Maintaining Faith….

StockSnap_PZ6QGMVQTA

I have no idea how many other CPTSD/PTSD sufferers deal with this, but I find myself in the middle of a crisis of faith. Now, I am not going to start a debate about God, not God, I am not only discussing religious or higher universal power faith. I also mean, how do sufferers maintain faith in themselves? Does anyone else who deals with this disorder struggle with having faith in your own personal abilities to thrive, take care of yourself, of your children, to find a path to peace and joy? How does one maintain faith in yourself when your life seems to feel like a never ending emotional roller coaster? Of course Google has some suggestions, but I am not sure how to feel about these. I have tried some, but none for a long term consistent time.

Reclaiming Yourself

One suggestion I found was to help others, in order to help yourself. While I am all for helping others in need, I find this lends itself to a martyr complex, or creates a situation in which the sufferer focuses so much on helping others they avoid dealing with their own emotions about what has traumatized them. I have found myself avoiding dealing with past trauma because I devoted myself to helping others. As an empath, it is natural to get wrapped up in other people’s emotions, thus pushing your own aside, and adopting those of the ones you love. When dealing with CPTSD/PTSD this is not a helpful method, because your own personal trauma is still lying beneath the surface, while you ignore it and deal with other people’s problems. Until the sufferer puts their own emotional wellbeing first, makes themselves their first priority, they will avoid dealing with what brews inside.

Let’s Get Physical

Another recommendation for CPTSD/PTSD sufferers is to maintain good physical health in order to better mental health as well. Now this is something I can get behind. Many recent studies have found yoga and running to be some great physical activities, especially for CPTSD/PTSD sufferers. I do both of these, although with limited consistency due to life, and other excuses. But when I do them, they always help me feel better mentally. The chemicals released in the brain are calming, and ease stress and tension. It is easier to clear the mind through physical activity than any other method for me. One would think I would then become obsessed with physical activity, but it is a struggle for me, because I avoid that which is not comfortable. Feeling good and at ease is uncomfortable for me, hence my struggle. But I do know firsthand that this methodology does have merit and works for many, not just myself.

Along with exercise comes a healthy diet, a loaded phrase if ever there was one. Healthy diet varies, depending on who you are, what type of body you have, and what type of diet best suits your lifestyle. I am vegan, sometimes I fall off the wagon, but for the most part I am very dedicated. Whether you opt to increase your glucose rich foods, as the linked article suggests, or you go keto, make sure you are getting the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Go to your doctor, have your levels tested, and see where your body may be deficient. Replace anything your body is lacking, and you will see your brain, and body, respond. Help recover your mental health through providing all the physical health your body could possibly need. It certainly is not going to hurt you.

Support Networks

Developing a support system may be the hardest part of dealing with CPTSD/PTSD. Why is that? Because sufferers are often met with questions, misunderstandings, and contempt. It is not easy for non-sufferers to understand the erratic nature of CPTSD/PTSD. So who do we turn to for support? Often, we turn to one another, which may or may not be helpful. To a degree it is helpful to have others who understand the depths of your pain, your fear, your aggravation at not being able to just, “knock it off.” On the flip side though, it is difficult to completely rely on other sufferers because while they can commiserate, they cannot often offer possible solutions or new perspectives. Ideally, someone who has recovered makes a wonderful support, just like with substance abusers.

I have a mixed bag in my support network. I belong to several support groups online, have a couple family and friends that I rely on, and a wonderful significant other who tries his best to offer me patience and understanding. I usually go to him first, and if I do not feel like he is offering what I need, I go to the support groups. I avoid my family and friends unless I feel I am in a crisis and need multiple support options. I often feel they are the most judgmental, not on purpose though. I think they are just too close to me not to be. My significant other was a great friend before he was a significant other. He has been by my side in one fashion or another through several traumas, and is very logically minded. My family is more emotional, and often reacts as though out of guilt for where I am mentally.

What Does It All Mean?

I started out this post asking about how to maintain faith in oneself when traveling through CPTSD/PTSD. The information says to rely on taking physical care of oneself, and relying on others to support you emotionally. But I have yet to find anything concrete on rebuilding, or in my case building, faith in oneself. Perhaps I should try grounding, more yoga, more running, more vegetables. I don’t really know. We have exercises in building our faith in others, I need some to build faith in me. I certainly cannot perform the trust fall with myself, unless I want to land flat on my ass. I have been traumatized since birth, so I do not think I ever had faith in myself. I have always relied on others to guide me, tell me where to go, what to do. I have always put my energy in caring for others and helping them solve their problems. How do I learn to put myself first, and know that it is okay to do so? How do I learn to trust my gut, looking at my track record of poor choices? How do I develop the faith in myself, to truly believe everything will be okay, and I of all people will make it okay. Do I find that in yoga, running, eating broccoli and avocados until I turn green? My road is bumpy right now, and full of potholes.

But as always, please love me, and all of us, right where we are.

 

Advertisements

The Battles Within The War

StockSnap_S9LA9E7JI0

Going through CPTSD/PTSD is like enduring a mental war. Along the way are many battles, some mental, some physical in the sense of having to face traumatizing people, places, things. Some battles you win, and proclaim victory as a triumphant soldier, planting a flag in the ground of the conquered land. Some battles you lose, and retreat to lick your wounds, analyze what went wrong, and regroup. Yesterday, my daughter and myself lost a battle. Having one person in a household with PTSD/CPTSD is difficult, but having two of us, well, it is extremely challenging. Usually, I am able to be the stable, voice of reason when she is triggered, and when I am triggered, I try to manage it by utilizing techniques I have been taught in counseling. Yesterday, neither of those things happened.

Triggers

Possible triggers can include people, places, events, smells, tastes, or anything in the universe that prompts the brain to recall trauma, and get stuck there. Yesterday, my daughter had a rough day, honestly, she has had a rough week. Also this week, I started writing my autobiography, and so far I am about 9000 words in to the work. Between my daughter’s stressful week, and my writing, we were both triggered, but neither of us realized until it was too late. When I see her struggling I usually try and focus on her, and tend to avoid anything in my life that would typically trigger me, but this week I had things I had to take care of involving my ex, so I could not practice my avoidance.

Plus, my daughter is very private, and does not show her emotions often, so I honestly did not realize how stressed she had become. Yesterday she had a melt down, and so did I. When CPTSD/PTSD sufferers are triggered they often retreat to a safe place, like a soldier returning to a base camp in order to regroup. We seek out the place in which we feel we can get through our episode and regain control. For both me and my daughter, that is our bed. She retreated to hers, and I tried to retreat to mine, but with two other kids to care for it is difficult for me to do so. I retreated several times, but I could not hide what was happening, so I tried my best to explain to my girls that I was just upset and needed some time, but that I would be okay.

Feeling triggered is scary, overwhelming, and draining. I think that is why my daughter and I usually choose the bed to retreat to, it lends itself to a comfortable feeling. The warmth from the blanket, the softness of the pillows, just feels better. My daughter stayed in her room, trying to compose herself. I was back and forth, trying to be okay for my other kids, feeling angry at my oldest who was in her room, and crying in my bed when I could because the whole situation just felt so overwhelming. I was not angry at my daughter for being triggered, that would be insensitive and ridiculous.

Episodes

I was angry at my daughter because instead of communicating to me she was having a hard time and felt herself becoming triggered, she chose yet again, to say nothing until she was completely in melt-down status, and wanting to disappear off of planet earth. She just dropped all her responsibilities at my feet with no warning, and ran away. She left me on the battlefield fighting by myself with no idea what happened. I never begrudge her the time she needs to take care of herself, but I need her to communicate with me.

I did not realize she was having an episode, until I was in one myself. I think this was like the perfect storm, both of us triggered at once, feeding off of each other’s energy in negative way. Trying to maintain an air of being okay, when really, all we wanted to do was to scream, yell, hit things, break things, and rage against the world. In reality, all we could really do was cry off and on, and try to mentally regroup.

The episodes lasted an hour or so, at which point something magical happened. My other two daughters went to bed, and I laid on the couch mentally exhausted, wanting to sleep forever. I received a text message, from my oldest.

Resolution

The text was her asking me not to be mad at her, that she was trying to be okay, but she just wasn’t. I assured her I was not mad at her for being upset, I was not MAD at her at all. I was mad at the situation, that we are both where we are mentally. I was mad at what got us to this point. I was mad that I could not wave a magic wand and fix everything. But I was not mad at her, certainly not for her feelings. She said she was mad at the same things.

We proceeded to have a great talk, over text. We both shared some insecurities with one another, and I made her promise to communicate with me so I could be a better help to her. I explained the only thing I was upset about was the lack of communication, was that abandoned feeling I had. She completely understood. I told her if she felt text was the best way for her to share her feelings, TEXT ME. Even if she was sitting right next to me. Whatever mode of communication you need to use, just use it. We had a good talk, and were able to move beyond our episodes.

This morning, she hugged me, and told me she loved me. I think we both need more of that.

It is not easy living with someone who suffers from PTSD/CPTSD. The best thing you can offer is understanding, patience, and communication. And as always, love them where they are.

Abandonment Issues….

One thing I have noticed in my personal journey through CPTSD, is the abandonment issue I have had most of my life. From my dad abandoning me as a child, to being left by friends, significant others, and more, I have severe abandonment issues. I get this undeniable sense of panic, my heart races and my breathing quickens. I can feel my brain racing through thoughts that are scattered, incoherent, and mostly self-loathing in nature. For CPTSD/PTSD sufferers it is difficult to process being left, as it is for almost everyone anyway. Abandonment is often a trigger for us, and our anxiety kicks in with avengence. So, what are we to do? We cannot stop people from rejecting us, we cannot ensure we are never abandoned again. So, what happens next??

StockSnap_RO7HF83PPB

One path, and not a healthy one, is leaving before getting left. I find myself using this technique, often. I will push people away while I am going through trauma. I have isolated myself from family, friends, and other loved ones. Inside, it feels like I am batoning down the hatches, preparing my psyche for the fight of my life, and I do not want any collateral damage to those around me that I love. But to the onlookers, it looks as though I do not care, and do not want their love and support. It looks like I am pushing them away, when in reality, I feel like I am saving them, and myself. I am saving them from my life, and the impact it has on others. I am saving myself from the pain of being rejected, because ultimately I feel they will walk away, because this shit is real…pardon the language.

Another reason I have pushed people away is out shame. Shame for being in a situation I am in, an abusive one. Shame of sharing the reality of what has been going on, and not wanting others to judge me, for I judge myself harshly enough. It is so difficult when you are suffering in an abusive situation to share this with outsiders. You know the consensus, just leave. But it is usually not that easy. It is the right thing, absolutely, but the action of it takes planning and preparation, physically and mentally. So instead of facing the questions, and perceived judgment, it is easier to push people away.

My therapist said avoidance is a CPTSD/PTSD sufferers best friend, and worst enemy. We are masters of avoidance, but it does not help us, in the long run. We have to stand and face our reality, and those who love us will stay, and those who do not will run. The ones that run, we do not want around anyway. The ones that stay, they are our support network. The ones that stay truly love and care for us, and should be the ones we lean on the most. It can be so daunting though, trusting others to be there for you, when so many have hurt you in the past. It can be so difficult to let people back in who once hurt you, even if you see they want to put that in the past, and have a better relationship. It is so difficult to get beyond the trauma, to the light.

Abandonment is something we know, something we have learned to expect, and to deal with regularly. We master our own vanishing acts, and cloak it in a figment of self-preservation. In fact, we are not preserving our ourselves, or saving others, when we push people away, in a sort of preemptive attack. We are isolating ourselves from a potential support system, a support system that terrifies us because it signifies change. While we may not be happy in our trauma, it is familiar. It is as though we are covered by a heavy blanket, and at first we feel warm, and cozy, but soon after, we realize the blanket is smothering and ultimately suffocating us. While we struggle under the weight of that blanket, we cannot help but feel some weird comfort there as well. So we see it is slowly killing us, suffocating us little by little. We also feel hidden and saved from the outside trauma, whatever lurks outside that blanket.

The world of trauma is not black and white, but rather, every shade of gray you can imagine and several you cannot. We have to grow strong enough to throw off that blanket, and reclaim our lives. Until we are, just be patient, and as always, love us where we are.

Happy Women’s Day…

StockSnap_D64GF75EQ5

 

I know, the guys are rolling their eyes and wondering when the heck Men’s Day is, and then the women are rolling their eyes back at the guys and snickering every day is Men’s Day….and so on and so forth…

I want to say Happy Women’s Day to all the women in my life who have supported me, stood by me, and been a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to bend. I love you all. I want to say Happy Women’s Day to all the mothers who raise their children right, and love them, and discipline them, and teach them, and do everything a mother should.

I want to say Happy Women’s Day to the women who do not have children, whether it is by choice, or by circumstance. For those who made the choice, kudos to you for knowing you do not have to have a child just because it is a societal norm. Kudos to you for being strong enough to stand up to those who chastise you, and make fun of your choice. Kudos to you for being self-aware, and not bringing a child into the world when you just do not want to have, and raise, a child. To those women who do not have children due to circumstance, I applaud your courage to face any and every obstacle you have faced. I applaud your strength, perseverance, and dedication. You are strong women, regardless of choice or circumstance.

I want to wish stay at home mothers, Happy Women’s Day. You have sacrificed a career to stay home with your children and be available to them throughout the entire day, and probably night. You may not even get a shower before bedtime, but every day you rededicate yourself to caring for those kiddos no matter what. You have no days off, no lunch break, no paid vacation, no pay at all, beyond the love and affection of your family. While that may not pay the bills, it certainly fills your heart. Kudos to you on a choice that many cannot make, and you do your best at it every day.

I want to wish working moms, Happy Women’s Day. You go to work every day to make sure you can put food on the table, and provide your children with the things they want/need. You sacrifice the time and work hard to support your children, your family. You wake up at the crack of dawn, and often do not make it to bed before the wee hours of the night. You do your best to juggle work and family because you are determined to take the best care of them both.

Whether we are moms, not moms, career women, stay at home moms, or whatever, we are women. We are beautiful, strong, intricate creatures. We may be plain Janes, or high maintenance. We may love yoga pants, or platform stilettos. But most of all, we need to love one another…..right where we are.

Knocked the Wind Out of Me….

I have a two year protective order against my ex. In September 2017, I had to call the police to haul his drunk ass to jail, before things escalated any further than what they already had. Thirty minutes, yes, MINUTES, after being served in jail (after he had sobered up), he broke the order 6 times by calling me incessantly. The deputy I called went to the jail, charged him with the 6 counts, and instead of leaving that morning, my ex spent a week in jail.

He has continuously broken the order by sending non-violent texts, and claiming he did not know that was not allowed. Finally, in December, after trying to be nice and ask his attorney to control him MULTIPLE times, I called the deputies again. The deputy this time called him and gave him a final warning. He threatened him that if he broke the order one more time he would be charged with every count of breaking the order, and each is a felony at this point.  Finally, he has obeyed the order.

Yesterday, my attorney got an email from his attorney, asking for some documents and what not. In the letter his attorney also asked FOR MY NEW ADDRESS!!! I am LIVID, as is my attorney. His attorney has spent countless times having to chastise this man for breaking the order, and he had the audacity to ask for information he is NOT ALLOWED to have!!! Needless to say she did not give it to him, and strongly reminded him of the protective order in place, and how that makes it completely inappropriate for him to even ask.

Now, someone without PTSD/CPTSD may experience a moment of agitation and then relief because their attorney handled things perfectly. But being a sufferer of CPTSD, what happened to me was a night filled with anxiety, panic, and insomnia. I could not stop thinking about how his attorney was actually trying to help this narcissistic, substance abuser find me, ME! His victim!! I am still anxious, and no amount of arguing with my brain using logic has worked thus far.

I feel today will be a day of hypervigilance to the Nth degree. I will have to do something to relax, as I can already feel the soreness in my jaw from clenching, and a stress headache is on the horizon. I cannot believe his attorney would be so reckless and thoughtless, especially after seeing how many times this man has broken the order. He is lucky he is not in jail for years at this point. Now, I wish I had prosecuted the further messages, gotten rid of him for years.

I want to get past this part, I want to be able to live, unafraid. I want to keep my child and myself away from this monster, and leave this chapter in the dust. I want to run away and never look back. I do not want to face the beast, and fight him, because I have been fighting him for years. I am sick and tired of this, and I want to be happy. My emotions are now spiraling, and I cannot seem to gather myself together after this one. I want to heal, damn it. I want to stop hurting, and just heal.

 

Facing Your Biggest Fears

StockSnap_5YKT5Q1O9X

One of the most difficult aspects of CPTSD/PTSD is not succumbing to avoidance. Many sufferers avoid that which scares them most. For CPTSD sufferers this can mean avoiding good things, because they are not what you know. Positive occurrences feel uncomfortable because we do not know them. If we did, we would not have CPTSD. Along with being afraid of some of the positives we KNOW we need to welcome into our life, we have severe fear in regards to the things, and people, who have traumatized us. Yesterday, I had to face one of my biggest fears. I had to face my soon-to-be ex-husband in court.

Yesterday, I fought for sole custody of our daughter, both physical and legal. I fought for NO VISITATION, which is what my daughter wants. She is 6 years old, and has no true bond with her father, and has been traumatized by the abuse he has doled out to me, and to our entire family. Yesterday, I stood up in court, and I fought my fight. It was a good fight. I had truth, and justice, on my side, on my daughter’s side.

I sat on the stand and told of the abuse he doled out. The mental, verbal, sometimes physical abuse that I suffered, and my children witnessed….and sometimes also suffered. I sat on the stand and kept myself composed as my ex scoffed when I shared my story. I sat on the stand and did not shed a tear, or break down. My voice wavered a bit when I spoke, but other than that, I shared openly, my experiences…the best I could.

Court is funny place. You have a great deal of restraints on what you are allowed to say. Objections fly when you try to talk about what is said directly to you, even if said by your own child. It was frustrating not to be able to just openly appeal to the common sense of the judge, and tell her our story. It was difficult not to break down, and scream, when he sat on the stand telling lie after lie, trying to make himself look like a victim. It was difficult not having an anxiety attack and running from the courtroom screaming.

Yesterday, was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. But, I did it. I shared my story, my daughters’ stories, to the best of my ability. I did not walk away with exactly what I asked for, but I did walk away feeling more in control of what happens next. The judge looked at me and said, “Mom, you are in the driver’s seat, do you understand?” I nodded and thanked her, fighting back tears. He gets to see our daughter, in a therapeutic setting, a minimum of once a month. For now. If our daughter reacts poorly to this, I will absolutely file to amend this situation and ask the court to shut this down ASAP.

I faced someone who has terrorized me for the last 8 years. I faced him, and I beat him. Not because I got more of what I wanted than he did of what he wanted. I win because when I left I felt empowered. I win because the judge and the court put him in his place, and saw right through his charade. I win, because I am not longer his victim, nor are my 3 children. I win, because I have removed myself from his life as much as I can.

We all have fears in life, whether we have PTSD/CPTSD or not. We all have things that may leave us feeling almost paralyzed physically, mentally, emotionally. In that moment, when you are breathing hard, feeling anxious, feel your heart racing, and it is fight or flight, it is not always necessary to pick fight. Sometimes flight is the correct answer. It is not about which one you choose, but choosing the right one for the right situation. In my case, I chose flight in order to fight. I escaped a narcissist’s grasp, in order to fight him.

We all have things we fear. Facing our fears is necessary in order to overcome. In order to travel the road less traumatized, we have to find the path to start the journey. It is there, waiting for you, and along the way are so many people to help you heal. It is not a journey without bumps along the way. It is not a path to take lightly, or rush down. Take your time, face your fears, and learn to overcome, and more importantly, learn to thrive.

For those who are acting as a support to someone overcoming trauma, patience, guidance, listening, understanding….these are the qualities we need most. We may buck against your help at first, be patient. We may scoff at your guidance, be patient. We may accuse you of not understanding, not listening, not hearing us, be patient. We are in a whirlwind of emotion, unsure of which way is up at times.

Just be patient, and as always, love us where we are.

Meltdown in 3…2…1

Thus far, I have stuck with the theme of providing useful, factual and still personal information about those of us with PTSD/CPTSD. Today, I am feeling very anxious and have decided to utilize this platform to show the inner workings of a CPTSD mind in work….

I have court on Monday, facing my ex, to determine whether or not he should be allowed any type of visitation with our 6 year old daughter. While the odds are in my daughter’s favor, and she wants nothing to do with him, I am still so anxious. I have a 2 year protective order against my ex, my abuser. I am consumed this morning with thoughts of what will happen if (and hopefully when) he is denied visitation with our daughter. I am trying not to let my imagination run rampant, but I really cannot stop it.

I keep thinking of his rage explosions from the past and imagining what happens when a court tells a narcissist, who respects no boundaries, that he cannot have access to our daughter. I keep thinking of the things he has done, and has threatened to do, and cannot stop the flood of thoughts in my head about what will happen next.

A logical, rational person soothes themselves with thoughts about how much peace has come since leaving this situation, and realizing that the future is brighter for us now than it ever has been. Calming the CPTSD mind is like wrestling a rabid dog on steroids. No matter how much I try and remain logical, rational, and calm, the more my heart races, I have flashbacks, and my anxiety goes through the roof. The more I think about his crazy, the more it makes me crazy. The more I obsess about trying to stop the thoughts in my head, the stronger they become.

My mind and heart are racing, my stomach is in knots, my breathing is rushed, and I am fighting the urge to go into a complete panic. I am doing everything I can to focus and not fall apart. Hence why I came here. I am trying to focus on writing this post as to calm myself down from the proverbial ledge of insanity my brain is currently teetering on. I am hoping that sharing this moment will help someone, even if the only someone is myself.

In this moment, I am triggered. I am flooded with thoughts of the abuse I endured over the years, the abuse my children witnessed and experienced themselves. I am finding it hard to breathe, flashing back to being choked in my own kitchen. I am hearing his voice, screaming at me, threatening me while spitting and raging like a complete lunatic. I am remembering every moment he ever abused me, us. I am so tired of these memories, these thoughts that haunt my every moment of remembering him. I am sick and tired of being emotionally exhausted, and mentally drained. I am sick and tired of feeling sick and tired.

I just want to be normal, whatever the hell that means. I just want to lead a peaceful, happy life and move forward. I want so much to let go of all the pain, all the suffering. I am sick and tired of being his victim, whether physically, or mentally, or both. I am sick and tired of having to hide from the world, and play like everything is okay, and he never meant those horrible things.

I am sick and tired of struggling, of fighting, of suffering. I want to laugh, live, and love. I want to be carefree and in the moment. I want to just BE. I want to know who I am as a person, and not feel lost in a mental disorder. I want to be free. I want to let it go, and yes, I wanna build a snowman. I want to beat him up, I want to never see or hear from him again. I want to go back in time, and shake the shit out of myself and make me realize I deserve so much better.

I want to just….be.

Fast forward about 10 minutes. My episode has passed, and now, I am okay…not good, but okay. I am not going to edit, or trim the above content. I am going to leave it as is. Honestly, it is a small sampling of what happens in my mind when the anxiety builds. Many other sufferers have far worse episodes than myself, and I am thankful mine are as manageable as they are.

For anyone wondering, I left the computer, and utilized a technique in which I start touching things and naming them, concentrating on being in this moment. A chair, the coffee maker, my table, the dog. My brain is forced into the moment of now, instead of floundering anxiously through the memories of the past.

I have therapy today, thank goodness. I hope anyone reading this can see how easily we spiral out of control mentally. My episode was minor in detail to many other people, but still an episode nonetheless. Time to shower, regroup, and get some work done before therapy.

Thank you, for those who have made it this far, and as always….love us where we are.