I was diagnosed with Complex-PTSD in January 2017. I wasn’t prepared for the identification. It has always been something I heard over the radio or in TV shows / movies. Not something I thought I’d ever have.

Most people with PTSD don’t want to talk about it. I, on the other hand, don’t mind talking about it. In fact, I tell (almost) everyone I meet that I have Complex-PTSD. Why? Because I don’t want them to freak out when I have an episode(s). And obvs, these people are those I see on a regular basis. I don’t turn around to a stranger next to me on the bus and say, “Hey! I have PTSD! Okaythanksbye”. No, I don’t do that. I pick who I divulge such information to.

People ask common questions such as:

What is Complex-PTSD?

What is it like to have PTSD?

I tell them, “look, you can easily Google what Complex-PTSD is”, but what is it like to have PTSD? Well, sit down and I’ll tell ya:

*I’ve posted something similar on Facebook, but it’s more detailed here.

On a bad day, it’s never ever feeling safe. It’s never being able to take a full breath of air in my lungs. On a bad day, I don’t even want to leave my house. I have this feeling of walking barefoot over glass. But, the feeling is all over my body each time I leave my house.

On a bad day, I’m terrified to close my eyes. At times, the vulnerability I feel during the split second of blindness as I sneeze is horrifying (especially in public places). Flashbacks and nightmares are a norm for us with PTSD.

My nightmares when I’m asleep bleed into my daily life. At times, after just getting up, I’m unable to differentiate whether I’m awake or asleep. The nightmares often feel so real, I even experience the physical pain in them.

Then, while I am at home if someone knocks on my door or there’s a loud unexpected or unfamiliar sound, it can send my heart pulsating wildly, all my hair standing still, and my breathing short but sharp.

Sometimes when I go out, I choose to sit with my back against the wall. This makes me feel safe. I get anxious when I walk in a crowded area (this has never been a problem for me in the past).

Having Complex-PTSD is also knowing in my bones that other people have the power to destroy me. That I can be victimised, no matter how hard I cry, fight, or yell. That even someone you trust as a friend or partner can turn on me faster than a wolf when hunger hits.

I get triggered. Easily.

Certain smells can trigger me and it can take ages for me to get out of it. But, I’m getting better at it, or so I tell myself. Someone raising his or her voice to me is a trigger too. I hyperventilate when I see someone who looks pretty much the same as my attackers / abusers. This is something I’ve never said out loud, but there are supposedly nice people out there (and this I know can be / is true), however I can’t see them. I never see them – all I see are ghosts of my past haunting me with fresh eyes.

You see, triggers can come from anywhere AT ANY TIME. A glance, a sudden touch, a vibe, a dream, a scene from a movie / TV, how someone looks at you, treats you. When I watch scenes from a TV show or movie that reminds me of my past, I feel nauseous.

When this happens to me, I’m unable, as hard as I try, to turn it off. However, with therapy, and constantly kicking my own arse (more so, my partner doing the kicking – not literally, of course), I’m slowly able to get out of my triggers quicker than usual.

Living with Complex-PTSD is being told that not every single person out there wants to hurt me, but I can’t stay grounded long enough to truly get to know anyone. It’s spending my time alone or with my partner, because I’m terrified of other people.

It’s like.. I don’t feel safe with them. I tell myself it’s alright, it’s better this way, but loneliness still ravages me when I least expect it. It’s this feeling of being bad, worthless, useless, hopeless, flawed, scarred, stained… dirty. I feel like I was born a target and that’s all I’ll ever be.

What does it feel like to have Complex-PTSD?

It feels like prison.

It feels like hell.

However, despite how inescapable the symptoms of Complex-PTSD is, I remain hopeful that I’ll get better each day with hard work.

And please know that I’m not posting this to gain sympathy, but to tell MY STORY. To tell you what it’s like to have PTSD. Perhaps, with this knowledge, you know me better now.

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