Complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a condition where you experience symptoms of PTSD, which are.
- Vivid flashbacks.
- Intrusive thoughts.
- Intense distress.
- Panic attacks.
- Easily distressed or upset.
- Sleep problems.
- Self-destructive behaviour.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Other symptoms of anxiety.
- Feeling like you have to stay busy.
- Feeling numb.
- Unable to express emotions.
- Feeling like nowhere is safe,
- Feeling like you can not trust anyone.
- Overwhelming feelings of anger, guilt, shame, or sadness.
Then with complex, you may also feel.
- Extreme difficulty controlling your emotions.
- Extreme fear and distrust in the world around you.
- Feelings of emptiness and hopelessness.
- Feeling like no one understands.
- Blaming yourself for everything.
- Avoiding people, avoiding friendships.
- Feeling suicidal.
You might experience emotional flashbacks without even realising you’re having these. If an event, action or feeling, from a phone ringing to someone saying a particular word, it might trigger that pain, sadness, guilt or anger from your past. You might react to present moments where you’re not in danger without realising you are having an emotional flashback.
What causes CPTSD?
- Childhood trauma or abandonment.
- Ongoing domestic violence. It could be verbal, physical or both
- Ongoing domestic violence, mental abuse, gaslighting, silent treatment.
- Sexual assault.
- Being isolated from friends and family.
- Witnessing abuse.
- Being tortured, mentally or physically.
You are most likely to suffer from complex PTSD.
- If you experienced trauma throughout childhood.
- If the trauma lasted over a prolonged period of time.
- You were harmed physically, mentally, or both by someone close to you.
- You couldn’t see a way out of the situation.
Self-care for CPTSD.
Get to know your triggers. Certain places, events, smells, sounds or people might trigger your emotions.
If you can write down what happened when you had an emotional outburst, the lead up to it, write down the past event that’s caused this reaction in the present.
Confide in someone.
It helps to tell someone what’s happened, especially those who’ve been through similar and understand you, and this helps you realise you’re not alone and release those thoughts running around your mind. Especially helpful to discuss this with people who’ve also been through this.
Give yourself time.
Everyone’s trauma is unique to themselves, no matter how similar the story is. Everyone’s recovery is unique, don’t speak about it until you’re ready to do so.
Look after yourself.
Exercise, even a walk outdoors, trying to get enough sleep, taking naps in the day if it helps you.
Talk therapy, it helps to discuss it all to move forward.
When you know you’re triggered and see it’s happening, try to have something to bring you back into the present moment. A photo, something to hold or rub, a picture to look at. Try to focus on the here and now. Tell yourself, “I am safe now.”
Listen to your change in energy levels. Listen to your change in mood, stop and focus on taking deep breaths in and out, on calming yourself.
Keep a diary on when you feel triggered.
Take some time out for yourself, especially if you’re feeling triggered, have a bath, curl up on the sofa, consciously bring positive thoughts into your mind, and think about what you are grateful for.
Try new activities to fill your human needs in a positive way.
Reading, writing, painting, learning an instrument, etc., exercise. For growth and significance. If you join reading groups or a team sport etc., this also fills the need for contribution, as you’re contributing towards others. Love and contribution as you’re connecting to others, uncertainty is met as you are trying something new, as is certainly as it’s usually on set days at set times, creating new routines and breaking past the old routines. Joining support groups and offering positive opinions and support to others, always with kind, good intentions, helps fill your need for contribution as well as helping those who you are helping grow as you learn and understand new things about what’s happened in your past.
Grounding technique when you feel triggered, talk to yourself about what’s truly happening around you, whatever is happening or whatever you were doing, focus on it and explain the steps you are taking at that moment to do what you are doing.
Your attitude is everything. When you have moments of telling yourself you can’t remind yourself, that change isn’t easy. You can look at how far you’ve come, look at something you’ve done that you once couldn’t do as evidence to show yourself you can. Sometimes things take longer than we hope. However, if we give up, we don’t reach our goal. If we keep going with an attitude that we can, we will get there.
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Elizabeth Shaw is not a Doctor or a therapist. She is a mother of five, a blogger, a survivor of narcissistic abuse, and a life coach, She always recommends you get the support you feel comfortable and happy with. Finding the right support for you. Elizabeth has partnered with BetterHelp (Sponsored.) where you will be matched with a licensed councillor, who specialises in recovery from this kind of abuse.
Click here for Elizabeth Shaw’s Recommended reading list for more information on recovery from narcissistic abuse.
Difference between NPD, CPTSD, BPD.
More on anxiety.
The breaking point.