What is Complex PTSD – Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (CPTSD) is similar to PTSD but it is not caused by just one traumatic experience and has more symptoms.
Lets look at PTSD first of all. PTSD is caused normally by being involved in or witnessing a traumatic event. This could be seeing a car accident or a fire, being attacked physically or sexually. Loosing a loved one or being involved in war. The symptoms for PTSD are generally flash backs of the events, visually, audibly or somatically ( by this I mean feeling it in your body). You may have nightmares about the incident, be unable to sleep. You may feel like you are on high alert as you are still functioning in your sympathetic nervous system (fight, flight, freeze, fawn or fuck response). You can become avoidant of the situation or place and disassociate. You may have some difficulty regulating emotions or become depressed.
Complex PTSD is trauma over a prolonged period of time, this can be from childhood (physical, sexual, psychological abuse, emotional or physical neglect), being in an abusive relationship (physical, sexual or emotionally), being kidnapped, repeatedly raped, trafficked, held hostage, having too much pressure put on you in the work place etc. Trauma is not in the event it is the effect it has on our nervous system. Trauma is a type stress!
Some of the symptoms you may experience are:
Emotional Flash backs – These are when you are triggered by something it could be an event, place, facial expression, situation, person, tone of voice, saying etc. It then takes you back to the original event and you regress back to the overwhelming feelings your originally experienced. You are often completely unaware this is happening and just think your mood has suddenly switched. You can stay in these flashbacks for moments, hours, days or months.
Inner / Outer Critic – Peeps with CPTSD generally have a very harsh inner critic, its is that loud voice which tells us that we are bad, that we can’t do something, what is the point in trying as we are likely to fail, that we are better off without etc Mine generally tells me that I am just fuck up.
Toxic Shame – Its the feeling of generally feeling unworthy, not good enough, that we are ugly or stupid, that we are fraud. We feel guilty for everything and believe that most things are fault.
Suicidal thoughts or Attempts – The feeling of not wanting to be here, wishing or planning how to die or attempting it.
Over sensitivity to stressful situations – When your chest is so full of stress you are often unable to deal with relatively minor stressful situations e.g., traffic, lots of emails, a disagreement with friend.
Dissociating – Withdrawing from friends, family, situations or life in general
Self abandonment – Not looking after yourself, washing, eating, self care of any type.
Poor sense of self esteem – feeling like you are a piece of shit and not worthy of love because you are too fucked up.
Severe Mood Swings – You can go from super happy to suicidal in the course of 5 mins
Difficulty within relationships – Unhealthy and toxic relationships are often formed until you have learnt to love yourself fully and healed from your trauma.
Attachment Disorders – Avoidant, Ambivalent & Disorganized
Anxiety – Social, personal
Flashbacks – Visual, audibly or somatically
Physical Pain – IBS, Chrons, aches and pains, fibromyalgia and autoimmune disease, PMDD
Poor memory – This is often a way to protect ourselves from trauma that we have experienced
Anger – Unable to regulate our emotions it often presents itself in anger.
Addiction – We escape into drugs or alcohol as a way to self soothe and medicate. It suppresses our unwanted feelings and emotions.
In ability to concentrate – when we are on high alert we are often unable to focus and can not stay still.
Fidgeting – You will often find someone with CPTSD, tapping a foot, picking their nails, twisting their hair etc.
Complex PTSD is often misdiagnosed as
Personality Disorders, ADHD, Bi Polar (Manic Depression), Depression, Anxiety, Psychotic disorders, Schizophrenia.
Most doters are unaware of complex PTSD and they reach for these other more common diagnoses where they want to treat the symptoms rather than the cause.
It seems with most mental health illnesses if you want to heal and get the right help you need to do this yourself. You are the only one which will make yourself better! Complex PTSD is not a life sentence, with the right help and commitment you will heal!