What C-PTSD Can Look Like
C-PTSD (or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is not something that people can just ‘toughen up and get over’. It is often depression, with a blackness or complete nothingness. A numbness that can feel painful at the same time. Flashbacks, in emotional and physical forms, with feelings of terror and / or physical pain. You can have auditory flashbacks, be hyper vigilant and it can have a huge impact on ability to create and maintain relationships. Friendships can be strained (I often want to push people away first so they ‘can’t hurt me’) and finding compassionate and understanding people to surround yourself with can be difficult, although there are some wonderful gems out there! Many can struggle with addictions and often people deal with intense anxiety and some physical ill health, such as pain, as the body carries the memories that the brain has hidden away. Dissociation is a way of the human body protecting you from trauma. So, while a negative event is happening you can feel like you have left your body completely or that you are watching yourself from a distance. Your brain cannot allow you to be fully present in some of these moments. You may remember sounds or smells, for example (that many years later trigger you) or a brief snapshot of what happened. This is perfectly natural. Dissociation can then become your body’s go – to strategy and every time you feel scared or threatened you leave (some feel as though they are floating) which may not be obvious to people around you. Many may dissociate, for what feels like, no reason at all and days later they may or may not make a connection (I heard …. noise, even if I didn’t realise at the time). You can’t quite connect. Your brain goes fuzzy. Everything feels just out of reach. It is different for everyone. You don’t know how to feel safe. I wanted to put together a collection of lines from poems I wrote three or four years ago. It feels safer showing words that I have a bit of distance from now, even if I am in pain.
Need to stop laughing and feel my feelings Seeing them is like going and sitting on an electric fence And thinking it might not hurt anymore ………… When I feel like crying sometimes I laugh I wish the tears would come I don t know if I’m alive or dead ………….. How could you take that away from me Something that is so natural and means so much I want ownership And to feel invested, somehow, in this sacred and special thing I don t get it though, in the way I should Revolting, I’m repulsive within I wish I could be free ………… The pain cuts so deep And yet I feel numb There must be something special about her That made them choose her as their special one I could never be comforted by cuddles Or have my hair swept from my face All I had was my bedroom, the chaos and my dreams No belief in fairy tales Life is what it is Melt into music That would be my escape Then defensive anger, seeing rejection at every turn Not trusting my own judgement The emptiness in my soul burns Excruciatingly empty Feeling people stop and stare I sit on the floor I’m more comfortable there ……. Because I m alone in this Lonely in a crowded room ………… I suppose I have abandonment issues I suppose that must be true But the impulsive trait that confuses me is why do I then abandon you You think I d understand how it feels But I have to build my tower with a motte Abandon anyone who may care about me Stifle that caring and choke I choke the love out of a situation Because you can t hurt me if I leave first One day my life will begin again and perhaps you’ll understand But right now this is all I m worth ………… The pain hurts too much But at the same time I’m exquisitely numb but the numb soul is being prodded by a needle repeatedly And it aches How do I fill that void? ……….. And frozen, lose my ability to communicate No concentration, no present tense, instead my soul migrates ………… (We can be hard on ourselves) Lying around for days on end Snap out of it You are a survivor I need to be my friend