I want to share this… CPTSD…

Most people are familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), an anxiety disorder that results from a traumatic event, such as a natural disaster or car accident. But, there’s a closely related condition called complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) is becoming more widely recognized by doctors in recent years.

CPTSD results from repeated trauma over months or years, rather than a single event.


What Are the Symptoms of CPTSD?

The symptoms of CPTSD usually include those of PTSD, plus an additional set of symptoms. Oh how fun. We get additional symptoms!

Here are just a few symptoms of CPTSD, that I’ve experienced myself at times:

1. Reliving the traumatic experience

This can include having nightmares or emotional flashbacks. I have these.

2. Avoiding certain situations

You might avoid situations or activities, such as large crowds or driving, that remind you of the traumatic event. This also includes keeping yourself preoccupied to avoid thinking about the event. I definitely avoid crowds a lot and also even driving has been a trigger for me.

3. Hyperarousal

Hyperarousal refers to constantly being on-alert or jittery. For example, you might have a hard time sleeping or concentrating. You might also be unusually startled by loud or unexpected noises. I also call it hypervigilance. I have this symptom often. Even yesterday when babies were crying next to me at the bank, I felt extremely startled and it affected me.

4. Somatic symptoms

These refer to physical symptoms that don’t have any underlying medical cause. For example, when something reminds you of the traumatic event, you might feel dizzy or nauseated.


These are definitely not ALL the C-PTSD symptoms, but just four of them. I know without a doubt I suffer from these. Not always, but sometimes — which is also why this diagnosis can be complex. It’s important to know that symptoms of both PTSD and C-PTSD can vary widely between people, and even within one person over time. (Another complex thing!)

Sometimes people with CPTS are irrational too. Their thoughts and beliefs might not always match up with their emotions. They might know that, logically, they should avoid their abuser. However, they might also hold onto a sense of affection toward them.


What Causes C-PTSD?

Researchers are still trying to figure out exactly how traumatic stress affects the brain and leads to conditions like CPTSD. However, studies on animals suggest that trauma can have lasting effects on the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex.

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These areas play a big role in both our memory function and how we respond to stressful situations.

Any type of long-term trauma, over several months or years, can lead to CPTSD.

However, it seems to appear frequently in people who’ve been abused by someone who was supposed to be their caregiver or protector.

My ex husband was a Vietnam vet (he himself had PTSD ). He stalked and threatened to kill me for many months before leaving me in a foreign country , South Africa, where I was singing in a show. This happened in 1996 but is still traumatizing to think about. He took all our money out of our joint bank account and left me penniless with no way to get home, to the U.S.

OH DING DING! So, THIS (according to my therapist) is considered a long-term trauma! Hence C-PTSD.

Even though in many war veterans (and in the fictional Jack Ryans case), they experienced physical trauma, emotional trauma is also a legitimate and real cause of C-PTSD.


Yes, this is a complex medical condition but I believe that the more we talk about it and bring it out of the shadows, the sooner we can come up with better solutions. I’m glad that trauma related disorders are finally getting the attention they deserve and that scientists are spending more time on researching them.

Maybe someday these trauma issues won’t be nearly as complex to understand. That’s my hope.


Contact: michelle@michellemonet.com

So glad it rained!

Yesterday it rained, much needed water drops fell on my garden and watered my flowers and plants. I was delighted and was leaving the supermarket when the first drops fell. I laughed with pleasure, and expressed it to a passer by, who smiled.

A friend was waiting in my porch when I got home and she helped me put my groceries away before we made a cup of tea and sat to chat. Yesterday was such a different day as nothing unexpected happened. I simply went from one task to another, not tiring myself, just paced and relaxed. Another friend joined us for dinner which we all prepared together under my guidance. Afterwards, I realised my second guest had never tried humous, sweet potato, or avocado. And didn’t eat any. Oh well…

All the time taken in preparing the meal and the rain which had become a downpour prevented planting new plants but the evening was lovely in a social, family type of way.

So I am ‘looking after’ a couple of people in my life who are having a tough time with stress and anxiety. I have chosen to do this because I care about them. This week though I’ve had requests to intervene from others who get paid for their work and I’ve realised I need to state (again, because it’s happened before) that I need payment, either in kind eg household jobs or gardening or financially. I need a text response that says The Doctor Is In or The Doctor Is Out. To take on others’ problems with no notice is an emotional and physical drain. I need to watch this so that I am not taken advantage of.

Who tends to benefit from your career path without giving back to you? How do you address this. I’ve always loved helping people so I find I can be drained before I realise. Ideas please…

Still asking for responses to managing difficulties…

When I encounter someone with a problem they find hard to manage, I ask how they can break it into ‘bitesize’ pieces. One lady found it hard to do her vacuuming, so eventually she decided to vacuum one room at a time.

With my breathing problems, I need to sit often and stay calm. I have always enjoyed gardening, but now I must use patio planters and pots, though a small flowerbed I made with help is flourishing. I am filling it with perennials in shades of blue, purple, pink, and white with a bit of ivy to trail out. It will jostle with flowers from early spring through summer. But now, new neighbours have been making a nuisance by drilling holes into public land to hold their back gates open. (What happened to wanting some privacy?) This has affected my access through my gates, deliveries, collections, tradesmen etc. Sam, my lovely friend, hurt her back by having to close their gate nearest to me so she could take some paving slabs.

So I am less relaxed in my garden on my own, and today after I had planted two plants I was hearing my neighbour making lots of noise in their garden and my chest became tight. I had to go to my doctor’s practice to be nebulised. My doctor asked if I had any anxiety, and when he returned to me I told him about my neighbours . He expressed his dismay and incidentally suggested a new medicine that helps prevent allergies exacerbate inflamed lungs.

I am a good self manager, I just need an intervention now and then and more in summer.

How do you manage your stresses? Do you have good strategies or are you still looking for new ones? I’d love to hear your thoughts please.