Tag Archives: mental illness

Mental Illness: Normal Consequences Of Abuse Or Something Wrong With You?

Something crossed my mind recently.

 

People with PTSD/C-PTSD, depression or anxiety that stems from being abused are referred to as having a mental illness, or mental health problems.  It occurred to me though that this is, in a way, false.

 

Yes, C-PTSD/PTSD, depression & anxiety are proof of damage in the brain, so they are in that sense mental disorders.  But, such things are also normal reactions to highly abnormal circumstances.  The truth is actually that these disorders were brought about by an abusive person determined to hurt you.

 

Having C-PTSD, PTSD, depression or anxiety aren’t signs that you are weak, a failure, stupid or anything else.  They are simply proof that you have been through some traumatic things, & you survived!  You are strong!

 

Rather than being ashamed of yourself for being “mentally ill”, why not instead embrace the fact that you are a normal, mentally healthy person who has been through some terrible things?

 

I’m not saying embrace your disorder- I doubt anyone could enjoy flashbacks, suicidal thoughts, panic attacks & more.  Instead, I’m saying see your disorder as proof of your strength & that you have been through trauma.  Not everyone survives being abused.  Many victims develop terrible addictions & still others commit suicide.  You haven’t done those & should be proud that you haven’t!

 

 

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

Being Sensitive

I’ve come to realize that sometimes, I’m oversensitive.  Mostly, I’m pretty thick skinned.  Growing up with a narcissistic mother basically turned me into what I think of as an insult Navy seal.  lol  But there are some times when any little thing can make me cry or very angry.  It was bothering me, being this way, so I did some praying & thinking about why this happens.  I believe what I learned may help you too.

 

Hormones can affect your mood.  I’m currently in my mid 40’s, & my hormones go all over the place on a regular basis.  Part of the joys of mid life… lol  Fluctuating hormones aren’t just limited to mid life, though.  Particularly in women, they happen all the time, & can affect your mood & sensitivity.  If you feel your moods or sensitivity are just too much, it might be time to see your doctor.  It’s very possible they could be in need of some help.

 

Going through something very upsetting can make you feel more sensitive than usual.  You just don’t have it in you to let things roll off your back as you normally might. After losing one of our cats then having a big fight with my parents at the beginning of May, I’m still much more sensitive than normal.  Although I’m feeling some better as far as grieving my loss, I’m still very hurt & angry at my parents’ awful disregard for my feelings.  Both events happening so close together was too much for me to deal with at the same time.  I had to try to grieve my loss first, then cope with what my parents did.  I’m still trying to process my hurt & anger, so yes, I’m very sensitive to everyone & everything right now.

 

Seasonal Affective Disorder can make it harder to cope during certain times of year.  As I’ve mentioned previously, I have the reverse SAD where I get depressed in the summertime (most people feel that way in winter).  I have a harder time coping in the summer than winter, & get my feelings hurt easier in summer.

 

Other mental health problems can make you more sensitive than usual.  Anxiety, depression, PTSD, etc. might make you more sensitive because your brain isn’t working quite as well as it should be.

 

Head or brain injuries can create problems in this area.  Have you ever had a concussion or any type of brain injury?  If so, that may cause you to think & feel differently than you did pre-injury.  Some people are fortunate & can be symptom free after a traumatic brain injury or mild TBI like a concussion.  Others have a mild injury yet live with a plethora of nasty & debilitating symptoms.  TBI’s are very unique- everyone seems to react differently, & severity of the injury isn’t always going to determine the symptoms you’ll have.  My concussion was mild enough the hospital missed it after a CAT scan, yet I live with a ton of problems from it.  One of those problems is I get hurt or angry much faster than I once did.  It’s harder for me to let things slide now than it was pre-TBI.  If you’ve had a TBI too, this could be happening with you as well.

 

Missing out on time with God can create problems in many areas.  As a Christian, spending time with God is vital to your relationship with Him as well as your mental health.  If you feel as if you’re overreacting to things or generally being oversensitive, it might be a sign you need to spend more time with your Heavenly Father.  Spending time with God helps you to keep focused, maintain your peace & joy & also the ability to not care so much about what other people think.  God’s opinion of you matters more than people’s after all!

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A Frequent Problem Among Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Recently I learned something very interesting & also useful for those of us affected by narcissistic abuse.  We are very prone to Cluster C personality disorders.

 

Cluster C personality disorders involve OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), Avoidant Personality Disorder & Dependent Personality Disorder:

 

  • OCD involves obsessive, perfectionistic type thoughts.  We need consistency, organization & routine.
  • APD means we are so socially anxious, we avoid social interaction as much as possible.  We are deathly afraid of ridicule or criticism.  We also have very low self esteem.
  • DPD involves indecisiveness, the need for reassurance, clingy behavior, & a fear of being alone.

 

If this describes you, please know you are not alone.  After reading this information, I realized these disorders describe me very well.  I would feel very safe in assuming it’s not just me.  These traits describe so many of us who have experienced narcissistic abuse that I have talked to.

 

There is also one positive note in that personality disorders describe behavior, which means they can be changed.  Personality disorders describe a behavior rather than physical brain damage, so that means they can be changed.

 

So how do you change these dysfunctional & unhealthy behaviors?  In all honesty, I’m not really sure.  Since I just learned about Cluster C disorders, I really don’t know much about them just yet.  I do know, though, that God is the best place to start dealing with any problem.  Since I just learned this information earlier today, I plan to spend some time in prayer later today when I have some uninterrupted private time to try to figure out where to start.  I’m going out on a limb here to say I think God will want me to start with asking Him to tell me the truth.  “Do I really need to be so anxious around other people?  Is it right for me to be so perfectionisitic, so hard on myself?  What is the real truth in these situations?”  (as an example).  That is always a great place to start, listening to God tell you the truth.  He will, & His words are full of healing power.

 

I’m sorry I don’t have more information to share at this moment, but I will share as I learn.    Hopefully it will benefit you as well as me, Dear Readers!  xoxo

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Illness In Victims Of Narcissistic Abuse

Many of us who survived narcissistic abuse have trouble with being sick or injured.  We repeatedly have heard statements like,  “Others have it worse so you should stop complaining!”  “That’s no big deal.  What I have is so much worse!”  “You have a bad back?  It’s nothing compared to mine..”  These kind of things sink in.

As I’ve mentioned here before, last February, I got sick with carbon monoxide poisoning & when I passed out, hit my head, resulting in a concussion.  Since that time, I haven’t fully recovered, & may never do so.  In spite of that knowledge & the symptoms I live with on a daily basis, there have been plenty of times I wonder if I’m faking it.  My husband was floored when I told him that, & he said it’s impossible- I even look different when the symptoms are really bad & I can’t fake that look.

I firmly believe my irrational behavior is a direct result of being raised by a narcissistic mother.

As a child, I rarely saw a doctor or dentist, not even when I experienced anorexia when I was around 10 years old.  Fevers didn’t mean anything, I was fine according to my mother.  She made sure I knew it was hard on her if I had a problem.  Mother’s Day, 1986- I was on crutches & my father had hurt his back.  She has complained since that she had to sacrifice her Mother’s Day waiting on us hand & foot, it was such a hard time for her.  As an adult, any problem I have, she doesn’t believe.  I have had arthritis in my knees since 2002.  I told my father that was why I couldn’t do more to help my parents out sometimes around their home.  He told my mother & her response was to call me later & ask if that was even true.  Have I even seen a doctor?  Did she say I need a knee replacement?  That’s all I need- to get my knees replaced, it’s no big deal.  For 10 years I lived with back pain she caused, yet she accused me of faking.  She would slap me in the back or hand me something heavy every time she saw me.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?  If so, please know I understand your pain & frustration & that you are ok!  This is a normal reaction to an abnormal lack of empathy.

I know it is maddening when you are raised this way & as an adult, you don’t even believe yourself that you are sick or injured.  The doctor said you have a problem or you feel the pain, so why do you doubt it?  Then add in feeling that you don’t deserve to take it easy when you need to because someone else has it worse, & you really feel awful.

It’s time to start rejecting what the narcissist says.  Remember, they say nothing to help others- everything they say & do is about themselves.  Your narcissistic mother accuses you of faking your illness?  That’s because she is projecting her bad actions onto you.  She’s faked an illness before.  She says what you’re experiencing is no big deal?  It’s because she doesn’t want to be bothered with your problems, because it doesn’t provide her with the coveted narcissistic supply.

Trust the symptoms are real.  How could you fake them anyway?!  You aren’t doing this for attention or sympathy!  Narcissists do that, not normal, mentally stable people.

Another helpful tip is to read about the disorder or disease you have.  It helps make it more real.  Once I read about Edgar Allan Poe’s experiences with carbon monoxide poisoning, it helped me tremendously!  I realized that someone else felt the exact same way I did, I wasn’t crazy & I wasn’t making anything up!

While you are coming to accept what is happening, also don’t forget to ask God to heal you as well.  He wants you to be happy & healthy!  Allow Him to do that for you!

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

Some Information About Living With Mental Illness

Society has skewed so many mental health issues badly.

  • “I about had a panic attack!” is said when someone was really nervous, with no clue to how awful panic attacks really are.
  • Some people think remembering unpleasant things & flashbacks are the same thing.  They fail to realize that during a flashback, it can be almost impossible, or sometimes it is impossible to tell reality from flashback.  You have to fight with every fiber of your being to stay in reality instead of being lost in the awful flashback.
  • They even joke about something upsetting giving them Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, dismissing the fact PTSD is caused by extreme trauma.
  • Saying “I’m so depressed” when the truth is they are just sad.  The person has no idea how debilitating depression can be.

Ignorant comments such as this along with the lack of compassion for people with genuine mental illness has done much to create a terrible stigma about mental illness.  The mentally ill are thought of as weak, wallowing in the past, stupid & more.  Even some in the medical field are not immune to having  these warped views.

Living with mental illness & putting up with this cruel stigma is not easy!  If you too have a mental illness, I applaud you!  As if the disorder isn’t bad enough, putting up with the ignorance of others makes it even harder.  It can create so much shame in you that you shouldn’t be forced to carry!

My hope is that writing about my experiences with C-PTSD helps to show that just because a person has a mental disorder doesn’t mean they are crazy, stupid, drama queens or even “less than.”  I’m a normal person who happens to have an illness, that is all.  It doesn’t mean I am weak- quite the opposite, as I’ve always been strong. The fact I have C-PTSD means that I’ve been through repeated traumatic experiences, not that I’m weak or feeling sorry for myself.

That is what you are too, Dear Reader.  If you battle mental illness as well, don’t tolerate people making you feel badly about yourself.  You are fine- you just have an illness.  Would you be ashamed of your illness if you had diabetes, cancer or heart disease?  Then why be ashamed of having a mental illness?  Why should mental illness be something to be ashamed of when physical illness is not?

If you’re like many who read my work & have PTSD or C-PTSD stemming from narcissistic abuse, I also want you to know that you are not alone.  I know it can feel that way sometimes, but it’s not true!  Unfortunately, many others have survived narcissistic abuse only to develop PTSD or C-PTSD as a result.  Sadly, they are normal results from abnormal circumstances like narcissistic abuse.  No one escapes narcissistic abuse unscathed.  Anyone who says they are completely fine is lying, especially to themselves.

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Do You Apologize For Having Problems?

In talking with a lady I just met about her traumatic brain injury, I realized we share something else in common.  We both feel the need to hide our injuries & apologize for whatever symptoms we can’t hide.

I think this is a very common phenomenon for adult children of narcissistic parents to apologize for their issues as well as those with the so-called “invisible illnesses” such as mental illness, fibromyalgia, & arthritis.

Why is that?  Why would anyone feel the need to apologize for things that are beyond their control?  I think there are a couple of potential reasons.

One reason is people are often uncomfortable with unpleasant things.  They often respond inappropriately & without empathy.  They may make jokes in an attempt to lighten the mood or change the subject, but whether they intend it or not, it feels as if they are making fun of your illness or troubles.  It’s impossible to feel safe with people who do that, & often easier to hide your symptoms or apologize for the ones you can’t hide in an attempt to pretend you don’t have the problem.

Another reason is so many people seem to think if you don’t have obvious, glaring symptoms like a 5 pound tumor on your face, you can’t be too bad off or you’re faking your problem.  For example, I had awful back problems for 10 years after my mother threw me into a wall when I was 19.  I had better days sometimes where I could deal with the pain enough to wash my car or do other somewhat physical things.  Since I could do things sometimes, people thought I was faking my injury.  I learned quickly it was easiest to hide my pain rather than hear the nasty comments.

Many illnesses don’t affect your appearance, & if you don’t look obviously sick, many people assume you don’t have a problem.  I’ve experienced carbon monoxide poisoning which gave me plenty of lasting problems, but if you look at me, I look healthy.  You’d never know that I live with symptoms of it daily if you spend only a short amount of time with me.  Any time though reveals I stumble over words when speaking, have virtually no short term memory & get very tired, very easily.  When that happens, sometimes people insult me saying I’m old or dumb.  It’s easier for me to hide the symptoms or apologize if they show up.

Mental illness is its own special entity.  So many people believe having a mental illness means you’re weak.  You need to pick yourself up by your bootstraps!  Shake it off!  Let it go!  Stop wallowing in the past!  If you just did those things, you would be fine.  They fail to realize many mental illnesses are exactly that- illness.  You can’t just shake off illness.  Your brain is actually broken.  Many people refuse to believe this, unfortunately, which means it’s easier to hide your symptoms than to risk showing any & hearing about how weak you are.

And still other people who have experienced their own life threatening illness seem to think if you haven’t experienced what they have, you haven’t got a problem.  I knew 2 ladies who both went through cancer several times each.  One had a generous, loving heart, & understood that although cancer was terrible, there were other serious problems in the world.  The other, however, whatever your problem, she would tell you (or at the least imply) to be glad you didn’t have cancer, as if it was the only real problem or real illness anyone could have & nothing else mattered.

I know these types of situation are painful, & wanting to hide or apologize for your symptoms is a very natural reaction.  But I want to encourage you today, Dear Reader, to stop doing that like I am going to try to do.  Your illness or its symptoms are nothing to be ashamed of.  You have nothing to apologize for, either.  The person who makes you feel that way is definitely the one with the problem, not you.

While I’m encouraging you to stop hiding your symptoms, I also would encourage you to have balance in what you discuss.  People who discuss mostly one topic, in particular the awful disease or disorder they suffer with, tend to put off others, even those with great empathy.  It can be frustrating for a person who wants to have a relaxing conversation or even look for support regarding their problems to be forced to listen to someone who drones on & on about their condition every single time they speak.  It’s not good for either person.  The listener gets frustrated, may say hurtful things in their frustration or even end the relationship.  The talker is so focused on something negative (their disease or disorder) that they ignore the more positive, good parts of life, which can lead to depression.  The talker also ends up hurt because they feel rejected when the listener is obviously tired of hearing about their condition.

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My New Books

I thought I would let you know what’s happening on the book front with me..

I now have two books I’m working on as I can.  Unfortunately I’m still recovering from the carbon monoxide poisoning & the concussion that came with  it, so writing is a challenge for me at the moment. (as if writing with C-PTSD isn’t enough of a challenge sometimes..lol)  But, I’m trying to do a little as often as I can.

My one book is a fictional story I started over a year ago.  I had it about halfway done when the external hard drive it was on crashed, taking my book with it.  (Tears were shed, let me tell ya!)  I decided to start working on  it again, trying to recreate what was lost.  It was inspired by the movie “Gaslight”- the movie from which the term gaslighting was coined.  It takes place here in Maryland in the late 1800’s.  It’s about a young widow who, after her mourning period, is caught up in a whirlwind romance with a man who in truth is only after her money.  In order to have full access to it, he decides to drive his pretty young wife insane.  He enlists the help of the young maid he’s having an affair with by telling her that his wife is really his sister, & he’s trying to help her show symptoms of her “illness” since she usually hides them from the doctor.  She reluctantly agrees.  As they are in the process of driving this woman insane, the wife & maid end up learning the truth, & decide to turn the tables on him, driving him insane instead.

My other book is going to be about recovering from narcissistic abuse.  I’ve read so much about it, but there are plenty of things I haven’t read- I had to experience them & learn about them firsthand instead.  For example, if you read about C-PTSD (very common with survivors or narcissistic abuse), it says many people experience nightmares.  It’s often implied that the nightmares are about re-experiencing the traumatic events.  I have learned that although that happens, it’s more rare, & nightmares are often things that are very upsetting yet symbolic of past trauma instead.

So anyway, these two are my current projects.  I’m not sure when they’ll be released.  Honestly, I don’t even feel comfortable setting a goal on that right now, not until I recover more.  I’ll be sure to share when they will be released as the day comes closer though.

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Leaving The Past In The Past

So often, you hear people say the past needs to stay in the past.  In  other words, the past has no bearing on who you are today, so just pretend it never happened.  This bothers me- I don’t think that is true at all!

While I’m not saying we need to live in the past, the past whether it is good or bad, has a lot to do with who we are today.  Why not accept that fact?  Embrace the good parts of the past & learn from the bad.

I understand this can be hard for the adult child of a narcissistic parent.  Either you become so angry you constantly remember the bad things, or you have been through so much pain you want to forget you even have a past.  Or, you swing between the two extremes.  But please consider having balance!

Although the past was painful, there must have been some positive in there somewhere.  For me, it was my paternal grandparents.  They taught me a great deal about love & how to treat people.  They also loved animals & I learned how to not only love but also respect animals & care for them as well.  I also learned about cars from my father.  He used to be able to look at almost any car & tell you the year, make & model, & he taught me the same thing.  He also taught me some about engines & car maintenance.  And yes, some positive even came from my narcissistic mother.  She taught me how to crochet when I was five years old, & it’s a skill I still enjoy.  She also is an avid reader & instilled a love of books in me.

As for the bad in the past, good can come from bad as well.  For example, thanks to being raised by narcissistic parents, I’ve learned to be very sensitive to people.  I can tell when they are hurting even before they say it, & often know how to help them through their pain if they want help.  Being raised by narcissistic parents gives you a great ability to read people.  It also makes you caring, because you know what it feels like to be hurt, & you don’t want others to feel that same misery.  (Obviously, I can’t say I’m grateful for surviving narcissistic abuse as I’m sure you can’t.  I’m simply saying that something positive came from it)

If you can’t find the good, then ask God to show you.  While He certainly didn’t want anything bad to happen to you, He can bring good out of a bad situation.  He also wants you to learn & grow, & will be glad to help you do so.

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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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Depression Isn’t A Sign Of Weakness!

Yesterday was a very hard day for me. I had an especially nasty flashback.  Not long after, my mother called.  I shouldn’t have answered the phone, but I did anyway.  Why is beyond me..this ended up with me feeling awful for the rest of the day, & waking up about every 15-30 minutes all night long.  Sometimes from nightmares, sometimes from anxiety attacks, other times from hot or cold flashes.

This morning I woke up very depressed & very exhausted.  Unfortunately, when I’m this tired, I think bad thoughts.  I ended up feeling so weak.  I was angry at myself for not being stronger, & for having C-PTSD.  Thankfully, my bad thoughts didn’t get too bad before I got online & read this article….

https://traumadissociation.wordpress.com/2015/01/20/ptsd-can-it-come-from-strength-rather-than-a-sign-of-weakness/

It gives a very interesting perspective.  A perspective I’d never heard of before, suggesting that depressive illness (& those of us with PTSD or C-PTSD know depression all too well) is a sign of strength rather than weakness.  Reading the article made perfect sense to me.  It says that people who are strong, responsible, diligent, etc. tend to deal with depression more than those who are weak, irresponsible or lazy.  The reason being, the responsible types get more stressed- they keep pushing & pushing themselves while their irresponsible counterparts give up.  The article explains it much like a blown fuse.  Responsible types push & push themselves, basically like pushing 18 amps through a 13 amp fuse.

Interesting perspective, no?

Please read the above article- I believe it will encourage you as it has me.

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Creativity- The Surprising Gift In Narcissistic Abuse And Mental Illness

The other night, I woke up around 3:45 to the funniest sound.  My youngest cat, Punkin was doing this weird three stage meow thing.. “ROWROWROW!!”.  Doing it very loudly, by the way!  He did it several times in a row too.  Why he was doing it, I have no idea.  I then heard the sound of him knocking something over, & running away from it.  I knew nothing had broken & he was fine, so I eventually went back to sleep.

Punkin has the cat version of PTSD.  Something in his life before coming to my home traumatized him badly.  I am guessing a dog killed either some of or all of his family.  Partly because he showed up alone at someone’s home as a young little guy of only about three months, & partly because although he’s been with me since last April, he still is easily upset by my dog, Dixie. In fact, I’ve seen him have a flashback when she startled him- he attacked her, then quickly caught himself & stopped before he hurt her.  That episode is what led me to research if there was such a thing as Feline PTSD, in fact.  I learned there was & that the symptoms are very similar to human PTSD.

Punkin is doing very well, though.  He hasn’t had another flashback since, & he tries very hard to manage his reactions around Dixie. They’re even on friendly terms now, other than occasionally when she startles him & he about jumps out of his skin..

Anyway, as I was thinking of all this at 4:00 a.m., something came to mind.  Punkin is a very creative, fun boy. He thinks of things to do that I’ve never even heard of other cats doing.  I wonder if having PTSD is why he’s so creative.  Many people with mental illness are very creative individuals.  I’ve noticed it also in talking with those who have survived narcissistic abuse.

Unfortunately I don’t think many people really embrace their creativity, especially those who have survived narcissistic abuse.  We’re so used to hearing that we are freaks, weird, strange, etc., that we stifle the creativity because of the negative connotations connected to it.  I’m guilty of doing this, too- it’s not just you!

But, creativity is a really wonderful thing!  Having it means you can see things in a way that makes other people rethink their perceptions.  It makes you more empathetic too, because you truly can see things from others’ perspectives, even if you disagree with them.  Creativity also means you can make things that improve the lives of other people.  You have the ability to write fascinating or educational stories, build useful things, or even improve things people use in their daily lives.

Narcissists aren’t usually creative, which is why the narcissist you know has tried to squelch your creativity- out of envy that you have something she never can have.  It isn’t because creativity is a bad thing!

Why not embrace your creativity?  It’s a part of who you are, & God gave you the gift- use it!  Enjoy it!  Take a lesson from my fun little kitty, Punkin.  He embraces his creative side.  As I’m typing this, he’s currently hiding behind the living room curtains & trying to stretch up tall enough to look out the window.  The other cats are simply sitting on the back of the sofa, looking outside.  Not Punkin- he wants to go about it a whole new way.  And interestingly, he’s having much more fun than the others.

What can you do to explore your creativity?  Did you like to draw or paint when you were a child?  Then pick up a pencil or paintbrush & give it a try.  Did you try writing poetry when you were a teenager like so many girls?  Find something that inspires you & try writing a poem about it.  Maybe try a creative writing class.  Did you once enjoy cross stitch, crocheting or knitting?  Try it again!  Or, if you’ve never really tried to do anything creative, walk around a craft store or look at a craft store’s website.  You might be surprised the amount of inspiration at those places!  They don’t only sell supplies for yarn crafts- they sell supplies for everything from drawing to dollhouses to model car building. You’re bound to find something you enjoy!

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Changing My Website.. Any Input??

I just thought I’d let you know that I am making some changes to my website.  I’m finally stepping out of the stone ages & no longer using Microsoft Frontpage to make my site (please stop laughing, computer people.. I’m just not good with site creation!  lol).  As I was working on it today, I thought that it would be a good idea not simply to change the appearance of my site a little, but to ask you, Dear Readers, if there is any other information you’d like me to include on my website.  I have quite a bit on there now about narcissistic & abusive mothers, mental health, Christian living & animals (you gotta get off the heavy topics sometimes!), but is there anything else you’d like me to include on my site?  Or, any area I mentioned above that you’d like me to expand on?

I welcome your feedback!  You can either leave a comment on this post or you can email me at CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com

Have a wonderful evening!  xoxo

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Aging & Narcissists

This morning, I read an interesting article about the final years of Jim Jones.  He was a notorious cult leader who led over 900 of his followers to commit suicide in 1978.  Like all cult leaders, Jones was a narcissist.  His final years were full of more bizarre & controlling behaviors, & the article I read discussed why he was this way.

For years, I’ve wondered why so many narcissists get meaner as they get older, while your average person becomes gentler & kinder.  It began to make some sense to me as I applied what I read in the article to my own narcissistic mother.

As we age, we lose some qualities of youth, such as good looks, health & physical strength.  While most people accept this, narcissists don’t.  At the root of narcissism is an extreme insecurity.  They count on such things to always be there for them, yet those things aren’t.  When they aren’t, this makes the narcissist more insecure & they will lash out at those around them out.  Anything that makes a narcissist feel more insecure or that threatens their illusion of their perfect, false self angers them, & the aging process is no different.

Also, losing such qualities can mean losing control over those the narcissist once controlled easily.  A narcissist who was big, strong & healthy could physically intimidate another person when young, but once that person is older, not so strong or healthy, that ability is gone.  The narcissist must change how she controls her victim.  I have seen the changes with my mother.  When I was a child, it didn’t take much effort for her to control me- the vicious looks & cruel words always scared me easily.  In my late teens, I wasn’t so easily controlled, however.  She began screaming at me, sometimes inches from my face, calling me terrible names & saying horribly cruel things.  Once I moved out of my parents’ home at 19, my mother often said cruel things, but without screaming at me.  She also did other nasty little things.  For example, after she threw me into a wall & hurt my back when I was 19, she would constantly hand me something heavy or slap me on the back where it was injured when I saw her.  Now that she is older & frailer than she once was, her method of attack has changed yet again.  She loves to say cruel things to me quietly while we’re in a public place, such as a restaurant.  That way, either I have to take it quietly, or if I speak up, I’ll draw attention to my “awful” behavior & look like the crazy one.

If they continue to feel they are losing control, narcissistic tactics will get more vicious, as I have shown with my mother’s behavior.  I personally don’t believe this means you have to cater to the narcissist or tolerate the abuse.  Instead, I believe there are 2 options- either sever ties with the narcissist, or if you can’t or are unwilling to do so, strengthen yourself to withstand the abuse.  There are several ways to do this…

First, pray.  A strong relationship with God is vital.  You need to be secure in knowing He loves you, supports you & will show you ways to cope.

Second, you also will need to have strong boundaries.  You need to know what you can & can’t tolerate.  You’ll need to have good, effective ways to enforce those boundaries.  If a topic comes up that you don’t want to discuss with your narcissistic mother, then change the subject, for example.  Change it over & over as necessary- eventually she will get tired of this.

Third, keep your conversations superficial.  Don’t divulge information about your personal life to your narcissistic mother.  That information only becomes ammunition for her to use to hurt you later.

Fourth, remember- you do NOT have to be available 24/7.  Don’t answer the phone every time she calls  Don’t spend a lot of time with her.  Keeping some distance will help you to preserve your mental health.

Lastly, don’t neglect yourself.  Spend time with God & with empathic, caring people who understand what you are going through & won’t judge or criticize you when you get angry.  Get good at being good to yourself.  Get yourself little gifts periodically, treat yourself to bubble baths or manicures regularly, or whatever nourishes your soul.  Taking good care of yourself will help to strengthen you when you have to deal with your narcissistic mother.

Below is a link to the article I read about Jim Jones that inspired this blog post.

http://jonestown.sdsu.edu/?page_id=40230

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

How To Deal With Those Who Invalidate Narcissistic Abuse

My always “fun” narcissistic mother called me the night before last.  She told me that one of the few movies with both like, “Duel” from 1971, was on TV.  I was pleasantly surprised not only because I enjoy the movie, but that my mother thought to let me know it was coming on.  I thought that was oddly not narcissistic & very sweet of her.

Then last evening, she called me again.  She asked if I watched the movie & we ended up having a rather pleasant chat for a while about movies & actors.  I relaxed for once while we spoke (that is a VERY rare occurrence).   Suddenly my mother asked me a favor- she asked me to give her a home perm.

*sigh*

I’ve done it many times, & really never minded it all that much, in spite of her often treating me like the hired help.  Then the arthritis in my hands got worse, & putting those little perm rods in her hair became quite painful for me. I told her this probably 2 years ago by now, maybe longer ago but I’m not sure, & haven’t done a perm for her since.  So last night’s request came as a surprise to me.  For one thing, we were talking just fine, then suddenly, she expects a favor that I’ve told her I can’t do.  UGH!  I had to remind my mother yet again that I have arthritis in my hands, & can’t do this for her.  Her response?  “So you’re saying you can’t give me a perm, huh?”  Really???  All she took from what I said was what directly affected her.  Fantastic.. typical narcissist. *banging head into walls*

I was thinking about this conversation this morning.  It’s things like this that happen over & over, & many people just do not grasp the severity of such incidents.  People who know my mother may think she’s rather eccentric, but not a bad person.  In fact, if I tell them stories like this, they say I’m oversensitive, reading into things, need to shake it off, etc.  These people act like I am the one in  the wrong, not my mother, who treats me as if I’m just here to be used.  They ignore the fact that things like this reinforce the fact my mother thinks I’m just here to serve her, that I’m not allowed to have needs, feelings or anything else.  My sole purpose in life is to be used by my mother, according to her.  So what I have arthritis?  I should suck it up, Buttercup, & do what she wants because she wants it!  Ugh.. & to tell the truth, I think my mother thinks I’m lying about having arthritis just to get out of doing for her.  Never mind it’s a medical fact, on record & I’ve had it for 12 years now…

This kind of behavior is it invalidating, & it’s plain hurtful!  It also has made me wonder why people are so quick to defend a narcissist & blame the victim.

I think many people are afraid of becoming uncomfortable.  Their comfort zone is so important to them that they cannot tolerate anything that doesn’t fit into said comfort zone.  They would rather be invalidating & hurtful to you than forced to believe the narcissist they know is anything less than a good person.  Maybe the narcissist is good to them (for the moment anyway, until the mask slips off..), & they simply do not want to face the fact that she is capable of heinous acts.  Learning someone you care about isn’t a good person is a painful thing, & many people do not want to deal with that pain.

What does this mean to you, the victim of a narcissist?

This means that you are going to need to be aware of people like this, as they are everywhere.  They even can be a close relative or friend.  Chances are, they don’t intend to hurt you- they are simply oblivious to the fact they are abusing you by invalidating you.  However, even intentions that aren’t bad don’t make this behavior hurt any less, or make it acceptable.

Once you’re aware of these people, you need to stop discussing your relationship with your narcissistic mother  (or father,or sibling, or friend, etc.) with this person if you wish to continue this relationship. If you continue to attempt to force this person to see your perspective, they will become resistant, & angry with you for trying to force them to see what they don’t want to see.  They will flatly refuse to see the truth, & it can put a big wedge in your relationship or even cause them to sever ties with you. Did you read my post “Two Good Lessons From One Dream“? If not, please read it now.  In that dream, God showed me clearly that you have to use wisdom on who you discuss narcissistic abuse with.  Don’t frustrate yourself & ruin relationships by discussing it with people who are hell bent on not hearing a word you have to say!  It’s not worth it!

How do you not discuss the cruel things your narcissistic mother is doing to you when people ask you?  By telling them that this topic is not up for discussion…

  • “I’m not going to discuss this topic with you.”
  • “Let’s talk about something else.”
  • “I don’t want to discuss this.”
  • Change the subject as often as necessary & ask the other person something about his/her life.
  • Walk away or hang up the phone if they insist on discussing this topic even though you set appropriate boundaries.

You owe no one any explanation, & an explanation only will start an argument anyway.  If they say anything to you on  the topic, the best way I have found to avoid discussing it is to change the subject.  Eventually, most people will get frustrated & give up trying to discuss the topic they originally wanted to, especially if you ask him/her about his/her life.  Most people, even non-narcissists, will talk readily about themselves.

Protect yourself from people like this, Dear Reader,& use wisdom  when you must deal with them.  You deserve it.  You have been abused enough by your narcissistic mother- you don’t need further invalidating abuse from “friends” or “family” even if they are well-meaning.

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Christian Topics and Prayers, Mental Health, Narcissism

Are You A Victim, Survivor Or A Conquerer?

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

 

I was reading something yesterday that said something like (I forget the exact wording), “You’re not a victim- you’re a survivor!”  Although that sounds great at first read, I think it also can be a shaming message.

 

First of all, if you’ve been abused, you are a victim.  Period.  Nothing can change that.  There is no shame in being a victim.  The shame belongs to the abuser, not the victim who had no say in being abused.

 

Second, you always will be a victim of the abuse.  That doesn’t mean you spend every waking moment thinking or talking about the abuse- it simply means that something terrible happened to you.  You were a victim of someone else’s cruelty & bad choices through no fault of your own.

 

Third, the message that I have felt from such quotations is that you are to be strong, & don’t let what happened affect you anymore.  Well, that isn’t very realistic!  If you have survived abuse in any form, especially ongoing abuse such as at the hand of a parent or spouse, it always will affect you to some degree.  You may be living with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder & barely functioning each day, or you may function well, but be very cynical in how you judge people, or somewhere in between, but you will be affected in some way, shape or form by what happened.  No one escapes abuse unscathed.

 

What I am trying to say is be balanced in how you view yourself.  While yes, you are a victim, you have survived, & hopefully thrived.  Even so, there may be some bad days where you feel more like a victim than a survivor, & that is OK!  It happens to everyone, & is a natural effect of living through abuse.  You can’t feel like a tough survivor every single day.

 

Personally, I prefer to use the term “conquerer.”  A conquerer is strong, which is what survivors of abuse are as well.  We find the strength to escape the abuse, then to heal, often with little or no support from others.  Sometimes, it takes every ounce of strength we can muster to get out of bed in the morning, but somehow we find that strength & do it anyway.  We resist the inclination to become bitter, uncaring or even abusive, & are loving to others as well- that takes a great deal of strength & courage.  (So many abusers were abused themselves, yet didn’t have the strength to break that cycle.)  Conquerers are also imperfect.  While great conquerors have won many battles, they also lost many, many soldiers in these battles.  They also made very serious mistakes, some even leading to their downfalls.  Yet, they remained passionate fighters.  If these phrases don’t describe someone who has survived abuse & is fighting to heal, I don’t know what would.

 

I would like to encourage you today to think about how you view yourself.

 

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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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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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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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Responding vs. Reacting

Good morning, Dear Readers!

As I mentioned in my last post, last Friday, my mother called, & as she so often does, attempted to push my buttons.  A part of me wanted to just jump through the phone & smack her.  I mean really- trying to shame me by acting like I’m the only person in the entire world who likes Stephen King’s writing just because she doesn’t like scary stories?  Sheesh..  how stupid!  Anyway, I refused to show her I was angry, because that only pleases her & makes her meaner.  Instead I either pretend I didn’t notice the snide comments, or respond calmly albeit a bit sarcastically.  With the Stephen King comments, for example, She ended her tirade with “I don’t know where you get your taste in books!  I don’t like anything scary!”  (she likes fluffy, light stories only) In a somewhat cheerful tone, I simply said, “You obviously don’t know any of us Baileys then.  There is not one Bailey I know of who doesn’t like scary stories.  Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Clive Barker- you know, the GOOD authors.”  My mother responded by changing the subject.  HA!  She wasn’t amused that I didn’t respond in anger & I made a valid point.

My point of telling you this is that there is a very big difference in responding & reacting, & if you have a narcissist in your life, then you need to learn the difference!

What I did in the above story is respond.  I know this is a topic that comes up often (it’s an attempt to shame me for being different than her), so I have learned to prepare my responses ahead of time.  I maintain an air of calmness, even though inside I may not feel so calm, & speak my peace.

Reacting is much different.  Reacting is what you do when you don’t think or prepare ahead of timem.  When someone pushes your buttons, you react by yelling at them.  This is what narcissists want you to do- they feed off of the fact that they have so much control/power over you, they can make you so angry or even lose control.  If they can make you look crazy by yelling at them while they stay calm, all the better for them.  They get that power, plus they make you doubt your own sanity.

See the difference??

If you too have a narcissist in your life, then you need to master the art of responding & lose your reaction for your own mental health.  In order to do this, you need to know your narcissist.  What topics does she frequently bring up to hurt you with?  Does she use the same method with several topics?  How does she expect you to react to her antics- with anger?  Tears?

Once you know what to expect, that is half the battle!  From there, you can prepare various ways to respond.  I do this by asking God for help.  Help me to stay calm in her presence & help me to say creative things to let her know her game isn’t working- I’m not ashamed of myself for being different or feeling guilty because I don’t agree with her or whatever her evil goal is.  It’s worked wonderfully too!  Usually things just happen & I haven’t prepared myself other than to pray before seeing her.  My recent response to my mother’s nasty comments because I like Stephen King’s work was one of those incidents.  A few days prior, as I wrote about in this blog entry the other day, I learned that saying, “well ain’t that nice” was also effective, & it was also a spontaneous event.

Learning to respond rather than react has been very beneficial for me.  It has eliminated many topics that my mother used to use to try to hurt or invalidate me with.  It can do the same for you!  I doubt there is ever a way to completely eliminate all of a narcissist’s weapons of verbal destruction, but this one will eliminate plenty of them! I encourage you to give it a try.  What do you have to lose??

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Bad Things People Say To Those With Mental Illness

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I read something this morning.  It said it’s best not to say “It’ll get better.   You need to move on” to someone who is depressed; instead say, “It’s ok to be sad.”  While this makes sense to me, I got to thinking- there are plenty of things that those of us struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD or C-PTSD do NOT need to hear.  I hope writing them here will help you to respond to others when they say these things to you.  And, unfortunately someone will say something hurtful or invalidating to you.  Even the most well-meaning people slip up sometimes.  No human is perfect!

-“Get over it.” “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”  Cold, heartless statements like this are very shaming, & there should be no shame in having a mental illness any more than in having a physical illness.  “Is there anything I can do to help you?” is a much better thing to say!
-“Yanno, *insert name here* has it way worse than you. You should be grateful you didn’t go through what she did!”  This only makes a person feel guilty for being depressed or having PTSD because that other person survived worse things than you did.  No one should feel guilty for struggling with a mental disorder!  Ever!   Instead, offering support without judgement is a MUCH better alternative!
-“I wish you would smile more often.”   News flash- you’re not the only one!  Mental illness is miserable!  Smiling is a hard thing to do when going through a depressive episode or PTSD/C-PTSD is flaring up!  How about instead offering reassurance that she isn’t crazy or bad or whatever she may be feeling?
-“Life can be hard.”  While this is true, this hurts!  It makes a person feel like she doesn’t matter.  Make sure she knows she *does* matter instead!
-“You just need to think more positive/pray more often.” “Happiness is a choice.”  “Christians don’t have mental illness!”  While there is great power in prayer & positive thinking, mental illnesses are just that- illnesses.  God certainly is able to deliver you suddenly from any situation, however, I believe He prefers to walk with us through the situation.  Remember Psalm 23? “Yea, though I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death..”  Going through things offers us great wisdom & experience which can help other people who are going through similar situations.  Sudden deliverance is nice, but it doesn’t teach anything. Going through trying, painful times has a purpose! How about instead offering to pray or with her??
-“I had a bad childhood too, but I just don’t think about it.” Well goody for you.  If that works for you, fine, but some of us experienced brutal abuse that we can’t forget, as much as we might like to.  Although we don’t think about it voluntarily, we still experience nightmares, flashbacks, & intrusive memories even though we would like never to have such things again.  The past just doesn’t want to let us go, even though we have done our best to let it go. Understanding that & the frustration we feel over it would go a long way!
-“You just need to find the right medication & you’ll be fine.”  Not necessarily true!  While sometimes anxiety & depression are basically simple malfunctions in the brain that can be fixed with medication, more often they are instead connected to abuse in one’s past. This means while the right medications may help some, counseling & other treatments are needed, especially if they are connected to PTSD/C-PTSD.  How about learning about your loved one’s mental illness & the treatments involved instead?
-“You just need to get out more.”  Really??  Many of us with PTSD/C-PTSD have agoraphobia, & leaving home only causes more anxiety.  Anyone who knows even a little about PTSD/C-PTSD understands this.  Again, learn about your loved one’s disorder.

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What Is The Difference Between Guilt & Shame?

Many people who have survived abuse, especially childhood abuse, don’t realize there is a vast difference between healthy, normal guilt & toxic shame.  We are taught from day one to feel shame- ashamed of who we are, what we think/feel/do/like/don’t like & more.  This is absolutely deadly to one’s self-esteem.  When you are ashamed of who you are, you want to hide from the world- you don’t want to expose anyone to the terrible person you believe you are.  You would love to be invisible.

Guilt, however, is a very useful, healthy tool in life.  Guilt doesn’t make you feel ashamed of yourself- guilt makes you feel ashamed of something you did that was wrong instead.  Guilt speaks of the action, while shame speaks of who you are.  For example, if you come home after a very trying day, & snap at your husband, you should feel guilt.  Enough guilt for acting that way to make you say, “I’m sorry, Baby.. I’ve had an awful day.  It’s not fair of me to take it out on you though.”  Once your apology is accepted, you let it go.

Shame however, would make you tell yourself that you are a terrible person.  You shouldn’t have acted that way- only a bad person acts like that!  You may or may not apologize- shame may make you feel too embarrassed to apologize- but you will beat yourself up for being such a bad person.

Do you see the difference?  Guilt says, “I did something wrong,” where shame says, “I am wrong & bad.”

Do you have a healthy sense of guilt, or do you feel shame?  If you are in doubt, ask yourself how you feel after doing something that hurts another person’s feelings.  (And yes, you will- we ALL do hurtful things sometimes, no matter how careful we are to avoid it).  If you quickly do what you can to make amends & let it go, then you are feeling healthy guilt.  If you beat yourself up for being a terrible person, you feel shame.

It can be hard to overcome shame, especially after a lifetime of experience with it, but it can be done.  As you work on your healing, your self-esteem naturally improves.  You also see things in a much healthier perspective- you begin to realize that you are NOT at fault for everything, as you heard you were when you were a child.  You realize that things were done to you that you didn’t deserve, & nothing you could have done would have made you deserve to be abused.  These things help you to feel less & less shame as time passes.  

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Who Are You?

Yesterday, I had another flashback.  I remembered being in my late teens, & my mother screaming at me because (her words here), “You only care about the underdog!  You just want to help them!” as if this is a bad thing.  Usually when these flashbacks happen, I come out of it in or near tears.  Not this time though- I was absolutely LIVID.  How dare my own mother scream at me so much!  How dare she scream at me for being a good person!  & besides, she groomed me to take care of others & ignore myself- she was screaming at me for being how she made me to be!  HOW DARE SHE!

This anger set off an interesting train of thought.. time for me to make some changes!

If you too have been around a narcissist, whether raised by one or in a relationship with one, you know that they want you to be what THEY want you to be, not what you want to be or the person that God made you to be.  You carry this “I have to change to please you” mindset into other relationships, like it or not, & often without even realizing it.  I have done this.  Not only did I become the person I thought my mother wanted me to be as a child, as an adult, I tried to become the wife I thought my husband wanted me to be.  As a result, I lost myself somewhere along the way.  In fact, an old friend of mine once scolded me, saying I had become “Eric’s wife” instead of “Cynthia.”  Yes, he was right, much as I hate to admit that!  Since that friend opened my eyes about six years ago, I have been trying to get myself back, but with very little luck.  I had all but given up until yesterday. 

Oddly, the anger I felt after that flashback gave me quite a kick in the butt to get myself back. I got angry not only at my mother for screaming at me so much as a child, but for trying to destroy the person God made me to be.  I also got angry at others in my life who have tried so hard to change me into someone I’m not.  God made everyone the way we are for a reason!  Every single person has a purpose!  No one has the right to destroy your personhood, to destroy what God has made!  I decided it’s time to get that person I lost back, & started to think of ways to accomplish this.  I hope these ideas help you, too!

  • God will tell you who He made you to be- so ask Him.  Not only the things you are to accomplish in life, but also He will tell you about your personality.  Ask Him!  I have done this, & God gave me an interesting answer.  He told me to look up the personality traits of the wolf- they are like who He created me to be.  Do you know something?  I learned they are fascinating animals!  They are highly intelligent, gentle, devoted, loving, confident, non-violent personalities & will do much to avoid conflict, yet won’t back down when it is necessary.  That is what God sees when He sees me!  I believe He used wolves because He knows I love animals so much, including the husky/wolf dog I had who I was so close to.  God will speak to you in a way that speaks the clearest to you, too.  Why don’t you ask God to tell you who He made you to be?  
  • Realize, really have a firm grasp on the fact that you are valuable.  You are just as valuable as any other person.  In spite of what you have been taught, you have a purpose & value.  And treat yourself accordingly!  Do nice gestures for yourself, not just other people- it will help you see yourself as valuable.  I started last night by pampering myself some.  I make my own beauty products, but I don’t use them as often as I should.  I decided heck with that last night!  I exfoliated my skin, head to toe, then used a wonderful moisturizer I make after so my skin felt like silk. I also gave myself a manicure & pedicure.  I relaxed for the evening- watching tv, playing Tetris on my tablet, & talking to the hubby.  
  • Do things that make you feel good.  Do you have a hobby you enjoy yet have abandoned?  Get back at it!  Try drawing, painting, writing poetry, cross stitching, knitting or whatever you have done again.  If you never really had a hobby, find one.  Try something you have always wanted to try.  You can learn how to do about anything online!  Indulging in something other than things that are necessary (work, caring for your kids or elderly parents, etc) is very healthy- it helps you to relax & have a clear focus.  It also helps you to feel pampered & loved.  Everyone needs loving gestures, especially from themselves.
  • Get angry!  I know, as a Christian, that can feel very awkward, especially if you were raised with a narcissistic parent who didn’t allow you to express any negative emotions.  However anger does have a purpose- it motivates change.  And, remember, Jesus got angry, too.  Remember him overturning the tables of the money changers?  (Matthew 21:12-13).  While anger can be dangerous, & forgiveness is absolutely vital to having peace with God, our fellow man & ourselves, that doesn’t mean anger can’t be used as a tool sometimes.  Ephesians 4:26 says we can be angry, but do not sin in that anger.  Using that anger to motivate chance isn’t a sin- in fact, that is a good thing!  And I have learned when doing this that once you forgive, the motivation to change is still there.
  • Stop listening to other people when they try to change you, no matter who it is!  Admittedly, this is difficult if it’s something you have been doing your whole life, or if the person is someone close to you such as a spouse or parent.  But remember- if someone wants to change you, it says they have the problem, not you.  Normal, healthy people want what is best for other people, not to change them into someone they aren’t.  

And please always remember- just because someone didn’t appreciate the person you are doesn’t mean they are right.  You are special because God made you to be!  Deuteronomy 14:2 says, “For you are a holy people [set apart] to the Lord your God; and the Lord has chosen you to be a peculiar people to Himself, above all the nations on the earth.” (AMP)  God loves you & made you perfectly!  

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Keeping Blame In Perspective

Many people who have survived an abusive situation are told you can’t blame your abuser.  He or she didn’t know what he or she was doing.  Or, that person is mentally ill.  Or, he/she was abused as a child.  Or a plethora of other reasons a person can’t be mad at their abuser.  This invalidates the pain the victim feels!  It immediately makes you feel guilty because you have problems stemming from being abused.  I know- I have been in this position myself.

While I’m not saying we need to blame every problem in life on being abused, I am saying we need to keep a healthy perspective on it.  In my case as an example, my mother has Narcissistic Personality Disorder & Borderline Personality Disorder.  When I first learned of her disorders, I felt guilty for having problems that stem from her abuse when I was growing up.  I didn’t think I should hold her responsible- after all, these are disorders!  She must not be responsible for how she acts!  Then I can’t be angry or hurt or have problems that stem from things she did to me.  Besides, that was a long time ago..

Then I learned that personality disorders describe a way someone behaves, rather than physical brain damage, such as Schizophrenia or PTSD.  And, many of the things my mother did to me were hidden, even from my father.  That tells me she knew what she was doing was wrong.  After all, if one is proud of one’s actions, they aren’t hidden.  

I have since learned to have a healthy perspective.  While I do blame my mother for me having C-PTSD, I take responsibility for how I cope with it.  I blame her for my lifetime of low self-esteem, yet I try to find ways to keep a healthy self-esteem.  While she is to blame for the damage done to me, it is my responsibility to heal as best I can.  Part of that healing, I believe, is knowing that the damage done is NOT my fault!  I did nothing to deserve the horrible things that were done to me!

You did nothing to deserve the abuse you endured either!  Keep the blame for what was done where it belongs- squarely on the abuser.  You have absolutely NO responsibility for what was done to you.  However, you DO have a responsibility to heal.  Ask God to show you how- what steps you need to take.  And, as you heal, you may find out that God wants to use your story to help others heal, & inspire others.  That may help you heal even more than you know!  Blessing & inspiring others is a beautiful feeling!  

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If You Have A Mental Illness, Does That Mean You Aren’t A Christian?

Have you read this??

 http://www.alternet.org/belief/why-right-wing-evangelicals-claim-good-christians-cant-get-ptsd

If not, I’ll summarize this for you- a couple of evangelists say that you can pray away PTSD, & if you live life God’s way, you won’t get PTSD in the first place.  I’m sure this kind of thinking can induce a LOT of guilt & shame for many Christians who suffer with PTSD, C-PTSD or other mental illness.  I know I have certainly felt something was wrong with me for having C-PTSD.  I’m a Christian- why do I still suffer because of things done to me so long ago?  When I was born again, didn’t I become a new creature in Christ, according to 2 Corinthians 5:17?  Didn’t I have enough faith?  Does this mean I’m really NOT born again like I thought I was??

While I firmly believe that God can & does deliver some people supernaturally from mental illness, I think the majority of people have to walk things out.  A supernatural deliverance is great, but it doesn’t teach you much.  Living through your experiences, however, will teach you plenty!  If you battle depression, you may need to learn new ways to think, focusing on more positive things, & to cope when troubles come your way, such as leaning more on God than yourself to fix problems.  If you battle anxiety, you may need to learn to lean on God & go to Him more often.  These are things that can’t be learned through a deliverance.  Also, let’s not forget the apostle Paul. God didn’t remove his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7). Even that great man of God had something to deal with that he would rather not have had. Sometimes God would rather walk with us through a dark place than let us live in the sunny, happy places all of the time.

I also believe that having C-PTSD or PTSD doesn’t mean you aren’t a Christian.  I have been a Christian since 1996, & my C-PTSD didn’t develop fully until 2012.  It wasn’t because I was distant from God at that time.  It was because a lot of damage has been done to me in my life.  I have forgiven my abusers, but even that didn’t heal the damage.  I think of it like this- if someone drops a gallon of paint on your foot, you can forgive them the moment it happens.  But, you’ll  still have a broken foot to deal with, no matter what your religious views are.  That is what C-PTSD is like.  

There is absolutely nothing wrong  with asking God to heal you of your mental illness.  However, He may have plans to use it to bless others & even you, so you may not be delivered.  As much as I dislike living with the forgetfulness, nightmares, flashbacks, anxiety, depression & agoraphobia, sometimes I count C-PTSD as a blessing, because it has enabled me to help others who live with it, or who survived narcissistic abuse as I have.  There is no greater feeling than helping others!

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Confronting or Comforting??

I was watching Bishop T.D. Jakes this morning.  He said something that struck a chord in me- “Some people don’t confront what’s wrong, they comfort it.”

This is so true of many people.  So many folks can’t seem to handle deep issues, only light & happy things.  When you tell one of these people anything about your abusive mother, they just can’t handle it.  They make excuses for her behavior, blame you, tell you it’s your place to make things right with her, or say other stupid things like “She’s the only mother you’ll ever have!” They have similar responses if you have mental health problems- “You need to get out more,” “Cheer up!”, “Think happy thoughts!”, “You need to get over it.”, “You’re not a soldier- you can’t have PTSD!”

Everyone who opens up about being abused or having mental health issues has to deal with someone like this at some point.  It’s painful, especially when it comes from someone you are close to, & you expected to be supportive.  I just want you to remember something- when someone behaves this way, it doesn’t mean you are crazy, wrong, need to make things right with your mother.  When someone can’t handle the “ugly” things in life, that is something wrong with them, not you.  Please remember that!

You need to exercise wisdom on how much you tell who about your experiences since some people, even ones you’re close to, may never be able to handle tales of your experiences.  Only discuss your experiences with compassionate, non-judgmental people.  

However, this doesn’t mean you need to be silent about your experiences!  I personally believe that although God doesn’t want painful things to happen to you, He can create a purpose for them.  For me, I have been able to help other daughters of narcissistic mothers via my books & website.  I don’t know what your purpose is, but rest assured, you have a purpose for surviving what you have survived!  Ask God to show you your purpose, & He will! 

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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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November 21, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers!

The other day, I was talking to someone about having C-PTSD.  She is a very nice Christian lady who I like a great deal.  Unfortunately, the conversation didn’t go very well.  She said some things that really bothered me that showed me she doesn’t understand trauma & its effects on the brain.  She said don’t I understand my mother has a sinful nature & doesn’t realize what she is doing?  Yes, I do understand that, but I disagree- many times I can assure you, she knows exactly what she is doing when she hurts me.  And she also said God can heal me- I just need to pray.  As if that thought never crossed my mind…

I’ve been thinking about this conversation, & while listening to Bishop T.D. Jakes preach this morning, something occurred to me.  The bishop was speaking about the apostle Paul, a great man of God.  He wrote most of the New Testament, in fact.  Brilliant & devoted to God.  Yet, he had what he described as “a thorn in the flesh” that God would not remove from his life.  Here are the verses from the Amplified Bible.

 2 Corinthians 12:7-9

7 And to keep me from being puffed up and too much elated by the exceeding greatness (preeminence) of these revelations, there was given me a thorn ([a]a splinter) in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to rack and buffet and harass me, to keep me from being excessively exalted.

8 Three times I called upon the Lord and besought [Him] about this and begged that it might depart from me;

9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and [b]show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may [c]pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me!”

 

I don’t know what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, as it is never mentioned in detail.  However, I believe C-PTSD can be described the same way.  (Most times, it’s more like an entire sticker bush.. lol)  I have become aware that during times when I have flashbacks or anxiety or depression are threatening to overwhelm me, I can feel the gentle presence of God comforting me.  When I get frustrated with the fact my short term memory isn’t what it used to be, or I can’t sleep well, God always sends something to let me know all is ok.  Like today for example.  As I mentioned, I’ve been thinking a lot about the conversation I had with that lady a few days ago.  I started wondering if there is something wrong with me for having this disorder.  I mean, I haven’t been in a war zone like so many soldiers who have PTSD.  It’s so understandable that they have it!  Instead, I went through mostly psychological abuse.  Now as an adult, I know what I was told about myself isn’t true, & I understand  manipulation so I don’t fall for it.  So why do I have C-PTSD?  This morning, I got on facebook to find one C-PTSD page posting about how it’s immature Christians who think we can just pray & “get over it.”  Then later, I turn on the tv to watch Bishop Jakes preach & he discusses the apostle Paul, & how God used him greatly in spite of his “thorn in the flesh” that God wouldn’t remove.  God showed me through these things that I’m ok!  In fact, I know He uses me, C-PTSD & all.  People tell me often how something I have done, said or written has helped them.

I’m not saying don’t pray about your illness, or God doesn’t care.  He cares a great deal, & wants to help you.  Lean on Him.  He will help you!  But, you have to do your part too!  You have to work on your healing & manage your triggers & stressors.  He can’t do that for you.  You do your part, & trust God with the rest.  Hopefully, you will receive a complete healing.  But, if you don’t, God’s grace is sufficient for you.  He will help you to accomplish whatever you need to do.  

Don’t let people make you feel guilty or ashamed or even useless just because you have C-PTSD or any mental disorder.  You have done nothing wrong to have this problem!  God can still use you to be a productive member of society & a blessing to anyone.  If you have any doubts about it, remember the apostle Paul- remember, he was killing Christians when God called him to be an apostle!  He was a murderer, & he had that thorn in the flesh, yet God used to him to bring the Gospel to countless people, & to write the bulk of the New Testament!  If He could do that with Paul, what makes you think you are so messed up, He can’t use you??

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October 1, 2013

Good morning, Dear Readers!

I just wanted to let you know I made a few changes to my website.  I added a little more information to the Mental Health section.  Come check it out at:  www.CynthiaBaileyRug.com

Have a great day, & God bless you!  🙂

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September 8, 2013

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

I had a rough day yesterday.  I needed to run down the street to the craft store to get a couple of things for a project I’m making, but I couldn’t do it.  The agoraphobia was really bad.  The thought of going out terrified me, which ultimately depressed me, & made me feel so trapped.  I talked to hubby about everything when he got home in the afternoon, & he suggested I write more details about my daily battles with these mental health problems.  So, here you are..

As any followers of my writing know, I have Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  It stems from years of emotional incest, plus emotional & verbal abuse starting in childhood, as far back as I can remember.  Symptoms of C-PTSD include flashbacks, nightmares, anxiety, depression, difficultly regulating mood, difficulty concentrating, sleep problems, a heightened startle response, hyper vigilance & agoraphobia (fear of public places).   The last few nights I barely have slept at all, even with the help of sleeping pills.  This lack of sleep makes the symptoms flare up worse than usual, which is probably why the agoraphobia was so bad yesterday.  I literally could NOT make myself go to the craft store!  It was depressing & frustrating, leaving me crying most of the day.  When my husband came home, he wanted to know what was wrong & I told him.  I also told him more details about my battle with agoraphobia, which I thought I would share with you.

Before all of the C-PTSD symptoms manifested, I had some- nightmares, anxiety, depression, & an exaggerated startle response.  I lived with these symptoms off & on my entire life & to varying degrees.  Depression was always the worst, leaving me suicidal most of the first twenty five years or so of my life.  Then in September, 1996, my maternal grandmother died.  I hadn’t seen her in a few years at that point, due to first my mother & my ex-husband telling me that my grandparents were ashamed of me & didn’t care about me.  Grandmom’s death was very hard for me- I loved my paternal grandparents dearly, & had missed them so much.  I felt horrible I hadn’t been able to bring myself to say good bye to her (even though I also figured she probably wouldn’t have cared to see me), & my father reinforced my guilt. I had my first full blown panic attack the night before Grandmom’s viewing.  I refused to go to it the following day, or her funeral the day after, much to my father’s dismay.  (To this day, I don’t think he understands why I didn’t go in spite of my explaining things, but we don’t discuss it.)  

Shortly after, I suddenly was having problems with going into public places.  They suddenly terrified me.  I was a little better with someone beside me, but going to these places alone was out of the question.  Eventually, I prayed, asking God what this was all about.  He told me that all my life, I’d been made to feel like I need to be invisible- have no feelings, needs or wants, bother no one in any way, shape or form.  Stay “on a shelf” until I’m needed.  (All of this is a result of the emotional incest I’ve experienced at my parents’ hands.)  Then a few days after Grandmom died, hubby told his mother about my loss when we were visiting his parents one day.  She completely ignored him, & changed the subject.  (She’s never liked me, so this response wasn’t surprising)  Somehow, in my mind, this cemented the fact I am to have no needs, feelings, etc.  When that happened, I somehow also started to believe that I should not even be in a public place.  No one needs to be bothered with my presence.  

Intense, isn’t it?  This knowledge helped me tremendously, though.  I started telling myself I was fine- I could go out, I was doing nothing wrong, bothering no one, & have every right to come & go as I please.  For several years, I would become somewhat anxious, but not terrified any longer, of public places.  

Then in May, 2012, I developed all of the symptoms for C-PTSD, & the agoraphobia came back with a vengeance.  Even armed with the knowledge of why I have it, I still battle it.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it’s because my brain is actually damaged (people with PTSD & C-PTSD actually have physical damage to their brains resulting from the trauma they have experienced).  Maybe it’s because I’ve tried to be strong for too long, & lack the strength to continue fighting agoraphobia.  I don’t know.  But, I’m learning to live with it at least.  It’s a step in the right direction.

I’m learning the importance of relaxing & sleep.  The more relaxed & well-rested I am, the better the chances I can go out alone without having a panic attack in a store.  I am constantly trying to remind myself that I am important- I have needs, feelings & wants just like everyone.  I also remind myself I have limitations, & that is ok.  I have beat myself up for years because I have problems stemming from all of the abuse I’ve experienced in my life.  All it did was make me feel guilty.  That makes no sense!  Those who abused me should feel guilty, not me!  I have reacted in a very normal way to an abnormal amount of crap!  I have started talking some about what I have experienced.  In fact, I wrote about it in my book, “Emerging from the Chrysalis” (ebook: “Emerging from the Chrysalis”).  Writing that book was a huge step for me, as I was always told not to “air our dirty laundry” or made to feel guilty if I did discuss being abused with anyone.  Making my story available to the whole world was (& still is!) terrifying!  But, it is my story & mine alone- I have the right to choose what I do with my story.  And maybe, sharing it will help others.  I pray it will, like I pray sharing my battles with C-PTSD & all of its symptoms will…

Thank you for reading my blog, & may God bless you!  Feel free to share this post or my blog if you like..

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May 7, 2013

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!  I hope this post finds you well.

The last few days I’ve been asked repeatedly if I am doing alright, or if something is wrong.  Being a very private person by nature, I don’t like to discuss personal things with many people.  However, I believe God wants me to be more open about some things, so I am going to be here.

Most of you who read my blog or know me in real life know I have mental health issues.  Ever since I can remember, I’ve dealt with depression to the point of being suicidal (until my mid 20’s) & anxiety, even eating disorders.  In 1990, I had my first nervous breakdown, & have had 4 more since.  3 of the total of 5 breakdowns I’ve had have been quite serious.  In 1996, I started with agoraphobia right after my Grandmom died.  It can been debilitating at times, leaving me unable to leave my house. Last year, I suddenly developed the symptoms of Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD).  I started to have flashbacks, more nightmares than usual, bad short term memory problems, worse anxiety than ever & more difficulty regulating my moods than ever.  I’ve always been able to refrain from showing my swinging moods until last year.  Now?  If I feel a mood swing happening, it’s most likely going to show.  It’s frustrating!

So, I am dealing with these nasty things in addition to some other more private stressful situations.  That is why I’m not myself lately, I’ve been keeping to myself so much, not writing much either in this blog or in the book I’ve been working on.  It’s hard to be with other people or write when having a bad C-PTSD day.  When the mood swings, anxiety & dissociation kick in, it requires all of my focus.

Also, these bad C-PTSD days don’t mean I’m wallowing in being abused.  In fact, most of those days, abusive events don’t even cross my mind.  I am NOT spending my time, living in the past, plotting revenge on my abusers, or devoting it to feeling sorry for myself for being abused.  Sometimes, I remember painful events I’d forgotten about (repressed memories), or have a flashback or nightmare, but when those happen, I deal with them through prayer &/or talking things out, then move on.

I figured I’d put this out there not only to answer questions, but to try to get myself more accustomed to being open about my mental health, which I believe is something God wants me to do.  There is such a stigma attached to mental illness, & frankly, it really makes me mad.  I hope I can help even just a few people change their views!  Yes, I have mental health problems, but it doesn’t mean I’m stupid or weak.  I have a  high IQ, & I always have been a strong person.  I think I reached the point where I have tried to be too strong for too long, which is why the C-PTSD kicked in.

As for what is at the root of my problems, being abused, I don’t understand why it caused me the amount of problems I have.  Many people have experienced more trauma than me, yet don’t have C-PTSD.  Yet, I refuse to judge myself for it any longer.  I have beat myself up for being “weak” for too long.  It’s not going to happen anymore.  I have been through a lot, & have been damaged as a result.  I’ve had absolutely normal reactions to very abnormal situations.  I figure it this way- God has a plan.  While He didn’t want me to be abused, He is definitely using my problems & pain to reach out & help others.  That makes it worth the suffering.  Every time I get an email, message here or someone saying that something I have said has helped them in some way, it’s the best feeling I could ask for.  🙂  That is what makes everything worth while, helping other people.

Lastly, if you know someone who is suffering with a mental illness, please use compassion & wisdom in your words with that person.  Phrases like, “Get over it,”  “You’re still upset about that?”  “Think happy thoughts”  “Maybe you need to.. *fill in the blank with unasked for advice*” really do NOT help!  Listening without judgement, offering a hug, or even offering a change of scenery (taking your friend to lunch for example) help the most.

Have a great day, everyone, & thank you for your concern.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask away.. either reply to this post, or email me privately at:  CynthiaBaileyRug@aol.com.  God bless you!

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Filed under Abuse and the Healing Journey, Mental Health