Thursday, June 30, 2011

Running out of the room screaming

Today my therapist and I sat in silence for nearly twenty minutes before we started to talk.  I talked about how I can't manage to keep anyone around, not even paid professionals.  She remarked that she's still around and that launched us into talking about how the things she did and said really hurt my feelings and still hurts my feelings.  I'm sure she's tired of talking about it, but I'm still really sad about it.  It takes quite a lot for me to trust someone and I trusted her.  I trusted her to be there for me when I was struggling and she kind of rejected and abandoned me for a short while, and then left me in limbo for a longer while.  I wanted to know what has changed.  Why is she "not going anywhere" now when before she wasn't sure she could be my therapist?  She said, "because you want me to be."  She doesn't know what has changed.  That freaks me out.  If she doesn't know what's changed how am I supposed to know if and when she might freak out again?  How do I get over the things she did?  How do I stop feeling hurt by her telling me, in a pretty harsh dismissive tone, "I can't hold your spot for you," right after I tried to kill myself and while I was begging her not to drop me as a client?  Maybe I'm just being a baby.  Maybe I'm not remembering things correctly because I was so drugged up and in that space of three days without much memory.  Maybe I'm just too sensitive, but I can't seem to let it go.  I don't remember what I did after that phone call because I don't remember much during that time.  I know I wasn't eating and I spent all of my time in bed. 

We were sitting awkwardly silent in my therapy session when I suddenly and unexpectedly burst into tears.  My therapist's voice became soft as she tried to comfort me.  She said, "I know it must be so hard to come here and talk about this when you feel so hurt and unsure especially when you aren't sure if things can be fixed between us."  I just let my hair fall in my face and continued to cry.  I only managed to squeak, "I even freak out and drive away professionals." 

My therapist loves analogies, but her analogies never quite fit the situation.  She always laughs and says "go with it."  She launched into this long drawn out analogy about a patient who goes to see a doctor and the doctor opens the patient up and then doesn't know what to do with the patient so he closes them up.  I said, "No, it's like the surgeon opened up the patient, looked inside, and then ran out of the room screaming leaving the patient open on the table."  Because really that's what she did.  She poked and pushed me toward places I was scared to go and once I opened up and showed her who I really am.  Once I became totally vulnerable and exposed, she took off running, and wanted some other professional to figure me out.  No one can deal with me.  Not even professionals.

Immediately after therapy today I had one of three intake sessions with the Borderline Mentalization clinic.  I am full of apprehension about this program.  The first one being I do not have Borderline personality disorder.  While I do meet some of the criteria, those criteria also fit many other disorders, including PTSD.  Dr. Patrick says I do not have Borderline personality disorder.  I don't not agree with the things I've read about it, nor do I want to be associated with it.  Anyway, the intake session was difficult and it was video taped!  That was beyond uncomfortable.  There were two doctors and the room and they asked me all kinds of difficult, personal, invasive questions and put it on video tape.  They promised to delete the tapes after the rest of the team was able to view them.  I felt extremely anxious, like on the verge of a panic attack.  This session is one of three to decide if they want to work with me or not.  If I get into this program I have to stop seeing all outside therapists and doctors and commit to the program for a year.  This first session (I keep having the urge to call it an interview) was difficult and full of hard questions.  I wanted to run out of the room screaming.  I fought back tears quite a few times as I tried to ignore the camera pointed at me and  answer their questions.  I'm terrified of what the next two will be like.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I want a mom who never goes away

I have a tendency to be way overly dramatic.  I am aware of that.  Although this is a more recent development in my personality, and not a good one.  I used to not have such big feelings, or many feelings really.  I used to be good at controlling what I felt and how much I felt.  I was good at not feeling.  I used to be good at life, at least on the outside.  Right now I feel crazy.  Like really crazy.  I don't know why I have the couple of people in my life that I do.  I mean, I wouldn't want to be my friend or part of my family, so how can I expect anyone else to?  Everyone keeps telling me it's not my fault that I was shuffled around my whole life.  42 placements in 18 years.  CPS would literally take us away for a couple of weeks and then give us back for a couple of months, only to take us away for a couple of weeks...  I always say that this happened at least 12 times, but the truth is I don't really know how many times it happened.  A lot.  More than I can count.  Out of all of those 42 placements, more than half were foster homes, and more than half of those were foster to adopt homes.  Those people became foster parents to adopt an older child.  They became my parents for whatever reason, promised to be around forever, no matter what happens, and then changed their minds.  I could understand if I were a kid that acted out a lot, but I wasn't.  I was a hardworking meek kid who was extremely eager to please.  I'm not saying I didn't have my problems because I did.  I sleep walked, I screamed in my sleep, I didn't eat, I had panic attacks, I either cried nonstop or I didn't cry at all, and I stopped talking when I got stressed.  I also wet the bed until I was pretty old, like 12 (or sadly maybe even a little older).  A lot of foster parents couldn't handle those issues, especially the muteness.  They thought I was being stubborn but the reality is that I was crazy.  I couldn't speak.  I don't know what was wrong with me.  Anyway the point is I don't mean to imply that I was a perfect child because I was far from it.  I just wanted so badly to be whatever I thought my foster parents wanted me to be.  I just wanted someone to want me.  Keep me.  Love me.  I tried desperately to be lovable.  A quarter of a century has passed since I first entered foster care and I am laying here typing on my computer about how much I still yearn for someone to want me, keep me, love me.  I realize my bio mom is totally crazy and therefore I shouldn't really listen to anything she says, but she's right when she says,
"YOUR SISTER AND BROTHER TOLD ME THAT YOU ARE IN THE HOSPITAL. GOOD. I'M GLAD BECAUSE YOU NEED HELP. I'VE NOWN YOU WERE CRAZY FOR A LONG TIME.  NORMAL GIRLS DON'T RUIN MARRIAGES AT SUCH EARLY AGES.  NOBODY CAN STAY IN YOUR LIFE BECAUSE YOU DO NOTHING BUT SUCK EVERYTHING OUT OF PEOPLE LIKE A VILE VAMPIRE.  THAT'S WHY NO ONE CAN LOVE YOU FOR LONG. "

She's brutal but at least she's honest.  She's right.  I do seem to suck the life out of everyone and eventually make them run away and never look back.  Even on the internet I seem to make people run for the hills.  I'm not good at people.  At least not with people I have to interact with on more than a superficial level.  I'm so worried about saying the wrong thing or screwing something up or offending someone.  I always have to force myself to go out with friends, even people I've been friends with for along time.  Obviously they wouldn't want to hang out with me if they didn't like me...at least I hope that's the case, but I'm still extremely worried about doing or saying the wrong thing.  I worry about what they are thinking and fucking things up like I always do.  It's exhausting being in my head.

My mother is right.  There is something wrong with me.  How is it possible to have had so many chances at family and be rejected every time?  Therapists and doctors think I need to believe that none of that is my fault, but I know it's my fault and I want to fix whatever the problem is so it won't happen anymore.  Just simple statistics and math should tell people that the problem lies in me and not my foster parents or other people who have promised me family and then changed their minds.  I am the problem. I know I am the problem so why are so many people trying to convince me I'm not?  Why can't therapists and doctors tell me what the problem is so that I can fix it?  Is it even fixable?  Am I fixable?  I so desperately want to be lovable.  I don't want to be an emotional vampire.  I don't want to hurt other people.  I don't want to drive other people away.  I don't want to live like this anymore.  When I was a child I thought that everything would get better when I grew up.  I would be in charge and call all the shots.  I would find my mom and my siblings we would be a family again.  Everything would be okay.  I would be okay.  Then I grew up and aged out and found my mom and my siblings and they don't want me either.  My brother posted on my sister's facebook page "lol good we dont want her to turn out like her older sister."  They are all felons and drug addicts, except for my youngest half sibling who got adopted pretty much at birth.  The point is even felons and drug addicts don't want me!  So how do I fix me?  I thought I would grow up and not feel like this anymore but I do and this time I feel it without the hope of relief.  I don't want to feel like a foster kid anymore.  I don't want to be that little girl looking for a home anymore but here I am in my twenties still crying about how much I want a mommy.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Therapy et. al

Overwhelmed.  That's the only word I can think of to describe myself right now.  I'm overwhelmed with life.  I just wish I could get a break every now and then.  I'm stressed out with money, insurance, moving, finding a job.  I'm supposed to be getting short term disability but for some reason that hasn't happened yet and I applied in March.  I just learned that I won't be able to get unemployment because I am on medical leave, which means I have no way to pay for my Cobra insurance, which will cost over $500 a month.  My girlfriend has been helping me out a lot, but we cannot survive on just what she makes.  I've been finding it difficult to do much else but lay in bed and space out.

My girlfriend and I are moving to this tiny little cottage with a really huge yard.  The yard is what sold us.  The thought of laying in a hammock with my laptop every night sold me.  The only problem is the house itself is about 425 square feet.  We will literally have a "bed" room.  One room is only slightly larger than our bed, so we have decided to make it a little nest cubby.  The other bedroom will be our living room and the front room area off the kitchen will be our dinning room.  I'm slightly scared and excited about all the creative projects I have ahead of me.

I gave my brain to Dr. Patrick last week.  He really is so hilarious.  He liked it and pointed out all the areas of the brain where I have trouble.  I'm really going to miss him when he leaves next week.  I have therapy tomorrow but I wanted to write about my therapy session last week too.  I'm happy that I was able to talk to my therapist about how she treated me when I was pretty fragile. 

I arrived 4 minutes late to my session winded from running up the stairs.  I pushed the button next to my therapist's name and tried to catch my breath before she opened the door.  The door opened and greeted me with a smile and short and chirpy, "Hi, come on back."  I walk through the hallway, my flip-flops flopping loudly, entered the office, and sat down on the sofa with a flop.  My therapist quietly giggles as she sits down.

Me:  What?
CT:  I'm just laughing at the way you walked in here.
Me:  What do you mean?
CT:  You walked in confident and bouncy like 'yeah, I know this place.  Lets get started.'  It was cute.

I shrugged my shoulders but I smiled.  I liked that she was amused by me and thought I was cute.  We grew awkwardly quiet.  I crossed my legs and tap my extremely cute crisscross strappy flip-flops that I got on at REI in December against the heel of my foot.

CT:  Your feet need some sun.
Me:  I know.  I don't wear flip-flips that often.
CT:  You like to keep your feet protected huh?
Me:  No, I just think they make a lot of noise.
CT:  They do make a lot of noise.
Me:  I don't like making that much noise as I walk.
CT:  You like to be able to sneak up on people huh?

We both laugh.

Me:  I never thought about it.  I guess I do.  I just don't like to make that much flip flop noise.
CT:  I like the noise.  I don't think I have any flipflops right now.
Me:  I've seen you wear flip-flops.
CT:  Those aren't really flip-flops.
Me:  They are like leather flip flops.
CT:  Yeah, but they just don't feel the same.
Me:  They have insufficient flop?
CT: (laughs).  Yeah.

We grew quiet again.

CT told me that RH, my care coordinator at the program, called her and that they talked about how I wanted to quit the program last week, but decided to stay.  She told her about Dr. Patrick leaving the program and I was upset about that.  We talk about Dr. Patrick and being bounced around the mental health system like I was bounced around the foster care system and how much that sucks for me.  We talked about the mindfulness DBT program that starts in August and how she thinks that will be good for me but they only take 8 patients a year.

After a lot of pregnant pauses and awkward silences I brought up how I feel about how CT handled things before and after I went to the hospital.  I told her that I am upset about the things she said and did when I was obviously in a very fragile place.  I told her that now that I'm more removed from the situation and someone more important in my life has left me, I don't really care if she leaves me or not and I'm angry that someone who was supposed to be there for me, someone who was supposed to be supportive and emotionally available treated me the way she did.

Me:  I was just out of the ER, only hours after trying to kill myself.  I obviously wasn't very capable of being rational, and who knows how many drugs were still in my system when you said you couldn't hold my spot for me while I was in the hospital.

CT:  You felt abandoned.

Me:  You did abandon me!  I needed someone someone warm and secure and you weren't that at all.  I get that part of our relationship is financial for you, but you made it all about finances when you said that.

CT:  You didn't feel very cared about.
Me:  When you said that you made it all about money and that really sucks.  I'm not stupid, I get that seeing me is your job, but I would hope that my therapist cared about me too.  I was obviously very fragile and you said and did things that made me feel like you didn't care about me.

CT:  I did.

Me:  I don't remember very much about those three days after I took the pills, but I do remember that one part of our conversation.  I'm sure we talked about about other things too.

CT:  We did talk about other things, but that is your experience so lets talk about it.

Me:  And then you put me in limbo, a place I've spent most of my life.  I thought a therapist was supposed to be a safe and secure base and I don't feel very safe or secure with you anymore.  It took a really long time for me to trust you and now I don't trust you anymore.  How do I know you're not going to drop me when things get hard again?  How am I going to trust that you can handle the things I have to deal with? 

CT:  It sucks that the way I handled things has made you feel that way.

Me:  I was scared to go to the hospital the first time and you promised me that you would come visit me to make me feel better about going, but then you didn't come.  I know I ended up going to a hospital in Pasadena, but it's not like it was a 100 miles away.

CT:  You must have felt really disappointed.

Me:  I felt more than disappointed.  I'm not angry that you didn't come visit me.  I'm angry that you said you were going to come visit me and then didn't.  That really sucks.  I would never do that to a client or tell them I couldn't hold their spot for them right after they tried to kill themselves.

We talked more about the phone calls and her actions and what I thought I needed.  I told her that I wish she had been more warm and gentle with me.  She asked me if she is warm and gentle enough with me normally.  I said sometimes she's not.  I talked about how I'm really worried that she leave me and run away next time there is a crisis.  It said that I feel like this was a learning experience for her, but it was at my expense.

Me:  I guess I feel like sometimes you are unnecessarily cold.

CT:  Is there a good amount of cold to be?

Me:  I guess cold isn't the right word.  Maybe I mean combative.  Like when I wanted you to tell me if you wanted to be my therapist or not before I went to the hospital and you refused to answer.

CT:  I think I was trying to analyze the behavior and you were wanting a specific answer and so we kept clashing.

Me:  Sometimes we get in these weird kind of battles of wills.

CT:  We do.

Me:  I think we would fight a lot if we were friends.

I told her that I don't want a new therapist.  I don't want to start over.  I just don't know if I can trust her anymore.

CT:  There must be some trust.  You keep coming here.

Me:  I mean, I trust you enough to sit in front of you and tell you jokes and I trust you enough to tell you that I'm angry with you.

CT:  But you don't trust me to be there for you when you need me.

Me:  Yeah.  It took me a really like time to trust you and feel safe with you and now I don't feel very safe anymore.  I wish you had handled things better.

CT:  I wish I had handled things better too.

I have therapy again tomorrow after my program from 9-12 and then therapy at 3.  I've been downgraded to the intensive outpatient program again because of my insurance.  It's not a huge deal but I'm kind of scared to have more free time right now when I feel so overwhelmed with life.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Therapy, Dr. Patrick, brains, and drawings

I wanted to write about my therapy session with CT today but for some reason I'm having a hard time transcribing things correctly.  I'll write it down and then remember that I actually said something else first.  I can't remember what happened when.  I used to be very good at that.  I'll work on it tomorrow and post it.

I didn't quit my program.  I went Monday and Tuesday and I'm going back tomorrow.  Dr. Patrick is still leaving and he had a special session for me last week to talk about it.  Basically he sat there and listened to how I feel and let me tell him that he sucks and that he should have assigned me to another doctor if he was leaving.  I'm tired of being bounced around doctors, therapists, social workers.

tiny pic of my brain

I drew an abstract colorful ink drawing of a brain today.  I was thinking about my brain and all the things I've been reading that say people like me have damaged brains.  My program gave me a book to read on trauma and it talks about the amygdala and hippocampus and how they can be damaged.  I have brain damage apparently so I drew the outline of a brain.  It was going to be a dark drawing about my screwed up brain but instead I put a bunch of abstract designs in it.  It's not a normal brain, but it's a colorful one!  I'm thinking about giving it to Dr. Patrick because he's kind of a brain doctor in a way.  I feel kind of weird about it, like I'm a five year old drawing pictures for my teacher or something.  I give people in my life drawings as gifts all the time, but only people that ask for them.  I'm worried he'll read into it, which he probably will because it's his job to analyze everything.  Would it be weird to give my psychiatrist a drawing of a brain?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

On quitting and giving up

I am feeling pretty conflicted about what to do about therapy.  I don't want to start over with a new therapist.  That would just be too hard.  It takes a very long time for me to trust and open up to people, so starting over would really be a difficult process and set back for me.  I also like my therapist for whatever that's worth.  Having said all of that, I don't know how to continue to work with her.  I realize that therapy is a job for her.  Our relationship is work for her and therefore the attachment and relationship is totally one-sided.  I get that, although I think it sucks.  I mostly think all the rules of therapy are kind of stupid and a little too rigid.  Like, why is she so afraid to touch my hand?  Handing her stuff is always awkward.  We twists our hands in unnatural ways just to make sure she doesn't accidentally touch me.  Is touching my hand really that weird because she's my therapist?  I don't get it.  Anyway, the point is, I don't know how I am supposed to trust someone I don't know and will never know.  Therapy is excruciatingly difficult for me, especially in the beginning, so it's especially hard for me now that I'm feeling really insecure about the "relationship."  There was a small window when I was feeling safe and trusting but I don't know if I can feel that way again.  Maybe I am wrong, but I thought as my therapist, she was supposed to provide a secure base for me to feel safe, secure, accepted.  Once I opened up about how I was really feeling and felt safe enough to continue to tell her about those feelings despite me anxiety about the possible reaction, she pulled away from me, kind of freaked out (although she won't use that word) and then began to "explore" if she could be my therapist or not.  She wasn't sure she could help me, but really I think it was really more about her not being able to handle what I brought to therapy.  The things she did and said when I was really struggling are not things I would do to other people.  I would never promise to visit someone in the hospital to make them feel better about going into the hospital and then not show up.  I would never tell a patient that I couldn't hold their spot for them for the time they were in the hospital, especially when the patient was begging me not to drop them as a client and in a place where they were obviously unable to be rational, very drugged, and just a few hours out of the ER.  That left me feeling pretty insecure and not very safe in our relationship.

After I overdosed and went to the hospital I felt like her reactions to me were pretty hostile and cold.  I actually feel they were a little mean, especially to someone with my history.  I get that she is not my friend.  I get that I am a job for her so she doesn't really care about me.  It's just her job, but I was seriously in a fragile place and her reactions felt very rejecting.  It still feels very rejecting, but now that I am a little removed from the crisis and someone more important in my life has left me, I'm angry about how I was treated and don't care about being dumped by her anymore.  If she didn't want to or couldn't work with me, she should have ended it instead of leaving me in limbo, a place I have spent the majority of my life, a place that I fear.  It feels rejecting, cold, and makes me feel like she doesn't really care about me.  I don't think I can trust someone that I don't think cares about me.  How am I supposed to trust that she has my best interest if during a crisis she freaks out, rejects and abandons me instead of being a secure base for me?  I don't want to start over with a new therapist, but I don't know if I can keep this therapist because we just end up talking about this stuff and not working on anything else.

Not my arm
This weekend I cut up my arm without even knowing or remembering I did it until after I saw my bloody sleeve in the morning.  I don't usually cut on my arms but I cut up almost my entire forearm without even knowing I was doing it!  This is the first time this has happened to me and it really freaked me out.  What if this happens again and I end up cutting up my face?  On Monday I told my social worker and Dr. Patrick.  Dr. Patrick helped me explain why this happened to me.  He even drew little stick figure drawings of people and brains and spinal cords.  He explained that there are four levels of anxiety and dissociation is the forth level.  That's why people who are in horrible accidents almost never remember the accident.  He explained that my brain is pretty creative and smart because it's learned to protect itself by shutting the thinking part off.  I still feel the anxiety and experience the flashbacks but my brain protects me from them.
 He didn't make me feel like a freak or crazy.  He told me that I'm probably not going to cut up my face without knowing it like I'm afraid might happen.  Dr. Patrick always calms me down and makes me feel normal and cared about. He's the first doctor in my life I have ever trusted or felt cared about me as a person and not just another brain to experiment with.  Dr. Patrick is the only doctor who sat down with me and listened to me for over an hour.  He never rushes me.  He always wants to know how I feel, about everything.  He is the only doctor that has worked and researched medications and programs specifically for me.  He is the only doctor that found a medication that seems to have made any difference despite the itchiness.  Dr. Patrick seems very concerned about the itchiness but listens to me when I say that I want to stick it out a little longer to see if it works.  He cares about my opinions.  The itch has really gotten better, but now it's time to increase my meds again which Dr. Patrick wants to hold off on until my body gets more adjusted to the med.  Dr. Patrick listens to me and has genuine human reactions to my feelings and stories.  He makes me laugh and I always leave our meeting feeling heard and understood.

Today my day program called a community meeting after lunch.  In this meeting Dr. Patrick announced he will be leaving.  He is going to work with military families suffering with PTSD

This year has been a very hard year for me.  Very hard.  Since I started getting treatment and "help" I've seen so many different doctors, social workers, therapists, nurses, etc...  I'm so tired of being bounced around from care taker to care taker.  It's kind of mimicking my childhood a little bit and that
doesn't really feel very good.  Maybe it's stupid but I feel kind of abandoned by Dr. Patrick after I let myself trust him.  I felt abandoned by my therapist when I was really in a bad place and I'm so tired of starting over with someone new.  My whole life has been about beginnings with new people.  I'm tired of it.  I'm tired of feeling bad and I'm tired of working so hard for nothing.  That's why I quit.  I don't want anymore doctors, therapists, socials workers, nurses, or pills.


Monday, June 6, 2011

describing me

It's a little discerning reading something that describes you so well it seems as if it was written about you.  It's humbling, embarrassing, scary, and a relief all at the same time. 

http://outofthefog.net/Disorders/CPTSD.html
Definition:
Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) - Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological injury that results from prolonged exposure to social or interpersonal trauma, disempowerment, captivity or entrapment, with lack or loss of a viable escape route for the victim.

C-PTSD Introduction
Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) is a condition that results from chronic or long-term exposure to emotional trauma over which a victim has little or no control and from which there is little or no hope of escape, such as in cases of:
  • domestic emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • childhood emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • entrapment or kidnapping.
  • slavery or enforced labor.
  • long term imprisonment and torture
  • repeated violations of personal boundaries.
  • long-term objectification.
  • exposure to gaslighting & false accusations
  • long-term exposure to inconsistent, push-pull, splitting or alternating raging & hoovering behaviors.
  • long-term taking care of mentally ill or chronically sick family members.
  • long term exposure to crisis conditions.
When people have been trapped in a situation over which they had little or no control at the beginning, middle or end, they can carry an intense sense of dread even after that situation is removed. This is because they know how bad things can possibly be. And they know that it could possibly happen again. And they know that if it ever does happen again, it might be worse than before.
The degree of C-PTSD trauma cannot be defined purely in terms of the trauma that a person has experienced. It is important to understand that each person is different and has a different tolerance level to trauma. Therefore, what one person may be able to shake off, another person may not. Therefore more or less exposure to trauma does not necessarily make the C-PTSD any more or less severe.

C-PTSD sufferers may "stuff" or suppress their emotional reaction to traumatic events without resolution either because they believe each event by itself doesn't seem like such a big deal or because they see no satisfactory resolution opportunity available to them. This suppression of "emotional baggage" can continue for a long time either until a "last straw" event occurs, or a safer emotional environment emerges and the damn begins to break.

The "Complex" in Complex Post Traumatic Disorder describes how one layer after another of trauma can interact with one another. Sometimes, it is mistakenly assumed that the most recent traumatic event in a person's life is the one that brought them to their knees. However, just addressing that single most-recent event may possibly be an invalidating experience for the C-PTSD sufferer. Therefore, it is important to recognize that those who suffer from C-PTSD may be experiencing feelings from all their traumatic exposure, even as they try to address the most recent traumatic event.
This is what differentiates C-PTSD from the classic PTSD diagnosis - which typically describes an emotional response to a single or to a discrete number of traumatic events.


Difference between C-PTSD & PTSD
Although similar, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C-PTSD) differs slightly from the more commonly understood & diagnosed condition Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in causes and symptoms.

C-PTSD results more from chronic repetitive stress from which there is little chance of escape. PTSD can result from single events, or short term exposure to extreme stress or trauma. 
Therefore a soldier returning from intense battle may be likely to show PTSD symptoms, but a kidnapped prisoner of war who was held for several years may show additional symptoms of C-PTSD.
Similarly, a child who witnesses a friend's death in an accident may exhibit some symptoms of PTSD but a child who grows up in an abusive home may exhibit the additional C-PTSD characteristics shown below:

C-PTSD - What it Feels Like:
People who suffer from C-PTSD may feel un-centered and shaky, as if they are likely to have an embarrassing emotional breakdown or burst into tears at any moment. They may feel unloved - or that nothing they can accomplish is ever going to be "good enough" for others.

People who suffer from C-PTSD may feel compelled to get away from others and be by themselves, so that no-one will witness what may come next. They may feel afraid to form close friendships to prevent possible loss should another catastrophe strike.

People who suffer from C-PTSD may feel that everything is just about to go "out the window" and that they will not be able to handle even the simplest task. They may be too distracted by what is going on at home to focus on being successful at school or in the workplace.

C-PTSD Characteristics
How it can manifest in the victim(s) over time:
Rage turned inward: Eating disorders. Depression. Substance Abuse / Alcoholism. Truancy. Dropping out. Promiscuity. Co-dependence. Doormat syndrome (choosing poor partners, trying to please someone who can never be pleased, trying to resolve the primal relationship)

Rage turned outward: Theft. Destruction of property. Violence. Becoming a control freak.

Other: Learned hyper vigilance. Clouded perception or blinders about others (especially romantic partners) Seeks positions of power and / or control: choosing occupations or recreational outlets which may put oneself in physical danger. Or choosing to become a "fixer" - Therapist, Mediator, etc.

Avoidance - Avoidance is the practice of withdrawing from relationships with other people as a defensive measure to reduce the risk of rejection, accountability, criticism or exposure.

Blaming - Blaming is the practice of identifying a person or people responsible for creating a problem, rather than identifying ways of dealing with the problem.

Catastrophizing - Catastrophizing is the habit of automatically assuming a "worst case scenario" and inappropriately characterizing minor or moderate problems or issues as catastrophic events.

"Control-Me" Syndrome - "Control-Me" Syndrome describes a tendency that some abuse victims and some people who suffer from personality disorders have to nurture relationships with people who have a controlling narcissistic, antisocial or "acting-out" nature.

Denial (PD) - Denial is believing or imagining that some factual reality, circumstance, feeling or memory does not exist or did not happen.

Dependency - Dependency is an inappropriate and chronic reliance by one adult individual on another for their health, subsistence, decision making or personal and emotional well- being.

Depression (Non-PD) -Depression is when you feel sadder than your circumstances dictate, for longer than your circumstances last - but still can't seem to break out of it.

Escape To Fantasy - Escape to Fantasy is sometimes practiced by people who routinely shun transparency with others and present a facade to friends, partners and family members. Their true identity and feelings are commonly expressed privately in an alternate fantasy world.
Fear of Abandonment - Fear of abandonment and irrational jealousy is a phobia, sometimes exhibited by people with personality disorders, that they are in imminent danger of being rejected, discarded or replaced at the whim of a person who is close to them.

Hyper Vigilance - Hyper Vigilance is the practice of maintaining an unhealthy level of interest in the behaviors, comments, thoughts and interests of others.

Identity Disturbance - Identity disturbance is a psychological term used to describe a distorted or inconsistent self-view.

Learned Helplessness- Learned helplessness is when a person begins to believe they have no control over a situation, even when they actually do have the power to change their circumstances, leading them into an unneccessary state of depression, where initiative, action or investment is deemed futile.

Low Self-Esteem - Low Self-Esteem is a common name for a negatively-distorted self-view which is inconsistent with reality. People who have low self-esteem often see themselves as unworthy of being successful in personal and professional settings and in social relationships. They may view their successes and their strenghts in a negative light and believe that others see them in the same way. As a result, they may develop an avoidance strategy to protect themselves from criticism.

Panic Attacks - Panic Attacks are short intense episodes of fear or anxiety, often accompanied by physical symptoms.

Perfectionism - Perfectionism is the practice of holding oneself or others to an unrealistic, unsustainable or unattainable standard of organization, order or accomplishment in one particular area of living, while sometimes neglecting common standards of organization, order or accomplishment in others.
Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia - Selective Memory and Selective Amnesia is the use of memory, or a lack of memory, which is selective to the point of reinforcing a bias, belief or desired outcome.

Self-Loathing - Self Loathing is an extreme self-hatred of one's own self, actions or one's ethnic or demographic background.

Tunnel Vision - Tunnel Vision is the habit or tendency to only see or focus on a single priority while neglecting or ignoring other important priorities.

C-PTSD Causes
C-PTSD is caused by a prolonged or sustained exposure to emotional trauma or abuse from which no short-term means of escape is available or apparent to the victim.
The precise neurological damage that exists in C-PTSD victims is not well understood.