10 Things People Don't Realize I'm Doing Because of PTSD


There are so many articles on post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and its consequences. Most discuss why it happens and common symptoms.

But I want to focus on the things that often happen behind closed doors. The things nobody talks about because we are embarrassed or scared nobody will understand and we will be abandoned.

Fear of abandonment and relationships in general are reason enough to focus on these things. I hope they help people understand what challenges people like me face and perhaps develop a bit of empathy for them.

1. Trust issues.

No matter how often you have proven yourself trustworthy, I’m still terrified you will leave me. I don’t do this because of anything you did wrong. I do this because I genuinely feel unworthy of your love.

2. Obsessing over texts.

I will reread texts I’ve both sent and received a million times. I need to reassure myself that I do don’t say anything that would make you hate me and then I will read every word you write to try to assess what you mean and if you still like me.

3. OCD.

I’ve been known to do things like count and recount everything I see in the bathroom and to read every bottle in the bathroom so I can distract from the anxiety I feel in the bathroom, which is where most of my sexual abuse occurred.

4. Negative self-talk.

I can convince myself that I am responsible for every bad thing that has ever happened on the planet.

5. Inability to accept a compliment.

I’m often plagued by “Imposter Syndrome.” I crave the reinforcement that compliments bring, but I feel totally incapable of accepting them.

6. Inability to take care of myself.

I am super adept at taking care of everyone else, but when it comes to taking care of myself, I feel like I’m unworthy. I struggle with self-esteem issues and dissociation.

7. Self-harm.

While my self-harm hasn’t manifested itself in the form of cutting or other more recognizable forms of self-harm, for me it’s manifested in erratic eating and exercising habits and intense body dysmorphic disorder.

8. Suicidal ideation.

I am not actively suicidal. But… I often wish I could just be done.

9. Attachment.

In therapy, I get intensely attached to my therapist. It’s humiliating. I consistently feel guilty for it, yet I also understand it thanks to the reinforcement of my amazing therapists.

10. Substance abuse.

While I don’t consider myself an alcoholic, I know I drink more than I should. I don’t always need it to function and often don’t drink daily, but I do enjoy the sense of calm drinking wine gives me.

C-PTSD is not clinically recognized within the DSM for professionals but it’s a very real issue for those of us who have experienced developmental trauma.  I look forward to a time where individuals like me are distinguished from those who have experienced trauma in adulthood or a one time trauma.

If you or a loved one is affected by sexual abuse or assault and need help, call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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Thinkstock photo via kimberrywood


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