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PTSD: Sleeping Beauty
Sleeping Beauty: Illustration by Edmund DuLac can be found at http://www.artpassions.net/
By Lynn S.
I have a box with golden wings.
My hope lies buried there.
I fill my life with countless things
To fight off the despair.
I know that I should open it.
Sometimes the urge is strong;
But somehow I resist a bit
Because I've hurt so long.
Yet, someday soon when time has passed
There'll come a brighter day
I'll open up the box at last
My fears I'll cast away.
I'll don the wings of purest gold,
I'll free the hope within.
I'll look on fear as something old.
Renewed, I'll live again.
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a common problem for survivors of abusive relationships. The symptoms which are many include a feeling of emotional numbness. I can certainly relate to that. It was as if I started sleepwalking through life, enclosed in a cocoon of self-protection in the aftermath of the devastation.
Part of what I felt was plain despair. I lost faith, I lost hope, and I lost my joy. I now refer to this period as my 'walk in the desert', a term I heard from a former forum member long ago who identified the numb period as necessary, normal, and not without some duration.
Overcoming this hopelessness doesn't happen overnight. It takes work and practice. It takes a willingness to try, fail and still persist. Most importantly, it takes self-compassion.
So many times, I have heard survivors say that they want to be able to get past it, to move on, for it all to just be over so they can live again. The wanting is only half the battle, a very important half, but only half. The other half takes longer.
We can awaken from the long sleep, not by virtue of a magical kiss, but through our own tender care and love. Suggestions for that are included in the Target's Ruby Slippers section.
If you have any of the symptoms listed below, you might want to look into PTSD as a possible explanation for your very normal reactions to a very abnormal situation. Tim Field wrote an amazing site called http://www.bullyonline.org which I have referred to again and again for information on 'bullies'. Mr. Field has passed away but left a legacy of information which is invaluable for survivors. His site includes a comprehensive description of PTSD here:
Common Features of PTSD from Bullying
People suffering Complex PTSD as a result of bullying report consistent symptoms which further help to characterise psychiatric injury and differentiate it from mental illness. These include:
Fatigue with symptoms of or similar to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (formerly ME)
An anger of injustice stimulated to an excessive degree (sometimes but improperly attracting the words "manic" instead of motivated, "obsessive" instead of focused, and "angry" instead of "passionate", especially from those with something to fear)
An overwhelming desire for acknowledgement, understanding, recognition and validation of their experience
A simultaneous and paradoxical unwillingness to talk about the bullying (click here to see why) or abuse (click here to see why)
A lack of desire for revenge, but a strong motivation for justice
A tendency to oscillate between conciliation (forgiveness) and anger (revenge) with objectivity being the main casualty
Extreme fragility, where formerly the person was of a strong, stable character
Numbness, both physical (toes, fingertips, and lips) and emotional (inability to feel love and joy)
Hyperawareness and an acute sense of time passing, seasons changing, and distances travelled
An enhanced environmental awareness, often on a planetary scale
An appreciation of the need to adopt a healthier diet, possibly reducing or eliminating meat - especially red meat
Willingness to try complementary medicine and alternative, holistic therapies, etc
A constant feeling that one has to justify everything one says and does
A constant need to prove oneself, even when surrounded by good, positive people
An unusually strong sense of vulnerability, victimisation or possible victimisation, often wrongly diagnosed as "persecution"
Occasional violent intrusive visualisations
Feelings of worthlessness, rejection, a sense of being unwanted, unlikeable and unlovable
A feeling of being small, insignificant, and invisible
An overwhelming sense of betrayal, and a consequent inability and unwillingness to trust anyone, even those close to you
In contrast to the chronic fatigue, depression etc, occasional false dawns with sudden bursts of energy accompanied by a feeling of "I'm better!", only to be followed by a full resurgence of symptoms a day or two later
Excessive guilt - when the cause of PTSD is bullying, the guilt expresses itself in forms distinct from "survivor guilt".
"The best way out is always through."--Robert Frost
Oct/28/2008, 10:53 am
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