I’m home and finished my programs at Homewood … early … again. You may remember that over two years ago (when I had my first Homewood stay) I also went home early causing my friend to nick-name me the Dark Knight because I was the only person she ever knew to finish a program early – like I had some super power. Well I don’t have super powers, I just have bad luck. I was supposed to have two more weeks of programming, but my doctor had to leave unexpectedly and he felt it was best if I carry on working with my psychologist at home rather than wait for him to return. So, I’m home. And happy to be.
The biggest thing I will take away from the program this time around is the improvement to my sound sensitivity. Being around noise all the time at Homewood put me into a type of ‘exposure therapy’ setting. At first I wore my earplugs pretty much the duration of the day, but as time went by I found that I could sit in class without them, and then walk the halls without them, and then – and this is BIG – eat in the cafeteria without them! Clinking glasses, loud laughers, chair draggers and all! This didn’t happen every day, but during the days it did, it felt like a huge accomplishment – because it was.
My sound sensitivity started in 2012, when I hardly even knew what PTSD was. I remember getting so mad at a tractor that drove around my neighbourhood all the time that I moved! Yes, that’s correct – I actually moved because of a tractor. But that goes to show you how severe my sensitivity was. I tried to wear foam earplugs, stay all day in the basement and even spend the day away from my neighbourhood just because of the fear I had of hearing that damn tractor. I didn’t know why it was happening. I later learned that my brain had actually physiologically changed due to the traumas I had witnessed in my career and my amygdala (the fight or flight centre of my brain) was hyper-active and causing me to feel like I needed to flee when I heard a loud noise.
The severity of my sound sensitivity increased over the years and I eventually had musician earplugs made to block out certain decibels of sound. These earplugs changed my life for the better and allowed me to participate in the world a lot more, but my deep down fear of the sounds around me still caused me to isolate a lot and hence decrease my exposure to sound all together.
So, being a patient at Homewood gave me a hidden gift of exposure to sound – something my psychologist and I had been talking about trying. This is not to say that this exposure would work for everyone, and I definitely advise you to speak to your doctor about any type of treatment you choose, but I can say that for me, it helped. I’m still not ready to go to a concert or not plug my ears when a motorcycle drives by, but being able to even walk down a hall without my earplugs has made me feel almost as strong as the Dark Knight. And I would say that that’s pretty damn awesome.