CPTSD and me #PTSDAwarenessDay

PTSD Awareness Day ©Angela Porter|Artwyrd.com
PTSD Awareness Day ©Angela Porter|Artwyrd.com

It’s no secret that I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, CPTSD. It has stemmed from being ignored, put down (“You’re stupid, fat, ugly, no one wants to be your friend”), and bullied daily inside and outside the home from a very young age.

I was groomed by a family member when I was around 7 or 8 years of age. I had other traumatic experiences of a sexual nature then too.

I had no one I could turn to talk to about this as the person you’d usually turn to for help, the mother, was one of the people perpetuating this.
There’s so much more I could tell you, but I think you get the gist.

I continuously lived, and continue to live, feeling unsafe in the world. I’m constantly anxious. I used to rarely notice this anxiety as it’s the ‘normal’ background level I know. Nowadays, thanks to therapy and EMDR I’m more self-aware and recognise it’s there.

I had to admit to myself that I needed help with this when I was away from work for nearly a year with severe anxiety and depression. An occupational health nurse, who worked with people with PTSD, said I was a classic case of CPTSD and suggested EMDR.

I realised I couldn’t live my life the way I was. I had become too scared to go out of my home except when I had appointments or at night to go shopping. I was hiding away from the world, staying in my house where I felt relatively safe.

I am still like that many days. However, I have more days where I can get out and about. Not only that, but I have more content days than days of discontent and sorrow.

EMDR therapy is helping me to recover, slowly but surely.

I’ve had people questioning me, yet again, whether EMDR therapy is any good for me because of the upset tummy I get after it, as well as the exhaustion. They questioned, whether I really needed it. This annoyed me as I yet again had to explain what my life is like daily and why I no longer wish to live with the constant fear and anxiety that limits what I can do.

I wear a well practised mask of confidence and strength that belies what lies underneath. I think this is why people try to tell me that therapy isn’t doing me any good and I don’t really need it. I think they think I’m lying about my past, the trauma I’ve experienced and how deeply it’s affected me and the way I live my life.

Can you all stop trying to tell me what I need and what I don’t need?

You aren’t walking in my shoes, with my inner critic repeating the constant criticisms given from my mother and others. You aren’t living with my emotional fragility or the constant increased anxiety, even fear, I feel when around people.

When I have bad days you think it’s the therapy that causes it. It’s not. It’s that therapy opens up trauma that I continue to process in the hours or days afterwards. Sometimes that processing is via an upset digestive system, sadness, increased anxiety, emotional exhaustion and fragility.

The thing is, that these bad days are a small number of the totality of the days of my life and they lead to a greater number of days where I am content.

They are a small price to pay for a future life where I live a mostly content life with no anxiety, except in appropriate situations. A life where I and my body have learned I am safe, that my past is finally my past and not being relived everyday through that constant anxiety and fear.

Why would I not want to go through the bad post-EMDR days to get to the life I’d like to live?

EMDR is working for me, even though there are times when I’m not too good after it.

Think of it as surgery. If you have surgery you’re not very well for a while afterwards. EMDR is surgery on the trauma of the past. The processing is the healing taking place, although its painful, it’s necessary.

You wouldn’t tell someone who needed an appendix removed not to go through with it as they’ll hurt as the wounds heal would you?

You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer not to go through with chemotherapy as they’ll feel awful afterwards, would you?

Trauma, whether a major event or the constant day to day trauma of abuse and neglect damage us on an emotional mental and even physical level with chronic illnesses being linked to long term stress. EMDR is the surgery that helps to release, process and heal the effects of the traumas I’ve experienced in my past so that I can move forward rather than stuck in the past.

Does that make it clearer?

I need EMDR therapy to heal from my past and gain the life I would like, a life where I’m not ruled by the constant fear and anxiety that developed as a response to never feeling safe anywhere from the time I was born.

My therapist often tells me I’m brave for coming back to EMDR again and again when I know what I’m likely to experience. She wonders after each extremely emotionally painful session if I’ll return.

I always do.

I’m prepared to put the work in and to accept the days where I feel poorly after EMDR as I can see they are part of the journey to a better life for me. A life where I have a better relationship with myself and the world around me.

I’ve lived my whole life in emotional and mental pain. I want to live as much of the life that remains to me without that emotional and mental pain.

Can I make it any plainer than that? I don’t think so.

About the art…

Art is often very soothing for me, especially when I’m feeling fragile or distressed. Today’s art certainly has soothed me. I woke with a dreadful headache. The headache is now easing off somewhat; it’s leaving me rather tired though.

I thought I’d do a little something for #PTSDAwarenessDay, so I made use of my Microsoft Surface Pen and Surface Studio along with Autodesk Sketchbook Pro.

Now I’m working out which tools I like, what effects I can get and the settings I like to use my digital art is speeding up just a little. Mind you, this is simpler than the ‘Be Brave’ wip I’ve shown in previous posts.

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