Note: Here, I will breakdown Complex PTSD according to myself. My memory is fallible, so I can promise you that this won’t be a complete account, but it will give a solid picture of what living with this has been like for me. It may or may not be similar for others with the same diagnosis, but most likely any individual with CPTSD will find common threads.

I like to leave you on a more positive note. Please bear with me as it unfolds.

What is Complex PTSD? In a nutshell, Complex PTSD describes both children’s exposure to multiple traumatic events–often of an invasive, interpersonal nature–and the wide-ranging, long-term effects of this exposure. These events are severe and pervasive, such a abuse and profound neglect (The National Child Traumatic Stress Network).

What is PTSD? PTSD results from witnessing or experiencing a single life-threatening traumatic event (All Points North).

A person with PTSD will have a core memory of what “normal”, or in homeostasis feels like. A person with Complex PTSD, most likely will not.


For me,  it was fear of having a heart attack at eight years old,  constantly checking my pulse with my fingers on my neck or my hands over my heart. 

It was hyperventilating or breathing so forced that babysitters asked “Why are you breathing like that?”  but I didn’t know the answer at seven years old.  

It was to develop such a phobia of throwing up that at six, I held a chewed-up cookie in my mouth for hours instead of spitting it out because when I was nauseous, that action felt too similar to throwing up. 

It was recurring nightmares of the same white truck slowly driving up my street as I ran, in slow-motion, away from the kidnapper.

 It was living stuck in a constant state of extreme fear over the demons that visited my room without a person to comfort me. 

As an elementary cult-school kid, it was venting to classmates about my traumas, digging my roots deeper into the mentality that I was alone. Because elementary age kids aren’t even capable of the emotional maturity that would’ve been necessary to absorb the type of conversations I was searching to have.

It looked like clinging to every adult that gave me attention,  memorizing the feeling of their hugs. 

It was running away from home to hide underneath a weeping willow tree,  wishing with all my heart that someone would come looking for me. 

It was the feeling of being the oddball, the failure in my family and extended family, always different no matter how hard I tried to fit in.  

It was anxious behaviors in my teens that my friends grew to define me by. 

It was constantly seeking, and striving for answers to my problems, a complete lack of trust in my abilities, zero decision-making skills, and no life management skills to figure out how to succeed in the world at fifteen years old.  

It was finding myself without anyone to protect me from the man who raped me without consequence and stole the most precious thing I owned, along with my ability to sing. 

It was, at eighteen years old, unconditionally and faithfully thinking that I could somehow make the boy love me, staying through cheating, emotional abuse, and gossip,  under the pretense that I was to be a martyr. 

It was daydreams of having my own child play like a fairytale story in my mind and how it would heal all of my wounded parts. 

It was being the firstborn but never making the mark of being looked up to as the big sister. 

It was experiencing the worst case of postpartum known within the walls of a maternity home that served countless women for decades. 

It was losing trust in the medical system for not believing me, for never knowing how to help me, for letting me leave their offices worse than when I came,  for just giving me more and more medicine to hide what was truly wrong.

It was not being able to sleep for three days in a row until I was extremely nauseous yet I had to go to work to keep a roof over my daughter’s head regardless of my poor health.  

It was being looked at as a “project” or a “lost cause” by many, attracting all the narcissists, self-righteous judges, and those who lacked empathy to overwhelm my head with their opinions to the point of breaking.

It was staying in abusive relationships for years past their expiration date, out of a “martyr’s empathy” (new term I made up).

It was finding miserable solace in my bed for years and losing the capacity to hold employment.

It is trying to communicate with a brain that goes entirely blank at the most crucial times. 

It is when I’m reading a book to relax and the dog is barking, all while my son is telling me that he’s starving but there is nothing to eat. On top of all this, my phone is ringing. Further, my brain is racing, so I panic and break down in tears. The sensory overload is intense.

It is no longer getting the option of staying present or dissociating. My nervous system has been overriding out of self-preservation for many years. 

It is the sense of sudden dread that comes without clear rhyme or reason, which no amount of self-talk can ease. 

It is intrusive thoughts and images that my kids are better off without me. 

It is isolation, shame, and over-explaining, yet still largely misunderstood. 

It is not being able to picture a future because a future doesn’t feel like an option.


One thought on “Complex PTSD Series: Act I (of III)

  1. Wow! I love your clarity and ability to articulate and define the problem. Praying for God’s healing for you in those traumatic scenarios that he can bring healing and deliverance, so you can be free of those reactions! 🙏❤️

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s