One of the great things about writing about early trauma, is that I learn from all of you what’s working for you — and what’s not.
I get at least a dozen e-mails from subscribers every day, and I read what you post and I learn about those of you who have found success in healing, all the way to those who don’t even try any more.
I also hear from people who are still trying really hard to heal, but they’re hitting a wall. Our community here may not be a representative sample of ALL the people with Childhood PTSD, but I’ve noticed a very clear pattern connected to the people who are recovering from their symptoms, and those who still feel stuck. It’s as if they have an invisible obstacle in their way.
Can you guess what the obstacle is?
I’ll start by telling you what it isn’t. It isn’t gender. I haven’t seen any pattern in men vs. women in terms of who finds success. It also is not income. I know extreme poverty can worsen other problems, and of course, when you’re suffering with Childhood PTSD it can impact your ability to earn money. But beyond that, no amount of money seems to have the power to push people to higher level of healing.
Having money can make it easier to shield yourself from some of the hardships of living with dysregulation. With money you’ll always have a place to live and you’ll always be able to access professional help, but these in themselves don’t correlate all that well with healing.
And, though you might expect that having access to professional help — even infinite professional help — would put people on a better footing, that doesn’t seem to be the case either. There may be a few advantages to having a therapist (for example) but it depends very heavily on the therapist themselves. In an industry with very little quality control or transparency, getting a “good” therapist who understands trauma and actually knows how to help is rare, and for most people it’s the luck of the draw.
In addition, like most approaches to treating CPTSD, therapy seems to be helpful only for some people.
So among the people who do recover, what is it? What do they have (or do) that’s unique? The people who heal are all different kinds of people, and they use different approaches to healing. In fact, some of them do nothing special toward their own healing.
I’ll tell you what I’ve noticed they have in common: They don’t outsource responsibility for their own healing. They do seek help and guidance from others, including doctors and therapists, but they don’t expect those professionals to solve everything. They don’t wait for an appointment to start gathering knowledge about how other people recover from CPTSD. They don’t blame the therapist when a particular technique doesn’t prove helpful. They don’t remain overly focused on what happened to them. Instead they focus on what they can DO to start feeling better and functioning better.
Now if you’re one of those people, I’m preaching to the choir. But if you’re someone who feels stuck and the help you’ve received hasn’t worked and you don’t know what to do, you may want to look at this. You don’t have to wait until you get assigned to a psychiatrist to start healing. You don’t have to depend on any one therapist knowing all the answers for you. Instead, you can move forward with a spirit of inquiry — like a researcher (or as one subscriber called it, a “healing coordinator”). You can lead the way by noticing where your PTSD symptoms get triggered, and start developing workarounds so that you don’t have to give up or fall back every time things get to be too much for you.
So give yourself the role of leader. It’s not necessarily a one person job, but you’re the leader. You can ask for assistance, and when that assistance doesn’t work for you, you’ll lead the course of your recovery to something new.
Because Complex PTSD — especially the kind developed through chronic extreme stress in childhood — is not a straight line. There’s no one cure for it and there’s no one out there who knows better than you, when you try something, whether it’s helping you.
You can lead this. You can heal as naturally as a blade of grass when it’s been trampled and and stuck under a big sheet of black plastic. You know that dead-looking grass? It doesn’t need permission to heal. It just needs water and sunshine and then growing up green and strong is just what it does! And granted, you’re more complicated than a blade of grass, but your natural inclination toward healing is just the same. Childhood PTSD is a brain injury, it causes dysregulation and even though dysregulation is causing many of not most of the problems from your PTSD, you can heal it.
You’ll know it’s better because you’re feeling better. When you feel better you can take positive actions to change what’s not working for you. You can start building a life that’s useful and that makes you happy. So keep learning and keep trying, and don’t worry about all those folks who don’t get it. YOU get it. And you’re designed to heal.
For a deeper dive into all the symptoms of Childhood PTSD — how they happen, and what to do, take my online course Healing Childhood PTSD
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See you next week.
Anna (the Fairy)