying the same over that course of time. If you are getting worse, there are plenty of good treatments out there for PTSD. I don't know what the resources are in your part of Illinois, but somebody from the University should know someone qualified.

First let's just look at your project. When I was thinking about a topic for my doctoral dissertation, I was advised not to write about a subject that stimulated too much emotion in me. She said that if I were to tackle that, I would never get done. She was right. I wrote a dissertation about something that was just of intellectual interest to me.
The end result was a dissertation that was boring as hell but I got through it!

But on the emotional side there are important issues for you to think about. Look, there is no doubt you will be able to help people who have suffered this kind of trauma, but timing is everything.

You can't teach that you have gotten through it until you have gotten through it. So my advice would be to get through this program however you can. And then think about working with quadriplegics down the pike. As a matter fact, I just met with a young man who was completing his MSW and who wanted to focus on people with MS. I advised him to not make the focus that narrow to begin with, but to do the opposite. Focus first on illness and the psychological consequences. And then over the years make the focus more narrow.

So get your degree simply as a way of taking care of yourself and not changing the world. Not yet, anyway. But since you are suffering so badly, you need care and compassion more than you need to push yourself into something that causes you more suffering. Do for yourself what you would do for anyone you loved who was suffering.

And please please stay in touch through these pages, I'll always respond

please take care

Daniel Gottlieb PhD

Re: Please help me through this project for my BA. I'm begging anyone for help.

Posted by Ellymay4 on May 4, 2017 9:35 am

Dr. Dan,
Thank you for your response. I am better than I was after his accident. Some times something will trigger me, and others the same thing will not trigger me. I am seeing a counselor, psychitrist, and psychologist. They are helping. But all three have said at this point, they aren't sure what else to do. They don't have any first hand knowledge of how to handle what I went through.
I am going to do what the Reeve Foundation suggested, work for a short time, then take a break. Especially when I feel myself being triggered.
Honestly and unfortunately, I am too stubborn to switch topics. I want to be able to work through this now, instead of trying to work through it when I'm helping someone else through their accident. And I know it's a matter of stubbornness on my part.
I am focusing on a patient I met while my ex was in the rehab hospital. That is helping me keep my mind off of my ex and what his family did to me. If I don't focus on that patient, I really fall apart. At times it's hard to focus on him, but I try my best.
When I first started this program, anytime any SCI was mentioned I was triggered. Now I am not. I see that as progress.
I have tons of information mailed to me from the Reeve Foundation and Craig hospital in Colorado. So I'm working through the mounds and mounds of information.
Thankfully, my professor is very patient and helping me through this. So is his teaching assistant. They understand how difficult this is for me, and have given me extra time to complete it, along with their advice and guidance. But they haven't been through anything like this either.
You have given the best advice so far. I knew you would as soon as I was told about you.
Thank you so much, I will keep you updated!

Re: Please help me through this project for my BA. I'm begging anyone for help.

Posted by Dan Gottlieb on Jun 4, 2017 12:08 pm

Hi Shannon
I must apologize for this long delay in responding.Now that I have become a blogger twice a month, I don't check this page as often as I once did.
I'm so very happy that you are surrounded with compassionate and understanding people at school. And even more happy that you are being understanding and compassionate with yourself!
Please please keep me posted-and if there is anything else I can do that might be helpful…

Wishing you great happiness

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