Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a condition that results from chronic or long-term exposure to emotional trauma over which a victim has little or no control and from which there is little or no hope of escape, such as in cases of:
- domestic emotional, physical or sexual abuse
- childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse
- entrapment or kidnapping.
- slavery or enforced labor.
- long-term imprisonment and torture
- repeated violations of personal boundaries.
- long-term objectification.
- exposure to gas lighting & false accusations
- long-term exposure to inconsistent, push-pull, splitting or alternating raging & hoovering behaviors.
- long-term taking care of mentally ill or chronically sick family members.
- long-term exposure to crisis conditions.
The precise neurological damage that exists in C-PTSD victims is not well understood.
I never would have imagined myself developing symptoms of C-P.T.S.D.
First I moved into a small bedroom in my estranged families double wide trailer, it was about 8×10 in size. I didn’t unpack anything.
I never thought that I was going to be living there for that long. I didn’t want to believe that this was now my home. the tiny room was a prison cell, I couldn’t stand it.
Shortly after however something inside of me started to change, every time I went outside I would either see her or someone who knew her, everything that I drove by reminded me of our life, or where I wanted to take her and my stepson. Since we lived in a small country town where no one, and nothing ever changed ,it made it impossible to get away from any of it. I would see or hear of the awful things she was saying about me, and that she was doing. So I started to go to work for about 3-4 hours a day, and then right back into the tiny room. It was turning into my sanctuary. Inside that tiny room I was in control.
Inside the tiny room no one could hurt me, no one could abuse me, no one could laugh at me, no one could belittle me, no one could hit me. I started to fear the outside, I started to fear people. Work then back to the tiny room. Then something else started to happen. I couldn’t eat my stomach hurt every time I did. I was so stressed and constantly on edge that I had no appetite. I had a pain in the middle of my chest like a numb thumping. I had lost 30 lbs, (mostly muscle). I realized after a few days of not eating your stomach stops growling and then you just forget to eat. This went on for some time.
When I tried to sleep my mind would race, I searched Facebook for information about her, hoping not to see anything really, but looking vehemently. Up until all hours searching the internet for what was wrong with me, what went wrong with us, why I was so unloveable. Was I really going crazy?. I tried to tell people what she was doing and had done, only to sound like I was crazy, I was talking really fast, stumbling over words, So it all made me retreat to the solitude of the tiny room. About three months in the tiny room came the nightmares. Horrible nightmares, flashback of things that happened mixed with reality and dream. I would wake up violently sometimes not knowing if the nightmare was real or a horrible dream. At times taking me up to an hour to convince myself that it was just a dream. No hope of sleeping after that !.
My family owned a business and I had a garage about 50 feet from that tiny room. I decided to try to get out of the room some, so work then right into the garage. I was working from 7.am. until I passed out from exhaustion. That seemed to stop the nightmares, I had found a way to beat them, or so I thought that worked for about a week until the nightmares broke through my exhaustion and where back.
This was now my life it went on this way for 7 months. I tried to self medicate and that didn’t work, nothing worked, It only grew worse and worse. It was only when I got totally away from that place, those people, went no contact with her and all who supported her, that any resemblance of myself started to return.
How it can manifest in the victim(s) over time:
Rage turned inward: Eating disorders. Depression. Substance Abuse / Alcoholism. Truancy. Dropping out. Promiscuity. Co-dependence. Doormat syndrome (choosing poor partners, trying to please someone who can never be pleased, trying to resolve the primal relationship)
Rage turned outward: Theft. Destruction of property. Violence. Becoming a control freak.
Learned hyper vigilance. Clouded perception or blinders about others (especially romantic partners) Seeks positions of power and / or control: choosing occupations or recreational outlets which may put oneself in physical danger. Or choosing to become a “fixer” – Therapist, Mediator, etc.
Avoidance – The practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposurce.
Blaming – The practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.
Catastrophizing – The habit of automatically assuming a “worst case scenario” and inappropriately characterizing minor or moderate problems or issues as catastrophic events.
Control-Me” Syndrome – This describes a tendency which some people have to foster relationships with people who have a controlling narcissistic, antisocial or “acting-out” nature.
Denial – Believing or imagining that some painful or traumatic circumstance, event or memory does not exist or did not happen.
Dependency – An inappropriate and chronic reliance by an adult individual on another individual for their health, subsistence, decision-making or personal and emotional well-being.
Depression (Non-PD) Depression is when you feel sadder than your circumstances dictate, for longer than your circumstances last, but still can’t seem to break out of it.
Escape To Fantasy – Taking an imaginary excursion to a happier, more hopeful place.
Fear of Abandonment – An irrational belief that one is imminent danger of being personally rejected, discarded or replaced.
Relationship Hyper Vigilance – Maintaining an unhealthy level of interest in the behaviors, comments, thoughts and interests of others.
Identity Disturbance – A psychological term used to describe a distorted or inconsistent self-view
Learned Helplessness– Learned helplessness is when a person begins to believe that they have no control over a situation, even when they do.
Low Self-Esteem – A common name for a negatively distorted self-view which is inconsistent with reality.
Panic Attacks – Short intense episodes of fear or anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as hyperventilating, shaking, sweating and chills.
Perfectionism – The maladaptive practice of holding oneself or others to an unrealistic, unattainable or unsustainable standard of organization, order, or accomplishment in one particular area of living, while sometimes neglecting common standards of organization, order or accomplishment in other areas of living.
Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia – The use of memory, or a lack of memory, which is selective to the point of reinforcing a bias, belief or desired outcome.
Self-Loathing – An extreme hatred of one’s own self, actions or one’s ethnic or demographic background.
Tunnel Vision – The habit or tendency to only see or focus on a single priority while neglecting or ignoring other important priorities.