The most well known symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance, exaggerated startle response, avoidance of triggers and dissociation. Less obvious, though, and possibly more pervasive are the effects that PTSD has on the ability to have healthy relationships.
People come to me when emotional pain, for whatever reason, has gotten to a point that it is interfering with daily life and is no longer tolerable. One of the most common questions they ask is "how do I make it stop?"
"I found myself curled up into the fetal position, crying. I don't understand where this came from. Am I crazy?"
"I'm falling apart at work. I get angry at the smallest things and snap at people. Sometimes I need to excuse myself from meetings because I get emotional. Am I crazy?"
"No one understands me. They say I'm too sensitive. I do seem to feel things deeper than other people do and I get hurt so easily. I don't understand why I can't snap out of it. Am I crazy?"
"Sometimes I feel like life has no meaning, no purpose. I want to be happy and be a better person but these thoughts keep coming up for me and it's making me miserable. Am I crazy?"
Childhood abuse happened in the past. Unfortunately the effects of abuse don't stay tucked in the past but rather invade your daily life in ways that you might not expect. Abuse is a perceived threat to one's safety and can be physical, emotional, verbal or sexual. When we think of abuse we usually think of physical or sexual acts, but emotional and verbal abuse can be just as devastating.
Ever wonder why you feel so sensitive? Why even the littlest thing sends you off on an emotional roller coaster? It may have something to do with how you grew up.
"Good morning, how are you?"
"Doing great, thanks! And you?"
It's our ritual. Say good morning, reply that everything is great and keep on moving. But is it really? When someone asks how you are doing, do they really want to know? Do you want to tell them?
You aren't broken.
Trauma and complex PTSD caused by sexual abuse and rape are underdiagnosed and often misdiagnosed as something else. That's because trauma from years ago can cause so many different problems in adult life, referred to as "symptoms", which don't always fit neatly into a diagnostic box. It has been estimated that of people who seek treatment for mental health problems, as many of 90% have an underlying trauma.