December 20, 2021
Complex PTSD describes a response to trauma that has been repeated over and over. It is more commonly seen in sufferers of abuse and neglect in the first 15 years of life.
The fact that the abuse is inflicted by someone who is supposed to take care of the victim separates it from simple PTSD. The sense of being powerless to escape the situation also plays a part.
Possible Causes of complex PTSD
1. Repeated and/or multiple traumas in childhood over a long period of time
2. Situations, like a family home, where escape or rescue was unlikely or impossible
3. Harm suffered at the hands of someone close to you, like a parent or other caregiver
Our normal human responses to these traumas helped us cope as children, or whenever the abuse or neglect occurred.
But, as adults, those coping mechanisms become maladaptive. They hold us back from living the full and happy lives we deserve.
1. difficulty controlling your emotions
2. feeling like the world is a scary place
3. feeling empty or hopeless
4. feeling worthlessness
5. feeling like no one understands you
6. difficulty forming close relationships
7. disconnection or disassociation. This is a way of coping with stress and events that are too hard to handle. (For me this manifested as maladaptive daydreaming.)
8. suicidal thoughts
9. constantly feeling on high alert which can affect your sleep patterns and make you startle easily
10. loss of systems of meanings. This can refer to a loss of faith in long-held beliefs, like God. It can also refer to a sense of despair or hopelessness in the world
1. Deep breathing to calm yourself when you feel overwhelmed by a flashback or other anxious thoughts.
2. Engage your senses with pleasant smells or tastes to ground yourself.
3. Comfort yourself with a soft blanket, listen to soothing music, or watch a nice movie.
4. Keep a diary to record when you experience flashbacks or dissociative episodes. This is most helpful if you process with a mental health professional and find out what your triggers are.
5. Find support.
This could mean telling a trusted friend, pastor, or counselor. Or it could lead you to a support group or online forum.
6. Take care of your health.
Eat a balanced diet and exercise for 30 minutes most days. Getting outside for your physical activity is especially helpful. Nature has proven healing effects.
7. Set boundaries.
Be kind to yourself by setting healthy boundaries with the people who have harmed you or people who do not add to your healing. It’s okay to spend time by yourself while you’re recovering.
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