Complex-PTSD (CPTSD) is an under-recognized condition. While post-traumatic stress (PTSD) occurs from acute trauma, complex-PTSD develops from ongoing or repeated interpersonal abuse. This includes but is not limited to: emotional, physical, sexual or narcissistic abuse. Here’s five examples of what it’s like living with this condition.
- You can never connect to people. Even when I do feel like connecting – it’s pointless. It’s like there is a sheet of very thin glass between me and everyone I meet. I can see and hear them but can never feel or connect. I am not like everyone else. It’s like being on a different plane of existence. I am indifferent to almost everyone I meet and it is rare when I form connection to someone.
- Sometimes you will dissociate or freeze when stressed. When my brain perceives something as a threat I will zone out or I will literally freeze. This can be really embarrassing in social situations. I am aware I am freezing but can’t stop it or speak.
- You float in and out of depression. I have had depression on and off since my youth and could never figure out why.
- You can get emotional flashbacks. Emotional regulation is difficult and emotional flashbacks are very common for people living with CPTSD. I will be having a normal day and five minutes later I am a mess. This can happen anywhere and at any time. Identifying triggers is difficult. But I’m working on it.
- Everyone thinks you’re a happy ray of sunshine. Due to the way my brain perceives everyday life, I am forced into an automatic “I am happy, full of rainbows and here to please you” response. This is not who I am. My brain forces it out of me in everyday situations. It makes me feel like no one will ever know me.
Complex-PTSD has yet to be added to the DSM-5 but is slowly becoming more recognized daily. It is important to spread awareness in order to validate others who are struggling with this condition. Hence my tour and the Vatic Foundation. The positive side is many therapists are becoming increasingly aware and people are having fulfilling lives despite living with the condition.
Keep up the good fight and be sure to ride your bike.
By Brian Nadon