Tag Archives: flashbacks

Types Of Flashbacks & How To Cope

I would guess about everyone has heard of flashbacks, but I don’t think all that many people realize there are different types of flashbacks.  This post is going to explain them.

The first flashback is the type everyone knows.  It’s where the person having the flashback feels as if they are reliving a traumatic event.  It’s much like you’re watching a movie in your mind, but it seems so real, it can be very hard to differentiate between reality & the flashback as it’s happening.

There are also emotional flashbacks.  Instead of feeling as if you’re reliving a traumatic event, you feel the emotions of a traumatic event flooding back to you.  Something seemingly unrelated can trigger this, such as someone using a phrase your abuser used during the traumatic event or speaking to you in a similar manner to your abuser.

Both types of flashbacks also can trigger a sort of body flashback where you feel physical pain that you felt during a traumatic event.  As an example, I’ve told the story before of how my mother threw me into a wall when I was 19.  I had back pain for 10 years after that, then God healed me.  Although God healed me over 18 years ago at this time I’m writing this, if I have a flashback of the night that happened, or sometimes if I just think about it, my back starts to hurt.

Having had all three types of flashbacks, I’ve learned some ways to cope with them that help me, & I hope will help you too.

During the flashback, I find it extremely important to keep myself grounded.  People do all kinds of things to make that happen.  Some clap their hands loudly, stomp their feet hard or hold an ice cube.  I prefer touching something with either a very coarse or very soft texture.  Smelling something with a strong scent is helpful too, such as lavender essential oil.  A bonus of lavender is it has anti-anxiety properties to it, so not only does it smell lovely but it helps calm you naturally.  I actually keep a small vial of lavender essential oil near me at all times just in case I need it.  Whatever you choose to do, it needs to be something that basically “assaults” your senses to override the flashback & keep you grounded in reality.

It’s also a very good idea to remind yourself that this is only a flashback.  It isn’t real.  There is nothing that can hurt you happening right now.  You’re completely safe.

Also try not to focus on anything else as the flashback is happening.  Instead, focus only on getting yourself through it.  Nothing else.

Once the flashback has subsided, chances are you’re going to feel tired.  They take a lot of energy, physically & emotionally.  That is totally normal.  Try to take it easy if you can, & get some rest.

When you have recovered & feel able, I really recommend thinking about the topic of your flashback.  If it was reliving a traumatic event, what was the event about?  If it was an emotional one, do you know why this flashback was triggered?  What happened that made you feel the way this event did?

From there, you can begin to deal with the event however works best for you.  Pray, journal, talk to a close friend, a pastor or therapist or a combination of these things.  Don’t forget to really feel the emotions connected to this event.  You’re allowed to cry or get angry about it!  In fact, you need to do so.  Feeling the emotions will help to get the out of you & help you to heal.

A wonderful thing will happen as you heal from this painful & traumatic event.  It will lose much of its power over you.  It won’t hurt so much to remember it anymore, & it’s likely you won’t have a flashback about that particular event again.

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About Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

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Purging Of Repressed Emotions

Since I have been no contact with my parents, strange but good things have been happening.  One of those things is God has helped me to get in touch with the negative emotions I had stuffed inside for years.

 

I’ve had a lot of nightmares, repressed memories & flashbacks to deal with, especially in the last few months.  While it hasn’t been fun by any stretch, it’s been a very good thing.  I’ve been able to remember things I hadn’t thought of in a long time, then deal with them.  This has enabled me to make great strides in healing.  I feel freer & even physically lighter, as odd as that may sound.  I feel cleansed of things I didn’t even realized I needed cleansing from.

 

I can’t help but thinking that this is happening as a result of going no contact.  I noticed this has happened to me after being no contact with my parents for several months & also years before after going no contact with my narcissistic mother in-law & sisters in-law.

 

When you’re in a relationship with a narcissist- be they your parent, sibling, spouse or anyone- so much of your thinking is taken up by that person.  Either you’re trying to find ways to appease her to avoid her rage, or survive the relationship with your sanity in tact.  Either way, you simply don’t have time to cope with the constant wounds inflicted on you by her abuse.  You’re functioning in survival mode.

 

Once the narcissist is out of your life, it takes some time for your mind to feel safe enough to stop functioning in survival mode.  When it does though, finally, it seems to demand that you work on all those issues you weren’t able to face due to constant trauma.

 

If you too are faced with nightmares, flashbacks &/or repressed memories after going no contact, please don’t panic, Dear Reader.  Your brain may be doing as mine has done- it stopped functioning in survival mode & wants to be healed.  I would suggest going with it.  Work on your healing from narcissistic abuse however helps you.  Pray.  See a therapist.  Whatever works for you.  After all, maybe one of the reasons for you being out of that toxic relationship is so you can heal.

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What Can Happen To You After Going No Contact

Going no contact with a narcissistic parent (or two) is an incredibly difficult thing to do.  It takes a tremendous amount of prayer, thought, discussion & energy to make that decision.  Chances are you feel peace about your decision even though it hurts things came to this.  You read about the smear campaign & flying monkeys, so you feel prepared, but the truth is, you aren’t.  Other things can happen that no one warns you about.

 

One of the other things is the incredible influx of memories, nightmares & even flashbacks that happen.

 

I functioned my entire life with my parents in survival mode.  It wasn’t until they were out of my life for almost one year (this past May 5) that survival mode finally stopped.  I finally felt safe enough to let my guard down, not worry that at anytime they may show up at my home, may call or I may see them in a public place.  It was as if a weight had been lifted off my shoulders!  At least until the nightmares, repressed memories & flashbacks started.

 

While I’ve experienced them all for many years, the sheer amount was shocking.  It seemed like I couldn’t go a day without something happening, often a few times a day, & frankly, it was overwhelming & scary at first.  Upon praying about it, God spoke to my heart saying I no longer have my parents in my life demanding so much of my attention & focus, so now is the time to heal.  When memories came up, or nightmares or flashbacks happened, pray, & He would enable me to heal.  He truly has!!

 

Each time something happens, I pray about it.  I feel the anger or hurt, & tell God about it.  I often journal about it too, because something about seeing things in writing is so validating.  It’s a good reminder that I didn’t deserve the things that happened to me & that none of it was my fault, as I was told.

 

Doing such things has brought me a tremendous amount of healing in a short time!  Yes, it’s been difficult, but I’ve been through much more difficult things.  And, as a bonus, at least these difficulties have a purpose- to help me to heal.  Thankfully, things have slowed down quite a bit.  I can go a couple of days without a nightmare, repressed memory or flashback.

 

If this happens to you too after going no contact with your parents, Dear Reader, don’t be surprised.  In fact, I would encourage you to go with it.  This may be a time of great healing for you.  If it happens, I would recommend you start by praying.  I don’t even know why I didn’t pray as soon as things began to happen, but it was a mistake on my part.  As soon as I did pray though, my healing started to make real progress.  I’m sure yours will too!  All you have to do is trust God & work with Him however He suggests.

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The Difference Between Flashbacks & Repressed Memories

Not everyone realizes the differences between flashbacks & repressed memories returning, so I thought today I would explain them.

 

Repressed memories are memories of events so traumatic, you were unable to deal with them at the time they happened.  To cope, almost immediately, you unconsciously pushed it to the dark recesses of your mind, & forgot about it.  Then some time later (could be months, could be years later), something triggered a reminder of the event.  The trigger could be anything- a facial expression, a scent, the sight of something that resembles an item that was there when the event happened or a sound.  When the trigger forces the memory back to your conscious mind, suddenly you remember what happened.  It feels the same as remembering anything else you forgot in the sense that you are well aware it is simply a memory.

 

Flashbacks are quite different.  Flashbacks aren’t necessarily something you forgot.  You may or may not remember the event before the flashback.  The main difference between repressed memories & flashbacks is flashbacks feel like you’re reliving the event.  For me, this is what makes flashbacks so much worse than repressed memories- the feeling of reliving a traumatic event while trying to stay in reality.  Flashbacks can be triggered by something, such as the soldier who has flashbacks when he hears fireworks, but sometimes they simply happen without an obvious trigger.  Also different than repressed memories are the physical symptoms that can accompany flashbacks, such as elevated blood pressure, increased heart rate, sweating or chills, & trembling.  My husband has seen me have flashbacks many times, & even so, he can’t always tell when it happens.  I tend to get very quiet & still.  Sometimes I cry, sometimes not.  Flashbacks aren’t always obvious to those witnessing someone have them.  Not everyone having a flashback is vocal or shows obvious physical signs when they happen.

 

If you’re having a flashback, it is vital for you to know how to ground yourself so you stay in reality rather than get lost in the awful memory, which obviously is different than having a repressed memory return to the forefront of your mind.  Grounding techniques basically assault your senses, which forces your mind to focus on them instead of the flashback.  Touching something with an extreme texture such as a soft fuzzy blanket, silk or even burlap can help.  Some people swear by holding ice cubes or stomping their feet hard on the ground.  Smelling something with a strong scent can help too.  Lavender is good because not only is it strong, it has anti-anxiety properties.  A strongly scented cologne, perfume or soap can help.

 

I’ve found that pets can be very helpful while having a flashback, even if they aren’t specifically trained to be service animals.  While taking my cat, Sabrina, to the vet when she was a baby, I drove us past a place I used to work when I was a teenager.  Looking at the building, I immediately had a flashback to a time when my mother screamed at & berated me in the parking lot.  (Thankfully, I was stopping at a red light when it began- I can’t imagine having to deal with a flashback while driving!)  As I sat there & tried to ground myself, Sabrina reached over & scratched my hand.  Not bad, but it was enough to jolt me out of the flashback.  She’s never scratched me before or since, but I’m grateful she did that day. Her brother, Zippy, will get in my face & head bonk me to get my attention.  Neither are trained service animals, but they instinctively know what their mommy needs.

 

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Sensory Flashbacks

The last few days, my C-PTSD has been flaring up.  I’m not entirely sure why.  I’ve been especially moody, anxious, depressed, & having more nightmares than usual.  Then last night, I had a very odd experience.

My husband & I were lying in bed, watching tv.  He was starting to nod off, &  I was relaxed, hoping to go to sleep soon, when suddenly I smelled coconut.  Immediately, an ex boyfriend of mine came to mind, as he used coconut scented air freshener in his car & I felt extremely anxious, almost to the point of having a panic attack.

A little background on this boyfriend.. I dated him in 1990, when I was 19 & he was 28.  I wasn’t in love with him, yet he told me I would marry him (no proposal, just a command) & we’d have lots of kids (another command).  He was controlling, jealous & angered easily.  I was not happy in this relationship at all & spent most of our short time together anxious, miserable & trying to avoid his anger.  The night I broke up with him, he spend hours screaming at me, telling me how stupid I was, how great he was & how much I’d regret leaving him.  Fast forward to January, 2014.  I read on my county police’s facebook page that he shot & killed his boyfriend, then himself.  I had no clue he was gay or capable of murder.  It was very traumatic when I realized the kind of person he was & how utterly clueless I was to that. Even looking back, I don’t recall any signs of him being gay or that dangerous.

So back to last night…

As I lay there, smelling coconut, it quickly turned into an actual emotional flashback.  I felt like I was 19 again, back in his home & full of anxiety.  No specific event played out in the flashback, only the awful emotions that were a daily part of our relationship.  Eventually it passed & I was fine, just tired & emotionally drained.  I went to sleep a little while after this.

This morning I prayed about it & the term “sensory flashback” popped into my mind.  I did some research online & found very few details.  At least what I found was somewhat helpful.  Sensory flashbacks involve the senses, such as feeling someone is touching you when no one is.  They are not very different than the typical type of flashback in that you feel like you’re reliving a traumatic experience.  Last night, I had a hard time telling reality from flashback, just like during a typical flashback.

Dealing with a sensory flashback seems to be about the same as dealing with other flashbacks.  You need to ground yourself- touch something, smell something, taste something.  Something that is strong to the senses helps to keep you grounded- hold an ice cube, smell lavender, taste a little lemon juice.  Something that basically “assaults” your senses will help you to stay grounded.

Focus on deep, slow breaths to help you to avoid hyperventilating.

If this happens while you are away from home, try to find somewhere safe to work through it.

Don’t beat yourself up for this.  Many people have flashbacks.  It happens sometimes when exposed to trauma.

Be understanding & gentle with yourself.  Flashbacks can leave you feeling very tired & drained for a couple of days.

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Who Am I After Trauma?

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been having some really rough C-PTSD times lately.  The last few days, it’s been a lot better, thankfully.  Going through the rough times lately have gotten me to thinking.  I realized I’ve changed a lot since May, 2012 when the C-PTSD became full blown, but I hadn’t really thought about it until a few days ago when I realized I’ve been berating myself rather than accepting myself or trying to discover who I am post-trauma.

There are plenty of books & online counselors on  the topic of discovering your post trauma identity.  Obviously there is a need for such knowledge- trauma certainly changes you, like it or not.  I haven’t ready any of those books yet or spoken to a counselor, so I’m just starting to learn about & pray about this topic.  I hope & pray these things I’ve learned so far will help you as they are starting to help me..

I’m seeing that I need to learn to accept the fact I have C-PTSD, & its ugly symptoms without judgment.  I keep beating myself up about being so “weak” as to have C-PTSD.  You see, I’ve always been very strong.  In fact, when I had my first nervous breakdown at age 19, I went to work the next day.  I was catatonic for 5 hours that night, had no sleep at all, yet went into work the next morning as if nothing happened. I survived awful abuse, then went on to school, & no one had any idea what had just happened to me.  It seemed like nothing could affect me for long, until C-PTSD came along.  Now?  Let my kitchen sink clog up or me have any small change in my routine, & I’m in a state of panic.  It’s beyond frustrating!  I’m trying to remember some things.  First, C-PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness- it’s a sign of having survived some pretty terrible traumas.  Second, C-PTSD is a terrible, life-changing, even potentially life threatening disorder.  It’s not something one can control, so its symptoms are going to rear their ugly heads, including the lack of ability to cope well with about anything, crying at the drop of a hat, anxiety attacks, etc.  Third, I wouldn’t judge anyone else with C-PTSD.  In fact, I have friends with it, & have not once thought they were weak, stupid, useless, etc., so I need to extend that same kindness to myself. Fourth, I need to take better care of myself when the symptoms flare up. It’s ok to take a day off to relax after a particularly nasty flashback, for example.  And, I also need to be more aware of what makes my symptoms worse, what triggers I have, & be more understanding of myself regarding them.  They’re a normal part of this disorder, & nothing to be ashamed of.

I need to accept the fact that trauma changes a person’s brain, especially repeated, ongoing trauma like I have experienced.  Like it or not, it’s a fact.  Basically, PTSD & C-PTSD are brain injuries.  Brain injuries can make drastic changes in a person!  I’ve become very forgetful, very emotional, moody & a lot of times I have trouble finding the right words I need.  All are symptoms of C-PTSD & nothing to be ashamed of.

I need to accept changes that have happened to me since C-PTSD.  I don’t laugh as easily as I once did. I still have a sense of humor, but I’m a lot more serious than I used to be.  I’ve always been an avid bookworm, but now, reading a book overwhelms my brain very easily, which made me lose interest in reading.  Reading on my tablet is easier, but I still can feel overwhelmed sometimes.  I’ve lost most interest in my favorite hobbies- knitting & crocheting.  Writing has become very difficult on most days for me.  I don’t know it these things will ever come back.  Hopefully they will, or maybe even be replaced by other interesting things that I can enjoy just as much.

I also need to accept the fact I need to ask God for help with the simple things much more often than I used to.  Thankfully, God doesn’t mind helping, & in fact, wants to help.  However, I still feel weird about asking Him to help me remember to do something or help in accomplishing something simple because I’ve forgotten how to do it.  Thank God He is patient & understanding!  He has not once made me feel as if I need to do something on my own or not bother Him with my silly requests.

I’m certain there is much more to add to this list, but so far this is what God’s been showing me about handling my post-trauma identity.  I hope it helps you as well!  xoxo

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A Long Week In A Life With C-PTSD

It’s been almost three years since almost all of the symptoms of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder manifested in my life, but I’m still learning about them & how to manage them.  It’s a daily battle.

This past week has been a rough one.  I’m not sure why, but the C-PTSD has been flaring up really badly.  Nothing happened to trigger it, although I did have a flashback a few days into this flare.  I haven’t discussed what’s happening much with anyone, not even my husband.  For one thing, when it flares up, I need to get a grasp on what is happening.  My thinking changes so much, & sometimes it takes a lot for me to recognize it’s the disorder, not me thinking that. For example, I’ve been ashamed of this flare up.  I’ve been feeling weak & angry at myself for being so weak.  Normally, I accept C-PTSD as the reaction to some very bad things that I’ve been through, but flare ups change that in me.

This morning, I was in an especially foul mood, & my husband & I talked about it.  I finally opened up to some of what has been going on with me this week  He suggested that since I’ve promised to keep my blog real, that I write about it, & hopefully someone who reads this will benefit from it.

Reading about the symptoms of C-PTSD on clinical sounding websites & living them are two very different things.  Reading about them, they sound bad enough, but living them?  Yikes.  And, you rarely see detailed descriptions of the more odd symptoms.  I thought I’d share some of the symptoms you don’t read much (if anything) about that I’ve experienced this week, so if you too experience them, you’ll know you aren’t crazy!

Lately, I’ve had more nightmares than usual.  Not even nightmares about traumatic events I’ve been through- nightmares about stupid things, such as an empty school bus parked beside my car catching fire.  I knew I couldn’t move my car for some reason, & was afraid it was going to burn with the bus.  Make any sense to you?  Yea, me neither.. lol  One night, I woke up every 15-30 minutes all night long, mostly from nightmares, most of which I didn’t even remember, but I woke up panicky.  The few I did remember though had absolutely nothing to do with the traumas I’ve experienced.  When I first read about C-PTSD, I assumed when it said nightmares happen, it was nightmares about the traumas.  Not necessarily.. I have them too sometimes, but usually not.  The nightmares are usually odd but disturbing.

My thinking has been extremely negative.  I try to be positive yet realistic, but this week, that hasn’t happened.  I’ve been beating myself up about anything & everything possible.  I’m weak, stupid, cowardly, useless, ugly, nothing but a burden to my husband.. you get the idea.  Growing up with a narcissistic mother, I used to do that all the time, but over the last probably 10-15 years or so, had gotten much better about not doing that.  When the C-PTSD flares up, though, that old habit comes back with a vengeance.

I feel like I’ve remembered every single time someone has told me something invalidating about having C-PTSD & it hurts.  I’ve thought of so many times when people have told me to “get over it,” “stop using C-PTSD to get pity/attention,” “stop living in the past”, “stop being so negative- you need to be more positive.”  or even simply showed they don’t care when the symptoms are bothering me.   Why these stupid comments pop into my mind, I have no idea..

My thinking has been very sluggish.  I haven’t caught on to hubby’s jokes, which is very abnormal for me since we share the same warped sense of humor.  Following a simple TV show or movie has been rather difficult too.  And, I encountered a narcissist, yet failed to recognize the signs I normally wouldn’t have missed.  Once they were pointed out to me is when I caught on.  UGH!

I’ve been getting very angry very easily.  It seems like anything & everything pushes my buttons.  While trying to put fresh sheets on my bed this morning, I got mad at one of my cats for getting in my way.  WHY?!  She does this every single time I change sheets.  It’s nothing new.  But for some reason this morning, this made me so angry.  I didn’t scold her, since this is a normal part of her routine, but I really wanted to for a minute there.

I’ve been extremely depressed.  I’ve always battled depression, & for years, I was fortunate enough to find ways to keep it under control.  I even wrote a book about that, called, “Baptism Of Joy.”  My first book!  Then when the C-PTSD kicked in in May, 2012, that changed.  While I’m not depressed all of the time, I once again spend quite a bit of time depressed, & this time, the usual things that once helped me to feel better don’t work nearly so often.

I’ve also been extremely anxious & unable to pinpoint why exactly.  Above & beyond the normal anxiety & hyper-vigilance that come with C-PTSD, I mean.  I’ve woken up having panic attacks several times lately.  Not a nice way to wake up!

I’ve wondered if I’m going crazy.  Definitely not a nice way to feel, especially since I spent so much time feeling this way when I was growing up  with my mother who often told me “you need help” (implying I was in need of psychological help, yet she wouldn’t take me to a therapist) & with an ex-husband who was very good at gaslighting.

I’m dissociating a lot more than normal.  I feel so spacey most of the time.  This also means I have very little focus.  Writing in this blog has been a very big challenge this week!  Honestly, when I’ve written my entries, I’ve been very unsure about how they sounded, then published them, just praying they made sense.

To try to manage these symptoms,I’ve been spending time listening to music I love, which means many songs I grew up with in the 70’s-80’s, some country & some classic & hard rock.  I’ve also been spending time with God, not even necessarily praying- just sitting in His presence.  It’s very restorative & grounding.

C-PTSD is an absolutely evil, devastating disorder.  If you live with it too, I understand what you’re going through!  You may or may not have the odd symptoms I’ve been experiencing this week (I pray you don’t!), but if you do, please know you’re not alone, nor are you crazy!  In spite of how it feels, you are a normal person who had a normal reaction to an abnormal amount of trauma!  That is what C-PTSD is- a normal response to an abnormal amount of trauma.  It isn’t a sign of weakness, low intelligence, flaws in one’s character, or poor thinking such as living in the past or being negative.

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Ranting & Raving.. (revised)

Good morning, Dear Readers!

Well, it isn’t really a good morning for me.  I really do want to keep my posts as encouraging & as positive as I can, but I also promised you readers that I would also be real.  That means some posts won’t be all happy & positive.  This post is going to be one of those.  In fact, I was going to write it only in my journal, but I felt I should write it in here.  Maybe someone needs to read this today.  It’ll probably be pretty long, longer than normal at least, so get yourself comfortable if you want to read this.. lol

The last few days have been really rough, & the C-PTSD is flaring up badly as of yesterday.  My head is simply swimming.  To start with, our little American Eskimo dog, Dixie, has been sick.  Thankfully, she is well on her way to recovery now, but not recognizing her symptoms at first terrified me.  My pets are like my children, so  when they are sick, I get extremely concerned.  Then my husband’s mother went into the hospital a couple of days ago.  I’m not sure she didn’t put herself there for attention, to be completely honest about it.  It wouldn’t be the first time she’s done that.  I think it was last year just before Christmas my husband told me she said that she quit taking her meds for a few days prior to going into the hospital.  Yep, I love narcissists.. NOT.  *sigh*

And, as the icing on this crappy cake, my husband & I saw my parents yesterday.

Recently, my parents bought a new chair.  Once it was delivered, my mother decided she didn’t like it, & wanted to exchange it for another one.  She called to ask if my husband would mind picking it up with his truck, as she didn’t want to pay another $80 delivery charge.  He said he’d be fine with doing it Saturday (yesterday).  So Friday, I said I should call her to be sure of what time to meet my parents at the furniture store.  He volunteered to make the call instead, which was fine with me at the time.  Now, I’m not happy he did this at all & that will not be happening again as I have learned a painful lesson.  Although I have told him many times, do NOT say anything about our furkids or his parents to my parents other than everyone is “fine”, he told my mother Dixie was sick & probably needed to see the vet in the morning, & also that his mother was in the hospital so we couldn’t make it a long visit.  If my mother hears anything other than FINE about any of them, I will end up very angry with either her nasty comments about my furkids, or fake concern over my in-laws.  The fake concern hurts me very badly, because she knows perfectly well I haven’t spoken to my in-laws since 2002 because of how cruelly my narcissistic mother in-law has treated me.  And a side note here- I asked God once why my mother does this.  He showed me that my mother thinks my in-laws have a perfect life- been married 60+ years, financially comfortable, nice home in a nice area, their children, grandchildren & great-grandchildren visit them often.  She fails to see the mountains of dysfunction in their family, only what looks good on the outside.  My mother, being a narcissist & naturally overly concerned with appearances, wants to impress them. By me refusing to tolerate my mother in-law’s abusive ways, I’ve embarrassed my mother.  In return, she wants to hurt me as much as possible by showing concern for them, as well as showing them even though I’m a “terrible person,” at least she isn’t bad like me.  She is good enough to care about them even if I don’t.  This is also why she has sent them Christmas cards since I first told her how cruel the mother in-law is.  Amazing what goes on  in the mind of a narcissist..

Back to the original topic..

The visit started at the furniture store.  My mother sat in the car, & my father approached us in hubby’s truck.  He handed hubby a booklet about county services for seniors I’d given my parents a couple of months ago.  He said it was because hubby’s parents probably needed it.  Really?  Hubby told my father no, they’re fine- my parents need it.  My father said my mother thought they needed it more, so they should have it. Hubby grabbed the booklet & spoke to my mother, telling her SHE needs this, his parents are taken care of.  I heard snippets of their conversation- she kept changing the subject, showing concern for his mother being in the hospital.  ARGH!  So while this happened, my father & I walked into the customer service area & gave them the receipt.  We waited a few minutes for him to bring the chair outside for us, & chatted.  Finally we were loaded up & ready to go.  I moved the truck over to beside my mother’s car to get it out of the way.  My mother said hi to me, I ignored her & waited for hubby.

At my parents’ house, my mother asked me how Dixie was.  i said fine.  She said “Oh?  Your dad said she was really sick.”  I said nothing further.  (I feel somewhat bad about that, because knowing her, she’ll jump on my father for lying to her even though he wasn’t lying.  But, not trying to be vengeful here, he has no problems throwing me under the bus with my mother.  Why should I feel bad that I inadvertently did the same to him once, yanno?)  So she then talked to hubby about his mother.  I continued ignoring her, but was stewing inside.  How dare she?!  Plus i was also angry hubby told her about Dixie when I have said many times mention NOTHING about her or the cats to my mother.

My husband, father & I assembled the chair.  While working on it, my mother brought out a plate of cookies & demanded we all eat one.  I refused.  All my life, my mother has insulted what I eat, how much I do or don’t eat, demanded I eat what she wants when she wants me to & ridiculed me for being fat no matter how little I may weigh.  When she tells me to eat something now, I refuse in order to set a boundary.  Plus, the emotional flashbacks I get make me feel like I did at around 10 years old when her abuse regarding food was so bad that I became anorexic then later bulimic: terrified of her anger if I didn’t do as was told or take her criticisms with a smile, angry, like I am too hideous & disgusting to live.  This feels HORRIBLE & it makes me angry that at 43 years old, I quickly can revert to feeling like I did as a child.

Finally, the chair was done, & we were ready to leave.  As I said goodbye to my father, my mother spoke to my husband about his parents again, feigning such great concern for their well-being.  I could feel the anger inside me bubbling by this point.  Then, as I moved to say goodbye to her before my head exploded, she said “Wait a minute.”  My mother went into another room & came back with a plate of cookies & a get well card for my mother in-law!!  She handed them to hubby.  I was in shock at this point.  She then hugged us both & told me she loved me as we left.  I practically ran to the truck.  I also realized when she has been especially cruel to me recently, she always says she loves me.  No other times.  In fact, I could probably count on one hand how many times she has said that in the last 30 years until this behavior began recently.

I cannot put into words how hurt I am by this whole episode.  I know my mother is extremely angry with me because I set boundaries with her early last month.  (See this blog entry)  I’ve been expecting a narcissistic rage because of that as I mentioned in that post, which meant I was expecting her to say excessively cruel, hurtful things to me in a public place.  But this betrayal & flaunting it?  And to top it off, my husband basically handed her the weapon on a  silver platter & doesn’t understand why I’m upset?

I am just depressed, hurt & angry today.  I feel so alone in this situation, & am so tired of feeling that way. I can’t talk to my husband about it since he doesn’t really understand.  I can’t talk to my father- he’s got his own concerns with how cruel she is to him, & those concerns are very valid.  He also won’t speak on my behalf to my mother.  I also feel like I don’t matter.  Again. I am so tired of this feeling!  My mother made me feel this way growing up.  Being a typical malignant narcissist, I was only there to be an extension of her, meet her needs & please her.  I wasn’t to “bother” her with having needs or feelings. Growing up, things haven’t really improved with her in that area.  My husband’s invalidating “I wouldn’t give it any credence” comment about my mother’s actions yesterday have made me feel the same “I don’t matter” feeling.  I’m so tired of it!!!

I’m also incredibly frustrated.  Something must be done with my mother, but I am too frazzled at this moment to figure out what.  If I speak up about her “Caring” about my mother in-law, it’ll feed her- she will be sure to show more concern for her just because she knows exactly how much it hurts me.  If I remain quiet, she will show more concern to be sure she is getting to me.  Damned if I do, damned if I don’t… So, I need to pray about how to handle this after I feel better.

Right now, I’m wallowing in the self-pity place.  I know  this all too well, & I don’t like it at all.  But, I have learned some things since I’ve been here so many times in my life: this place is necessary, & it doesn’t last forever.

So many people will tell you things like “pick yourself up by your bootstraps” but sometimes you need to wallow for a bit, to feel sorry for yourself because you have been through something very painful.  I think of it as feeling compassion for yourself.  If someone told me what I just told you, my heart would break for them.  I would want to tell them everything will be fine & somehow make it better if I could.  So why not have that same compassion for myself?

I also think that the self-pity times allow us to process painful things, & we need to process painful things!  Sweeping things under the rug or ignoring the pain they cause do no good at all!  In fact, ignoring things can cause a great deal of harm.  I never really dealt with the abuse I endured until I was around 30 years old.  By the time I was 41, I developed full blown C-PTSD after living with many of the symptoms my whole life.  I wonder if I had been able to deal with things earlier, if I would have C-PTSD now.  Not dealing with things also can cause physical problems such as arthritis, heart problems, ulcers, high blood pressure, & much more.

If you made it this far, God bless you!  Thank you for listening to me rant & rave.  I hope somehow you were able to glean something helpful from this post.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

I’m revising  this post only slightly…..

 

I saw yesterday that the card my mother gave my husband for his mother wasn’t in a sealed envelope- the flap was just pushed in.  Seemed odd to me, but I figured that meant my mother wanted me to read it.  Knowing her, that just made sense in her dysfunctional little world.  So, I finally gave in a few minutes ago.  This is the card- nothing has been altered at all. This shows just how hell bent my mother is to hurt me- she is sending a nicer card to someone she can’t stand than she has ever sent to me.  I honestly don’t even know if she’s ever given me a get well card…

 

This is the outside of the card...

This is the outside of the card…

& here is the inside... lovely wording, isn't it?

& here is the inside… lovely wording, isn’t it?

 

 

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

You Are Not Alone!

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

Every morning, I receive an email with a Scripture in it from a Christian website.  It’s a nice way to start my day.  Today’s Scripture was 1 Peter 5:8-9:

Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Do so in the knowledge that your fellow believers are enduring the same suffering throughout the world.” (CEB)

The last sentence is exactly why i write about some of the topics I write about- to let people know thy aren’t alone.

Growing up with a narcissistic mother, although I knew nothing of narcissism until a few years ago, I knew something was different.  My experiences were vastly different than my friends’.  I didn’t know anyone else who acted like her or treated their children like my mother treated me.  Once I started talking to a school counselor then a couple of therapists when my mother’s abuse peaked when I was 17, I was invalidated.  The school counselor said “That doesn’t sound so bad to me” when I told her my mother would scream at me, lecturing me about what a terrible person I was.  One therapist, after meeting my mother said she could no longer see me because I was such a “terrible daughter.”  My friends couldn’t understand my suffering, obviously, as narcissistic abuse is nearly impossible to understand even when you have experienced it firsthand.

Then in 2012, I developed all of the symptoms of C-PTSD.  Suddenly, I became a different person.  I was no longer able to hide depression & anxiety as I had previously.  I started with flashbacks & more frequent nightmares.  My sleep became worse than ever- trouble falling asleep & staying asleep.  In discussing some of my symptoms, i learned a lot of people simply don’t care about them.  People close to me, not strangers.  One person even said I used C-PTSD as a “poor me” card.  I told my father that I have this awful disorder twice, & twice he changed the subject.

All of these things have meant I have felt completely alone my entire life.  it’s a terrible feeling.

Once I started writing about my experiences though, I learned that I’m not alone.  There are many, many other victims of a narcissistic mother out there!  The funny part is we all grew up thinking it was just us, that no one understood or experienced the same things.

Many of these people also have C-PTSD as a result of the narcissistic abuse, & many of them feel alone as well due to people close to them not caring.

it is truly tragic how many people feel as if they are completely alone!  While I know I can’t change the world, I want to use my writing as a way to reach people, to let them know they aren’t alone. I pray this blog, my website & books do just that, because the truth is, you are not alone!  So many other people understand your pain & have been through similar experiences!

I also have 2 forums available.  Both are safe places where you can talk about anything you like, gain support, be prayed for or pray for others, learn valuable information & make new friends.

Below is a link to the first forum.  It requires registration to read or post.  If you’re worried about privacy, create a fake user name rather than using your real name. I only recently started this one, so it is a bit slow as it is just starting.  Feel free to start talking though- I will respond, & I believe if a few people start talking, others will join & there will be a snowball effect.

http://cynthiasforum.boards.net/

This link is a link to my fan group on facebook.  I gave up my fan page for two reasons: one person used it as a means to harass me & privacy for my fans.  This group is a closed group, which means that only other members can see what you posted in the group.  No one else.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/FansOfCynthiaBaileyRug/

I want to stress, both groups are private & safe. I hope to see you there soon!

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

Distractions

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I was just thinking about something.

I was thinking of some of the reasons I have to be grateful.  It’s a practice I think everyone needs to do often.  Yes, it can be hard, especially when, like me, you have C-PTSD & your brain is already so “full” (anxiety, hyper-vigilence, flashbacks..) it can feel as if one more thing won’t fit in there.  However, that is exactly why it is good to distract yourself from the bad things sometimes, & think of positive things.

Also, if you focus on negative things such as the events that caused the C-PTSD, your symptoms or even learning about why your abuser did what she did to you, it can consume you.  I learned this when I was writing my last book, “It’s All About ME!  The Facts About Maternal Narcissism.”  While writing a book, I pretty much become obsessed for a while.  I think about what I’m writing non-stop, so I can put my best into it when working on a book.  This book was no exception, however the topic of the book was a very challenging one.  I learned so much about Narcissistic Personality Disorder while writing the book!  I felt as if God opened my eyes & I was seeing so much more about it than I ever could’ve imagined.  While that was great & I think it gave me a very good book, it became overwhelming often.  I took frequent breaks, but I don’t think frequent enough or pampering enough.  I saw things in a new light with my own mother & father too.  I had more nightmares than usual.  My sleep was terrible.  I lived & breathed NPD.  By the time the book was finished, I was deeply relieved.  That was in September, & I haven’t even thought about what book to focus on next as I still feel like I’m recovering from that time.

Learn from my mistake!!

If you are going through a hard time or have C-PTSD like me, distract yourself often.  If you care for someone who is ill or elderly, again, distract yourself often.  Fun distractions will help you tremendously!  They will help you to keep a more positive attitude & not become overwhelmed with negative things.  They also will help you to rest better at night, & be more relaxed during the day. Basically, they will help you to be the best “you” that you can be, which benefits you as well as the other people in your life.  You won’t be of any good to anyone if you are tired, depressed, anxious & negative.

And, if you have C-PTSD, then you are well aware how common suicidal thoughts are.  This is especially important for you!  It can be hard to fend off such terrible thoughts even when you know it’s just the disorder talking rather than what you really want.  I have found that distracting yourself during those times to be especially important.  If thinking of the good things in your life isn’t powerful enough, do something else.  Go shopping & get yourself a little something special.  Go to a museum or the zoo.  Take yourself out for a nice meal, or go with someone you love.  If agoraphobia is an issue, go for a drive in the country or near the water, alone & enjoy the beautiful scenery.

What ways do you have that you can distract yourself during hard times?  What things are you grateful for in your life that you can focus on today?

To help get you started, here are some things that I thought of earlier that I am grateful for..

  • I’m grateful for my family.  My mother wouldn’t let me be close to anyone in my dad’s family when I was a kid, so I have been getting to know some of my relatives for the last almost 15 years.  I am very grateful for the new relationships/friendships I have.
  • Along those lines, I’m grateful for the nice long talk I had with one of my cousins last night.  He’s a great guy, & I’m glad to finally be able to get to know him.
  • I’m grateful for my furkids.  My babies are incredibly sweet & loving.  They are awesome as well as cute as can be.
  • I’m grateful God sent my cat, Punkin to me.  The poor little fellow has PTSD (I saw him have a flashback  once – WOW!), so we are able to help each other when the symptoms get bad.  We understand each other so well since I learned what was happening with him.
  • I’m grateful for this time of year.  Fall is my favorite season.  I am LOVING the beautiful colors of the leaves & the nice temperatures.
  • I’m grateful for having some amazing friends.  They’re supportive & caring.
  • I’m grateful for the old friends I’d lost touch with, but then caught up with on facebook in recent years.  They are wonderful, & most haven’t been scared off by me having C-PTSD.  Instead, they have been non-judgmental & supportive.

I also have some plans for nice distractions for this weekend…

  • It’s the Halloween season, which means scary movies I love are on TV!!  I basically plan to be a couch potato until November 1 & enjoy the movies!
  • My husband’s birthday is on Sunday.  Since he’s working that day, we are celebrating later today.  We’re going to a local car show we both enjoy, probably getting dinner out, & after that, maybe playing some video games or watching more scary movies (he enjoys them too) & having some birthday cake that I made him.  We may even go for a drive to enjoy the fall scenery (which he also loves).

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Coping With Flashbacks, Body Memories & Panic Attacks

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

A couple of days ago, I had a really rough afternoon.  I had 2 flashbacks.  Well, kinda 3 actually since the first 2 were one right after the other.  Not fun at all.  It made me glad wordpress lets you schedule blog posts so I could take a couple of days to just relax & heal!

I thought about it last night & thought it might be a good idea to post some ways to cope with flashbacks, body memories & panic attacks since coping with them all involves pretty much the same things.

First, I’ll explain each one for clarity’s sake.

Flashbacks are when a traumatic memory comes to the forefront of your mind, & you feel as if you are reliving it.  The memory threatens to overtake you- the fear, anger, the sorrow overwhelm you & it can be nearly impossible to tell reality from the memory.

Body memories are quite similar to flashbacks, except instead of you feeling the emotions of the traumatic memory, you feel the physical sensations.  You may not even remember the traumatic event, only how it made your body feel.  If you were in a cold place when it happened, for example, you may suddenly feel cold even though the temperature is 75*.

Panic attacks are anxiety related, & happen when anxiety becomes too much for your body to handle.  Suddenly your heart races, your blood pressure rises, you become increasingly agitated, & you may feel like you’re having a heart attack.  (I was sure I was having a heart attack when I had my first panic attack in 1996.)  The attack may last a few minutes, then gradually dissipates, & you feel drained for the next day or so.

While flashbacks, body memories, & panic attacks are all different, I’ve found ways to cope with them successfully are quite similar.

All three require something to keep your focus on the here & now, where you are safe.  To do this, you need things that involve your senses.  Strong scents & extreme textures seem to work best for most people.  I like the scent of lavender (it’s also used in aromatherapy to calm anxiety) & Sweet Honesty perfume.  When I was quite young, my paternal grandmom gave me a bottle of that perfume, & I’ve loved it since.  It brings back a memory of her, plus it’s a fairly strong scent, so it helps keep me grounded.  I have 2 small vials (the type perfume samples come in) with each scent in them & keep them handy at all times.  Regarding textures, I like something either extremely soft or very rough.  Focusing on how those textures feel helps to keep me focused on the “here & now” rather than the traumatic memory or anxiety.  Snuggle a stuffed animal, touch some rough carpet, hold an ice cube in your hand or snuggle up in a very soft sweater or blanket.

You also can focus on what is around you.  Focus on whatever details are around you.  If you’re at the park, for example, focus on the feel of the breeze blowing on your face, or the shapes & colors of the leaves on trees.  If you’re sitting on a chair, really feel the texture of it & focus on it.   Whatever you can do to keep your mind not focused 100% on the flashback, body memory or panic attack  helps to take some of its power away.

Remind yourself that you are safe.  The trauma isn’t happening to you again- it’s only a nasty memory that can’t hurt you.  If you’re near a mirror, look at yourself in the mirror & reassure yourself that you are safe.

Don’t close your eyes.  This can make it harder to distinguish reality from memory during a flashback.

Breathe slowly & deeply.  In & out through your nose.  Feel your chest & stomach take in the air, then slowly release it.  Be aware of when your heartbeat slows as you calm down.

Create a small container of items that can help you during these situations.  Those small vials I mentioned that are used for perfume samples?  Get a couple of them & fill them with whatever scents help you to feel safe or bring back a happy memory.  Include something that feels good when you touch it as well, such as a small river rock or polished gemstone.  Keep this small bag of items with you at all times so when flashbacks, body memories or panic attacks happen, you can be prepared.

As frustrating & painful as flashbacks, body memories & panic attacks can be, there are some ways to cope with them.  They can be managed!  Above are some ideas that can help you, & I hope will inspire you to come up with some more ideas of your own.

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Helping Someone With C-PTSD

Helping someone with C-PTSD isn’t easy for either you or her.  The symptoms are so frustrating, & can be embarrassing.  Mood swings, extremely high anxiety levels & muddied thinking are not fun to live with or manage, nor are they fun for someone to witness.

If you live with a partner who has C-PTSD, your life isn’t easy either.  You are living with someone who just wants to be “normal” but can’t be due to this disorder.  You are affected, too, by the awful symptoms.  Watching someone you love suffer yet not knowing how to help is a terrible & helpless feeling.

Below are some ways that you can help your loved one who has C-PTSD.

  1. Research this disorder.  Learn all you can about the symptoms & treatments.
  2. Ask your loved one questions.  Just be sensitive in how you ask questions.  Avoid sounding judgmental or critical.
  3. Show her that you are interested.  If she complains of nightmares, ask what they were about.  If she says she doesn’t feel well, ask why.  She needs to know that she can talk to you about her battle with C-PTSD without fear of you judging her.
  4. Don’t expect her to control symptoms 100% of the time.  As much as she may want to, she can’t hide all of her symptoms all of the time.
  5. Don’t pressure them in the recovery process.  There’s no time schedule. And remember, most people with C-PTSD or PTSD never recover, they only learn to manage their symptoms.
  6. Help her to feel loved, without expecting loving gestures in return.  She probably will offer them often, but there are times she won’t feel able to do so.  It doesn’t mean she doesn’t love you- it means she has C-PTSD.
  7. Try to be helpful & supportive.  Do what she asks promptly, & try to anticipate needs.  Be observant.
  8. Offer distractions.  Suggest going out to dinner, or going to a movie, or some other activity she enjoys.  Focusing on this disorder constantly is simply depressing!  Distractions help both of you from becoming too depressed.
  9. Try not to smother her.  Be there, but if she wants to be alone, leave her alone.
  10. Find support for yourself, too.  Talk to a counselor or friend you can confide in.
  11. Take breaks.  You need to take care of yourself so you will stay healthy (physically & emotionally) & so you can be strong for her.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Caregiving, Christian Topics and Prayers, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Mental Health

Emotional Flashbacks- January 10, 2014

Yesterday started out as any other day.. nice, laid back, snuggle time with my kitties.. then I ended up verbally attacked over a difference of opinion on a trivial matter.  While difference in opinions don’t matter to me (everyone is entitled to their opinions), the way it was said triggered a child-like reaction in me.  As a child, if I disagreed with my mother, she acted like I was stupid, my opinion was wrong, I didn’t even deserve to have an opinion & a cause of great embarrassment & shame to her.  (Actually, this still happens even though I’m now in my forties.)  My reaction was to feel deep shame, even panic & wanting to make what I said never have happened.  This is what I felt yesterday.

This is what is known as an emotional flashback, & is a part of having C-PTSD, or Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They are different from a visual flashback.  Visual flashbacks make you feel as if you are reliving the event.  Emotional flashbacks are when extremely intense emotions from the past are triggered, such as panic, anxiety, shame, guilt, depression & are not proportionate to the situation, yet you know you aren’t reliving any situation.  They can last for a few minutes or hours.  Invalidating comments, nastiness, dirty looks can all trigger an emotional flashback.  

With God’s help yesterday, I learned how to handle emotional flashbacks.  These tips may help you during this distressing time as well.

  • Get alone & get quiet.  Calm yourself down, maybe with deep breathing or whatever relaxes you.  Remind yourself that you are safe, nothing can hurt you.
  • Once calm, try to look at the situation objectively.  Pretend it happened to a friend rather than it happened to you, if that helps.  Ask yourself if your reaction was appropriate or not.  
  • If not, identify your feelings.  For me yesterday shame, panic & wanting to fix things were the prominent emotions.
  • I immediately knew that these emotions were what I felt so often as a child when dealing with my mother.  If you are unsure about your emotions, ask God where is the origin of what you feel.
  • Focus on what He says, & that you know you’re only having a flashback.  You can’t be hurt by it!  You are fine!  Also, you aren’t crazy- you have been though abuse & mind games which is why you’re having the emotional flashback- so don’t worry about being crazy!!
  • In some cases, like mine yesterday, I also had to remember that the person who attacked me isn’t entirely mentally stable.  I’m not sure what is wrong, but something isn’t quite right, if that makes sense.  She acts odd sometimes because of that, I just have to remember to keep a distance, & keep strict boundaries in place with her.  Does this also describe the person who triggered your emotional flashback?

Emotional flashbacks are annoying & very tiresome, but they can be managed.  You can handle them!

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December 18, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers!

Last night I was thinking & praying.  God has given me a few purposes in my life..

  1. To help open people’s minds (such as with what I have learned about His immense love for animals & how people should treat them, as is the subject of my book “Pawprints On Our Hearts”)
  2. To show people the damage that can be done by child abuse.  Not only abusers in the hopes that they will change their ways, but to victims as well.  So many victims think they are crazy or have done something to deserve the abuse when nothing could be further from the truth.  Many also think the damage done to them doesn’t matter, because they believe they don’t matter.  Well, it *does* matter!  Everyone deserves a chance to be healthy & happy.  When you acknowledge the damage done to you, you can start to heal.
  3. To let people know they aren’t alone.  There are others who understand.
  4. To share what I learn about healing with other abuse survivors.

As I was pondering these things, I felt that today I should write to let everyone reading this blog post know that you are truly NOT alone!  Many people who read my work have contacted me, & have survived terrible abuse, usually at the hands of their parents.  I understand that completely!  Even if the abuse we survived was different, the basics are still the same- your parent cared more about his/her own needs than yours, made you feel unloved & unimportant, & only there to fulfill the parent’s needs instead of the parent caring for yours. 

And, if you have survived abuse, many survivors have Complex PTSD.  Just because you haven’t yet been diagnosed, doesn’t mean you don’t have it.  I had quite a few symptoms of C-PTSD my entire life- anxiety, depression, exaggerated startle response, hypervigilence, peridoic insomnia & agoraphobia- but not until the spring of 2012 did almost all of the symptoms fully develop.  Symptoms of C-PTSD may include:

  • Difficulty regulating emotions.
  • Depression.
  • Anxiety.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Forgetting traumatic events.
  • Flashbacks &/or intrusive memories.
  • Nightmares (about the traumatic events or not).
  • Insomnia or difficulty staying asleep.
  • Hypervigilence (intense awareness of the emotions of others & surroundings, looking for danger).
  • Exaggerated startle response.
  • Withdraw from others.
  • Agoraphobia (fear of leaving home).
  • Dissociation (the feeling of being outside one’s body, not being all “there.”).
  • Anger (turned outwards towards others or inward in the form of self destructive behaviors such as promiscuity or addictions).
  • Low self-esteem. 

If after reading this, you realize you have symptoms of C-PTSD, if possible, seek out counseling with a counselor who specializes in trauma/abuse.  Don’t take it lightly!  C-PTSD is a serious disorder, potentially even life threatening.  If the depression gets really bad, it can lead to suicidal thoughts.  If you get to that point, God forbid! please call 911, a loving & supportive friend, or even the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at:  1- 800-273-TALK (8255). 

If you don’t have insurance or the money for counseling, check into your local Department Of Mental Health, or churches.  Many offer counseling for free or charge low fees.  If that is still not an option for you, there are some ways to cope on your own.  That is what I have done, & while I can’t say life is perfect, I do think under the circumstances, I’m doing pretty well.  I take valerian root for anxiety, St. John’s wort sometimes for depression, & an all natural sleep aid.  I am learning to listen to what my mind & body need- if I need to go out, but don’t feel up to it, I get quiet & see how I feel.  If I’m feeling like I can handle it, I go out.  If I feel overwhelemed, I don’t go.  I will push myself to go out sometimes, but not every time I need to, because that can lead to more problems.  It can lead to greater anxiety about leaving home, which in turn makes the agoraphobia worse in the long run.  Some days, I find I need a lot of down time- I relax with a movie, knitting, or whatever helps me relax.  I have learned the value of getting quiet, & letting God speak what I need to do for that situation.  It always comes to me in the form of a knowing feeling.  Any time I have listened to that, it has helped me tremendously to deal with my symptoms.   

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August 31, 2012

Good morning, Dear Readers!  I hope this post finds everyone well today..

If any of you are interested in astronomy like I am, you may find this very interesting…tonight is the second full moon of August.  Many people call it a “blue moon.”  The moon won’t show a blue glow tonight, unfortunately, but the second full moon of a month is pretty cool, nonetheless!  I love a full or new moon- the moon showing her full beauty is a lovely sight to behold.

Lately, as some of you know, I’ve been going through a hard time.  Feeling overwhelmed easily, flashbacks of abuse in my life, depression.. it’s been a rough time to say the least.  Today I read something that struck a chord in me, & I thought I’d share it with you….

“There comes a time in your life when you have to either accept what you’re doing & just exist, or stop talking about what you used to be & do something completely different.”

I think it struck such a chord with me, because for one thing, I’m tired of living in the past with these stupid flashbacks & depression, but also because I know this isn’t what God wants for me.  God has been placing something in my heart lately.  When I was 19, I moved out of my parents’ home.  I can’t say I got wild, but compared to the extreme repression I had experienced with my mother, I certainly felt wild & free.  I was able to go where I wanted, see who I wanted, do what I wanted.  Even though it was a challenging time (I was never taught real life skills I would need), it was also about the best time of my life.  I was able to experience that freedom & be the person I was meant to be.  While, unfortunately, I wasn’t a Christian, I still was basically the person God wanted me to be- someone who was free to feel, do, think as she wanted.  Someone who could enjoy even the little things in life with passion.  Over the years, I have lost that person, & God wants me to get her back.  Seeing that quote this morning has inspired me to do my best to do exactly as it says- stop living the way I have been (thinking too much about the bad things) & asking God to give me the courage to do something different, & become the person I once was.

The reason I’m telling this story?  My prayer is that you too, Dear Reader, will do the same.  Life is full of so many bad things.  You can’t help but to notice them.  But, you can choose to focus on God, & His will for your life.  Live as He wants you to- notice & appreciate the everyday miracles that surround you, such as flowers in bloom, the fact you have a home of your own instead of living on the street as so many are doing these days, your beautiful children (human or furry!) & the spouse you love.  If you are fortunate enough to still have living grandparents or parents, spend time with them, listening to their stories of your family- get to know where you came from, your heritage, & be proud of it.  Love passionately- not only in the sexual realm with your spouse, but love your friends & family deeply, showing them just how much they mean to you.  I am going to do my best to do the same.

God bless you, Dear Reader!  I send you much love..  ❤

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July 18, 2012

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I wanted to let you know that I have learned some very interesting things about flashbacks in the last few days.  I had a flashback on Sunday, & had a strong urge to do something to keep me focused on reality.  I was near this computer, so I just started looking up old teachers on facebook.  It was all I could think of at the moment.  It was so odd- the urge to cling to reality was so very strong.  I believe God put that urge in me.  Later,  I did some research on coping with flashbacks, & learned that is a good thing.  It’s called grounding.  It is a really good idea to have something you can see, hear, touch or smell that keeps you in reality when the bad memory is trying to take over.  It helps you to keep in mind that while yes, the memory is terrible, it is still only a memory- it isn’t happening, nor can it hurt you again.  I read some interesting grounding techniques:

  • Hold an icecube in your hand.
  • Smell something with a very strong scent (I have some tiny vials like are used with giving out samples of perfume & cologne.  I put in some perfume my late Grandmom gave me.  It is rather strong, but is also attached to a very good time spent with her)
  • Touch something extremely soft- silk, fleece, anything soft & snuggly.
  • Wrap yourself in something very soft, like a special blanket or sweater.  (I have some gorgeous, very soft pale pink yarn- I’m knitting myself an afghan.  I started to knit it just for fun, but I think it will help with the flashbacks as well).  It is kind of like receiving a hug.

I’m sure you get the idea & can add to this list.  I pray it helps those of you suffering with flashbacks!  God bless you!  🙂

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July 15, 2012

Recently, I’ve been having a tough time.  Lots of flashbacks.  It’s been really tough, dealing with these hateful memories of being abused.  I’ve learned some ways to cope, though, & I’d like to share them..

  • When they happen, let them.  Remember.  Focus on the memory that is fighting to be remembered.
  • Talk to God about it.  Tell him everything you remember.  Get the negativity out of you!  He can handle it.
  • Then, listen for His response.  He will tell you what you need to know about it, & reassure you.
  • Be gentle & understanding with yourself.  Yes, this is an abnormal thing, having flashbacks.  But, it doesn’t mean YOU are abnormal!  You have a normal reaction to very abnormal circumstances.  You were abused, & it wasn’t your fault!
  • Create a “Joy List.”  My dearest friend told me this one just the other day- create a list of things that bring you joy.  Big & small things.  I’ve been working on mine.  Some things on there are: spending time with my furkids, spending time with those I love & who love me, knitting, buying yarn,  lightening bugs, stargazing, listening to the rain or gentle thunderstorms, watching snow fall, & buying a cool new purse.
  • Today, I had another flashback, but this time instead of it being from my childhood as usual, it was a bad incident with my ex-husband.  In the midst of it, I halfway asked God why?  I thought that marriage & all of the baggage was behind me.  He told me that while I’ve forgiven him & moved on, I haven’t forgiven myself.  That was the root of the flashback- I am still  angry with myself for ignoring the signs that told me he wasn’t the man for me.

I hope this helps some of you who are also suffering with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (very common among abuse victims), or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  God bless you, Dear Reader.  Have a wonderful day!

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June 11, 2012

Today is a sad day.. 3 years ago today I lost a dear friend who was like a mother to me.  She always offered unconditional love, comfort on bad days, laughs on good days & wisdom well beyond her years.  She was the best. 

Also going through some hard times.  The Complex PTSD has been really difficult.  The other day I had a lot of flashbacks, anxiety & depression.  It can be so maddening, feeling like I’m living in the past.  But, each time a flashback would happen, I looked at it objectively, like it was happening to someone else.  It helped me to see that I definitely was not the one with the problem.  It helps me to release the shame attached to being abused, & the shame attached to the effects I suffer because of it. 

I’m really hopeful that all of these experiences that have been happening lately will help me in my latest book project.  It will be a fictional story based on my life.  Many of the abusive episodes I have experienced will be included, as well as ways I’ve found to deal with them.  As incredibly difficult as this book is to write, my prayer is it will help other adult survivors of child abuse.

On a more positive note, the furkids are doing wonderfully.  Although a bit late, spring fever seems to have kicked in around here- the kitties are getting into everything…lol  They are chasing each other & having a good old time lately.  Such a blessing, each & every one of them!  🙂

Until next time, Dear Reader, I’m praying for God’s love & blessings to overflow in your life.  Take care!

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