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Living with CPTSD

Wondering sometimes if sharing so much of my own life and experience with this mental illness can cause some anxiety.
I ponder often if I just kept living my life in private would I be better off.

My answer is a resounding No.

I have not posted for a while and that is partly due to life, and more to do with not being so well. As for many people the holiday period can be unsettling. Yet mine personal experience has been more about what I have been hiding from myself.
I missed the time with people I care about and love, those I have welcomed into my life not necessarily those by birth. I do not celebrate ‘Christmas” the church holiday, nor am I a big fan of the commercialised concept.

After gorging on almost 3.5kg of Toblerone (darn supermarket had the huge huge blocks so cheap)plus a whole lot of other highly processed food. Over a couple of weeks, I realised I was not well. Yes physically but also mentally.

I had been with people on boxing day (26/12/2020) and it was really lovely.
Yet I had a dark area forming in my moods. I began to sink slowly not wanting to be but not really being able to stop. Feed my face feel angry, eat more, feel upset, eat more, yet no comfort did I feel from my emotional eating.

I feel my psychologist was aware that I might have been heading for a bit of a backstep. In combination with COvid and all the lockdowns seeing an increase in mental unwellness our Federal Government increased the number of visits to a psychologist/psychiatrist/counsellor you could have to 20 a year. Prior to this it was 6 having over the past few years gone from being 12 to 6. So I am seeing my psychologist more often.

Shortly into the new year I had my first appointment. I really did not want to do a zoom, or talk to her. In the morning as the approaching time came my neck began to itch unbearably. As our meeting began, it became to so extreme I could not talk all I could do was rub my neck, jawline and cheeks. I had welts and rash from this, and it just was so intensely and utterly uncontrollable I just had to scratch. She offered to reschedule but I knew I wanted, to no needed to talk about what ever this was.

As I began to talk I just let the words come and what I discovered was I really wanted to have people over, to decorate my home for Yuletide(even though here it is summer). I wanted to celebrate the season, to share in what is in the northern hemisphere the returning of the sun and longer days. (Maybe I need to look at celebrating it in winter down ). Now we can not celebrate sitting around a fire (total fire ban) and daylight goes until nearly 10pm. But..the idea of just being a group and yes of women friends. Sitting sharing and talking about their passions. Being thankful for all we have.

As I really thought about it, the itchy remained and I was scratching and rubbing. Very aware of it, but also of the feeling or overwhelming sadness. tears rolled down my face as I began to have memories of wonderful times at my grandparents home. 40dC/104dF the combustion (wood fired stove) going cooking Christmas lunch in a tiny 2 bedroom fibro house with 9 people inside around the fan and a water filled air conditioner.
It was not just about being with my grandparents. It was something more. It was not perfect. It was simple it was hard work for my grandmother and mother.
I think it was that my Grandparents had decorated their tiny home with so much delight. There was a real feeling of wonder.
Perhaps that is just a simplistic childlike memory of a better time in my childhood. Yet it is a deep memory that has come out and changed me.

It was not instantly. I did not toss or give away the remaining highly processed food, nor get immediately back on my routine. (Yes I was totally off every aspect of my routine). Are you sick of my routine yet?

I have been kind to myself. I have not punished myself, or done the negative self talk as much as possible. I have sat with the feelings, working through them now rather than emotionally eating in an attempt to keep what ever my mind and body needed me to get out. As small and simple as this new knowledge been to me as I worked through all that was happening internally and externally, yes the hives continued for a week even with anithistamines. I now know more about what I need for myself.

Pushing myself to talk and work through the incredible discomfort of this as with so many other times on my path towards managing and maybe healing my mental illness. Is hard, intense, extraordinarily emotional and confronting at times yet worth it. For me my life now is about living my best life. MY LIFE.

What my CPTSD has taught me so far is that as a child my brain was so incredible at creating ways to keep me safe and living by just pushing all the screwed up shit that was my childhood so often deep inside me. I lived two lives the one at home an the one at school, the one where I tried to make friends, to be a friend yet even as a small child I was filled with rage and anger at what had been done and was being done to me.

Finally I am really aware that I love being alive. Even on my really bad days. I love that I am moving through so much that has happened in my lifetime, but especially in my childhood and adolescence. As hard as draining and scary sometimes letting these hidden experiences feelings and emotions out is, the understanding that each time this happens is a step forward for me to BE ME. As corny as that sounds.

So yes I will keep sharing my personal journey. My life. Its warts and all that happens. I am currently a mature aged woman who has Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, who is not so afraid of the blackness as I was because I am learning that the blackness is all my trauma, all my fears, known and unknown. That part of my healing is working bloody hard to accept and let these fears,and emotions of my life experiences out. To just burp the bottle a bit at a time. Not every appointment with my psychologist is such. However for me it is the time after where I really develop understanding and can really explore what has happened in the appointment are where the biggest shifts in my life are. Where the new strength is and where my adult self is able to speak up. Say and do what I want not just need to live my life as I chose.

The other reason I keep sharing the good the bad and the unwell, is that not so many years ago the word Cancer was never said, then it was whispered about if someone had it as if it might be contagious. Well I see similarities with mental illness. As statistics say
•Mental illness is very common. One in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. The most common mental illnesses are depressive, anxiety and substance use disorder. These three types of mental illnesses often occur in combination. For example, a person with an anxiety disorder could also develop depression, or a person with depression might misuse alcohol or other drugs, in an effort to self-medicate. Of the 20% of Australians with a mental illness in any one year, 11.5% have one disorder and 8.5% have two or more disorders. Almost half (45%) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime
. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 4326.0, 2007. ABS: Canberra

By Rubina Kapil on February 6, 2019

Mental health and substance use challenges can take many forms. There’s depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction and the list goes on. Some of these challenges are more visible and you might recognize them immediately. Others can be harder to see when you’re not looking for them. But, they are still there.

These statistics provide a look at how many people face a mental health or substance use challenge, whether we see it or not:

  1. In the United States, almost half of adults (46.4 percent) will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
  2. 5 percent of adults (18 or older) experience a mental illness in any one year, equivalent to 43.8 million people.
  3. Of adults in the United States with any mental disorder in a one-year period, 14.4 percent have one disorder, 5.8 percent have two disorders and 6 percent have three or more.
  4. Half of all mental disorders begin by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24.
  5. In the United States, only 41 percent of the people who had a mental disorder in the past year received professional health care or other services.

So when you look at these figures my personal feelings are we need to be talking openly and honestly about our illnesses. This brings more understanding to others going through it, to family and friends of people who are dealing with CPTSD and PTSD. It makes the politicians more aware of the impacts on work experiences, prejudices of some employers, how difficult life really is, costs to individuals and families emotionally financially, more one on one services and packages for those of us unable to afford access to psychologists and psychiatrists. It may help to reduce suicide. Family issues. Our own issues. Employers/businesses will really understand why we might behave or respond in situations. Also Schools may begin to realise that so much of how and what they encourage as ‘normal’ is really not for everyone.

It may also help those younger folk who are not ‘fitting in’ to what society says is ‘normal life’ If I had known for me living out of town and not having heaps of social activities and lots of friends was perfectly normal and OK for me at a much younger age it may have been helpful.

blessings to You, Tazzie

15 thoughts on “Living with CPTSD

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  1. Just wanted to say that I really liked this post, and that I don’t think anything you’re saying here is strange in any way. In fact, I think it represents a certain resilience. And there’s always a “springing back” that comes with any deflection of hardship in life.

    I also think loneliness is one of the fundamental motivators for any human. We can learn to be alone… that’s a sort of resiliency in itself. But there’s always the desire to be able to honestly share and to express ourselves among others. That’s a great deal of what we call “love”. And it’s a good reason to write.

    Cheers to you! (ツ)v

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to hear you have been going through a tough time. Mental illness still seems to be a taboo despite the Government funding and ability to seek help.

    Christmas is a non-event with me, but I still remember the glorious December/January school holidays on my Grandmother’s farm in north-west Tasmania with a certain longing for the simpler life (with all my cousins who lived close by.)

    I also ended up eating ‘banned’ foods which have a negative effect on my mental state and felt not only nauseous but negative and mentally unstable and depressed.

    I wonder why we folk with food sensitivites or allergies deliberately buy forbidden foods at this time of year. Is it just a deliberate ploy to recapture our simpler and more satisfying Christmas memories of our youth? Or are we ‘weak’ and cave into commercial advertising and in-store promotions at this time of year?

    All I know is that I’m glad the Christian Christmas and New Year festivities, brought out to Australia by our ancestors, are well and truly over and we can try to get back to our ‘normal’ life……whatever COVID normal is these days.

    I hope you are starting to feel better now and more open to sessions with your psychologist. At the time of each session, you may feel negative and that they are non-productive, but I’m sure once you get back into a normal routine with neighbours and visits to town, you will start to feel better.

    Remember that you are never alone and there are others who welcome your online posts and hearing about your struggles.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Vicki, you have been on my mind. I appreciate your words so much, and yes I am feeling somewhat improved. The reactions you have to eating your sensitive too foods. make my binge so much worse..I wish I had felt ill for some reason nothing not even guilt at the Oh and the consequences as you have said decline in mental health and physical activity for me.
      Totally agree with you in regard to now the holiday time of year is over and a more ‘normal sense’ of life as it is can return/

      How did your operation go? It must have been daunting being in hospital at that time which is generally a quieter time in most hospitals I certainly have worked in.

      My garden is struggling weather down here has been hot cold windy dry heavy rain. Fruit has been great but I have had one tiny tomato so far. A few developing. I do not know if I am going ot get anything much. Potatoes were a flop but I know why now. garlic was not great. I am laughing at myself more work put into everything and less production. Ahh the joy of gardening. Lovely to hear from you.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Still struglling with lower spine and hip pain since the 1st December hip replacement surgery AND I had a full thickness torn ligament in my right shoulder and a long, jagged tear in my left shoulder ligament too. That’ll teach me to stop lifting heavy boxes, potted plants and furniture around. The hip surgery re-ignited my chronic knee inflammaation, old shin injury and numerous other chronic pain issues, but the biggest problem was the change in the Australian Drug laws and GPs are no longer allowed to prescribe codiene (which is the only thing that works for my chronic pain isssues). I have my first session at a Brain, Spine & Pain Clinic (private) this Friday. I don’t have much faith in their ability to deal with my chronic complex health issues though. I’ve done spinal nerve blocks, facet joint blocks, cortisone injections, meditation and deep breathing work in the past, but my pain levels now…..on some days are horrific. Last Friday was a good day though. I can walk around ok now, but by early afternoon, I’m in too much pain to go for a walk and have to sit down. The stretching and bending I used to do for my lower spine pain was contraindicated for the hip replacement recovery. I had to sleep in my new recliner/lift chair for 4 weeks after I got home from the hospital as it was too painful to lie in bed.
        All in the day of a 40 year chronic pain sufferer, but it’s a shame I am allergic to Morphine, Endone and many of the other prescription analgesics and pain patches.

        We had a fair bit of heavy rain in Melbourne too.

        Over the weekend there was a pile of potting soil next to the potted Rosemary plant on my balcony and I jokingly told my brother (with his large orchard, chickens and veggie garden) that it seemd like something had burrowed into the drainage holes of the pot. I suggested a ‘field mouse’ and he jokingly said Mice can’t move mountains (of soil).
        Lo and behold I caught a field mouse poking it’s nose and one eye out of the plastic pot’s drainage hole when I pulled the blinds up this morning.
        I emailed my brother and said Mice DO move mountains of soil and sent him a photo of it. So cute.

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Forestwood I just reread your comment and realised I did not answer it properly and the answer it is certainly can be in my experience. I often get itchy when anxious and rashes, often little bumps. I hope your daughter is doing OK.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for sharing your feelings. It is good for you. You know what, it is not just CPTSD but everyone of us has our own insecurities and fears. There is no specific recipe to overcome them but each one has a way to deal with them. We try our best to make a good day out of a bad one.

    Hope you are spending time in your garden and walking your dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Beautiful, thank you for sharing. I believe sharing like this can give comfort and relief to others with complex ptsd as well. 🌹🙏

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi thank Yo so much. I am learning so much as I work on my own CPTSDS. I was an RN and RPN, and knowing my own expereinces now I feel so much more for many of my clients and patients. If I can share honestly and openly ( I know no other way I find it impossible to lie. about myslef). and one person gains something from it. that is mindblowing to me. It also helps to remove so many stigmas.

      Liked by 1 person

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