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.
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.
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.