In the spring of 2018 I was diagnosed with Complex PTSD, in addition to a slew of other issues. I was VERY resistant to this diagnosis because I am not a soldier or a police officer or a first responder. I only understood the illness through the lens of the media, I did not believe it could apply to me. The truth of the matter is that PTSD and its cohort Complex PTSD are very misunderstood because there are just not enough people talking about it. This is where I come in. Not all heroes wear capes…but I do.
Okay so WHAT is Complex PTSD?? This is a good question. Most people have a general awareness of what PTSD is, an anxiety disorder that is triggered by a specific stressor. C-PTSD is the kissing cousin of PTSD caused by repeated trauma over a longer period of time. Often it happens over months, or in cases like mine, years. Often it is the result of sustained childhood abuse.
Symptoms of C-PTSD are not one size fits all but includes such joys as …
- Difficulty regulating emotions, which can manifest as extreme anger, depression, suicidal thoughts, and quick swings from one to another
- Losing memories of the trauma or reliving them
- Dissociation, feeling detached from oneself
- Changes in self-perception, including feeling totally different from other people and feeling ashamed or guilty
- Challenges in relationships, including difficulty trusting others, seeking out a rescuer, or even seeking an abuser
- Distorted perceptions of the perpetrator or abuser, which may include ascribing all the power to this person, becoming obsessed with him or her, or becoming preoccupied with revenge
- Loss of a system of meanings, such as losing one’s core beliefs, values, religious faith, or hope in the world and other people
Please note: This list is stolen directly from Bridges To Recovery, I don’t know anything about them as an organization but I do find their website a good resource for information.
Now time for the good news!
I walked around for years while C-PTSD and depression chipped away at me bit by bit until I honestly believed there was nothing left of me. When I hit rock bottom in the spring I discovered something truly incredible, hope. My first step was medication which was a BIG step for me but allowed me to get to the next step. FINALLY getting myself into therapy! Finding someone who I could trust to work through my trauma with was life changing. I took on my recovery as a full time job, I have given it everything I have. This means I have had to look at my pain instead of running from it. I developed a language to be able to name my feelings. I have been honest with myself and with my community about my struggles. Not every day is great for me now but I have more good days than bad. On the days I am hurting I can better communicate my issues to the people who can help me over the hump.
If you think you or someone you love might have C-PTSD I implore you to reach out for help. If you don’t know where to start drop me a message, I am here for you.