I was abused for 19 years by my father and others. Physically and emotionally. Then my dad died in ’92. For 6 more years, I would be physically and emotionally abused by my sister. At 25, I moved out, got married and I was free! From almost-daily emotional abuse.
That day? That I was free? I started recovery. Which is just as hard some days. If not more so.
I most likely have complex PTSD. I say most likely because mental health professionals put you in a category nowadays. Not actually diagnose you, give you medicine and like, actually, you know, treat you??! I recently saw a counselor.
After listening to my history, “You’ve definitely got some trauma there.” Nods head vigorously. “You most likely have PTSD.”
And then he strings me along for several more sessions without actually doing anything. No treatment, just talking. I’ve processed more feelings and engaged in more self-discovery through writing than all my counseling appointments from the beginning of time, combined.
Thanks! But no.
In the late 90s and early 2000s when I was seeing mental health professionals, no one ever thought to delve into PTSD, let alone complex PTSD. The first mention of complex PTSD by a professional in literature was in ’92, the year my dad died. (BTW, weird!) But it’s not even widely recognized as a thing yet.
I’m pretty sure I have it. I have many of the symptoms. Panic attacks, triggers, sensitivity, nightmares, flashbacks. I’m sure that the next decade will reveal that many abuse survivors suffer from complex PTSD.
What is it?
Complex PTSD is not necessarily worse than what a soldier might go through, but complex PTSD indicates that the disorder comes from ongoing abuse that happens multiple times. A soldier might endure years of traumatic violence in the line of duty, or he might suffer one tragic episode. Either way, he might develop PTSD. But if it’s ongoing exposure, with multiple incidents, he might develop complex PTSD.
Many abuse survivors develop complex PTSD because they suffer daily or almost daily violence for years. YEARS! The complex aspect indicates the severity or frequency of exposure to traumatic events. There are other numerous factors to distinguish complex. I have only just started hearing about complex PTSD. I’m sure more information about C-PTSD will emerge over the next decade. Children can develop PTSD by being forced to live in a chaotic situation. Even if they are never touched or injured, simply living with out-of-control adults can make them feel unsafe. Even living with abuse, and not being abused, can make it hard to trust.
Here is a great resource for managing PTSD triggers! Please look at this link if you have panic attacks, even mild ones, or anxiety. It’s changed my life and my family’s life. And also, my book, which addresses my early childhood and some of the abuse, is free this week, check it out. It’s a quick read, no clinical advice, just a memoir. FREE! Can’t beat free.
If you are in an abuse situation: You have to get out. And stay out. For yourself. For your kids. Cut all ties with toxic people and get help. Physical and mental and emotional help.
Why? Because your life has worth, value, meaning, importance. You’re strong enough to survive this. And even thrive after this.
Prayer is Powerful
God is real. Prayer works. A better life is waiting and there’s someone nice to love you. Or just a life where you can love yourself.
If you’re wondering if prayer works or you’re sure it doesn’t? A coupla months ago, when I was feeling really low and asked for prayer, I got the most wonderful surprise. My family was preparing to move unexpectedly because they found water damage and mold in our ceiling and I was feeling ill.
I don’t have a thyroid. They took it out due to cancer two years ago and my doctors still haven’t figured out my medication levels. (I’m better now after dropping weight and gallbladder removal. I still have issues, but much better!)
Well. Guess what? I was laying on my bed, resting and feeling blue, wondering how to move our entire apartment in just a few days while feeling so sick, when I got a call out of the blue.
It was Hope House. My husband and I tithe to this domestic abuse shelter that helps women and children. To be honest, I thought they might be calling to ask for more money. I am ashamed to admit that. BUT! Cortney said, “Hi, I just started here and I wanted to call and thank you for your generous donations throughout the year.”
Well, I told her through tears…we give because I came from an abuse situation. And I know what it means to those in need, those who are scared and have no place to go, to have peace of mind and a safe place. It’s a question of survival and the most basic human needs, security and shelter. Except, I said it more confused and slobber-y. But that was the gist. LOL
She thanked me again. I wish Guy C. Maggio was there. It’s his hard-earned money that goes to them, he gives for my sake and my history. What a wonderful man. Thank you, Honey. And Cortney thanks you, too. 🙂
Anyway, she said, without me asking, “I’ll say a special little prayer for you tonight.” And I told her the same and for those at Hope House-I would be praying for them. At least, I meant to say that, I said I would pray, but again, I was super blubbery. It probably came out as a sloshy mumble of something about “me pray too”. LOL
I needed prayer. I had just asked friends on Facebook to pray for me that morning. And out of the blue, God showed me that my messed-up life can make a difference for someone else. And he showed me a person who would pray for me, unasked. PTL!
I used to ask God:
Why did you give me this family?
What have I ever done to deserve this?
Why am I sick?
Why do I have cancer?
Is it something I did?
And the answer is: He didn’t choose this, but He knew I would be strong enough to withstand it, survive it and on top of it all, give back to others like me some day. All with His help. He knew I would find my weary way home and make something good out of something so bad.
Prayer works. A voice in the wild will whisper on the wind, “Thank you, I’m here, don’t give up.”
We just need to be still. And pray.
Thank you for your call and thank you note, Cortney. You helped me. You help many people I’m sure. Keep going.
I wish my family had access to a place like Hope House when I was a child. That’s why I give. So a child, like me, can get out. And stay out.