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.

Flashbacks

In the last few weeks I've been experiencing two kinds of flashbacks. Some flashbacks I have when I think about certain things from my adolescence, like two nights ago. And another type of flashback, more painful, that comes to me without me being able to identify a trigger, and that is not linked to memories - purely emotional flashbacks, as I experienced last Saturday. To some extent I'm living in an emotional flashback since the beginning of the confinement.

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The love that could not be

Another bad night, after a brief respite the night before. This time I wasn't able to find sleep until at least 5:00 in the morning. It was a struggle not to fall completely, and in the end I had to cry, cry for a love, my first love, that could not be.

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A break

Tonight for the first time in weeks I slept well, and I didn't wake up at 4:00 in the morning or even earlier. I am enjoying a day with little anxiety and little tension in my body - at least so far.

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Investigating my complex trauma

Thanks to Meg-John Barker, I discovered Pete Walker's texts on complex trauma. What I suffered Saturday night through Sunday was clearly an emotional flashback, and in fact, what I did instinctively was not so bad, compared to Pete Walker's 13 steps for managing flashbacks.

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Fear. Pain.

Yesterday, after writing about the "new normal" and my complex trauma, I was left all day with chest pain and fear in my stomach, and a very tense back. When I finished the Spanish translation, I listened to music and then I prepared my lunch. Friends of my flatmates arrived, and I joined them for a while on our roof terrace. I was there, but I wasn't really there. My mind was elsewhere, and it was hard to follow the conversation, not to speak of participating or talking.

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The “new normal” and complex trauma

Caring for myself
is not
self-indulgance,
it is
self-preservation,
and that is an act of

political warfare
Audre Lorde

 

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Shadows of my childhood

I can't help it, with the events of the last few weeks the shadows of my childhood have resurfaced. Less than two weeks ago I wrote about falling into the abyss of my childhood, and I think it was the very unpleasant encounter with the police this very day that pushed this abyss aside. But the subject is still present, and in the last few days more. The house of my fears is very much present.

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Small freedoms

Since Saturday we can go out for a walk or for exercise, although still with many limitations. But that's something, and on Saturday I went out in the afternoon (at the allowed time) to take a walk by the river, staying more or less within the allowed kilometer. And yesterday morning I went out by bike, also by the river, but as it is exercise, without the limitation of 1 kilometer (but only within the same municipality). They are a small freedom that help me to feel a little better.

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Crash

Yesterday, in the end, I fell. I saw it coming in the morning, but I couldn't prevent it. I crashed, and it was painful. I cried a lot, and although a long bath helped me to calm down for a while, then I cried again when I looked at the messages on my mobile. It wasn't the messages, it was the fact that we can't see each other, hug each other, and seeing the messages from friends that I would normally meet made me cry.

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