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Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.


I have a condition called Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

‘Complex’ being the operative word.

Since *very* recently having an episode I thought I’d share, in a nutshell, how it works for me.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is usually the result of a huge life changing, traumatic event.

Complex PTSD is the result of long term low level stress, interspersed with high levels over a long period of time, such as the stress and anxiety that is caused by abuse.

For me, CPTSD is like an emotional game of Jenga.

Half of my triggers come from what other people would consider innocent, innocuous events. Though I have a handle on it for the most part, when the game of Jenga begins, it’s hard to undo it.

Each event lays a block to build the tower. A little Stress here, a little anxiety there.

As each block adds up, the stresses, though small in themselves, all add up to a bigger one. Unless I spend time undoing each block as it arises, they stay. The small knot of anxiety in my stomach gets bigger and bigger. I brush it off. Life has to go on, right? I rationalise, it’s not that big a deal. The other half of my triggers are entirely sub conscious, hyper vigilance makes it easy for anxiety to seep in and bypass all my defence mechanisms. I’m often not even aware of why I feel anxious, I just know that I do.

So the blocks, they build. The more anxious I am, the less I can think straight. It’s as if my brain breaks. I can only explain it as a thick fog that descends in my mind and clouds everything. My thought processes become erratic, I can’t concentrate.

Inevitably, something eventually unbalances the tower. Usually something that feeds into the self loathing that accompanies being so anxious and failing to do anything about it.

JENGA! That’s when the tower falls. By now, I’m fairly useless. Defensive, terrified and so deeply sad that all I want to do is sleep it all away. By then the repair process is going to take time. Mostly time with me finding the strength to pick myself up and begin again.

I’m not the nicest of people when I’m like this. Which doesn’t help either because I feel useless enough as it is. Add guilt and shame to that and it’s like a living hell.

I want to run away. Escape. But really I can’t, because I can’t escape myself.

It lives within me. I am working on it. I’m ill and I have to accept that. I have to accept that I hurt the ones I love when I am ill too. That’s very painful to accept.

But I’ll keep going and I’ll keep trying to get better. Sometimes I know I can get better. Other times I feel I am destined to always be like this.

This is my experience of CPTSD in a nutshell.

Thanks for reading. x


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6 thoughts on “Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

  1. Thank you for being so courageous and helping us to understand what CPTS is. You have nothing to be ashamed about. You have more courage than most of the loud-mouths out there who are instantly ready to dehumanize someone. Sending hugs and friendship.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I found, after many years of being on an emotional rollercoaster due to Thyroid cancer I didn’t know I had, that my cycle of Stress was extremely difficult to break. What I learned through counseling and research, was that Meditation allowed me to manage my thoughts, and the reactions caused by those thoughts. Even if I could stop the stress twice a day for 20 minutes during Meditation, it was a good break. I wish you well managing your CPTSD, and always remember you are not useless. 🙂

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