Complex PTSD: Response to Prolonged Trauma

complex-ptsd-0603137Posttraumatic stress (PTSD) can severely interfere with functioning, resulting in intrusive memories, depression, disrupted sleep, anxiety, and avoidance of situations that bring back memories of the trauma. But the symptoms of some trauma survivors, particularly those who have experienced prolonged abuse or captivity, don’t neatly match traditional symptoms of PTSD. In the 1980s, some therapists and researchers began to advocate for recognition of a new variety of PTSD called complex posttraumatic stress disorder or C-PTSD. Although C-PTSD is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, therapists are increasingly recognizing the issue, which requires different treatment and produces different symptoms.

What Is Complex PTSD?

PTSD is a reaction to a threatening event, and the event is usually a single event that occurred for a brief duration. Traumatic events that might cause PTSD include watching a loved one die, witnessing a violent act, rape, assault, and military combat. C-PTSD, by contrast, is more likely to occur when a person experiences multiple or ongoing traumas or when a single trauma lasts for a long time and leads to feelings of captivity. Survivors of concentration camps, people who were regularly abused as children, domestic violence survivors, military personnel who are exposed to ongoing violence, people who have experienced repeated sexual assaults, and kidnapping victims may experience C-PTSD.

While PTSD typically causes disturbances—such as flashbacks, avoidance of locations or situations that remind a person of the event, or chronic fear and depression—to the traumatic event, C-PTSD is more likely to cause identity and personality disturbances in addition to the symptoms of traditional PTSD. This is because people exposed to prolonged trauma may begin to view the trauma as a core part of their identity or as something they caused, and sometimes they might question their own memories—believing, for example, that perhaps the trauma didn’t really happen.

Symptoms of Complex PTSD

C-PTSD has many of the same symptoms as PTSD, including intrusive memories or flashbacks, depression, anxiety, avoidance, and changes in personality. However, people with C-PTSD also experience symptoms that people with PTSD don’t normally have. These include:

  • Chronic fear of abandonment. Many people with C-PTSD are diagnosed with an attachment disorder, and neediness, fear of abandonment, and even regression during times of stress are common in C-PTSD.
  • Difficulty controlling emotions or changes in personality.
  • Disturbances in self-perception and persistent feelings of shame.
  • Obsession with the perpetrator and frequently changing perceptions of the perpetrator. A sexual abuse survivor, for example, might go back and forth between viewing the abuser as evil and loving, and might continue an unhealthy entanglement with that person.
  • Emotional flashbacks: Rather than intrusively remembering the traumatic event, a person with C-PTSD might instead simply get emotionally overwhelmed and re-experience the emotions he or she felt during the traumatic event without ever actually recalling or thinking about the traumatic event. This is particularly common during periods of stress. A person might, for example, begin sobbing or feel terrified during a minor disagreement with his or her partner.

Treatment for Complex PTSD

Because C-PTSD is a relatively newly recognized condition, there’s still some debate about how it should be treated. Exposure therapy, which is highly effective with PTSD, is still being studied for its effectiveness in treating C-PTSD. As C-PTSD may mean dozens of traumatic memories or years of trauma, some clinicians have argued exposure therapy is impractical. C-PTSD researchers have generally recommended a stage-based treatment approach that includes the following phases:

  1. Establishing safety and helping the client find ways to feel safe in his or her environment or eliminate dangers in the environment.
  2. Teaching basic self-regulation skills.
  3. Encouraging information processing that builds introspection.
  4. Helping the client to integrate his or her traumatic experiences.
  5. Encouraging healthy relationships and engagement.
  6. Strategies designed to reduce distress and increase positive affect.

References:

  1. Complex PTSD. (n.d.). National Center for PTSD. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/pages/complex-ptsd.asp
  2. ISTSS complex PTSD treatment guidelines. (n.d.). International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies. Retrieved from http://www.istss.org/AM/Template.cfm?Section=ISTSS_Complex_PTSD_Treatment_Guidelines
  3. Walker, P. (n.d.). Emotional flashback management in the treatment of complex PTSD.Psychotherapy.net. Retrieved from http://www.psychotherapy.net/article/complex-ptsd

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The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Kris

    Kris

    June 5th, 2013 at 11:08 AM

    I didn’t know that there are differences in diagnosis when it comes to PTSD. I just thought that maybe some people would experience it differently than others but not that there was an actual diagnosis or name for those who were more affected by it. Complex PTSD sounds just terrible. Not only are you constantly haunted by the event that triggered this but you also experience all of these other things too that understandably could completely destroy you and your quality of life. I can only hope that there are more people, when it is identified in them, who are receiving treatment than those who are not because that would be a terrible way to have to live your life. How could you ever find a way to move forward if you are constantly haunted by your past?

  • Laura Frizelle

    Laura Frizelle

    June 10th, 2013 at 8:00 PM

    I would say that I have C-PTSD. before reading this article I felt like PTSD did not really apply to me. That emotional neglect was more the root of my issues. Thankfully I am moving forward. When another way of living was revealed to me, I felt free…like everything was new and wide open. Immediately and naturally I struggled in relationships…Like a like someone without a compass in the woods. I knew as a young adult that i was starting from scratch because my upbringing was so dysfunctional. I cut myself a lot of slack. I made a lot of mistakes. Ever since I have been learning along the way. I have found that it is impossible to do this alone though without getting off kilter. Spirituality helps me to have a compass. Community helps. Having Truth helps….and Love…of course Love! Love is real…love is our hope and our goal! It is worth everything!

  • mel

    mel

    August 6th, 2018 at 8:21 AM

    This isn’t a diagnosis you make up on your own. Only a therapist can diagnose this disorder that is not the same as simple PTSD; and it usually takes a consensus of therapists to determine someone has C-PTSD.

  • L

    L

    November 19th, 2016 at 12:42 PM

    I suffer from it and it is exhausting to fight your own mind every single day

  • Laurian

    Laurian

    January 17th, 2017 at 11:26 PM

    It most certainly is; I feel for you as the energy depleted in dealing with this at times leaves you spent & unable to function.

  • Susitna

    Susitna

    January 20th, 2017 at 9:44 PM

    I feel possessed. This is how I feel living with complex PTSD. I live in a place that is so beautiful. Mountains, Rivers and Lakes all around me. Had it not been for the embrace of nature I more than likely would not be posting. I find solace out there in the wilderness. This possession goes away. For me this is a positive coping skill.

  • Danielle

    Danielle

    February 9th, 2017 at 9:19 PM

    I feel your pain. A broken spirit and mind are extremely painful and not usually understood because we can’t show an x-ray of it. Take heart, the Lord said He is close to those of a broken spirit. Isaiah

  • Becky

    Becky

    August 23rd, 2017 at 8:41 PM

    Keep talking to anyone and everyone. You don’t need to carry all that extra weight. Get help if you can. I have been and still am seeing a counselor for trama age 5 sexually assault age 8, 14, and adult. It’s been 4 yrs of counselling. It’s worth it when you get a good one. I am so much better, I don’t take everything as an attack. You can get better too. I’m here to listen.

  • Ra

    Ra

    August 28th, 2017 at 8:50 AM

    For months I watched troops board the planes for overseas, knowing I was pressured to ‘cut corners’ on the quality of work I did on the avionics I worked on that kept those planes in the air. One day I was on a smoke break outside the back door of the shop and watching yet more troops boarding. I snapped and broke down, couldn’t work, just collapsed in the corner of the shop chief’s office. They took me to the hospital where I stayed until I was discharged, never returned to work. Decades later those images are stuck in my head and I have nightmares about them. I know this was a long time ago but I just can’t get it out of my head. No one knows these details, not even my wife of 25+ years. I am afraid to tell her or my daughter for fear they will fear me for what goes on in my head. I figure eventually this will kill me….

  • Stef

    Stef

    June 30th, 2017 at 12:25 AM

    Living with C-PTSD isn’t a curse – it’s a reality. I get that it wasn’t my fault that my mother physically abused me my entire childhood (which I won’t go into because I feel embarrassed and ashamed and not worth my time mentally reliving) or the emotional abuse that’s continued into adulthood where I have been essentially “thrown away” – I’m not good enough for her. It’s not my fault my two teenage daughters are mentally ill (bipolar for one and borderline personality disorder for the other). It’s also not their fault. I survived their intense desire to both kill themselves and inject methamphetamine as well as a shlew of other “things” that I won’t go into (it would take forever). They’re both alive and better today than 2 years ago. We all survived.

    I worked with every bit of my heart and soul to pull myself out of my childhood – was halfway through my MBA when my daughters got “crazy”. Worked a respectable career job. Tried to do it all “the right way.”

    I’m now 41 – 1 year old twins (which are the biggest blessing – baby therapy) and amazing 6 & 8 year old daughters.

    Everything that’s happened over the past 5 years nearly cost me my marriage. I had to file bankruptcy. I couldn’t finish my masters degree – 15 years in the making.

    I’m exhausted, in pain, have severe insomnia, drink way too much in the middle of the night trying to go to sleep, but still have my husband. I love all of my children – even those older ones who are struggling but finding their way slowly. I’ll always love them – and they love me. But I’m in a lot of pain.

    Every time I try to talk to a doctor about what’s wrong – I can’t get it out right. I can only get out pieces and chunks – disjointed. The story is too long. Most people can’t handle it. Yet still… i really do find pleasure in life – in cooking, in my CSA, in my children. But nobody believes anything I say. Doctors typically think I’m out to find pain killers or I’m an alcoholic… and I can’t give a 41 year old story in 10-15 minutes. I couldn’t even get half-decent pain killers when i got 4 crowns and was in excruciating pain because I was too weird about it at the office.

    Therapists say I’m an inspiration – because I became educated and articulate. I can’t say (I don’t know how to) how I need help. I don’t even know if I do – maybe time will heal all wounds.

    Even here, I can’t articulate where I’m at or what I need. The story is too long – I become exhausted before i’m 2% in. Nobody will ever understand. I feel like I’m not from this planet… Born into the wrong species.. I don’t understand people and they don’t understand me.

    Trying to tell people about myself feels futile. Everyone will just judge me or feel sorry for me. Neither of which are helpful.

    Some people talk about me in what I’d like to think is a positive light – they say I’m a “free spirit” one with nature (almost sounds hippy like). It feels good to hear it, but I have no idea what the fuck they are talking about. At this point – I try to do what I want.. no matter what other people think…

    I just want to keep to myself and my very small circle of kids and my husband. I love people, but I don’t trust anyone – and I think most people will judge me. They’ll think I’m weird, odd, not their “type.”

    So, I just spend time alone – I enjoy time alone. It’s the safest place to be. Up all night – wondering how drunk I’ll have to get before I pass out and can finally sleep.

    My dream life is intense, exciting, and full of adventure. It is completely illogical, yet exciting. Sometimes I wonder if my dreams are bleeding over to reality. I wake up.. .and my dreams feel as real as my actual life. That’s my C-PTSD.

  • Melissa

    Melissa

    July 9th, 2017 at 5:13 AM

    There is so much here that you shared, that I can relate to. Reading it helps me to not feel so crazy.

  • Abused_Confused

    Abused_Confused

    July 9th, 2017 at 11:19 AM

    Hi, I can relate, too– though I was never able to marry. Relationships and many doctors, for the most part, thought I was either crazy or an addict (need pain- pills for all sorts of things, mostly migraines). Left the psych system a long time ago; felt like specimen under microscope, or was abused even worse by so called “mental health” system practitioners. Like you, I live pretty much an eremetical life. Spiritual practicess, when I’m feeling sane; writing and depression, when I’m not. Occasionally, both. So far, nothing but creativity (and prayer) really works. And often, the right dose of SAM-e or Melatonin helps (SAM-e used sparingly; Melatonin, nightly).
    BTW– just to set the record straight: that priest I wrote about 2 yrs. ago wasn’t abusing me. I wasn’t lying– just confused. It had to do w/ transference. Sometimes, it’s hard to know who to trust… I think that’s my hardest issue.

  • Laura

    Laura

    August 6th, 2017 at 2:38 PM

    Dear Love,
    I just wanted to write you because your story really touched my heart. You have obviously been to hell and are still climbing through. I wish I could help you. Maybe I can. I also suffer from C-PTSD. Abandoned by my husband because I was physically and mentally sick. He got my 2 children and has alienated them and now they don’t even want to see me. He’s a Lieutenant with the Police Department and that’s how he has been able to get by with every single contempt case that I have filed against him in family court. I also shot myself point blank in the middle of my head. And God loves us/me so much that HE saved my life and I hardly have a scar. Doctors told my family that I had less than 10 minutes left to live, but I’m here. I’ve had over 50 plus abdominal surgeries since 2003. I am a cervical cancer survivor who was told that I would never have children, I have 2. My Mother wasn’t emotionally available for me during my upbringing. I don’t blame her anymore, I don’t think I do?
    My ex-husband accused me of making up my own physical illnesses for attention? Yeah, like blood work and CT-Scans can lie. Although, I’ve had doctors who didn’t believe in me. Thought I was just after pain medication. I have lost every one of my friends. I isolate myself. And I carry around bags with my medical records in them afraid that something will happen to me and nobody will believe me or will help me. I f#cking hate what this disease is doing to me! And I hate what is has and is doing to you! Rant over! I’m here if you need someone to talk to! For real…

  • Andy

    Andy

    September 14th, 2017 at 8:12 PM

    Stef, beyond a few simple tweaks here and there, your story could be my story. Mine started when I wasn’t quite 3yrs old…I’ll be 44 in less than a month. Last time I counted, I have been abused by over 25 people…8 female and the rest male. I am currently in my 19 th year of a DV abusive marriage to a covert narcissistic wife. I know your story, because it is my story too. All of my abuse memories were suppressed till January 23rd of this year. And no, I am not okay, not in the slightest.

  • Teresa

    Teresa

    February 11th, 2018 at 2:17 PM

    Wow, so very familiar. All of these comments remind me of my situation. To make a long story short, I found out that I am a victim of Cluster B personality disorder. No, I don’t have the disorder, my husband, I just found out not long ago is a Narcissist. He tried to drive me insane with gas lighting. Under the impression that my mom was my best friend for years, I didn’t notice the subtle psychological abuse that she was doing to me as well. I found out September 28, 2018 what my husband was through an internet search. He has all of the signs. (I even went back to our marriage counselor we once had, he went over all of his notes on our previous sessions and confirmed that my husband had all of the symptoms and the counselor apologized {which is very rare} because he didn’t see them) I have been educating myself on narcissism and I pretty much know the signs. I had been wondering if my mom had narcissistic traits and a couple of weeks ago, I found out for sure. She is a narcissist co-morbid (mixed with) borderline. These people are very good at lying. They lie so well that I think they believe their lies. After being married to someone like that for 20 years, and then finding out that my mom is one, well it’s devastating.
    Many people that are victims of narcissistic abuse are diagnosed with borderline, bi-polar, and many other things that are associated with emotional dis-regulation. Anyway, many of you have stated that you know that you are a victim of cluster b abuse and many here may not know what that is just like me not too long ago.
    Please if you have been diagnosed as an emotionally dis-regulated person, when at one time in your life, you were a very high functioning person than you are probably a victim of narcissistic abuse. My advise is to start journaling, especially your interactions with your significant other. And most importantly: do your research on narcissist especially COVERT NARCISSISM (PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE). After all of these years, I finally found out that is NOT ME. But from their abuse I now have C-PTSD. I know that I have a part to play as well, but these people, through psychological abuse can inflict all sorts of things onto their victims, even physiological problems like auto-immune diseases.
    Much Love to All of You with C-PTSD…

  • Nicole E.

    Nicole E.

    September 3rd, 2018 at 9:27 AM

    I’m replying a year late I’m sorry.. but I have to say I understand and particularly when you note it’s so hard to articulate what has gone on.. I get it there is so much pain and so much that has happened, it’s too overwhelming, let alone for others to listen, believe or accept. I send you from one to another, although our stories are different, the similarities are there.. love and positivity to you xxx

  • R

    R

    August 29th, 2017 at 12:01 PM

    I share my experiences as a person diagnosed with c-PTSD. I was a child of an alcoholic father and a mother who never sought treatment for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. For quite some time, it was my mother who I was in denial about.
    I also had grandfathers who were heavy drinkers and a grandmother suffering from Bipolar Type 1. The key factor in my discovery of what later turned out to be c-PTSD was my own return to therapy during my adult life for what seemed to be dysthimia. Later on, in another return to therapy, it became clinical depression. And then once more, Bipolar Type 2. Needless to say, by the time I reached therapy for the sixth time in my adult life after being in an accident and coming back from a coma and a traumatic brain inujry, I wondered whether CB therapy treated my psychological condition effectively at all. I always felt like I needed to go “deeper”.
    But it was later discovered by a clinical psychologist who recognized the emotional abuse I had suffered in the many years of being raised by my mother after my parents divorced when I was five years old. Constant moving and changing schools. Six moves, two different states, and eight different schools, another marriage and a divorce, a lost inheritance. That was my poor mother’s life after her divorce from my father. All of this I experienced before age 16. Then, during college graduation, I witnessed my mother having a nervous breakdown and a stroke as we rushed her to the hospital Emergency Room due to kidney failure. By that point, I recall a feeling of death. I was 23 years old. I had lived that much already.
    Anyway, I went on in my life, on the one hand always being told how nice, handsome or smart I was, but inwardly feeling empty and depressed and fearful and jumpy all the time.
    This complex of feelings would stay with me on and on in my life. Even through the completion of law school.
    I was frightened of success as well as failure. Later I would experience feelings of chronic anxiety and a constant fear of abandonment. I would feel overwhelmed in crowds. I was terrified of intimacy. All of these feelings would persist regardless of the “reality” of my surroundings.
    It has taken me many years to understand and finally, now, gratefully so, it is amazing to me to learn about the symptoms of c-PTSD because they are definitely different from traditional PTSD.
    I am making progress with this…

  • CeCe

    CeCe

    September 9th, 2017 at 8:35 PM

    This is in reply to you, Kris. The “event that triggered you” was your entire childhood, so basically life is a trigger. Everything is suspect because you’re never sure that those you’re in relationships with aren’t trying to kill you. In fact, you’re pretty certain most people are through their negligence, stupidity or psychopathy. Let’s put it this way: I eventually moved to the country where I can’t feel people harming me any more.

  • Sara

    Sara

    October 13th, 2017 at 5:17 AM

    I suffer from a bad form of cptsd. I was molested at a really young age to later marry a man who beat the hell out of me for years. Then thrown in jail for 7 month b/c we had kids and I couldn’t leave. To turn around and have the next man I married steal everything including my kids and have all my family and friends stab me in the back though all of it. Its hell. That’s all that can be said. But I’m coping and learning to get better. Its a second at a time thing. Get strength from your higher power. That’s all I have to hang onto my sanity sometimes.

  • Simone

    Simone

    June 5th, 2013 at 6:21 PM

    I am happy to see ANYONE talking and asking about Complex PTSD, because I have lived it with all sixty years I have been on the planet. It is a miracle I am still here, and I am not being dramatic. I would be considered high functioning, and it seems it is a core drive, determination and mostly, not letting all my abusers “win” that keeps my spirit going, but my life is often hell getting through the day. I wish I could write a book, a blog, etc. and maybe I will still be able to, but often feel so crippled due to the amount of re-traumatization and triggering that goes on most of the time. To me and most professionals as well as survivors (I am a licensed therapist, but would love to not know what I know and how I know it!) of course what would help the healing is to have supportive family and friends on your journey, to not be alone. What I never have seen addressed, is what if a continuing part of your extensive childhood trauma, is that in adulthood, your family or origin does not speak to you and never will, casting you out as the problem, because you spoke up, and even after that, tried to establish a healthy relationship with them? I don’t tell anyone this except my therapist, because people cannot believe a family could be like that, so of course look at me like I must be crazy of making it up. Of course, that just triggers me more and adds to the SHAME. I have bee proactive about my healing for some many years and do everything I can to help, but chose not to have children so have an isolated life. Having C-PTSD makes one super sensitive to unsafe people or situations- I would say this is the number ONE symptom! Sensing things other people don’t, so relationships that most people can have, where people cross your boundaries, or overwhelm you, etc.- are too much for me. I can’t drink much or do drugs, or overdo other things as a solution, so end up “living raw” as I call it. Breathing, mindfulness, and being true to myself, remember my SELF is what I have, and writing this, hoping someone will read it and KNOW. What hurts is the medical community that continues to describe PTSD in ways that don’t describe so many of us, and the public doesn’t really want to hear about it, unless you are a veteran or been molested by a priest. My story is hard for me to believe, much less anyone else. They say if you have ONE person, that makes a difference, and that is true. My dream would be to have a forum, a group, a book, a movement, for those of use who have not committed suicide like we want to sometimes, haven’t ended up on the street (which would be understandable) and continue to try to make something of ourselves, to be heard, seen, and loved (and to love) and to give something back. To make use of what happened to me to help more people on a larger scale, to use my voice, my expression, to have safe friends to do that with- THAT would make it all come out all right, and my life would not be in vain. Most of the time I fear it will be, and I will fade out and be forgotten. No drama, just truth. Thank you for listening, if anyone is out there.

  • admin2

    admin2

    June 5th, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Hi Simone,
    Thank you so much for your comment. Your story stood out to us and we wanted to invite you (and any others who may see this and have a similar history) to share your experiences on our blog. You can read more about our featured “Share Your Story” section here: https://www.goodtherapy.org/submit-your-story.html
    We hope you will consider adding your voice!
    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Editorial Team

  • K@

    K@

    March 13th, 2018 at 12:13 AM

    I stumbled on this site and keep coming back to read all of your comments over and over. I am in my late 50s and went through years of therapy looking for someone to fix my uneasy mind. I now know that what I’ve been experiencing is c-PTSD due to a self-induced occurrence, as I can relate to most of your comments. I barely function inside. The stress of what happened has been eating me alive and I just want to disappear. I’ve managed to balance this wonderful life – husband -kids-career, but none of it feels real to me. I go through the motions, void of any enjoyment, So, I too, cry for Divine intervention to restore and calm my mind. Knowing you are all out there makes me think I can have your support by reading more.

  • Elea Lee

    Elea Lee

    June 6th, 2013 at 8:52 AM

    Simone, I believe you. My children were abused by their adopted brother (also an abuse victim).

    We lost family, friends, community, church. The absence of support has been as difficult as dealing with the abuse.

    How could so many “good people” react so poorly? I have encountered many survivors who have had a similar experience. Most choose to hide the abuse to avoid rejection.

  • Valerie Hernandez

    Valerie Hernandez

    May 26th, 2014 at 5:18 AM

    Exactly.

  • Bri

    Bri

    December 4th, 2013 at 1:26 PM

    I felt as though I was reading something I had written. Hurtful but relieving that someone in this world feels the same way.

  • Patricia Harris

    Patricia Harris

    January 16th, 2014 at 9:32 PM

    Thank you for sharing Simone!

  • Valerie Hernandez

    Valerie Hernandez

    May 26th, 2014 at 5:31 AM

    I hear your truth. It’s also my truth, especially when you speak about the secondary damage, poor reactions when people cast the victim out, reject them, and even blame them for “causing a stir.”

    I am also trying to write a book, as no one could believe the bizarre trauma happening daily in the lives of my sister and I, as my father was “rich.”

    As an adult my mother shunned me, called me angry, and I have no real support system other than friends that have been pseudo-family, (thank goodness for them) and my therapy group.

    There needs to be more light shone upon C-PTSD. And I too am doing it raw, no medication.

  • Mark C

    Mark C

    August 2nd, 2016 at 8:39 AM

    My current ptsd was caused by ptsd maltreatment at a VA clinic. My original ptsd was caused by an abusive mother and her submissive alcoholic husband, my father, was cured ages ago by a trained clergyman using “Gestalt Therapy. That has been the only therapy that worked. He had me on the floor grinding my mother into the carpet after working with me less than 15 minutes. I would give up all my teeth to get him for a therapist again but it’s not possible now. So…that last comment…”always a next time???” RIGHT ON… meanwhile remember that cartoon about a mouse hanging by a thread from an overhang on a cliff///// HANG ON!!!

  • Janet

    Janet

    August 25th, 2014 at 4:54 PM

    Hi Simone,

    I share many of your struggles. I want you to know that I Know and that I hear you. It was helpful reading your post. Thank you! I hope you’ll write more.

  • Jo

    Jo

    May 29th, 2016 at 3:59 PM

    I have just read your post Simone. Wow! I understand that fully. I find these days as I am getting older everything is getting worse. It is terrible really that I have got through the worst of what I could happen. I have bought up my own kids and been high functioning. The silence and the lies are slowly choking me. Yes, it feels very crazy.

  • Myka

    Myka

    October 14th, 2016 at 9:27 AM

    This is so surreal. I feel like you just read and wrote my mind. For all my life I’ve never said much about my family because I always felt no one would ever believe me. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • L

    L

    November 19th, 2016 at 12:49 PM

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. I struggle every day because of people not understanding or wanting to understand and it makes you feel like an alien like you are in the wrong and I definitely get what you said about the sensing things that others don’t because my mind does this all the time and I always feel uneasy around people now especially people I don’t know or people that have some kind of control over something in my life. I have been fighting disability for 4 years now because I can’t even work and its also because of spine issues but the feeling of being out of control is really hard

  • rob n

    rob n

    December 8th, 2016 at 1:28 PM

    you are certainly not alone

  • Maureen Z.

    Maureen Z.

    December 16th, 2016 at 12:47 PM

    This is years later, but I read your post and truly connect to it. Did you ever get that book club started? Could I help you? I am a psychologist, but sadly a survivor of complex PTSD first. I need others to relate to.

  • Jean

    Jean

    March 20th, 2017 at 6:38 AM

    My memory of past traumatic years hasn’t been great.I forgot a lot of my past.Do you know if this is a symptom

  • peter

    peter

    December 18th, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    you are not alone check out somatic meditation….reggie ray i think the body can heal us

  • Laura

    Laura

    December 22nd, 2016 at 1:27 PM

    Hi Simone,
    I know this comment is going on 4 years old now but I’ve just come across it and wanted to offer some input and help if you are still struggling with writing or finding a support network.
    On wordpress dot com there are many many blogs. And within those many blogs there are many people blogging about C-PTSD and narcissistic abuse.
    You can create your own blog there for free and/or just read other people’s blogs. There are many people with C-PTSD who are reading the same blogs and so it’s kind of ended up as it’s own community in a way.
    The people who read and comment are very validating which is helpful in the healing process.
    Just an idea if you are still looking.

  • anonymous

    anonymous

    January 1st, 2017 at 2:02 AM

    Out of the Fog, Out of the Storm

  • K

    K

    February 22nd, 2017 at 6:07 AM

    I understand in every way. I deal with this daily. Today I am only “safe” in my bed, when the anxiety creeps in it takes over and nothing makes sense. I feel everything that you are saying.

  • Debbie P

    Debbie P

    February 24th, 2017 at 8:09 AM

    So sorry you are living with this :( I know the feelings well. I am so afraid of so many things. What people dont realize is we are not afraid of what can happen…. We are afraid because things have happened… It really has helped me knowing that there are others like me. Thank you for writing this post <3

  • Anon

    Anon

    April 21st, 2017 at 7:30 AM

    Simone – I’m out there. And I’m listening.

  • Sherie

    Sherie

    May 9th, 2017 at 6:26 AM

    As a survivor of C-PTSD I can only feel such sadness that there are so many out there suffering. I am from India and here there still hardly any understanding of this curse. Yes, it does feel like a curse because it has been brought on by the hate of the people who were meant to love and care for you. The only saving grace for me was that I had a truly loving mother till her death when I was 11 years. After that it was pure hell, sexual abuse, violence, emotional abuse. Finally, I ran away from home with a man who turned out be selfish and blamed me for all his problems. Thankfully he died leaving me and my 2 year old son. It was a struggle to bring up my son but being a high functioning I could somehow manage to hold on to a job. But not for more than 2 years. My son is now 17 years and thankfully he has turned out to be quite a caring chap, Last year I took a break from work after another blow out and went about self healing with sound therapy. One year later, the intrusive memories and rage has gone and I am feeling calmer. The 5 things that have helped my recovery, 1) stress free environment 2) Sound therapy 3) Healthy diet – having tumeric pepper water when I get up and including fermented lemon drinks daily plus yogurt 4) Crawling – helps connect the brain hemispheres Sexual abuse, PTSD and the corpus callosum”Abused children with PTSD have lower intracranial and cerebral volumes, larger lateral ventricles, and a smaller corpus callosum than healthy controls, which may indicate neuronal loss””In the PTSD children, we saw that the corpus callosum did not grow with age compared with controls, which may be due to a failure of myelination,” said DeBellis.” ibiblio.org/rcip/dyslexia.html. Yoga is an alternative but I am lazy and find crawling easier. (How to Improve Whole Brain Functioning drlarryiverson.com/?p=1050 )
    5)But most of all as Simone says ONE person, that makes a difference – my 17 year old son. I have just begun my blog mindkindmom.com and hope through it I can help connect lonely sufferers. I know it’s a long time but hey Simone, I send you Love. I understand. You can connect with me on my blog.

  • lisa

    lisa

    June 5th, 2017 at 2:12 AM

    thank you for your words

  • Complexlass

    Complexlass

    June 16th, 2017 at 12:17 PM

    Simone, I KNOW… Wish I didn’t but I hear you completely. You could have been describing me.

  • Carla

    Carla

    July 28th, 2017 at 9:47 PM

    Simone….Omy….you have shared almost in detail what I have been saying for the past 35 years to anyone that would listen to me…not many listen…they hear and they bolt with lame excuses and I am supposed to believe them….why do people confuse C-PTSD with Crazy? We are NOT Crazy. We are robbed of our peace and security that everyone deserves and we are just trying to obtain that over and over and over again. Please stop giving us “the looks” and “the lying excuses”…..LISTEN and offer words of comfort. Embrace us like a little child and help us to heal….we ARE WORTH IT!!! Simone, you are NOT alone…..let’s write that book, blog, etc. Let’s HEAL and move forward somehow, some way.

  • mel

    mel

    August 6th, 2018 at 8:33 AM

    Your strength and story greatly inspired and moved me. There’s an invariable backlash from dysfunctional family members when the C-PTSD person speaks out. That is why — and as you noted — it is best to avoid said family members all together, regardless of how much it hurts to let them go and never look back.

  • Simone

    Simone

    June 5th, 2013 at 6:24 PM

    Kris-
    Hopefully you will read what I wrote above, if it is approved. I don’t know how many people read this site, which I just happened upon, but I was moved to express myself, as I so often yearn to do. Thank you for reading, if you do.

  • Kris

    Kris

    June 6th, 2013 at 3:57 AM

    Great to see that the conversation has been started and that we see just how one little comment can spark so much involvement and positive energy. Glad to see that this is reaching the right people and through one person, you can easily impact another with your words in a way that is touching and heartfelt.

  • Joe Fr

    Joe Fr

    June 8th, 2013 at 7:23 AM

    Wow I have a close brother in law with similar symptoms and multidimensional complications to his PTSD. So complex that symptom management seemed to be his only option. Glad to see the topic is coming up for air. My hat is off to you Simon — any good resource reading for neophytes?

  • Angela

    Angela

    June 14th, 2013 at 6:11 AM

    I am so thankful to see this article. I have often wondered if my response to confrontational issues could be indicative of PTSD from my very abusive marriage. My husband is now deceased having passed away of liver cirrhosis at age 28 almost three years ago. In many ways, I am very blessed to still be alive because, if he had his way, I would not be. Reading about the C-PTSD, many things about my behavior and personality make sense now. Next step is figuring out how I can get help.

  • Gillian

    Gillian

    October 23rd, 2013 at 5:28 PM

    Thank you to the people who have written here. I have recently been diagnosed with complex PTSD. It led out of all things, exposure therapy for a writing phobia that only intensified, rather than lessened with treatment. I couldn’t understand why it got worse, why the emotions kept amplifying . . . Long story short, as it is very difficult for me to write about what I feel, thank you for letting me know I’m not alone. Kia kaha (strength to you)

  • Lisa

    Lisa

    November 7th, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    I am 49 and have been in therapy for 20 years but it wasn’t until working with a new therapist recently did I understand that many of my struggles and behaviors were symptoms of C-PTSD. My childhood was fairly traumatic yet stable at the same time. I do pretty well in life… have a good career, own a home and have good friendships. But struggles persist and I became so frustrated because I was working so hard in therapy… just not with the right person who knew enough about C-PTSD to treat me properly. So good to see information here and other’s stories… it gives me hope.

  • Patricia Harris

    Patricia Harris

    January 16th, 2014 at 9:26 PM

    I am happy to find this sight.I have had C-PTSD for nearly 20 years, but wasn’t diagnosed until 8 years ago.Still it has taken me a while to really grasp it and learn to manage life with C-PTSD. I have been disabled by this and haven’t been able to work for a long time. I am thankful that I have had substantial healing In some areas, but my life is still difficult. I wish more people would get informed about this. It’s other’s lack of understanding that makes this harder than it is already. In most relationships It is hard always trying to be understood. I do my best but I get so tired of trying to explain my issues. I pray a lot :) and I meditate on life giving verses from the Bible as well as Gods love and this helps a lot. I’m pretty sure I would have given up long ago without my faith.I have grandchildren that bring me a great deal of joy. Love heals & keeps me hopeful.
    We face tremendous odds as we fight to cope and dream of perhaps rising above “just coping”. The people I know who struggle with this PTSD life are some of then bravest most remarkable people I know.
    God hold us close, surround us with your grace and grant us fresh revelation of your awesome love each day to strengthen our hearts.

  • Shannon

    Shannon

    January 7th, 2015 at 7:25 AM

    This place makes me feel a little bit more normal. We are all wonderful people who now have to live life coping with our past. I’m about to lose a man who has been by my side this past year because it’s too much for him. I’m trying to focus on getting better but things like this change totally spin my world around and makes me feel inadequate as a woman. This illness is very draining. I loved reading your post. It really touched my heart. Thank you 😃

  • Patricia Harris

    Patricia Harris

    January 16th, 2014 at 9:35 PM

    Thank you Zawn! This is very helpful & consice.

  • beth

    beth

    February 12th, 2014 at 11:40 AM

    I had no idea that I had PTSD (even though my older sister had been diagnosed with it over 20 years ago) and had never even heard of C-PTSD. I always felt that there was something wrong with me. Sometimes I even felt like someone else had taken over my body saying and doing things as I watched.

    Over the past few years, though, I have been so affected by C-PTSD at work that I could no longer deny that there was something going on. I had regressed, was so anxious I couldn’t sleep, could not remember things, and was not acting “normal”. I was on the verge of quitting my job, because I couldn’t stand the stress of going in every day. If not for anti-depressants, I don’t think I could have continued working there.

    I too would like to be able to talk to people about what works for them and how they continue on in life, deal with depression and the self-destructive coping methods we learned to survive childhood. I hesitate, because the experiences of others would haunt me as the emotions of my own do now. I don’t actually remember the emotional abuse of my childhood, and I don’t really want to remember. However, unfortunately, I look back and see that I tend to repeat it by seeking out relationships, though less destructive than those in the past, that remind me of “home”. I’m consciously trying to rectify that tendency, and it’s a difficult thing to change. I’m attracted to what I’m used to and unconsciously look for those relationships.

    The therapists whom I sought out for help didn’t understand about C-PTSD, and thus increased my anxiety, shame, confusion, and self-doubt to unbearable levels. I finally found someone who knew what it was and how to treat it. She helped me understand what was happening to me and how to combat emotional flashbacks, stay grounded, and not to be so horribly embarrassed by the strange and uncontrollable behavior I exhibited when triggered. I don’t know if I would have made it to this point without her…

    I felt like she really cared about helping me though this stressful period, and she was the only one consistently there for me. Sometimes my husband would be there for me, but much of the time he was a trigger instead. My therapist was always there.

    My husband and his family had a major positive affect on my life, though, and I keep that in mind when he’s not being very accepting of my condition. They showed me how people could interact, argue and still love and respect each other, and really be a family rather than the dysfunctional mess I grew up in. Both of my parents also had dysfunctional, abusive families, so I do not blame them for how they treated us. How could they know any better? The abusive environment was normal for them as I always assumed mine was normal. However, I never had children for fear that I would ever treat them like I was treated.

  • Sian Hatton

    Sian Hatton

    February 27th, 2014 at 11:06 AM

    I have recently in the last 6 weeks fallen for the second time to C-PTSD and I don’t know what to do with this. I am in an uncontrollable mess that I’m not sure I can deal with again..

  • Melissa

    Melissa

    March 6th, 2014 at 8:03 AM

    So glad to see this entry and string of comments. I have had to come to this on my own, as no one has ever sat me down and said, “Look, this is what you have, here’s how I know, and this is what we’re going to do about it.” I had to claim the word PTSD, I had to claim the word abuse about my 10-year relationship that nearly killed me, and now I have quite literally just found this term – and I’ve been working specifically with a trauma therapist these past few months! To make matters worse, of the 9 mental health practitioners and two hospitals I saw during the abuse, only one even named the abuse and no one gave me resources. Many punished me for my abuse symptoms. So now I have trauma around therapists too, and am afraid and untrusting of them. I’m in a safe and loving relationship now but I am terrified of losing her (thanks for affirming that that’s actually normal for people with this condition). It’s very hard not to go back into abuse victim mode just to keep her and to defend myself from my fears about my therapist – even though that tends to backfire. Are there any resources on couples counseling when both members of the couple are trauma survivors and one has complex PTSD? I live in a rural area, and mental health resources are extremely thin here, but my wife and I both hold doctorates and can read and comprehend research papers in this area.

  • Simon

    Simon

    May 19th, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    To put a name on this unconscious trauma was so liberating for me. I used to feel so angry and powerless, constantly drawing friends and jobs that simply used me to project on, and carry their collective shame. I found my trauma was really healed through the use of emotional freedom technique alongside meditation. Awareness and seeing relational patterns are vital but the past trauma is blocked energy that must find a release. I would urge anyone to research eft on the internet, its very simple and can be done alone at home.

  • Katie

    Katie

    July 30th, 2014 at 8:36 PM

    Thank you for posting this information. Although it can’t fix me, knowing that my issues have a name kind of helps me to feel validated. I’m 28 years old and have not been a stranger to trauma. Starting from age 2, when shortly before my 3rd birthday my father committed suicide in our house (where I also currently live again). I’ve experienced more loss when in separate events a classmate, a friend, and a HS crush commit suicide. I lost another crush through a car accident. I went through life being severely bullied by my classmates at more than one school. I went to college thinking things would change, however, I was sexually assaulted more than once by acquaintances or people I thought I could trust. I then entered into a relationship with a sociopath. Even after becoming entangled in his web, I attended graduate school, during which I was raped by one of his acquaintances. That haunted me because my s.o. told me I deserved it and he continued to torture me about it throughout our relationship. He became abusive towards me in every way possible (sexually, financially, emotionally, verbally, and finally physically). After 6 years in that relationship, the only reason I escaped was because I became pregnant and my life now is for protecting my son. I feel extremely vigilant about keeping him from the harm that I have been subjected to all my life. I don’t trust anyone and have the worst outlook on my self. I lost a job almost a year ago due to PTSD symptoms and not being able to control my emotions. I fear my career is ruined before it even really began. My former boss and co-workers bullied me and purposefully triggered me because they found it funny and exciting. My boss bragged about wanting to fire someone and then it turned out to be me. I blame myself daily for all of the abuse, trying to figure out what about me made others hate me so much. It’s getting so hard to see the light in life, but my child keeps me strong because I owe him better than I have had. He didn’t ask to be in this world, so I feel very responsible. However, I have joint custody due to the broken family court system and abusive attorneys and judges. My ex is a narcissistic sociopath and co-parenting with someone who abused me is incredibly difficult. He does things to purposefully trigger me. I’ve found that no-contact is the easiest, but that’s not always possible. My life now is very difficult and I’m stuck in a hole of unemployment and re-occurring symptoms of C-PTSD. My son and I live with my parents and I feel like we are a burden on them. I need hope that the future will be better. I can’t afford therapy, so I am on my own. I hide my symptoms from my family and my boyfriend because I’m very private and don’t want them to think that I’m troubled and this makes it a bigger burden on me every day. Each day without a job makes me feel more like a loser. I am not looking to get on any kind of government assistance like disability as I want to be able to overcome my problems or at least function better in society. “Lost” is the only word I can think of that best describes how I feel right now.

  • Lori

    Lori

    July 10th, 2015 at 5:15 PM

    Hi Katie … Your post describes my life so much. I too had no idea what was wrong with me. After ending a abusive relationship with a misogynistic narcissistic monster my mental state was stalled. I cannot find or hold a job because I have anxiety and no confidence in myself. I clean houses to support my family but it isolates me even more from the world. I have been to shrinks who just want to call me depressed and load me up with pills that make me worse. I am at my wits end as I also have to co parent with my abuser and he continues his relenting pounding of my fragile mental state. I want to function again and be like other people but I’m feeling very hopeless lately. I need validation that I suffer everyday from complex ptsd.. I honestly don’t know where to turn.

  • Jane

    Jane

    July 29th, 2017 at 11:37 PM

    My story is nearly identical to yours got pregnant the last day I was in the house with him I thought I had found the escaped still suffering with no relief iand no one to understand, everyone wants me to just shut up and go back to work and what normal they’re sick of me. Raising children while having these symptoms is almost unbearable. Their abusive father is now threatening to start custody proceedings and I am at a loss, I think I’m just going to give the children to him. I believe having to stay in a battle with him any longer will completely sever my sanity. I pray and beg God to put me out of my misery and the misery I caused everyone around me apparently.

  • Mimi

    Mimi

    August 14th, 2014 at 12:01 PM

    It always baffles me and makes me sad to see how many people are affected by complex PTSD, and also how many are out there not knowing what is “wrong” with them…
    After many years of searching and trying to understand what was wrong in my life, I came across an article on narcissitic abuse in childhood and its effects on adulthood. For years I believed I was the culprit, I was wrong, I was mentally unstable, I’m the one who has it all wrong, I am the crazy one, etc. After reading this article, that proverbial lightbulb went on. I recognized myself in each and every word. It felt like I spent my whole adult life searching for something, and never finding it. I truly believed that things would get better, once X thing had happened (” once I’m engaged, I will be better. Once I am married, it will be better. Once I have a baby my life will be complete”) but it never got better. As time went on, I felt more and more angry and frustrated; nothing was ever good enough for me.
    Once I had my beautiful baby boy, things got even worse. I had flashbacks. After my maternity leave I felt so overwhelmed, juggling family and work life, that I forgot who I was and what I wanted. It got harder and harder to get up in the mornings and to finish my workday. Until one day I almost lost consciousness on my way to work. That’s when I realized that I needed help. Unfortunately, the doctor I saw was less than sympathetic. He had no patience dealing with my case and dismissed everything I said. So the only thing I could do was to pull myself together one more time and get help elsewhere. I knocked on so many doors. It was discouraging and sometimes even degrading, having to open yourself up to a perfect stranger just to have that person laugh in your face is just horrible. It was a long path to finally finding the right doctor and therapist. After several months in therapy, I have barely scratched the surface of what needs to be addressed. I know I will never heal, I will never have the benefit of knowing what it feels like to have a “normal” life. I will never know what it’s like not to feel like a complete waste of space. All I can do is learn to live with it, perhaps even learn to outsmart it? Knowing that my struggle with everyday life is called complex PTSD, gives me some solace. I’m not the crazy one after all. I’m a victim.

  • Cindy

    Cindy

    September 27th, 2015 at 2:01 PM

    Hello Beautiful Mimi & all the rest of you magnificent, spankling diamonds! You really are WORTHY! My personal belief is that we’ve all actually been “gifted”, believe it or not! Have you ever read “The Drama of the Gifted Child” by Alice Miller? I’ll happily volunteer to help speak up for those of us who’ve developed CPTSD. I learned to heal on my own, beginning back in 1986 after 26 long years of extended brutal abuse of every type! I was at the end of my rope, told my Higher Power “If you don’t help me escape this lifestyle, I have no other choice than to end my life cause I absolutely REFUSE to raise my son (& only child) in this horrific environment!” Shock! A miracle happened & I began to learn about loving myself exactly as I was, put myself 1st to heal & my son would automatically heal too. It WORKED! YOU ARE WORTHY! My extremely dysfunctional family (BTW, there’s NO such thing as “normal”, everyone’s experienced growing up in dysfunctional homes) my dysfunctional family literally HATES me now worse than ever before, have done some VERY CRUEL thing’s to both my now 37 yrs old son & myself over the past 2 years to try & destroy our happiness, joy, etc.

    I REFUSE to let them win. I almost died twice last year from CPTSD, my smart medical Dr picked right up on what was occurring. Unfortunately there’s not hardly anyone specifically trained in dealing with CPTSD or regular PTSD (my gfs vet son just recently committed suicide) So I’ve been having to work my way thru this alone.

    I’ve vowed to make it become a major issue to to get the public & medical communities attention, by perhaps writing a book, form support groups (people we can TRUST), etc., once I completely regain my health. I’ve also vowed the EXPOSE those who’ve intentionally harmed us. It’s going to be done out of LOVE for myself, not as a spiteful act. I’ve studied Psychology for 29 long years, got a toolbox loaded full of helpful tools. My dysfunctional family outnumbered me, ganged up on me & my son beginning minutes 20 minutes upon me finding my Mom dead at

  • kathy

    kathy

    August 31st, 2014 at 6:56 PM

    Wow. I just found out about complex ptsd yesterday through research and now I finally know what’s wrong with me. It’s a huge relief even though I know treatment isn’t very successful. I wanted to say to Katie who wrote on July 30th, hang in there. I’m going through the same joblessness due to not being able to control my emotions, and it’s hard right now but it will get better. You’ll find something. Do you have a state employment agency around? They can sometimes give you free training. And for therapy, try your crisis center, sometimes they have free therapy or can direct you to a free clinic. It’s not ideal but it might get you through.

  • sarah

    sarah

    November 7th, 2014 at 5:46 PM

    Simone,
    Reading your entry was like looking in the mirror. I know what you write of. I am living it. I am one of fifteen children brought up in a very ‘religious’ home. My parents preached Godliness and violated us sexually, emotionally, spiritually and physically. We existed to fill our parents needs. We were “bad” children; not allowed to socialize, laugh, play or talk. I don’t have words to describe the hell that life was and how leaving felt like getting out of prison. The problem is emotionally i feel like the danger is everywhere. I hardly ever feel safe and I never met ANYONE who has symptoms similar to mine. It’s hard to feel worthy and not like a freak or a waste of space. I still question my memories and find it hard to function. I am sad to read that the rest of my life will be coping with symptoms at best. I wanted so much more for myself. I too wish there was some way we could support each other. It could be very healing to know we are not alone.
    Thank You for reading.

  • Kirsty

    Kirsty

    January 10th, 2016 at 7:08 PM

    Sarah,
    Your story makes me deeply sad and causes me pain that I wish I could hug you and re-assure you that you have beautiful soul inside and out, for sharing the undeserved and tragic atrocities, bestowed on such an innocent soul. My name is Kirsty,47 and I felt a strong will and soft heart in the openness of your comment. I am 4 years, closer to 3, into my totally repressed memories, but I received and felt strength in your words. I care about YOU and hope you will give this process, the time, and courage you already have. Kirsty

  • Kara

    Kara

    December 1st, 2014 at 4:57 AM

    Wow. This is what I deal with. I fear abandonment so bad that I am needy. All of my relationships end because of this. I am diagnosed with MDD and bipolar disorder and PTSD. Just recently I started self harming by cutting. I am 35 and it seems as if my condition is worsening. I am on 1500 mg of pysch meds. Nothing seems to be working. I tried church but growing up in the church I lost trust in ministers and pastor’s. I’ve been told I’m possessed etc. I’ve been molested physically abused and emotionally abused. I’m desperately wanting to fill true happiness.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    December 1st, 2014 at 8:50 AM

    Hi Kara,

    We received the comment that you submitted on our blog earlier today. Thank you so much for visiting GoodTherapy.org. If you are experiencing a life-threatening emergency, in danger of hurting yourself or others, feeling suicidal, overwhelmed, or in crisis, it’s very important that you get immediate help! You can do one of the following immediately:

    • Call your local law enforcement agency (911);
    • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room;
    • Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TTY:1-800-799-4TTY)

    The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is equipped to take a wide range of calls, from immediate suicidal crisis to providing information about mental health. Some of the reasons to call are listed below: • Call to speak with someone who cares;
    • Call if you feel you might be in danger of hurting yourself;
    • Call to find referrals to mental health services in your area;
    • Call to speak to a crisis worker about someone you’re concerned about.

    If you are a victim of domestic violence, you can call your local hotline and/or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233) (TTY 1−800−787−3224)

    RAINN provides support for sexual assault victims and their loved ones through two hotlines at 800.656.HOPE and Online.RAINN.org. Whether you are more comfortable on the telephone or online, RAINN has services that can guide you in your recovery.
    • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: If you need support, call 800.656.HOPE, and you will be directed to a rape crisis center near your area.
    • The National Sexual Assault Online Hotline: is the first secure web-based crisis hotline providing live and anonymous support through an interface as intuitive as instant messaging.
    • For more information visit http://rainn.org/get-help/national-sexual-assault-online-hotline.

    Warm regards,

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Pamela

    Pamela

    July 28th, 2017 at 1:23 PM

    I was with a severe abusive husband for 23 years. We had 6 children who were not allowed to go to school or have friends. He literally tortured us- electricity, sleep deprivation, beatings, lack of food, threatened with guns, etc, etc…I wasn’t allowed to leave the house or make phone calls without permission, and the phone calls were checked daily online. I escaped 10 years ago. I am remarried to a wonderful man now. My nightmares have gotten better over time. …,Now, when I see my ex in my dreams I remind him that he is dead (which he is, by cancer four years ago). I am grateful for this site because I also have nightmares about my current husband leaving me or disappearing through no fault of his own. I ask him if we are okay all the time. I will make an effort to stop asking him these things as I realize it is only part of my past trauma.

  • tardi

    tardi

    November 14th, 2017 at 2:43 PM

    Hello, It’s normal that medication didn’t help: there was a study in 2011 by Andrea Danese, showing that anti depressant medication doesn’t work on victims of child abuse…

  • reka

    reka

    December 5th, 2014 at 2:13 PM

    Hi Kara,

    I hope you are here and feelin better!

  • Hazel

    Hazel

    December 7th, 2014 at 6:59 AM

    Dearest All

    You are Worthy. You are Loved. The cruelty of others has become an epidemic because it’s their mental illness and your sensitivity, your compassion, your empathy caring is what makes you so incredibly special and unfortunately it also makes us feel used and so maltreated like we’re not human. They are not human- they lack feelings for others that is our humanity, our soul. You are all so wise because you awakened out of not knowing. We just need tiny, tiny baby steps one a week or one a month and we need to all talk more comforting, sympathising, validating and supporting each other. We are all here for each other connected in understanding and in our hearts. There is a very detailed, excellent and caring forum at isurvive.org which alot of amazing and beautiful people to talk with there too. We can trust each other because we know. We can care about each other because we have been there and we can see and hear in each other that there are so many beautiful and kind and loving and good people in the world. I wish you All the Very Best day by day, week by week, month by month. Oh ! And Dr Brian Weiss has the most loving and comforting books I have ever read over and over like a Bible by my bed. I hope you will keep reaching out. We are all here to hear and to care.

  • Marc S.

    Marc S.

    January 7th, 2015 at 2:38 AM

    Hello, my name is Marc.
    I would like to express my profound and most solemn respect and heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of my fellow C-PTSD Survivors who have shared here – ESPECIALLY the gifted writer who created this very important – and timely – string about our common experience of suffering all-pervasive and disabling C-PTSD.
    So HERE you all are… “My People.” I’m not concerned about whether I’ll fit-in among you – I BELONG among you. This is a class-action invitation to all of my fellow Survivors to join me ANYTIME at my table to break bread with me at my home in Vancouver, Canada. I am a proud dual citizen of Canada and the Mighty US of A.
    If I can, I’d like to have the pleasure to meet and get to know each one of us.This is my first exposure and contact with any other living souls with the wherewithall to understand, comfort and encourage each other in making the “highest & best” use of our common experience, suffering and new found freedom, health, well-being, peace…and even, joy. Keep on truckin’ laying new neural pathways for our respective…and shared…FUTURES! For each one of us Survivors, Job No. 1 MUST be to enjoy ourselves to the max, and then, maybe, if some of us are up for it, we could, as a group or as individuals, raise public awareness by doing the talk show circuit, writing and publishing our autobiographies and other ground-breaking, potentially lifesaving books and all other forms of print and broadcast media publications. I hope to always keep learning and growing and enjoying myself and meeting as many very highly valued fellow members of this, least desireable – yet most difficult private club to join. I am looking forward to building new friendships and establishing important, strategic alliances between and among ourselves as Survivors
    The world now…It is Tuesday, January 6th 2015 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. My name is Marc, I am a single,56-year old caucasion male, no children, university graduate, no police or criminal record, safe drivers discount…and although I have not been able to work and enjoy the basic and simple dignity of earning an income and supporting myself financially for the last nine years, I had no choice but to go into forced retirement at 47 and face life from the poverty line. I remain optimistic though, especially since my physician submitted a referral for me to be waitlisted and eventually participate in Canada’s ONLY in-patient treatment program for Complex-PTSD. Apparently, I am looking at a total of THREE YEARS treatment and living in communal-type of supportive-care housing. I hope it’s a rare affliction…Does anyone have any stats they might share with the rest of us? Thank you for being here and for serving as my safe island.

  • Lisa

    Lisa

    June 10th, 2015 at 11:41 PM

    Wish i could meet you too!!

  • Pamela B.

    Pamela B.

    September 15th, 2015 at 9:43 PM

    I have just in the last several months begun to learn about the Narcissistic Abuser and CPTSD. Tonight I found this site and read your reply from back in January. First, I hope you are progressing in your recovery. Second, I trust very few. Finally, I liked your reply and I am going to take the risk, and ask if I could hear more from you. I hope to hear from you and I again hope you are doing well. Thanks, Pamela (a survivor)

  • Holly H.

    Holly H.

    September 28th, 2015 at 9:25 AM

    Hello Marc :)
    I love your enthusiasm and your drive to share this infliction with others who do not understand. I would like to exchange stories with you. I have no experience with Canadian medicine, so I cannot help you there, however, I can be a good ear and shoulder should you need one.

    All my best,

    Holly

  • Kirsty

    Kirsty

    January 10th, 2016 at 6:28 PM

    I am a 50 year old female in the USA and I was diagnosed at age 47 with boarder line personality disorder as well as C-PTSD, which we’re add ons to MDD panic attacks. Had nervous breakdown in 2004 and then at age 42, had to turn to Disability Income. This was an added trauma to my ambitious dream after graduating from college BA in Business and Economics with Emphasis in Accounting. I liked the things you expressed on this miracle of reflections from others, that I never dreamed could be out there, with the same diagnosis. I am about 4 years, of what feels like hell and almost back, and I think I could be better if I had 1 member of my family( mom, 2 brothers, and 1 sister), care, believe the obvious, read what the meaning of my diagnosis etc. It becomes more complex and multitudes of crazy as my dead father who molested me ages 2-7ish was a Psychiatrist who specialized in adolescent and ADHD. I don’t know if I will ever be loved, but I know if I find someone to care it will improve my chances. I am doing many things to help myself, but with my history, the 2 L’s are just dreams.

  • Sidney J P.

    Sidney J P.

    April 22nd, 2017 at 4:27 AM

    There seem to still remain no good stats on CPTSD. See VanderKolk, The Body Keeps the Score for excellent C PTSD infor and stats. Also a good bibliography in his book. I have C PTSD, 63 yr old female, not married, live in south Arkansas. Have written a book about my CPTSD experiences. Looking for a publisher. I also retired at 47… could’t continue to be as available to my clients (people with developmental disabilities) as they needed so I understand working to not working, having stable income to no income, having difficultly finding a trauma specific therapist but finally did – so helpful!!, etc. Want to start a support group but so far only 2 of us – much better than 1; so many of us are still in hiding…. I hope you have found the support you need.

  • Magabelle

    Magabelle

    March 5th, 2015 at 4:44 AM

    hi i am new and dont know where to start.I have been having seizures over the last 12 or so years and was prescribed anti epileptics which i took religously, some of the side effects were horrible and none of them worked!
    i started having waking seizures, anyway they did test after test for different things then decided that i needed a hysterectomy as my seizures were down to a hormone imbalence. Even though i did not have children (and have always wanted one. They said that if i did get pregnant it would be even worse with all the hormones that are produced) they told me that a hysterectomy was the way to go! So 3 years ago i had the operation and my seizures became worse and worse more intence, longer (up to 3hrs). My partner called the ambulance and was rushed to hospital 6 times in 1 week, they kept telling us that they could not find any reason why i was having them and one doctor even told my partner that she thought i was faking them!! So was referred back to my neurologist who did loads of tests and it came back that i had PNES/NEAD/dissociative convulsion disorder!!! That is why they last so long and are so frequent. He said there was no medication and that the only way to deal with them was through therapy. I had to wait 8 months for therapy with a therapist with knowledge of PNES, BPD and PTSD. She recommended DBT and 121s with some exposure work due to my childhood sexual,emotional and physical abuse. Anyway i have always had real trouble trusting anyone! Have been seeing my therapist have done 3 rounds of DBT which is hard work but did manage to stop self harming. My therapist then suggested exposure work,then my seizures started getting worse again and was told that things have to get worse before they got better and she reassured me that she would help me get through this! So i continued, having at least 1 seizure in each session. But i felt that i was at least making a concerted effort to do something to change my life.
    I have been working with my therapist but have started down so many roads only for her to say we cant carry on with this path, we need to go back and regroup and try a different road!! Causing me huge distress and a lot of confusion. A couple of weeks ago during a session I made a disclosure that i have never done before (believing that I could trust my therapist after such a long time big mistake) and my therapist looked like she had been hit with a concrete slab saying that she had to take it to the consult team and that we could no longer carry on along this path!!!
    The consult team came back with, ethically we can no longer do the exposure work!!! Hit me like a ton of bricks confusion, frustration, anger pointed at myself, seizure after seizure. My therapist then handed me a paper written by Christine A Courtois about CPTSD and told to go away and read it!!! Even though I was in a flat spin, my other half wanted to go have out with her because she let me leave when i was in a really bad way!!
    I managed to calm down and started reading this paper and it was like OMG!!! Every word was written about me!! Reading what I have so far looks like my therapist has messed up big time by diving in with exposure work!!! and answers the questions as to why my seizures have been getting to the point where i can hardly function on a day to day basis!! Now i do not know where i go from here?? What to do? My partner is at the end of her rope, as when i have nightmares i have seizures in my sleep and she just sits with me as i beg, plead, scream,shout and seize. She feels so helpless and i know that it is wearing her down and i think that she is about to give up on me. Everyday at the moment i am having at least 4 seizures due to flashbacks! I dont go out on my own anymore and wear a bubble wrap helmet when indoors as i end up with carpet/lino burns on my face and body, have broken ribs, wrists, nose, teeth. My friends bar a couple no longer come to see me as they cannot deal with seeing me have a seizure. Is there any way through this?? Has anyone dealt with CPTSD successfully???

  • Abused_Confused

    Abused_Confused

    April 28th, 2015 at 10:49 PM

    Wonderful postings, here. I can’t relate to the last person’s seizures, but I know someone who possibly could… also, I have a rare form of migraine, so that’s close.

    So what happened to the collective book idea?

    I myself have been dx whatever is popular in the DSM that year, so to me, most of “therapy” is hogwash– or worse. I’ve been mistreated/abused by the psych. system, also, the church system… no longer trust anyone, but a few, carefully selected individuals– always subject to change. I am fragile as glass. I have been overwhelmed since age 7, or so, from family abuse– then, more trauma, well into my adult life. Repeated abuse situations on all levels, unbelievable rejections and other snafus, that are almost too weird to describe. I, too, have thought of writing a book. You get to the point at which you don’t know if you’re insane, or the world is… Sort of an Alice in Wonderland scenario. I try for religious faith, but am so distrustful, that I don’t do well in church settings, either.

    Just recently, I’ve been involved in 2 or 3 situations that would make wonderful reading material; but how do I write about adult abuse w/o being sued? Just change the names? As for the family of origin issues, they never end. If there are children involved– even adult children– you are always half in- half out of the scapegoat identity, no matter what you do. I am a grandmother, but am still stuck in that family no-win sphere. Embroiled within constant no- win situations and knee- jerk reactions to a life time of confusion and trauma– that is the horror of this condition. You are a constant “sitting duck”. So really: what is the solution?

    PS. To a writer above: I too was targeted a few times as being “possessed”, or at least, oppressed. Don’t go with this condition to anyone too charismatic/fundamentalist; they will have you vomiting up demons.

    Not that there isn’t also a spiritual dimension, but it’s hard to find someone who isn’t overwhelmed him/herself at the ultra- sensitivity to spiritual forces, that results from this disorder.

    There’s always a lot of counter- transference when you work with anyone, and they may just end up blaming you, for what they can’t handle, or don’t understand. Tread carefully.

  • Joe

    Joe

    September 11th, 2015 at 6:08 PM

    My BPD spouse just tried to commit suicide. It is my 10th trauma. I go from feeling angry, crying, spaced out and repeat the cycle again. I have asked for a no fault divorce and waiting to hear if I am in for a long, expensive, hard stuggle.

  • Pamela B.

    Pamela B.

    September 15th, 2015 at 10:24 PM

    Simone, thank you for your post. I would like to hear from you.

  • Abused_Confused

    Abused_Confused

    September 27th, 2015 at 8:59 PM

    HeIp! I am now being abused by a priest who used to help me (emotional, not sexual abuse). Ironically, he’s the one who suggested I have “PTSD”. Only I think he has it too, is burnt- out; I think we’re mirroring each other. I seem to trigger priests! Anyone know of an org. to help me? There is SNAP, but that is for sexual abuse. SOS!!! I’m a wreck. Can’t tell what’s going on; too many priests with Jekyll/Hyde personalities– or is it just me? It’s affecting me on all levels; can’t go to hierarchy; they cover things up. Thanks.

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    September 28th, 2015 at 11:51 AM

    Thank you for your comment. Please know that there is hope and help available! We want to point you in the direction of some resources that may be of assistance in your situation. First, if you feel you are in crisis or may be in danger of hurting yourself or others, please call your local law enforcement, 911, or go to your local emergency room immediately.

    On the following page, you can find contact information for organizations and hotlines that you can call for information and support:https://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    Wishing you the very best!
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Joanne

    Joanne

    November 14th, 2015 at 3:11 PM

    Hello. This has been an amazing find. I have been reading and searching and trying to fully understand C-PTSD so I can try to help myself. The last therapist I was seeing is trained to treat PTSD and was talking about exposure therapy…she was just trying to get me stablized first! (I’m almost one year out of a 5 year relationship with a ? some kind of sociopath, roller coaster merry go round nightmare that ended with a brutal beating during sex, the YWCA guided me to her) In all my searching, this is the first time I came across so many on one site that talk about dealing with this for DECADES or basically our whole lives. I was beginning to think I was ‘exaggerating” this to myself. When I told my cousin that I been dealing with this my whole life, I felt like I was being overdramatic and felt instantly stupid for saying such a thing outloud! And yet here you all are. Thank you for speaking out. I have a son who has a form of mental retardation and seizures and so, it seems like this will never end. I am a little disappointed that it seems like the best we can do is learn to live and cope with the symptoms. I’m frustrated that I am unable to clarify or explain what I am going through to anyone. Everyone just says “I hope you feel better soon”. And I have never told anyone ALL of my story. I know I have repressed my earliest injuries, but I know they were real because the rest of my life has followed the path of childhood abuse, I have a vague sense that I cannot even describe. I am unable to tell any one person the whole of it because it’s all too much. I can’t organize it. I jump around (as you can probly tell here!) It is culmulative though…it’s been a very long time. Part of my searching and searching was to hopefully find a document, something, that would be able to help those around me understand my pain. I’ve found some helpful sites, but not one of them speaks more clearly than most of the posts here. I hold down a job, have my own small business (cleaning vacation rentals, nothing glamorus, but it pays well and allows me some level of flexibility to take care of my son) I’ve advocated for special needs population at county, state, nationwide level. I coach my son’s special needs team. I look fairly normal to most people. I joke my way thru life. But when I do think I can trust someone and show my pain…I know they want to run. I’ve even been told by my sisters (who seem to have come thru our childhood unscathed) one said she didn’t want to talk about it and the other has quit talking to me. I’m 53. I live an ocean away from my “Family of Origin”. I’m obviously single. I have 3 grown son’s and I’ve shaved my circle of friends down to a minimum. Coaching brings me much joy tho. Perhaps it’s the population I get to hang out with. Not one of them is evil. I’ve seen more love, compassion and realness with them than I do with most supposed “normal” people! I know that when I’ve been triggered and am just struggling…it all goes away once I face my team and we get to practice or go to games and just have FUN.
    Well, I babbled on much more than I intended. I mostly wanted to say Thank You to those who spoke their truths. Perhaps we are lucky in this day and age of computers and we can feel somewhat safe enough to open up to strangers about such deep issues. Does anyone know if an online support forum was ever established for “our people”? As many of you, I too have thought about writing a book or blog, starting a support group on this island, educating first responders etc…Maybe we are defining what our therapy needs to be. Maybe it’s part of validating ourselves…or as Simone said (paraphrased) to make good use of what happened to us so that our pain was not in vain. Perhaps the heavy price we have paid can make it less costly for the next generation and the ones to come. No clinician, no matter how well and pure their intention, can fully understand the complexity, the level of hurt and suffering, it’s going to have to take US to clearly describe the multiple facets. Keep taking deep breaths and keep looking for the little beauties in everywhere you can. (create new positive neural pathways!)

  • Natasha

    Natasha

    October 3rd, 2017 at 3:02 PM

    Thank you Joanne!!!

  • StSimone

    StSimone

    November 28th, 2015 at 12:00 PM

    COMPLEX is right! I am in this clubhouse with all of you, feeling like something was always a little ‘off’ and couldn’t seem to trust anyone enough to have a true experience of intimacy. I developed strategies around abandonment issues that created a life where I do AMAZING things when I am single, then collapse into disempowerment with lack of confidence, naivety, and looking at things as either black or white in relationships that grew less satisfactory with every passing day. Love to me has been enduring whatever came at me- so I stayed in a destructive marriage for two decades to show myself that I could have a relationship that lasted (not my best strategy!) Having had no trustworthy parent, role model, or friend, I became suspicious of everyone. Experiencing ongoing sexual, emotional and physical traumas that started in childhood, I learned to become super-independent because I only got hurt when I ‘connected’. Love- what is THAT?! Aside from the bio-chemistry of attraction, I have given massive amounts of ‘sacrificial love’ to those I have been in relationship with, only to have none of it come back to me (other co-dependents out there will resonate with this- it is all about BOUNDARIES!) I have always had problems with self-expression. My own diagnosis occurred as a result of another trauma a few years ago when my ‘then’ partner refused to get medical care for me when I was in an emergency situation. I later learned that he could not recognize nor act in these situations due to his own past traumas. I didn’t take it well at the time. As a result, I began to see a therapist with a heart as big as the universe, it seemed… I CHOSE to trust her -over and over- because I chose the process and was willing to do whatever it took. During the past two years, I have had progressive relief from one, then another, then another trauma due to the work I have been doing (which included EMDR.) It has not been easy, nor has it been rapid-fire fast (I have always preferred FAST so I could outrun the fumes of fear!) The tapping technique (EFT) mentioned in an earlier post has been very helpful and there is a lot of information on the internet that teaches how to do it for free. A HUGE help came from an unexpected source- a friend was moving to Thailand and with great passion told me that I should immediately buy and use “THIS” (he handed me a black box, a pair of earphones, and a set of goggles.) I bought it just because of his passion about it, really- and it has made an IMMENSE difference for me. The technology goes by many names (AVS, Light & Sound Machines, Brain Entrainment- I have been using the Bluetooth technology available from mindlightz.com- and no, I have no financial interest in the company and even Dr. Chopra endorses the technology.) It comes out of early bio-feedback research and not only makes a big difference in my anxiety and feelings of separateness, but, according to researchers (easy to look up on the web, or check out the writings and research of Michael Hutchison), it has been shown to increase IQ and the natural production of human growth hormone, improve memory, and helps to deliberately change neuropathways when used with an audio background in a theta brainwave state. This has been my main tool for feeling less anxiety and stress, and I have used it to create deliberate and preferred neuropathways (attitudes, beliefs, thoughts) for my recovery. I continue to attend therapy sessions, and my life experience continues to get better and better. I have even decided to create a Stress and Anxiety Summit with excellent speakers to address C-PTSD, stress, and anxiety during the last weekend in March of next year to help get the word out that there IS hope. Will I ever be 100% the same as other people who have not experienced the things I have experienced? No. I actually AM learning to embrace the depth of soul that comes with prolonged suffering and recovery, the compassion I have developed for others going through similar journeys, and the growth that I have been REQUIRED to undergo in order to become a wiser, healthier, and better person. I also have a hallmark of childhood PTSD abuse… a shrunken hippocampus, resulting in short-term memory deficits. I have had this problem my entire life – with so much shame over perceived weaknesses. Sharing information about what we experience, how we are doing things that work, and especially HOPE when we have relief is so important because it helps all of us! Ubunto is a Zulu word that means “I am… because WE ARE!” So, I say to you, “Ubunto! Keep on keeping on!!”

  • Fay

    Fay

    December 1st, 2015 at 8:00 PM

    Hi everyone – I am so grateful that I found this site. I discovered last July that I have C-PTSD. I have been in recovery from Alcohol and codependency for the last 35 years and although my life improved, I suffered greatly within intimate relationships. I felt so much shame because I was terrified of abandonment and I did everything I could to try to conceal it while in relationship. We all know how well that works! I felt such deep and unrelenting shame about my fears and I inevitably chose partners who were avoidant. As someone shared here earlier, I was the co-dependent and I would choose avoidant people to be in relationship with….Just like the folks who raised me. Then I would pour myself into what ever mold that would suit my partners because of my fear of abandonment. Underneath this fear I felt ugly,broken, and filled with shame. C-PTSD also affected my work life. I have had great difficulty acknowledging my accomplishments and I have been quick to dismiss my worth. I worked as a clinician at a very prestigious treatment center and when ever I had to preform in front of another therapist I would freeze up. I could get through it without them really noticing but inside I felt like I was an imposter. I felt such shame. People often say ” I don’t see you that way at a all” and it takes them saying it to me in order for me to get a reality check. I have been seeing a gifted trauma therapist since 2005 and I have been able to slowly trust her enough to really let myself experience a positive, consistent, attachment with her. I have been able to process so much of the unexpressed rage and grief with her. EMDR has been so helpful. I just ended a relationship a month ago with a woman who has OCD and I don’t feel as though my life is over. I have a “self” to return to. We did couples therapy ( internal family systems work) and I used the triggers that would come up for me in this relationship to see what was lying beneath the surface. Inevitably, I would drop into various ages in my childhood when I was abused, and for the first time, I was able to feel the pain and give words to what I was experiencing while I was “in it”. I have been noticing that I am now able to soften into those places that I had sealed off as a child in order to protect myself. Over time I am slowly developing a much stronger adult self who can now be there for those younger parts of me that I abandoned whenever I would give myself over to someone else to “take care of me”. The person I was with was not able to do the same for herself and it became apparent to me that I could no longer remain in a relationship with someone who could not be vulnerable with me. Out of her own terror, she would accuse me of being the entire problem in the relationship. I now know that this isn’t true. I don’t hate or blame this person for her perceptions any more because I know that this is more about her than it is about me.
    I know that C-PTSD is not something I will ever “get over”. It is very painful and it has limited my ability to accomplish many things in my life. There are many times when I don’t realize that I am in a C-PTSD flashback but I am getting better at recognizing them faster now. I am learning how to do a much better job of self-regulating when I am triggered. I don’t know if any of you have read Pete Walker’s book about C-PTSD but I think it is extremely helpful. If you google him, he has articles posted on his site that speak to the heart of this issue. I feel so grateful to know that I am not alone with this and that there is a forum with people who live with C-PTSD. We don’t have to do this work alone anymore. I plan on staying connected to you all and I hope you will do the same. Thank you so much for being here and for being willing to share your vulnerability.

  • Joanne

    Joanne

    December 3rd, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    I’m gonna just say this to Kris…who seems to have started this whole thread? And frankly, in spite of the Doom of her initial post, much helpful truth came forward. Which I think is awesome. At the same time. I just gotta say…Kris…you really should edit your posts and leave your negativity some other place. We are here to lift up and encourage each other…which..we DID, in spite of your “you guys are screwed” mindset. I guess that just goes to show how Strong we can be. We Will be. Because we Have to Be and we WANT to be. We are not so Helpless or Hopeless and I hope you can find yourself in a better place in life where you can look at others and not think the worst. Or at least hold your tongue until you can come more informed.,,,like don’t go on a support forum and speak only of “aren’t you all living a terrible, destroyed quality of haunted life?” What? Lemme tell you sistah. Life can get rough, but we are not a pod of pitiful sods who need to listen to someone like you in the guise of “i like try understand” and yet hold pre-judgement (otherwise, how come so many descritptives of your own ignorant perceptions?) anyhow…whatever brought you here to begin with…hope it’s all better for ya.
    Kris June 5th, 2013 at 11:08 AM
    I didn’t know that there are differences in diagnosis when it comes to PTSD. I just thought that maybe some people would experience it differently than others but not that there was an actual diagnosis or name for those who were more affected by it. Complex PTSD sounds just terrible. Not only are you constantly haunted by the event that triggered this but you also experience all of these other things too that understandably could completely destroy you and your quality of life. I can only hope that there are more people, when it is identified in them, who are receiving treatment than those who are not because that would be a terrible way to have to live your life. How could you ever find a way to move forward if you are constantly haunted by your past?

  • Tina

    Tina

    December 8th, 2015 at 9:04 AM

    I am trying to find laws about re traumatizing on purpose someone with complex ptsd

  • Soul Survivor

    Soul Survivor

    December 8th, 2015 at 11:23 AM

    I just learned about EMDR and C-PTSD. I’ve been struggling with this for 50 years. Sure hope it helps…When we get to it. I am not safe yet. If I remember those feelings I still tend to dissassociate, so I’m told it will require a lot of preparation. I don’t have any safe places to think of and I can’t even dream up a protector other than myself. I grew up very isolated, so this is no surprise that I don’t trust and can’t identify a protector to pull me out of those dark feelings.
    Feeling a little lost, frustrated, and eager to get some resolution.

    :)

  • inspirational73

    inspirational73

    December 9th, 2015 at 4:14 AM

    I am 42 and have had such a bewildering and confused life.. I didn’t dare.to validate the possibility.that I was a victim of unhealthy others.. I accepted what they said.. that ‘I’ was the problem..I was pinned the scapegoat and made wrong for voicing and having healthy instincts (to start with!) about all that was going on.. and additionally as an incredibly sensitive and empathic, spiritual person who has been abused on each level, I eventually suffered a breakdown at.21 and shortly after developed several chronic debilitating auto immune.diseases (self attack!) I feel angry now.that I lost ME to please and try and stay ‘safe’ with these people (family) who happily.see me a flawed, problematic and over-emotional! I am.working my butt off to heal on EVERY level, they are not worth it.. I AM :) Peace and Love to all of you who know what it is to live like this and not be understood by so many. Thank God for forums like this x

  • Ed

    Ed

    January 1st, 2016 at 8:38 AM

    Simone,
    I was sincerely moved and touched by your comment. I am listening and I am here. I hope that you are still here because I have an experience to share with you. I would greatly appreciate an opportunity to communicate with you . I am married to the most beautiful woman in the world now 11 years. Since May 2015 my wife sufferred a nervous breakdown which, like an earthquake, opened deep hidden and embeded wounds of child abuse, sexual abuse, PTSD, Military Sexual Trauma, and abusive relationship with previous husband and marriage unbenownst to me until May 2015. My wife is currently in VA DBT, PTSD, Equestrian and Physical Therapy sessions with a phenominal Dr., however, a personality split has occurred. A part of the day she is the woman i fell in love with, my friend, my partner, my wife…a part of the day she is a woman hiding in the shadows of darkness. The darkness is a vast space which i am carefully navigating through without a map in hopes of finding her and bringing some light to find her own way out or to get close enough to put my hand in hers and get back to the light together. I would be forever greatful to have the opportunity to communicate with you and gain knowledge, wisdom, and understanding from you. please contact me if you are able and willing to listen and guide me through this experience.

  • joanne

    joanne

    January 11th, 2016 at 9:54 PM

    wow Ed. What a lucky woman your wife is. I hope you got personal response and guidance to your questions.

  • Lauren

    Lauren

    March 8th, 2016 at 10:02 AM

    Thank you to all that have shared. I hope I will be able to share my story at some point.

  • War Princess

    War Princess

    April 15th, 2016 at 6:11 PM

    Simone, I hear you. Thank you for your message.

  • AmbivalenceGirl

    AmbivalenceGirl

    May 2nd, 2016 at 4:47 PM

    Great article. I can so relate to not only the article but also the comments. I’m fine but I’m not okay in my mind. It’s like I hit my mid 40’s and just couldn’t take it anymore. I think I had a nervous breakdown . I never told anyone about the things that happened to me and no one ever asked. I spent my 20’s in and out of hospitals for my eating disorder. Once I gained weight and stopped throwing up it seemed that I was good to go. I was “cured” but I’d be not fine again. I was fearful, anxious, sad and alone. I don’t remember most of my teens or 20’s but I got married when I turned 30, got my Master’s degree, had children and I was okay. But then my life started to fall apart–again. 2 years ago I found a wonderful therapist who saw beyond my eating disorder. I don’t think we even talked about my weight or food until a few months ago. She diagnosed me with PTSD. I was shocked. Why would she say that. How did she know?!! How did I not know?! I remember her asking me if I did this for no reason. Of course, no reason! I’ve been starving myself, throwing up, anxious, panicky, shutting down, feeling spacey, ashamed and afraid for no reason. For decades and there was no reason. She just smiled. I went home and I couldn’t stop thinking about that. Of course there was a reason. There were plenty of reasons. It’s taken 2 years and I’m still not fully able to talk about what happened. I still feel crazy but I’m getting better. C-PTSD exists and it feels crazy at times.

  • Jo

    Jo

    May 29th, 2016 at 4:23 PM

    When I am experiencing the extremes of CPTSD I feel that CPTSD is like trying to catch a train to an unknown place. I am standing on the platform waiting. I am alone and my skin is raw. I know which train I am meant to be getting on but when I start to board, the train has changed. Everybody else bustles along confidently getting on and of trains. They are all smiling blank smiles and walking directly to their next place. I just stand there alone with my heavy bag.

  • Bea

    Bea

    July 30th, 2016 at 4:04 AM

    OMG! That’s what I feel like too.
    I was just told I have PTSD. I feel like I have been living Groundhog Day all my life.
    One traumatic thing after another. Knowing what’s going on and that I’m not alone seems to be helping.
    Thanks to all of you for sharing.

  • VicInAus

    VicInAus

    August 13th, 2017 at 7:54 PM

    Wow! You’ve just described the recurring dream I have, for many years – me, bumbling about trying to get on the ‘right’ train, in the midst of crowds who seem to manage it effortlessly.
    this thread is extraordinary. I’ve been all over the internet in the last several years trying to pinpoint the confusion of feeling and living as I do….and here you all are. Thank you, all.

  • Spiraling

    Spiraling

    July 26th, 2016 at 6:26 AM

    This fit me so well, I cried and began to emotionally spiral downwards again as I was already spiraling after having a group of people intentionally use my triggers against me. I was psychologically abused and subsequently stalked, antagonized and terrorized for 4 1/2 years and still counting. Sometimes I feel like I’m losing my mind but then I have witnesses who remind me I’m not thank god. I avoid everything and everyone and it doesn’t help, I am overwhelmed consistently by my emotions and meds have helped me to not hit rock bottom…this time.
    But there’s always next time.

  • noddwr

    noddwr

    August 7th, 2016 at 5:26 AM

    I am not alone, you are not alone. What is so hard is trying to convince the medical professions that what you say is the truth? They are fixated on the idea of false memory, and it is a cop out. I am not angry about this, I am sad, I am sad because they make it even harder. I am 67 yrs old, and my goal in life is to die with good memories.

  • Sarah F

    Sarah F

    August 21st, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    Thank you for this helpful article. Readers may be interested in more information on CPTSD at victoriacounsellingservices.com. There are several helpful articles on CPTSD including about treatment and a questionnaire to help determine whether a person may be suffering from CPTSD.

  • Sarah F

    Sarah F

    August 25th, 2016 at 9:05 AM

    Sorry I should have been more clear in my comment above. The CPTSD Self Test can be found by clicking the link to the post entitled “Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) Self Test” on the right hand side of the page.

  • Rikko

    Rikko

    December 19th, 2016 at 9:13 AM

    Superb article on Complex PTSD.
    I have PTSD plus DID which is essentially cPTSD. All from childhood rapes, invalidation, gaslighting, bullying…..

    I can’t find any therpist near Philly or NYC which is exp to treat this.They think PTSD is the same as cPTSD. They don’t understand disassociation and how it messes up everything 100x worse!

    Anyone else have a hard time with this too?

  • Shanta

    Shanta

    February 15th, 2017 at 7:53 PM

    I found an amazing therapist who used a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques and EMDR. The latter is the magical element that has fast-tracked my healing process, and I had more than a dozen sessions with this therapist. After an entire childhood of physical and emotional abuse and neglect, followed by a severely-abusive marriage to a Cluster B spouse for more than two decades, and then working with a malignant narcissist who was bent on destroying me, I thought it would take years of therapy to be emotionally healthy — a state that was totally foreign to my middle-age self. Every day was exhausting as I was just treading water, trying to survive the cumulative effects of decades of routine torment, especially when it was ongoing. Well, with CBT and EMDR, I was actually only in regularly-scheduled therapy for less than a year, with most of that being only twice-monthly sessions — FAR fewer than I would ever have imagined. Now, I only see the therapist when something comes up and I’d like him to weigh in and offer some guidance. I can’t emphasize enough the importance of finding a compassionate, competent therapist who thoroughly understands trauma recovery and who has been trained in EMDR. This level of therapy can be expensive, but what price can be placed on true emotional wellness? Additionally, now that I am on my own two emotional feet with the skills and resilience to take good care of myself, I am capable of working more steadily, so the money spent on therapy has been balanced out to a large degree by increased earnings.

  • Amanda

    Amanda

    April 3rd, 2017 at 7:35 AM

    I thought I was just an angry sad alone person all my life. Everything down was my fault and my parents always remained me off that. My mom protected my dad instead of her only daughter of four, I only realized this recently due to a traumatic event resurfacing. My husband has paranoid schizophrenia and I have been able to handle the mental and physical abuse without breaking, but it’s like everything is coming down on me at one time. I never let anything I went through break me not the 14 years of abuse and neglect from my parents not being loved ever not having any friends being molested at 5 being raped at 15…….ect…..I can’t do it anymore I’m scared, I’m telling my husband and mom I’m severely suicidal and can’t go on anymore, that it’s getting worse everyday. But these are two people who have only seen resilients from me two people that given what they have done I still help through their mental struggles. I was diagnosed with ptsd during my last pregnancy but didn’t follow up after birth now I’m sinking fast PLEASE HELP ME!!! I have to be here for my kids and don’t know where to turn……

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    The GoodTherapy.org Team

    April 3rd, 2017 at 10:28 AM

    Dear Amanda,

    Thank you for your comment. We are sorry to hear of what you are experiencing, and we urge you to reach out.

    If you feel that you are in danger of harming yourself or others, please contact local law enforcement or visit the nearest emergency room. Crisis workers for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline are available any time of day at 1-800-273-8255, TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY. Additional crisis resources are available here:
    https://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    If you feel that you or your children are in danger, please seek help immediately. If you think you may be experiencing abuse but are not certain, this page may be of help:
    https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/issues/domestic-violence

    Qualified and compassionate mental health professionals can help you address resurfacing trauma, PTSD, and other concerns, once any immediate crisis has passed. You can find counselors and therapists in your area using our website. To see a list of practitioners in your area, simply enter your ZIP code here:
    https://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html

    Please know you are not alone. Help is available, and we wish you the best of luck in your search.

    Warmest regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • Susan

    Susan

    June 17th, 2017 at 9:32 AM

    Amanda,

    How are you doing?
    I hope that you are ok.
    I can relate to your pain and distress, as I myself had a troubling childhood followed by a troubled marriage. Remember, no matter how dark the night seems, that day is coming and all things change. With some understanding, first from yourself and then hopefully from some others, with some healing of course along the way, you can find more peace even in this messed up world. I have recently come to understand that long term, childhood trauma that even extends into current ongoing trauma means a person has been affected on a neurological level. The ability to self regulate emotions can only come from “piggybacking” on the caretaker’s ability to recognize need and respond with love, I.e. “Attentive care” of the child. If the connection is damaged and neglected by the mother, it causes the growing baby’s mind to develop internal strategies to cope with pain and needs without any parental care (or inconsistent care). So you will tend to get a more disorganized approach to life and relationships, which sadly seems to perpetuate repeated trauma.

    Hang in there and remember that you deserve a good shot at some healing, since you are not to be blamed at all for conditions arising in childhood.

    But… This does not have to mean despair because the individual who has such inner problems also contains the key for deep healing that can be so transformative and deep. When a person recognizes their needs as a child were not met, and how much damage has been caused, then they start to perceive their need for the ultimate answers of life to be asked. What is the purpose of all this? Why do I avoid and fear relationships while also feeling a desire to connect with someone or something? I personally have been blessed with the understanding about why I can connect so deeply to ideas, or to pets, or even to beautiful art, while I can’t connect to other people. But the initial pleasure at whatever my current “connection” was, such as when I found an absolutely gorgeous dog the day before he was to get snatched up by animal control, then be in a position to rescue him…. gave me some indication that I actually have a deep inner drive to care for another and to love, if only I could avoid “hyper-reacting” and judging & rejecting people and situations even. Your life will become far too narrow and small, I have found, if a person keeps avoiding situations and people. It is no way to live, until you realize that healing is possible, with the ultimate answers and connection to God ultimately. I am a Christian who is much persuaded to the reality of God, and I only had my understanding broadened regarding my complex ptsd and need for emotional healing, in the last two years during a time of crisis with my husband.

    To learn more about our deep inner need for connection that is meaningful with other people and with the divine, you can read this statement by the commission on children at risk and learn of all the research that is suggesting that the needs of the child can only be met with two essential needs really, one being for connection with the parents, and the other a connection with the divine. ( “Hardwired to Connect; The new scientific case for authoritative communities” 2003.)

  • Mary E.

    Mary E.

    August 29th, 2017 at 1:30 PM

    I need to talk to someone like me

  • Danielle

    Danielle

    June 18th, 2017 at 2:07 PM

    I too seemed ultra resilient while people around me fell apart and waxed worse and worse. It caught up with me. We run out of reserves. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. I cannot stress this enough. Now that you taste mortality, you need rest. Peace. A muscle relaxer at bedtime or melatonin. You must take care of the caretaker!

  • Sheera

    Sheera

    June 26th, 2017 at 8:31 PM

    Hi everyone :)
    I want you all to know that you are all absolutely inspirational. I am impressed and moved by your stories of courage. I am dating someone who has recently been triggered by his neglectful mother who is going through cancer treatment, meanwhile he has an abusive brother who has coped with their neglectful childhoods with an ice addiction. My partner has gone the other way.. successful but avoidant, no real friendships and struggles socially. He becomes easily overwhelmed by my love for him that he retreats or dissociates and doesn’t know why. It has been a common theme from the start, he has strong startle responses to my touch and has a distant look most days. It has recently got worse because his brother threatened to hurt him, and his work is very stressful. He once said he felt he was ‘avoiding’ something over the phone when I raised the issue, but later he could not recall telling me that. He has now slowly opened up to me, said he is worried about his identity and feels different from others, he also said he feels like he is running away from himself.
    He is a beautiful deep and complex soul.. and I cannot pretend to understand. I just finished my psychology degree, I have researched everything I can and have come across Complex PTSD on the web as it is not in my abnormal psych textbook. It just focuses on PTSD from military or sex abuse. I came across Pete Walker site that goes into great detail, and said that if cPTSD was included in next DSM then it would shrink the book to half its size as it manifests in anxiety and mood disorders. However, there is good news, I believe cPTSD will be published in the 2018 DSM version.
    My partner had 6 years of personal and group therapy with a psychiatrist but I think he was misdiagnosed as simply having anxiety, and he is still confused and constantly fighting a battle to stay in his body.
    Please seek assistance with someone who is trained in trauma and dissociation, visit the International Society for Study of Trauma and Dissociation website and find a therapist on there instead.

  • L

    L

    June 26th, 2017 at 8:48 PM

    Hi sheera,
    I also flinch when I’m touched and I never was sexually abused just went through prolonged trauma and it effected the way I am in relationships. Definitely has hindered them because I feel detached like I can’t get to close in fear of getting hurt. Cptsd that is common I think.

  • Sheera

    Sheera

    June 27th, 2017 at 5:42 PM

    Hi L. I feel for you. I hope you are seeking help at your own pace. As mentioned, a trauma specialist is integral. The wrong therapeutic relationship will only hinder not help. Make sure you feel comfortable with your therapist who provides unconditional regard for your experiences and helps you remain in touch with memories.
    I recommend finding a photo of yourself when you were little, and when alone, imagine you are hugging your own younger self. Let the tears come out.. this will provide relief, and is also documented in scientific journals that it does. I also recommend challenging your inner critic, consciously identify and challenge the critic. Whether it is your mother or father, imagine you are bigger than them and allow the rage to surface, scream into your pillow with all the hate you can feel. Keep doing it..do not feel ashamed about this process. Do not feel ashamed anymore.

  • george

    george

    August 7th, 2017 at 4:42 AM

    thank you for your artcile. I beat myself up with a roller coaster of emotional after being a burgilary victium. The fact that it was some sentimentual items and my dads birthday just passed I feel like i let him down and just start crying.. I am trying to be a man about this one the outside but it hurts soo bad, God Bless and thank you for your insite.

  • Angel

    Angel

    September 7th, 2017 at 1:32 PM

    I learned last year that I’ve been living with C-PTSD since early childhood. There is still a stigma that only “certain kinds of people” are victims of abuse, and I want to address it. I grew up in an upper-middle-class household, my parents doted on me, and I am a highly-educated professional. I was also physically and emotionally abused by my much-older half brothers and had complete amnesia about it until recently. I grew up and married an undiagnosed autistic man, then I divorced him when I realized he had no feelings for me. I then married a criminal psychopath (yes, he was diagnosed by a clinical psychologist [as having the same personality profile as Ted Bundy] and had spent his entire adult life in prison) and, with our children (all of whom he insisted weren’t his throughout my pregnancies), remained a prisoner for almost a decade. There are no words to describe my treatment aside from strangulation of the soul.

    I was depressed as a child. I had both anorexia and bulimia as a teen. I was misdiagnosed with social anxiety, depression, panic disorder, and even bipolar disorder as an adult, but none of the medications worked. In desperation, I went to see a trauma therapist who does neurofeedback. It made all the difference for me. No other form of therapy worked; the practitioner always wanted me to bring up traumatic memories and discuss them, but it was too overwhelming. I couldn’t sleep for days after a session. After neurofeedback, I had the best sleep of my life. Every time. I am so much better now that my family cannot believe the change. Best of all, my insurance covers neurofeedback as a medical (not mental health) benefit. I have no professional interest in this form of treatment, only personal experience. My EEGs show that my brain activity is noticeably different now, 10 months later, than it was when I began therapy.

    I find the hardest part of this journey is two-fold: one, people don’t understand what C-PTSD is. They’ve heard of PTSD in connection with accidents or military service, but that’s it. Therapists are even worse than the general public, in my opinion. I’ve been told to just get over it. I’ve been advised to do things purposely to trigger flashbacks. I can’t believe I paid good money for that kind of BS. Education about this disorder is our best chance to get the support we need, and it has to come from people who are recovering, not people who are still suffering. Two, if you encounter someone with all the earmarks of C-PTSD who is still an active victim, particularly of domestic violence, you would give anything to help them escape…but they won’t leave. It’s heartbreaking. We just have to keep up the good fight.

  • Abused_Confused

    Abused_Confused

    September 7th, 2017 at 3:53 PM

    What is neurofeedback? Is that like biofeedback? Thx.

  • tardi

    tardi

    November 14th, 2017 at 2:59 PM

    You can get this information in Van der Kolk’s book, “The body keeps the score”.

  • William

    William

    December 3rd, 2017 at 9:10 AM

    I believe I started with this illness when my only daughter aged 32 was diagnosed with brain cancer and knew from the beginning their was no hope of a cure for her. Watching her deteriorate broke me to my core and broke what heart I had. I have changed beyond recognition as far as I was confident and dealt with what life throws at you most of the time but now I have no motivation to do anything when at one time I was never still. I am frightened of life is the best way to describe how I feel and I am so emotional every day. I have a family to look after and I hate my son’s having to see their Dad like I am.

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