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Topics - spryte

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I took some time away from these boards, too much going on in the last 8 moths. I'm so glad to see familiar names still posting!

I need help processing something and this was the place I thought of for help doing that. I'm not seeing a therapist at the moment.

Two weeks ago I moved in with my boyfriend. It's a huge step in our relationship. We're living in what amounts to an efficiency type arrangement because he takes care of his elderly we live in the garage. We have use of the kitchen in the house, but we don't spend any time in there. It's her space. The garage is ours.

We both have c-ptsd. We both have anxiety disorders. We're both introverts who are very protective of our comfort zones and alone time and personal space...except with each other. We're much more tolerant of us being in each others comfort zones, and personal space, and we're working out ways for each of us to get sufficient alone time. None of that is even really germane to my particular issue that popped up yesterday for the first time with him. I've seen it in action before...actually, within the last 8 months, because I was dealing with an emotionally abusive work situation.

He woke up feeling anxious for various reasons. Because we didn't live together before, it was easy for us to retreat to our separate corners when we had "episodes". Now, we're learning to allow the other person to see that. So, he expressed to me when we went to the store that he was anxious, and I could see it when we got home in a change in his normally joking demeanor.

He knows exactly how to deal with me when I get anxious like that. He makes jokes, he distracts me. It works. He never fails to make me feel better.

I was feeling anxious myself about an issue, and we discussed whether or not his anxiety set off mine....but when I realized how anxious he was, my own private stuff that I was anxious about went out the window to be replaced by anxiety about HIM. How can I make him feel better? What do I do in this situation? What set off his anxiety? Was it me? Am I contributing to it?

I immediately felt guilty because I am not that jokester. I am a nurturer. So I was trying to feed him, and then cleaning up around the house, and trying to stay out of his way because I know that having his space is nurturing for him...

I wasn't freaking out. I was watching myself have these emotions. I recognized them. I've seen them before. It's "freezing". The second someone else is having negative feelings whether they be anger (which is what I was dealing with at my job) or distress...anxiety, inside, I immediately freeze and start looking around for "danger". Are they going to freak out? Yell at me? Throw something? Is he going to emotionally distance himself from me? Shut down? How do I fix it? How do I fix it? How do I fix it? And guilt because I can't fix it, that I'm not "good" at making him feel better the way that he can make me feel better. I wanted to make myself smaller, be out of the way, not contribute any more to his stress. All of my confidence in this huge transition that we made slowly filtering away...maybe this was too much for him, maybe he's anxious because he's changed his mind about all of this and now he can't go back.

Rationally...all of which is absolute garbage. He was having a moment. I have moments. It passed. He works excessively hard NOT to freak out around me, and the likelyhood of him yelling at me or throwing something around me is I already have a long long list of "proof" about how into this move he is, and how hard he's already worked to make it work and so far it's been amazing and awesome.

I want to stop having that reaction though. I used to do that "it's about me" thing all the time with people. I worked on that...and it got better. I was immediately able to, in most situations, see clearly that it was probably about something else. And then that damn job put me back about 10 steps because I had a co-worker who was bullying me, and acting * towards me and I worked hard to make it not about me, give her the benefit of the doubt, she TOLD me it wasn't about me, and then turned around and told me it was and spent months acting like I was the dumbest, most annoying person she'd ever had to deal with...and then gaslighting from her and my boss...

Sooo...I guess I've backslid a bit. Add into that experience the natural stress of he and I learning each other in this new environment....

I'm not even sure what I'm looking for other than just discussion, processing. Have you experienced anything similar? Worked through it? What worked for you? How do you reframe situations like that when they happen?

So, I wrote a thing. I don't know yet what it's purpose is really. I'm thinking I might use it as some kind of introduction (maybe edited and cut down, it's long) for a blog that I'm thinking about starting.

I'd love some feedback. Especially because I know that I'm writing from my own perspective, and would love to include other perspectives as well - at least as possibilities for reactions.

"I feel like the prevailing response, when you start to talk about your childhood and the ways that it affected you, is some kind of eye rolling - "Oh, right, blame your parents for all your problems, instead of taking personal responsibility for your decisions and mistakes!" I've heard it from others, and I had even adopted that mentality myself - towards myself. I saw myself making terrible decisions. I never wanted to be that person who blamed her parents for her troubles. I took personal responsibility for every mistake, every poor decision, for a long, long time. I even blamed myself for the emotionally abusive relationship that I ended up in, refusing to put any blame on him whatsoever. "I stayed. It was my decision to put up with that. I could have walked away at any time."

When I finally started realizing the depths of the effects that my childhood had had on me, it was actually really, really, difficult for me to let go of that responsibility. I was very hard to admit that I was a victim of child abuse, and that my mother was abusive. To this day, five years after that first realization, I am still catching myself trying to let her off the hook and invalidate my own experiences and feelings by making excuses for her actions.

And maybe there are a lot of people out there who, for various reasons have falsely accused their parents of abuse. Maybe they have a mental illness, like a personality disorder which causes them to see things in a distorted, and victim like way - despite their parents doing everything they could to give them the best childhood they could. Personality disorders can be developed without a history of abuse. But for the rest of us? People don't realize how difficult it actually is to get to a point where we can even clearly see that we WERE abused, let alone speak up about it.

The thing is, mental illness's aside, very few of us come into this world dysfunctional. Children are pretty much the closest that we can get to perfection as human beings. Children do not know how to hate themselves, and they do not know how to hate others, until they are taught. Again, aside from mental illness's, most children don't come programmed with depression, or anxiety. Most children are wired eager to learn. Trusting. And when taught how to be loving and accept love, how to accept their own strengths and weaknesses and those of others, how to set firm boundaries with themselves and with others, how to be responsible to themselves and others, how to think critically about information and problem solving, and when they are inoculated against the evils of the world with a loving support system...MOST of them come out the other side from childhood to adult hood having naturally and healthily moved through all the developmental stages they need to at least make decent decisions, even if they aren't wildly successful.

The great debate about nature/nurture is no real debate at all because we are built by these things in equal measure. A child's temperament is just as important as it's environment. It might determine how resilient a kid is in a dysfunctional environment. It might determine how many times a kid needs to be put down, humiliated, hit, told that they are hated - before the kid starts to break and start to develop seriously twisted defense mechanisms in order to survive. Kids are like tootsie roll pops, you know? "How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie roll pop?" Well, the question that's always tripped me up is, "How many times does a kid need to be told that their parent is sorry that they had them before that seriously starts to emotionally affect the kid? Once? Twice? Five times?" "How many times does a kid have to be hit with a leather belt before they start to fear adults, authority figures, and determine that the world is an unsafe place? Five times? Dozens of times?"

Each case is different. I can only remember maybe a dozen times when my mother hit me. Despite the number, I remember them clearly and have been diagnosed with PTSD because I have triggers that go off when I am around people hitting their kids, among many other symptoms related to emotional abuse. I've read about people who were hit on a daily basis who seemed to go on living lives where they were at least functional, if not entirely happy. We respond differently, we heal differently.

But, in addition to our nature, we are layered with our environment. In an ideal family, our self-esteem is laid down as a secure foundation which the rest of our life is built upon. As we get older, our school peers begin to have a larger and larger influence on that initial foundation as well. So, between our families, and our peers, we should enter the world as adults with a healthy, secure sense of who we are and what we might be capable of. We should see the world as full of opportunities. We should be curious, optimistic and hopeful. We should possess a resiliency which helps us bounce back from many of the challenges that the world throws at us and we should have the capacity to build healthy support networks of family and friends from which to operate from.

In a dysfunctional/abusive family, this entire process is derailed from the very beginning. And this is where things begin to become turned topsy turvey for abused kids.

In MY family, I lived in a kind of Bizzaro world. Up was down, hate was love, and everything was my fault. If my mother was upset, it was my fault. If something wasn't done correctly, it was my fault. If I made a mistake, there was no distinction between me making a mistake and me being a horrible person for having made said mistake. *I* made my mothers life difficult, and since I was really no different (more difficult) than any other child, it was hard to come to any other conclusion that it was merely my existence which made her life difficult. And, considering that I was surrounded by adults who were all doing their best to look the other way, implicitly approving of her behavior, that conclusion was further reinforced.

So, it was really no surprise when I got older that I naturally took responsibility for everything. That's what I was taught to do from an early age. Someone is angry? It must be my fault. Something went wrong? It's definitely my fault. Someone is blaming me for something? Yes. Yes. Of course it's my fault! (I would take the blame without even thinking for a moment whether or not it was justified.) Get into an argument with someone? Even if I initially felt justifiably angry, I would soon be overcome with crushing guilt that the other person was angry with me, and turn things around on myself! Take the blame, apologize! Who needed to be abused by someone else when I could just as easily do it myself, the way I was taught to? This was just one of the dysfunctional traits that the predator that I later ended up in an abusive relationship with grasped onto.

I wrote this yesterday on FB:
"When children are taught that their opinions don't matter, that they are not allowed to stand up for themselves, that it is dangerous to get angry...or to have someone get angry with them (that they will be hit, humiliated, put down, or criticized), that they do not have the same rights as other people to have emotions like anger, or to not be hit...they grow up and walk into the world believing that they are inferior to everyone else. THAT FEELING informs EVERY SINGLE DECISION that they make from their friendships, to their intimate relationships, to their career decisions, to how they take care of and protect themselves from emotional and physical predators - it informs those decisions until they realize just how effed up their foundation was and they start doing the VERY difficult work to re-wire their entire belief system. Some people never reach that point. It's way easier to raise emotionally healthy children than to repair emotionally broken adults."

And, the extension of this is just how confusing it is was for me as an adult victim of child abuse to walk into the world with this worthless, backwards, delusional belief system where I was inferior to everyone else, everything was my fault, I had no right to demand decent treatment even if I had had the first idea HOW to do that. And I was operating under this entire framework of now out-dated defense mechanisms that continued to keep me reacting to the world in wrong, out of sync ways because where they were once necessary for my survival, in the "real" world, they were dysfunctional ways of being. A few weeks ago, I coined the term "fishbowl of terror" for the dysfunctional environments that a lot of us grew up in. We had no idea that there was an entire ocean outside of our fishbowl where things were just...normal. OUR normal was just...twisted...and then we get spit out into this "new" normal...and don't have the first clue how to function.

Defense mechanisms are the psyche's adaptation system. They are created under duress. Once created, there is no "switch" to just, turn them off once you're in a healthier situation. Others look at this and think "self-sabotage."

cont in next post

Ideas/Tools for Recovery / My Body Project
« on: October 22, 2014, 01:38:56 PM »
So, there's this thing that I'm kind of getting started on and I was wondering if anyone else would be interested in joining in.

Long story short, I have always had an absolutely terrible relationship with my body. My mother criticized my body and my weight from an early age and basically taught me how to hate my body. When I became a teenager, instead of learning to use my body for my own pleasure, I learned how to use it as a commodity for "love" and "attention". The critic in my head has been 24/7 relentless in it's emotional abuse of my body - until my body started breaking down on me because that was the only way it had to tell me that it had had enough. Enough of the constant stress and anxiety, enough of me abusing it with crappy food, enough of the 24/7 vitriol that my brain was spewing at it, enough of me not paying any kind of positive attention to it, or taking care of it.

So, I'm starting my Body Project. Much like the way that we sort of externalize our Inner Kid's in order to really figure out what they need, I am going to externalize my body. Make it separate from me, so that I can really "hear" what it's saying. Figure out what it needs. Smash the negative filters that I have in regards to my body, and start to see it for what it is. Strong. Capable. - maybe a five pound weight is heavy for me, but I can get out of bed every morning, and that's something. Maybe walking five miles isn't possible for me right now, but I can walk to my mailbox. And I can walk across a parking lot. This project is to help me start loving and taking care of my body. I have a sneaking suspicion that in doing this, my health is going to naturally improve, and my weight problems might start to improve as well.

So far, here's what I've decided to start this project.

I am going to start a notebook.

I am going to take pictures of myself, and let my boyfriend take pictures of me (which...gulp, I'm working up to) in fun poses with the express purpose of cutting my head out of the pictures, or blocking it out, so that it's JUST my body. So, I can completely externalize it, see it as some other "friend" rather than "me".

I'll glue those pics collage style, into my notebook.

I'll write to my body. Letters To My Body - telling it all the things I feel like it needs to hear.

I'll meditate on my body - I did a great meditation the other night which involved going through all my major body parts (eyes, ears, mouth, etc) and recognizing all of the really great things that all of those things are capable of.

I'll keep track of the things that I'm doing to take care of my body and work out ways to better do that. IE. I started a yoga class this week. I'll write about how that went.

I'll work out rituals to start paying more attention to my body. I found this great Ayurvedic self massage thing the other day which I'm going to start incorporating into my life.

Abhyanga -

It's a work in progress, but a start. I'm thinking I might not be the only one with poor body image issues.

If anyone else wants to join in, I was thinking maybe we could start a more organized thread...I'll write a better introduction to the project, and we can use it as a place to share - talk about different things we are incorporating into our individual projects, issues that we face, maybe share pages of our journals, or pictures - just...whatever, fun things we can think of!

General Discussion / Building Trust
« on: October 10, 2014, 08:36:24 PM »
The topic of trust has come up in a couple of other threads and I think it would be good to discuss it in more detail here.

When I started thinking about trust, I wanted to know if it was something that happened automatically, or if it was something that had to be built over time.

The conclusion that I came to is that we come into this world as children as trusting beings. Over time, that trust gets destroyed in many ways. For us, I think it's pretty obvious how that trust got destroyed. Our families, classmates, significant others...they all played a part in destroying our trust.

And there are two routes that we can take...self protection, not trusting anyone, ever, for any reason...or, we can manufacture situations in which we can rebuild trust, a little at a time.

And the next question is, do you go about learning how to trust again?

As globetrotter and I were discussing in the "process of change" thread, I personally believe that learning how to trust people is an active process that we have to engage in. Dipping our toe in the water a bit at a time, specifically creating situations in which we can objectively see..."I did X and the world didn't collapse."

I think that a big portion of the process is attempting to engage with people who are trust worthy. I think the only way to know whether or not someone is trustworthy is by observing them. Seeing how they interact with others. If I'm watching my mother and grandmother criticize and talk about other people behind their backs, there is no way that I can trust that they're not going to do that to me the moment I walk out of the room.

I think another component of building trust is in delving into our own trust issues. WHAT exactly is it that we don't trust? Do we not trust someone not to cheat on us? Do we not trust someone to abandon us if we show them our "true selves"? Do we not trust people to be compassionate towards us? I think that there are specific places where our trust got broken, and figuring out where those places are helps us to create specific circumstances in which we can start rebuilding it.

After I replied to globetrotters comment about trust in the other thread, it occurred to me on the ride home that I just recently had a very specific instance of this come up.

I have a real problem asking people for help. My problem with this is specific. I don't trust people to tell me "no".

I don't trust other people to have strong enough boundaries to tell me that they can't fulfill my request. I expect them to either tell me yes, but not because they want to do it - instead because they feel obligated to do it and not feel comfortable telling me no. Or, to tell me yes, and then when they realize that it's inconvenient for them...or they can't do it for whatever reason, to just...disappear on me instead of coming back to me and saying, "Hey, such and such came up, so I can't do that thing for you."

Now, obviously, this started with my mom. I never could take a problem to her and trust that she'd help me with it, so I learned how to deal with them by myself. It wasn't helped by the fact that I used to be surrounded by people who were pretty notorious for having awful boundary issues. Myself included. *I* used to be one of those people who didn't know how to say no to people.

This is something that I've been working on over the years.

I have one friend who I have come to trust in this regard. I've observed her. She's a very straightforward person. I've watched her set boundaries with other people. I've rarely seen her take on too much in her own life, and over extend herself. So, when I reached out to her, to ask her to help me, I was pretty confident in the fact that if she said yes, it would be because she wanted to help me. My trust was further built with her when I asked her to do something for me and she said no, that she couldn't.

With my boyfriend, that's been a more complicated process. He used to be one of those people who'd tell me that he'd do something, and then just disappear. HE had trust issues. He didn't know me well enough (this was years ago when we first were friends) to know that he could trust that if he told me no, that I wouldn't get angry with him, or try to manipulate him into doing it - both things that others had done to him in the past.

So, for us, the trust building has been going both ways...he's learned to trust me enough to be straightforward with him, not get needlessly angry, and not try to manipulate him in other situations that he's come to be able to say "no" if he needs to with me. I'm more comfortable asking him to do some things for me. I'm still working up to asking for things which require a bigger emotional investment.

But so...the other day I was put in a position where I had no choice but to ask a bunch of people for something. People whom I had not built this trust relationship with. I had to ask four people to give me reference letters for this new job I was applying for.

Two of them came through right away. Two of them did the exact thing that I was afraid of them doing.

And, I watched it happening. I eventually got the letters, but it was like pulling teeth. They both got too busy. One of them, when I reminded them, said "Oh crap." and eventually got it to me. The other, just flat out ignored my texts about it and didn't get it to me until I mentioned to his wife (I'm friends with both of them) and she tracked him down and got him to do it. Instead of just telling me, "Hey, it turns out I'm too busy to do this." They just...didn't do it until I made a fuss about it.

And I kind of watched the whole thing as it was happening. Realized that this was my trust issue, being played out, exactly as I was afraid that it would be.

So...I kind of looked at it.

1. the two people that I asked, I probably shouldn't have. Looking back on it, I should have known that with each of them, there was a risk that it wouldn't get done. The one woman is kind of flakey anyway, and the guy is straight up passive aggressive - especially with women.
2. What does this mean for me the next time I go to ask someone else to do something for me? Am I going to allow myself to go..."See...this isn't me being irrational. This actually happens. This is why I was afraid of doing it in the first place and I'm not going to put myself in that position again."

I still think it's important for me to learn how to be able to ask for help when I need it. So, I'm going to have to chalk this up to "sometimes people don't come through for you, that doesn't mean that EVERYONE will not come through for you." And realize that I have evidence of that happening.

I think a big problem with NOT trusting people is the thought distortions that get in the way. The black and white thinking and the generalizations. "These people hurt me, so that means that EVERYONE is going to hurt me." "This person let me down, so ALL people are going to let me down."

And, maybe a big part of it too is realizing that during the time that we were taught our biggest lessons about the world being a scary, untrustworthy place, we were children who had no control over the situations. As adults, we have many more tools at our disposal to handle situations where we might get hurt. I'm finding that that's a hard truth to internalize with the c-ptsd.

What are some of your challenges/obstacles with trust? How/Have you been successful in working towards creating trust?

Research / Article - Effects of Trauma Do not Require Specific Memories
« on: October 10, 2014, 01:16:05 PM »
I wonder if we might benefit from having a section dedicated to "current research"?

Anyway, I found this article interesting.

It seems behind the the times to me, considering what we already know about trauma - and what I thought immediately was...they're talking about c-ptsd, not PTSD.

Helpful, I guess, in terms of actual verifiable empirical research. Which there needs to be more of.

But, this was what was really interesting to me -
Not remembering is often thought to come from two main sources.  The first is due to someone being too young to be able to form specific or “declarative” memories of an event.  The second, and more controversial, mechanism regards “repressed memories” in which there is an active and protective brain process to exclude a memory or memories from consciousness.

Now, in one of my psych classes we studied several different "theories of memory" (there are many, some of them evolving off of another, some completely different than all of them and what seems to be the truth is that no one really knows how memory works)

One of the things that I theorized because of several of them, was that dissociation or numbing keeps us from actually MAKING memories. I theorized that if I'd checked out during my childhood, that it wasn't that I had "repressed" memories...there just WERE no memories to bring forward, but that that didn't change the traumatic response.

I figured it was the same thing in regards to being kind of ADD and forgetting where I put things. It happens the most when I am not paying attention or "checked out". When I started working at being more mindful about where I put important things (my keys, my debit card) I remembered better, because I was actually forming a memory about where it was.

But now I'm would that really have worked? I'm sure at the time, a memory was actually formed because otherwise...I'd have walked around not having any idea what happened during the proceeding three months or six months, or five memory had been formed. I do have a problem remembering what I ate for lunch yesterday, but I think I'd have noticed effectively walking around with amnesia.

So I guess...maybe they ARE repressed memories? Or, do you think (obviously we're just theorizing here) that we have some mechanisms that do just kind of...over time, erase those memories?

(If there's a vault somewhere in my head where those memories are stored, I want the freaking key so that I can put them in the trash.)

Depression / Dysthymia/Atypical Depression/Walking Depression
« on: October 09, 2014, 02:14:08 PM »
So...I've been struggling with this...exhaustion, for the last - going on three years now. It's weighed me down, it's affected every aspect of my effects my thinking, how physical I can/want to be, my social interactions, my job, when I was in school - my school work - and definitely played into my decision to put off graduate school.

I was convinced that it was something physical. I have a lot of physical issues, so I just assumed that the tiredness was something that went along with that. "I'm deficient in some nutrient" "My hormones are off" "I have some unknown virus" (I was told by several practitioners that they saw evidence in my bloodwork/mineral analysis that I had some kind of low level virus)

What I've found interesting that as hard as this emotional excavation that I've been doing lately has been...the more I do...the less tired I am. I'm still having a hard time getting off my couch, but I am not going through my days feeling like I'm dying from the inside out which is what it's felt like.

I haven't changed my diet.
I haven't started any medications.
I'm not taking my vitamins.
I'm not exercising.

I'm not doing any of the things that I've been telling myself, or have been told, that I'd need to do to not wake up in the morning counting the minutes before I could crawl back into my bed before my eyes even open.

All I've been doing is...this. Writing about stuff, talking about stuff, feeling about some stuff.

And I was reading a blog post about the stages of grief, and read this about depression:

Depression - Recently someone told my sister, that after she experienced the loss of her baby seven weeks after his birth, that the pain was so intense she wouldn't have been able to breathe, if her body hadn't done it automatically.  Sometimes "things" keep a person going - a memorial service to plan, children to care for, and when those tasks are accomplished, the grief and pain knock a person down and sit on our chests like a sumo wrestler.  We feel like not only can we not get up, but that we will never, ever be able to, and we don't want to.

I have thought repeatedly to myself over the years that I am not depressed. I don't sit around crying, I don't have days when I can't get out of my bed because I'm "sad" (although plenty of days where I have had to go back to bed, or that I've been just too tired to get out of bed) - I have friends, I have lots of things that I'm interested in, even if I can't find the energy to do any of them...all of these are features of what *I* think of as classic, clinical depression. And when therapists have asked me questions about depression, this is how I've answered them.

And I thought to myself...what if this is some kind of weird low level walking depression that no one really talks about? I actually know a LOT of people who...while they aren't clinically depressed, aren't especially happy or engaged in life either.

I asked someone, and they directed me to dysthymia.

"Dysthymia has a number of typical characteristics: low energy and drive, low self-esteem, and a low capacity for pleasure in everyday life. Mild degrees of dysthymia may result in people withdrawing from stress and avoiding opportunities for failure. In more severe cases of dysthymia, people may even withdraw from daily activities.[6] They will usually find little pleasure in usual activities and pastimes. Diagnosis of dysthymia can be difficult because of the subtle nature of the symptoms and patients can often hide them in social situations, making it challenging for others to detect symptoms. Additionally, dysthymia often occurs at the same time as other psychological disorders, which adds a level of complexity in determining the presence of dysthymia, particularly because there is often an overlap in the symptoms of disorders.[7] There is a high incidence of comorbid illness in those with dysthymia. Suicidal behavior is also a particular problem with persons with dysthymia. It is vital to look for signs of major depression, panic disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, alcohol and substance misuse and personality disorder.[8]"

Well then. When I'm really freaking honest with myself, that's me to a T.

And, doesn't it seem like dysthymia might be a major feature of c-ptsd? Except, I haven't come across it as a symptom. Has anyone else? Has anyone's therapist suggested it, or talked about it with them? Does anyone else feel like they struggle with this?

In addition there's this:
"Another study, which used fMRI techniques to assess the differences between individuals with dysthymia and other people, found additional support for neurological indicators of the disorder. This study found several areas of the brain that function differently. The amygdala (associated with processing negative emotions such as fear) was more activated in dysthymia patients. The study also observed increased activity in the insula (which is associated with sad emotions). Finally, there was increased activity in the cingulate gyrus (which serves as the bridge between attention and emotion)."

I have read a lot of stuff about the physiological effects of chronic stress and trauma on the brain. Those are the exact same brain structures that are affected by chronic stress. Everything from poverty, chronic bullying, domestic violence and abuse...and child abuse.

Very very interesting.

The more I look into this, the more I question whether or not the kind of depression that I've been dealing with actually has a diagnosis. It doesn't quite fit Dysthymia, or even Atypical Depression, although it has features of both. What is becoming increasingly clear however is that there are many different kinds of depression other than major clinical which is all the intake questions that I've ever encountered focus on.

There are people who describe a "walking-depression" which doesn't sound diagnosable, but is a Thing that people struggle with.

^^That sounds very much like what I struggle with, including this:
We don’t collapse and stay in bed all day. We keep working, keep writing, keep looking after our families. Keep blogging and tweeting and going out with friends. Keep taking our car to the service station. We just do it all while being profoundly unhappy.

Because we’re strong-willed creatives. We are so strong that we endure unendurable situations far longer than we should. We are deeply committed and we want to do our best for others.

I thought this might be a useful topic. I'm reading this blog, and she wrote a post about A.N.T.s (Ants, fleas...why is there so much bug talk? Lol)

Automatic Negative Thoughts

I haven't read the book that she's talking about, but it's definitely on my "to read" list.

I am not a huge fan of the positivity movement, but I do agree that our feelings often follow our thoughts and that if the majority of our thoughts are negative, that it's going to have an impact on both our emotional state, and our physical state.

And, thought it's difficult to catch the conscious automatic thoughts..."I'm fat" while looking at yourself in the mirror if we slow down and pay attention to what we're thinking, we can catch those thoughts and reframe them...

what *I* have a difficult time with are the unconscious automatic thoughts. The ones that I don't even realize that I'm having until it's too late and I'm in an anxious tailspin. I have to wonder, if I could catch and cut those thoughts off before they gathered steam, if I wouldn't be able to head those "episodes" off. It's like the conscious automatic thoughts are the pre-recorded tapes that our abusers gave us, that we have to stop...rewind, and tape over.

The unconscious thoughts are like malware that just constantly run in the background of all of our other programs. It's funny, I got some kind of virus on my computer a few weeks ago, and even though I've removed as much of it as I have the technical skills to hasn't quite been the same ever since.

When I'm struggling with trying to get myself to function, to do the things I need to do...that's what I feel like is going on. Some kind of virus, or malware running in my background making everything else glitchy, and run slow.

Symptoms - Other / Feeling Fractured
« on: October 08, 2014, 05:50:31 PM »
I do not have dissociative identity disorder. (split personality)
That doesn't keep me from, at times, feeling very fractured. I've become more integrated than I least now when I'm with different people in my life, I feel a continuity in myself across those situations. I am no longer a "different person" when I'm with this group, or that person.

I am still very compartmentalized.

And, the more I delve into myself with this healing homework, the more "parts" of me, I find. And, I'm utilizing them as healing tools.

But man, there are days like when I'm having to negotiate with my inner kid so that I can eat a healthy meal, and negotiate with my inner teen to get off the darn internet so I can do some work, and I'm "talking" myself down off ledges, and...

...sometimes it just feels like it's very crowded inside my head. Too many captains of this ship and they don't want to let me have the wheel. 

Other / Sensitivity to Sound?
« on: October 08, 2014, 11:44:33 AM »
Do any of you experience sensitivity to sound? I had been chalking this up to me being an HSP (highly sensitive person) but I'm noticing more and more characteristics of that that cross over with c-ptsd as well. The sound issue has been getting worse this last year or so.

Web Sites, Support Groups & Organizations / Website and Facebook page
« on: October 08, 2014, 11:18:26 AM »
The website Emerging from broken has been a great source of insight to me. Darlene Ouimet doesn't actually mention C-PTSD, I don't think. I haven't read the book yet, and I haven't gone too far back in the blog but she puts up several posts a day on fb, which have been great for inspiring thoughts about my own journey from "broken." She is a survivor of several different kinds of child abuse, including sexual, emotional and neglect.

Here's her website:

Also check out her fb page:

General Discussion / Leveling Up in Recovery
« on: October 04, 2014, 03:23:54 PM »
So, I don't know if this will interest anyone.

I am part of this fitness network called Nerd Fitness. In it, we treat fitness like a video game where you do things to "level up" your character. (It's really called Nerd Fitness for a reason, lol) And the other day, I kind of started looking at this like that.

Recovery is a long, hard freaking road. Our brains are wired to see the negative and it's really really easy to get caught up in so much of it and lose perspective. And for a lot of people in the thick of it, I know that one of the biggest worries is, "Am I going to be stuck here forever?" For these reasons, I think that a "Leveling Up" thread would be useful.

If we list our "small wins" here, things that we notice are better, are getting better, or behaviors that have decreased...if we make it into a "game" so to speak, it will...

1. Help us be more mindful. We'll be more actively on the lookout for things that we can list here.
2. Help us keep perspective. We'll be able to come back and look at these things when we're stuck in a dark spot.
3. Help others who are overwhelmed with all the struggle stories, give them some bright things to hang on to and a place to start listing their own successes!

In the next post, I'll start.

I suggest that we post the success...and what "category" it's related to.

These don't have to be behaviors...they can be anything you feel is a step forward. A piece of the puzzle that fell into place that you want to share, a changed thought pattern, even just a more positive emotion that you're feeling and noticing! No one is going to tell you that the positive thing you share about here "doesn't fit". So share!

General Discussion / The process of change
« on: October 03, 2014, 01:23:45 PM »
I brought up in another thread what I think of as the "process of change" - it's a pattern that I've seen in my life over and over in regards to the journey of growth and change and I've always wondered if it was something that other people noticed as well.

For me, knowing this pattern, recognizing where I am in the process, and having faith in it working sometimes brings me a lot of comfort when the going gets tough.

It is only sort of a linear pattern. There are times when it can get all corkscrewy...but I find that if I do whatever Work needs to be done, seriously, then even the corkscrew continues moving forward. I'm going to use my journey with dissociation to try to illustrate the process.

Mindfulness is a huge important factor to this process. Starting in the Observation Stage, we have to cultivate mindfulness otherwise I don't think it works at all. Change cannot happen without paying close attention to ourselves, the situations around us and how they make us react.
It seems like mindfulness and dissociation would be almost mutually exclusive, but it was a balancing act of sorts...I think forcing myself to become more mindful was what eventually gave me control. There were lots of 2 steps forwards, 10 steps back.

There's the "unconscious" stage.

This is the stage where we are being ruled by unconscious behaviors.
I was emotionally numb, and didn't even know it. As time went on, it got worse. It barely even registered that I was rarely leaving my house other than to go to work, that I was playing more and more video games, watching more and more tv, and spending more and more time online.

There's the "hmmm...something's going on here" stage.

Where we realize there may be a problem, but we're not sure exactly what it is, so we start looking around for possible causes.
This came for me when I entered a new relationship. Talking with my new partner, it became apparent that a lot of the issues (losing my last job, how fast my old relationship went downhill, my declining health because I wasn't taking care of myself) were stemming from just how emotionally checked out I was. In addition, the shock of being with someone who was incredibly PRESENT, paired with several unfortunate visits with family sent me into several pretty severe "dissociative" episodes (technically, it's called depersonalization). All of that "woke me up" to the fact that something was very wrong.

This could be anything though. It could be waking up to the fact that you keep finding yourself in a pattern of bad relationships. It's basically recognizing a pattern of unhealthy behavior. Maybe you can't keep friendships for long, or a job for long, or emotional eating, get the idea.

There's the observation stage.

Now that I knew what was wrong, I became much more mindful of the behaviors. How I acted when I was "disconnected". It wasn't a constant thing. Talking with my partner, in addition to some other private therapies that we did to "reconnect" me, were successful in bringing me back into the present but I had no real control over what would "flip the switch" again. I still had no idea how to set boundaries in my relationship so there were times when I'd let something go, not thinking that it was any big deal, and find myself numbed out and dissociative weeks later, not realizing how I got there or why. It took me a long time to become mindful enough of how things made me feel to be able to start seeing it as it was happening. (Even then, it wasn't that I knew how I *felt* I was just learning my "red flags" enough to know...Ok, X is causing a dissociative reaction, I'm obviously having feelings about it that I don't talk about this.)

I watched that switch flip back and forth for a long long time before I had any control over it.

There's the first baby steps of change stage.

The observation stage is like your data collecting stage. "Oh look. I'm doing that thing again. Hmm...what is it about this situation that might be triggering that behavior? What were the consequences of that behavior? What could I have done differently?" All of that happens without really being able to change any of it. Being aware that we're doing something that we don't want to be doing any more can make you feel really helpless and frustrated. That's how it made me feel. Dissociation is not generally a healthy thing for your relationship and it hurt my partner a lot. I couldn't be affectionate with him, I couldn't communicate well - it was like I was there...but not there and I know that it made him feel really alone.

But, once you've done your "due diligence" and gathered enough data, you can start to make changes.
Some of my red flags remained unconscious for quite a while. At first, all I could do was actually notice WHEN the switch flipped. I'd realize, "Oh crap, I'm checked out." and we'd chat. Paying closer and closer attention to red flags, and trigger situations. It took me a long time to be able to actually come up with a list of red flags to give my partner to help me keep an eye on it. At first, I couldn't head it off...I could only speak up and say..."Help".

Change happened slowly. And I got to the point where maybe 10% of the time I noticed when it happened.
Then, 10% of the time, I was noticing it BEFORE it happened, and I was able to head it off. But 90% of the time I still had no control. Still wasn't even conscious of it happening. Didn't notice the red flags, had a really hard time coming out of it.
Then, 30% of the time, I was noticing it before it happened. But 60% of the time, I still had no control. Maybe 30% of the time I was conscious of it, but still had no control, and still had a hard time coming back.

The "Hey! I sort of have control over this!" stage.

It got to the point that it was only happening with really major stuff. 85% of the time I actually had control over it. I could "choose" whether to have feelings about a situation or not. (which was a double edged sword in and of itself. Do I choose to numb out? I know I can...all I have to do is flip that switch! Or feel these stupid feelings? Feeling feelings is healthier? Ok FINE, I'll feel the stupid feelings!~~*grumble* stupid feelingsgrumble*)

The "maintenance" stage

You do have control, you just have to remain vigilant. For a long time, I had to remain really vigilant about situations that I knew would trigger my dissociation. For me, one really big trigger was not talking about what was bothering me. Really, this entire process was about learning when I was having feelings about something, learning HOW to have feelings about things, and how to speak up about them. Because stuffing feelings had become such second nature to me that it had become an unconscious process. Once they were stuffed, I went numb to continue not feeling. So, in the context of my relationship I learned how to 1.notice that I was having feelings about things 2. speak up about them. It was when I let things go that I would check out the most. (learning how to speak up about things that were bothering me was a journey within this journey)

*minor note...this relationship didn't end well for other reasons, but I think this is why he and I were together in the first place so that he could help me through this.

The "healed" stage

I don't have to be hyper-vigilant about this any more. I still numb out with really intense emotion...strangely both joy and bad feelings. It's like my circuit board gets overwhelmed and a fuse pops. But, it doesn't ever stay that way. If I give myself a break from whatever the situation is, my feelings slowly come back online after just a little while. And for as much as I am still struggling with escapist behaviors...I don't feel "disconnected" from the world the way that I used to. Dissociation is intense. Like...before, the world looked like a washed out watercolor. I might check out for a while with tv, or a book, but when I am in the world now, I am IN the world. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to handle emotions the way that other people do. I tend to feel things really intensely I've learned. I'm still on a journey to learn how to manage these feelings, now that I have them.

This was a really vague version of what all went on during that time. This entire process took almost 4 years. There was a lot of back and forth, there were a lot of failures, there was a lot of me struggling with this. did get better. And I've seen this process at work in many other things that I've been successful in changing. Co-dependency issues. Boundary setting issues. Making health changes. (At the moment, I've taken a huge step backwards and am sitting somewhere in the Observation stage of my health changes)

Change and healing is hard. When healing means changing behaviors, it's especially hard. But, as I said, I've seen this pattern happen over and over again...maybe others have noticed it, or will notice it if they look for it.  Like I said, knowing where I am in the change process is sometimes very comforting. To be able to say...Hey! 6 months ago, or last year, I was in the Observation stage with this...and now, I'm able to make the healthier choice about 20% of the time...that's progress! can be really helpful when I'm really still struggling with something and am unable to make bigger, faster changes. I know that the process is working, and that in time, I'll get there.

Have any of you noticed anything similar?

So, I've been having a very strange reaction to a lot of the things that I've been reading on this forum - it starts with an immediate stomach ache, and the more I follow that I realize that I'm having a fear/panic reaction and generally figure that it's time for me to stop reading.

While I've never really participated on a forum with others who have experienced what I have, I have read a LOT about the effects of abuse, and have written even more in my own journal.

I don't exactly understand my current reaction except that I think that I am connecting to my experiences in a way that I have not previously. I have a history of dissociation/numbness. I used to talk about things in a very intellectualized, textbook manner...until the horrified looks on other people's faces when I talked about things started causing me to feel incredibly uncomfortable because *I* couldn't feel I quit talking about it.

I have had little hints here and there that I've started connecting with this stuff again. I've begun talking about some of it with friends, and with my therapist, and noticed a *little* emotion...but this stuff...mmm, it's a very uncomfortable emotional reaction.

I don't want to let myself run away from this stuff though. I don't want it to trigger me into even MORE escapist activities or just have to give up educating myself all together, or trying to work through this stuff.

Looks like the emotional reconnection means that when I think about this stuff, when I see something like, for instance...the descriptions of Fawn/Freeze that I was reading this morning which describe me to a T - and how that relates to my past experiences... I don't know, the only way I can describe it is "not safe" feeling.

I am not fond of emotions to begin with. I've been forcing myself for the last few years to allow myself to have them, because I know they're necessary to being whole, but in general...I'm still not happy about this process. Does not like.

Any suggestions? Anyone else have similar experiences when trying to self-educate about this stuff?


General Discussion / Learned Helplessness/Demand Resistance
« on: September 30, 2014, 01:47:23 PM »
Does anyone have any experience, or resources they could point me to in regards to "learned helplessness"? I think this is something that I'm fighting hard with at the moment and it's holding me back big time from a lot of the self-care stuff that I want to be doing. I guess identifying it is the first step, but I don't have any idea where to go with it from here. I haven't talked to my therapist about it yet, but up to now, she hasn't been particularly helpful in any practical ways so I'm researching.


Introductory Post / Mind Blown - just an introduction
« on: September 26, 2014, 01:44:34 PM »
I've been delving pretty deeply into some of my history with abuse to heal some pretty big issues that are holding me back in my life and I just came across the description for C-PTSD.

I'm floored.

And p'd off that I've seen 4 therapists and 3 psychiatrists in the last four years and not one of them has ever mentioned the possibility of it. I was initially diagnosed with PTSD, but my first therapist was incompetent, and while all of the others asked me about it, usually after I brought it up, the questions that I got were about classic PTSD symptoms. Am I having flashbacks. No. Do I have nightmares? No. Never mind that I completely loose my sh-t around parents who are hitting their kids, about to hit their kids, or even THREATEN to hit their kids.

I'm currently working with a therapist, but so far it seems like a lot of simple talk therapy. It's been helpful in as much as just having someone to talk to about it, but I feel like I'm doing ALL the work on my own. I'm not sure that she's going to be helpful in the long run in terms of helping me recover from the trauma's in my life. We'll see.

But, so, I'm here kind of trying to wrap my head around the fact that there's actually a name for nearly all the stuff I've been struggling with. And to look for resources so that I can continue on my healing journey.

A little bit about my history:
Abusive mom, suspected BPD. Constant criticism, controlling behavior, emotional neglect, physical violence, sudden angry outbursts - abandoned by father after HE couldn't take it anymore...left me there, along with my little brother who was the "golden child".

Classic anxious attachment issues for me, string of emotionally harmful intimate relationships starting when I was 15. One long term textbook emotionally abusive relationship, lots of other relationships where I ended up harming myself because of attachment style, co-dependency, and...apparently, all the other symptoms of C-PTSD that I never put together until now.

Have spent the last 5 years or so digging into my abusive past trying to understand myself better, digging into my brain to try to re-wire the faulty "mom-programming" and clean off all the distorted filters that I see the world through. I've become pretty aware of most of them, but still struggling greatly to change a lot of avoidance behaviors which are GREATLY affecting my productivity, and ability to move forward in life. In addition to the fact that my nervous system still seems to be set somewhere on "terrorist alert" which makes meeting my goals of going back to school to get my Masters to be a therapist - difficult to say the least.

Anyway. Glad to finally have found a community where I might find support, and find some people who are as interested in aggressively tackling these issues in order to be able to move forward as I am.

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