worsens with age?

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saylor

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worsens with age?
« on: May 17, 2018, 03:16:49 PM »
I'm middle-aged, and even though my abuse was experienced as a child, and I have had what I now realize were symptoms of trauma (hypervigilance, poor self-regard, emotional/relational problems, etc.) for decades, I seemed to weather them pretty well through the years and have been able to function at a tolerable level (although I have never really felt happy or at peace for any meaningful period of time).
Now that I've reached my middle years, it feels as though I've been disintegrating, for lack of a better term. I feel empty and lost, sort of similar to when I was a youngster just graduating college and anxious about my future and ability to make a living, or something like that--it's crazy and hard to understand.
I only recently learned about CPTSD, and it has been very helpful to finally have an explanation for why life has always seemed so difficult and unpleasant, but I'm noticing that processing the trauma and reflecting upon all the ways it seems to have warped my life is overwhelming. It also seems like, because I have so many decades'-worth of distance from the period during which the trauma was inflicted, this is a weird time to have it really all come crushing down on me so noticeably. Why was I able to function decently for so long, and now (of all times) I feel totally collapsed, incompetent, and hopeless?
What I'm wondering is, have others (who, like me, are "up there" in years) noticed something similar? Is it normal to experience worse symptoms in middle age, or is this only because I just found out what (CPTSD) is behind all my problems and it's normal to feel a deluge of misery and incompetence once that realization occurs? Sometimes I feel self-conscious that I'm having such a hard time right now, at such a mature age, after I've accumulated so many years of "proving myself as capable/functional" under my belt.

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Rainagain

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #1 on: May 17, 2018, 04:20:31 PM »
Hello saylor!

I'm older but only developed cptsd in the last 4 years so my experience might not be relevant.

I think finding out about cptsd is a shock to the system, it is hard to try to work out what it all means and as you fill in the blanks more memories surface, its exhausting.

I've had PTSD for decades, sometimes we can keep it together in an emergency, often for years or decades, but once we find breathing space and its safe to collapse, we do.

That happened to me once my children were grown and I had the time for a bit of a breakdown  :blink:

Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #2 on: May 17, 2018, 08:04:39 PM »
Hi saylor. I am 50 and have been working through cptsd issues for over 5 years. I too was high functioning throughout my life until the consequences of my abuse caught up with me. I don't really know if it is worse because of age. My therapist received help fairly early in her life relative to her trauma. What I have noticed is that to some extent it prevented her from repetitive trauma. From what I can tell, when we are not aware of the consequences of our trauma, we tend to repeat it through personal relationships like friends and spouses. It's not our fault, we just don't know that we are acting from a place of our earlier trauma. Mid-life is known as a period for a crisis to occur. I have found that the crisis can be both inner and outer and particularly difficult for trauma survivors.

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Blueberry

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 2018, 08:17:13 PM »
Interesting question Saylor. I'm approaching middle age, but I've been struggling with symptoms since childhood.

My take on it is: it's a question of how long we manage to keep going before 'collapse' and that may depend on outside factors as well as our own resilience.

I was bullied at work by colleagues and somebody a bit senior to me but not actually a supervisor. It reminded me too much of home life with FOO. I finally collapsed under the strain and have never really recovered. I have been getting better actually but it's been a long slog through an awful lot of therapy and work-on-self. Had I not been bullied at work, I probably would've managed a bit longer before collapse. How long I can't say.

As Cal.Dreaming mentions, midlife is a time of crisis so in your case (and in others') that might be enough to be tipping point.  This is just Blueberry writing with Blueberry's experience, not Moderator.

Welcome to the forum by the way.  :wave:

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Cookido

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #4 on: May 17, 2018, 08:56:47 PM »
I'm 22 and I'm experiencing difficulties with idenity and motivation right now. My hope is that it will be better with age. I think the down period might correlate with when we start working with our trauma. It drains energy to work with yourself on such a personal level, or atleast I feel like that. My down period started while looking for therapy and also when I began therapy.  You wrote you recently discovered CPTSD, maybe it can partly be a reason for you to feel lost because you are discovering new things about yourself?

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sanmagic7

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #5 on: May 17, 2018, 11:55:32 PM »
hi, saylor,

i'm 70 now, have only discovered the concept of c-ptsd a few years ago, but i started breaking down in my 50's.  i think that what others have mentioned - we keep taking care of business not even knowing we've been so wounded, we become re-traumatized thru relationships of all kinds without knowing it, and we keep going and going and going until finally we can't anymore, not knowing exactly why - is right on the money.

finding out about c-ptsd opened up so many other doors for me to look at and explore and was overwhelming for sure.  this forum has helped me so much with that.  i hope you keep posting - glad you're here.  sending a warm hug full of care and compassion.  you're not alone.

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saylor

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2018, 01:32:01 AM »
I'm blown away by having received so many well thought-out, caring, and helpful responses. Thank you so much.
If I "mushed together" all that was stated in your collective responses, I guess it boils down to: collapse is not uncommon in middle age, but also, discovering CPTSD as the culprit for so many difficulties and unhappiness throughout life can be overwhelming (no matter at what age it occurs) as all the processing and taking of stock is occurring*. The combination of the sudden processing of ones past through the lens of CPTSD, plus mid-life crisis, seems as though it can be particularly tough to handle. This makes so much sense with respect to what I've been going through (for the past few years, and especially since the realization of being afflicted with CPTSD).

I would also agree that relationships not only have been really challenging (to maintain and enjoy), but they really seem to be highly triggering. I'm so hypersensitive to everything, it's maddening. Add to that the black/white thinking about people and difficulty tolerating stimuli (i.e., wanting to spend my time in a sensory-deprivation chamber because I'm so easily affected by people's noises, comments, mannerisms, and I'm so jumpy), and it's pretty clear why interpersonal relationships are so challenging for me. And yet I'm human, and like most, I have this tendency to reach out for comfort from others... Gah!!

I'm so glad I found this forum, and feel lucky to have had such a positive experience from my very first post. Thank you, again.

*For me, above and beyond all the well-established/described symptoms of CPTSD, I'd add grief (over what I missed out on, including just plain-ol' happiness), resentment (needs no explanation), and despair (that I'll probably always be damaged to at least some degree). All this stuff is occupying my mind right now. It's hard to function in my day-to-day life because of it. Hopefully that aspect will ease up over time.

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Rainagain

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2018, 07:36:15 AM »
I'm really glad the replies helped a little.

Grief despair and resentment are pretty much central with cptsd, our losses are huge.

The counter to them are knowledge, understanding and acceptance, this forum and the connection to others on here who get it are really helpful in coping with cptsd.

I'm glad you posted and glad you have found this helpful place.

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ah

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2018, 01:41:39 PM »
Hi Saylor,

I think for me it's been like many other people here, it's taken me a lifetime to realize I had cptsd and also to just find out about cptsd in general... there's so little information about it, so misdiagnosis is very common. So maybe we can easily walk around with a hole in our hearts our whole lives without knowing what made it. With this new knowledge comes a lot of grief, which can be so triggering. So feeling different while you process things makes a lot of sense.

So does wondering how on earth we managed to hold on for so long. The way I understand it in myself, I never had a clue there was any logical, sane, sensible explanation / reason for my pain so I just hated myself and kept going. It never occurred to me my own feelings of self hatred weren't me, but something external that I internalized. I kept going because there was no alternative. But the second I found out there's an alternative my facade started cracking. Maybe these are growing pains, part of seeing ourselves more clearly for the first time in so long, and being allowed to feel our pain?

Also, in my case as a kid I worked so hard on trying to find some way to be loved. I couldn't find any (because it wasn't that I was unlovable, it was just that my family was incapable of loving) but I kept trying. I kept on trying for decades, slowly becoming less energetic about it and more and more exhausted, but only when I was 40 did I really slow down enough to truly give up.
I guess I became cynical with time. I don't think my cptsd got worse, maybe it's more like observing something directly for the first time and noticing details you never saw before? In my case, I was so clueless my whole life I didn't even realize I felt anxiety. I didn't understand why I kept having nightmares. I was trauma ignorant, and with knowledge came sadness and the understanding of just how much was taken from me.

And, on a completely different topic:

'Resentment' to me sounds like it could feel invalidating, like saying we're overreacting or stuck disproportionately on our pain, when in reality the hurt is as big as the blows that caused it. So I think your response makes perfect sense, all of your emotions right now make perfect sense.
Maybe it leaves me with a question mark because there seems to be so much stigma about resenting things. In today's happy-obsessed culture whoever isn't declaring themselves to be happy 24/7 is seen as negative. But you aren't negative, you're hurting. Well, it's how I see it.
Besides, what's so negative about a little negativity, if it comes to that?  :bigwink:
Maybe 'hurt', rather than 'resentment'? It'd make more sense to me personally, but it may be just me, so f resentment works for you that's all that matters. The word is less important than what you gain from it.

I'm really glad you're here.  :heythere:

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woodsgnome

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2018, 02:27:09 PM »
Saylor, in an effort to shake off heavy trauma, at least a little, I think it's easy to fall into or find ways to avoid the sheer terror of what happened, even to the point of denying it was so bad, or by comparing it to others and/or perhaps dissociating and remaining 'blissfully' unaware. The desperation to escape can therefore fall under the radar for a while, hidden but ready to spring back when one least expects it.

Chronologically, it all seems so long ago; emotionally, it seems as if it just happened, and the shock still feels immediate. After all, it was senseless then and has remained so.

That old saying "coming of age" doesn't seem to fit here. Things are more circular than progressively straight on. Patterns return when one supposes they were dealt with, when in fact they were just shoved under the rug.

I did that to a great extent by wrapping myself up in a very creative career that kept me seemingly moving along, when in fact I was still this little frightened and hurt child for whom 'coming of age' never seemed to arrive. In many ways I'm still a mess, stuck just beyond what's called middle age, as bad now as when I was a despondent teen plunging into a depression which hasn't left yet.

I've searched for relief in numerous ways, but the original deep wounds seem never to have healed. So I've adjusted expectations more than figure I'm on the cusp of identifiable progress. Even the word recovery loses its promise--to what would I be recovering? So I do think it's normal to experience what otherwise would seem a contradiction.

Hope you can find a way to still 'come of age' as you seek to live with what happened and how you want to live your truth now.  :hug:

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gypsydancer

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2018, 04:26:41 PM »
I am also wondering about aging. I am in my seventies and feel much worse than decades ago or that is what I think is true but not sure.

Age has brought me concern about how long I will live and if I can afford to avoid living on the streets as I see a significant number of people doing even in this relatively well to do community.

Do these concerns bother you? This may be  a clew.

Best,
gypsydancer

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Eyessoblue

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2018, 07:47:42 PM »
Hi I think it does, Iím nearly 50 and itís only the last few years that Iíve got a diagnosis as things got really bad, been a  sufferer years tho, I think I reached an age where I just thought I canít deal with this anymore and now I need to do something before life completely passes me by. Glad Iím dealing with it now hard as it is hopefully Iíll get through it- ONE DAY!!

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LittleBoat

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #12 on: May 18, 2018, 08:41:15 PM »
Hi Saylor,

I am 57, and I can say that, for me, this seems to be true.  My Fifties have been challenging.  I am more easily "felled" than I was in decades past.  More fragile.  More in need of medical/therapeutic intervention.  I was quite accomplished when younger.  Had a full and varied career.  Earned a Ph.D.  Travelled.  Entered into a successful marriage.  I was happy, popular and magnetic.  But my MOTHER (all caps) was always emotionally abusive, and I did have flashbacks to childhood trauma, even in my younger, more confident years.  By my Fifties, it was as if my psyche was disintegrating.  Severe suicidal ideation, symptoms of C-PTSD coming in, stronger, prolonged flashbacks, the need for hospitalizations and more meds.  I was no longer able to work at a job I loved, nor was I able to do things I had previously done with ease.  I had a good run, given the severe childhood abuse, and I'm proud of my earlier accomplishments (not easy to do with an Inner Critic, which made my forward movement and achievement feel like a salmon pressing its way upstream).  But things started to go wrong in my 50s, with my FOO, with my physical health, with social timidness, and now I think I have just run out of youthful resilience.  This feels bleak, to me.  But I do think about this.  Thank you for bringing it up.  It gives me food for thought. 

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sanmagic7

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #13 on: May 18, 2018, 08:48:37 PM »
yes, gypsy, i've thought of the idea of becoming homeless in the past few years where i've never had thoughts like that before.  it's way more scary being 70 than it ever was at any other age.  and, i, too, have accomplished a lot in my life, realized several long-held dreams, but i just have no idea now what i can do about a future.

all i have is faith that things will work out, that whatever comes down the pike i'll deal with it.  i've got nothing else.  love and hugs.

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Rainagain

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Re: worsens with age?
« Reply #14 on: May 18, 2018, 11:22:03 PM »
San, gypsy,

I have anxiety for the future, I think mine is simply because having had some really bad times I don't think they have ended, no reason to think more disaster isn't coming my way. Like bad turbulence on a plane, if its been happening on and off for ages you expect more any minute.

This is probably silly but my guess about having things get tougher with age is in my mind related to herd animals. They know not to show pain, disease, injury because the predators are watching the herd for the vulnerable. I'm 55 and look older, my kids are grown and i dont work. I just can't be bothered to ignore the pain any more, or its worn me down so its now apparent, or I don't care if a lion wants to eat me, I look like his dinner anyway (grey muzzle, dodgy knees, I couldn't outrun anything). something along those lines.

If we were immortal I might try to keep up appearances more, self improvement maybe, learn languages or write novels. But its all going to end badly at some point so why not be honest about it?

If this sounds morose I apologise, I'm actually quite naturally optimistic, just not a fantasist...... Oh, I have major depressive disorder too, but the optimists version I guess.