This is Complex PTSD

Emotions, to me, are complex and confusing. The visceral sensations they bring, more tangible that their names or meanings. They overwhelm me and often I avoid them or misunderstand them. They scare me.

Sometimes it’s a “now” emotion and sometimes it’s a “then” emotion. Sometimes both at once. This is, I think, what people mean by an “emotional flashback” and happens to me more frequently than I can count.

From the outside, you might see a momentary grimace flicker across my face, a “far away” expression in my eyes, or a sudden body movement (usually a twitch or shudder). But often you would not even be aware anything was happening.

I’m learning to differentiate between “old” and “new” feelings. And slowly accepting that resolution involves experiencing.

At their worst, these episodes can leave me writhing in physical pain; it feels like I am dying and like it will never end. Sometimes I can’t see, hear or feel what is around me. Sometimes I self-harm just to make it stop. Though that happens a lot less often than it used to thanks to therapy helping me to learn alternatives.

I’m told that sometimes I seem angry or frustrated with myself – this is when I am more likely to self-harm. Other times I sing or hum to myself, talk to or from different “parts” of my “self” in little whispers, and rock myself gently, seemingly offering comfort to whoever is upset.

During and after these episodes I am fragile and vulnerable and minimally aware of my surroundings. I might explain some of what is happening if I’m with someone I trust and I might need a little help to get or stay safe.

And at these times I tend to talk of “we”, “she” and “us” though in general, I refer to myself as “I”.

This, for me, is C-PTSD.

Art Journal Sketch Series. Watercolour Pencil on Paper. ©Katy Matilda Neo, 2017.

1 Comment