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anyone managed to get well again after complex ptsd?

(66 Posts)
mosp Wed 05-Oct-11 21:43:35

I would love to talk to you. Please?

MissingMySleep Thu 06-Oct-11 14:12:12

bump

hopefully someone out there

toptramp Thu 06-Oct-11 20:40:59

I wasn't formerly diagnosed but put it like this; I am doing well and off medication ten years after splitting up with my horrendously abusive ex.

toptramp Thu 06-Oct-11 20:41:57

It took about 8 years and a baby to snap out of it. I think I do have a personality disorder but time is definately a healer. What caused your ptsd? Hope it gets better soon.

mosp Thu 06-Oct-11 20:59:25

Mine was caused by something that happened 15 years ago. As a result, I also fell into the hands of an abuser, who I escaped from 8 years ago (although the abusive marriage is not what is causing the trauma). It is all so layered and complicated and sometimes I feel that no one knows what to do for me.

I'm on meds, and seeing Mental Health Nurse and also Consultant Psychiatrist. They have decided that therapy would not help me because I can barely talk about it, and even when I do it doesn't help.

Psychatrist seems to be suggesting that time will lessen the symptoms. I'm not sure I trust Mr. Time. It only takes a trigger to make me feel I'm going psychotic and desperate to die. Also, I'm hampered day in day out by certain avoidances sad

Can you relate to any of this? Can you give me hope? They refuse to give me the hope I need.

toptramp Thu 06-Oct-11 21:17:52

Time does heal some of the pain but then it dosn't entirely heal the wound. For example the wound opened again at my sister's wedding last weekend. It is like a scab that can erupt at any time (excuse the gross analogy). I will be watching this with interest as I too need advice.
To be honest I don't think I will ever truly recover. i feel like my abuser ruined my life and robbed me of so many good things. I am trying to think of the positives and be grateful but there are none and I'm not. It was only being pregnant that made me come off medications and only dd that has kept me off. For now. I hate the bitterness and anger, the feeling that I am not living the life I am menat to be living and the huge fear taht I am permanently damaged and somehow "not normal." I also fear my own flawed and ridiculous decision making processes and wonder which dark path they will lead me down next.

I mean we are supposed to make decisions which better our lives aren't we? Well not me!

toptramp Thu 06-Oct-11 21:18:42

meant

whobuilttheark Thu 06-Oct-11 21:23:31

Yes, I'm a survivor of cptsd, I've had quite a bit of inpatient therapy but what helped the most is having a network of people I can trust and feel safe with and confide in.
FWIW I also am a practising Christian and my church family help immensely.

You're not alone, keep going smile

toptramp Thu 06-Oct-11 21:25:30

Thank you so much. I am not a Christian but I am interested in bhuddism and that helps enourmously as do my friends and family. The self- forgiveness thing is very hard for me too. i simply cannot fathom my past decisions. I feel I must have been very, very ill to make such dumb choices.

whobuilttheark Thu 06-Oct-11 21:37:00

Toptramp, you've probably heard this before but we all make bad decisions, we're all human. Make sure you're not taking on the burden or responsibility for somebody else's wrongdoing sad I don't know what happened to you but the people that abused me were very good at playing mind games and it was the mental abuse that had the lasting effect on my mental health.

whobuilttheark Thu 06-Oct-11 21:44:07

Mosp, can i ask what happens when you try and talk about your experiences? I was kind of the opposite to you, I could reel off what happened to me but with no emotion, almost talking about someone else. It took years for me to crack, I was a therapist's nightmare! blush

mosp Thu 06-Oct-11 22:26:44

Thank you for the responses. I'm just thinking of what I want to say, but I'll send this now in case you are still awake...

mosp Thu 06-Oct-11 22:38:52

So, it seems that the three of us suffered at the hands of abusers. Apparantly, that causes the worst kind of ptsd (compared to natural disasters) according to sources.

Toptramp, I have the same trouble, among other feelings, that I was foolish and naive and should have been able to protect myself. The guilt (and shame and embarrasment) is so debilitating, and is part of why I can't easily talk about it.

Whobuilt - interesting that you found it easy to speak about, but felt detached. Can you explain more? Do you mean that you only developed ptsd later on. Or did you feel traumatised at the same time as being able to talk about it?

Personally, I can't talk about it because it is too shameful and humiliating. I imagine peoole 'seeing' a big screen with the incident replaying. Also, I have a block on certain key words. I find that I can't say or write them. Well, one word in particular. Even reading it makes me wince, and hearing it makes me hold my breath for ages and panic that someone might be looking at me (e.g. when it comes on the news).

The complicating factor is my exh, who was so abusive and made matters so much worse. I never dealt with the tragedy properly because of him. He also helped screw up my perception of 'normal' and what men are like, and what relationships are like.

I am also a Christian and my Church family is lovely, but because of the nature of my wound, I can't tap into the help that would undoubtedly be offered to me from that source (although I have one church friend who knows and listens).

Sorry for rambling.

toptramp Thu 06-Oct-11 23:34:28

Mabe this is a safe place for you to talk. My friend is trying to recover from abuse by her ex and told me to write all the things I am grateful to him for (through gritted teeth) and to wish him well but I just can't. Not even through gritted teeth. I so don't want to be bitter but....I guess I am a bit. I am so much happier now and I getting on with things. I can see a future.

mosp Thu 06-Oct-11 23:46:31

So you feel hope, toptramp? Do you feel that forgiving your ex is not going to be part of the healing?

I think that although we are suffering from the same ailment, we're also so different. I can easily list 'good' things, funny memories about my ex. Even though he was basically a sick cruel person. I can compartmentalise. I think that this ability is the reason why his memory doesn't traumatise me.

However, the incident that is hurting me so badly. That is different. I wish I could feel anger. Anger precedes forgiveness (which I personally feel I need to achieve). But I just can't be angry. I can't feel that the perpetrator did wrong, even though I know intellectually that he did iyswim.

madmouse Fri 07-Oct-11 20:51:39

Sorry to come late to this, I was away.

I was diagnosed in April 2009 and I would say I'm 95% better and life is pretty good. I struggle with anxiety and will have some CBT soon to help with that, but DIY CBT is helping too.

I was severely sexually abused for many years, from a young age, which is the classic scenario really sad

I had good and deep counselling, first psychotherapy on the NHS to stabilise me a bit and then specialist counselling with an organisation that supports abuse survivors and an awful lot of support from a few good friends. During the specialist counselling I went back in time quite a few times and relived things, which was very different again from flashbacks. Excruciatingly painful but in the long run very healing.

I wish I could say that my christian faith helped me through it, it didn't when things were at their most black and I wanted to die. It has massively helped me climb out the other side though and find purpose, among others in supporting other survivors.

I've written all this without reading the whole thread properly, I will later. Happy to talk.

mosp Fri 07-Oct-11 21:11:21

Hello madmouse.

Thanks for responding. Can't really chat properly now, but will be free later on this evening. I'd just find it really helpful.

I feel that my consultant (a very well respected one) seems to not really be able to suggest anything concrete.

Why did you keep going and not kill yourself? I feel so hopeless that I'll ever recover. Maybe I've just got high expectations. I want to be fully free and able to live without all the fears and avoidances and panics and flashbacks.

I'm a Christian too.

whobuilttheark Fri 07-Oct-11 21:38:59

Mosp- the police got involved when I was 15 and I guess I would never not have answered their questions but I learnt fast how to tell people about what had been happening without emotion, they asked, I told. I remember v clearly the policewoman holding me after disclosing the abuse and thinking 'what's she doing, i'm alright' hmm still get nightmares and I'm sure it's because i'm quite good at hiding emotional pain?

What does recovery from cptsd look like to you? The more I write the more I think I'm a mess! blush

madmouse Fri 07-Oct-11 22:43:57

I don't know why I didn't kill myself - probably the same strong survival instinct that had me survive being raped at 8...

I did walk out once with no intention to come back. I had been fantasising about jumping off the motorway bridge for a while. I felt if I was gone dh could marry a proper wife and ds would get a proper mummy. But I sent a brief text to a friend and his reaction saved my life - he didn't rest until he had found me and he set me straight, listening to me, holding me and talking sense into me. It meant that my suicidal feelings were out in the open and I could say it if I felt that way.The feelings lasted well into recovery - they were my safety net, if things didn't get better I could always step out.

I have not been under the care of a consultant and haven't been on meds apart from a recent spell of trying citalopram for anxiety and ending up in out of hours with a massive reaction (going totally mad). It was felt that my emerging feelings which had been frozen since childhood would be supressed again by meds so I kind of toughed it, but it needed almost day and night support from friends. Just to make it clear I have a lovely dh but he was combining heavy depression with his mild aspergers at the time and was not much help in the hell of working my way through childhood abuse and the trauma caused by ds's birth and early weeks (which is what brought it out in the open).

I opted for working straight through it, talking about it all as much as I was able, which was sometimes more than others. Flashbacks are rare now and dissociation is a lot less.

LesserOfTwoWeevils Sat 08-Oct-11 00:46:05

Have you gone to a psychologist? In my experience psychiatrists are good at handing out pills and that's about it.
Perhaps you could find out the possibility of EMDR, which doesn't require you to talk about the trauma.

mosp Sat 08-Oct-11 09:02:07

Sorry, I fell asleep yesterday evening so didn't come back. Dd wanted to watch 'Breakfast at Tiffany's', and it sent me right off grin

Thank you for your explanations. I can imagine how you became so detached whobuilt. It makes me worry that the years I spent living with my ex might still cause trauma. Certainly, atm I feel neutral about it, and have no trouble discussing it (if anyone wants to know, not because I ^need to^)

No, I have not seen a psychologist. I wouldn't know how to see one. Would it be rude to suggest that to the psychiatrist? She, by the way, has decided to change my meds. Atm I'm on citalopram (now that I'm over the side effects, I feel it keeps me on a reasonable level most of the time). I can't remember what the new one is called, but I said I need a couple of weeks to get my head around the notion of changing, so not yet started.

Here, emdr is not available. I have asked about that. I suppose I've been holding out and waiting for cbt. When I was told the other day that it probably wouldn't help, I just sunk into the proverbial pit sad

I suppose, my definition of 'better' is: to be able to talk about it without particular emotion - like any other memory. To be able to say 'the word' (which was mentioned in this thread, and made my heart pound just seeing it). To be solid and secure that I can go through a day without zoning out and losing reality/getting flashbacks/getting panicky. Is that too much to ask?

Sadly, I get the impression that all of you fellow sufferers are still living in the shadow. I just want to be 'as if it never happened'.

Ow - it's horrible. Talking, writing, thinking. Just makes me want to scream sad

madmouse Sat 08-Oct-11 09:52:59

mosp did you read my post? What makes you think I'm still living in the shadow? I can talk about what happened without any inappropriate emotion. Yes it's painful at times, and things can trigger me, but that's what happens after any massive life event.

CBT can be useful if you struggle a lot with anxiety, but not for the CPTSD itself.

Have you tried contacting a specialist organisation? I live in Warwickshire and had help and counselling via an organisation called Safeline. If you are outside their catchment area you can call them and they will put you in touch with someone who can help. Depending on what happened rape crisis centres and women's refuges can also help.

mosp Sat 08-Oct-11 09:58:29

hi madmouse. Just that you said that flashbacks and dissociation are less now. Not eradicated sad

I'm so sorry, I can't cope with that word sad

mosp Sat 08-Oct-11 10:00:25

I will call safeline. Thanks for the link.

madmouse Sat 08-Oct-11 10:14:26

mosp I'm sure they will disappear over time. You should have seen where I was 2 years ago, afraid to go to bed because of the films that started playing as soon as I dared close my eyes, as well as random memories returning while I was at work, playing with ds, on the train...

Personally I find it more realistic to accept that the fact that I was sexually abused between the ages of 7 and 11 will always be a part of me. But I'm living my life forward, I'm a survivor not a victim, and God is redeeming my pain by using me to make a difference in the life of others who I'm able to support on here and in other places.

I'm a lawyer working with immigrants and asylum seekers and two weeks ago I took part in a training session about how trauma messes with your memories and your ability to tell the story if what happened to you, mostly in respect of women who had been raped. I contributed from both a professional and a personal point of view and I coped fine. I struggled a bit after and dissociated a bit for a few days, but I made sure I distracted myself (went straight from training session to worship band social despite long day and long journey, told a friend) then it settled down again.

For me flashbacks are memories that are struggling to find the box/filing cabinet that they are meant to be in so they keep playing round until they do. Most of them have now, so they don't bother me anymore. For me it is talking about them, bringing them out in the open, that sorts it out. I spent most of my life supressing the memories of what happened and they all came back up when ds had such a difficult birth (it was feeling so utterly helpless lying on my back that triggered things) so occasionally 'new' memories still come up but I can cope with them now - often don't even tell my friends.

Dissociation is actually a really useful tool - it has fantastic protective properties that stop you from suffering more pain than you can handle. It makes sense for it not to go until you feel better. Don't see it as the problem.

I'm very hmm at therapy supposedly not working for you because you can't talk and if you do it doesn't help. It takes a lot to start talking, a lot of time, trust, will. I spoke in single sentences a lot. Dropped hints. And then at first it seems to make things worse. It was not until almost the end of my therapy that I wrote down everything that had happened to me and read it to my counsellor and emailed it to dh and a good friend.

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