Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Trigger warning:

  • Sexual abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual violence
  • Swearing

In this part I publish texts about my own process of dealing with my complex trauma or complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and other related topics. These are texts that I wrote at the time, and writing these texts was almost always a therapeutic process as well.

It all started in the summer of 2016, when my childhood trauma made it impossible for me to continue "functioning", and the question of whether or not I was sexually abused in my childhood was dominant, an obsession. With this began my search, for the child that was me, to reconnect with the pain and fear of my childhood. It was the beginning of a rather painful process of dealing with complex PTSD.

The confinement during the health crisis caused by COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 caused a prolonged flashback, and I especially flashed back to my adolescence, to the feeling of impotence, of not being able to escape from a painful situation. But I also flashed back to other aspects of my early childhood: texts like Falling? or The House of My Fears are results of this process. Thankfully, this prompted me to get more to the ground of my complex trauma, and allowed me to make huge steps towards recovery.

I now understand my trauma as a complex trauma, and putting a name to it helps me to understand what is actually going on. I am now on a long journey of recovery.

The process is not over, and I keep adding new texts when I feel like it.

(Semi) Quarantine and Complex Post-traumatic Stress Disorder

I knew this was going to happen sooner or later: six days ago I was in close contact with a friend who later tested positive for COVID. On Wednesday a friend alerted me, and I contacted Salud Responde. As I am fully vaccinated (the privilege of age) I don't have to do a strict quarantine, but I do have to avoid close contacts, i.e. I can't really meet anyone, except with distance and a face mask, which doesn't work for me. I wear a face mask when there are a lot of people, or when I go into a shop, or on public transport.

Living with trauma in times of a pandemic

 

The pandemic has caused mental health problems for many people. But for those of us who were already living with trauma before the pandemic, it has been and is proving to be an especially difficult and often painful challenge.

Even in 'normal' times, living with trauma is often not easy. I speak from experience, as I live with complex trauma. This means that I am still struggling to recognise my patterns of trauma, my automatic survival mechanisms, which allowed me to survive a traumatic childhood and adolescence, but which now often prevent me from being aware of my emotions, from setting limits, from trusting friends.

Shame

Yesterday I wrote about trauma and shame, and today I realised something else. In the text by Meg-John Barker to which I refer and which I have already quoted quite a bit yesterday, I also found this:

"Like other authors, Pat explains that – as a child – when faced with a choice between:

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Coronavirus and Trauma III

At the end of May, when I wrote about my complex trauma, I wrote about the symptoms of complex trauma, and that "I can identify all but one in myself": "The only one I can’t identify (yet) is toxic shame, all others are clearly there, to different degrees."


Yesterday I read in Staci K. Haines's book The Politics of Trauma. Somatics, Healing and Social Justice on shame. Staci writes:


The horror of the face masks II

From today, the face mask is 'almost always' mandatory. That is, when you walk alone in the countryside, in a bar, a terrace or a restaurant while you're not eating or drinking, and I don't know what other situations I can't imagine. The order from the Consejería de Salud y Familias says:

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What to do when the flashback looks too much like reality (or reality like a flashback)?

Am I in a flashback? I woke up this morning with another weird dream. I don't remember everything (usually I don't remember anything, and this is the second time in a few weeks that I remember a dream), but I remember the need to escape, of - again - missing a train. I remember thinking about taking another train, but I woke up and I don't know if I managed to take this other train.

‘Family’

Last week I wrote about my parents' dictatorship of the normal. Yesterday I woke up in the morning with a very strange dream in which my brother and sister featured, ignoring my growing despair. I will not go into detail about this dream, but I read it as an invitation to reflect on my brother and sister. At present I have no contact with either of them.

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The dictatorship of the normal

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

Philip Larkin

 

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Complex PTSD II

Note: This text too was written first in English and then translated into Spanish and (maybe) German.

 

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The Trauma of Masculinity

While I'm slowly reading Pete Walker's book, Complex PTSD: From Surving to Thriving: A Guide and Map to Recovery from Childhood Trauma, I have another book to "relax", as Pete Walker's book moves me a lot sometimes, and I have to stop.

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