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Complex trauma or C-PTSD

I’ve been reading some interesting stuff in the last couple of weeks. I’m interested in blogs that talk about dealing with mood swings and emotional difficulties, trying to pick up insights that might help me with my own.

The blog that I found was written by a survivor of severe physical and emotional abuse and had been diagnosed with “complex trauma” or C-PTSD. This has resulted in the secondary diagnosis of DID, disassociative identity disorder or what used to be called “Multiple Personality Disorder. On their blog I found an interesting 50 minute lecture by a therapist on the subject.

(You have to scroll down a bit in the blog to find it)

Now my own childhood difficulties are in a different realm to the blog writer but I was able to identify a lot of similarities with my own mental health issues, albeit on a much smaller scale.

Firstly mood.

Having been for so many years unaware of my moods, the work I’ve done in reducing my hypervigilence has had the downside of an increased awareness. For quite a while now I have been experiencing my mood as a day to day rollercoaster of lowness, anxiety, fear and now anger. I am especially aware of it if I wake in the night and on waking in the morning. I have learnt to deal with it by the distractions of day to day life, yoga, exercise and meditation.

Apparently this occurs in complex trauma as the person has not been shown how to self soothe, due to emotional neglect in childhood. This leads to shutting down and numbness as a way of coping but then seepage of moods occurs later in life.

I also note that many people who give up alcohol experience this. Alcohol causes numbness and the well known saying in recovery circles is “the good thing about giving up drinking is you start to feel everything…..and the bad thing about giving up drinking is you start to feel everything”

Secondly memory.

The point of my graphic narrative, to try and piece together my childhood, which is confusing and seems to have bits missing.

In complex trauma the person breaks their childhood memories into closed compartments as a way of dealing with very difficult things, they have difficulty stringing a narrative thread through their childhood.

Thirdly multiple personalities

As I have been exploring my childhood memories I am becoming familiar with my internal memories of myself as a very young child, a slightly older child and as a teenager. They are part and parcel of the work I’m doing in thinking about and creating my graphic narrative. I have created the working team of spillustrate and they are all team members, with their own roles and foibles. At the same time, away from my studio, I have started to recognise the parts they play in my day to day upsets. I feel warm, loving and protective towards them and at times chat to them mentally, to cheer them up, settle them down etc.

I would definitely not like to give myself a formal diagnosis (I worked as a Psychiatrist many years ago) but I can recognise similarities and parallels between what the writers in these blogs describe and myself.

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