Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder caused by experiences of intense trauma such as war, abuse, accidents, childhood neglect, natural disasters, and sometimes even witnessing trauma, violence or abuse. Survivors use many words to describe their feelings: shattered, broken, torn apart, crushed, damaged, crazy, shame, total loss, overwhelm, splattered, different… and often they don’t even know why they feel like that.
If you have been through narcissistic abuse, it’s possible that you have PTSD or C-PTSD and it could be very beneficial for you to see a psychotherapist or counselor to address these issues.
Sometimes we don’t even realize just how much an experience affected us.
From my personal and professional experience in holistic wellness, I describe the Big Picture of the multi-layered, multi-dimensional, complex spectrum of post-trauma symptoms as, “devastating loneliness.” This became clear to me during an ayahuasca ceremony during which I was trapped in a lonely world that I thought I may never escape. I only later realized how symbolic it was of post-traumatic stress.
The extent of a particular person’s battle with PTSD depends on many factors such as the frequency and length of time the traumatic experience/s took place and the intensity of the experience/s. Untreated PTSD compounds over time as the survivor usually continues to experience situations of trauma or devastation, triggering all the unresolved emotions plus the new. The survivor often experiences a loss of power or control and a sense of shame from the overwhelming feelings of helplessness. It becomes very difficult to engage with reality because of the loss of self-esteem.
The hallmark of anxiety disorders like PTSD is avoidance.
It sounds like a simple choice to not avoid and therefore heal. However, people without direct experience with PTSD often don’t understand. Many survivors talk about how other people often think they should just deal with it and get back up and on with life. But it’s not so simple.
Unwinding the complex scope of PTSD requires time and work, even more so in PTSD that has resulted from more frequent or more intense experiences. Avoidance is not usually a conscious choice. In PTSD, like other anxiety disorders, the avoidance is like an automatic response from the subconscious to not deal with something that is overwhelming and devastatingly painful.
It’s not a possibility until you can see it consciously. Self-awareness is the antidote. You need to first be aware of the problem in order to make a different choice.
If you think of your mind as an iceberg… the 10% showing above the water is the conscious mind and the 90% hidden below the surface is the unconscious. The subconscious is like a mediator between the two. It’s where our belief systems and experiences automatically create the filters for our reality and select which information crosses the barrier to the conscious mind.