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This three-part article was written exclusively for PsyWeb.com by Jennifer A. Weaver. She discusses her struggle with complex PTSD, the bullying and abuse she endured, and what she has found to be helpful.
I was diagnosed with Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder four years ago. I grew up in an abusive home and I was abused physically, religiously, and emotionally by my parents. I had the terrible experience of being sexually abused by a babysitter as well.
For many people who struggle with PTSD/CPTSD relationships are extremely difficult. Trust is one of the major stumbling blocks for me personally. One important thing to understand is that it is not an issue of not wanting to trust people, but that we are unable to do so.
My husband has asked me many times, "Why won't you trust me?" I have tried my best to learn to trust, but to people who do not understand PTSD it seems as though I am a stubborn person who is doing nothing to change her attitude.
For much of my life I gave up trying to find and make friends. Fortunately, I am married and I consider it a gift and privilege to be able to share my life with someone in spite of my crippling PTSD. One of my biggest fears is losing my husband because he is such an important part of my life and support system.
The past couple years I was in an environment where the people around me did not think that PTSD existed. Whenever I tried to confide in someone about my suicidal thoughts or my eating disorder, I got made fun of and was repeatedly told that I was only looking for attention.
I was also the victim of gaslighting by those that were around me. I believe that is a very sick and cruel thing to do, to see a person who is suffering internally and to try and distort their memories and perception of themselves by making things up and changing their environment in order to confuse them. The impact of being gaslighted is a thousand times worse in someone who has PTSD.
These people I lived with, before I lived with my husband, would play horrible tricks on me. On occasion they would do things like take my phone and hide it from me. Other times they would take advantage of my vulnerability and if I gave them money, they would try to confuse me and would tell me that it wasn't all there and I would become paranoid and frightened and give them more.
I realize now that they would confuse me as a ploy to get more money out of me. The saddest thing of all was that while this was happening they would make fun of me and laugh. This experience caused me to question everything about myself and how I perceived things around me.
Who ever coined the old adage, "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," obviously never had to deal with PTSD. I have found that words, can be deadly.
In Part II of this article, Jennifer reveals more about her PTSD symptoms and how they have affected her life. She also discusses the death of her father, the impact it had and how she later began to also struggle with an eating disorder.
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