These are such valid questions, especially after one has (like so many of you have) tried pretty much everything to heal. The thing is though, what that looks like may be different for each person, but I can give some ideas.
One of the main signs of healing and increased regulation is symptoms that have been around forever fading away – that chronic ache is gone, or you find that it’s easier to socially engage. Perhaps the anxiety is much less, or you find that you have more energy. There’s no way to say for sure what exactly will happen or when, but you can be sure that if you put in the time and effort, your symptoms will start to shift.
And very often, new sensations and experiences will arise! One common experience that is a good, but uncomfortable sign, is that one may feel much better emotionally and mentally – the cycles of depression are gone, and the anxiety has lifted, or the intrusive thoughts are way less, etc. – but their body may hurt more, or a rash may pop up out of nowhere. When this kind of thing happens, it is a definite sign that the system is releasing old trauma and regulation is returning. Same thing if the body starts to feel much better, but one finds themselves angry and irritable for no reason at all, or one starts to feel WAY more in general, whereas before they were numb and didn’t feel much at all.
What we are looking for is CHANGE, even if it’s a temporarily uncomfortable change, that shows that the patterns of dysfunction that the system has been locked into are shifting, making way for greater energy and health.
As for how long? Sorry, it is impossible to say, as this is completely dependent on what one has been through, what kind of experiences and other treatments they’ve explored, their personality, their living and work situation, their relationships, and just the unique nature of their being. A person may have had a bad car crash but had solid attachment and a healthy family system growing up, and they can get totally better in a couple months. Or a person may have had really bad early/developmental trauma, and even though there is nothing readily available in their history that identifies as ‘a big trauma’, it can take years of practicing the work to get back to regulation. It is SO personal that I can’t say for sure how long.
One thing I can say for sure though, is that this work is not about ‘fixing a problem’ in the traditional mechanical way that we tend to see this in the west. It is about fundamentally changing the way we live and relate to the world and ourselves. It is a total lifestyle shift that lasts a lifetime.
Also, I don’t think there IS actually any end to healing. I mean, one can get back to regulation, and have full functionality and live a life full of health, vitality and purpose, and STILL have old layers arise from time to time. Or they may then move into processing more transpersonal trauma at the cultural, planetary, or Universal level. As we get better and better, and have more and more capacity, we simply have room to experience more in general, including deeper processes of healing.