Do People Recover from CPTSD?

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ajvander86

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Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« on: February 25, 2018, 01:12:41 PM »
After reading Pete Walker's book, CPTSD from surviving to thriving, it sounded like it is largely possible to recover from cptsd and live somewhat normal lives.  It even sounded like Pete himself was able to recover to a degree that it seemed like he really wasn't hindered by cptsd anymore.  But in my own experience with how difficult it is for me to open up to people and function in society, I wonder if it's really possible to fully recover. 

Has anyone here ever been to one of those retreats that they call large group awareness training sessions?  Some of the more well known ones are things like Tony Robbins, Landmark, Gratitude, and there are others.  They are supposed to get you to be able to open up and face your fears of intimacy while at the same time finding your personal power to lead life the way you'd like.  Anyway I've been to a couple and it was WAYYYYY to much for me.  At the time I didn't know about cptsd and no one in these training sessions knew about it either because they didn't bring it up.  But it was almost impossible for me to open up completely in front of all these strangers and exhibit full range emotions.  I mean I was like literally frozen in there, and I kept being told I wasn't 'doing it right' which led to me feeling greater shame about myself. 

But after learning about cptsd I almost don't think things like that are good for people who have been severely traumatized.  I don't know.  Some people say it's just a matter of facing your fears and getting over it, but I've tried to face many of my fears and it just seems like my cptsd symptoms never go away.  Being able to be fully self expressive and trust people intimately is something that just feels impossible to me. 

Anyway I'm rambling a bit, but does anyone think it's possible to really get over cptsd?  And how are you supposed to do so if you don't have proper support from friends and family and you're struggling on your own just to keep your head above water?

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Dee

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2018, 02:18:27 PM »

I feel it is possible to learn to manage the symptoms.  One of the biggest indicators that I was doing better is when I went outside my non supportive family and found my own support.  It means I had to meet, assess, and be vulnerable to new people.  I don't feel like I am even close to being cured.  I do feel like I have learned to cope with it.  I certainly have bad days and have EFs.  Earlier this month I was stuck in a huge EF, but I survived and I got out of it.

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sanmagic7

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2018, 02:48:00 PM »
aj, those people who don't know about or understand c-ptsd can be very judgmental and shaming, but that's on them.  you did what you could, and there's no shame in that.  you gave it a shot, found out it wasn't your cup of tea.  how dare you be told you 'didn't do it right'?  they don't know squat about what's going on for any individual.

healing from this beast of c-ptsd takes time, patience, hard work, and going at your own pace.  i, too, believe it can become manageable, especially the earlier you are aware and start the battle.   i like to think that we can at the least whittle the beast down to the size of a small puppy. 

thanks for asking about this.  i give you a lot of credit for trying one of these groups, making yourself vulnerable.  'face your fears' sounds like it 'should' be pretty easy.  with a history of trauma, it can be one of the toughest things we ever attempt, and i doubt that it's do-able in a weekend seminar with people not in the know.

sending a shame-free hug to you filled with love and warmth instead.

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Fen Starshimmer

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2018, 09:17:46 PM »
Hi AJ,
Brave of you to attend one of these large mainstream group 'awareness' training sessions. Just the thought of being at one of these events makes me shiver.   :stars:

I think it depends on the nature of your trauma and how much help you have had in processing it and recovering from it, how much healing you have done, as to whether these events are a good idea. They just could overwhelm the CPTSD brain, which has had a lot to deal with, and add to the trauma.

I've had well meaning friends give me books on 'facing your fear' etc but it's not necessarily about that for us, it's not that simple. Having read Bessel Van Der Kolk's excellent book, 'The Body Keeps The Score', it's clear that trauma changes the central nervous system; it becomes 'reorganised' and this is 'based on having experienced an actual threat of annihilation (or seeing someone else being annihilated)', which reorganizes the self experience (as helpless) and the interpretation of reality (the entire world is a dangerous place).'

I didn't even know I had CPTSD for most of my life,  and group meetings - even small ones - became trigger town *, until I read about flashbacks and the three Fs (later 4 when I read Pete Walker's work). Then I changed my lifestyle, and began working from home, and it gave my nervous system a chance to calm down. Can you recover from CPTSD? I know people can improve, and personally, I can say that since my epiphany and trying out different therapies and treatments (some pretty 'out there' types included) the quality of my life has vastly improved, and I have acquired an inner peace I hadn't known before. This is also partly due to having removed myself from triggering environments and leading a very quiet life.

I am wondering whether a more gentle, smaller group, like a psychotherapy group with an awareness of CPTSD, might be worth considering? It would be shame if this experience stopped you from growing and developing your confidence in self-expression and intimacy. I do feel that linking up with people who understand is empowering, whether online or face to face. I don't expect any understanding from my family or friends. It's easier that way, so that I don't get disappointed.  Hope you'll be able to look back on this as a learning experience. Warm hugs  :hug:



« Last Edit: February 25, 2018, 09:21:00 PM by Fen Starshimmer »

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Slackjaw99

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #4 on: February 26, 2018, 12:24:58 AM »
YES.
I've been able to release a good chunk of trauma thanks to a handful of psychedelic therapy sessions over the course of a couple weeks! I love Pete Walkers book and have used his chapter on grieving as a template for the Mindfulness component of these sessions. The key to these sessions are a simultaneous top down, psychotherapeutic (Mindfulness around Pete Walker's book while visualizing my past) and bottom up, somatic (holotropic breathing, vagus nerve stimulation amplified with the psychedelic) approach. This has allowed me to get my left or rational part of my brain to talk to my right or emotional part of my brain- the part that gets walled off in self protection when we learn to fear our emotional responses as a matter of survival. I literally had to give myself permission to grieve, but when it came, it came out with a force so strong that every muscle in my body contracted like a seizure and the sound made could have brought the men in white coats.

That's how we release trauma- crying/angering. No need to live with it year after year. I feel like I've had a complete mental reset. In my last session I learned that with the fear of my emotional reactions gone I could now play in the sandbox with other children and make new friends.

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Rainagain

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #5 on: February 26, 2018, 10:04:57 AM »
I'm beginning to think there is no total recovery, no cure.

Best outcome for me will be avoiding more trauma and coping better with (hopefully) reducing symptoms over time.

Its akin to a permanent leg injury, needs to be accepted, needs to be allowed for and impact sports avoided from now on.

AJ, those group sessions are equivalent to a marathon or slalom skiing, not good for a leg injury, sort of contraindicated really!

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Blueberry

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #6 on: February 26, 2018, 07:38:24 PM »
But after learning about cptsd I almost don't think things like that are good for people who have been severely traumatized.  I don't know.  Some people say it's just a matter of facing your fears and getting over it, but I've tried to face many of my fears and it just seems like my cptsd symptoms never go away.  Being able to be fully self expressive and trust people intimately is something that just feels impossible to me. 

I've been on healing retreats since I've known about CPTSD. It was in fact two therapists at one of those who recognised that I have CPTSD! I was allowed to stay that weekend, and they worked a little differently with me than with the rest of the group. That kind of individual, specialised work can only happen in a small group imo, and obviously only with therapists / 'healers' who are trauma-informed.

You were quite possibly not 'doing it right' but that would have probably been your own internal protective mechanism to prevent re-traumatisation. Yay you! That's a sign of self-care and sticking up necessary boundaries  :thumbup:

Can we get over CPTSD? I've heard of occasional people who do. I know far more people who learn to live with it and continue to get better at living with it than they did before. So partial healing, but not complete.

Of course I wish you full recovery! But if it doesn't happen, then don't harangue yourself. You're not alone.

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ah

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #7 on: February 28, 2018, 05:05:55 PM »
Its akin to a permanent leg injury, needs to be accepted, needs to be allowed for and impact sports avoided from now on.
AJ, those group sessions are equivalent to a marathon or slalom skiing, not good for a leg injury, sort of contraindicated really!

I agree with every word. For me, that sort of situation would be absolutely terrifying, so of course I couldn't really relax and trust people in an instant and if I forced myself to try, it would trigger intense flashbacks.
When you have cptsd your trust issues and fears are realistic and based on real dangers, not just perceived ones. It's more complex than that.

I wish it could be easier.

Personally, I've started reading about cptsd in the past year, didn't know anything about it till recently. It's definitely changed me, I now know I have flashbacks and sometimes I catch myself as I'm in one and manage to take care of myself with the help of all the information and experience I read about here on OOTS and in books on trauma.
I feel less guilty about my pain. It's less intolerable. Still painful, but I'm less worried I'm totally nuts and horrible. Well, a bit less worried...
Also, flashbacks are shorter. In the past they could go on for years, till I ran out of fuel. Now when I'm really torturing myself I go back to the books, I read here, and it's less difficult than it used to be. This also enables me to very cautiously experiment here and there with behaviors I'd never try before. Ideally it might broaden our ability to recognize good people and be there for ourselves. I hope.

So I think it can improve.

I totally agree, it's probably a chronic condition.
I know I don't give enough credit to the things I went though, I keep minimizing them but when I imagine them happening to anyone else, I'm overwhelmed by how painful and life changing they would be. It doesn't say anything about me, I'm not weak or sick to be in pain, I'm just wounded in circumstances that would wound anyone.

Maybe the terminology used by pain specialists is more apt than psych. terms. Pain specialists talk about management rather than cure. Trauma management?

« Last Edit: February 28, 2018, 05:07:54 PM by ah »

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sanmagic7

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2018, 09:49:04 PM »
trauma management, ah?  why not?  i believe that's my present and future. 

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woodsgnome

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #9 on: March 01, 2018, 03:50:23 AM »
With regard to groups, I shudder to think of the 'consensus mania' that large gatherings can induce, especially with celebrity leaders (or those who portray themselves as such) who can shout their 'wisdom' into microphones but wouldn't have the time of day for someone in real pain (ironically, most of their attendees who pay huge upfront fees to be yelled at).

Just a couple years back there were 2 deaths at one of these events in Arizona where during a mass group sauna/sweat lodge happening the participants (several hundred) were not allowed out, even as they gasped in the stifling heat, as a test of their loyalty to the program (one they'd paid small fortunes to take part in).

Years ago I knew a couple people who attended what I think was called Landmark or the Group or something? Anyway, it was also featured sizable gatherings based around 'self-improvement' tenets, but the individuals coming out were noticeably pumped up with how superior the experience made them, behaviour reminiscent of what a cult/screamer church convert might do in order to spread the true and only word.

I concur with the earlier suggestion to see if one can find a smaller group, one where the leader's celebrity personality and/or belief system isn't the prevailing theme. I'm a very isolated person but found some healing from experiences shared within these sorts of groups. Any event is always subject, I suppose, to indoctrination and/or intolerance of those not playing the group game, but it seems less likely in the smaller gatherings (7-20 people). I learned--and shared-- some valuable insights, stretching my comfort zone but with any pressure to conform turned way down.

I'm not sure 'recovery' should be the goal, except in part. It seems better just to regard it as an aspect of one's life, more like an injury that is horrible, but can still be lived with. The original circumstances are almost all vile if not obscene, but there's still a life to somehow craft beyond that. That's why we're here, I suspect. We struggle and stumble, feel better and fall back, and we deal with it as best we can. Recovery is more of a process, not a fixed destination.

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James

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2018, 04:22:28 PM »
I'm not sure if this is a good analogy or not, so take it for what it's worth... but sometimes I think about living with cptsd as like having diabetes. If you have diabetes but don't know what's wrong you're going to be terribly sick with your sugar levels going all over the place... And you'll be miserable until you understand what's wrong with you. Once you learn about what you have and start insulin treatment and proper diet, you can go on to live a largely normal life. Do you still have diabetes? Yes, and every day you have to take your insulin and watch your diet to make sure it doesn't get out of control. But once you realize the treatments and are careful to eat right and take your insulin, you can live a fairly normal life, even though you will always "have" diabetes.
I think people with cptsd can learn about what they have, learn the proper treatments, learn how to think more rationally and to feel more safe, and then this becomes a sort of daily regimen to make sure the sickness doesn't get out of hand. but if everyday you remember that you have this dysfunction and that there are a few things you need to do each day so that it doesn't get out of control, you can live a fairly normal life, having jobs and friendships and relationships like everyone else.
What do you guys think?

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Sceal

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Re: Do People Recover from CPTSD?
« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2018, 08:12:00 PM »
Thinking that I may never fully recover makes me lose hope, which in return makes me stop fighting for a better life.
So I choose to believe that there is hope to be fully recovered from CPTSD.

They used to think that you couldn't/can't recover from Schizophrenia, it was seen as a lifetime diagnosis (and many still believe so) , yet there has been several cases of people with true Schizophrenia who has fully recovered, not just managing symptoms. But live a normal, healthy and productive lives without medication.
Yes, I know, Schizophrenia is a vastly different illness to cPTSD. But... If they can... Then so can we.