CPTSD: What does it look like?

There are wounds that never show on the body that are deeper and more hurtful than anything that bleeds.

Laurell K. Hamilton, Mistral’s Kiss
At my worst, I smile publicly. Can you relate?

I want to share something with you. We are in the midst of global trauma and I’m so grateful for raw, real, and honest expressions of what individuals are experiencing. In fact, as we continue through a world that looks different to anything prior to March of 2020, we might be triggered or begin to experience unhealed trauma as well as new trauma.

I’ve read so many words from people experiencing trauma in various capacities so I thought I’d open my heart, get a bit vulnerable and share a bit of my more recent story.

I began suffering from CPTSD at its worst about 5 years ago. I started therapy 2 years ago but was still responding to various situations with fight, flight, or freeze instincts. I knew that I needed more direct therapy. I suspected I needed EMDR, having tried hypnotherapy prior.

What is CPTSD?

CPTSD stands for Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. It is a mental health condition in which a person might experience intense PTSD symptoms that coincide with other mental issues. CPTSD occurs in people who have been subjected to ongoing traumatizing experiences.

Braden Counseling

When lockdown hit, my symptoms began to sink me again. You can see where my mind was in the pictures below.

My hyper-vigilance was peaking. Panic attacks were starting again. Sleep was lacking, thus I experienced exhaustion, aches, etc. In this state, it’s impossible to think clearly. Depression and anxiety, fill the soul with assumptions, wandering thoughts, obsession, and more.

I needed help fast because I could feel myself giving up.

I’ve been in this place before and knew I couldn’t allow myself to sink further. I finally reached out to a therapist who seemed safe. Safety might be the most important trait trauma survivors look for in a therapist.

Therapy is a journey.

Healing is a journey.

If my post helps you to know you are not alone on your journey, I’m so glad. If you need help, I can send resources. You might also google CPTSD and Trauma therapy. I’m a recovering codependent so I send you to good resources as I navigate recovery for myself. If you are a man looking for resources and support on your journey, please check out James’ blog here.

In the meantime, you might find the following interview Tim and I did with my therapist interesting and informative.

Interview with Mike Phillips:

Hope is real, my friends. I lost mine completely and had to borrow a handful for a time. Oh, and those pictures above, that’s where my mind was at the beginning of lockdown and what CPTSD, PTSD, trauma looks and feels like in doodle form for me.

Ironically, I just noticed the poem I was writing on as I began this post, Mary Oliver’s I Happened to Be Standing. It begins:

I don’t know where prayers go, or what they do.

Mary Oliver

Sometimes prayers come out of our soul in the form of a doodle. The universe hears and knows. We are not alone on our journey.

Published by christellelerryn

Blogger with a thing for love and hope and grace and adventure. Wrote a Children's Book. Creative. Work in a homeless shelter and treatment facility. Every day I hear the words "I just can't do this anymore" and I remember when I whispered those very words. And I remember hope that whispered through my soul from stories like yours. We all have one. A story. We are more alike than different.

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