What NOT To Say To Someone With C-PTSD

Many people tell those of us with C-PTSD some pretty stupid, insensitive & even invalidating comments about our disorder.  It’s utterly frustrating how people can say things like these & think it’s ok or even that they’re being supportive.  It’s also frustrating how sometimes when these things are said to us, thanks to our disorder, we can’t think of what to tell these people about why this is a bad thing to say.

Below are some frequently used comments & retorts to them.  Feel free to share this post with anyone who you think can benefit from reading this.

“I know how you feel!”  I don’t think so.  C-PTSD is a very weird & painful disorder.  You can feel like you’re going crazy when symptoms flare up.  You also can be suicidal.  Even two people with C-PTSD can experience their symptoms differently.

“I think a lot too.”  Really?  You think that’s what C-PTSD is?  No.  There is a big difference between the average person thinking a lot & C-PTSD.  When a person is “always thinking”, they can control it at least to some degree.  Good luck doing that with the thoughts that come with C-PTSD.  There are ruminating thoughts which are thoughts that play over & over again.  There are also intrusive thoughts, which come to mind at any time, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.  We also can’t forget hyper-vigilance, which is being completely focused on one’s surroundings in an attempt to spot any hint of danger to our physical or mental health.  These things are awful & often impossible to control.

“Everyone has nightmares!”  True.  Everyone does have nightmares.  Not everyone has nightmares nightly or almost nightly, often even multiple times in a night.  Not everyone wakes up in a blind panic from a nightmare, either.  Not everyone has nightmares about utterly bizarre things that stir up similar emotions to the traumatic events they have survived.

“You need to stop thinking about the past.”  Well, thank you for that insight.  I never thought about that!  *sigh*  Those of us with C-PTSD want to stop thinking about the past, but our brains won’t let us!

“Everyone has flashes of bad memories.”  Flashbacks are so much more than that.  They’re bad memories that feel like they’re happening all over again.  They can make it very hard to discern between the memory & reality.

“Think happy thoughts!”  “Be more positive!”  C-PTSD isn’t about thinking too negatively.  It’s an actual mental disorder.  Our brains were broken due to the traumas we survived.  The damage means we can’t control our thoughts like someone without C-PTSD can.

“You need to see a counselor!”  It’s not that easy!  Not all counselors understand C-PTSD.  Also, not all counselors understand the best ways to treat people who have suffered through trauma, period, let alone multiple traumas.  There is also the fact that many of us have tried counseling, only to find some counselors are as toxic as the people who abused us in the first place, so we have a strong lack of trust in those in the mental health field.

“You just need to take a pill.”  Also not that easy.  Do you have any idea how many anti-anxiety & anti-depressants there are available?!  I don’t but I do know that it’s a lot!  There are also varying classes & strengths of these medications.  Most also take at least about two weeks to start working, so you may take something for a long time before seeing any changes, good or bad.  Finding the right dose of the right medication can be a very long, frustrating task.

“It’s all in your head!”  Well, C-PTSD is a mental disorder.  Where else would it be?

“You can’t have C-PTSD!  You weren’t in the military!”  Maybe not, but C-PTSD doesn’t discriminate.  It can happen to anyone exposed to any traumas for an extended period of time.  While it happens to many prisoners of war, it also happens to those who survived child abuse or domestic violence.

I hope this post helps you to have a good response the next time someone invalidates your experiences with C-PTSD.  xoxo


Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health, Narcissism

18 responses to “What NOT To Say To Someone With C-PTSD

  1. I can relate to what you say! Some people don’t believe that I have CPTSD because like you say, I wasn’t in the army or in an accident. They believe I feel sorry for myself and I should stop thinking about the past. I am able to control my symptoms better but a recent event brought it all back again. I wish people would be more understanding and less opinionated.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Crazy isn’t it, how people think? It’s insulting too. They shouldn’t judge, but they should instead be mad that people were so cruel as to make us develop C-PTSD. Seems though that so many people believe their opinions are so valuable they must be shared, no matter what. Just ridiculous!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful post! I have been told ALL of these things! Oddly, I am laughing. My favorite is “It’s all in your head!” Well, C-PTSD is a mental disorder. Where else would it be?” AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Sometimes folks really do have good intentions when they say these things. I have found using the “cult” analogy to be the most effective with the few kindhearted people in my life.

    The well-intentioned, kindhearted usually offer pop-culture advice like, “find your joy” or “live your best life”. And now, to them I have found the words to say, “Yes, but it was like I was in a cult. And right now I am just trying to deprogram from that. And it’s just going to take some time. I don’t know who I am. Maybe things like “finding joy” will come later.”

    If the people are truly friends, they will actually get that. It’s seems to have clicked with those in my life. They will back off.

    The sad part is they will tend to back WAY OFF.

    But that is okay as well. The prophet and truth-teller is never welcome in his own town.

    We need to only look to God as we learn to trust ourselves again.

    On a personal note – I am speaking of two of my cousins who it turns out had always looked up to me as a sort of beacon of hope. When my narc mother re-entered my life and drained me, they were sad. One of them told me that their thought was, “If he has lost his “joy””, then what hope do we have? I am sad that I let them down.

    Liked by 3 people

    • LOL Well, seriously.. “it’s all in your head” may be the stupidest comment a person can say about C-PTSD! Not like it’s in the kidneys or lungs.. it’s a MENTAL disorder! My word! lol

      That is great your cult analogy clicked with people! Anything that makes it click is a good thing, in my opinion, since not everyone is even open to “clicking”. I understand about the backing way off thing. I’ve experienced the same. Some don’t get C-PTSD at all & think it’s a sign of weakness or not thinking positively enough & I suppose I’m too “weak” & “negative” for them. I thought of it as the trash taking itself out when they walked away.

      Funny you mention that about the prophet & truth teller.. I mentioned that to someone else recently… may have even been in the comments on my blog, I can’t remember. It’s so very true though!

      You didn’t let your cousins down! Let them learn from your experiences, good & bad. People respond to the real people, so if you admit your mother re-entering your life wasn’t the best idea, they’ll respect you & learn. I’ve noticed here when I write about mistakes I made, my blog suddenly gets more followers right after that post comes out. Otherwise it grows more slowly. With so much fake in the world, I think people are very hungry for what’s real & respond well to those who are willing to admit their mistakes, bad choices & otherwise “negative” things.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Narcissists know we have we have everything. Especially if we know Christ. They are jealous and thirsty. They just want to steal and take.

        Liked by 1 person

        • So true! Reminds me of “The devil comes to steal, kill & destroy..”

          God told me something the other night that I found interesting. I need to pray more about it before I can write much but anyway I found it extremely interesting.. He said, “To narcissists, obedience + fear = respect.” That made so much sense to me. I remember my mother demanding me to respect her, but respect to her meant my blind obedience to her. I thought that is so true of overt narcissists, when He said it goes for coverts, too. They may not use physical intimidation & screaming, but they use guilt & acting disappointed to force victims to obey & fear them. Makes SOOOOO much sense doesn’t it?

          Liked by 2 people

          • Yes! It makes so much sense! Narcissists demand blind obedience.

            I keep going back to the Hollywood Star analogy. They decided at young age that they were the Stars. They decided that they deserved special treatment at all times. IF they bothered to have children, they fully expected their children to get into formation and support them as STARS,

            IF the child fell out of line – like having thoughts of it’s own – then the best thing to do was to use “Obedience + fear” on that child.

            Shame and guilt and whatever other means necessary to “break” that child.
            To get that child back into “formation”

            Liked by 1 person

  3. And then there are the people who believe that you can’t really be a true Christian if you have any kind of PTSD, because if you really were born again, you would have nothing but peace, joy, love, and faith running through your mind, all the time.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes!!! I have Christians in my life that view me as a “kook” for being willing to show weakness or even entertain the idea of fallibility. I don’t want to sound judgmental, and I do respect them for trying to be faithful, but I think so many of the churches today are filled with narcissistic tendencies. The are more worried about presentation.

      I sought out church as a young man, and even worked for the Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN). I had to walk away because I had homosexual tendencies, and in the 90s, gays were the ultimate boogeyman. Imagine my surprise when it was revealed a decade later that Paul Crouch, the founder of the network, had homosexual trysts and paid hush money to keep it quiet. I often think about how different it would have been had he been honest at that time and told the truth. That yes, he had these feelings, but he thought it more important to stay married to the wife of his youth and raise his children.

      Image is way too important in Christian circles imho.

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes!! The televangelist Kenneth Copeland actually spoke on that years ago. He said no one who is truly saved can have PTSD. Yea, nice… makes NO sense!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Allegory Journey

    Great post! PTSD & C-PTSD have similar symptoms and they also vary. I have PTSD and can relate to this on so many levels. People just don’t get that it can be any traumatic event. I was in the military when mine occurred but I was not in combat. People get that confused all the time. I wish they would educate themselves more before they speak. I have a hard time explaining verbally or having come backs to jerks but when I write I get to let it all out! #youarenotalone


    • Thank you!

      I know! I’ve been asked if I was in the military when mentioning having C-PTSD. No & that doesn’t mean it’s not real. Any traumatic event(s), like you said, can cause PTSD & C-PTSD.

      lol Having jerk-ready comebacks isn’t always easy. I envy those who are good at it!

      Writing is so cathartic & healing isn’t it? ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Allegory Journey

        I’m not real sure where in the heck everyone got its only a combat related disorder. Uneducated people I guess trying to be right about everything. 🤷🏻‍♀️

        Writing publicly takes some getting use to after remaining quite for so long because of things that are said to me when I do voice what is going on. Still don’t really get out much unless its something for my kids and I’m always super nervous when I post a new blog about my journey. It’s a love hate relationship still but nice to get back to writing which Ive done since I was little. ❤️


        • The only thing I can figure & I don’t know how accurate this is, is maybe because combat related PTSD is more openly discussed than PTSD stemming from domestic violence, child abuse, etc. Of course too, uneducated people do like to be right about everything, too, as you said.

          Writing publicly DEFINITELY takes some getting used to, doesn’t it? I still have times of being very anxious about it & I’ve been doing this for 8 years. It has improved dramatically, so those times are rare at least.

          Good for you getting back to writing!! That is a wonderful thing, resuming something you loved but got away from. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

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