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Aly Raisman Explains What It's Like to Experience 'Trauma Fatigue'

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On Tuesday, three-time Olympic gold medalist and trauma survivor Aly Raisman shared her experience with an aspect of therapy people don’t often understand until they’ve been there — exhaustion. Raisman is one of the gymnasts who was sexually abused by former Team USA gymnastics doctor, Larry Nassar, who was sentenced to 175 years in prison two years ago.

• What is PTSD?

“Had a productive, but exhausting therapy session yesterday,” Raisman, who lives with PTSD, posted on Twitter. “I feel completely drained, as if I just finished an intense training session.”

If you can relate to feeling exhausted by therapy, you’re not alone. While therapy helps most people in the long run, it’s hard work at times. Contrary to popular belief, you might not feel better after every therapy session, and that’s part of the process. Licensed marriage and family therapist Whitney Goodman explained in Psychology Today why therapy can feel so draining:

“Everyone talks about how important therapy is. No one talks about how absolutely exhausting and messy it can be,” she wrote. “Therapy sessions are not for the faint of heart. They require a hefty amount of focus, dedication and vulnerability.”

In addition to “trauma fatigue,” Raisman opened up about physical symptoms she has experienced during her recovery journey — like body aches, loss of appetite and sleep difficulties. These kinds of physical symptoms are common for trauma survivors.

“The road to recovery isn’t easy. Some days I feel like I am moving forward and then the next day it feels like 3 steps back,” Raisman said. “Sometimes when I feel like I am beginning to heal from one part of my trauma, another memory pops up. When this happens I feel so sick that it is hard to have an appetite and it is hard to sleep.”

If you’re early on in your therapy journey and it feels overwhelming or you are struggling with how exhausting trauma therapy can be sometimes, you’re not alone. To anyone who can relate, Raisman has some words of support:

I hope you know you’re not alone & no matter how hard the PTSD gets, we won’t feel like this forever. Sending a hug and love got anyone who needs it. Just wanted to let you all know how much your support has meant to me. I hope you feel my support. I stand with you.

For more from our #TraumaSurvivors community, check out the following stories:

Image via Creative Commons/Xxjenesaispasxx

Originally published: February 19, 2020
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