Usually when I create blog posts or podcasts, I try to offer information & solutions. Today’s is a little different. Instead, I want to offer encouragement & validation.
Many strong people who have survived some awful things experience similar treatment from the people in their lives. Other people seem to think these people never need help either in the form of physical help (such as doing a physically challenging task) or emotional help (such as needing someone to listen after a stressful day). Also, they seem to think that the strong person is always up to being there for other people in any capacity at any time.
I think this happens because people think if you can survive serious traumas relatively well, then you can handle anything. They don’t take into consideration that although you survived traumas, they took a toll on you in the form of mental health problems, possibly even C-PTSD. You may not act out during flashbacks, you may get quiet like I do, so people don’t notice them, but they still happen. You may not tell people about your all too frequent nightmares, anxiety, depression or even suicidal thoughts, but it doesn’t mean those things aren’t still a constant presence in your life. Minimizing or trying to hide your memory problems & hyper-vigilance doesn’t make these issues any less serious, but it does make people think they aren’t a big deal to you. If something doesn’t appear to be a big deal to you then other people will assume that something isn’t a big deal. In fact, once people have established in their minds that your C-PTSD isn’t a big deal, you can forget getting understanding or sympathy for it. I have lost track of how many times people have invalidated, minimized, told me I think too negatively or even judged me for having C-PTSD because they didn’t get it from their abusive childhood. I am hardly a unique case. This happens all the time to many, many people.
Since many people are very visual, relying only on what is obvious & right in front of them when forming opinions, they will see you functioning well rather than seeing what is behind the scenes of a person with C-PTSD who just happens to be high functioning. They see you holding down a job, maintaining healthy relationships, & appearing mostly happy & assume this means all is well with you.
These often are the same people who think since you are clearly doing so well, then you should be there for everyone else. You should be the one to listen when someone needs to talk. You should be the one who checks in on others during their difficult times, or do what it takes to keep relationships afloat. They don’t realize that it is extremely tiring being everyone’s therapist & being responsible for maintaining the relationships in your life. One sided relationships are always exhausting, but are even more exhausting when you’re suffering too. Some people don’t see this though, & instead label you as selfish, thoughtless, inconsiderate & more for any lapse in your therapist & relationship maintenance duties.
Today, I have no advice on how best to deal with this situation. I wish I did, but this is one of those things I’ve never been able to find a good solution to. Instead, I want to offer validation & understanding to those of you reading this. I understand how frustrated & tired you are! I understand how alone you feel! It isn’t right that so much has been put on your shoulders while other people are excused from the same responsibilities! You have every right to be hurt or angry about this. This isn’t fair to you at all! My heart goes out to you & you are in my prayers! xoxo