Personality Change

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Contessa

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Personality Change
« on: June 10, 2016, 03:32:54 AM »
Just want to put a question out there and see what others might have experienced.

Over a period of four years in my adult life, I unfortunately suffered through not one but several traumatic experiences which overlapped. Support from friends and family at this time was on the whole non existent. I would not go so far as to say that I had suffered trauma during childhood, though there was plenty of room for a more positive upbringing.

I feel like my entire personality has completely changed from before the events to after. Its like an actor performing a different character from one movie to the next. Does anybody else feel the same?

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Three Roses

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2016, 03:46:30 AM »
Yes, I felt completely different at one point. My personality changed, I was not entertained by the same things; things felt heavy and leaden. For me, this was grief over the death of my mother. With some work it lessened although I don't think I'll ever be the same. And I don't want to be.  ;)

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chairmanmeow

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2016, 03:32:04 PM »
I only become more myself.
Experience generates depth in a person.
https://vimeo.com/123004006 this comes to mind...

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Danaus plexippus

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2016, 05:08:02 PM »
Yes, Chairmanmeow and then life knocks the stuffing out of us. I have changed a lot in almost every way. I miss the old me sometimes. She may not have been as "deep" but she was fun, trusting, energetic, interesting, outgoing, an all-around great gal. Now I'm suspicious, guarded and not easily amused. My life used to be exciting. Now I'm sitting here reading other people's problems and getting a good whine in myself occasionally.
« Last Edit: June 10, 2016, 05:12:32 PM by Danaus plexippus »

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chairmanmeow

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2016, 05:52:21 PM »
Yes, Chairmanmeow and then life knocks the stuffing out of us. I have changed a lot in almost every way. I miss the old me sometimes. She may not have been as "deep" but she was fun, trusting, energetic, interesting, outgoing, an all-around great gal. Now I'm suspicious, guarded and not easily amused. My life used to be exciting. Now I'm sitting here reading other people's problems and getting a good whine in myself occasionally.

Anxiety shuts down our emotional parts of our brain limiting our ability to feel, I feel it in particular when it comes to other people I am very social but when Im put in a anxious situation my interest in others vanishes and I have little to say. It makes me not myself, this is the nature of the depressive state of mind. If I had to bet under all this that person you miss is still here, just disconnected and more developed, because we grow empathy through experiencing out own suffering...

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Wife#2

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2016, 06:07:21 PM »
Contessa,

I think I've done a few 180's, meaning at least one full circle in there.

My cPTSD is based in childhood experiences. I was considered sullen, sulky and a chatterbox. I personally felt lost, lonely and unworthy.
As a young adult, I chose to redefine myself - a well-timed move by Mom made this easier. I chose bubbly, funny and smart. I like that me. She wasn't quite so concerned with what other people thought, at least it didn't rule her.
Before emerging too far into adulthood (before I was 25), my sister who was also my heart-mother died. I was parentified by my mother, asked to shelve my grief to help my (ahem) real mother through HER pain. Sullen was back. Unworthy was in her luggage.
Years of depression and things not going well and therapy that helped and finally, Cheerful was back. Fun had found her way home.

Then, I got married. I started out loving, hopeful and open. After a decade with a totally different type of cPTSD (angry, volatile) I have been slowly pushed back to sullen and unworthy again. It was like the frog in the pot - I didn't see what was happening until it was too late.

I'm hoping that, if I can get strong enough to ACTUALLY do this, after divorce I can rediscover cheerful, fun me. It would be great to have my DS8 meet her. I think he'd like her more than he likes sullen, depressed Mom.

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Contessa

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2016, 10:17:04 AM »
Thank you all for sharing your stories and points of view. Its very good to find people that do understand.

Three Roses and chairmanmeow I agree that there are some positive changes (for want of a better word), like a lesson learned or a greater sense of empathy. I remember from the first nasty thing that I worked through, that once I started to come out on the other side I really did appreciate the lessons learned from it, and was even able to embrace what happened in terms of recovery. It was horrible, but it showed me how resilient I was at that stage. I still wasn't completely who I was before though, but I came to like myself again.

Then, almost immediately, the swift kick to the guts came over and over, and over time the big changes occurred just like Danaus plexippus describes. I could not keep up with it all and life has just gone downhill since. Like Wife#2 it does feel like a complete 180, i'm not anything like I used to be. I miss the old me, and I want to be her again.

After reading your responses I began to actually remember why I was the way I used to be, not just who. To me, and to my T it was quite a breakthrough. It was exciting to remember that part of who I was stemmed from my choice to be who I was (thanks for the memory jog Wife#2); I wasn't just who I was, I also made deliberate decisions to be who I was. And to some extent its true for the me that I don't like now because I am no longer completely out of control.

The challenge now is to maintain this optimism throughout the steep uphill climb.

Thank you all again for your views. It sounds like we are all at very different stages on the path to greener pastures from Sleepy Hollow. I hope that hill we're all climbing flattens out sooner rather than later.

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arpy1

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2016, 10:39:15 AM »
interesting thread. me, i have trouble identifying any personality that defines the true me. i have been many people in my life, all of whom were constructs i put in place in order to cope/fit in with/alleviate/survive the life-situations i was faced with. i was like this from a very small child. 

so the truth is i don't know who i am, what my personality is, really. the one illuminating realisation i had a few months ago about who i may be inside, was the realisation that i am an introvert, not an extrovert.  i have been living as an extrovert since the moment, when i was 13, when i decided that being shy and introverted was too painful.  that was the only time i consciously 'altered' my personality. the other constructs were unconscious and survival motivated. 
so i guess i can't say i have changed and miss the 'old me', as it were.  i have changed, and now i am having to work out what i would have been from the very few clues that remain after six decades of constructs.

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Danaus plexippus

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2016, 01:06:26 PM »
I occasionally catch myself showing different aspects of my personality depending on who Iím with. Conversely there are parts of myself I share with no one, not even my T. Sometimes I feel like an emotional chameleon and wonder what I hide even from myself. There seems to be a tug of war between the meds my shrink has me on and the self-revelatory process of therapy. I think I know what I want, but Iím not accomplishing it. Itís so frustrating!

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Wife#2

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2016, 02:08:46 PM »
Danaus - between your post and your avatar, I remembered that, in high school, I encouraged friends to call me social butterfly. It was how I made sense of the fact that I could 'hang out' with the bandies, the theater crowd, the GT crowd, the druggies, the 'IT' crowd (though they made fun of my behind my back when they were polite enough to KEEP it behind my back).

Part of my flexibility was in the fact that I didn't judge people harshly. Part was my desperation to 'fit in' at least somewhere. I was the new kid again, we'd moved again. So, if the druggies needed to see the accepting but concerned side - that's what they got. If the bandies needed to see playful and silly until marching time, no problem. The GT's needed to see that I had some sense. Ok, I can fake that well enough if I keep a good eye on the others who seem to have sense.

I thought I'd done a pretty good job of fooling everyone into thinking that I was an OK person. I found out later that I had not, but at least some let me believe it during high school!

Still, to this day, I am different around my 'red-neck' friends and my friends of color. I still try too hard to be liked. My own husband doesn't know who I am a lot of the time, because at some point he made fun of either my friends or the way I was 'different' around them. It's all in my 'make them comfortable however you can so they'll like you' attitude. By the way, it only works on a limited basis. If they're around me a whole lot, I have to end up getting real. Only the truest of friends stuck it out as friends when I couldn't 'perform' anymore. They are still my friends and for that I am grateful!

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woodsgnome

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2016, 03:27:45 PM »
Contessa wrote:  "I feel like my entire personality has completely changed from before the events to after. Its like an actor performing..."

I have a personal take on this, in that for a large chunk of my life I was an actor in a small troupe that performed mostly improv (unscripted) style theatre within a historical context. Within the group I settled into a 'character' that I eventually took solo. But rather than ever leave the act entirely, I kinda moved my personality into the role to where it took over my whole being.

This was actually a good thing, as far as I'm concerned; it probably saved my miserable life by presenting an opportunity to not just act, but to become someone who finally mattered and was recognized for what and who I was. It felt like the role actually helped me bring out an important aspect of my inner self that had been trapped inside for 20+ years. So I treasured it.

In effect I was stuck in what's called obsessive compulsive behaviour. The role took over and wonderfully masked the earlier self. Without denigrating the importance of what that did for my psyche, I can now understand that I was in bypass mode. Stuff from the pre-acting years--flashbacks, etc.--created an emotional storm that I couldn't shake and finally, couldn't ignore. I'm still on that slow recovery path, sifting through the deep layers of pain from what I'd valiantly tried to push aside. 

In one sense I'd 'killed off' the earlier self, but only to a small extent.  I went from bruised personality to new one. For a while the new was what I needed, but the bruises were never adequately dealt with. This became glaringly so once I semi-retired from the acting gigs.

That said, it still seems life isn't set up to where any of us has consistent lifelong personalities anyway. Maybe instead of a continuous, meaningful story, what we're really looking for is a missing sense of wholeness. In that way we're all actors, or as my favourite line of Shakespeare puts it: "All the world's a stage..."; and each of us has many roles within the play. Or, as Mark Twain explained, "There was never yet an uninteresting life. Such a thing is an impossibility. Inside the dullest exterior, there is a drama, a comedy, and a tragedy."
 


Re: Personality Change
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2016, 07:50:25 PM »
Contessa,

I was just saying this to someone over the weekend! Actually, true to form, I was apologizing for being different than I normally am and for being a "bad friend".

I, too, suffered multiple tragedies at the end of last year which have left me feeling not myself at all. I no longer try to make conversation with people, I no longer joke around at all. I feel very sullen, and serious all of the time. I also feel very different from most other people right now. (Of course, I'm sure it doesn't help that I keep crossing paths with the main person who perpetrated this latest trauma in my life.)

The way I see it, I was trained and taught to always ignore, overlook, and disregard my own feelings. But not this time. If I don't feel like making conversation or joking around, I am just not going to do it, and there is nothing wrong with that. All people have ups and downs, and we forgive everyone else's roller coaster ride through life, so why not our own??

Also, my husband is the one that pointed out to me this past weekend that I was apologizing to a friend for it. He said I owe nobody any apology for having feelings that aren't always positive, and he's right. So I'm determined not to apologize for my feelings anymore either, especially since I usually do so out of CPTSD habit. I will just explain to anyone who cares enough to ask that I am going through some difficult times, but I have faith that I will bounce back and feel more like myself again in the future.

I may always carry with me the damage from this latest series of traumas, but I will learn from them and grow to be a more complete person. I have always stayed strictly away from drugs and alcohol because I want to truly experience my own life. So I will take these experiences as well and use them to sculpt a newer version of myself.

I believe that we all have times when we don't feel quite like ourselves, and that's ok. I know a lot of us are just beginning to really learn who we truly are anyway.

 :hug:
« Last Edit: June 14, 2016, 09:49:46 PM by bruisednotbroken »

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radical

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2016, 10:31:51 PM »
I'm in the middle of overlapping traumas.
Often I feel like I don't recognise myself anymore.  There are ways in which the fog was a comforting illusion and I'm almost jealous of those who can remain. 

I got to the point where I just blew and it was self-destructive in the sense that I burned a lot of bridges.  I have no idea where this is going to lead.  There are no guarnatees of a happy future, but I know if I'd carried on the way I was going continued misery was certain.  I guess I could have been "strategic" in dealing with things and maintained a bit of dignity, and protected myself from some of the fallout, but I learned and I'm still learning.

At core, I haven't changed, but the way I am in the world has to.  It may be that burning bridges will be a kind of salvation because there is no way back to where I was before.  I certainly need to be more "for me" and to put my own needs into every equation in a way I was unable to before.  I still don't know how to go about that.

The part that hurts most is losing my belief system, the way I understood humanity, how I thought I should behave, what I thought the answers were.  I wonder at my former "kindness".  I used to just react in a way I thought was kind and humane.  But just reacting rather than responding with wisdom and reflection isn't true kindness.  It can be self-indulgent, it can be unhelpful to others,  far too often it was self-defeating.  So I feel unkind, I feel selfish, I feel cynical and harsh.  I stop myself and watch where once I acted with generosity.  Even when I see someone else's sorrow, I stop myself from blindly reacting because I still don't know how to respond in a way that is truly kind and compassionate, to everyone concerned, including me. 

I don't keep giving away my own power in every situation, but I don't know what to do instead.  I feel guilty about holding onto it, as though I don't deserve it.  I certainly don't know what to do with it.

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arpy1

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2016, 10:52:46 PM »
radical, you could have been me writing there!!  the burning of bridges, the loss of belief system, and the thing about no longer giving away our power , even tho we have no real idea what to do with it when we keep hold of it.

it helps enormously to realise i am not alone feeling this way. thank you :hug: :hug:

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Contessa

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Re: Personality Change
« Reply #14 on: June 15, 2016, 04:06:33 AM »
Wow! YES to everything woodsgnome, bruisednotbroken, radical and arpy1.

"For a while the new was what I needed, but the bruises were never adequately dealt with." - that's the point I have reached now woodsgnome. That was an amazing post to read  :)

"I was trained and taught to always ignore, overlook, and disregard my own feelings" - me too bruisednotbroken. But now that I have developed a habit of no longer apologising for anything i've turned into a bit of a b**ch. Need to come back to centre again. I have to cross paths with a perpetrator as well, might need to ask for advice on how to handle it. It sounds like you have a very loving and supportive husband too, i'm a tad jealous  ;)

"The part that hurts most is losing my belief system, the way I understood humanity, how I thought I should behave, what I thought the answers were" - radical, I used to be a school teacher, and had a very strong sense of respect for others and self which was integral to creating a safe learning environment. It formed the basis of how my students were expected to behave and interact with each other, as well as other students in school and people within the community. It was amazing to watch each of them develop when they knew they were completely safe... but then... no need to go into details but my head has been a mess since.

"the burning of bridges" has been necessary at times but sad. I hate it arpy1 and radical. Oh well.