Pretty Sure I’ve Been Dealing with an Embryonic Form of C-PTSD
For a while now I’ve acknowledged dealing with a number of PTSD-type symptoms. That label never quite fit right, though. Neither the symptoms nor the circumstances aligned adequately. It has been more of an extended pressure cooker than a single traumatic event, and I never had flashbacks. That’s why I kept digging. Having now done my homework, I think I may be dealing with kind of an embryonic form of Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
One website I was looking at defined C-PTSD as “a psychological injury that results from prolonged exposure to social or interpersonal trauma, disempowerment, captivity or entrapment, with lack or loss of a viable escape route for the victim.”11.The difference between the two, then, is that PTSD can result from “single events or short-term exposure to extreme stress or trauma” whereas “C-PTSD results more from chronic repetitive stress from which there is little chance of escape.” Bingo. I’ve been stuck in survival mode for years, and have often felt utterly neglected and powerless.
With a lot of it, I was consistently told not to do anything. Don’t fight or take flight. Fighting would suggest a contentious spirit. Flight-ing would suggest a rebellious spirit. No, I kept being told that I needed to wait a little longer. Endure a little bit more. Be patient. Trust in God’s providential hand. Just go about my life. I was told to suck it up amidst copious, unrelenting stress for more than four consecutive years.22.There was a near-constant constant barrage of severe problems with my health, marriage, family, car, workplace, finances, ordination process, etc. The burden was too great for too long. It took a toll.
I conclude with two things. First, I feel like I caught this thing before the damage is permanent. No doubt there’s going to be a struggle, but I sense there’s hope of a fairly swift and healthy recovery. Second, now that it seems I’ve finally identified the problem, it’s time to deal with it. Below are my eight goals over the next few months:33.With just a little tweaking, all of these have been yoinked from books and online articles about C-PTSD.
- Removal of and protection from the source of the trauma.
- Acknowledge that the trauma was real, important, and undeserved.44.“The complex nature of earlier traumas led to decisions that brought on additional, undeserved trauma. It was stronger than me and couldn’t have been avoided. Recovery from the trauma is not trivial and will require significant time and effort.”
- Separate residual problems into those that can be resolved such as personal improvement goals and those that cannot be resolved such as the behavior of others.
- Identify and mourn what has been lost and cannot be recovered.
- Identity what has been lost and can be recovered.
- Develop a program of recovery for what can be improved and what is under my control.
- Ensure a supportive environment where there is received validation for successes and support through struggles.
- Rebuild accurate self-perception and a sense of satisfaction/competence by pursuing private hobbies and professional tasks of personal giftedness.