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Topics - saylor

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1
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/10/style/invisible-disabilities.html

ďWe donít question whether people with profound mobility challenges can run down the corridor to get the door; we donít ask people on crutches to participate in a dance (though some people who use them can do so). But what are we to make of someone who has to be insulated from extreme stress because she has epileptic seizures when she is strung out? What do we do with someone whose clinical depression prevents him from working efficiently on bad days?Ē

ďThe popular belief that disabilities worth taking seriously are evident is often internalized by those on the short end of the comparison, who then find it difficult to deal with othersí reactions when they expose their conditions. People who disclose at work can find themselves passed over for promotions and stuck with low salaries. People who disclose socially may encounter personal rejection.Ē

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Iíve been slogging through a nearly unbearable, seemingly never-ending bout of anhedonia. Itís gotten to where I feel I canít bring myself to do much of anything. Even things I used to find reasonably pleasurable donít appeal whatsoever. I donít know how Iíd motivate to do anything if I were still working. Geez

Anyway, it has got me to thinking, Iím not sure that Iíve ever been truly happy. I know Iíve felt bits of joy and excitement here and there, but those seem to be much more the exception than the rule. And I never seem to look forward to anything anymore. I have a tendency to dump all the ďbadĒ in my life on the CPTSD. I assume that anything thatís off with me must be due to that. But maybe Iím wrong... ?

Does anyone want to chime in? Iím just curious, how often do you feel truly happy?

I am running out of steam, feeling like this. Itís amazing what a toll daily lack of happiness can take on one. It gets to where thereís no point to anything at all. Why struggle, why effort? Thatís how it feels, anyway

3
I thought this article was almost totally spot-on:

https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2019/02/my-adult-daughter-doesnt-speak-me-anymore/582361/

Iím not sure how much I agree with this one statement, as I think it goes too far making assumptions about the daughterís motives, and ignores that she may simply be trying to protect herself from some aspect of her Fís behavior... ďRight now the only way she can communicate her pain to you is by inflicting it on you in returnówith her distance.ď

Otherwise, it does a great job of showing parents what may be getting in the way of opening the door to a relationship with their offspring. I would have loved the opportunity to send my F this article (though he was so thoroughly in denial of his own wrongdoing, it might not have achieved anything)

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Frustrated? Set Backs? / I want to let go of the past, but how?
« on: April 08, 2020, 06:32:25 PM »
My brain seems unable to stop ruminating on things that have caused me pain, rage, and/or humiliation/rejection. Itís making my life miserable. It feels like, short of a lobotomy or drugging myself into oblivion all day long, the only other ďsolutionĒ is of the mind-over-matter sort, where itís up to me to ďdecideĒ to move on and put it all behind me. A lot of the self-help stuff Iíve come across seems to suggest that if I continue to suffer indefinitely, it must be because I enjoy playing the victim, and Iím just not trying hard enough, etc. Hereís an example of what Iím talking about: https://psychcentral.com/blog/learning-to-let-go-of-past-hurts-5-ways-to-move-on/

The suggestions in the article just felt flippant and facile to me, sort of like someone telling me, ďJust become a millionaire!Ē as a solution proffered for my inability to pay my bills. The message in this (and other things Iíve read) almost make me feel shamed by my stuckness in past pain. Like itís all my fault that Iím in this situation. Sure... I realize that my life would be infinitely better if I was no longer affected by my painful past, and I realize that it will take some sort of doing on my part, but I have yet to learn of any actionable ways out of the abyss that truly work for me. Thought work (e.g., CBT, DBT techniques), radical self-compassion, and mindfulness all help a little bit, temporarily, but I still end up falling back into the old thought patterns despite what feels like much effort on my part... Iím so worn out and despondent anymore, Iím wondering whether thereís hope for me. I donít ďenjoy playing the victimĒ at all. Itís downright miserable to go through life this way. 

Is there anyone here who suffered (long-term) from toxic ruminations about the past, but then found lasting relief? If so, Iíd be keen to hear what worked for you. Maybe the ultimate question is, should we be able to control our thoughts and feelings? I can fully accept that Iím in control of my own behaviors and actions, but itís the thoughts/feelings that are causing me ongoing distress and Iím skeptical as to whether theyíre at all under my control. Should they be? What am I doing wrong that I canít magically, like the author advises, let go of the pain?

When I read articles like the one above, it makes me wonder whether my brain was simply too damaged by complex trauma to ever be ok, or whether maybe Iím just genetically too ďunresilientĒ to ever get over the awful ruminations and live a tolerable life. Maybe (most) others can and I simply canít. How would I know?

So lost...

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Question:
If you know that someone is suffering from CPTSD (because they told you at some point), and they are, at a given moment, displaying behavior suggestive of an EF, is it ever a good idea to gently suggest that to them in order to try to help?

I ask because, for my part, I still donít always recognize that Iím in one while itís happening, and I know I can get out of them sooner (and have less potential for embarrassment or more serious ďdamageĒ) if I know whatís going on. One of the insidious things about EFs is that they sneak up on me and I can quickly get caught up in them and suffer (and maybe even cause others to suffer) before I have a chance to realize whatís going on and try to do something about it

I have been tempted to try to help others I suspect of having an EF, on certain occasions, but have always erred toward keeping my mouth shut, because:
1) What if Iím wrong?
2) I donít like to meddle
3) It could be taken the wrong way, and even fan the flames (e.g., it might come across as unintentionally patronizing)

On the other hand, the deeper I get into one myself, usually the worse the outcome. I might appreciate if a knowing observer, who has my best interests at heart, gently suggested that maybe I was getting swept up into the storm

Thoughts?

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General Discussion / No-frills retreats?
« on: February 21, 2020, 09:17:57 PM »
Does anyone know of any retreats for trauma survivors (esp. CPTSD) that arenít the super-fancy, exotic-location, heavily staffed, super-expensive sort, but rather something more low-key and humble? Iíve been searching online for possibilities, but all that come up seem to be pricey, rehab-style getaways with all kinds of cush perks that I donít really want and wouldnít care to pay for

I ask because I havenít yet gotten up the guts to form my own, local FTF support group (very embarrassed to admit), and I crave the opportunity to meet and share with others who are on my same path, IRL. I donít have anyone in my life who truly seems to be able to relate to what Iím experiencing (my partner cares, but canít relate, 1st-hand). It occurred to me that maybe thereís some kind of informal retreat out there (Iím not even requesting that it be near me)

I briefly thought, ďHmm, maybe, if I were somehow magically really ambitious,  I could try to organize one myself (for certain reasons, that scares me less than the idea of organizing some kind of regularly meeting local support group), but I figured there could be liability issues when a bunch of strangers are meeting for the 1st time, and Iím not good at sticking my neck out, nor would I want to task myself with vetting people or whatever else might be necessary. I donít have the energy. And Iím too much of a catastrophizer....

Anyway, I miss having contact with others through support groups, and am still exploring what might be done about it. Any thoughts welcomed

(I just realized that conferences could be a possibility, too...)


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As Iíve mentioned in other threads, I have felt anger towards my parents because neither one could ever bring themselves to fully acknowledge the abuse they inflicted upon me and my sibling growing up. In my Mís case, she made light of it, but at least did acknowledge that things happened. My F never even acknowledged (and he was the primary perp, whereas my M was more of an enabler).

I was just reflecting yesterday about how I interacted with my F growing up... How did I get through it? How did I tolerate beatings and rage explosions on the reg on the one hand, and then function within the family on a day-to-day basis on the other? I recall that I basically kissed up to him a lot. Obviously, this is the ďfawnĒ response. I realize that I did it to survive. He would get even angrier, and the beatings would be fiercer, if I resisted, showed negative emotions, or (heaven forbid) tried to defend myself, so I learned from an early age to ďact happyĒ in order to contain his rage as best I could. I acted like a ďnormalĒ daughter to him when I was little, as though everything were ok. Looking back, I donít know how I ever pulled it off, since it was so at odds with how I felt inside. But thatís survival instinct kicking in.

Fast forward to my adulthood, where, when I tried to bring up the topic, my parents wouldnít acknowledge the reality of our family history... to the point where I decided to go NC with my F.

Iím starting to wonder whether the fact that I fawned when I was little managed to convince my parents that what they (esp. F) were doing to me wasnít actually ďthat badĒ. Maybe because I was, the morning after a brutal beating, able to ďsmileĒ at the breakfast table, my F was convinced (at least subconsciously) that what he had been doing to me didnít have any seriously damaging effect, and therefore he was able to write off the abuse entirely in his mind. I guess this presupposes that he otherwise would have cared, but I gave him a free pass with my fawning behavior. Not sure he would have cared no matter what, but I still wonder. Iím not trying to blame myself for fawningóI mean, what other choices did I have? And I certainly wouldnít blame anyone else for fawning. Iím just wondering, because Iíve always been shocked at how terrible I remember things being, and my parents essentially acted like it was no big deal.

Can anyone else relate to this? Do you think historical fawning could help explain later gaslighting? Iím not saying it gives abusive parents an excuse, to be clear

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TW (somewhat graphic description of condition in which manís body was found + CSA mention):

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/dec/27/family-reveal-anguish-of-man-phil-longcake-who-died-in-carlisle-chimney-tragedy

In summary, itís speculated that, based on where/how he died, the adult CSA victim had wanted to be seen by his accused abuser, who had previously been questioned by authorities but then not prosecuted (the accused abuser had denied any wrongdoing and there was deemed to be insufficient evidence to corroborate the victimís story, so many years later).

I feel so sad for the troubled man and his family. It is true that lack of justice + abuser denials can further magnify the trauma. This is an extreme example of how the victim was (presumably) affected; he resorted to the most desperate measure imaginable

9
I have been trying to understand dissociation and all the ways I may be experiencing it. This podcast talks about something called ďstructural dissociationĒ, and it was something I could really relate to. Basically it was described as the way abused children can function in an impossibly violent environmentólike how a child may be beaten by his parent on a given night, for example, and then have to show up at breakfast and act normal the next day, and then go to school and not tell anyone and try to learn despite all the chaos awaiting at home. This was totally my life. Basically the child has to split off different personas for survivalóthere are no other options, since the child canít escape, or change the parentís behavior, and therefore has to make do with things as they are.

The woman being interviewed is very insightful and she shed a lot of light on things I had never fully put together myself before.

https://baltimoreannapolispsychotherapypodcast.libsyn.com/190-structural-dissociation

ETA: Actually, as I read more (http://did-research.org/origin/structural_dissociation/index.html), rather than splitting off, as the underlying process, it might have more to do with failure to integrate the various ego states during the crucial integration period in childhood, because ďthe coherent sense of self cannot form when the primary caregivers of the child are inconsistent, loving one moment and abusive the next, preventing healthy attachment from occurring and instead facilitating disorganized attachment.Ē

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As someone who was NC with my brutal F for the last decade of his life, with no acknowledgement on his part with respect to my grievances, which I had very clearly spelled out and which ultimately precipitated the estrangement (he went beyond mere denial... he full-blown demonized me and blamed the estrangement on me, accepting no responsibility himself*), Iíve long been interested in the topic of parent-child estrangement. It turns out that itís extremely common for parents to claim that they have ďno ideaĒ why the children want no contact, and that the children are simply being bratty and selfish and ungrateful and ....

Maybe in some cases thatís true, but my suspicion is that the parents are often just in extreme denial, as itís too uncomfortable and inconvenient to look inward and accept any kind of fault.
Hereís an interesting site that compiles statements from websites regarding the issue of estrangement, in the words of the parents and the adult children. Iím only just starting to go through it right now, but Iím going to keep exploring. What I gather is that gaslighting didnít just happen in my own family, but is probably actually quite rampant and typical behavior of abusers who refuse to accept their own role in the estrangement, preferring to scapegoat the children.

(Trigger warning - article contains statements from abusers that are gaslighting, minimizing, etc)

http://www.issendai.com/psychology/estrangement/themes-abuse-is-rare.html

* itís worth mentioning, BOTH of my Fís children chose estrangement.... shouldnít that have been a clue to him that something real was going on, and that it wasnít ďjustĒ me?

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General Discussion / Starting a local in-person support group?
« on: November 24, 2019, 05:16:25 PM »
Iíve had a few experiences meeting in a group setting with others who are dealing with mental health issues (including PTSD), and really felt like I benefited from the cameraderie. But the groups seemed to fizzle quickly, and now once again, I find myself with no one in real life that I can connect with.
Iím considering taking the plunge and starting my own group (which would focus specifically on CPTSD), but Iím scared. Iím not a natural organizer of groups of people, and Iím also worried about putting myself in a position of possibly having to manage unpleasant interpersonal group dynamics, etc. My general fear of people is also a concern, and maybe itís not a good idea for me to try this (in fact, I think some of the groups Iíd been in failed due to skittishness on the organizerís part).
Nonetheless, Iím considering it, and Iím wondering whether anyone here has ever organized an in-person group, and if so, what that experience has been like and do you have any suggestions about starting and managing the group?

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Podcasts, Videos & Documentaries / this guy speaks to my soul
« on: May 04, 2019, 07:09:11 PM »
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IxEwPMqB-c
This is the first of a series of videos on YouTube in which an addiction counselor talks about the role of trauma in shaping who we are and what we struggle with. I'm not sure I've ever heard/read anyone who covered the nuances and complexities of the lived experience of post-traumatic stress as well as he does. He has clearly counseled a lot of sufferers and developed a deep and intimate understanding of complex trauma and the way it makes us think and behave in maladaptive ways that cause us (and others) further harm.
**TW**


There was one point in the series of talks where he mentions his own parents' occasional punishment of him with a belt, in which he suggests that he deserved it and that they did it in a loving/constructive way so it was "ok". That part threw me off because that mentality is very disturbing/triggering to me (i.e., where a parent implies, "I'm exerting my power over you in a deeply traumatizing way for your own good"), but otherwise, I felt that at least the first few videos (I haven't seen them all yet) were really enlightening, reaffirming, and helpful.
I was going through some pretty terrible toxic shame recently and just feeling extremely down about a lot of stuff, and his words reminded me that I have been deeply injured and am not necessarily a terrible, unfixable person, but rather am still unconsciously trying to cope with the trauma that still lives inside me. This kind of reassurance helps me feel more hopeful that working through the trauma and understanding the connection between my injury and my present-day counterproductive thoughts and behaviors may be something I can eventually work through, potentially leading to a better life

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https://www.therapistuncensored.com/tu87/
Professor Daniel Brown talks about his belief that CPTSD results from insecure attachment (generally disorganized attachment) followed by trauma---note that his focus in this discussion seems to be largely on trauma that occurred in childhood at the hands of a caregiver. This podcast (Therapist Uncensored), in general, is a really good one to check out.
Here's more from the show notes (emphasis mine):
"This episode is packed with cool content! Learn about complex trauma, debunk myths of false memories from an expert witness for the prosecutors of child sexual abuse, and revisit the 3 Pillars Model of effective treatment for attachment disturbances, Dr. Daniel Brown!
Early attachment disruption is often the primary contributor to many adult mental health issues.  Treating symptoms without addressing the underlying root cause can set up both the therapist and the client, so itís important we all understand what is happening below the surface.
In this Therapist Uncensored episode, Dr. Daniel Brown joins co-host Sue Marriott to discuss the 3 essential ingredients of effective and efficient treatment for many clinical issues such as anxiety, depression, addiction, PTSD and personality disorders.
We also get to hear take awayís from the 200 child sexual abuse cases he has testified for as an expert witness for the prosecutors and his work at the International War Crimes Tribunal helping them establish a standard of evidence for victims of war atrocities.
From his wealth of knowledge regarding complex trauma and his extensive training in mindfulness and forensic psychology, Dr. Brown brings us deep insight into how treatment from an attachment perspective can lead to significant and lasting healing.
In this episode, TU87, we discuss:
What is the complex trauma profile and what does it actually mean? What is its etiology? Youíll learn how re-constructing complex trauma as a branch off of disorganized attachment can allow for faster and more powerful treatment.
We also discuss:
    Research findings that suggest that complex trauma is really disorganized attachment aggravated by later childhood abuse
    What Dr. Brown has learned through his experience as an expert witness in over 200 cases
    His research on sexual abuse through forensic testing, and how ideas behind the false memory claim and dissociative amnesia permeate
    The three pillars of treatment for attachment disorders (find out more about the three pillars in TU34 with David Elliott here!)
    Treatment on the anxious preoccupied side of the attachment spectrum (red side of the spectrum) and rectifying impaired self-development, chronic levels of anxiety, and chronic compulsive caretaking"

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General Discussion / leaving the work force - ?
« on: April 13, 2019, 07:54:32 PM »
I'm wondering whether any of you have encountered such difficulty functioning that you have permanently left the work force "prematurely" (meaning, not of typical retirement age and/or not with an ideal amount saved).
Some days I feel like I can hang on ok enough, and other days, I have so little control over my mind due to various CPTSD symptoms that it's really tough, and adds to my anxiety/depression/exhaustion. Unfortunately, in recent months, those bad days are seeming to be more frequent. So far, I feel I've been doing my rightful amount/quality of work to justify my ongoing employment, but I have this feeling that it's going downhill, and I'm terrified of reaching a point where my performance sinks below the acceptable level and (heaven forbid) I get talked to (or worse). With one possible exception (in a situation that wasn't even a "real" job), I've always received very positive reviews from my employers. I think my strategy has always been to put work absolutely first---saving up all my energy and brainpower to make sure I do well in that realm, even as my personal life languishes or even implodes. But I'm getting this sense that my days of being able to power through and succeed in the work force may soon be coming to an end.
Just wondering whether others have experienced the same, and what you've done about it. Are you (still) working and struggling? Did you quit, and do you regret it? Is your life clearly better now? Anyone go on disability? I do have a formal PTSD diagnosis (I'm in the US, so no CPTSD possible), but I'm not sure I want to go the disability route, for a number of reasons---although I don't have any negative feelings about others doing this kind of thing. Maybe it's something I should look into, but I don't feel very committed to that idea, at least not at this point.
One thing I have noticed is that a lot of people seem to get more crushed by CPTSD as they age, and this seems like it could explain what's happening to me (I mentioned this on another thread, quite awhile back). Interestingly, I ran into an article (see below) that seemed to have an undertone of people reaching a point where they can't work anymore. The reason I got this notion is that in one of the tables, they list several of the study participants (most of whom are under 50) as being a "former <occupation>", which suggests to me (even though the article doesn't elaborate on this particular point) that they couldn't function in the workplace anymore. I'm scared about losing my ability to function. I hate that I may have to make a scary leap eventually. If I change my mind, I think I'm too old now to have an easy time getting back into the work force. I also doubt whether I could muster enough ability to market myself effectively anymore to land a half-decent job.
Here's a link to a page where a pdf of the article can be downloaded, if you're interested:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/319644594_Why_do_I_have_to_suffer_Symptom_management_views_and_experiences_of_patients_with_a_cPTSD_a_grounded_theory

15
My F was physically and emotionally very brutal with me and my sibling during the first ~decade of my life. Then my parents divorced and my F married a woman with a child who was near me in age (let's call that child Pat).
I had decided to go NC with my F shortly after reaching adulthood, because he refused to acknowledge and take any responsibility for the atrocities he committed toward me and my blood sibling growing up. My blood sibling also went NC. I think if my F had been contrite and willing to discuss things and had tried to make some sort of amends, I would have been able to forgive him, and maybe even been a regular part of his life. He didn't, so I did what I could to forget about him (and all this time, I didn't realize I had CPTSD, but I was suffering from all kinds of symptoms, yet trudging on).
He died roughly a decade after the estrangement began (we weren't told he had been dying--so it was a surprise, albeit not an unpleasant one, to find out about his passing).
Turns out that my F more or less stiffed me and my blood sibling in the will (he left us each tiny, "symbolic" amounts), but left a sum a little higher than the average annual salary in my country (USA) to Pat (i.e., not an absolute ton of money, but not too shabby, either). He left the residual estate to my stepM, and I have no idea what that might have been, but it could easily have been in the hundreds of thousands of $. His death occurred almost 2 decades ago.
Needless to say, his prank of including me and my blood sibling in the will, for laughably tiny amounts, was a slap in the face, just as he had intended. Among other things, it was effectively a public assassination of our character, designed to lead others (like Pat??) to believe we were bad people and deserved to be stiffed by him. In addition, I'll admit that it kind of stings that someone else effectively profited off the misery that I endured as an abused child-turned-adult who never got to see any justice, and on top of it, I got unfairly demonized by him! Such an insult added to heaps of prior injury (by one's own F, no less).
When my F was still alive, I never talked to anyone about the years of abuse I had endured at his hands. I think I was too afraid of him finding out and retaliating. Because of this, I have no idea whether Pat understands what was behind Pat's magical windfall of money when my dad died. Pat never mentioned anything about it to me, but cheerfully took possession of the funds. It's hard to make peace with the fact that someone (who, BTW, when we were growing up, didn't like my F any more than I did), profited indirectly off my personal history of abuse. It's hard to contain the resentment and indignation that unfortunately persists today.
So here's my question:
Should I write to Pat to let Pat know about my history with my F?
The reason I'm thinking of doing this is because, given all that was done to me, starting with the beatings, followed by his unwillingness to hear me out and take responsibility, followed by the decades that I've suffered CPTSD symptoms, followed by being unfairly demonized (sort of like victim-blaming) by him in the will... all this is too much for me to bear. I need some kind of outlet, preferably in the form of "justice". The only type of "justice" I think I might have access to, given that my F is dead now and doesn't have to answer for anything himself, is to "out" him to Pat (FWIW, I've already outed him to my stepM, but it's not at all clear that she cares about my story--I think it would be too inconvenient for her to show any kind of concern, given the fact that she, too, profited off my misery).
I guess it really boils down to wanting Pat to realize how evil my F was, and that I'm not a "bad guy". I want my F's memory to be justly sullied and my own good name to be restored. I don't think it's fair that Pat was able to enjoy that money and not know the sordid story behind it. I feel like I can't rest until I make it known. Unless this isn't already obvious, I'm not thinking of doing this out of any belief that Pat might share some of the proceeds with me. It would have made me have more respect for Pat, if Pat had extended an offer, but that's not what I'm expecting to get (or even looking for, really).
Can anybody relate to this? What would you do? I talked with my one really close friend about this, and she's totally on my side in life, but I sensed that she thought I was a little crazy when I bounced this idea off her (she knows Pat, BTW). That was a bit of a reality check on my state of mental health. But then again, she has never had to deal with anything even close to this kind of situation (not the abuse itself, or the nasty parting shot in the will).
I realize that it's almost certain that nothing tangible will come of this, and I guess it's possible (depending upon whether Pat chooses to respond, and what that response is like) that I'll end up feeling even worse. I'm actually not hoping for a response, though. I just need to get this off my chest--expose the hideousness of it. I keep vacillating between sending the message and not. If I don't do it, I think it will eat me alive. I wonder whether the CPTSD itself (e.g., preoccupation with justice) is adding to my insanity over this. :'(

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