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Messages - I like vanilla

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General Discussion / Re: POLL #2 - Re "Complex" in CPTSD
« on: November 21, 2017, 02:34:00 AM »
I am realizing that the complex depends on what happens to the rest of the phrase. Currently the 'complex' is in the context of 'as opposed to regular PTSD'. If the phrase is changed entirely then complex is possible but not necessarily necessary.

p.s. is post #1 the first one on the thread where we started talking about the naming?

Successes, Progress? / At least I got something out of it
« on: November 19, 2017, 04:55:31 AM »
I hope I am on the correct board for this topic, and am OK if the moderators need to move it to a different board.

Since the summer I have been working with a career counsellor to move on from my dead-end job with an abusive work culture. At the start of the process, the career counsellor interviewed me, including discussing my FOO (as it is relevant to a number of topics such as management styles and preferred boss's style, etc.) as well as a number of standardized aptitude, personality, skills, and other tests. My counsellor and I went over the test results, combined with his impressions and intuition based on his experiences as a both a clinical and career counsellor. During the discussions, I realized how many of my really strong traits arose or were honed by experiences in my abusive FOO. I am the second-oldest of many siblings, and the oldest of the girls. Because my parents practise a particular form of conservative Christianity, and because my older brother is the golden child and likely somewhere in the cluster B world, I was the parentified child who raised my siblings, my parents, and myself from a very young age (in the single-digits). This situation necessarily forced me to learn skills and to hone traits in a very intense context - I am learning that from my child-self's perspective a life-and-death context. 

So, in going over the lists of my strengths and skills, I have started thinking, well, at least I got something out of it. Here is what I have gotten out of being raised in my position in my FOO:

I am gifted at intraspection
-I am extremely adept at reading a situation and knowing how everything, and for me more so everyone, fits together
-e.g. who is fighting with whom, who is having a bad day, who wants to be in charge, who is in charge, etc., etc.
-this is a skill I learned/honed keeping track of everyone and everything going on in my FOO because I was responsible for it and them all

I am very adaptable
-I can adjust to changing circumstances and not be phased if something does not go as planned
-actually, I rarely make plans (e.g. I go on vacation and decide each day what to do after I get there)
-being the responsible person in the chaos in my family forced me to learn this skill

I am able to work independently with little or no supervision
-that is the story of my life...
-of course, the other side of the coin is that I feel suffocated by a boss who pays too much (read any) attention to what I am doing

I am articulate
-I had the role of making my FOO look like the perfect family to the outside world, so I learned to speak well and present well to others

I am good at getting things done despite the BS going on around me
-again, the chaos of my FOO combined with my role as the only responsible person meant that I had to learn how to do this growing up
-currently, I work in the social justice/environmental movement where getting stuff done despite the BS is pretty much the way things are done
-and research shows many of us who were abused as children end up in 'helping careers' so I suppose my career path was also somewhat a result of my childhood (and I enjoy being in the sector I am in, even though I dislike my current employment)

I am resilient
-I can be hurt and disappointed but keep moving forward
-many people have hurt me, many of them FOO, along the way and I have had many disappointments, but overall I am functioning surprisingly well
--I have not accomplished this alone, having received support from my friends, sisters, T, and others along the way, but I have also had to do the work of overcoming my circumstances
-the downside is that I am now having to learn to feel my feelings and still keep going on (oh, that and I got CPTSD)

I think there are probably a few other traits and skills that I have gained or honed because of my, ahem, 'upbringing' but these are some of the strengths that were highlighted in my discussions with my career counsellor. Now, CERTAINLY, I had some of these traits to begin with and likely could have practised them in more healthy ways (and I am finding these ways as I move forward in my healing journey). And CERTAINLY, I would NEVER have and NEVER would choose to gain and hone these skills through being abused. NOR would I ever wish this type of practising on anyone else (there are a small number of people I might wish evil upon, but in other ways...). BUT since I did have the childhood that I had, and since I have no time machine to go back and find my infant self a better home, now what I can do at least is think 'well, at least I got something out of it...'

General Discussion / Recovering to 'Me Now'
« on: November 19, 2017, 04:14:31 AM »
I am not sure if this is in the correct category, so am OK if the moderators move it. It is about recovery but also a bit of a philosophical exercise too.

There have been discussions on this forum, and in my life, about the 'me before', in the sense that resources for people with PTSD talk about 'getting back to the you you were before the bad thing happened'. Of course, for those of us with CPTSD there are 'bad things' that happened.

More complicated, for many of us who have CPTSD as a result of childhood trauma and abuse (including me), the 'before' does not really exist. For me, the abuse likely started from the day I was born, and continued until I separated from my FOO. Actually, beyond that as the legacy of my FOO meant that I was still choosing abusive relationships until I got further along on my healing journey. In my case, as for many of us here, the 'before' would be 'infancy' (at, ahem, 'best') but really 'pre-natal' would likely be more accurate. So, there is no 'me before the bad thing(s) happened' to go back to. Now what?

Lately, I have been working with a career counsellor. After hours of aptitude, personality, skills, etc. tests, we have come up with a number of career paths that I would likely be really good at. I have narrowed these down to about seven those that I would be good at and would likely also make me happy and fit my values. I am excited about these possibilities and can see myself doing any or all of them.

During this process, I have been realizing how much of the abuse directed toward me by my FOO, in particular my uNM, was focused on stifling the person that I was trying to be, at that time mostly just an independent Self separate from her. The messages were also aimed toward hindering me from undertaking activities that might lead me to happiness, satisfaction, fulfillment, or any type of 'success' (where I define success as the three characteristics listed, plus making a positive contribution to the world). As I got older these stifling and hindering messages also included ideas that I may never find work that I find satisfying and fulfilling. I am also unfortunately discovering how many of these stifling messages I have internalized and which I must now fight against as I continue moving forward in my career work.

Along the way, it also occurred to me that these potential career paths are essentially the 'mes' that I would have/could have been had I had a good or even good enough FOO. In exploring these career paths, I feel like I am entering parallel universes where I can see myself as I had grown up with a good enough FOO. I also feel like I am being given an opportunity to re-capture the me that was lost to me - really that was stolen from me by my FOO.

So, now I think part of my healing journey has a goal to figure out not who the 'me was before the bad things' but who the 'me is now that I can reclaim her'... if that makes sense?  I had despaired over the idea of any ability to claim the 'me before' as that goal is essentially impossible. But, now I have some hope, because figuring out who I am now, and who I can be, is possible... and I am excited and curious to find out who I am...

General Discussion / Re: Is there even a cure?
« on: November 17, 2017, 04:55:01 AM »
I think there is a cure. I do not yet know what it is, but I know that I am significantly better now than I was when I first started seeing my new-ish T. And, I know that I am going to keep trying. I think too, that CPTSD is a relatively 'new' thing in the mental health world. PTSD only became a diagnosis in ~the 80s and CPTSD does not yet officially exist in the DSM as a diagnosis, so the ability for anyone to do research on treatments is severely limited (largely because there is a lack of funds to research CPTSD due to CPTSD not actually officially existing). The Spartan Life Coach once said something to the effect of 'there is a cure, even if I have to keep going until I am in my 80s, I will keep trying and will keep working with you (the viewers) to get there.' I am with him. Even if I am in my 80s, and have not yet gotten there, I will keep trying.

After that, I have had the 'how can I get to my before when I was an infant when the abuse started' discussion with my therapist. We came to the same conclusion as Obscure and Obscure's therapist - with childhood-originated CPTSD it is not so much a matter of getting back to who you were before the bad thing happened, because that is just not an option for us. Instead, it is a matter of figuring out who you are now. I am also working who I want to be and trying to move in that direction.

I think that this concern is yet another reason that we, as a community, need to have CPTSD recognized as a condition separate and distinct from PTSD. Hopefully, at some point, the decision makers will finally agree with us and with the experts, such as Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, on this issue.

General Discussion / Re: Change "complex" to "cumulative"
« on: November 17, 2017, 04:38:35 AM »
I wonder if Dr. Bessel van der Kolk would have a stand on this topic. He was one of the lead people that managed to get PTSD recognized as a diagnosis. He is also one of the few researchers out there that I have found who recognizes that CPTSD is different from PTSD, and I am someone who enjoys this type of research so have made an effort to find journal articles on the topic (many of the others I have found are led by members of his team, and/or his grad students). I have seen him speak on Youtube, read some of his articles, and read The Body Keeps the Score. My sense is that he is fairly strong-minded but also that he cares greatly about his clients and everyone with CPTSD, and that he is truly driven to do what is best for us.

General Discussion / Re: Husband narcissistic
« on: November 15, 2017, 05:06:42 PM »
In some good timing, Richard posted last night a video about 'the fastest, easiest test for narcissism.' In the beginning of the video he gives a really solid description of the dynamics between the cluster Bs and the rest of us, including how the cluster Bs 'win' at their interactions with us.

General Discussion / Re: Husband narcissistic
« on: November 15, 2017, 12:48:40 AM »
Ah, gaslighting and projection. Two of the favourite tactics used by narcissists and cluster Bs everywhere...

I hate to say it but the only way to win against a narcissist in this type of interaction is to not engage in this type of interaction. The cluster Bs are experts at these types of conversations and, unlike us, have no conscience to stop them from engaging in behaviours that might hurt others' feelings.

Those of us with consciences often fall into the emotional-response pattern because we try to fix the problem, try to help others 'see the light' and understand how their behaviours impact others. We who are conscientious have such a difficult time understanding that the cluster Bs will never see the error of their ways, that they have no interest in seeing any errors in themselves, so we engage, argue, put our best explanations forward. Trying, hoping, trying to make it work. But the cluster Bs are unable to respond constructively. Instead they gleefully suck up all of that emotional energy to try to fill their empty selves. It is impossible for them to do anything else.

Have you heard about the grey rock technique? The grey rock technique allows for interactions when NC is impossible (e.g. the narc is a spouse, parent of shared children, a boss, etc.), but also disarms the narcs. Grey rock means giving neutral, emotionless, bland, boring responses, refusing to give them the emotional reactions that they seek and that they need.  It is difficult to do, especially at the start when the narcs push back hard to get an emotional reaction from us. But, I have found it very effective with narcs that I am not able to go NC with (e.g. my narc boss). Narcs feed on the emotions they arouse through contentious discussions (the narcissistic supply); that is the whole reason that narcs start these conversations in the first place. Grey rock starves the cluster Bs preventing them from sucking the emotional energy straight out of us. It is difficult, especially at the start but I have found that it is worth doing.

Whenever I want to fall into the old pattern and give a cluster B the emotional reaction they seek, I remind myself: 'never wrestle with a pig; you both get dirty and the pig enjoys it'.

Wow! That sounds very stressful!

If it helps, maybe the lawyer had some non-case-related reason? I am no lawyer so do not know what reasons people can use to ask for a delay. But, I think 'maybe he won a trip  and has to go at a particular time? Maybe his partner is due to have a baby at the same time? Maybe one of his other cases got delayed and now he needs to bump this one? Maybe he is not feeling well and needs time to recover?'

General Discussion / Re: Change "complex" to "cumulative"
« on: November 14, 2017, 05:43:06 AM »
Just wondering if multiple might be more commonly used  than cumulative. And if syndrome instead of disorder might be a better fit.

Even the post part isn't always accurate--sometimes the abuse or abusive patterns (syndromes) continue through life, so it's not just an after-trauma abuse problem.

What about MAIS--Multiple Abuse Injury Syndrome? At least this term doesn't carry a blame-the-victim hidden bias. Or pattern instead of syndrome--which comes out as MAIP--Multiple Abuse Injury Pattern.


I like MAIS. It is more descriptive and accurate than CPTSD. Plus the acronym can be more easily said that CPTSD, as MAIS spells out a word.

General Discussion / Re: Breaking a trauma bond
« on: November 11, 2017, 11:17:39 PM »
The Spartan Life Coach (Richard Grannon) just posted a video (on Youtube) that touches on this topic. He argues, and I am afraid he is correct, that part of the holding on process is due not just to the repetition pattern - the idea that we enter romantic relationships and even friendships with people that resemble our abusive caregiver in order to try and 'fix' the relationships we had with the caregiver (and we never can succeed) - it is also due to the fact that to stop the hanging on we are forced to admit that our caregiver did not love us in the first place, so the relationship (in real or in replica) cannot be fixed in the second place.

I am finding from personal experience that that has been true for me. Also, while I have been NC with my NM and much of my FOO for years, I do still sometimes want to 'reconnect' with my NM (recognizing that no true connection is possible). Here, it is not a matter of finding a proxy to help 'fix' the relationship but wanting the real-thing (or ironically my illusion of the real thing). That bond is so hard to break. I am finding, however, that the more willing and able I am (and those to conditions do not always coincide) to admit that I was never loved by my NM (and likely not my enabling father either), to feel those horrible feelings of abandonment, anger, loneliness, anger, etc., and to mourn my loss, the more I am able to separate from the abusive people in my life, real or proxies.

Grannon apologizes for being so blunt on the topic, and I apologize too, but really, I think that might be the only key to getting out of trauma bonds.


Medication / Re: inflamation, ibuprophen and fatigue/deppression
« on: November 11, 2017, 11:09:24 PM »
I read recently that people with PTSD (they did not look at CPTSD) have different bacteria in their guts than those who do not have PTSD, even when controlling for having experienced trauma. Those with PTSD had less diverse bacterial communities in their guts, including those that relate to inflammation in the body; those with PTSD have fewer of those bacteria and so are also more prone to inflammation.

So, it makes sense that anti-inflammatories can positively influence the experience of CPTSD-related symptoms.

JamesG, please keep us posted on your experiment. I am curious to see how it goes.

General Discussion / Re: who am i?
« on: November 11, 2017, 11:04:02 PM »
I had that problem when I started my healing journey, and sometimes still do. I am I Like Vanilla because I literally did not know if I preferred vanilla or chocolate soft serve...

What I have been trying is trying new things.

For example, I take classes at the community centre, sometimes those that I think that I will like and sometimes those that seem outside my comfort zone. I have often been surprised how much I enjoy these classes. If I enjoy one, I try something similar next time. If not, I try something completely different. Sometimes, I have enjoyed a particular class or set of classes but realize I have gotten what I need from it and move on. Sometimes, I look up continuing education classes at local post-secondary institutions but do find these are more expensive so do not take many. Art stores often advertise art-related classes (drawing, painting, etc.) as do hobby shops on a variety of hobbies. I have tried some of these with success. I imagine that sporting goods stores might know about local sports leagues and classes, but I am not sportif so have not looked into this option.

I've also participated in meet-up groups, try visiting new parks or touristy places in the city where I live, take different routes to familiar places, eat at new restaurants, etc. At the library, I sign out books from genres I have not read/read often; joining goodreads and then reading challenges on that site has helped me to explore new reading areas. Where I live, the library also has an array of movies and music options that I can sign out and try, and I often take advantage of these options. I visit the art gallery (many have a free/by donation night every week so I go on that night) to see the new shows, and revisit work in the permanent galleries that resonate with me. And so on.

I have also tried different volunteering positions until I found one that I mesh with. It meets once a month and I look forward to those days. I find too, that having a sense of accomplishment and of making a contribution to my community is very empowering and feels awesome.

Generally, I try to have a sense of curiosity and keep an open mind. Will I enjoy this? What will I get from this experience? What can I get from it even if I do not enjoy it? What is the instructor's approach (as applicable)? What will the other people in the group be like (as applicable)?  Etc.

Finally, I have been working to really feel my emotions (something my new-ish therapist focuses on as part of his practice). I regularly stop and ask myself 'how am I feeling right now?' then I scan my body and see both the physical sensations (e.g. 'my knees feel tight') as well as my emotional responses (e.g. 'I feel angry') then I have a sense that whenI feel angry I also tighten up my leg muscles. I can then also start to see what preceded those feelings and work out if it is a trigger or an event that needs to be addressed (e.g. 'I feel angry and have tense muscles because I am upset that Bob took all the credit for a project we worked on together'). In a more pleasant example, 'I feel centred and loose in my body', 'I feel happy', 'joining the choir was a great idea. I will keep doing this!'

And, sometimes, I just stay home and cuddle with my cat, have a bubble bath (without the cat, though she usually sits nearby) and take a break.

Successes, Progress? / Re: Staying in the moment
« on: November 10, 2017, 11:58:20 PM »
Wow Blueberry! That is fantastic! It sounds like you are starting to get the hang of staying in the moment. Congratulations! It takes a lot of courage to stay and be with painful feelings. Wonderful work!  :cheer:

Successes, Progress? / Re: Postponing my exam
« on: November 10, 2017, 11:54:55 PM »
I agree with the others - Yay! for you for choosing self-care!!  :applause:

If it makes you feel any better, I work in academia and it is fairly common for people to postpone exams, withdraw from courses, retake classes, etc. due to health issues (physical, emotional, and/or psychological). So in that sense you can even say you did something quite 'normal' as well as healthy.

Many institutions have counselling offices. If you are stuck in the future (hopefully not, but just in case), it might be worth swinging by there (if your school has such an office). It would not be for therapy, as it sounds as if you have supports already in place for that, but so that they can help you through the specifics of the processes/systems that your school has in place to help people in your situation (hopefully, your school has such systems/processes). I say this not to 'give advice' but because I have been discovering that many students do not know such supports exist at their institutions; please use the information or ignore it as best suits you and your situation.

And really, congratulations that you made such an incredibly difficult decision, and for choosing your health and well-being. The school will be there tomorrow, next month, next year, and so will the classes. You were wise to consider your options and to choose to care for your health now.  :hug:

General Discussion / Re: Change "complex" to "cumulative"
« on: November 07, 2017, 05:42:34 AM »
I agree that trauma must still be part of the name; the trauma caused the injury.

Someone on a different thread suggested 'syndrome' rather than 'disorder' (with apologies to that person as I can no longer find the thread to give proper credit).  To me syndrome works better than disorder, but injury is still more accurate (though likely also less palatable to the decision-makers). Maybe complex post traumatic injury syndrome? compoundPTIS? CummulativePTIS? it is a shame that the T and I cannot be interchanged in this particular set of acronyms; having 'PITS' in the name would be a suitable descriptor of what we are going through  ;).

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