Complex PTSD and Our Mental Health

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I’ve consistently pursued answers for my health and my life for literally decades now. Around 8 years ago I had been bed ridden for nearly 3 years. Through a series of medical mismanagement and only the presenting symptoms being treated my health plummeted. So how would a diagnosis of Complex PTSD change my life over 10 years ago?

Any mental health care professional who listened to my life story would take one look at who I am, my positive attitude, and tell me that I’d successfully overcome PTSD. The element missing was the Complex. I still suffered from panic attacks that resembled seizures and chronic migraines not controlled by 30mg of morphine every 3 rd day. I could mask my way through my days through sheer force of will, then fall apart at the end of each day not understanding why my emotions weren’t in line with my will. I could be in public, happy, thoroughly enjoying myself and in a split second be crippled from panic, needing to get out of there and go home to my safe place. None of this made any logical sense at all.

I believed all of this was something that was just me, or I’d have to put up with it for the rest of my life. As one specialist said to me “you’re ahead of most people who’ve experienced a childhood with trauma.” Seriously? That was supposed to lead me into overcoming my challenges how? It used to take every bit of strength I had just to open up and talk about what was happening inside of me, and to be met with “well, look, you’re doing better than others in this situation” wasn’t going to cut it for me. So I kept searching for real answers as I refused to believe that going home after a doctors appointment and being mentally and physically drained meant that I was doing well.

Looking back upon this time I completely understand why the specialist made this comment, now. The specialists weren’t trauma informed in Complex PTSD. They didn’t understand that talk therapy wasn’t going to work for me. I needed a whole different approach. Complex PTSD isn’t in the DSM5 as yet but the ICD 11 has now listed Complex PTSD. Pete Walker is leading the charge with his book Complex PTSD: from surviving to thriving and Laurence Heller’s Healing Developmental Trauma and Bessel van der Kolk’s The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma has helped me incredibly.

Over ten years ago all of this information plus trauma informed specialists would have saved me from losing my life to Complex PTSD. However, whilst life is going to be completely different to how I ever imagined it, life is still going to be good. May your mental health recovery journey be trauma informed and headed for remission. Together, we can do this!

Written by Linda Meredith - Trauma Recovery Coach