Complex PTSD

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Afterthefox

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Complex PTSD
« on: May 04, 2017, 09:13:07 PM »
I have only recently discovered the term Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and I suspect that I may have been suffering from it to a greater or lesser degree since my early teenage years. Reading the list of symptoms and causes in the Toolbox, I can check virtually every point.

Has anyone else had this recognition outside of a professional therapeutic environment, and what action have you taken towards identifying it, and taking steps towards healing?
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 09:15:01 PM by Afterthefox »
"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone." - Alan Watts

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #1 on: May 04, 2017, 09:46:05 PM »
Most definitely and I'm sorry to hear you recognize this in yourself but that's a good starting point for healing. Pete Walker's website and book helped me a lot. There is a book cPTSD surviving to thriving in our book review board if you'd like to know more about the book. We also have a sister site called out of the storm at cPTSD.org where there are lots of tools and a forum.

Just for context I used to wake up in the middle of the night gasping for air in a complete and total state of panic. My therapist suggested an mindful presence exercise feeling the sheets and reminding myself I am safe. Nightmares and a constant state of triggered hypervigilance was how I lived all of my life and it wasn't until all of that was healed that I realized how bad off I really had been for so long.

 Wishing you peace and much healing.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2017, 09:49:33 PM by Spring Butterfly »
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Peppa

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #2 on: May 04, 2017, 11:51:55 PM »
Yes,  i have recognized it in myself too.  I also recommend Pete Walker's book.  It gives you detailed suggestions for things you can actually do on your own to try to repair some of it. 

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Hazy111

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2017, 10:04:44 PM »
I personally think anyone raised by PD parents has a form of C-PTSD. We are all traumatised, but a lot of us dont realise it.

Peter Walkers deals with this in his book  as mentioned, which i unfortunately i find hard to read . I think it could really have been edited a lot better, it doesnt flow well, but maybe thats just me. His website i found a lot easier.

What i learnt and found fascinating is how trauma  manifests itself differently in  people. Some people i know , the busy workaholic/exercise
 (flight) types who i used to admire , are showing clear signs of trauma, they are literally masking/running away from their pain.

The four fs , flight,  fight , fawn and freeze respose to trauma he calls them. I am more the fight (narcissistic) /freeze (dissociative) type i think.

Its interesting too that he thinks all the various PD classifications will all just be subsets of basically C-PTSD.

PDs were all traumatised too in childhood and more obviously display the fight (narcissist) form .

Its really becoming recognised in the therapeutic community now as the latest definition. My T treats it and actually bought a copy of Peter Walkers book after i showed him my copy and said it was very good.

He says and i agree i was traumatised in childhood, but so many of us were he says and it totally shapes who we are. 

I think you need to find a T maybe who really understands C-PTSD and can really treat it. Its not a dramatic difference , its just basically trauma form childhood as opposed to PTSD developed in adulthood. It s long hard work though, but recognising you have  trauma symptoms is a good start. I too first had signs in my teenage years looking back.

I think hypervigilance is a core symptom, our bodies are in constant alert mode ready for attack. That is a narcisstic defense too. Hypersensitivity to any perceived criticism (paranoia), right or wrong.

Good luck , i wish you well.

PS As Spring Butterfly says , try Out of the Storm, the C-PTSD site.









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DustyMemories

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2017, 02:44:13 AM »
Yes. I'm only just beginning my journey now. Being so new to this realisation myself I don't have too much advice, however, as mentioned, the folks over at Out of the Storm are very helpful as are the resources on that site.

My next steps will be to get that Pete Walker book and find a psychologist who specialises in CPTSD. Therapy hasn't been overly helpful for me before, so I'm hoping that I'll finally find the right treatment and support now that I have a better idea of what might be wrong with me.

Good luck to you in your own healing.

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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #5 on: May 06, 2017, 03:16:34 PM »
Hazy, you bring up the thought of cPTSD compared to PTSD and one of the things I read that makes a lot of sense is that someone with PTSD has a "normal" to return to. There was an traumatic episode or a traumatic period of time but before that there was some normal. Someone with cPTSD on the other hand does not have a normal to return to because normal never existed. Someone with cPTSD must create normal, create themselves, from scratch. That made a lot of sense to me.
Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
Individuation is one key to emotional freedom
It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
my Empowered Growth blog

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Fightsong

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #6 on: May 06, 2017, 03:26:59 PM »
 :yeahthat: yep and yep.  There was no normal safe settledness.  Welcome here. I think the concept of complex trauma has been really helpful.  Even if we don't have cPTSD, we have  complex trauma in our histories. Look at OOTS, see if you too find yourself reading and whispering to yourself - "me too...."

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Hazy111

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #7 on: May 06, 2017, 06:32:26 PM »
Hazy, you bring up the thought of cPTSD compared to PTSD and one of the things I read that makes a lot of sense is that someone with PTSD has a "normal" to return to. There was an traumatic episode or a traumatic period of time but before that there was some normal. Someone with cPTSD on the other hand does not have a normal to return to because normal never existed. Someone with cPTSD must create normal, create themselves, from scratch. That made a lot of sense to me.

Yes Spring Butterfly, thats absolutely right. Those living with C-PTSD  as its now called or just a traumatised childhood never have a normal to return to. It never existed.

As i understand it many of us dissassociate , i wasnt aware of this until it was explained by my T.  We learnt to repress our real emotions and needs.

I posted this on a recent thread (it came from OOTS). I dont know whether you saw it. It was a podcast about our how our psyches are damaged by being raised by narcissistic parents. Mine were. Its really good.

 https://paulpavlakis.podbean.com/e/the-architecture-of-a-traumatised-psyche/

I visit OOTS and it seems to concentrate on  those suffering from one form of C-PTSD (E flashbacks , depression, anxiety, panic, low self esteem etc) and they are some how different from PD people. But theyre not , as Peter Walker states or any half decent therapist will attest, its just how the trauma manifests itself .

I think those with traditional PD as its known, Narcs , Bpd etc just act out their trauma on others. As is well attested on this forum!!

 After reading Peter Walkers book and talking to my T and other stuff ive read over the years , its difficult for anyone to leave childhood normal, definitely not those raised by Narc parents.

Have you read Alice Millers ground breaking book " The drama of the gifted child".

A summary:

As charming performers who skillfully reflect their parents expectations, far too many children grow into adults driven to greater and greater achievements by an underlying sense of worthlessness.

Never allowed to express their true feelings, and having lost touch with their true selves, they act out their repressed feelings with episodes of depression and compulsive behavior. They in turn inflict the same legacy of repression on their own children.

This poignant and thought-provoking book shows how narcissistic parents form and deform the lives of their children. The Drama of the Gifted Child is the first step toward helping readers reclaim their lives by discovering their own needs and their own truth.


Id recommend it as a starter for anyone raised by PD parents.

Sorry if this is taking the  thread off topic a bit , but i think a lot of people are traumatised by PD parents and dont realise it. It isnt just obvious symptoms, theres so much more to trauma or C-PTSD as its now known.

Good luck again to Afterthefox and everyonelse struggling,, remember it wasnt our fault, it was done to us.

Hazy





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Spring Butterfly

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2017, 09:55:08 AM »
Hazy, you bring up the thought of cPTSD compared to PTSD and one of the things I read that makes a lot of sense is that someone with PTSD has a "normal" to return to. There was an traumatic episode or a traumatic period of time but before that there was some normal. Someone with cPTSD on the other hand does not have a normal to return to because normal never existed. Someone with cPTSD must create normal, create themselves, from scratch. That made a lot of sense to me.

Afterthefox, where I was headed with this was that for me I had to create a "me" from scratch. There are some therapists out there working with PTSD but the therapy needed for cPTSD is very different. A therapist trained for PTSD assumes there is a normal to return to and helps the patient work toward that normal. A person with cPTSD must create a normal since there isn't one to return or work toward. You had mentioned a "professional therapeutic environment" and from what I understand few professional T are trained for cPTSD specifically

The book Will I Ever Be Good Enough steps through this process of creating oneself from scratch as does many of the resources here and on OOTS. The book has it organized as steps with questions along the way as checkpoints. Using the resources here my journey followed the path outlined in the book closely it's just that I read the book recently when the journey to create myself was already complete.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2017, 09:57:34 AM by Spring Butterfly »
Every interaction w/ PD persons results in damage-plan accordingly, make time to heal
Individuation is one key to emotional freedom
It's foolish to expect of others what they have no capacity to give
my Empowered Growth blog

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sandpiper

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2017, 10:23:03 PM »
Yes. I sought help from a counsellor in my early 20s & was diagnosed with PTSD. When I was 40 I had a serious flare up of symptoms & at that point C-PTSD was just starting to gain credibility within the psychology realm as a diagnosis in it's own right. My T said that I fit the bill for it, even though it wasn't at that point officially recognised. A member at one of these boards put me onto Pete Walker & that was the best thing that could have happened to me - other than having a great T & the support of others at these boards.
It took a few years of utter horror to get through all that but I've been assessed as being no longer symptomatic. I call it 'in remission' as there are times when I suffer setbacks, and in particular, women who remind me of my mother can tip me into some horrible flashbacks.
I can remember a time before I was damaged & before my family really went to hell, so I'd quantify the 'return to normal' scenario by saying that my family never offered a healthy type of 'normal' as something I could return to.
what helped me was creating distance from that, and with it, freedom from ongoing emotional abuse by relatives who are so brain-washed by the narcissism they've grown up with that they don't know any better.
I'm really sorry you're going through this, and what else is there to say, but welcome to the club.  ;)

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raindrop

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #10 on: May 08, 2017, 02:05:27 AM »
Yes, I'm also coming to this realisation. I wasn't sure if I "qualified" but my therapist straight away told me I had PTSD in my first session with her, but now I think there is a complex element to it as well (I definitely had one discrete trauma i.e. witnessing a suicide attempt). The resources that people have pointed me to on here have already started to make a difference to me especially Pete Walkers website. I'm pretty sure I had some emotional flashbacks yesterday and I now know what they are and what my "script" is (inner critic) - everything is your fault and you'll never be good enough.
It's enormously empowering to realise where that comes from and to have ways of combating it!

All the best on your journey towards creating your own normal (love that idea).
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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sandpiper

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2017, 01:21:09 AM »
Raindrop, thank you for the wake-up call. I needed that.
I found my father after he'd overdosed with pills and it hadn't even occurred to me to count that as trauma.
It was just another day in the battle of the 'rents.
Duh.
Some days I really don't know where I'd be without you guys to help me sift through the rubble & know which memories to file in the Disaster box.

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raindrop

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2017, 03:11:38 AM »
Isn't it amazing what becomes normal?  :stars:
"Suppose a tree fell down, Pooh, when we were underneath it?"
"Suppose it didn't," said Pooh, after careful thought.
Piglet was comforted by this.
- A.A. Milne.

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Afterthefox

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2017, 02:19:39 PM »
One episode comes to mind that clearly reveals that I have lived with and held onto a deep source of disturbance into my adult life. A couple of years ago, while my sister and I were visiting our childhood home, we looked out of the window and saw my father standing there. He had not been welcome at the house for over 20 years and it was unprecedented and extremely surprising to see him. He did not see us but he put a letter through the door and walked away. What was interesting was our shared reaction. We were actually scared. Scared that he might be deranged, unpredictable, confrontational, abusive, dangerous. I reacted with a surge of adrenaline in preparation for an abusive confrontation, or even a physical one. Raw fight or flight.

We had both managed to keep our level of disturbance to a minimum for all these years by taking control of our frequency of contact with him. But to witness him break a clear boundary and come to the property brought up a very real fear of the man. I realized that beneath my rational attempts to diagnose and come to terms with my father's personality disorder, to maintain medium chill, and to approach the relationship with caution, there is at base a very real fear of his behaviour and of the abuse I know he is capable of. And I see that this fear, chaos and uncertainty has probably existed in my psyche for my entire life.

The letter turned out to be a birthday card. So symbolic of the relationship.
« Last Edit: May 10, 2017, 02:43:06 PM by Afterthefox »
"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone." - Alan Watts

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sandpiper

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2017, 05:04:17 PM »
Wow. That's some seriously obsessive stalking. My MIL wound up in a home before the nasty little spite cards for BDs stopped, but at least she always used a postage stamp & sent them through the national carrier.
I got DH to give them a personalised name & address stamp as a gift one year, when they were complaining about arthritis & the difficulties of all of their correspondence. They wouldn't use the damned thing to send my BD cards, though. Sniper mail, I used to call it.
You've got Stalker Mail.
Is your father meant to abide by any kind of protection order or DV restrictions? Because this sounds like the kind of thing they do to flout them. 'I was just dropping off a lovely card for my (insert title of narcissist's personal property here ie wife/daughter/son etc) and I don't see how that can possibly be construed as anything but a loving gesture.'
Wow. Does he have some OCD in his traits? They're the worst, because they never let go.

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Afterthefox

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2017, 05:27:37 PM »
Sandpiper,

He has it all. OCD, malignant narcissism, BP behavioural traits, mania, depressions, rage, obsessive jealousy, paranoia, frequent nervous exhaustion. He is simply a 'monster' as my T says.

Of course, he was fully aware of how inappropriate the hand delivery was. And, as I am so used to with my BPDf, a seemingly friendly gesture was cloaked with underlying malevolence. I never realized that it was 'stalker' mail. So that's interesting to hear.

We never took out an restraining order on him as he had never attempted to visit the property in 20 years. After he appeared that time, we resolved that if he appeared again, we would let him know that he is not welcome, and if necessary, we would take legal action.

My focus was more on my reaction to his crossing that historic boundary. Raw fear. The result of a lifetime spent anticipating his emotional abuse and being intimidated by his mania - manifested very clearly in my response to the sight of him in my 'safe zone'. I see how that may qualify as a symptom of CPTSD. 
« Last Edit: May 11, 2017, 05:55:09 PM by Afterthefox »
"Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone." - Alan Watts

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Doing the work

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #16 on: May 14, 2017, 06:49:48 PM »
Hi, new to the forum. I read sandpipers post and was brought to tears. Thank you. Its reassurimg to know im not alone. Have been in therapy for 2 years now for C-PTSD. Mother has MPD ( now called DID). I continue to push through the hurt every day. Aside from my therapy, journaling has been very helpful to organize the thoughts and feelings. Have read Pete Walkers books as well. Am a flight/freeze that became a fight when i was physically strong enough to stop the brutality. His books areVERY helpful. 6 months ago my wife of 20+ yrs left me and am now forced to heal on my own. I have to remember there is hope.

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sweet1987

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Re: Complex PTSD
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2017, 03:40:25 PM »
I was actually online reading the symptoms just yesterday.. Because I also suffer from codependency and working on all these issues, just felt so overwhelmed and really down and low in myself. I find my symptoms are very intermittent though, so not sure if I do have it, but also checked most of the symptoms aswell. I feel like I am able to manage these feelings for now and each day is differ.ent for me.. but I guess would maybe go drs for a diagnosis if it became to much.  For healing I have started to attempt some inner child work, there are tuns of youtube videos about it.. Not entirely sure what I am doing  but going counselling aswell..  Maybe counselling could help? I find it does give some perspective on things and its nice to have someone to offload on
« Last Edit: May 17, 2017, 03:45:55 PM by sweet1987 »