When You Have Bad C-PTSD Days

I think most of us who suffer with C-PTSD hide when we’re having bad days.  It can be scary to be vulnerable enough to let another person see how things really are, because people can be cruel.  There is never a good time to hear insensitive & invalidating comments of course, but on a bad C-PTSD day?  That is the absolute worst time.

Having a bad C-PTSD day, it is TOUGH!  I’ll explain how it goes for me.  Feel free to show this to anyone in your life that may need to understand your experiences with C-PTSD.

Often I wake up from a night of fitful sleep, too little sleep or a night full of nightmares.  The nightmares can be of reliving trauma or more often, something strange or unrelated to the trauma, yet stirs up the same emotions that traumatic events in my life did.  This leaves me exhausted, anxious, depressed & on high alert.

Before getting out of bed, I lay still, often with my eyes closed, trying to relax after a bad night.  I focus on my breathing to help me calm down, yet in spite of the effort, anxiety comes in waves.  I have to remind myself that I am safe, this is merely the C-PTSD doing what this disorder does.

Sometimes a few minutes, sometimes an hour later, I am able to get out of bed & start my day.  The anxiety & hyper-vigilence are still there, but a little better at least.  Usually I can function at this point, but some days, it’s about impossible.  Sometimes, I have panic attacks.  If you’ve never experienced one, count your blessings.  My chest gets incredibly tight, making me feel like I could be having a heart attack.  My breathing gets rapid & feels so strange.  I feel like when I’m inhaling, I should be exhaling & vice versa.  I end up breathing very shallow & fast until it eventually subsides, making me lightheaded.

Other times, flashbacks start.  Imagine trying to discern whether you’re in reality or somehow transported back in time to a traumatic event.  Fighting to make sure to stay in reality while dealing with the emotions of a traumatic event is a LOT of work!  As if the bad night’s sleep wasn’t enough to make me feel exhausted, this makes the exhaustion even worse.

Between the mental & physical exhaustion, being able to think or focus on tasks like a normal person seems impossible.  Even something simple as getting a drink can be difficult.  It can be hard to remember where the glasses are, decide if I want ice or not, & decide what do I want to drink.  Little things like this that most people take for granted become very daunting & challenging.  Often my moods are erratic but get moreso when these days happen.

All of these things are a real blow to the self-esteem.  I often think, “I’m so stupid for having C-PTSD!”  “Other people have been through worse, yet I have C-PTSD.  What’s wrong with me?!”  “Why am I not better than I am?!  I’ve dealt with this disorder for years!”  These thoughts leave me filled with even lower self-esteem than normal, ashamed of myself & doubting why I write about what I do, even considering quitting.  If I’m such a mess, how can I help anyone else, after all?

Eventually though, I return to normal, which is still not even close to what normal for most people is.  I am able to remember that C-PTSD is a terrible disorder.  Just because I have it also doesn’t mean I’m weak.  It means I’ve been through some terrible things.

If you experience similar days to mine, know you aren’t alone.  There are plenty of others who understand your struggles!  Pray.  Remind yourself of the things I mentioned.  Be understanding of yourself & always take good care of you!


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

6 responses to “When You Have Bad C-PTSD Days

  1. annealcroft

    Cynthia writes, “Fighting to make sure to stay in reality while dealing with the emotions of a traumatic event is a LOT of work! ….Between the mental & physical exhaustion, being able to think or focus on tasks like a normal person seems impossible. Even something simple as getting a drink can be difficult.”

    For those who struggle with C-PTSD, having this kind of understanding gives validation and helps us to be more compassionate toward ourselves and others, especially our abusers.

    One of the greatest challenges with C-PTSD is being able to identify when one of the “episodes” hits and we find our ability to function impaired, that that is a symptom of C-PTSD. “Spacing” out, making decisions, and the overwhelming anxiety that is the result of feeling as though you’re being squeezed out of your skin like a sausage brings about a paralysis that affects every aspect of our being.

    So very true, Cynthia, that the mental and physical exhaustion all of this brings about does make even small tasks seem impossible. And this creates a kind of frustration that brings about another layer to the healing process of learning to be patient with ourselves.

    One of my biggest C-PTSD challenges is chaos. Order, organization, and cleanliness have always been important priorities in order for me to function efficiently. But after repeated trauma over the years and as I developed C-PTSD, it became increasingly difficult for me to manage tasks mostly having to do with paper work, bills, records, etc., largely because of dissociation from years of living in exigent poverty and the financial anxiety of never having enough to pay bills; shut off notices, letters from creditors, etc.

    Some of this has to do with feelings of discomfort and homelessness — the anxiety of never feeling settled, “at home,” or safe; of unpacking baggage and packing it back up again, of deciding what to get rid of and what not to, of sometimes purging belongings associated with emotional baggage. Many things I regret selling or giving away now. But at the time, it was critical to clear the emotional energy from my life, and to free myself from every reminder of anything that represented the narcissist(s) in my life and the abuse that paralyzed my life in so many ways.

    Sometimes there are days it can take me 10 minutes just to put a dish away. There are other days, when I try to tackle the chaotic piles of papers, or the bathroom closet, or the garage, for example, the confusion and emotions are so overwhelming that I’m reduced to tears or more recently experience what may be vertigo. Most often the C-PTSD symptoms become acute because of a trigger, like having contact with or some reminder of the abuser.

    Prayer is always the antidote —- “patience with the changes that take time.” Especially during the night when sleep is interrupted, immediately saying the Lord’s Prayer alleviates the anxiety and raw, morbid feelings associated with C-PTSD. The Truth is, it’s all getting better, day by day, and as we trust our Loving God as Our Father, and no one else, we find that is the only key that works to unlocking the door to our true healing.

    This, from the Wisdom of Oswald Chambers, helps dodge the rabbit holes and to keep it all in a healthy perspective:

    “Keep yourself steadily faced by the judgment seat of Christ; walk now in the light of the holiest you know. A wrong temper of mind about another soul will end in the spirit of the devil, no matter how saintly you are. One carnal judgment, and the end of it is hell in you. Drag it to the light at once and say — “My God, I have been guilty there.” If you don’t, hardness will come all through. The penalty of sin is confirmation in sin. It is not only God who punishes for sin; sin confirms itself in the sinner and gives back full pay. No struggling nor praying will enable you to stop doing some things, and the penalty of sin is that gradually you get used to it and do not know that it is sin. No power save the incoming of the Holy Ghost can alter the inherent consequences of sin.”


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Goodness, I can relate to so much of what you said. The order, organization & cleanliness thing lately is really kicking in. I’ve always been about those things but got away from them. Getting back to them lately, especially with knowing is on my horizon, & it’s really getting serious. I have GOT to have those things now. I can’t help thinking it’s all related to my mother’s passing last April. Growing up, the house wasn’t organized or clean. It was a mess. Now that she’s gone I had to clean up her house & it seems to be overflowing into mine… time to clean out! Moving is a big motivator too of course though. It’s interesting the things that manifest from C-PTSD. At least this is one thing that isn’t so terrible. In fact, it’s helpful! The other symptoms I sure could live without! lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • annealcroft

      Yes! Taking your mother’s possessions into your “space” so soon after her passing must be overwhelming. There is a finality to sorting through our mother’s personal belongings that is traumatic especially when we experience her death as less than peaceful. Her belongings serve as relics with certain associations that we may not necessarily relish venerating.

      Another consideration for those of us living with C-PTSD and the prevailing sense of malaise that thwarts us day-to-day is something called “building biology” which has to do with the overall biology of a building. Much more to this than we might think! A good book on this subject is “House Thinking” by Winifred Gallagher. She talks about the history of a house, how it has been maintained, materials used, and all the things that can factor into whether or not the building is compatible with our own biology. Just like choosing a partner, to put it simply, it must have the right “vibe.”

      Then there is the practical reality of purging our lives of all that we can not take with us to eternity. Only what we absolutely need. And with that comes another reality we must embrace day by day which is awareness of our own mortality and constantly preparing ourselves for the grace of a happy death which is what our Savior came to prepare us for and really, the only way we can live; to always be aware of our mortality and grateful for the life God gives us to work out our salvation and keep our eyes on the prize of life eternal in Heaven. Something worth suffering for.


      • It absolutely can be overwhelming. I’ve kept some things that I don’t have any bad memories attached to & have some items in my home that I’m selling online. It’s weird. I feel like I’m doing something wrong. At first, that was overwhelming, but thank God, it’s much less prominent than it was at first!

        Oh cool! I’m not sure if you saw it or not, but I posted a while back about how hard it was for me being at my parents’ home & driving my mother’s car. God told me to talk to & pray over both. Oddly after doing that, I became ok with both the house & car. It’s like they now have a different “vibe.” I hope it doesn’t sound too new agey, because it’s really not. My mindset changed & I’ve become comfortable with both. Considering that, I certainly can believe what you’re talking about, regarding building biology. Items certainly can affect people with their vibe. In fact, when we move into hubby’s parents’ home, I plan to cleanse it. Not with a shaman & sage… doing the same thing I did with my parents’ home- pray over it & talk to it. I’ve done some, but think doing more once my sisters in-law have nothing to do with it will be much more effective.

        Yes!! to everything you said in your last paragraph! Ultimately the stuff isn’t important. No point in keeping tons. Not that I plan to sell everything & live in a 200 square foot tiny house but not having a ton of stuff is a good thing. Not as good as what waits for us when we die, but still a good thing. Compared to Heaven, nothing can measure up really! Anyway I also don’t want anyone who may have to deal with my stuff to wade through a ton of junk like hubby & I have with our parents. It’s a miserable task!

        Liked by 1 person

        • annealcroft

          The loss of a parent takes on a life of its own. Some people seem to be able to take this loss in stride, and get on with their busy lives, business as usual, more or less. Then there are those of us who find ourselves grieving the loss of the potential good we couldn’t always relate to because of our parent’s narcissism, which makes the association of property all the more complicated.

          Certain things, like the special sweaters my mother would wear at Christmas, which I still have, remind me of how adorable she could be, while at times, the same sweaters also remind me of all of the dysfunction at Christmastime that would take a missive to begin to describe and I’ll bet there are plenty of us who can relate!

          Prayer is so important in this process and you were very wise, Cynthia, to pray about all things having to do with the association of parents and property or I should say —- PARENTS’ PROPERTY!!!

          Building biology is worth learning about and also the spiritual aspects of demonic possession and spiritual warfare that may be associated with objects and buildings. It is essential for us to “cleanse” our homes and even to have a priest or deacon come to our home to bless it.

          After seeking religious support when I realized that I was up against demonic forces with my father as a result of his malignant narcissism, I learned tools for protecting my self and property through prayer and also “industrial strength” holy water (a sacramental of the Catholic Church) that has been consecrated for use in exorcisms. This has helped a great deal. In every room of my home I keep a Crucifix and an image of the Blessed Mother and Christ Child.

          During this Holy Season especially, I am becoming more profoundly aware of the need to embrace, wholeheartedly, the words of Jesus Christ: “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” -Matthew 10:37-38

          Not only are His words sobering, but He is liberating us from the chains of oppression that He knows keep us bound and attached to that which robs us of our zeal for holiness. We can not serve two masters.

          The more determined I become to live by His teachings, the more His Truth sets me free to let go of the baggage and to realize a greater sense of spiritual maturity; letting go of that which we can not bring with us to eternity.


          • Oh yes! Losing a parent is truly something that takes on a life of its own. I’ve noticed with those of us with narcissistic parents, the death affects everyone so individually & it seems to me only others who have lost a narcissistic parent can understand it. I was talking with a lady recently who was no contact with her mother & just learned she died in January. She said she felt nothing other than free & safe. People she knows don’t believe it & keep saying she should feel sad. Meanwhile, my mother’s death devastated me & some act like there’s something wrong with me..after all, we were no contact, why would I care she died, yanno? It’s just such a bizarre place to be in so many ways!

            Strange isn’t it? One thing that I feel like I will never comprehend is how a human can be so good yet also so terrible. Your mother’s Christmas sweaters are a prime example of it.

            Thank you.. I never would have thought of talking to those items & thank God for helping me to do so. Years back, He also showed me it’s a good idea to pray over & bless my home. I felt like the energy in the house changed after toxic people were in it & praying over it changed that. I never told anyone about it but a couple of people, including my narcissistic father, mentioned periodically how my home was such a nice, comfortable place.

            I’ll look into building biology. Thanks so much for mentioning it!

            Good for you! You are so right, we do need to fully embrace His words. No one & nothing can come before Him!


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