Tag Archives: PTSD

C-PTSD, PTSD & Nightmares

When you first learn that you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you will hear about having nightmares, but very little has been discussed about what kind of nightmares.

 

When I first realized I had C-PTSD in 2012, I read everything I could find on the disorder, & kept seeing nightmares on the list of symptoms.  I assumed it would be dreams repeating traumatic events.  Unpleasant, for sure, but I lived through the real thing so I figured I could handle the nightmares.

 

Not even close!

 

I have had nightmares ever since I can remember, but the frequency has increased greatly since 2012.  And, of the many nightmares, very few were actually reliving the trauma.  Instead, many were very strange, such as having my car stolen then totaled, finding a little child I needed to protect or other odd subject matter.  I honestly wondered what was wrong with me.  How could I have such awful & strange dreams yet nothing of the trauma I have been through?  It seemed completely bizarre to me.

 

Recently I realized something.. these dreams may not be specifically about trauma, but they share similar emotions to traumatic experiences I have had.  The nightmares often leave me feeling powerless, abused, unloved (even hated), helpless & more.

 

I’ve heard a few people say their nightmares are much like mine- not about traumatic events, but about events that trigger similar emotions.

 

I believe this means such nightmares must be a normal part of having C-PTSD or PTSD.

 

If you too are having odd, unsettling nightmares, then know you aren’t alone.  Nightmares are part of PTSD & C-PTSD, unfortunately.

 

As disturbing as they are, they may be able to help you.  Dreams & nightmares alike have meanings.  They’re never random, even though they feel that way.

 

Dreams can show you areas you need healing in or areas where you have healed well.  They can show you things you weren’t aware of or you need to be aware of.  They also can simply help you because your brain is  processing some information.  The brain processes information every single moment, even when you’re asleep.

 

If you want to understand your dreams & nightmares, prayer is the best place to start.  Ask God to help you to understand them & learn what you need to know from them.

 

A good dream dictionary is a helpful tool too.  I use a website (there are many to choose from).  They can help you to see what each item in your dream represents, which can make it easier to interpret them.

 

It’s also a good idea to keep track of your dreams.  Write them down & look them over from time to time.  That can help encourage you when you see how far you’ve come.  It also can help to remind you of things you need to deal with.

 

Personally I write down my dreams & nightmares, plus what I find the meaning of everything I can remember in them.  Colors, objects, people, feelings.  Once it’s all written down, I ask God to help me to understand what the dream or nightmare meant.  It’s proven to be quite helpful to me many times.  It could benefit you as well

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Ways To Help Someone With C PTSD

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What It’s Like Being The Adult Child Of A Narcissistic Parent

Children of narcissistic parents often experience similar types of abuse when growing up.  So many of us have spoken to others & said things like, “Yea!!  My mother did that exact same thing!” Many of my readers have told me their stories & they sound oddly similar to my own.  Their mothers told them they were crazy, fat, stupid, ugly, worthless, etc.  They used similar gaslighting phrases to my mother’s, such as “I don’t remember it that way.”  “You’re crazy!”  “What is wrong with you?”  The similarities are uncanny!  In fact, I’ve often wondered if they all have some sort of secret narcissistic instruction manual since so many narcissists act very similar.

 

The abuse isn’t the only thing that’s similar about being raised by narcissistic parents.  The damage done is oddly similar.

 

  • Adult children of narcissists don’t know ourselves.  At best, we know who our narcissistic parent told us we were.
  • We have incredibly low self-esteem, often even believing we have no right to exist & take up space in this world.
  • The low self-esteem makes us incredibly anxious, often terrified of asking people for something,
  • We feel incredible amounts of toxic shame about every single thing about us.
  • Many adult children of narcissistic parents struggle with issues with their weight.  We were told constantly how fat or skinny we were growing up, so we began early in life to see our bodies through our narcissistic parent’s eyes rather than our own.  This often leads to eating disorders or other issues with food.
  • Boundaries?  What are those?  They must be for other people, certainly not for children of narcissistic parents!
  • We’re exhausted constantly.  A lifetime of narcissistic abuse makes people function in survival mode, always trying to put out the next fire as soon as it starts or, better yet, try to make sure the fire doesn’t start in the first place.
  • PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or C-PTSD (Complex PTSD) is common.  Being raised by at least one narcissistic parent is traumatic in so many ways, so many adult children are diagnosed with PTSD or C-PTSD.
  • Physical problems such as high blood pressure, arthritis, aches & pains with no physical cause, & more.

 

Dear Reader, chances are you have experienced symptoms like this, probably more.  Maybe it’s even what brought you to my blog today.  If you are experiencing such things, then please know you aren’t crazy!  You’re far from it in fact.  You’re a normal person who has experienced extremely abnormal things, & had a normal reaction to them.

 

I can’t tell you today that the symptoms will all go away quickly, because they won’t.  Prayer, love & support from those around you, counseling will help you get healthier.  Prayer in particular is the most important thing you can do to help yourself.  Remember, the Bible referred to Jesus as “The Great Physician” & “Wonderful Counselor”- who better to help you get through this?  Also, the more you learn about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the more it will help you to see that you were not the real problem, contrary to what you were told.  You may need to go no contact for your healing to progress, or at the least go low contact.  The more distance between you & your abusive parent, the better it is for your mental & physical health.  You’ll gain clarity you can’t have when in their presence often.  You also will stop functioning in survival mode, which will allow you to think of yourself for once rather than your parents.

 

The symptoms resulting from narcissistic abuse are nothing to take lightly.  Take care of yourself.  You deserve to be happy & healthy! xoxo

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A Little About Nightmares

If you have PTSD or C-PTSD, you know about nightmares.  You have them so often, they aren’t a surprise.  They’re just a way of life.  Yet, little is mentioned about the nightmares.

 

I’d always had frequent nightmares, but it got much worse in 2012 which is when I realized I had C-PTSD.  I began having several almost every night, which of course led to a lot of fatigue.  The nightmares also became even more vivid than usual, which is saying something since I’ve always had very vivid dreams.  They became so vivid in fact, that often I would wake up feeling as if I’d just done whatever I did in the dream.  If I dreamed I ran a marathon, for example, I woke up physically tired & achy.

 

After learning about C-PTSD, I assumed the nightmares would be about reliving traumatic events, which does happen, but only rarely.  Most of my nightmares are about strange things- being an adult yet having to repeat high school & relying on my mother to take me rather than driving my own car; while repeating high school as an adult, being unable to find or remember the combination to my locker; my car being stolen &/or totaled; my husband mocking me when I was obviously upset or rejecting me somehow; or someone letting my cats outside & they ran away.  Strange stuff!  I finally asked God about it after waking up for yet one more bizarre nightmare.  What He shared made a lot of sense & I think it will if you too suffer with odd nightmares like I do.

 

The brain constantly processes information, whether the information is good, bad or indifferent.  Our dreams are often a result of that processing, because the brain doesn’t take breaks.  Sometimes we don’t remember dreams because they weren’t important- the brain simply processed something unimportant.  Other times, it tries to make sense of horrible things that have happened, which is where nightmares come into it.  Sometimes the brain relives those awful, traumatic events in an attempt to understand it, but not always.  Sometimes nightmares look as if they have nothing to do with traumatic events on the surface, yet they actually have a lot to do with them.

 

While the circumstances of the dreams may be different, the emotions they stir up feel exactly like some trauma you have experienced.  My nightmare of my car being stolen & totaled?  It caused a huge amount of anxiety & fear, & I felt completely helpless.  Eventually I realized it triggered the exact same emotions of my seventeenth birthday.  That day, my mother took my gifts from my then boyfriend/now ex husband & destroyed them on the way home from school.  She blamed me for making her do that & making her car messy.  The event caused me so much anxiety (knowing I’d have to tell my ex what happened to his gifts), fear (wondering what she was going to do next) & I felt helpless (she destroyed the gifts as I was picking up her Avon order & gone for maybe 3 minutes- I couldn’t have known what she was going to do or stop her from doing it)

 

When these nightmares happen, the good news is that they have a purpose.  They show you that there is an area in which you need more healing.  It can be hard to figure out, so I highly recommend asking God about it.  He loves you & wants to help you, so let Him!  Ask Him what did that dream mean?  If you like, you also can look up symbols on a dream dictionary website- I’ve done this.  I write down everything I can from my dream- items, colors, feelings- then look up what each means & write it down beside each item.  Sometimes things make more sense to me when I see them in writing so that can be a helpful tool.

 

Once you realize what the dream was trying to make sense of, you can heal.  Work on coping with the traumatic event however works for you- pray, talk to a therapist, talk to a close friend, write in your diary.  What you do doesn’t matter, so long as it works for you.

 

I know nightmares are a very difficult part of C-PTSD & PTSD, but they are also unavoidable.  Why not make them work in your favor by learning what they’re trying to help you cope with?  Once you do, the nightmares often go away or at the very least don’t happen nearly as often.  I haven’t had a dream about my car being stolen or totaled in a couple of years.  🙂

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Fear Is Not From God

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (NKJV)

 

As many of you know, I have agoraphobia.  Leaving home, sometimes even to go into my yard, is very difficult or impossible.  Anxiety takes over & logic that nothing is going to go wrong or hurt me goes out the window.  Quite frankly, it sucks.

 

Recently I’ve been wanting to go for a drive.  That’s all- just enjoy a short drive in my awesome car.  However, the agoraphobia left me at home & my car sitting…

 

A few days ago, I opened up my email first thing in the morning.  I get a Scripture delivered daily.  That particular day the Scripture I shared above was in the email.  When I read it, something clicked in my mind.  No, God didn’t give me a spirit of fear.  My agoraphobia is NOT from Him.

 

The agoraphobia started in 1996, just after my paternal grandmom passed away.  My husband told his mother, who didn’t even acknowledge my loss- she changed the subject.  A short time later, this exact same experience happened with his sister.  Somehow, these experiences cemented in my mind that I don’t matter.  I shouldn’t bother anyone with my problems or even my presence, which is a belief that stems from my upbringing with my narcissistic parents.  Their behavior made this belief evolve into feeling like I don’t even have the right to leave home, possibly bothering people in public places.

 

Thinking about this angered me a great deal.  As is common with many adult children of narcissistic parents, I’m suffering because of other people’s cruelty.  This agoraphobia isn’t from God at all, & that Scripture was a reminder of that.

 

2 Timothy 1:7 enabled me not only to go for a ride, but a longer one than I originally wanted to do.  And, I got on smaller interstates too!  (After getting sick in 2015 & being unable to drive for a long time, I lost a lot of confidence in driving.  I’ve avoided bigger roads & interstates since.)

 

I’m not saying I’m cured.  Even thinking of leaving home now makes me tense up.  However, I do know that keeping these things in mind is going to be helpful for me leaving home in the future.

 

I’m sharing this with you today, Dear Reader, because I know so many of you also live with anxiety &/or agoraphobia.  Please consider what I wrote about here.  Know that such awful things are NOT from God.  It helped me to remember that & get mad at those who put the anxiety & agoraphobia on me.  Maybe it can help you as well to think about it.  What is the root of your anxiety?  If you don’t know, then ask God- He will show you.  He showed me why I have agoraphobia.  I never would’ve guessed that on my own!  He can do the same for you.  Once you get to the root of the problem, you can work on healing it properly.

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Can You Ever Be Completely Healed After Abuse?

I recently was talking recently with a lady about this very topic- can someone be completely healed of the effects of narcissistic abuse?  We both shared the same opinion.  With God, of course, all things are possible.  However, to be completely healed isn’t necessarily the norm.

 

For one thing, narcissistic abuse infects every area of your being.  The stress of it can affect you physically, such as developing high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease, or heart disease.  The negativity & crazy making affect you mentally.  So many victims feel like they’re crazy.  Many lose their self esteem or live with depression & anxiety.  A lot of victims live with PTSD or C-PTSD after leaving the relationship with a narcissist.  Many people in a relationship with narcissists are affected financially.  Narcissists see people as nothing more than tools to be used in whatever way benefits the narcissist, so many victims lose a great deal of money to their narcissist.   Many victims are also affected spiritually because of the narcissist’s weird religious beliefs or being overly “religious”, using God to make the victim feel like a bad person, God is punishing them or the like.

 

For another thing, if you had a narcissistic parent (or two), the abuse is even worse simply due to the nature of the relationship.  It goes so deeply against nature for a parent to abuse a child instead of loving & caring for her, that it’s virtually impossible to accept.  That can deeply affect a child no matter that child’s age.  Many are in denial, saying their narcissistic mother was just quirky or over protective rather than narcissistic.  Some believe their covertly narcissistic parent was naive, & didn’t know any better.  Or, they believe the covertly narcissistic parent was incapable of stopping the overtly narcissistic parent from abusing them for various reasons.

 

Also, childhood forms who you are as an adult.  Whether you had a good or bad upbringing, you are a product of your childhood.  I think childhood is much like the foundation of a home.  If a home’s foundation is damaged, the home won’t be safe.  If you had a bad childhood, your adulthood won’t be healthy until you fix the damage done to you in childhood.

 

You may never fully heal from the abuse.  It’s quite normal.   If you get to the place the abuse doesn’t consume you, you’re doing great.  If you can think or talk about certain events without feeling devastated, but instead feeling more like you’re remembering an unpleasant dream, you’re doing great.  It’s quite possible you may not be healed more than that.  In my personal experience plus observations of the many other victims of narcissistic abuse I’ve spoken with, complete healing isn’t common.  In fact, I haven’t seen it myself.

 

If you are like most of us & still struggling even many years after the abuse happened, please know you’re not alone!  Not by a long shot!  You also aren’t weak or a failure.  God hasn’t abandoned you either.  In fact, He is with you during the worst times, whether you feel His presence or not. I’ll close this post with a beautiful reminder of that fact..

 

Psalm 23

1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

(KJV)

 

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Don’t Justify & Explain Your Mental Illness

Mental illness is very different from physical illness in many ways.  One of those ways is the fact most people don’t usually believe someone has a mental illness.  If you have diabetes, people can see there’s a problem.  They see you testing your glucose or giving yourself an insulin shot.  If you have cancer, you have xrays, mri’s & maybe even a visible tumor that people can see.  But if you have a mental illness, there isn’t such evidence.

 

If you have Bipolar disorder, you’re just “moody.”

 

If you have C-PTSD or PTSD, you’re “dwelling in the past, need to stop thinking about things, need to get over it or you can’t have it because you weren’t in the military.”

 

If you’re depressed or anxious, “you’re feeling sorry for yourself, stop being sad or anxious, need to get out more or take a pill & get over it.”  “Everyone feels sad/anxious” is another common comment.

 

What people fail to realize is you can’t control the symptoms of mental illness any more than you can physical illness.

 

As someone who is not only suffering with mental illness but also frustrated with the lack of compassion & understanding many people have about it, you may do like many people, & try to explain & justify your illness.  Chances are, this will only frustrate you further.

 

As someone with mental illness myself, I get it.  You want people to understand & not judge.  You don’t want to be invalidated either.  After years of thinking any problem I had wasn’t important (thanks, Mom & Dad for the invalidation), I assumed my mental health wasn’t important either.  It took a long time for me to accept that I have real problems, & being invalidated by subject changes & such stupid statements as “Just take a pill- you’ll be fine” make me feel as I did growing up, like I don’t count.  Frankly, I’ve come too far to live with that feeling anymore.  I’ve also realized if I continue to explain to certain people who say such invalidating things, it will leave me feeling even more frustrated & angry.  They only dig their heels in deeper & become more committed to know nothing of the problem at hand.   They don’t want to understand, so nothing I can say will make them understand.  It’s not worth my time & energy trying to make them understand

 

If you are in this situation as well, Dear Reader, I would like to encourage you today.  You don’t have to explain your mental illness to anyone.  Some people are going to want to know about it, but some won’t.  Those people are committed to not knowing or understanding, & it’s not your place to make them understand or know what you live with.  You will know if someone is genuinely concerned for you & wants to know what you experience.  They won’t try to tell you what to do to “get over” your mental illness.  They will offer understanding & support, not judgment.  They will offer to help you if they can.  People like this are the only ones that deserve your time & any information you wish to share about your illness.

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PTSD, C-PTSD & Triggers

Triggers are things that trigger PTSD or C-PTSD symptoms to flare up.  A certain sound that makes you have a flashback or a scent creates a panic attack are triggers.

 

Unfortunately triggers are everywhere.  There is no avoiding them entirely, as wonderful as it would be if that was possible.  I have realized there are times when you can be more easily or less easily triggered.  Certain dates (an abusive parent’s birthday for example) can make you more sensitive to triggers.  Some people also are more or less triggered at various stages of healing.

 

So what can be done about triggers?  Since they can’t be avoided completely, they need to be managed.

 

Prayer is the best place to start.  Ask God for help showing you ways to manage your symptoms during triggers or ways you can avoid them.

 

Identify your triggers & avoid them when possible.  This isn’t always easy, as thinking about your triggers can be upsetting.  But, you need to know what upsets you so you can either avoid it or be prepared to deal with it when you can’t.

 

Triggers can show you what areas you need healing in, so pay close attention to them. For me, hearing someone talk about being sick & having their family care for them is a big trigger for me.  I barely saw a doctor growing up, my mother complained when I was sick about having to take care of me or being stuck at home with me.  As an adult, my mother doesn’t believe me if I have a health problem, blames me for getting sick or injured or accuses me of faking it.  When I hear someone talking about their awesome family who was there for them during a health crisis, I know that I couldn’t experience the same thing, & it hurts me.  It also makes me angry at my mother for being incapable of feelings that any normal mother feels for her child, for seeing nothing wrong with her behavior & instead getting upset with me for being rightfully angry with her.  All of this shows me I still need healing in this area.  The good part about all of this is the more that you do heal in that area, the less power the triggers will have over you.

Also focus on the here & now.  Being well aware of your surroundings can help you  to stay focused on that rather than get caught up in a panic attack.  This also can help you to stay in reality during a flashback.  Touch something with an extreme texture- very soft or coarse fabric, maybe hold an ice cube.  Smell something with a strong scent, such as lavender (which also has anti-anxiety properties) or that holds good memories for you, such as the perfume your favorite aunt wore when you were a child.

 

Write in a journal.  Writing can be extremely therapeutic.  It also can be validating when you see things in writing rather than speaking about them.

 

Learn what self-soothing techniques work best to relax you.  They should involve at least one of your senses.  Soak in a bubble bath, wear soft & comfy clothes, stretch, listen to calming music, listen to nature sounds, sing, drink herbal tea or flavored coffee (decaf is best), light a scented candle or incense, smell some flowers, read a book, watch a funny movie or tv show, look at pictures of those you love or that inspire you.

 

 

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A Bit About No Contact

If you have read much at all about Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you have read about the benefits of going no contact.  It is often the only solution, as many authors on the topic will feverishly tell you.  After all, it’s not like you can reason with someone who refuses to accept any responsibility for their actions.  Many times, all you can do is hope to escape the narcissist with your sanity in tact.

 

Unfortunately though, one thing I have noticed is many people who say that no contact is the only solution fail to mention that is it not a cure all.

 

Certainly, eliminating an abusive narcissist from your life is beneficial.  You no longer have the daily struggles.  Without their gaslighting, you can think clearer.  Your finances may improve as well, if the narcissist was draining your bank accounts.  You finally can focus on yourself & healing.  However, without the narcissist in your life, you still will have problems that stem from your time being abused by that peson.

 

Please believe me, I’m not speaking against no contact.  While I believe it is an individual decision & no one should attempt to force anyone into making that decision, I also realize it is usually the best solution.  I just think it is very important for people who opt to remove the narcissist from their life to realize that doing so won’t solve all of their problems.  Yes, it will improve daily life since they won’t have to deal with new, frustrating, abusive situations, which is fantastic.  But, it also won’t solve some things.

 

No contact doesn’t cure PTSD or C-PTSD.  In fact, there is no known cure for either.  All you can do is manage the symptoms, which, by the way, can be much easier without a narcissist around!

 

It also doesn’t stop repressed memories from returning to the forefront of one’s mind sometimes.

 

It also doesn’t mean you won’t have times of missing the narcissist.  They all have something that made you love them.  If they didn’t, deciding to go no contact wouldn’t have been a difficult decision at all.

 

No contact doesn’t mean you won’t think of the narcissist anymore.  Whether he or she is a parent, relative, romantic interest or friend, you have shared experiences together.  You won’t forget them just because that person is no longer in your life.  Birthdays, anniversaries or other special occasions will pop into your memory periodically.

 

Please don’t lose hope after reading these things!  They don’t mean there is something wrong with you or you are irreparably damaged.  They simply mean you are a normal person who has been deeply affected by narcissistic abuse.

 

These things also don’t mean no contact is a bad idea.  Like I said, it is often the only solution to an extremely painful & impossible situation.  The reason I wanted to share these things with you, Dear Reader, is so you will be prepared if you do opt to go no contact.

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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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You’re Much Stronger Than You Think!

Something crossed my mind recently…

 

I thought about how I dealt with the abuse as it happened to me in my younger days.  I didn’t deal with it.  For one thing, I didn’t have the time.  It was one crisis after another after another for years.  I didn’t have time to deal with something before something else happened.  For another thing, I grew up thinking I never had any real problems.  It didn’t matter how much something hurt me.  My pain was never validated, so I believed it was no big deal.

 

As a result, I went on with life as if nothing happened no matter what trauma I’d just endured.  Like, when I was 19 & had my first nervous breakdown.  I locked myself in my parents’ bathroom & was catatonic for roughly 5 hours.  By the time I came out, I had about one hour to get to work.  I was at work on time, & went through my day as if nothing happened, in spite of being tired & feeling very “off.”  The prior year, my mother came to my job, screamed at me in the parking lot, humiliating me.  When I went back inside, I took a few minutes to relax only because my supervisor told me to, then got back to work.  In fact, after both situations, I ended up comforting my now ex husband because he said such situations were hard for him, rather than receiving comfort from him or anyone for that matter.

 

I used to think these things meant I was strong but I realized something today.  I wasn’t strong- I was dysfunctional.  True strength would have meant I faced these situations & took care of myself after.  Instead, I told myself they were no big deal.

 

When you are abused by a narcissist, you get a very warped view of all sorts of things, including what true strength is.  Pretending things don’t bother you when they do isn’t true strength.  It’s merely setting yourself up for these things to manifest in bad ways at a later date.

 

I’m telling you this today, Dear Reader, because if you feel weak, like so many victims do, because you can’t seem to “get over” the abuse  you endured, you need to realize you aren’t weak.  Quite the contrary.  It takes a lot of strength to face past abuse & trauma.  It doesn’t take a lot of strength to ignore it.

 

It takes a lot of strength to live daily with PTSD or C-PTSD.  It’s  incredibly difficult living with constant memories of things you wish you could forget but can’t, managing symptoms, pulling yourself out of a panic attack, calming yourself after nightmares or coming back to reality after a flashback.  Things things take a great deal of strength.

 

It also takes a great deal of strength to change, to try to live a healthy life instead of a dysfunctional one.  Change can be scary since it’s going into foreign territory.  The familiar is comfortable, even when it is painful, so many people find it easier to stay dysfunctional than to change.

 

Developing new & healthy boundaries is downright terrifying when you haven’t had them before, so setting & enforcing them also takes a tremendous amount of strength.  When people who had weak or no boundaries first start to set them, they meet with a LOT of opposition.  To press on even though everyone around you is calling you selfish or wondering what happened to that “nice” girl you used to be takes a lot of strength!

 

So you see, Dear Reader, just how strong you are?  Give yourself some credit today.  You are  so stronger than you give yourself credit for!

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The One Good Thing About Triggers

Anyone with PTSD or C-PTSD knows about triggers.  Triggers are those things that send us rocketing into a flashback or emotional flashback, or at the very least, remind us of some painful trauma we’d just as soon forget about.  They also can trigger a panic attack or dissociation.

 

As painful as triggers can be, they also can serve a good purpose.  They can show us the areas in which we need healing.

 

I have a very hard time going into the neighboring town where my parents live.  It is full of awful memories for me, so I avoid the town as much as possible.  Going past the library is the worst though.  That was where my first job was, & where my mother did some very abusive & hurtful things to me.  She once screamed at the top of her lungs at me in the parking lot in front of my now ex husband, the patrons & my coworkers.  She humiliated, belittled, shamed & degraded me there too.   Repeatedly.  When I see the library building, even just driving past it, I either get a panic attack, flashback or dissociate.  I’ve done them all.  The one time I went inside that library a few years ago, I had to leave immediately because of having a panic attack & flashback at the same time.  Naturally, I haven’t gone back to that library since.

 

One good thing about this is I realize that I need further healing in the area of the things my mother did to me at that library.  I have dealt with so many things my mother did to me, but not the events that took place at that library.  I know I have repressed some of them, but not all.  I need to deal with what I do remember.

 

Have you ever thought about triggers this way, Dear Reader?  As painful as it can be, it is a good thing when you learn about some area where you need further healing.  You can’t heal from what you don’t acknowledge, so you need to know what areas you need to work on.  Every event you heal from brings you one step closer to wholeness, one step further from the trauma you have endured & fills you with more joy & peace than you had previously.  If you can look at triggers as a sign that you need healing in a certain area, they truly can help you.

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A New Perspective On PTSD & C-PTSD

I recently had an interesting revelation that I’d like to share with you today, Dear Reader.

 

A friend of mine has PTSD as a result of time in the military.  One story he told me was how he was on patrol in the gunner hatch of a humvee, in the lead vehicle, when they were approached by a 12 year old boy carrying a teddy bear.  My friend told him to stop, but he wouldn’t.  Even firing a warning shot into the air didn’t deter this boy, & my friend had no alternative- he had to shoot the boy.  It turns out the boy’s teddy bear contained 6 pounds of explosives- he could’ve killed so many people!

 

When this story crossed my mind the other night, something else crossed my mind: I’ve been through enough trauma at the hands of narcissists to give me the same disorder as this man who has been through unspeakable trauma.

 

Wow.  Talk about giving a new perspective!  It really showed me just how bad the abuse in my life has been.

 

So many people with PTSD or C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse tend to trivialize their experiences & I have been one of them.  They think it’s not so bad because they weren’t in the military or their narcissist didn’t hit them.  They even try to hide their awful symptoms because it’s embarrassing they have the disorder because the abuse “wasn’t so bad.”  They think they’re weak for having PTSD or C-PTSD.

 

Having PTSD/C-PTSD aren’t signs of weakness.  They are anything but!  They are signs of having experienced trauma so severe, it actually physically broke your brain.  They are normal reactions to extremely abnormal circumstances.  They are a sign you survived something pretty horrific.

 

If you live with either PTSD or C-PTSD, please know you have nothing to be embarrassed about.  Would you be embarrassed if you got diabetes?  Cancer?  Then why be embarrassed about having a mental illness?  Also, just like you can’t do anything to get a physical illness like cancer, you didn’t do anything to get PTSD/C-PTSD.

 

If you feel able to, please talk about your experiences with PTSD or C-PTSD or even the abuse you endured.  Talking things out is good for you- it helps you to heal.  Also, talking about what you live with as a result of the trauma can help to raise awareness of PTSD/C-PTSD.  People truly have no idea what it’s really like to live with such an awful mental disorder.  They have these crazy, false ideas of what it means to have PTSD/C-PTSD & those ideas need to be eliminated & replaced with the truth!

 

I would like to encourage you to ask God to show you if He wants you to discuss what has happened to you or the PTSD/C-PTSD, & if so, how.  Does He want you to speak to groups?  Write a book?  Write a blog?  There are many ways to raise awareness. Maybe you have a calling to one of those ways.

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A Day In The Life With C-PTSD

Today, September 6, the day I’m writing this, was one rough day for me.  I’m hoping sharing it here rather than in my private journal can help others.  I also hope my writing makes sense- it’s really hard to write when the C-PTSD flares up.

 

To start with, I woke up first thing in the morning after a restless night full of nightmares I barely remember & repeatedly waking up for no obvious reason.  I started out my day very tired, which made concentration harder than usual.  It also means my moods are more erratic.

 

I decided to go to the local craft store for some yarn for a new crochet project.  Although I spent 3 days prior out all day & it wore me out beyond description, I thought maybe going for a brief drive & visiting a craft store alone when it’s not busy would be doable.  Yea… that sounds good in theory.. in practice though?  Not so much.  The parking lot was super busy since other stores in the shopping center were packed apparently.  Then, the cashier at the craft store was on her first day, so she was confused & learning as she went rather than being fast like the lady who was training her is.  UGH.. I wanted out fast & there was no escape!  Not one other register was open!  I got my yarn & made a mad dash for the parking lot since I felt like the agoraphobia was going to overwhelm me.

 

After leaving, I went to visit a dear friend.  The brief drive shouldn’t have been full of triggers & anxiety, but it was.  On the way to her home, I followed a car for a good part of the journey that resembled a car an old boyfriend of mine drove.  This ex died in 2014 after killing his boyfriend, then himself, in their home. It was all over the local news at the time & very hard for me to come to terms with for a while after that, since I didn’t realize how he was.  The story was a complete shock to me.  Seeing this car reminded me of our brief relationship, & how incredibly sad his story was.  Also it made me grateful I escaped him unharmed.  I have no doubt he would’ve killed me if I’d stayed with him.  When I left him, I had NO idea how dysfunctional or dangerous he was.  All I knew was he spent hours screaming at me when I broke up with him that evening, telling me I was making a huge mistake, he was a great guy, I’d regret leaving him, I was ruining his life, etc.  (Nothing out of the ordinary for me since my mother screamed at me constantly in my last couple of years before moving out of her home.)  As a result, I spent many years beating myself up for ruining his life.  Learning of his death in 2014, I realized how dysfunctional he was which set me free from that guilt, however, the story was so sad, I still feel pity for him, the man he killed & their families.

 

There was also a surprising amount of traffic out today & the exhaust fumes made me feel sick, thanks to the over-sensitivity I have to carbon monoxide.  Surviving carbon monoxide poisoning can do this to a survior, & frankly, it’s a real nuisance!  I got a nasty headache, stomach ache, & I felt woozy after breathing in the fumes that doesn’t want to go away.

 

I also realized the date on my way to my friend’s house.. September 6.  On that day in 1990, I hurt my back at work.  Not terribly, but pretty painful.  As it was healing, my mother threw me into a wall during an argument which made the pain a thousand times worse.  Shortly after, I had to quit working outside my home.  My mother never believed my back was injured, & told anyone who would listen how I was so lazy that I was faking the injury so I wouldn’t have to work again.  In fact, my doctors even thought I was faking it, & said similar things.  I was told so often that I was faking it, I wondered if I really was faking it.  Years later I learned people with PTSD often have lower back pain with no known physical cause- you’d think a doctor back then would’ve sent me to a counselor, but no one did.  Instead they shamed me for being lazy.  The memories of that experience made me angry.

 

Thinking of how my mother responded to my back pain triggered other intrusive memories I really don’t want to have.  For one, about a year ago, my mother called one day & said my father told her my ex husband hit me.  She said she had no idea, & if she’d have known, she would’ve called a lawyer about this & straightened it out!  The fact is she did know- she blamed me for making him hit me right after it happened.  She saw the bruises I wore- the most obvious injury was the shape of his hands were on my wrists in the form of bruises.  It was just one more time she didn’t care about my pain.  Other memories intruded my mind, against my will & I was unable to push them away.  They reminded me of many painful times that my parents have abused me & I was supposed to tolerate it all quietly, with a smile, including our most recent fight in May & how they have quit speaking to me since then, even though they were in the wrong.  I was angry & sad all at once remembering these things.

 

Did I mention I’m still having difficulty grieving the loss of my 2 cats since May?  Grief seems to magnify other issues, making them even more challenging than usual to deal with.

 

This awful, miserable day meant I had to hold in my tears or anger until I was alone since no one was responsible for the emotions.  It’s just a part of the disorder & no one I was around today should be forced to feel bad for making me cry or making me angry.

 

I’ve also reviewed this post at least 10 times to make sure my writing makes sense, because making sense is so hard to do when the C-PTSD flares up.

 

This is typical of a day in the life of someone with C-PTSD or PTSD.  Any little thing can trigger thoughts that they don’t want to have yet are helpless to prevent.  Mood swings & anger &/or depression can be triggered easily too.  To be honest, it’s sheer hell to live with.

 

PTSD or C-PTSD are not a result thinking too negatively.  They aren’t wallowing in the past or looking for pity.  They aren’t playing some “poor me” card, looking for attention or pity.  They mean someone has experienced such trauma in their lives, it literally broke parts of their brain.  They are serious mental disorders with symptoms that can easily be out of control.  They mean the person who is sick has good days & bad days.  On good days, it may seem like the patient is totally fine.  That isn’t the truth however.  On good days, this usually means the patient is just better at hiding his/her symptoms than on other days.

 

I’m not explaining this because I want pity.  I’m putting it out there because I know many people who read my work live with PTSD or C-PTSD, & can’t always explain it to other people in their life.  I’m hoping this will help those people relate to my crappy day.  Maybe they will now be able to explain to their counselors or their friends & family just how triggering & difficult a typical day with PTSD or C-PTSD can be.  Sure, my specific circumstances may be different, but I’m sure the basics are the same- agoraphobia, unexpected triggers, & intrusive thoughts & wicked mood swings.  Please know, Dear Readers, I pray for you daily.  Living with PTSD or C-PTSD is horrible, & I pray for God to heal you & until He does, show you how to live with the awful symptoms.

 

Also, you’re not alone!  You’re not crazy!  There are so many of us who live with these symptoms due to traumatic experiences.  Having PTSD/C-PTSD doesn’t make you weak or a failure or any other ridiculous thing you’ve been told.  It’s a sign you reacted normally to very abnormal circumstances.

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Animals & Post Traumatic Stress Disoder

Human beings aren’t the only ones who can suffer from mental illness.  Animals can as well.

 

Contrary to what many people seem to think, animals have emotions like people do, & even process them much the same way as humans.  This means that animals can develop Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, following trauma.

 

Unfortunately for animals, they can’t verbalize their pain.  You have to observe your pet to figure out if they have PTSD, & it can be tricky to identify.

 

 

My 2 year old cat, Punkin, has Feline PTSD.  When he arrived in our home at 3 months old, I had no idea of this fact.  All I knew was he showed up on the deck of the neighbor of my friend’s friend, & he was in need of a home.  He was immediately friendly with the other cats, & seemed indifferent towards our dog, Dixie.  A few months later, Punkin attacked Dixie out of the blue.  My husband & I hollered at him immediately.   He stopped, looking completely baffled, then ran away & hid.  Thankfully Dixie didn’t even have a scratch, but she was visibly shaken, understandably so!  My husband was mad at Punkin, but I realized he looked like I felt during a flashback.  Once Punkin calmed down & apologized to Dixie (looking sheepishly at her & trying to be nice to her), I did some research & learned that yes, animals can have PTSD.  I realized some signs to look for, at least in cats, but probably they are much the same in other animals:

 

  • Kitty has been exposed to trauma.  The lady who gave Punkin to me never knew of any trauma, & certainly there hasn’t been any since he’s been living with me.  But, his attacking Dixie tells me he’s been through some terrifying experience with a dog before coming to me.
  • Kitty avoids things that remind him of the trauma.  For quite some time Punkin avoided Dixie.  He wouldn’t even walk past her or nap on the bed or sofa if she was napping there.
  • Heightened startle reflex.  If your cat doesn’t see you’re going to touch him, he may jump drastically when you make contact.  He can be very skittish.
  • Sudden loud noises (for example, dropping a pan) upset your pet.
  • Kitty can appear agitated or uneasy sometimes.  
  • Flashbacks.  These can be harder to spot.  Punkin looks different when it happens.  He turns vicious (he’s normally very gentle, sweet & loving) for a very short time, then looks confused, & then runs & hides.  After, he is skittish for a while.
  • Kitty can respond disproportionately to what is happening.  For example, someone suddenly picking up the cat startles the cat, who scratches &/or hisses.  This behavior may trigger memory of the traumatic event.

 

After realizing what was going on with Punkin, I had to pray to figure out how to handle this problem.  It’s not like I could take Punkin to a therapist, & he could discuss his feelings.  As far as I know, veterinary medicine doesn’t even acknowledge PTSD in animals, so even a vet check up wouldn’t help.  Thankfully God showed me some things.

 

  • I pray for him.  PTSD is nothing to take lightly, whether it’s in a human or animal.  Although Punkin is doing very well most days, he has his bad days too.  I pray for him on bad days as well as try to make him feel better if he’s open to it by offering extra love, playing or treats.
  • I follow Punkin’s lead.  If he wants to be left alone after a flashback, I leave him alone while keeping an eye on him from a distance to be sure he is OK.  When he’s feeling playful or loving, I go with it.  If he doesn’t want snuggles, I don’t snuggle him.
  • If Punkin does something that warrants correction, I don’t holler at him, since noise upsets him.  Instead, I say his name & tell him to stop it in a slightly louder than normal volume, but using a stern voice.  He gets the point without aggravating that startle reflex.
  • I try to keep life as consistent as possible.  (Since I have Complex PTSD, it benefits me too.)  I have a routine that rarely changes much.  This helps Punkin know what to expect.  It helps him to feel safe & secure.
  • I give Punkin a lot of love & reassurance.  He has no doubt he is loved & safe.
  • We’re very blessed with Dixie- she has been a great help with Punkin learning to trust her.  He sniffs her sometimes, as cats do, & she stays perfectly still, allowing him to sniff as much or as little as he likes.  She’s never aggressive with him, which has helped him see that not all dogs are mean.  She instinctively knows what he needs from her.  As a result of efforts on both his & her parts, they are now on civil terms.  In fact, sometimes he actually gives her a little love.

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The Difference Between Flashbacks & Repressed Memories

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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Emotional Flashbacks & Sensory Flashbacks

Most people have heard of flashbacks, where you feel as if you are reliving a traumatic event.  It can be so difficult to tell reality from the awful memory during a flashback.  They are horrible, & I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

But, this isn’t the only type of flashback.  Emotional flashbacks happen too.  They are when something triggers an overwhelming feeling in you.  For example- being late makes me feel tremendous anxiety & shame.  My mother would get me to high school at the last possible moment to show me she was in charge, telling me how lucky I was she would do this or anything at all for me, considering how awful I treated her.  It’s been almost 30 years since she did this yet anxiety & shame still kick into overdrive if I’m running late.

Other examples of emotional flashbacks are things like believing if you make a mistake it makes you bad or feeling shame if someone disagrees with you, or doesn’t like something you like.

There is also such a thing as a sensory flashback.  Sensory flashbacks are brought on by something that affects the senses.  For example, smelling a certain perfume or seeing a style of clothing like your narcissistic mother wore creates terrible anxiety in you.

Emotional & sensory flashbacks can be managed with the same methods used to manage regular flashbacks.  Grounding techniques can help you to get through it.  Use something to stimulate the senses, such as smelling something with a very strong scent, or touch something with a very coarse texture or even hold an ice cube.  Something that strongly stimulates at least one of your senses will force your mind to take notice, & help to loosen the flashback’s hold on you, keeping you in reality.  And, once it’s done, don’t forget to take care of yourself while you recover.  Flashbacks, even mild ones, can take a lot out of you.  You need to rest & pamper yourself to recover afterwards.

Although flashbacks can be extremely painful to experience, they also can be beneficial.  They show you what areas you need healing in.  I encourage you to try to use that awful flashback to help you in this way.  As you feel strong enough, face whatever issue came up & cope with it the best you can.  Pray- ask God to help you to heal.  Learn about ways to forgive your abuser, because you deserve to be happy, without carrying around anger or bitterness.  Learn ways to take care of yourself, to be the nurturer you never had.

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Ways To Cope With Agoraphobia

As mentioned in my previous blog post, agoraphobia is a part of anxiety.  It is the fear of public places.  It commonly accompanies PTSD & C-PTSD.

 

And to put it bluntly, it sucks!

 

I have a hard time going out with someone, but alone is an extremely nerve-wracking prospect.  It’s been very challenging trying to come up with ways to cope.  I have found a couple of things that help some, so I thought I would share them with you today in the hopes they help you as well.

 

Valerian root is an herb with anxiety combating properties.  Taking a pill before going out can be quite helpful.  It may not make you super calm, but it does help to take a great deal of the edge off.  If you haven’t tried it before, you’d be best trying it on a day when you don’t have to drive.  Normally one pill won’t make you sleepy, but there is a chance it may.  Not something you want to deal with behind the wheel!  I have found one pill about every 12 hours can help with anxiety, but more than that puts me to sleep unless my anxiety levels are exceptionally bad.  Many people are the same way, so just be forewarned you may be as well.  Valerian root capsules are readily available in some stores that sell vitamins & herbal supplements as well as online.  It’s usually quite inexpensive too.  Also be sure to follow the dosing on the bottle, as manufacturers sometimes make different strengths.  If you’re taking other medicines, it would be a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure it won’t interact with valerian.

 

I also make sure to go out during quieter times.  The middle of the afternoon during a Tuesday is often a time stores are less crowded.  Early Tuesday or Wednesday morning for DMV.  Also, off times also mean less traffic- an added bonus!

 

I like to reward myself with a little something when I’ve had to go out.  A milkshake, a new bottle of nail polish, or something similar can help motivate me to do what needs done.

 
If I’m able, I try to either go out with someone or meet someone.  Even if I go to lunch with someone then do the errands I need to do, it helps because I had some fun.

 

Motivational thoughts can help some too.  Things like,

  • The sooner I get this trip done, the sooner I can come home & relax.
  • Once this trip is done, I can do something I enjoy- watch that movie I’ve been wanting to see, do a manicure, snuggle the furkids, etc.
  • I also try to focus on something positive, like I am grateful I have this wonderful car to drive, & I am able to go out without having to rely on someone to take me out.

 

I hope these tips help you to better manage living with agoraphobia!

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About Agoraphobia

Agoraphobia can be a crippling phobia.  It is a part of anxiety, & is common among those with PTSD & C-PTSD.  Agoraphobia is a fear of public places.  In fact, some people are even afraid to step outside the door of their own home.

 

I developed it in 1996 when my paternal grandmom died.  When my husband told his mother then later his sister of my loss, both completely ignored the news, changing the subject back to themselves.  Something in their reactions made me think that I do not matter.  Nothing about me is worth acknowledging, & I shouldn’t bother anyone with my problems or even my presence.  Granted, this wasn’t new- growing up with a narcissistic mother certainly made me feel that way.  However, God showed me that their lack of acknowledging my loss cemented such awful, dysfunctional beliefs in me, & made me believe I shouldn’t even bother people with my presence.  Then, developing C-PTSD in 2012 made the agoraphobia even worse.

 

Not everyone develops it in a way like I did.  Some people develop this nasty phobia along with C-PTSD or PTSD.  No matter how it starts, anyone with agoraphobia knows it is extremely challenging to live with.  It strips you of your independence.  It devastates your self-esteem since you feel crazy or useless by not being able to go out as you once did.  You feel like a burden because you need people to go with you or do your grocery shopping for you.

 

If this describes you, please know that you are not alone, Dear Reader.  Many people, especially those who have been subjected to narcissistic abuse, suffer with agoraphobia.  It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or useless or even a burden.  It means you have been through some bad things that made you sick.  I’m sure you don’t feel that is the case, but truly it is!  You are fine- you simply have a problem resulting from trauma.

 

Tomorrow’s post will offer some suggestions I have found for coping with agoraphobia when you simply must leave home.

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Trauma Changes You

Trauma actually can cause physical changes in the brain. That is why PTSD & C-PTSD happen- the brain is actually broken due to traumatic experiences. The physical damage to the brain causes the awful symptoms of both disorders.

However, I don’t believe you have to have an actual disorder to be changed by trauma.

I have C-PTSD, but the symptoms didn’t fully manifest until the spring of 2012. Prior to that, I have experienced many traumas, & I realized I changed after several of them, long before the C-PTSD.

In 2010, my house was hit by lightening while my husband & I were at a friend’s wedding reception. When we came home we learned a window unit air conditioner had been hit, & caught fire, but somehow the fire went out. The neighbor’s tree beside our driveway, where my car sits, was hit, as was their brick chimney. There were large limbs & bricks surrounding my car, but nothing touched my car. Coming so close to losing my car, furkids & home was extremely traumatic. It made me appreciate them all even more. I constantly snuggle & tell the furkids how much I love them now (sometimes to their disappointment..lol). Cleaning my home & car also aren’t as big of a nuisance as they once were.

Shortly after the lightening incident, upon leaving a store, my shoe got caught on the curb & flung me into oncoming traffic.  Thankfully I was only sore & embarrassed, but that oncoming truck that came within inches of hitting me scared me!  It made me realize that life can change or even end in an instant.  Since then, I take better care of my mental health now instead of ignoring when the C-PTSD flares up. I am less rigid in my routines, opting to do fun things whenever the opportunities arise. I also constantly reevaluate things in my life & am much more open to making changes than I was.

Things like what I have experienced are normal. Trauma is so dramatic, how can it not change you in some way?

The changes may not be as drastic as mine have been. Sometimes, it’s small changes. For example, since I developed C-PTSD, I am not as interested in knitting & crocheting as I had been. I loved doing both ever since I was five years old, so suddenly losing interest has been very strange to say the least.

Have you changed as a result of trauma? If so, you are completely normal! It’s ok! These changes may simply be a part of the new you. Why not embrace the changes? You may discover new interests or a renewed passion for an old one. You may have a new appreciation for the people, pets or even things in your life. You may wish to end old relationships that aren’t beneficial to you or the other person, & that too is fine. It may be a good thing. Maybe it’s time for a fresh start. You also may change often, your likes or dislikes changing frequently.

I encourage you to pray if you are unsure of or uncomfortable with the changes happening to you. God will reassure you of what is fine & let you know if something is wrong.

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Intrusive Thoughts

In case you don’t know, intrusive thoughts are thoughts that shove their way into your mind & are often impossible to get rid of.  They are very common with PTSD & C-PTSD.  In my experience, a brain injury combined with C-PTSD made them even worse.  Yay me..

 

A few minutes ago, I had yet another experience with intrusive thoughts.  My newest cat, Minnie Rose, is named after my great grandmom, who I absolutely adore.  She passed when I was 11, but I still have many fond memories of her, some of which replayed in my mind when Minnie Rose walked into the room with me.  Suddenly, I remembered that my parents never asked if I was ok or offered comfort when she died.  My granddad held me & let me cry at her viewing, & that was the only comfort or love I was shown regarding her passing.  I began to get angry that my parents didn’t care that I was grieving or even talk to me about her death.  I decided to get on facebook & distract myself for a little while as I really didn’t feel like dealing with this anger right now.  Even a short break so I could finish my housework in peace would have been nice.  That was a bad idea.  The “today’s memories” feature popped up & in there was a link to this old blog post.  Remembering how cruel my mother was to me last year at this time was very painful.

 

So now, I’m sitting here pretty pissed off.  Fun times… Not.

 

This type of thing has happened enough times that I’m used to it.  I also have learned how to handle it in a way that works for me, & I want to share it in the hopes they will work for you as well.

 

I have yet to find a way to stop intrusive thoughts.  They seem to have a mind of their own.  Also, I’ve noticed when I try, often something else happens that pretty much forces me to deal with what is on my mind.  This has shown me that intrusive thoughts have a purpose.  They serve as a reminder to say, “Now is the time to deal with this!  Get alone, get quiet & get with God so you can do it.”  This is actually a good thing, even though it doesn’t feel like it at the time.  (Apparently for me they also can serve as fodder for blog entries..lol)

 

When I can get alone, quiet & with God, I tell Him how I feel.  I let it out, all the anger & ugliness.  In return, He comforts me.  Sometimes (well, often..) I don’t feel like saying things out loud, so instead of talking to Him, I write in my journal as if I am talking to Him.  Either way, God does the same thing- helps me to get rid of the anger &/or hurt & comforts & often heals me from that painful incident.  It’s really that simple.  Healing isn’t always complicated.  Sometimes you just need to get your feelings out, be validated & receive some comfort in return.

 

Sometimes, I also ask God to tell me the truth about what happened.  Was it right?  Did I deserve it?  His answers are always amazing!  When God tells you that you didn’t deserve to be abused, you can’t help but believe it!  I’ve often sensed His anger at the injustice of the experience I went through, which also, believe it or not, is very healing.  It validates the fact that you were done wrong, very wrong.

 

Another thing I have noticed is that doing this may help you to release some anger, but acquire a new anger.  A righteous anger.  I know this can be difficult for victims of narcissistic abuse, because we were never allowed to be angry.  Often we carry that dysfunction well into adulthood.  And, as a Christian, many folks misunderstand anger.  They often believe you should forgive & forget, anger is from the devil, & shamed if you feel any anger no matter the situation.  We often feel wrong & ashamed if we feel any anger, so we try to ignore it.  I want to tell you today, Dear Reader, that there is absolutely nothing wrong with righteous anger!  Remember Jesus in the temple, overturning tables & freeing sellers’ livestock for sale?  That was righteous anger.  People were doing something offensive to God, & that enraged Him, as it should have!  Abuse is also offensive to God- why shouldn’t anyone be enraged by that?!

 

Righteous anger has its place.  It lets you know that something is very wrong & change needs to happen.  It also motivates you to make that change by stirring up your emotions.  I have only recently learned to embrace righteous anger.  It has helped me when I have to deal with my parents & their abusive, dysfunctional behavior.  Realizing that they expect me to behave as they want after how horribly they have treated me makes me angry with that righteous anger.  That anger gives me the strength to be firm in my boundaries & not tolerate things I would have tolerated without that anger.

 

In conclusion, I know intrusive thoughts are painful, upsetting & disturbing, but please be encouraged, Dear Reader.  They do have a purpose!  Dealing with them as quickly as possible will help you to heal & grow stronger.

 

Also, when you are done dealing with your intrusive thoughts, don’t forget to take care of yourself!  Emotional work is so exhausting.  Be gentle with yourself.  Pamper yourself.  You’ve earned it!

 

And now, I’m off to write in my journal then take a relaxing, long shower & goof off for the rest of my day…

 

 

 

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Coping With The Changes That Come With C-PTSD, PTSD & Other Brain Injuries

I was reading something this morning by someone with PTSD.  She was discussing the limitations she has gotten as a result of the awful disorder.  I found one thing especially interesting about what she said.  She said rather than getting depressed about these changes, she has chosen to celebrate them, to look at them as a gift.

While this sounds good in theory, I was thinking about it.  I’ve had C-PTSD since 2012 (well, that’s when all the symptoms started- I had many of them all my life), then in February, 2015, I got carbon monoxide poisoning & passed out from it resulting in a concussion which has caused still more damage to my  brain.  There is a lot I can’t do like I once did.  I can’t read books without getting a headache & anxiety.  I can’t write easily- it takes much longer to write anything, even a short email, let alone a book.  My short term memory is awful, & learning new things is extremely difficult.  Loud noises are a problem too, including music, which means I can no longer drive around with my radio blaring- one of my favorite activities. I now have mild dyslexia & chemical sensitivities. I also get tired very quickly & my personality is quite different.

I’m not really feeling like these things are a gift.  I’m going to go out on a limb here & guess that others with PTSD, C-PTSD or other problems with similar symptoms due to traumatic brain injuries don’t feel it either.

While I’m not saying you should wallow in misery for what you have lost, I think it is a good idea to be realistic.  In my experience, I have learned to grieve, then accept the changes.  It’s painful losing so much of yourself, how can you not grieve that?!  Grieving also clears the way for acceptance, in time, as it is the final stage of grief.

Allow yourself to feel sad that you have new limitations.  You have lost a part of what makes you, you.  You are allowed to feel sad for that!  Angry too!  In time, you will feel less & less sad & angry.  Then you will be more ready to accept these limitations & get to know the new you.

As you’re getting to know the new you, remember to treat yourself gently.  There may be times you feel strong & brave- push yourself as best you can during those times.  Other times, you feel weakened for various reasons, & need to relax.  Just do what you can do & don’t worry about the rest!  I know, easier said than done, but try it anyway.  Pushing too hard does you no justice.  It can make you sick.  When I have pushed myself too hard, there have been times I’ve needed to rest in bed for a day or two to recover.

Also, I am still trying to look at getting to know the new me as something enjoyable.  Like,  getting to know a new friend.  That perspective helps some too.

Dear Reader, be gentle with yourself.  If you have C-PTSD, PTSD or a TBI, you obviously have been through some bad, bad things!  Although you are obviously stronger than what tried to hurt or even kill you, you aren’t quite as strong as you once were.  It’s ok!  It’s normal, considering the circumstances.  Just remember that you aren’t quite as able to handle things like you once could, & adapt to that.  And, don’t forget- with God, all things are possible.  And, He loves you & wants you healed.  Don’t forget to pray for healing too!

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Sensory Flashbacks

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

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

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

So back to last night…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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An Important Point About C-PTSD & PTSD

Recently I was talking with a friend of mine on Facebook.  He’s a former soldier with PTSD.  I saw just how hard he can be on himself for not perfectly managing his symptoms, & it broke my heart.

On July 4th, he went with his wife & kids to see fireworks.  Like many vets, this isn’t an easy thing for him.  This year though, he got through just fine with some help from his family.  He was proud of himself, as he should have been.  The next day he was due to go to the beach with his family but had such bad panic attacks, he couldn’t go.  He said some pretty bad things about himself for not having control over the panic.  He said he felt he should be able to conquer this, but he couldn’t, & was extremely hard on himself over it.

I realized I do the exact same thing when my symptoms flare up sometimes.  I try not to, but there are still some times when I tell myself I’m worthless, stupid & a host of other things.  I think a lot of us with C-PTSD or PTSD do this exact same thing.  That doesn’t make it right though!

C-PTSD & PTSD are actual brain injuries & the symptoms are not caused by faulty thinking or beliefs like many people think.  The symptoms come about because the trauma(s) a person has endured is so bad, it caused physical changes to some parts of the brain.   Expecting to be able to control the symptoms perfectly is just not wise. It’s like trying to control the symptoms of a sprained ankle.  Not going to happen!  How can you expect to control physical injuries?  It’s impossible!

If you have C-PTSD  or PTSD, then you know you have good & bad days.  Good days are like my friend’s fireworks experience this July 4th.  When you can manage your symptoms well, it’s a very good day & you can feel on top of the world.  Bad days are the polar opposite, & you often feel like the most worthless human being alive.  Unfortunately though, both good & bad days happen.  It’s only natural.

When the bad days happen, I really think it is best to avoid beating yourself up over them.  No good can come of it!  Beating yourself up only makes you feel worse about yourself.  It also can make the anxiety worse.  It makes you feel even more depressed.

Instead of beating yourself up, then why not accept the fact that days like this happen?  You obviously can’t control them, so it’s not like they’re your fault.  Accept that they happen,& do the best you can do to manage the symptoms as they arise.  Sometimes your best may not be very good, & that’s ok too.  It’s just part of having such an awful disorder.  Also remember, this disorder doesn’t define you- it is simply a sickness.  You are NOT your disorder!

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Trauma Changes You

You can’t experience trauma without changing.  It’s only natural that when you experience something life altering or even life threatening that you change.

I’ve had 5 nervous breakdowns to date, & after each one, something about me changed.  After the first & second ones, I got even better at stuffing my feelings.  No one cared what happened, so I took that to mean I needed to not bother anyone with my ‘trivial’ problems.  (You can tell I was surrounded by narcissists at the time & not a Christian..)  After the others, I realized that even if no one cared but God & I, I cared, & needed to take better care of my mental health.

After coming close to death with carbon monoxide poisoning in February, I gained a new strength.  Although I still have problems with anxiety, I refuse to sweat the small stuff as much as I once did. I now get angry quickly & set boundaries immediately if someone mistreats me rather than trying to be understanding.  Oddly, even my eating habits are different.

When these changes first happened after my first two nervous breakdowns, I ignored them.  Then I began to realize that they are happening for a reason.  God is using negative circumstances to get my attention.  I started asking Him to show me what I need to learn, & those prayers were answered.  The information has been very valuable.  I’ve learned I like the new me.

If you’re reading this post, it is safe to assume you too have experienced trauma, most likely narcissistic abuse, since that is what I write about most often.  As you are healing from it, you’ll realize that you have changed.  You may feel differently or think differently.  That is perfectly fine!  Don’t worry about it or beat yourself up over it.   Why not just get to know the new you?  Take the time to really pay attention to how you feel or think.  Get to know the new you as if you were meeting a new friend.

The changes happened in you for a reason, & chances are, because they needed to happen.  While I don’t believe God makes bad things happen, I do believe He will use them for our benefit.  If you are unsure of what good has come from the trauma you’ve experienced, just ask God to show you.  He will help you..

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The Past – Wallowing Or Helpful?

So many people say you’re just wallowing in your past if you talk about being abused.  I am sure some people are wallowing- it is a very hard thing to move past, being abused, especially if your abuser was a narcissist.

However, I do not believe that this describes the majority of people who have survived abuse.   Judging from not only myself but many people I have met, we have a much different reason for discussing the abuse we have been through.

Talking about painful experiences brings them into the open, where they can be analyzed & even become learning experiences.  Talking about them brings healing.

When I was growing up, I was never allowed to discuss or question the abuse I was going through.  I was supposed to tolerate it quietly & change into whatever my mother wanted me to be at that moment.  Now though, as a woman in mid life, that does not work for me. I have been through too much.  Talking about it breaks the hold over me being abused once had.

Looking into the past helps you to set yourself free from the abuse that has been done to you.  It allows you to question things that you could not question at the time they were happening. It allows you to confront the lies you were told, & discover the truth.  It also allows you to grieve for the horrible things done to you over which you had no control.  (Grieving is necessary if you want to move on.)

Looking back at the good things helps you as well.  Remembering good times helps to brighten your day.  Lately, I often think of the fun times I spent as a child with my great-grandmother.  They always make me smile, as she was a lovely woman.  Remembering good times also can help you to understand why you are the way you are.  You get to know yourself when you pay attention to those things that make you happy or sad, or the things you like or don’t like.

Once you deal with things in your past, you have less desire to look backward towards the bad things.  The bad memories also won’t interrupt your thoughts as often.  Good memories will occur more often than the bad.  Making peace with your past helps you tremendously in the present.

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New Ways To Cope With Anxiety Taught Me A Way To Deal With Narcissists

I was talking with a good friend of mine recently.  She, too, has problems with anxiety, although hers isn’t associated with C-PTSD.  It still sounds pretty bad, unfortunately.  While we were discussing our experiences, I told her that since I got since in February, my anxiety levels have been a lot better.  She asked what I have done to change things.  Honestly I couldn’t think of what to say at that time.  I had to get alone, pray & really look at things later on.

I got a new revelation on how quickly life can change or even end when I got sick.  When I got sick that February day with carbon monoxide poisoning, I didn’t realize just how serious it was, nor did anyone at the hospital tell me.  I read about it on the Mayo Clinic’s site & Wikipedia after I got home & was shocked at just how close I came to death or the possibility of permanent brain damage.  I made myself face how I felt about this situation instead of ignoring my feelings (as I learned early in life to do), & although it’s been painful to go through, it’s been good.  Coming  that close to death really gave me a new revelation on just how fast life can change, or even end.  That revelation has helped me tremendously to have a better perspective.  I don’t sweat the small stuff so easily now.  I don’t want to waste whatever time I have upset if I can help it.  We only have a relatively short time on this earth, & I have wasted enough years upset, angry, hurt & anxious- I want to enjoy the rest of the time I have as much as possible!

Wanting to enjoy my life as much as I can also made me enforce my boundaries better.  I’m learning to respect how I feel & say no sometimes.  I began asking myself some tough questions:  What is good or right about making myself miserable just to make someone else happy?  If someone wants that, they certainly are selfish & don’t have my best interests at heart.  And, what makes that person so much more important than me anyway?  Why is their happiness so much more important than mine?

Before I got sick, I was too stressed & anxious.  So much so, my hair is damaged & broken.  This was another sign that things had to change.  If my hair was showing such awful signs of stress, what could be happening on the inside to my heart or other organs?  I made the decision that I deserved better than this- it’s time to fight the anxiety & stress.  Making that decision was important.  The decision enabled me to slow down or even stop when anxiety kicks in & talk to myself.  I ask myself is this going to hurt me, is there something I can do to make this situation better, what am I so worried about?  Questions like that make me think about the situation logically, which cuts back on  or even eliminates anxiety.

I have begun to focus more on relaxing.  When I take my daily shower, I enjoy the feel of the warm water instead of just rushing through it.  I exfoliate my skin often & use a good quality lotion I like after my shower so my skin feels great.  I shampoo & condition gently with good products to take care of my fragile, recovering hair.  Often too, I turn on some good music, & light a scented candle while in the shower.  This turns a boring daily ritual into something I enjoy & that relaxes me.  I also turn on music when I do household chores, as the music makes me feel good.  When I get into bed, I take a moment to relish how comfortable & cozy it is.  I have a collection of pictures on my tablet that make me feel good- pictures of serene scenery, Victorian era images or even inspiring quotes that validate me.  Little things like this add to squelching anxiety.

Often, people talk to me about their problems.  (I think many adult children of narcissists are often the friend everyone talks to about their problems).  I’ve recently begun to remind myself that I’m not God- it’s not my place to fix other people’s lives.  Just because my parents raised me to fix their problems doesn’t mean that fixing people is my responsibility!  My job is to offer compassion, advice if asked, help them in some way if I feel God is leading me to & direct them to God.  This has enabled me to feel less anxiety because I can detach emotionally some now in these situations.

Most importantly, I also remind myself constantly that God is in control & is my provider. No matter what we do, God still is in charge.  He wants what is best for me & wants to bless me.  He has brought me this far for a reason, & has not once forsaken me.  Reminding myself of such things has brought me closer to God & our relationship has drastically improved.  Not that I have complaints about how it was before, but even so,  I feel so much closer to Him now & my faith has grown.

Granted, this doesn’t conquer all anxiety every time it happens.  I still battle agoraphobia every time I leave my home or wake up with panic attacks sometimes.  However, things have improved greatly.  And a bonus has happened- by slowing myself down to deal with anxiety, it’s become such a habit, I’ve also started doing it automatically when dealing with my narcissistic parents.  Instead of immediately getting angry or hurt over what they do, I am now able to remind myself that whatever they’re doing isn’t about me- it’s about their dysfunctional behavior.  For example, if they try to make me feel guilty for not calling more often, I remember that they don’t want me to call more because they care about me, but because they want that narcissistic supply.  The result is I don’t feel guilty- I realize they are trying to get supply from me & I have the right to protect myself from  it.  Talk about a bonus!  I can cope better with anxiety & my parents too?!  It feels good not to feel guilty, hurt  or angry every time I hang up the phone from talking to my parents!

I believe what I have learned can help you as well.  I urge you to pray about what I’ve written & put it into practice if God leads you to do so!

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Suicidal Tendencies After Narcissistic Abuse

Many people are quick to judge anyone who either is suicidal, has attempted it or has followed through on committing suicide.  It’s such a shame people can be so heartless!

Many people who have survived narcissistic abuse live with depression, & as a result are suicidal.  In fact, many also have developed C-PTSD or PTSD as a result of the abuse, & depression & suicidal ideation are symptoms of both dreadful disorders. The judgmental attitudes of others make this awful situation even more painful.  People readily accuse suicidal people of being selfish, weak, wanting to take the easy way out or seeking attention.  Others say it’s a sin that God won’t forgive, so if they do it, they’ll go to Hell.

This is horrible & it shouldn’t be, but sadly not a lot of people have much compassion or are able to see things from another’s perspective.  Feeling suicidal isn’t exactly the walk in the park many people think it is.  It’s a dismal, depressing place where you believe the only means of escape is death.  It doesn’t sound like a bad choice- your pain will be over, you’ll have no more misery of this life & it’s not like anyone would care if you’re gone anyway.  (At least that is how you feel.  That doesn’t mean it’s the truth however!)

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, the last thing that person needs is to be lectured or judged.  The person instead needs a great deal of compassion, empathy & love.  They need to know that their presence makes a difference, & they would be greatly missed if they died.  They also need to know that you are willing to help them through this dark patch.  Make sure this person knows that you love her, are willing to pray with & for her, listen to her without judgment & are willing to do whatever you can do to help.

If you are the one who is suicidal, please know that you are here on this Earth at this time for a reason.  If you don’t know what that purpose is, ask God to show you.  Also follow your passion- that is where your calling(s) lie.  Although it probably doesn’t feel like it at this time, there are people who love you & would be devastated if you were no longer around.  You make a difference to many people.  Please remember that losing you would hurt them terribly, & you don’t want to do that.

There is a way out.  God.  Pour your heart out to Him- He loves you & wants to help you.  Let Him pour His love out on you & comfort you.  Spend time alone in His presence sharing your most intimate feelings- He will help you come out of that dark place!  Remember Psalm 23:4 “Yes, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort me.” (AMP)  God is with you, even in this dark place, taking care of you!  I know this may sound trite to you, but please believe me- it is very true.  I’ve been suicidal many, many times in my life, so I have plenty of experience on this subject.  God has been the only thing that has helped me during the darkest of times.  If He helped me, He will help you too.  All you need to do is ask..

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Going Outside Your Comfort Zone Is Good For You

As is common with adult children of narcissists, I have a lot of anxiety. It got worse once the C-PTSD developed fully in 2012.  This anxiety has caused my comfort zone to shrink into a little tiny place. So many things can make me uncomfortable if not downright terrified.  One of my biggest problems has been routine.  I need a strict routine & if something interrupts that routine, I panic.

At the end of February,I suddenly became very sick with carbon monoxide poisoning.  During the worst of it, I passed out & hit my head pretty badly.  While recovering, it’s caused me to think a lot about things.  Mostly the fact that life can change in a flash, & we should enjoy whatever time we have on this earth.  It caused me to rethink some things.  I also felt God was dealing with me about stepping out of my comfort zone.  Granted, He had been dealing with me for a while about it, but I had somewhat ignored that (not proud of this, mind you!).  When laid up with a concussion & recovering from what could have been a life ending illness, there’s really no excuse to ignore God anymore.  Not like I’ve been too busy to talk with Him!

He showed me that during last December when my father was in the hospital, I was constantly outside of my comfort zone.  I had to leave home constantly, deal with complete strangers (doctors, nurses, etc) & spend a lot of time with my narcissistic mother.  In a period of two weeks, I was so stressed, I lost eight pounds & my hair suddenly became brittle & fragile.  However, good came from this awful time. While I still have agoraphobia, it’s improved quite a bit.  I have gone from absolutely terrified of leaving home to able to do it much easier.  Spending a full day alone at the hospital waiting on my father to have surgery helped me in that area.  It was hard, but I got through it, & it wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it’d be.

That particular situation forced me well outside of my comfort zone.  I wanted no parts of it, but it turned into a good thing anyway.  So, I started doing so on a smaller, voluntary scale.  I have a schedule for cleaning my home.  I’ve changed the schedule recently (which I was quite nervous about doing since I’ve had this schedule for 20+ years) so there is more flexibility in it, & it’s been a good thing.  By having a more flexible schedule, I’ve been able to spend time with friends, write or just relax when normally I’d be too busy to do so.  And, this flexibility has helped reduce my anxiety levels.  If something comes up on a day I need to do housework, it no longer completely flusters me.

I know stepping outside of a comfort zone has the potential to make you extremely anxious, but it really can be worth it!  Start by doing small things outside of your comfort zone as you feel able to do them, & work up from there.  If you truly are afraid, don’t discount what you wanted to do- merely postpone it for a day where you feel stronger.  Those days happen sometimes, & it’s ok!  But, if you feel able, push yourself, & ask God to help & strengthen you.  You will be rewarded when you find yourself comfortable doing something that once terrified you!

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