This is Complex PTSD
By Kay Matilda Neo

Emotions, to me, are complex and confusing. The visceral sensations they bring are more tangible than their names or meanings. They overwhelm me and often I avoid them or misunderstand them, and they scare me.

Sometimes it’s a “now” emotion and sometimes it’s a “then” emotion. Sometimes both at once. This is, I think, what people mean by an “emotional flashback,” and it happens to me more frequently than I can count.

You might not know anything is happening

From the outside, you might see a momentary grimace flicker across my face, a “far away” expression in my eyes, or a sudden body movement: usually a twitch or shudder. But often you would not even be aware anything was happening.

I’m learning to differentiate between “old” and “new” feelings. And slowly accepting that resolution involves experiencing.

Therapy helped me learn alternatives

At their worst, these episodes can leave me writhing in physical pain; it feels like I am dying and like it will never end. Sometimes I can’t see, hear or feel what is around me. Sometimes I self-harm just to make it stop. Though that happens a lot less often than it used to, thanks to therapy helping me to learn alternatives.

I’m told that sometimes I seem angry or frustrated with myself – this is when I am most likely to self-harm. Other times, I sing or hum to myself, talk to or from different “parts” of my “self” in little whispers, and rock myself gently, seemingly offering comfort to whoever is upset.

For me, this is Complex PTSD

During and after these episodes, I am fragile and vulnerable and minimally aware of my surroundings. I might explain some of what is happening if I’m with someone I trust, and I might need a little help to get or stay safe.

And at these times I tend to talk of “we,” “she” and “us,” though in general, I refer to myself as “I.”

This, for me, is Complex PTSD.

Reproduced with permission, originally posted here

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