As much as you might want to, you can’t push for recovering from PTSD. There is a natural readiness to deal with the emotional residue and symptoms of PTSD and CPTSD, that often becomes available only when you have sorted out some of your basic securities.
In other words; your direct environment and the people you interact with are not compromising your physical safety. You might still project danger onto situations and other people, and relive past episodes. But that is very different from being still in harm's way.
There are many factors which make dealing with PTSD recovery possible or become severe obstacles towards recovery. Equally so, there are a number of misconceptions of what recovery from PTSD or CPTSD constitutes.
Setting that Intention to Heal PTSD and Recovering from PTSD
Setting that intention to heal no matter what is crucial to moving out of limiting situations and putting oneself before others in order to heal.
There are many factors which make recovering from PTSD possible or become severe obstacles towards recovery.
You will probably have to go through and attend different meetings, therapies, and modalities that will somehow help you but also, in a way, frustrate you as you may not feel fully understood according to your symptoms of PTSD or CPTSD condition.
This forms part of your recovering from PTSD recovery; to find out what works and what doesn't, but also to learn and get feedback from yourself about your own symptoms and coping patterns. In the end, you are your own healer, and it is others that reflect back you present states of mind. Once you start clearing up more about yourself on a cognitive, somatic and emotional level, you will also start to meet more capable people.
You can only work and resonate with those that are somewhat nearer to your own understanding and level of functioning.
Take all of this in your stride; don’t stay put, and don’t give up!
What Constitutes Healing and Recovering from PTSD and CPTSD
Furthermore, part of you want to forget it all; be done with and overcome it; get rid of it, cut it out—if possible, banish it. But all this is not going to work. Never! You might feel successful for a while, but all those actions are still part of fragmentation and dissociation, and fragmentation plus dissociation will never constitute recovering from PTSD
That said; not wanting to face the pain and suffering viscerally, are normal reactions. They are what has kept you safe and somehow functioning during and after trauma.
To start the healing process entails coming closer to the wound with gentle care; bit by bit. Being able to contain and process the emotional residue still present in the nervous system, body-tissues and deeper parts of the mind.
And this is a process. It is a movement between going carefully into activation and building up enough resilience to stay with what is, without drowning in the activation, nor escaping further from it.
Recovering from PTSD as A Process
Doing therapeutic work, either by oneself and/or with others, is certainly not straightforward. You will have breakthroughs and setbacks. You will fall back into old patterns at times, thinking that you will never get through this. And there will be other times when you start to feel normal, having your zest for life back again.
Healing and recovering from PTSD and CPTSD can be a bumpy ride. Although, as you are learning and progressing in your process, you will start to notice that through the triggers and their duration, falling back into old emotional patterns will start to lessen, and you will surface quicker.
Some deeply engraved patterns might always be there; or when going through some stress, could get reactivated. This is a reality, especially with patterns that have been initiated in childhood.
Because those patterns are still there, doesn't mean that you have not recovered from PTSD or CPTSD.
It is really not about getting rid of old patterns. It is about not encouraging those patterns with new emotional involvement. And when that does happen, under stress, to move out of it with the skill sets you have learned through effective therapy.
Where are you in your PTSD or CPTSD recovery process? Leave you comment below.
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Where am I in my recovery process? I am in a very strong embodied place these days. There are people and things that can trigger me for sure. And what resonated with me in your article was that I may have the skill set to react less and respond more. It is an ongoing process. I am still moving in a positive direction and reduced the antidepressant to the lowest dose prescribable( in the next 2 months it will be gone I hope!) i also stopped using my walking stick 3-4 weeks ago! Woop!!
Forward and Onward!
Brilliant, keep going 😀 It has taken me a long time to realise that I try to make situation and friendships work when I haven’t taken in that they don’t work for me. This article has been reassuring in helping me understand that I am allowing triggering experience with continue perseverance, and the only thing I should be practicing perseverance is putting my self first – this is still very much a practice for me!
Good article. Easy to read, truthful information. Thank you
Very useful information, my counselor doesn’t even tell that, then i don’t know where i am or getting anywhere, my pelvis still tightens talking to people even my family face to face and over the phone even driving the car and doing tasks, find that hard and to cope with and can be tiring
One step at a time.
I was told that I have been suffering from PTSD for too long, that it is now chronic and little can be done about it, I refuse to believe I cannot be healed from this, and so adapted. If my persona was a building, I had to draw up the building plans, consult with experts, get the building material, etc. to rebuild takes courage, which is something I’ve always had. My crisis right now is to deal with body memories, where a clap of thunder causes me to flinch and to have an overpowering feeling to hide. I know the motivation behind the fear, and are working on that now. It is for example extremely difficult to leave my house when I’m alone, but I get into my car once a week to attend a music class. The joy in music is far greater than the fear. A person can thus undertake several methods to overcome fears and abolish them. It is a continuing process that deals with each symptom gradually, methodically and creatively. Writing is a great antibiotic to PTSD, it’s a way to get all the angst/anger/depression out of your system. Off course it is necessary to have self-knowledge, writing helps clear that up. I believe this is a process for life, but also a process of self-discovery. Difficult, but not impossible
Hi Erna. Thanks for your comment. Writing is fantastic. Keep moving on in your healing process.
This article speaks to me in ways that most don’t. I particularly like the first two sentences. At last, I am no longer pushing; I feel “naturally ready” to deal with the deepest issues of a decade of childhood religious and physical abuse. My spirit is strong, and my social network plus my stable, comfortable home provide the support I have long sought.
Happy to hear Neal.
I havent been able to begin the healing process due to a bad and terribly flawed system ie. Missing appoinments because i was being choked yet they fire me… Go figure… Makes me more angrier that I have this knowing im basically blamed for it…. Its a damn shame….
Keep trying Stephanie, u will get there/win.
My PTSD comes like a wave when I’m feeling vulnerable and my heart is opening. It’s like a wall of terror. I’m at the stage of mostly being able to observe it, witness it, and then respond to it by talking to my closest about what’s happening until it passes. If the wave catches me when I’m a bit low I find I react to it emotionally instead of responding I get stuck in remembering and I feel really unsafe. Being able to have support when it hits me is paramount to how long it lasts. While I don’t like the vulnerability I know it’s helping me to trust that I’m safe and in time I hope they’ll get further apart and lessen in intensity. I’m in a real relationship for the first time, recently moved in together, and trusting another after 12 yrs since the marriage ended is currently causing the waves to come a bit. Yucky riding these waves but this man is good and he’s worth the emotional soup towards healing. Had a hit last night, feeling vulnerable today. Any recommendations from you or other readers appreciated.
Hi Nicola. Thanks for your comment. Seems you are observing very closely what is happening for you and managing your boundaries and what you can hold, within that vulnerability. Keep giving space to it and when you feel it is overwhelming, take a step back, get busy with something else, so you won’t dwell in the pain.
I tried healing and was on a good path but then my daughter and son-in-law started emotional abusing me even after I babysat for them for about 5 months. My son-in-law went into rehab about 10 years ago blaming his parents for being raped by his mother’s boyfriends as a child. My daughter, I feel, in order to bond with him, started blaming me for things she did in her 20’s even though her childhood was not one-hundredth as traumatic as mine. My ex husband abandoned her when she was 6 and blamed it all on me even though I never ever stopped him from visiting her. Can’t seem to escape from abuse from relatives. My husband and son are very good to me and think my daughter is a psychopath like my mother was.
Hi Rose. Tough. The cycle of abuse is a hard one to step out of and often is tied up by blame, guilt and self-reproach.
The brain is easy to train, but the body takes longer to retrain and triggers still go off in mine.
I’ve found that by naming my specific triggers, it gives me a sense of control over when my body is triggering off. I also mentally say to myself, I’m safe and I’m okay over and over until my body settles from its trigger.
I call my journey recovery with PTSD.
Body memory does indeed runs a bit deeper and it might take time before patterns are fully seen and felt through. Thanks for your comment.
I believe it is fair to say that everyone reflects back from time to time, and in doing so people begin to recall the memories of various circumstances which resonate with personal conflicts that cemented in the heart to withstand the selective process of the forgettable moments in time. So as a person recalls their personal life experiences emotions begin to merge with the images of people and places. In their reveries of those memories theirs wounds reopen the feelings that remain.
Subsequently as a result of traumatic recollection the emotions fade to the background as the focal point in the foreground sheds light upon the faces. As people pull in their focus upon the faces their feelings suddenly become the noise pollution that disrupt the clarity of mindfulness. Is it not fair to say that everyone project a face to the lingering sensations of blame?
So in the haunting of the faces that define the heavy of personal hardships the coping process begins. Grief lingers around like a poltergeist as PTSD stirs up the brainstorms as the heart becomes overwhelmed by the emotional demolishing.
I can blame various people for my personal injuries that I suffer, however ultimately I understand is that in coping with the PTSD my own face remains haunting in the background of the healing process. Anyone that presumptively assumes that I am not remorseful has truly eluded the reality of the underlying truth. I am my greatest critic and blaming myself remains so clearly more elicit above all the various noise of paranormal faces that haunt me still. My heart bears the burden of many griefs that weigh like the chains of Jacob Marley in a Christmas Carol while limping around crippled like Timothy Cratchit..
I am in a dark, draining place right now. I was diagnosed with cptsd last fall by a trauma trained therapist. One of two in my entire region. My sessions came to a stop after five because my insurance wouldn’t cover a diagnosis that doesn’t exist (in the DSM). I’ve dragged along these last few months, dissociating at higher rates, panic attacks in closer clusters and have become increasingly suicidal. I’ve qualified for hospitalization in a trauma based facility, but can’t afford the plane ticket or admission price tag on my own. I started a crowd sourcing page and have gotten donations from my brother and a couple of his friends ….but it’s not enough. My parents have that kind of money, or could raise that amount, but won’t because they believe all I need to do is accept Jesus and I’ll be magically healed.
I’ve done cognitive therapies over the years, but it was never enough. I felt lost, incomplete, misunderstood and hopeless to find true help to get me whole again. Now that I feel like I found the beginning of comprehensive trauma treatment to set me on the path to wholeness, I can’t have it and am losing what ground of work I did have. I’ve returned to being wooden just to survive.
I believe wholeness and healing is possible. With the right tools and support and therapies, nothing is impossible. I’m encouraged by your articles, Roland, and I’m sorry to be such a downer. It’s just being so close to getting the help I need yet being so far at the same time reminds me of why I live in this tiny little space in my head. I can see the land of milk and honey from here, and the cptsd says that’s all I’ll ever have: the view…but you and so many others keep reminding me that’s not true. I’m hanging on with everything I’ve got.
Hi Penny. Thanks for your comment, courage and sharing. Do keep connecting here and on the fb page with others. And keep looking for other ways to heal. If personal counseling isn’t available now you might want to look into group work locally. Or perhaps there are others types of classes that attract you and help you in your healing like; pottery, dance, yoga, tai chi, vipassana meditation, nature walks with others. Meetup groups. Keep going.
Where am I in the process?
I have begun and are on the waiting list for medical appointments and therapy to begin.
I keep myself in a fairly stable place limiting my contact with people and activities that may not be beneficial to the process. I stay in control of the decision making process in my life. I am on no medication nor do I use alcohol or drugs which I believe would add to my problems.
I am taking my time. I have tentively begin a hobby which takes me into contact with other people. I have entered an event to give me focus over the following weeks and months. I will not be pushed or rushed and my efforts to improve my health remain the focus of my life. I continue to take responsibility for my health and refuse to take responsibility for anyone else at this stage. Anyone trying to push in gets quickly removed from my life at this stage- it has to be on my terms and in my time frame. All in all I am carefully doing ok but aware how easily I get knocked and how difficult this feels so in view of this I take things at a steady pace, it just cannot be rushed.
Hi Jak. Thanks for your comment. Good to hear you are exploring your boundaries regarding your health and healing. Keep going.
I know I should go to therapy and have tried in the past, including hypnotherapy, but I get physically ill when I contemplate it and the few times I have attempted it I go into complete revolt (I have been carrying my trauma around since a little girl and am now 63). I had a neck operation 3 years ago and had the most horrific trauma after the op (stuff I thought was dead and buried), which scared me half to death, but even that and the fact that it can now resurface any time cannot get me to go to therapy.
In the process… currently dealing with others anger as a trigger. Even my ol Sweet T got angry with me; that breeched trust, ultimately ending our relationship.
thank you Roland . am beginning to have a feeling that I am emotionally arriving at these days and life experience completely. full of never changing real and bodily complete drowning every cell exploding .. Am 49 and have had good grace to have experienced mental health learning for past few years ..
but always sorry sometimes read well intentioned advice that says ‘ return to ‘ as if I ought to have ‘ knowledge or awareness ‘ of a pre – CPTSD state of being ..
Hence there is undescribable pain in all the cells of my body that moving means accepting or denying all my pain bodies that have come before me ever since I was a little girl ..
Sorry to put you on the spot Roland or appear deliberately awkward .. But have you any suggestions please for me when all I have ever lived is fragmented .. fear
Hi Jo. Thanks for your comment. I think when we are ‘efforting’ to much to get somewhere or to a ‘pre ptsd’ state it puts a lot of additional pressure on ourselves. What happened to you can’t be undone and action towards healing is needed. It is finding that balance between going at it and after that taking time to rest and retreat. The wound can be healed but the scar might remain.
Hi there, when I was 17, I was drugged and raped by a man, I never sought legal action but to this day I am considering doing so. I have been affected by this, it has destroyed my life in many ways. I am pretty functioning and have quit drinking and drugs going on 22 years. I still see a therapist from time to time. I am active in my culture and go to ceremonies regularly. I am spiritual. I work as an addictions counsellor and have recently developed a program called the fireweed project which helps men who have been sexually abused as a child. i do a lot for others. and find that emotional eating has my way of coping at times. ive taken some time off work to deal with myself and own issues. but as far as ptsd, cptsd i believe they can be treated by learning to cope in new healthier ways. gently and at their own pace…anyways sharing my thought.
Thanks for your comment!
Thank you so much for your guidance.
I am struggling with re traumatisation. I have been told by a psychiatrist reciently that I have cptsd- I have know this personally for 25 years but interesting to get it clarified.
I have worked continually throughout my life chipping away, striving for healing. Mainly 1-1 psychotherapy as I had an increadably disfumctional childhood.i have never managed to function in romantic relationships and often struggle with keeping close friends too.i do not have any family.
Last year my only child was murdered and this naturally completely floored me. I am experiencing re traumatisation and feel so utterly lost and bereft.
My beautiful son was my family. I am hurting so much there simply are no words to descibe the pain.
I am living alone in a safe environment but am struggling to make connections of any true meaning. I was deeply saddened that people I thought of as old friends had no words and they struggled to support me, believing they were intruding in my grief. One friend said she was fearful of upsetting me so didn’t contact me after my sons murder.
I wanted to know which book you would recommend please. I have done a lot of self reflection .for the first year I dissocociated heavily but now the trauma is really surfacing ,I feel my Trama is acute.
Hi Rachel. Thanks for your comment and sharing your story. Hope you find support here in the resources and community. As for books I would recommend the ones I put together. You will find them here: https://rolandbal.com/trauma-essentials/
Regarding your present state of mind I would suggest to start working with someone one-on-one to contain and emotionally process the loss of your son. Feel free to get in touch with me for personal session.
This is really good article, I have CPTSD, I always try to avoid those traumatic memories since I am 5 years old and now I am 23 years old. This is kinda hard for me to heal cause I got visible scars and invisible soul wound. But I believe I can get heal and being normal soon , always positive !
Thanks. Keep going at it. Slowly on your capacity to hold uncomfortably feelings will grow and hence your ability to process.
Forward and onward!
Where am I, I ask myself this almost every day. My life is relatively “safe” now although it doesn’t feel so. Why do I have such struggles with myself. Triggers there are so many, from a door handle being opened clumsily to hearing the person shouting my name, in that tone that makes your toes curl. I’m no longer there but my feelings remain in constant pain, even when I’m smiling or when I forget for a while, the darkness refuses to let me go. Why am I not better, why is my thinking not clear, why do I question every statement someone speaks to me looking for their “real” intention. Dissociative periods, when I don’t know what I’ve done or how long I’ve been gone, locked in my own mind. I can act well but I don’t feel well, in fact I’m terrified I will never feel what normal felt like a lifetime ago. But I hold on to the positives and continue to and get by the negatives all the while pretending to the world that I’m good now. I know it’s not in my head, my dog even gets a fright and upset by noise, loud voice, and a change in emotions in a room as do my children. They read and are all too aware of people’s negativity. And who’s fault is that……. mine or the monster who put us through it.
Its a long road. Emotional freedom technique. Five rythms. Nature. Prayer work. Healers. Talking therapies dont work for me
I am coming out of a very bad rough patch. I am starting to feel better most of the time. Dealing with people and attitudes is very difficult without getting angry or irritated. It is definitely a choice that I choose every day to be better. I find your articles very insightful and have used the things I learn. Thank you very much and have a great day.
My past hit after my first child was born, I have unravelled a whole lot since then, my cPTSD / PTSD was due to childhood trauma. I have slowly built a new foundation but it is fragile and I get so frustrated by the cycles. Yes I can surface quicker (for some things) and I know the triggers much better, but the severe depressive parts are still very difficult to manage. I know the slide and when I’m going but knowledge doesn’t seem to be power. The mechanisms of my past are incredibly strong & battling them / counter balancing is exhausting. My daughters arrival has triggered a load of trauma memories, same pain, different perspective. The knowledge of the cycles makes it hard in some ways, why keep going to go through this over and over again? I know I’ve worked hard to change any pattern for my children but it struck me that part of the battle is perhaps loving yourself & believing that I am worth doing this for, not just for my family or kids. That’s still a very challenging thing to do. It’s very hard to explain why I feel like my head slips between worlds, past and present; random thoughts / memories suddenly appear (flashbacks); why my dreams are so vivid that I don’t always know what is real and what isn’t, plus the nightly nightmares and how detachment & dissociation affect me. I dread the later. It’s hard trying too hold all this and be a wife and mother. My challenge is believing I am worth doing this for, which is hard when the past of you’re not good enough, can’t do it comes in like an avalanche encapsulating me and burying me deep, it’s a hard and difficult climb back out. Mostly it is frustrating to be back in a cycle, so very frustrating. I feel like a child with my nose pressed against the glass, watching the world but unable to touch it and be part of it. Waiting to feel again. I hate how it must be for my children having a mother like this. I hate it. The power the past can still exert is overwhelming. Trying to hold on to the concept of neuroplasticity but it is a very hard road and incredibly bumpy at times. At the moment it feels more in / out than ever which is not a comfortable in control feeling for me. These articles help, at least I know I’m not alone, and my normal is also normal for others.
How I can relate to your story! I bottled mine and at 60 had major neck surgery and regressed to my childhood trauma. Wow was it scary. I now know it can resurface like that anytime (not just the episodes) but still can’t face therapy – I have tried but get physically sick when I do. I am working very hard on loving me and becoming a life coach has given me major insights in this. I recently read Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B on dealing with grief and had an ah ha monent. Apparently science has found that there can be “post-stress growth” where we change ourselves for the better and this so resonated with me as everything tough in my life has led to better things. I have now decided to change my context from CPSTD to Post Stress Growth! I can’t change the history but I can change me. Love and light 💜💛💚💗💙
I think I am in a place where I don’t feel at risk from the people around me. There are risky people but the very stable one, my beloved husand, makes my safety. I thank God for him
I have just finished with my therapist not SHIP she has adapted it to suit her and it’s supposed to be 20 sessions and I finished in 17 WHOOP WHOOP.
She has helped me break down the 10 foot walls and has helped me build healthy boundaries.
I won’t say it was easy BUT it was DEFINITELY worth it. I got rid of all my trauma and my trauma was usually over wknds. I lost a lot of weight (now that I didn’t mind) and I feel stronger. Have I changed…YES for sure but now at least i can enjoy the rest of my life again. Since I was 7 I stopped living for myself now aftr 50 years I can start again.
I also started playing the keyboard again and learning the notes it’s a slow process but am loving it. It’s a great challenge and good for ny old brain 😜
Thank you for your posts have helped me also to see where I came from losing my mother at age 7 having a father that couldn’t cope and at the age of 9 getting a horrible stepmother and growing up an orphan within a family circle is a lot to work through plus the rejection and mental abuse….thank goodness for people like yiu who help put back the broken pieces of people like us…keep up the good work.
Hope you reach many many people
Great Beryl. Thanks for sharing and your post here.
Roland, I find all your blogs and articles to be really spot on, so insightful and so helpful for me personally and also for my work with individuals dealing with trauma. Thank you!!!
Ah man, what a great arrangement of words you have done here. Speaks to my core. 🙏