A Day in the Life of Someone with C-PTSD

I was diagnosed with C-PTSD about four and a half years ago. Getting the diagnosis was long overdue and has changed my life for the better in so many ways.

I’m going to try to keep this post trigger free, but there will be talk of medical C-PTSD/needles so proceed with caution if you need to.

As I said in my about me, I was born with Spina Bifida. For those unfamiliar with what that means, the skin on my lower spine (L3-4) was open when I was born exposing the nerves, my spinal column etc. I’ve been a wheelchair user since I was four and am paralyzed from just below my knees to my toes, among other issues.

Being born with Spina Bifida led to me having approximately 18 operations before I was 11 years old. That estimate does not include the hospital stays I went through for things other than surgery. I wouldn’t know where to begin counting those.

The first three weeks of my life were spent in a hospital. My mom didn’t meet me until I was three days old; I was almost a month old before I had a name.

As you can imagine all of this led to a lot of traumatic experiences and physical pain. During these times the adults around me ignored my cries for help and by the time I was six I was labeled a “difficult” kid on my medical record.

I was 30 years old when I was sitting in a therapist’s office and she finally validated my pain and explained to me I was not a difficult kid, I had C-PTSD because of everything I went though and the adults around me had chosen to ignore it in favor of just sedating me to make me easier to deal with.

I spent three years with that therapist working on undoing the brainwashing that went along with what I’d been through. I’ve worked my ass off to get control over my brain and for the most part I’ve been successful. Now when I’m triggered instead of thinking I’m just being difficult again and I need to just get over myself, I understand what’s happening to me and I can get myself through it. Most of the time.

Today was a day when I could not get myself through it.

Last November I fell out of my wheelchair and injured my shoulder. It’s been very painful on and off since then and my doctor has been running several tests trying to pinpoint exactly what is happening to me. I also have EDS (Ehlers Danlos Syndrome), which means my joints chronically dislocate and separate themselves from my body without hesitation.

I’ve assumed since my fall that my shoulder has been popping in and out of place, but it’s been hard to say definitively because when I had my CT scan it was where it should be.

A few days ago my doctor ordered a MRI with and without contrast for my shoulder. She thinks this is the best way to see if there’s any damage in my shoulder that was missed on the CT and X-ray and I agree MRI is the logical next step.

However, a MRI with contrast means needles and needles are one of my, if not THE biggest C-PTSD trigger for me on the medical side of things. So yesterday I called to schedule the MRI and it was set for this afternoon.

Since it was scheduled my heart had not quit racing, I was literally shaking and couldn’t stop thinking about the needle. Now while I was sitting here shaking and hyper-focusing on the needle I was very well aware that the things that happened to me as a child were not going to happen to me again. I am an adult now, I can speak up for myself and if a situation becomes dangerous for me I can leave. I know all of these things, but I could not calm myself down. So two hours before my MRI today, I canceled it.

Now I feel guilty as hell because I gave into my trigger and I still feel like being so upset was ridiculous but I can hear my therapist’s voice in the back of my mind praising me because going into that situation as triggered as I was wasn’t going to end well. It was rescheduled for Tuesday and that gives me time to ground myself and go into it with a more level head. I know it will be triggering regardless of when I do it, but I also know it needs to be done and giving myself time to mentally prepare will keep me calm when the time comes.

I’m so grateful in times like these my boyfriend and my friends are supportive of me. I posted to Facebook that I was completely freaking out and within seconds I had several people sending me things to cheer me up and one of my best friends video chatted with me as a distraction until I calmed down. This afternoon my boyfriend took me thrift shopping and bought me a book I’d been wanting. My friends really are the best.

Now it’s been several hours since I canceled the appointment and I’m feeling okay, but still not back to normal. I’m hoping by the time I wake up tomorrow I’ll have shaken off the last of this.

Before I got into therapy it hadn’t ever occurred to me I had any form of PTSD. To me PTSD was just something soldiers get after wars and yeah my childhood was hell, but it’s all I know, it was my “normal”. Although looking at it now I see how chaotic and abnormal it really was.  I knew that certain situations caused me to react in an uncontrollable way from as far back as I can remember, but I didn’t understand why. Now being able to understand why and have a reason behind it has actually cut my reactions down significantly. I’ve learned over time how to spot when I’m triggered before it gets to a point I can’t bounce back from, unfortunately it’s not something I can do with every trigger every time, but I’m getting better at it. Today was just not one of the days when I caught it, but there’s always tomorrow.

 

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