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Complex PTSD. We're sinking. What worked for you?

(34 Posts)
NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 08:24:41

Morning! brew NC again for more MN wisdom.

I'm trying to support a younger sibling -there was just us- through depression, but what I think is more C-PTSD. Our DM was an alcoholic with horrendous mental health issues and we never quite had the love and support growing up. Home was not a stable, safe place.

We've both spent a fortune on counselling (& CBT) through the decades which hasn't really done anything apart from going over old ground.

We've both been successful in our careers (god knows how) but have always struggled with attachment and loss. Our relationship record has not been great and we're both having issues with insecurity and commitment.

With the help of MN, I found Pete Walker a while back and have read a few books which have helped me to understand my behaviours. Have learned so much by hanging out on Relationships board too. I feel we both need to go deeper though to unravel it. <scared> I have moved past my own alcoholic issues, so there's been some progress.

If you're in the UK, did you seek therapy of any kind and what was it/how much? Or have you found other strategies that have worked for you?

stillworkingonit Thu 23-Nov-17 08:42:49

Yoga, meditation, walking, and about 2 yrs of therapy. And lots of reading on attachment trauma. But still very much work in progress. Therapy was/is with someone with high level quals and decades of experience in relational trauma and abuse and she should really be charging me at least £80 a session, but only charges 50, and is amazing at giving between session support.

Things definitely got worse as I dug stuff up in therapy, so not easy, and I couldn't have done therapy without meditation and exercise to manage moods. I also couldn't have done meditation without therapy to help me cope with what meditation brings up!

I think it's hard to find the right therapist- she was my 4th. There's a meditation you can do around compassionate imagery where you think of the most important qualities that you need in a perfect helper (Google compassionate helper or ideal compassionate other- there are some on compassionate mind website). I'd done this a few times and knew that for me I needed to feel my helper was stronger than me, wasn't scared of my feelings, and was warm towards me. This helped me 'know' what therapist felt right as she felt so warm, but definitely not intimidated or scared off by me. But it's really not been easy and I needed other things in my life to help me cope with how hard therapy has felt.

It seems there are so many of us out there flowers

Iris65 Thu 23-Nov-17 08:52:23

lots of reading on attachment trauma.
Do you have any recommendations? I’ve read some stuff: Why Love Matters by Sue Gerhardt and other stuff online, but wondered what else is available.

OP I second yoga, meditation and walking. The other thing is that I have found being kind to myself has helped a lot. I also had 7 years of intensive psychodynamic psychotherapy which was excellent and made a huge difference to me. I needed psychodynamic therapy as I found counselling and CBT superficial as it ignored the primary issue of unstable attachments.

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 09:16:44

Yay. Superstars, both of you star. Having C-PTSD is a lonely place and you can feel you're on the outside looking in at times. Wasn't sure if anyone would answer. Thank you flowers

Good name stillworkingonit A therapist like yours sounds great. I know what you mean about finding the right one, did the same with counsellors. Although not really helpful in the end. Like sitting in your own stew grin. Can some stuff happen on Skype? You wouldn't be surprised to know we have health issues and can't always leave the house. I admit the costs will be tricky to meet too.

I've been a bit late to yoga and meditation. It's good to know I'm moving slowly in the right direction. Do you find that careers and family commitments keep you really busy and then it bubbles up and causes issues during quieter moments. I think both of us have been so busy and 'purposeful' in our lives that we've not allowed it the time to become an issue. Now though....... sad

Yes, Iris recommendations for reading around attachment issues would be great. Am just on the directory looking up local psychodynamic psychotherapy, thanks for that tip. I'm feeling exhausted at the thought confused

Brokenbutbreathing Thu 23-Nov-17 09:17:15

Just jumping in with a wave and a hand hold. I am in a very, very similar situation, and really feel for you. I feel like I've tried everything, over years, and haven't found that one fundamental thing that really makes an actual difference. The Pete Walker book looks good and I'm going to order it. Hope that you receive some good advice on this thread.

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 09:25:19

flowers for you Brokenbutbreathing Your username made me feel sad sad.

I hope you find the right path too. And you can change your MN identity wink. Good luck!

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 09:46:58

Has anyone used medication of any sort to 'nudge' you in the right direction? I think sometimes, you've slipped so deep into it, a little chemical help can start the momentum? I'm hearing mixed stories.

MorgaineLeFay Thu 23-Nov-17 09:52:57

I'm a clinical hypnotherapist and work a lot with trauma and have successfully treated c-ptsd with many clients. I used several different types of therapy, Ericksonian hypnotherapy, NLP and EFT all work very well especially in combination and help to heal even significant issues as a result of early trauma. A type of therapy called Matrix Reimprinting works very well too, and can be very powerful at healing long standing issues. It's a kind of inner child therapy and I've had really good results with it.

All of these therapies are very gentle and effective and can be used 'at a distance' so are not distressing to experience.

I'm sorry you are having to deal with all of this. Hope this helps.

stillworkingonit Thu 23-Nov-17 10:02:20

Yes lots do Skype now. You could see if monthly sessions worked in order to budget? Some therapists will do discount for block bookings. Check a therapist has recent training in developmental trauma as it's had a lot of recent research. Also ask what their main theoretical influences are, then check out the names. Some psychodynamic therapists (not all) stick to just old principles of the in the room stuff and I think complex trauma needs more flexibility. For instance with attachment trauma we are hypervigilant to therapist behaviour and words, so we may need therapists to safely disclose their thoughts in order to develop trust. It waa such a relief when i realised i didnt have to guess and worry and manage my therapist''s thoughts, i could just ask her 'are you cross with me' and she'd explain. She explains if she has a cold or back pain so that my inner fears know that movements she makes might be to do with that, and not because she hates me. If she'd done the psychodynamic approach of asking me why I might be projecting that I think it would have been too much. I could only learn to ask because she was willing to be open and share her thinking from the start. Hope that makes sense!
The writers/researchers I rate are van der Kolk, Dan siegel, Paul Gilbert, tara brach. Linda graham does a good blog too.

I read and research as part of my anxiety response (trying to control it with knowledge!) and so I usually find starting one book or Internet blogs leads to more links.

It is so hard, and I also feel late to healing- it's hard to realise how much of a mess I'd been making of life before I acknowledged the trauma, and it was accidental- freak incident triggered single incident ptsd and thus started therapy, where I uncovered c-ptsd. I know what you mean about keeping busy and not being aware of things- I now see that letting myself get preoccupied by work /families is something I do to avoid the anxiety and panic and emotion that bubbles up if I'm not mentally busy. Good luck to all of you facing this. On a good day I think I did really well to survive as well as I did- I'm sure the same is true for you all. winebrewcakeflowers

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 10:05:24

Every day's a school day smile. I'd never heard of Ericksonian hypnotherapy Morgaine thank you, yes it does help. I have dipped in to EFT and NLP in the past, not yet Matrix Reimprinting. How do you decide which of these is best for your client? I've been whirling a bit with all the different options and don't really know which way to turn first. I've been told I'm stuck in an adrenaline cycle and everything I've tried so far doesn't seem to switch it off or dampen it down. I guess I'm still very hypervigilant?

Good to hear they are gentle and effective and not distressing to experience. I've been there too often now. I guess we're looking at this long-term really?

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 10:07:49

still cross post with the hypervigilance stuff there grin

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 10:18:54

Wow, excellent advice. I hadn't really thought of this before stillworkingonit

'For instance with attachment trauma we are hypervigilant to therapist behaviour and words, so we may need therapists to safely disclose their thoughts in order to develop trust'.

I have been told in the past I'm rather sensitive and find trusting people difficult. This would explain why life is so exhausting, especially therapy.

Both of us are also rather altruistic and have 'kept busy' by -ironically- working with children/people who happen to have various social issues, including C-PTSD confused. I don't think that's a coincidence. Time to look after ourselves I think!

Howmanysleepstilchristmas Thu 23-Nov-17 10:21:14

No personal experience, but am familiar with therapies. CAT may help with relationship issues, EMDR for PTSD.

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 10:26:55

Ah. "Anxiety Response". That's what I'm stuck in. Off to research it. still I could have written your last paragraph. I'm sorry to hear about a freak accident AND having PTSD and C-PTSD. That's quite a load flowers I sort of found my way to C-PTSD a different way too. A great big signpost! grin

Woollycardi Thu 23-Nov-17 10:55:58

Hi, I don't have the same diagnosis, but I have trust issues, am very sensitive and some of the other stuff you mentioned. The single most important thing for me has been to stick with the same therapist. I have tested that relationship through thick and thin, I have repeatedly wanted to go to someone else, I have held back so much and now after a considerable amount of time it has kind of dawned on me that it didn't really matter if it was the 'right' therapist as such, the important thing for me was to stay with the relationship and all that it has brought up in me. Which, to be frank, has been hideous, but perhaps I am starting to feel something different now. So all the doubt, all the chopping and changing, just find something that you can stay with through all of that, prepare yourself for the fact that you will be cynical, have doubts, not trust, all of that stuff that has kept you functioning all this time. This has been true for me anyway. Good luck OP.

stillworkingonit Thu 23-Nov-17 11:18:02

NopeNotMe- I'm sure there would be many more similarities grin . And unsurprisingly i found myself working in mental health wink. Really hope you get somewhere. There is so much helpful stuff online at least to start with.

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 11:32:29

Quick wave. Off to meditate and calm my anxiety response before I post again. Thanks all flowers

Millie2013 Thu 23-Nov-17 11:38:34

5 years of psychoanalytic psychotherapy with a very, very experienced therapist was the only thing that worked for me (attachment disorder and lots of trauma)
Sometimes three sessions a week, so v intense (and expensive 🙈)

Ohyesiam Thu 23-Nov-17 11:55:03

I have a friend who had sick and amazing results with a therapy that simply involved eye movement, no soul searching, intact hardly any talking ( though she had has talking therapy previously). I am desperately trying to remember the name.
I think it's to do with making new neutral pathways in the brain.
I'll try and find out, in the meantime I hope someone else knows the name of it?

Ohyesiam Thu 23-Nov-17 11:55:51

Sorry, sick? PTSD, my phone always thinks it knows better....

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 12:02:01

EMDR? I really fancy that. Quick, non-traumatic & effective grin

I did register for that but the Energy Therapist said that it might make me worse (have vertigo) & to go through Energy Psychotherapy which was gentler

SummerKelly Thu 23-Nov-17 12:24:46

Bessel van der Kolk The Body Keeps The Score is excellent at explaining the biology of trauma, it massively helped me make sense of stuff and helped me realise some of my behaviour (alcohol, self harm) wasn't my "fault".

NopeNotMe Thu 23-Nov-17 14:18:59

Thanks Howmany. I've never heard of CAT either. So many avenues to consider! No wonder I have vertigo grin You're right Woolly the chopping and changing doesn't help. Thanks for the warning re the cynicism and not trusting. I think I've been there before.

Lallypopstick Thu 23-Nov-17 14:20:57

Evidence based for PTSD recommends CBT or EMDR. I would definitely give the latter a go.

LorelaiVictoriaGilmore Thu 23-Nov-17 14:44:36

My Dsis had EMDR for C-PTSD. Just to give you an idea of how serious it was, x-mas 2014 she tried to kill herself 5 times in the space of a few weeks. Fortunately, my parents have money and were able to pay for treatment in a private psychiatric hospital. Their recommendation for her was EMDR and she went on to have, I think, about two years of twice-weekly sessions. I think the recommendation for EMDR was largely based on how sick she was - she definitely wasn't strong enough for soul-searching. She has since followed the EMDR up with CBT.

The results were very good. She isn't perfectly well now - she still has some addiction issues - but she is so, so much better than she was and hasn't tried to kill herself since that one, horrible x-mas. So I think for her it worked. They've also had very good results using it from soldiers coming back from war zones.

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