Symptoms of PTSD & Complex PTSD (Plus Help to Go From Stuck to Thriving With PTSD) by Arielle Spring
For over two decades, I suffered from the debilitating effects of PTSD and, as the trauma multiplied, Complex PTSD (C-PTSD). It (the C-PTSD) told me that I was fine and did not need help of any kind. But, one day, after I had been left at a seedy motel after becoming homeless and then rescued by a virtual stranger, I looked into the mirror. This time when I looked into the mirror, I saw my very life before me. I then fell to my knees and began to sob asking my Lord and Savior to help me. "HELP ME, HELP ME, HELP ME.” I cried out. He immediately gave me the strength to vow to myself that I would not allow my life to get any lower than it was at that moment.
Even though I did not realize that I had C-PTSD, I made a commitment to begin to love myself. Up until that point, my pride had me pretending that nothing was wrong, and my shame had been keeping me stuck.
Some of the symptoms/behaviors that (looking in) I experienced included:
- Feelings of emptiness or hopelessness: This would lead me to looking to others (relationships) to find my identity and validation that I was worthy. However, I felt empty so the people I was allowing into my life were emptier than I was. They would suck the energy and life out of me.
- Feeling angry or distrustful toward the world: I would get angry when I was betrayed, abandoned, or worse and leave which caused me to move around a LOT. One time I got involved with someone that was (unknown to me) married. His wife parked outside my apartment building and called threatening to kill me. I had to flee in the darkness of night to avoid injury or death.
- Feeling as if I was permanently damaged or worthless: This symptom would keep me stuck in a loop of choosing dysfunctional/abusive relationships and perpetuate my downward spiral.
- Difficulty controlling my emotions: This symptom put me in a constant state of fight or flight. To medicate this high level of anxiety, I used alcohol which would lead to a few times of black-out drunken states for me. Alcohol also contributed a lot to my chronic depression.
Feeling as if I was completely different to other people, I stayed on the fringe of society dealing with less than desirable people in many cases which would lead to me ping ponging from one symptom/behavior to another and back.
While I was suffering from the above symptoms, I was suffering simultaneously from the host of PTSD symptoms, including intrusive thoughts or images, vivid flashbacks, intense distress at real or symbolic reminders of the trauma and physical sensations such as pain, insomnia, tachycardia, heart palpitations and panic attacks.
The moment I looked into the mirror without denial is the moment I began my healing ascent to wholeness and finding my true self. The key is to take one step at a time and not expect yourself to heal overnight. Use the strength you had to endure trauma to heal and thrive and remember – NEVER GIVE UP. YOU CAN DO IT.
Photo of book cover courtesy of Arielle Spring and FSR Ventures.
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