Trigger warning: self-harm, child abuse and suicide
Twenty-five years ago, a choice was made, which should have been an acceptable, reasonable decision in the modern world. But, as it turns out, that choice triggered 25 years of self-destructive behaviour resulting in the loss of everything for one young woman, A woman whose life from the outside looked normal. Married to a man, she loved settling into the new home they purchased—a Mum and Dad and Sister who loved her. An extremely talented and creative person with the potential for a successful career is on the brink of graduating with a Diploma in Opera and the prospect of spending her life doing what she loved.
When faced with an unexpected and unplanned pregnancy, a choice to terminate the pregnancy was made. It was her right to make this decision, and her family supported it. Although the disgusting behaviour of some people who call themselves righteous, religious representatives made the whole process more difficult than it should have been. Their derogatory statements and constant name-calling were appalling and disgusting. How they call themselves Christians, I do not know. Moving on, it was not this event that changed her life. This change came afterwards during the healing period. A hormonal shift in the body was the catalyst to open the floodgates to past traumatic events. Events of a horrible nature, which we all read about way too often, are catastrophic to any person, let alone a young child. The actual story is not mine to tell, so I will not go into details. The result, after many years, was a diagnosis of Complex PTSD.
A condition we have all heard about in 2022 and, like depression, it is thrown around a little too often. Maybe if I break it down, you can gain more insight. I note here that I am not a doctor, specialist or advisor with any training or knowledge. I am someone who has observed someone close to me suffering from PTSD. I also understand that CPTSD or PTSD can be treated, and good outcomes often occur in many cases.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is the chronic disorder we hear more and more about these days. It is an actual condition, and it can be a chronic condition. As with most illnesses,’ there are degrees of depth with PTSD. It can be mild and short-term. It can result from an event in a person’s life that has a debilitating effect on their immediate life. It can also be the result of having constant trauma in their life. It should be taken seriously, and it needs to be treated by professionals. Like depression, it requires psychological assistance, medication, understanding and time to heal. Symptoms are listed in the following article and clearly described. https://www.cumberlandheights.org/blogs/17-symptoms-of-ptsd. CPTSD is slightly more complex and still being researched at the current time.
This article is my understanding and experience with this illness. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg. To write about the symptoms and the consequences would be an immense task. How I work it out in my mind is to break it down:
- Complex – something which is compounded or multiplex.
- Post – after the fact.
- Traumatic – an event that is deeply disturbing or distressing
- Stress – a state of mental or emotional strain or tension because of adverse circumstance
- Disorder – an illness that disrupts normal physical or mental functions.
I can go back over my life and find occasions such as witnessing a friend’s death, being involved in a violent situation, or dealing with a terminal illness. I can recall and occasionally will dream about something awful which will remind me of these or similar events. When this does occur, it is always sad, and you feel completely drained from the emotions you are experiencing at the time. Does this mean I have PTSD? I don’t believe it does because it is a temporary situation that is not disrupting my ongoing day-to-day life. It is not life-threatening; it is a part of living, and if we give ourselves some time and understanding, the feelings will subside. However, suppose this becomes a regular occurrence. In that case, I implore you to question it and seek help as PTSD OR CPTSD manifests and can become debilitating.
Going back to my story, this young woman lives with the following: words, smells, or colours daily triggering memories of the events. Flashbacks, not only in dreams but in daily living, create a constant fear. This fear puts one’s body into a fight, flight or freeze state. More information and explanations are shown here.
When the fear is intense, the body is in a constant state of tension. Try to imagine the physical pain your body experiences when it is constantly on alert. Living like this every day creates a necessity to hide, or regress into oneself, to hibernate to remove oneself from society.
Living like this constantly hinders the person from feeling worthy of living. They lose self-esteem, self-confidence, the ability to socialise the ability to be motivated. They seek relief from the constant daily battle to survive. This relief comes in many forms. Isolation, alcohol abuse, self-medicating, physical self-harm, eating disorders, drug usage and many other methods of eradicating the pain. Once they secure a way of survival that eases their pain, the trauma is numbed, and relief is experienced. But then, mental and physical destruction is imminent. Now they must live with the ramifications of seeking this relief. These consequences can be short-term, but too often, they are long-term, varied with emotional and physical destruction. Often, the only way out is for them to remove themselves from society and the world. It is certainly not for me to say the destruction is worse than the trauma; that is for the individual to decide. Again, I state there is help and although it is hard, it can be worth the effort. I implore those who identify with this story; if they have not yet sought help, please seek assistance. You are worthy of our support. You deserve to live a life that is not filled with pain.
I implore all people to try to understand the depth of pain that cannot be seen on the outside. I ask everyone to develop a more accepting attitude and understanding of mental illness.
If you are suffering please reach out for help
Mental health line is 1800 011 511
If you cannot get through to the Mental Health Line, call:
- Lifeline13 11 14
- Kids Helpline1800 55 1800
- Suicide Call Back Services1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue1300 22 46 36
Mental health services and support contact list